Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

“Goldstone’s crime against human rights” (& a mental patient at the UN)

September 28, 2009

* Revealed: Star witness who is cited in Goldstone report as “proving” that armed Palestinians were really civilians, is the same Hamas propagandist who concocted “Israel designs sex gum to kill Palestinians” story
* Ma’ariv: “Richard Goldstone perpetrated a moral crime. Not against the State of Israel but against human rights. He turned them into a weapon for dark regimes. Goldstone was not negligent. He did this with malice.”
* Since Goldstone report released, Hamas has once again increased the number of rockets fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza. The latest ones fell yesterday, during the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, causing renewed panic among the Israeli population that had cautiously thought the worst was behind them

* Gaddafi compares the Taliban to the Vatican and tells world leaders that Israel might have been behind JFK’s assassination
* Netanyahu: “Are the successive German governments that have kept these documents for posterity all liars?”

* Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s mega-yacht biggest ever to dock in Israel
* Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich buys one of Jerusalem’s most luxury apartments

 

CONTENTS

1. UN meets in Geneva to begin its deliberations on the Goldstone report
2. “Goldstone’s crime against human rights”
3. “The Goldstone Commission aids Ahmadinejad”
4. Goldstone report cites same Hamas witness who concocted Israel sex gum story
5. A host of anti-Israel NGOs fly to Geneva
6. A doctor writes

7. Senate letter asks Obama administration to block any Goldstone-related actions against Israel
8. Netanyahu brandishes Auschwitz evidence at UN podium where Ahmadinejad denied it
9. Comments on a Palestinian state
10. Jews and Iranians hold hands in New York
11. Kiev mayor scraps Babi Yar soccer hotel plan
12. William Safire

13. Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s mega-yacht docks in Israel
14. Roman Abramovich buys luxury Jerusalem apartment
15. Israelis have a joke at Goldstone’s expense (video)
16. Mental patient breaks into UN, gives ninety-minute speech (video)
17. Email to Richard Goldstone from an old friend
18. “Goldstone is the criminal” (By Ben-Dror Yemini, Ma’ariv, Sept. 25, 2009)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

UN MEETS IN GENEVA TO BEGIN ITS DELIBERATIONS ON THE GOLDSTONE REPORT

Because a number of people have asked for more on the aftermath of the Goldstone report, this dispatch has a number of further items on the subject, as well as reports on other matters.

The UN Human Rights Council meets tomorrow morning in Geneva to begin its deliberations on the report.

“This council has already declared Israel guilty,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch. “Today will be a lynch mob.”

European countries say they are considering abstaining. On Friday, the New York-based anti-Israel group Human Rights Watch (which fundraises from prominent Saudis) sent a letter to all European Union member states, calling on them to endorse the report and “promote an international order where no state is above the law.”

“The Goldstone report offers a unique opportunity to break the cycle of impunity [under which Israel operates],” Lotte Leicht, HRW’s EU director, said in a statement. “The EU should not let this opportunity go to waste.”

Goldstone was, until recently, a director of Human Rights Watch. (Several people, including myself, last week signed a statement regarding HRW here.)

***

GOLDSTONE’S SOURCES

As Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, the director of NGO Monitor, put it after reviewing the report:

“The evidence, as Goldstone stated, was based almost entirely on unverifiable Palestinian claims and publications from politicized pro-Palestinian NGOs – the report cites B’tselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights each more than 70 times, Al-Haq allegations get more 30 mentions, and there are many more NGO co-authors.

“Human Rights Watch is referenced 33 times, including the ‘Rain of Fire’ report co-authored by Marc Garlasco. He was HRW’s ‘senior military expert’ (now suspended after exposure of his Nazi memorabilia fetish), but his analyses are tainted by false claims and speculation masquerading as expertise.”

***

For background on the Goldstone report, please see last week’s dispatches:

* Dachau survivor asks Goldstone: How dare you? (& Peres: Goldstone “legitimized terrorism”)
* CNN grills Netanyahu on Israeli “war crimes” (& Helmsley Hotel cancels Ahmadinejad banquet)

 

“GOLDSTONE’S CRIME AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS”

Many Israelis continue to express outrage towards the unfairness of the UN in general and Goldstone’s report in particular, and there have been a number of press commentaries.

One of the more scathing appeared in this weekend’s edition of Ma’ariv under the headline “Goldstone is the criminal”. Ben-Dror Yemini, who is a senior columnist for Ma’ariv (and a longtime subscriber to this email list) writes:

“Let’s start at the end. Richard Goldstone perpetrated a moral crime. Not against the State of Israel but against human rights. He turned them into a weapon for dark regimes. Goldstone was not negligent. He did this with malice.

“The criticism that was made in the first days following the report was on the basis of preliminary study. But time passes. And the more that the details of this report are revealed, the more it becomes clear that it is a libel. A libel with legal cover. A libel that was prepared in advance to incriminate the State of Israel, in the service of Libya and Iran [who are leading members of the UN Human Rights Council]. Goldstone willingly took up this loathsome role. He supplied these countries with the goods. The claim that “the discourse of rights” has become the dark forces’ most effective tool is a familiar one. The Goldstone report is the supreme expression of this. Its legal terminology is exemplary. It gushes about international human rights treaties. But it cannot hide the result: It is a libelous indictment of the State of Israel, in the service of the axis of terrorism and evil.

“Goldstone sold his soul for an endless series of lies. Even Mary Robinson, who is not known as an admirer of Israel, understood that [and] refused to take the post [so] Goldstone took it and carried it out with excessive enthusiasm. If international law worked as it should… Goldstone would have to stand trial. But this is impossible. And therefore, not only Israel but every moral person, every person for whom human rights are important, must declare Goldstone a criminal.

“… This Council is the UN’s most important body dealing with human rights. And indeed, it seems that 33 countries participated in the vote on establishing the mission. And the results: Not one western democracy supported the decision; most abstained. One country voted against – Canada. The third-world countries voted in favor, as did all of the Islamic countries.

“… Can such an automatic majority – of non-democratic countries – be taken seriously? Certainly not, and the Council members know it. The Council cannot send a Libyan representative to discuss human rights. The representative from Pakistan, a country which caused millions of people to become refugees only two months ago, in the framework of a just struggle against several hundred Taliban fighters – will find it hard to talk about “collective punishment” on CNN. For the charade of accusing Israel, one needs an internationally renowned jurist. [Step forward Richard Goldstone]…”

***

I have placed Ben-Dror Yemini’s full article at the end of this dispatch because of its length. I suggest you read it in full, however, if you have time. It has been translated by him from the original Hebrew.

Before that in the full articles section, I attach a heartfelt email sent to Judge Goldstone from his longtime friend from South Africa, Barbara Press. I republish this with her permission but have removed Richard Goldstone’s private email address to protect him from receiving unwanted emails.

 

“THE GOLDSTONE COMMISSION AIDS AHMADINEJAD”

The daily Yisrael Hayom says in a lead editorial that, “The UN report on Operation Cast Lead is classic, liberal-style anti-Semitism,” and derides Richard Goldstone as “a kind of Jewish Uncle Tom, who met all expectations. What is better for the anti-Semites than a judge whose daughter lives in Israel? ... All sane people – as opposed to members of the biased commission – know that Israel did its utmost to avoid embarking on Operation Cast Lead... The Goldstone Commission’s actions are an additional step in Ahmadinejad’s plan to undermine the legitimacy of Israel’s existence.”

***

In an editorial, Israel’s bestselling newspaper Yediot Ahronot asserts that, “The immediate, natural, almost instinctive reaction to the Goldstone report on IDF war crimes is for Israel to tell Goldstone and the UN to ‘Go to hell’. However, the State of Israel would do well to instead go on the diplomatic and information attack around the world.”

***

In a series of media interviews, including at least one on al-Jazeera TV, Goldstone has compared Israeli acts to those carried out in Darfur.

***

Tom Gross adds: To remind readers, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the least bloody of the dozens of conflicts ongoing around the world. More Palestinian civilians have been killed by Fatah, Hamas, and the Lebanese army in recent years than by Israel. Not that the UN Human Rights Council cares about casualties unless they can blame them on Israel. The Council has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all the other 191 UN member states combined. Since it was established three years ago, it has issued 25 resolutions against individual states: 20 of them targeted Israel.

They not only libel Israel but in their obsession in beating up the world’s only Jewish state, they ignore the very real suffering of hundreds of millions of people around the world who need their help.

 

GOLDSTONE REPORT CITES SAME HAMAS WITNESS WHO CONCOCTED ISRAEL SEX GUM STORY

There are far too many inconsistencies, mistakes and unreliable witnesses cited in the Goldstone report to list here. But to take one example, the man Goldstone relies on in his report (paragraph 414) as his star witness to tell him the paramilitary Hamas police were not combatants and therefore should be listed as civilians, police spokesperson Islam Shahwan, is the same “police spokesperson Islam Shahwan” who accused Israel of distributing libido-increasing chewing gum in Gaza in an attempt to “destroy” the young generation of Palestinians.

 

A HOST OF ANTI-ISRAEL NGOS FLY TO GENEVA

According to a press release I have seen, a whole host of anti-Israel NGOs – all of whom receive substantial funding from the EU and other European countries like Norway – have flown to Geneva to lobby the Human Rights Council meeting this week and call for Israel to be hauled before the International Criminal Court.

For example, the following NGOs are holding a joint press conference and public discussion at Le Palais des Nations, at 4.30 pm tomorrow: Adalah, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, Badil, Human Rights Watch, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

 

A DOCTOR WRITES

The following statement was delivered to the UN Human Rights Council this morning.

My name is Dr. Mirela Siderer. I am a gynecologist living in Ashkelon, Israel.

Judge Richard Goldstone, in July you invited me to testify. I told you my story. I am known by my patients – including many women from Gaza. For me, every human being is equal.

On May 14, 2008, my life was changed forever. I was working in my clinic. Suddenly, the building was hit by a missile, fired from Gaza. I was terribly wounded. Blood was everywhere. My patient was also wounded, and more than 100 others. Next month will be my eighth operation.

Judge Goldstone, I told you all of this, in detail. I testified in good faith. You sent me this letter, saying, “Your testimony is an essential part of the Mission’s fact-finding activities.”

But now I see your report. I have to tell you: I am shocked.

Judge Goldstone, in a 500-page report, why did you completely ignore my story? My name appears only in passing, in brackets, in a technical context. I feel humiliated.

***

Tom Gross adds: For background on how Israeli hospitals and medical centers regularly treat Palestinian patients from Gaza, while themselves being targeted by Hamas rockets – all of which was ignored by Goldstone and the UN – please see previous dispatches on this list including:

* Saving Baby Mohammed (March 16, 2008)
* Dying for a degree; & Ashkelon under attack (March 2, 2008)

 

SENATE LETTER ASKS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO BLOCK ANY GOLDSTONE-RELATED ACTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), both on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are presently circulating a letter asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department to block any punitive actions against Israel relating to the Goldstone report.

“As the State Department has stated, Israel is a democratic country, like the United States, with an independent judiciary and democratic institutions to investigate and prosecute abuses,” says the letter. “The Israel Defense Forces have a reputation for investigating alleged violations of international law and its internal military code of conduct. As a law-abiding state, Israel is in the process of conducting numerous investigations for which it should be commended not condemned.”

 

(A slightly different version of the item below was sent to some subscribers on this list last week.)

NETANYAHU BRANDISHES AUSCHWITZ EVIDENCE AT UN PODIUM WHERE AHMADINEJAD DENIED IT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dramatically held up Nazi documents, given to him by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

Netanyahu said the hearing granted the night before at the same podium to Iranian president and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amounted to a “disgrace of the UN charter.”

Netanyahu produced construction plans of Nazi concentration camps as well as copies of minutes of the meeting of Nazi officials in 1942 where plans were made for the “Final Solution of Europe’s Jewish Problem”.

“Are these protocols lies? Are the successive German governments that have kept these documents for posterity all liars?” he asked. “Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own,” he added.

 

COMMENTS ON A PALESTINIAN STATE

Netanyahu also said in his UN speech: “If the Palestinians want a state, they must recognize the Jewish state. If the Palestinians want peace, we will make peace. Every time an Arab leader has sought to make peace with us, he has done it… We know the Palestinians want their own home. We want to live next to the Palestinians as two free peoples. But we don’t want a Palestinian state back by Iranian terrorist bases.”

Since BBC World Service TV cut out in the middle of Netanyahu’s speech (and The New York Times reduced it to a small item buried deep inside the paper), for those who want to watch the full speech, which some commentators have hailed as “historic,” it is attached below in four parts, from Fox News. (CNN also broadcast it in full.)


Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:


For those who don’t like watching videos, an official transcript of Netanyahu’s speech to the UN can be read here.

 

JEWS AND IRANIANS HOLD HANDS IN NEW YORK

At a rally outside the United Nations in New York on Thursday to protest against the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Jewish and Iranian activists held hands in solidarity with one another.

Labor unions and some church groups also attended, as did former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The rally was addressed by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, among others.

 

KIEV MAYOR SCRAPS BABI YAR SOCCER HOTEL PLAN

(This is a follow-up to an item I sent to some people last week.)

Kiev mayor Leonid Chernovetsky has announced the city is to abandon plans to build a hotel in the middle of the main killing site of the Babi Yar massacre. This follows protests by Jewish groups and others. The hotel was to have been built for fans attending the 2012 European soccer championships, but the Ukrainian authorities now acknowledge they should not have chosen such a sensitive site.

Babi Yar is site of the single biggest mass shooting of civilians in the Second World War. 33,771 Jews were marched there and shot dead in a 48 hour period on Sept. 29 and 30, 1941 (exactly 68 years ago tomorrow). In the ensuing months, the ravine at Babi Yar was filled with over 100,000 bodies.

Jewish leaders have expressed concern over what they say are persistent instances of disrespect for Jewish heritage and of anti-Semitism in Ukraine, which lost 1.4 million of its 2.4 million Jews during the Holocaust.

The opening line from Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s famous poem, “Babi Yar” – “No monument stands over Babi Yar” – was a criticism that Soviet officials had never commemorated the massacre. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, Ukraine set up a monument on the site, which would have been removed had the hotel plan proceeded.

 

WILLIAM SAFIRE

I wanted to note the passing yesterday of William Safire, who for many years was a subscriber to this email list.

Safire, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 79, was for a long time the token non-leftwing political columnist employed by The New York Times, writing twice weekly-pieces, including some on the Middle East.

In addition to his political writings, he wrote the entertaining “On Language” column for The New York Times. (Don’t overuse exclamation marks!! he once wrote.) He examined the origins of words and phrases such as “under the bus” and “the proof is in the pudding.”

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. Born in the Bronx, he was a college dropout and proud of it.

 

MICROSOFT FOUNDER PAUL ALLEN’S MEGA-YACHT DOCKS IN ISRAEL

Microsoft co-founder and multi-billionaire Paul Allen landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport last week, a day after his 92-meter mega-yacht, Tatoosh, anchored at Israel’s Ashdod commercial port. (No regular Israeli marina is large enough to hold the ship, the world’s 26th largest yacht.) He took a helicopter from the airport to the vessel.

Exactly what he was doing in Israel is a mystery. No journalists were allowed to cover his trip. He is ranked by Forbes as number 32 on the world’s richest list, with an estimated wealth of $10.5 billion. He founded Microsoft in 1975 along with his friend Bill Gates. Neither finished university.

Allen also owns the fourth largest private yacht in the world, the Octopus, which boasts its own submarine.

 

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH BUYS LUXURY JERUSALEM APARTMENT

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club, now owns the top floor of the King David Residence in Jerusalem, one of Israel’s most luxurious real estate projects, due to be completed next year. Abramovitch reportedly paid $19 million for the 630 square meter apartment, which includes use of the building’s pool, synagogue, spa and wine cellar.

 

ISRAELIS HAVE A JOKE AT GOLDSTONE’S EXPENSE

In addition to the widespread outrage in Israel at Richard Goldstone’s report, some have turned to humor.

While Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a host of Third World dictators are pressing for Israel to be hauled before the International Criminal Court in The Hague for the supposed “crimes against humanity” that Goldstone and his horribly misnamed UN “human rights” team have accused the Jewish state of, Israelis themselves are having a laugh at Goldstone’s expense.

 

MENTAL PATIENT BREAKS INTO UN, GIVES NINETY-MINUTE SPEECH

Some of you may also be amused by this satirical skit from the American comedy show, Saturday Night Live, in reference to last week’s length rambling speech to the UN by Colonel Gaddafi.


In fact the real Gaddafi is much wilder and more crazy and irrational than portrayed here. In his actual speech, Gaddafi droned on for so long his translator collapsed from exhaustion. Gaddafi compared the Taliban to the Vatican and told world leaders that Israel might have been behind the John F. Kennedy assassination.

However, my favorite comment by Colonel Gaddafi in his speech to the UN, was his assertion that only China deserved to retain its permanent seat on the UN Security Council because it was the only one of the five permanent member countries whose leadership was elected democratically.

This is almost as bizarre as the statement by John Simpson, the doyen of BBC foreign correspondents, who in an interview on the BBC last week singled out Jimmy Carter as “one of the most intelligent U.S. presidents in history”.

Gaddafi’s rambling speech was the longest to the UN General Assembly since that delivered by Cuba’s Fidel Castro in 1960. Castro spoke for four hours.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


FULL ARTICLES AND ITEMS

EMAIL FROM AN OLD FRIEND

To: Judge Richard Goldstone
From: Barbara Press
Subject: Hello Richard... It’s been a while…

Dear Richard

Our paths have crossed many times compelling me to correspond directly with you. I pray your indulgence that you hear me out by reading to the end of my missive. In fact I ask you to share my letter with Noleen from beginning to end and to respond with your thoughts.

It has been a while since (inspired by you as head of ORT South Africa) I, together with Rabbi Bernard at Oxford Shule, established a school to teach the Killarney-Houghton Black domestic workers how to write, read, sew, cook and drive. It has been a while since you praised my father Hubert Press as one of the finest business brains you had ever encountered. It was been a while since I dined with you, Noleen, David and Marilyn Rivkin, discussing opera.

Jewish life has been crying out for a man of the stature of Adolph Cremieux, of Justice Louis Brandeis, of Sir Moses Montefiore, people of the highest integrity and purpose. For those who champion their own people are remembered forever in the annals of history. But those who are self-serving are lost in a trail of ignominy.

South African Jewry stand tall and your efforts in championing Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa were applauded and earned you a reputation as a man of stature.

I am bewildered by the direction you have taken as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council. This rogue Council has been tainted by a membership that does not condemn Iranian tyranny, Chinese oppression, African despotism but spends their time condemning one country unjustly, Israel.

The Goldstone Commission bears your name. One would expect the mandate of any report to be objective so that your name could be respected and a legacy ensured. Instead your committee ignored the facts, embraced bias and rendered the report bearing your name, illegitimate.

You tried to defend yourself in the New York Times but it was transparent and not effective. You could have resigned from the commission and retained your integrity. You knew that Israel faced 12000 Grads and Kassams from its Iran backed terror base of Gaza, 8000 irreversibly traumatizing the families and children of Sderot. You knew that the U.N. never passed one resolution condemning these deadly missiles. You knew that before and during Operation Cast Lead Israel made thousands of cell phone calls to warn civilians. You knew that Israel sent thousands of texts to warn civilians. You knew that Israel dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets in Arabic (I managed to obtain one of these as evidence) to warn civilians. You knew that Israel aborted operations to avoid civilian deaths. You knew that Israel set up medical facilities on the edge of Gaza to treat civilians. You knew that Israel dropped supplies of food into Gaza to feed civilians.

You also knew that Hamas operatives are not “civilians”. You knew that not only were they not civilians but that they hid behind their own civilians to fire on Israeli civilians. You knew that they misused ambulances for military purposes. You knew that mosques and schools were used for Hamas depots and launching pads. You knew that Hamas operatives kill or shoot at the legs of any Gazans refusing to target Israel.

The video footage and U-tube sequences are still available for any and all of us to witness.

You clearly knew that one of your team members had condemned Israel in a published letter even before the conclusion of the incursion or the beginning of your investigation. But you did not resign or distance yourself from the hypocrisy of this illegitimate report. Instead a tedious 500-page report of the 3 week battle was padded with pages from the tainted U.N. mockery of Israel’s security barrier (misnamed the “wall”). What a sad indictment of the charter of the United Nations.

Richard, you were indeed a respected legal giant in Johannesburg. This report did not arise from ignorance or naivete. I am trying so hard to resist the conclusion that your role and report might represent a self-serving desire to ingratiate yourself for a more senior position in the kangaroo court called the United Nations. But if true-and one hopes that this is not the case-at what price? Association with the infamous U.N. garners no respect in the USA so why would anyone seek to be head inmate at the U.N. Asylum?

I have been very direct as South Africans are want to be. But many of us South Africans have been tainted by the perfidy of the Goldstone report. This is the Jewish time of Judgment when the scales of fate are entered in the book of life and we all need to look into our souls. I am not sure how you could comfortably extricate yourself. Perhaps we could discuss this face to face.

Good Yomtov to you, Noleen and your family.

Regards
Barbara Press Fix

 

“GOLDSTONE IS THE CRIMINAL”

Goldstone is the criminal
By Ben-Dror Yemini
Ma’ariv (Israel)
September 25, 2009

Let’s start at the end. Richard Goldstone perpetrated a moral crime. Not against the State of Israel but against human rights. He turned them into a weapon for dark regimes. Goldstone was not negligent. He did this with malice.

The criticism that was made in the first days following the report was on the basis of preliminary study. But time passes. And the more that the details of this report are revealed, the more it becomes clear that it is a libel. A libel with legal cover. A libel that was prepared in advance to incriminate the State of Israel, in the service of Libya and Iran. Goldstone willingly took up the loathsome role. He supplied these countries with the goods. The claim that “the discourse of rights” has become the dark forces’ most effective tool is a familiar one. The Goldstone report is the supreme expression of this. Its legal terminology is exemplary. It gushes about international human rights treaties. But it cannot hide the result: It is a libelous indictment of the State of Israel, in the service of the axis of terrorism and evil. Yes, there is marginal – very marginal – lip service regarding criticism of Hamas. Goldstone’s ilk is a sophisticated lot. They now reiterate from every stage, and Goldstone does it well, that they were actually objective. Here, they also leveled criticism at Hamas. How enlightened of them!

Goldstone sold his soul for an endless series of lies. Even Mary Robinson, who is not known as an admirer of Israel, understood that, “This is unfortunately a practice by the [UN Human Rights] Council: adopting resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very regrettable.” She refused to take the post. Goldstone took it and carried it out with excessive enthusiasm. If international law worked as it should, if the representatives of dark regimes did not have an automatic majority in it, Goldstone would have to stand trial. But this is impossible. And therefore, not only Israel but every moral person, every person for whom human rights are important, must declare Goldstone a criminal. Here is the proof.

***

Let’s start with what is not in the report. In its almost 600 pages there is not one word – there simply isn’t! – about Hamas’s ideology. Hamas has a covenant. This covenant is the basis for the conflict between Israel and the demonic entity that has arisen in Gaza. This covenant is pure anti-Semitism. This covenant makes it clear that Hamas is no different from the Taliban. On the contrary, it is worse. The leaders of Hamas also declare – in their own voices – their solidarity with the Taliban, their desire to take over the entire free world, their hatred of Jews and their abrogation of the ceasefire with Israel. But there is not one word in the Goldstone report about this. Contrary to the general impression, Israel is not Hamas’s main victim. As in other cases where radical Islam grows, most of Hamas’s victims since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza – have been Muslims. Hamas’s Kassam rockets, suicide terrorists, abductions and military operations do not stem from the occupation or the blockade, as the Goldstone Mission either claims or hints. All of these actions stem from an Islamo-fascist ideology that massacres mainly Muslims. Even during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas killed more Palestinians than Israelis. Goldstone and his cohorts did not hear about this.

It was one thing if Goldstone had just ignored the link between ideology and actual practice. But in addition, when he jumps to Israel, he takes the trouble to disparage the Zionist enterprise. Thus, for example, in Article 207 of the report, in a footnote, he tells about confiscated Palestinian property. Not that it has any relevance. But the sophisticated Goldstone had to provide Hamas with justifications. Historic accuracy? Certainly not. This is another product of the industry of lies. Because the property robbed and confiscated from Jewish refugees who were forced out of Arab countries was greater than Arab property left behind in Israel. But let us not confuse Goldstone by investigating the truth.

***

There is no need to go far in order to expose the lies. It is possible to start with the first paragraph. There, Goldstone says that he was granted the authority, “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza.” Really?

At this stage, let us go to the UN Human Rights Council decision to appoint the mission. Article 14, regarding the mission’s authority, says: “To investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission.”

The difference is Heaven and Earth. Goldstone, I repeat, is not stupid. He is a sophisticated jurist. He understands that the Human Rights Council decision puts him in a bind. There is no demand for an investigation. There are instructions to investigate only Israel, while fixing blame in advance. Thus Article 14 and thus others in the same document. How does Goldstone square the circle? First, he does not mention Article 14 – which is the source of his authority – throughout the entire report. And second, in cooperation with the Council President, who was authorized to appoint the mission (but not to change its responsibilities), the authorization is improved in order to present a false objectivity. You see, Goldstone will claim in fawning interviews – we were authorized to investigate both sides. He is lying and he knows that he is lying.

It is not only the lie in the first paragraph. It goes on. In order to supply the goods, Professor Christine Chinkin, an expert on international law, was recruited to the mission, for example. There is only one problem. Before being appointed to the mission, Chinkin signed a petition that determined in advance that Israel had perpetrated war crimes. Can someone who took a position in advance sit on the mission? And indeed, the mission was presented with a legal suit for her dismissal. The suit was denied. There is absolutely no difference between the “judge’s” pre-determination and the Council’s. And when dozens of jurists petitioned the mission to dismiss Chinkin, Goldstone rejected them. It is clear why. The identity between the judge and the Council was absolute.

We must tarry another moment on the Council’s decision. Any enlightened person should give deference to human rights and the international bodies dealing with them. This Council is the UN’s most important body. And indeed, it seems that 33 countries participated in the vote on establishing the mission. And the results: Not one western democracy supported the decision; most abstained. One country voted against – Canada. The third-world countries voted in favor, as did all of the Islamic countries.

Can such an automatic majority – of non-democratic countries – be taken seriously? Certainly not. The Council will not send a Libyan representative to discuss human rights The representative from Pakistan, a country which caused millions of refugees only two months ago, in the framework of a just struggle against several hundred Taliban fighters – will find it hard to talk about “collective punishment” on CNN. For the charade of accusing Israel, one needs an internationally renowned jurist. He’ll do the work. The automatic dark majority does not need to convince itself. It needs someone to publish articles in The New York Times and Ha’aretz, and appear on the BBC.

This is how to turn Israel into a pariah. This is propaganda that even Goebbels the genius didn’t dream of. He is also a Jew; he even has a “Zionist” past. There could be no casting more perfect.

***

A precise study of the report reveals how the libel was perpetrated. This is no cheap, old-fashioned libel. This is a much more sophisticated libel. Now it is called a “narrative.” The Goldstone mission builds the narrative one stage after another. Does libel start with the Kassams that began to fall in 2001? No way. Does the Executive Summary say anything about the thousands of Kassams that have been fired since and have turned the lives of the residents of southern Israel into hell? Not with Goldstone. After the clauses regarding the appointment of the mission members, relevant international law, methodology and Israel’s non-cooperation, the mission gets down to business. The findings. The factual determinations and the verdict.

***

And indeed, the narrative begins with Article 27 (of the Executive Summary), entitled “The Blockade.” According to the article, Israel imposed a blockade. Why? What happened? How did it start? Were there thousands of rockets? Did Hamas take military control of the Strip, while massacring dozens – maybe hundreds – of Palestinians? There is not a word in the opening account. Neither is there any mention of Hamas’s internal terrorism against innocent Palestinians.

And this isn’t all. If there is a blockade, it is not only Israel’s responsibility. The Hamas regime has a long border with Egypt. It seems that this border is completely open. Hundreds of tunnels operate there on a regular basis and deliver everything the Hamas regime wants. The mission’s Executive Summary makes no mention of the tunnels, the open border with Egypt or the smuggling. And what does the report say about the blockade? “Gaza’s economy is further severely affected by the reduction of the fishing zone open to Palestinian fishermen.” This is an amazing example of the mission’s being recruited for the industry of lies. And the Palestinians established industries before the “blockade”? See, there is free movement of materials, through the tunnels. The problem is that Hamas has chosen only one raw material. Explosives. And there is also a flourishing industry. The production of rockets. “For the Palestinian people,” claimed Fathi Hamad, a Hamas member of Parliament, “death became an industry.” This even appears in Article 475. But Goldstone, the Devil’s advocate, insists on blaming Israel. The same Fathi, in the same speech, admits with his own voice that Hamas, “created a human shield of women, children, [and] the elderly.” This is also cited in the report. But Goldstone, “does not consider it to constitute evidence.” (Article 476) Certainly. When the result has been pre-determined, even the explicit, filmed and recorded admission of a senior Hamas official, like the video footage of the use of children, will not change the conviction. Is it possible to call such work by Goldstone “negligence”, or is it a crime, in the service of a terrorist regime?

Article 28 simplistically determines that Israel is the occupying power. Why? Because. Only in Article 88 does the mission see fit to mention the disengagement. As if it had no bearing on the story. As if Israel had not proven that it had no interest in the Strip. As if Israel had not fulfilled all of its obligations. As if Israel had not left the Palestinians to their fate, so that they could govern themselves, without a single soldier or settler.

Article 29 says that Israel embarked on Operation Cast Lead. Were there barrages of rockets beforehand? They appear later on but not in the Executive Summary. Apparently, they are not relevant. This is how one constructs a lie. Start with a blockade. Then a criminal assault. That’s the Executive Summary.

The mission’s lie repeats itself when it presents a false picture of permanent Israeli aggression. In exactly the same way, the mission says, in Article 193, that Israel began Operation Defensive Shield and caused the killing of hundreds of Palestinians. There is not even one word about the series of terrorist attacks on cafes, restaurants and buses. There is not one word about the Passover massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 Israelis were murdered – a massacre which broke Israel’s long restraint.

Article 30 deals with the number of casualties but ignores – of course – any study which proves that most of the Palestinian casualties were Hamas personnel. In order to strengthen the impression, the report presents the number of Palestinian dead as opposed to the number of Israelis. The proportionality creates the result. So many Palestinians were killed. So few Israelis. According to this logic, NATO perpetrated war crimes in bombing Yugoslavia in 1999, because the results were similar to those in Gaza: Over 1,000 Yugoslav dead (mostly civilians) and zero casualties among the NATO forces. Thus in Afghanistan as well. Far more Afghans, civilians and fighters, have been killed than NATO soldiers. Does this turn the NATO countries and soldiers into war criminals? And there will yet be proportionality issues. Pakistan sought to get rid of the vexing problem caused by several hundred Taliban fighters. It caused thousands of dead and millions of refugees. Thus also in Lebanon, when it was obliged to fight a few hundred Fatah al-Islam fighters. Their refugee camp, Nahr al-Bared, was destroyed. Hundreds were killed and tens of thousands became refugees.

The world understands that these are the proportions of dealing with terrorists, who hide among civilians. But when Goldstone comes to Israel – he refuses to understand even though Hamas’s threat to Israel is greater than the Taliban’s threat to Europe or Fatah al-Islam’s to Lebanon. Goldstone knows the new battlefields. But he ignores because the goal was to demonize Israel. And therefore, he must lie and mislead.

Article 32 deals with Israel’s bombing of Palestinian Authority buildings, rejects the Israeli claim that these were part of the, “Hamas terrorist infrastructure,” and determines that these were, “deliberate attacks on civilian objects in violation of the rule of customary international humanitarian law.” Certainly. If they ignore the fact that Hamas is a terrorist entity that uses terrorism mainly against innocent Palestinians as well – the result is that this is a legitimate political body. Maybe even a charitable organization. Now it is possible to understand why the mission ignores the Hamas Covenant. It is no coincidence. It is easier to square the circle that way.

***

How is Hamas absolved of responsibility for serious crimes? The Goldstone report cites hundreds of inquiries that were carried out by various groups. One of the groups cited is, of course, Amnesty International, which has provided countless hostile reports against Israel. These are cited extensively. But there was another Amnesty report, issued on 21.2.09. This surprising report reviews a series of incidents in which Hamas eliminated dozens of Fatah members, during the time of Operation Cast Lead, in Gaza. And here’s the surprise: Of all the reports, it is this one which is not mentioned in the Goldstone report. There is mention of attacks on Fatah personnel (in Article 80, for example), but with exaggerated effort to minimize the significance of the matter.

The general impression is that Goldstone is much more critical towards Fatah than towards Hamas. For example, Goldstone blames Fatah for the “refusal to cede control of the security institutions” in favor of the Hamas (Article 190), causing the confrontation between the factions. Hamas, according to the whole report, is a completely legitimate body that should control the security institutions. Goldstone stubbornly refuses to see the very anti-Semitic and terrorist nature of Hamas, an entity whose very existence is a crime against humanity.

***

It is possible to continue, article after article, in order to expose the construction of the deceptions and the lies. The mission details 36 factual events that prove, as it were, that Israel perpetrated war crimes. In their reduced framework below, let us examine the attack on the Abd Rabbo family. This event became one of the most prominent symbols of Operation Cast Lead, received widespread coverage and was mentioned in many reports. The Goldstone report devotes ten articles (768-777) to this incident. The mission repeated the claim that family members waived a white flag and that its daughters were murdered in cold blood by Israel. This claim is not only negligent, it is also a malicious lie. Thorough checks have shown that family members agave different and contradictory versions. One of the claims was that this was cold-blooded murder because there were no Hamas personnel in the area. It seems that this claim has also been refuted, by contradictory testimony, even by Time magazine, to the effect that there were indeed Hamas personnel in the area. Moreover, it seems that Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reports that, “The Abd Rabbo family kept quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza strip into a fortress.” The testimony is contradictory and the Time and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reports were supposed to be before the mission. But there is not even a hint of them in the Goldstone report, which publishes a libel, even though it has already been contradicted. The objective has been marked. The facts will not confuse the mission.

***

The foregoing is only the tip of the iceberg. Space is too short to detail the parade of lies known as “the Goldstone Report.” We have presented here only isolated examples about the method. Goldstone, who chose to collaborate with the dark majority, supplied the goods. The report deserves a much closer study. The State of Israel must establish a commission of inquiry, led by top-notch jurists, in cooperation with their colleagues from around the world, in order to examine article after article, claim after claim, and refute the libel. The deeper one digs into the report, the more it becomes clear that Goldstone is a criminal hiding under the umbrella of human rights. On behalf of human rights, he and his lies must be exposed. The truth must come to light.


Transcript: CNN grills Netanyahu on Israeli “war crimes” (& other items)

September 23, 2009

* Helmsley Hotel in New York cancels tomorrow’s lavish banquet for Ahmadinejad
* Jimmy Carter’s former national security advisor: U.S. may have to shoot down Israeli planes
* Arabic media: Egyptian candidate for UNESCO chief admits helping to organize the escape from Italy in 1985 of the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro

This dispatch is a short-follow-up to my dispatch on Monday about the Goldstone report.

 

CONTENTS

1. CNN grills Netanyahu on Israeli “war crimes”
2. Transcript of Netanyahu’s interview on CNN yesterday
3. A different, unintended consequence?
4. Cartoon
5. Gaza withdrawal: a reminder
6. Brzezinski calls for Obama to shoot down Israeli jets
7. Egyptian who called for the burning of Israeli books loses bid to head UNESCO
8. Helmsley Hotel in New York cancels dinner for Ahmadinejad
9. Argentine president: I will challenge Iran over AMIA bombing during UN speech
10. “For world leaders to meet Ahmadinejad is a stab in the back to Iranians”


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

CNN GRILLS NETANYAHU ON ISRAELI “WAR CRIMES”

Below is a transcript of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s interview on CNN yesterday, in which he is repeatedly asked by Wolf Blitzer about Israeli “war crimes”.

(To remind readers, since CNN doesn’t, Netanyahu wasn’t even in government at the time of the Gaza offensive earlier this year, and he opposed the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza precisely because he foresaw the kind of attacks on Israel that then followed from Gaza.)

Netanyahu was being interviewed on the occasion of his meeting in New York with U.S. President Barack Obama and Palestinian leader Mohammed Abbas, who wasn’t, incidentally, asked about war crimes.

 

TRANSCRIPT OF NETANYAHU’S INTERVIEW ON CNN YESTERDAY

BLITZER: You know this United Nations commission, which just came back with a scathing report suggesting that Israel, your military, committed war crimes or something close to that, crimes against humanity, perhaps, even, during the fighting in Gaza. And I know you strongly disagree, but I want you to react to that United Nations report.

NETANYAHU: Now you’re being a diplomat. I strongly disagree? I think this is preposterous. It’s absurd. Israel was rocketed, pummeled for eight years by thousands of rockets that came from Gaza. We vacated all of Gaza, hoping that this thing would stop, and they fired not one rocket, but thousands of rockets, after we left Gaza.

So, what’s a country to do? I mean, what would you do if thousands of rockets fell on – Where are you talking from, Wolf, Washington, right? – Washington, D.C., or any part of the United States? You know what the United States would do.

BLITZER: The argument, though, Mr. Prime Minister, in this U.N. report is that you overreacted, and, in the process, you killed a lot of civilians.

NETANYAHU: We overreacted, did we? Well, let me tell you, after a million or so of our people were under rocket fire, progressively larger and larger circles of rockets falling on our cities, we did what every reasonable country would do. We tried to get at the rocketeers, those terrorists firing those missiles and rockets who placed themselves, embedded themselves in homes and schools and mosques, and you name it.

And we tried to target these people. We even sent them SMS text messages, telling the Palestinian civilians, please get out of harm’s way, cellular phones, you name it. So, we did everything possible to minimize the loss of innocent civilian lives.

And yet the Hamas actually was committing a double war crime, firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians. That’s a double war crime. They’re the ones who sort of get a free bill out of this biased U.N. report, and Israel, that is defending itself, is accused.

BLITZER: All right.

NETANYAHU: So, the terrorists are exonerated. The victims are accused. That’s an upside-down world. And I think this does grievous harm to the battle against terrorism, because the terrorists are basically being told, you get a free ride. All you have to do is fire at a democracy from built-up areas, from residential quarters, and you will get a clean bill of health. And I think it does a great disservice to peace, too, because we’re asked to take risks for peace. The international community says, if you take risks for peace, we will support your right of self- defense. And yet we did just that. We vacated Gaza in the hopes that this would advance peace. And when we’re rocketed with thousands of rockets and missiles from the places we vacated, people say Israel is the war criminal.

BLITZER: All right.

NETANYAHU: Come on. I mean, this is absurd.

BLITZER: If there is a trial at the International Court and the accusation is that Israel committed war crimes, or crimes against humanity in Gaza, will you cooperate with that?

NETANYAHU: Well, the question is, will any serious country cooperate with it?

I took note of the fact that the leading democracies that were in this U.N. commission, they opposed this. They were against this mandate, because it looked like a kangaroo court in the first place, where Israel was basically hanged, drawn, and quartered morally and given an unfair trial to boot right at the start of these proceedings.

I think this is wrong. But understand this. It’s not only we who will be damaged. It’s you, too. I mean, American pilots, NATO pilots, let alone Russia and other countries that are fighting terrorists, are going to be put on the dock, too, because it’s said that you cannot fight terrorists.

It means that all the terrorists have to do is put themselves in a residential quarter, and they receive immunity. And that’s not something that any country fighting terrorism can accept. And I don’t think you can accept it either.

 

A DIFFERENT, UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE?

Rich Lowry, the editor of The National Review, writes at The Corner concerning Goldstone’s suggestion Israel be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Goldstone’s Unintended Benefit?

Tom Gross has a very thorough dispatch on reactions to the UN’s Goldstone report that accuses Israel of “war crimes” and gives its enemies a pretext for bringing the country before the International Criminal Court. The dispatch is worth reading mainly for the critiques it includes of the very dubious methods employed by the report.

But it raises another important point. Will the ICC accept the case? If it refuses, there will be an outcry among the vast stage army of NGOs, human rights groups, and international law professors who are the ICC’s main constituency. But if it accepts, there could be a highly controversial prosecution of Israel playing out at exactly the moment when the Obama administration is trying to quietly edge the U.S. into the Court. And Goldstone sinking the ICC is a very delicious prospect.

 

CARTOON

The cartoon below is by Dry Bones, who was for over three decades, until recently, the cartoonist for The Jerusalem Post. Dry Bones is a subscriber to this email list, and I reproduce this cartoon with his permission.

 

GAZA WITHDRAWAL: A REMINDER

A photo essay here: www.tomgrossmedia.com/ExodusFromGaza.html

 

BRZEZINSKI CALLS FOR OBAMA TO SHOOT DOWN ISRAELI JETS

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who bares the heavy responsibility of having advised Jimmy Carter on national security and helping usher in the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran (the effects of which the poor people of Iran and the rest of the world are still living with), offers some advice to President Obama in an interview with Tina Brown’s influential website, the Daily Beast.

He suggests that Barack Obama can do more than just refuse to support an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites and that he should give an order to shoot down Israeli aircraft as they cross Iraqi airspace:

Daily Beast: How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?

Brzezinski: We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

Daily Beast: What if they fly over anyway?

Brzezinski: Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.

(The USS Liberty was a U.S. ship that the Israelis accidentally attacked during the Six Day War in 1967 – although anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists say the attack was deliberate. Is Brzezinski a conspiracy theorist, or is he suggesting that he would like to see the U.S. shoot down Israeli planes accidentally?)

 

EGYPTIAN WHO CALLED FOR THE BURNING OF ISRAELI BOOKS LOSES BID TO HEAD UNESCO

The following item of mine was posted yesterday evening on the website of The National Review.

Controversial Egyptian loses UNESCO vote
By Tom Gross
September 22, 2009

Farouk Hosny, the Egyptian favorite to run UNESCO has in the last hour failed in his attempt to become head of what is supposed to be the world’s leading educational and cultural organization. Among other things, he had called for the burning of Israeli books.

But then running a state censorship operation, as he has done for decades, ought to be a disqualification from the post in the first place.

Also, the generally reliable Arabic-language website Elaph.com, on Saturday published what it said were private admissions by Hosny that when he was the Egyptian cultural attaché in Rome, he helped to organize the escape from Italy in 1985 of the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. In that episode, a retired American Jewish tourist in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, was shot and pushed into the sea where he drowned.

Below, an item just posted on The New York Times website.

September 23, 2009
Controversial Egyptian Loses Unesco Vote
By Steven Erlanger

PARIS — In a fifth and final round of voting, a Bulgarian diplomat narrowly defeated Egypt’s culture minister for the leadership post at Unesco on Tuesday night, ending a bitterly fought contest in which critics of the Egyptian candidate accused him of anti-Semitism and censorship.

The victor, Irina Bokova, 57, won by a vote of 31 to 27 to be the new director-general of Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Her opponent, Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny, 71, had been considered the favorite to win.

A race that began with nine candidates, with Mr. Hosny in the lead, was affected by charges against him that he was in favor of burning books by Israelis and keeping restrictions on Egypt’s carefully edited press – incompatible with a United Nations agency that is supposed to defend press freedom.

An alliance of Unesco board members opposed to Mr. Hosny finally coalesced around Ms. Bokova, a former Bulgarian Foreign Minister and currently Bulgaria’s ambassador to France and Unesco, which is headquartered in Paris.

Someone from the Arab world or Eastern Europe has never run Unesco. The new director general replaces Koichiro Matsuura of Japan.

(Background here: www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/001033.html)

 

HELMSLEY HOTEL IN NEW YORK CANCELS DINNER FOR AHMADINEJAD

A leading New York hotel has canceled a banquet it was scheduled to host tomorrow evening after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced he was to speak there. The Helmsley Hotel banquet suite had been booked by an Iranian student group.

A spokesman for the hotel said: “Neither the Iranian Mission nor President Ahmadinejad is welcome at any Helmsley facility. The Helmsley organization is grateful to United Against Nuclear Iran for bringing this matter to its attention so that appropriate action could be taken.”

“United Against Nuclear Iran” is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition in the United States.

Ahmadinejad is expected to stay at the Barclays InterContinental Hotel in New York.

By contrast, Ahmadinejad was given a warm welcome at his hotel in Switzerland in April, and the Swiss president was among those honoring the Iranian despot only days after he again called for the destruction of Israel. For more, see the dispatch: Swiss government requisitions 40 lavish hotel rooms for Ahmadinejad (& Elie Wiesel abused at Durban II) (April 23, 2009).

I suggest you also watch the important videos on that dispatch.

At the time, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a longtime subscriber to this email list, was manhandled by Swiss federal agents and forced out of the hotel where Ahmadinejad and Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz were meeting, after he announced plans to challenge the Iranian leader over his views on the Holocaust.

 

ARGENTINE PRESIDENT: I WILL CHALLENGE IRAN OVER AMIA BOMBING DURING UN SPEECH

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner says that in her speech to the UN General Assembly in New York this week, she will challenge Iran over its connection to the 1994 AMIA center bombing in Buenos Aires that killed almost 100 Argentinean Jews.

Interpol has issued arrest warrants for several senior Iranian officials, including President Ahmadinejad’s new defense minister, over that attack.

 

“FOR WORLD LEADERS TO MEET AHMADINEJAD IS A STAB IN THE BACK TO IRANIANS”

Israel’s bestselling newspaper Yediot Ahronot writes in an editorial:

“It doesn’t really matter what Ahmadinejad will say in his UN speech. The fact that they are giving the stage to a serial Holocaust denier, who defrauds elections in his own country and murders opposition demonstrators, is a scandal. Any contact with the Iranian president, direct or indirect, is like a stab in the back of the freedom-striving Iranian people as well as being a moral crime against the Jewish people.”


Dachau survivor asks Goldstone: How dare you? (& Peres: Goldstone “legitimized terrorism”)

September 21, 2009

* After days of silence, Obama officials finally sharply criticize Goldstone’s report
* Senior Hamas official thanks Goldstone for giving “ammunition to our supporters in the West”
* Shimon Peres: Goldstone has “legitimized terrorism” and “made a mockery of history”
* Israeli officials amazed at harshness of UN report, which they say is worse than the Arab League report on Gaza that accused Israel of genocide
* Dachau survivor asks Goldstone: How dare you accuse Israel of crimes against humanity?
* This year’s Israel-bashing season at the UN is off to a flying start

* “Genuine massacres in Sudan and Rwanda or ongoing brutality in Burma and North Korea elicit barely a yawn at the UN. But Israel conducts a carefully planned and orchestrated military campaign to root out terrorists who have intentionally embedded themselves in civilian areas and the UN issues a breathless 554-page report accusing the Jewish state of ‘war crimes’ and ‘terrorism’” and Goldstone suggests Israel is guilty of “crimes against humanity”

This dispatch concerns reaction to the Goldstone report.

There is a follow-up dispatch to this dispatch here.

 

CONTENTS

1. Israel: “This report was conceived in sin”
2. Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the EU reject Goldstone report
3. Even Mary Robinson denounces Goldstone’s report
4. The Guardian and others play the Jew card
5. Ex-Ha’aretz editor: Goldstone’s report is “chilling and misguided”

6. Will Obama now let Goldstone into Afghanistan?
7. U.S. State department: “Gaza report unfair, lenient with Hamas”
8. Susan Rice: U.S. has “very serious concerns” about Goldstone’s “unbalanced” report
9. Haniyeh: World must back Goldstone’s report
10. Shimon Peres: the Goldstone Report “makes a mockery of history”

11. Ex-Israeli justice minister: “It is a political report disguised in a legal cloak”
12. Avigdor Lieberman: “The UN didn’t let themselves be confused by the facts”
13. “It’s a good thing that the UN wasn’t around during World War II”
14. “The UN report could have been drafted by Hamas extremists. Wait, in effect, it was!”
15. Barely a yawn at the UN when it comes to genuine massacres
16. Ambition made him do it?

17. Holocaust survivor asks Goldstone: How dare you accuse us of crimes against humanity?
18. Open letter to Judge Goldstone (by Solly Ganor, Sept. 17, 2009)
19. “UN must hold Obama to same standard as Israel” (by Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz, Sept. 17, 2009)
20. “The Gaza report’s wasted opportunity” (by David Landau, NY Times, Sept. 20, 2009)
21. “Goldstone report was hardly a fact-finding mission” (LA Times, Sept. 18, 2009)
22. “UN’s Israel frame-up” (New York Post editorial, Sept. 20, 2009)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

ISRAEL: “THIS REPORT WAS CONCEIVED IN SIN”

Israelis across the political spectrum have reacted with fury to the outrageously biased report of a UN “fact-finding” mission in Gaza mandated by the horribly misnamed UN Human Rights Council and headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.

Goldstone denounced Israel for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and urged the Security Council to refer the matter to international war crimes prosecutors.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was “appalled” by the UN report which was based almost exclusively on unverifiable testimony by Hamas sympathizer groups in Gaza.

Government spokesman Mark Regev said: “This report was conceived in sin and is the product of a union between propaganda and bias.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry launched a special webpage in an effort to rebut the allegations by the Goldstone committee.

Referring to the upcoming speech of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said: “The same UN that allows the president of a country to announce on a podium its aspiration to destroy the State of Israel has no right to teach us about morality.”

 

CANADA, JAPAN, SWITZERLAND AND THE EU REJECT GOLDSTONE REPORT

Numerous states – including Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union – refused to support the Goldstone mission before it even began, so slanted was the make-up of its team that included such anti-Israel bigots as London School of Economics Professor Christine Chinkin. (Goldstone himself served as a director of the anti-Israel group Human Rights Watch*.) Even so, Goldstone’s insistence that Israel be referred to the International Criminal Court is a very dangerous development for those who believe Israel should survive.

A special session of the Human Rights Council has been called for September 29 in Geneva, at which the Palestinians are expected to begin the process aimed at bringing the matter to the ICC.

* Goldstone was a director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) at the time HRW appointed Marc Garlasco its senior analyst. Garlasco, who authored the HRW report from which Goldstone “borrowed” so much “information,” was suspended last week after it was disclosed that he is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, and had said in an online posting that SS uniforms were “so cool.”

Even before his Nazi-link revelations came out, there were serious concerns about Garlasco (pictured below). He appears to have played a major role in the later discredited allegations that Israel killed Palestinians on a Gaza beach in 2006 – allegations which The New York Times took seriously at the time and splashed all over its front page, even though it was later established that the Palestinians died after stepping on a Hamas shell. For more, see here. Goldstone relies on Garlasco’s supposed “military expertise” in his report.

(As reported last month on this website, another senior HRW staff member – deputy director Joe Stork – hailed the “achievement” of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes for providing “an important boost in morale among Palestinians.”)

Among other “experts” cited by the Goldstone report was the Central Commission for Documentation and Pursuit of Israeli War Criminals.

 

EVEN MARY ROBINSON DENOUNCES GOLDSTONE’S REPORT

Even longtime critic of Israel, Mary Robinson, denounced Goldstone’s mandate as “not balanced, because it focuses on what Israel did, without calling for an investigation on the launch of rockets by Hamas” at Israeli civilians. She added that it was “guided not by human rights, but by politics.”

 

THE GUARDIAN AND OTHERS PLAY THE JEW CARD

Both The Guardian and The New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune made sure to emphasize on their front pages that Goldstone is a Jew, as if this would somehow excuse his extreme prejudice against Israel. (Throughout history those prejudiced against Jews have used individual Jews to do their “dirty work” for them in slandering or denouncing other Jews. This was particularly so during Roman times, the Spanish inquisition, Stalinist Russia, and Nazi Germany).

What The Guardian and others fail to tell their readers is that the UN Human Rights Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than all the other 191 UN member states combined. But then, of course, the more time the Council spends demonizing Israel, the less likely it will ever mention the more than one million displaced people in Somalia this year, the more than one million displaced people in Pakistan this year, the 300,000 Tamil civilians now rotting in northern Sri Lanka, the systematic daily rape of male and female pro-democracy activists now occurring in Iranian prisons, the atrocious treatment of the leader of the Iranian bus workers union who has just had his tongue sliced off so he could no longer lead vocal protests against the regime, and so on.

***

Readers of Goldstone’s report may be surprised to learn that “individuals and groups, viewed as sources of criticism of Israel’s military operations were subjected to repression by the Government of Israel.” This is complete nonsense, of course, and pretty rich coming from a UN Human Rights Commission whose members include states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where protesters face more than just repression if they dare challenge their governments.

 

EX-HA’ARETZ EDITOR: GOLDSTONE’S REPORT IS “CHILLING AND MISGUIDED”

The extent of Goldstone’s undermining of the state of Israel has been too much even for the Israeli hard left.

David Landau – who was the editor in chief of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz from 2004 to 2008 at a time when the paper veered to the far left and who famously told Condoleezza Rice that the U.S. should “rape”* Israel to force it out of the West Bank) – yesterday wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he described Goldstone’s report as “chilling and misguided.”

(* For background on his “rape” remarks, please see here.)

Landau told New York Times readers: “The [Goldstone] report stunned even seasoned Israeli diplomats who expected no quarter from an inquiry set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which they believe to be deeply biased against Israel.”

“Judge Goldstone has thwarted any such honest debate – within Israel or concerning Israel. His fundamental premise, that the Israelis went after civilians, shut down the argument before it began.” (Full article below.)

(It is regrettable that in his article Landau makes no mention of key issues such as the false claims by Hamas to NGOs which gullible Goldstone and his team lapped up.)

 

WILL OBAMA NOW LET GOLDSTONE INTO AFGHANISTAN?

Ari Shavit, one of the leading columnists for Israel’s left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper, writes:

“Some two weeks ago American airplanes fired on two oil tankers in northern Afghanistan. It was a German officer who’d asked the U.S. air force to attack the tankers in the middle of the night, in a populated area. The attack was successful – the two tankers were hit, went up in flames and were destroyed. But the overwhelming American-German air attack killed some 70 people. Some of those brought to hospitals were severely injured – with mutilated faces, burned hands and charred bodies.

“One way or another, it’s clear that the United States and Germany are responsible for an extremely brutal attack. Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway also bear responsibility for the massacre as NATO members.

“Obama would probably be the principal defendant in this case. He was the one who believed in the war in Afghanistan and intensified it. As U.S. commander-in-chief, he bears direct responsibility not only for the deaths of those who were burned with the tankers, but the death of many hundreds of innocent Afghan civilians.

“If there are is such a thing as an international community, international law and universal ethics, they must seriously consider putting Obama on trial for his responsibility for severe war crimes.

“Absurd? Yes, it’s absurd. Only when Israel is involved is international judgment administered out of context… As long as Judge Richard Goldstone doesn’t probe the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka or Turkey, just as he probed Israel, he is not a moral figure…”

(Full article below.)

Tom Gross adds: there have been dozens of cases where over a hundred civilians have died in a single airstrike in Afghanistan. This is why Israel avoided such airstrikes in Gaza and bravely sent its own soldiers into battle in a desperate effort to root out Hamas terrorists while avoiding harm to civilians. In other conflicts around the world, such as the ongoing conflict in Yemen against the country’s Shia population (in which 80 children and women were killed in a government airstrike on Saturday alone), or the Sri Lankan assault on its Tamil population earlier this year or the ongoing wars in Somalia, Congo and elsewhere, far more people have been killed.

 

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: “GAZA REPORT UNFAIR, LENIENT WITH HAMAS”

The Associated Press reports:

The Obama administration sharply criticized a UN report Friday alleging that Israel committed multiple war crimes in Operation Cast Lead this year. The State Department statement ended nearly a week of muted reactions to findings already rejected by Israel.

The U.S. State Department said the conclusions of a UN commission headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone were unfair to Israel and did not fully deal with the role in the conflict of the Palestinian group Hamas. It said the United States objected to a recommendation that Israeli actions be referred to the International Criminal Court.

“Although the report addresses all sides of the conflict, its overwhelming focus is on the actions of Israel,” spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

“While the report makes overly sweeping conclusions of fact and law with respect to Israel, its conclusions regarding Hamas’s deplorable conduct and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law during the conflict are more general and tentative,” he said.

Kelly said that the United States wanted to keep discussion of the report within the council and had “very serious concerns” about a recommendation that it be raised at other bodies, including the International Criminal Court.

 

SUSAN RICE: U.S. HAS “VERY SERIOUS CONCERNS” ABOUT GOLDSTONE’S “UNBALANCED, ONE-SIDED AND BASICALLY UNACCEPTABLE” MANDATE

The Washington Post reports:

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, rejected a UN proposal to compel Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, to conduct credible investigations into war crimes during last winter’s war in Gaza or face possible prosecution by an international prosecutor.

She said it has long had “very serious concerns” about the mandate the Human Rights Council gave to Goldstone, calling it “unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable.” Israeli officials have said the mandate was biased against Israel.

“Our view is that we need to be focused on the future,” Rice told reporters outside the Security Council. “This is a time to work to cement progress towards the resumption of negotiations and their early and successful conclusion and our efforts, and we hope the efforts of others will be directed to that end.”

 

HANIYEH: WORLD MUST BACK GOLDSTONE’S REPORT

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports:

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh yesterday urged world powers to embrace the new report on alleged war crimes committed during Israel’s recent war on the Gaza Strip.

“We hope the report will not be doomed to the fate of the dozens of reports that [Israel] has condemned for decades,” referring to the report of the fact-finding mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone.

Haniyeh specifically asked the Arab League and European countries to use all means to make sure the report is brought to the attention to the UN Security Council and then referred to prosecutors.

The Hamas leader was speaking to a mass prayer session and rally in Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza City, shortly after dawn on Sunday morning, the first day of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month of Ramadan. Some 30,000 men, women and children filled the football pitch. Palestinian and Hamas flags flew from the goal posts.

***

Tom Gross adds: In remarks made in Gaza, a senior Hamas official is also reported to have thanked Goldstone for giving “ammunition to our supporters in the West”.

 

SHIMON PERES: THE GOLDSTONE REPORT “MAKES A MOCKERY OF HISTORY”

Israel’s generally dovish President Shimon Peres has joined criticism of the Goldstone UN report, saying it “legitimizes terrorism” and “ignores Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself.”

Peres said it “makes a mockery of history” and that “it does not distinguish between the aggressor and the defender.”

A visibly angry Peres added: “War is crime and the attacker is the criminal. The Hamas terror organization is the one who started the war and also carried out other awful crimes. Hamas has used terrorism for years against Israeli children.”

“The report gives de facto legitimacy to terrorist initiatives and ignores the obligation and right of every country to defend itself, as the UN itself had clearly stated.”

The criticism aimed at Israel, he added, “failed to supply any other way for Hamas fire to stop. The IDF’s operations have boosted the West Bank’s economy, liberated Lebanon from Hizbullah terror and allowed Gazans to resume normalcy.”

“The Israeli government withdrew from Gaza and Hamas began a murderous rampage, firing thousands of shells on women and children – innocent civilians – instead of rebuilding Gaza and caring for the population’s welfare.”

 

EX-ISRAELI JUSTICE MINISTER: “IT IS A POLITICAL REPORT DISGUISED IN A LEGAL CLOAK”

Former Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann also criticized the report, saying “it is a political report disguised in a legal cloak, but it is legally unfounded.”

“What this report really means is that Israel is the only country in the world which is not allowed to defend itself against acts of terror. Israel is the most threatened nation in the world and yet it makes the most effort to avoid harming innocent lives.

“Any comparison of Israel’s fight on terror with recent conflicts in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. immediately shows that Israel holds itself to the highest ethical standard.”

 

AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN: “THE UN DIDN’T LET THEMSELVES BE CONFUSED BY THE FACTS”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that “The Goldstone Mission was established for the express purpose of finding Israel guilty of war crimes and to that purpose the members of the Mission didn’t for one moment let themselves be confused by the facts.”

“The whole purpose of the report, from the moment it was decided to write it, was to destroy Israel’s image through the agency of states to which the concepts of ‘human rights’ and ‘ethical warfare’ are totally foreign.”

 

“IT’S A GOOD THING THAT THE UN WASN’T AROUND DURING WORLD WAR II”

Max Boot writes on the website of the magazine Commentary:

After reading the Goldstone Report on human-rights abuses committed during the Gaza War all I can say is, it’s a good thing that the United Nations wasn’t around during World War II.

I can just imagine it producing a supposedly evenhanded report that condemned the Nazis for “grave” abuses such as incinerating Jews, while also condemning the Allies for their equally “grave” abuses such as fire-bombing German and Japanese cities.

The recommendation, no doubt, would have been that both sides be tried for war crimes, with Adolf Hitler in the dock alongside Franklin Roosevelt.

Actually, that may be giving the UN more credit than it deserves. To judge by the evidence before us, the likelihood is that the UN in those days would have devoted far more space to Allied “abuses” than to those of the Axis and would have recommended that FDR stand alone before the world court.

 

“THE UN REPORT COULD HAVE BEEN DRAFTED BY HAMAS EXTREMISTS. WAIT, IN EFFECT, IT ACTUALLY WAS!”

Alan Dershowitz writes:

Richard Goldstone has now become a full fledged member of the international bash-Israel chorus. His name will forever be linked in infamy with such distorters of history and truth as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Jimmy Carter.

The so-called report commissioned by the notorious United Nations Human Rights Council and issued under his name is so filled with lies, distortions and blood libels that it could have been drafted by Hamas extremists. Wait, in effect, it actually was! UN members were accompanied on their investigations in Gaza by actual Hamas activists who showed them only what they wanted them to see.

 

BARELY A YAWN AT THE UN WHEN IT COMES TO GENUINE MASSACRES

Joel Mowbray writes on the Townhall website:

Genuine massacres in Sudan and Rwanda or ongoing brutality in Burma and North Korea elicit barely a yawn at the UN. But Israel wages a carefully planned and orchestrated military campaign to root out terrorists who have intentionally embedded themselves in civilian areas and the UN issues a breathless 554-page report accusing the Jewish state of “war crimes” and “terrorism.”

 

AMBITION MADE HIM DO IT?

Amir Mizroch writes in The Jerusalem Post:

Goldstone, a practicing Jew, is described by people who know him in South Africa as a respected and brilliant jurist, something of an icon in the Rainbow Nation, where he headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is revered worldwide as a champion against injustice. But the word that also comes up a lot when describing Goldstone is ambition. A lot of ambition.

It was not hard to find theories among Israeli officials as to why Goldstone would take on the mantle of leading this commission.

One theory is that Goldstone is aiming for a top job at the UN, possibly the secretary-general’s office. His work on the Gaza report and the high profile it is receiving worldwide will boost his visibility and popularity, especially among the Arab and non-aligned states.

It could be that the voicing of this theory now is born out of the anger and frustration in the halls of Israeli power; frustration at being surprised by such a harsh report (officials who have read it say it’s worse than the Arab League report on Gaza, which accused Israel of genocide).

***

Michael Freud writes in The Jerusalem Post:

Even for a body with a steady and dependable record of demonizing Israel, the UN has truly outdone itself this time. Mustering all the righteous indignation at its disposal, the world organization has deemed itself morally fit to accuse the Jewish state of “actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity” during last winter’s conflict in Gaza.

… Israel’s assault, the report concludes, “was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole,” which is about as close as you can come to depicting a country’s actions as Nazi-like without actually using the “N” word.

 

HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ASKS GOLDSTONE: HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE US OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?

Solly Ganor, a survivor of the Dachau death camp, who moved to Israel after the war, writes an angry open letter to Goldstone which I attach below.

I also attach a piece from The Los Angeles Times which says that “the Goldstone mission report has endorsed tactics of unlawful guerrilla movements the world over that purposefully endanger the lives of their own civilians in order to protect themselves from attack.”

The Goldstone mission ignored numerous media reports by Palestinians stating that Hamas held them as human shields, for example a Newsweek article in which a Palestinian witness said “resistance fighters were firing from positions all around the Al Quds hospital” and an article in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera quoting a Gaza resident saying, “The Hamas gunmen had taken refuge mainly in the building that houses the administrative offices of Al Quds; the nurses were forced to take off their uniforms so the gunmen could blend better and escape the Israeli snipers.”

Other eye-witness accounts from European newspapers quote Gaza residents saying Hamas fighters forcibly prevented them from leaving their houses and shot at Israeli forces from the same locations, telling them that they should be happy to die together with the “holy warriors.”

***

For those who want to read more about the Goldstone report, there is a good round-up with various links here.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


FULL ARTICLES

A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ASKS GOLDSTONE: HOW DARE YOU?

Open letter to Judge Goldstone
By Solly Ganor
September 17, 2009

Ramat Hasharon, Israel -- I am a Holocaust survivor, therefore I cannot help but regard all events that effect my country, Israel, from the point of view of a Holocaust survivor. Many of us after our liberation came here to fight in the War of Independence and help reestablish the state of Israel. Those of us who survived the wars, established families brought children and grandchildren to the world and today our grandchildren, in whose hands we leave the safety of this country and the safety of each individual, may be accused by you of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Our grandchildren, who bodily stand between the Hamas terrorist of Gaza and hundreds of millions of Islamic fanatics who openly declare to the whole world that they will and must destroy us, are being accused by you, Mr. Goldstone of crime against Humanity. And what were their war crimes? And how else were they going to ferret out each Hamas terrorist hiding behind the women and children? The same terrorists who were shooting off rockets into Israel for eight bloody years? And why did Israel wait eight years to start with, while every country in the world would have sent in their armies after the first rockets hit their towns?

We waited because we knew that if we went into Gaza trying to ferret out the rocket attackers, a Mr. Goldstone would appear with his lofty sickening biased morality and declare our grandchildren war criminals! We finally had to send them in because larger and larger rockets were arriving from Iran and a million Israelis were threatened by these rockets. That was not only unacceptable, but also intolerable. What would you have us do? Mr. Goldstone? How were we going to defend our towns against these attacks? If, by your definition, our grandchildren are war criminals, what are the Americans, the British and all the NATO forces who mercilessly bombarded Afghanistan, killing thousands of civilians, the Americans and British in Iraq, the Russians who did the same in Chechnya? I would agree to be called a war criminal if we simply sent in our planes and bombarded Gaza into the Stone Age, like the Americans did in Afghanistan. But we did not do it, Mr. Goldstone. Instead we sent in our grandchildren to be killed by the Hamas terrorist in order to avoid reducing Gaza to rubble!!!!

And for this our grandchildren are war criminals?

I was in Dachau, Mr. Goldstone, when five hundred American planes flew over our heads almost daily and drop thousands of bombs on Munich’s civilian population, reducing the town to rubble and killing thousands of civilians. At the end of the war the British dropped thousands of incendiary bombs on Dresden killing hundreds of thousands civilians. The war was over, still they did it. Perhaps you should call all those war criminals before you so blatantly accuse us?

I know it is much easier to accuse the Jews than the Americans, or the British or the Russians, although by your definition they are the real war criminals. No, Mr. Goldstone, war is not a nice thing, but if we want to stay alive, we Jews have learned by experience, that unless we defend ourselves, no one else will defend us. What we really find despicable of you is that you, as a Jew, agreed to participate in a committee that a priori condemned us. Your feeble excuse is that the UN only gave you a mandate to investigate The Gaza War.

Condemning Israel is as if you would condemn the British and the French for starting World War Two, after all it was France and Britain who declared war on Germany. And ignoring the fact the Germans attacked Poland first!

As far as I am concerned, as a survivor, You, Mr. Goldstone are doing a selection, (like in the good old days) singling out Israel, a small country trying to survive the constant onslaught of millions of Arabs. You picked us as a convenient target when by your definition of war crimes, your true target should have been America, Russia, NATO forces who sent in heavy bombers to drop thousands of bombs on civilian targets in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Belgrade and hundreds of other places around the world. If we should follow your dictate, the world has no right to defend itself against terrorism; if we do, we are to be classified as war criminals.

Mr. Goldstone, it was from Gaza that the rockets came bombarding Israeli towns for eight years, and it is a fact that the Palestinians voted Hamas into power. They started the war. Those who start a war should be blamed before those who defend themselves are blamed. You chose to ignore that fact.

All I can add is that as a judge, you are bigoted like the rest of the UN institutions, and as a Jew, Shame on You.

Sincerely yours,
Solly Ganor
Israel

 

“ABSURD? YES, IT’S ABSURD.”

UN must hold Obama to same standard as Israel
By Ari Shavit
Ha’aretz
September 17, 2009

Some two weeks ago American airplanes fired on two oil tankers in northern Afghanistan. It was a German officer who’d asked the U.S. air force to attack the tankers in the middle of the night, in a populated area. The attack was successful - the two tankers were hit, went up in flames and were destroyed. But the overwhelming American-German air attack killed some 70 people. Some of those brought to hospitals were severely injured – with mutilated faces, burned hands and charred bodies.

It is not clear to this day if most of those who burned to death were Taliban warriors, as NATO first claimed, or innocent civilians who wanted to bring home a bit of oil. One way or another, it’s clear that the United States and Germany are responsible for an extremely brutal attack. Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway also bear responsibility for the massacre as NATO members.

If the international community is committed to international law and universal ethics – which do not discriminate between one sort of killing and another – then it should investigate this villainous assault. If the United States, Germany and NATO refuse to cooperate with investigators, the UN should consider transferring the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. It is possible that at the end of the process it would be necessary to put U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway on trial for their role in committing a severe war crime that did not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Obama would probably be the principal defendant in this case. He was the one who believed in the war in Afghanistan and intensified it. As U.S. commander-in-chief, he bears direct responsibility not only for the deaths of those who were burned with the tankers, but the death of many hundreds of innocent Afghan civilians.

If there are is such a thing as an international community, international law and universal ethics, they must seriously consider putting Obama on trial for his responsibility for severe war crimes.

Absurd? Yes, it’s absurd. No sane person in the world believes that the United States, Russia or China could be subjected to purist international law. The United States has killed thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the last few months encouraged Pakistan to make an extremely brutal military move in its Swat Valley. The United States was not required to account for it because everyone understands that this is the price of the terrible War on Terror. Russia committed blood-curdling war crimes in Chechnya, while China deprives its citizens of basic rights and is conducting a wicked occupation in Tibet. They are not asked to pay for this because everyone understands that you don’t mess with superpowers.

But not only superpowers are immune. Saudi Arabia practices an open, declared policy of discrimination against women and the international community does not see. Sri Lanka is crushing the Tamil national movement, causing a ghastly humanitarian disaster, and the international community does not hear. Turkey is brutally oppressing the Kurdish minority, and the international community does not speak.

Only in matters involving Israel, do international law and justice suddenly discover that they have teeth. Only when Israel is involved is the judgment administered out of context. Only Israel is required to uphold a moral standard no superpower or Middle Eastern state is required to uphold.

Over the course of the military offensive in Gaza, Israel used excessive firepower and this must not recur. Severe incidents took place during the operation which must be investigated. But the inquiry must be carried out by us, and among ourselves. As long as Judge Richard Goldstone doesn’t probe the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka or Turkey, just as he probed Israel, he is not a moral figure. A law is a law only when it applies to everyone and does not discriminate, as Goldstone did.

 

“THE REPORT STUNNED EVEN SEASONED ISRAELI DIPLOMATS”

The Gaza report’s wasted opportunity
By David Landau
The New York Times (Op-Ed)
September 20, 2009

JERUSALEM -- Israel intentionally went after civilians in Gaza – and wrapped its intention in lies.

That chilling – and misguided – accusation is the key conclusion of the United Nations investigation, led by Richard Goldstone, into the three-week war last winter. “While the Israeli government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercises of its right to self-defense,” the report said, “the mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole.”

The report has produced a storm of outraged rejection in Israel. Politicians fulminate about double standards and anti-Semitism. Judge Goldstone, an eminent South African jurist and a Jew, is widely excoriated as an enemy of his people.

The report stunned even seasoned Israeli diplomats who expected no quarter from an inquiry set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which they believe to be deeply biased against Israel. They expected the military operation to be condemned as grossly disproportionate. They expected Israel to be lambasted for not taking sufficient care to avoid civilian casualties. But they never imagined that the report would accuse the Jewish state of intentionally aiming at civilians.

Israelis believe that their army did not deliberately kill the hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including children, who died during “Operation Cast Lead.” They believe, therefore, that Israel is not culpable, morally or criminally, for these civilian deaths, which were collateral to the true aim of the operation – killing Hamas gunmen.

It is, some would argue, a form of self-deception.

When does negligence become recklessness, and when does recklessness slip into wanton callousness, and then into deliberate disregard for innocent human life?

But that is the point – and it should have been the focus of the investigation. Judge Goldstone’s real mandate was, or should have been, to bring Israel to confront this fundamental question, a question inherent in the waging of war by all civilized societies against irregular armed groups. Are widespread civilian casualties inevitable when a modern army pounds terrorist targets in a heavily populated area with purportedly smart ordnance? Are they acceptable? Does the enemy’s deployment in the heart of the civilian area shift the line between right and wrong, in morality and in law?

These were precisely the questions that Israeli politicians and generals wrestled with in Gaza, as others do today in Afghanistan.

It is possible, and certainly arguable, that the Israeli policymakers, or individual Israeli field commanders in isolated instances, pushed the line out too far.

But Judge Goldstone has thwarted any such honest debate – within Israel or concerning Israel. His fundamental premise, that the Israelis went after civilians, shut down the argument before it began.

This is regrettable, for the report could have stirred the conscience of the nation. Many Israelis were dismayed at the war’s casualty figures, at the disparity between the dozen deaths on the Israeli side and the thousand-plus deaths, many of them of noncombatants, in Gaza.

Many Israelis were profoundly troubled by this arithmetic even though they supported Israel’s resort to arms in the face of incessant violation of their sovereign border by Hamas’s rain of rockets.

Judge Goldstone could have contended that just as Israeli leaders themselves have frequently called off pinpoint assassinations of terrorists because civilians were in the line of fire, so too they should have refrained from bombing and shelling Hamas targets in Gaza when that bombing and shelling was bound to exact a large civilian toll.

By approaching the Gaza war, and his report, from this perspective, Judge Goldstone could have opened debate and prompted reflection in Israel. Instead, by accusing Israel – its government, its army, its ethos – of deliberately seeking out civilians, he has achieved the opposite effect.

 

“CAPITULATION IN THE FACE OF TERROR IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY FROM THE GOLDSTONE MISSION”

Goldstone report unfair to Israel
It was hardly a fact-finding mission; political considerations made its conclusions of war crimes by Israel preordained.

By Jeremy Sharon
The Los Angeles Times
September 18, 2009

U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton once wrote that “battle is an orgy of disorder.” This statement rings especially true now as Western nations continue to fight against enemies whose primary tactic is to sow as much confusion and disorder on the battlefield as possible.

Unfortunately, the just-released report of the U.N. Human Rights Council – the so-called Goldstone mission report – on Israel’s three-week Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year seems to have ignored this modern-day phenomenon entirely. In so doing, it has endorsed tactics of unlawful guerrilla movements the world over that purposefully endanger the lives of their own civilians in order to protect themselves from attack.

The Goldstone mission – named for lead investigator Richard Goldstone – was, from the outset, skewed against Israel. Its mandate prejudged the outcome of the “fact-finding” mission before any facts had been found, stating that “violations of international human rights law ... by the occupying power, Israel,” would be looked into. Some of the four investigators were not neutral arbiters either. Professor Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics, one of the four, signed a Jan. 11 letter to the Sunday Times of London before the Israeli operation had concluded, accusing Israel of war crimes.

In an attempt to balance the report, the mission did conclude that Palestinian rocket fire into Israel constitutes war crimes. But this is largely irrelevant because the extent of the charges against Israel is so much greater and more damning.

The political bias of the mission was borne out in the report, which, despite its 575 pages, failed to find conclusive evidence of Hamas’ extraordinary use of civilians and civilian infrastructure for military purposes.

For example, the report makes no mention of the recorded incidents of Palestinian rocket fire from school premises during the operation, despite video evidence.

The mission also failed to find evidence of Palestinian forces using mosques to store rockets and explosives and said so in the report. But the Israel Defense Forces made public many videos showing Israeli air force strikes on mosques in which huge secondary explosions can be seen following the initial attack, testifying to the presence of rocket stores in the mosques.

The report also fails to mention that the Palestinian forces recruited children to conduct combat-support operations. A Jan. 9 report in an Arabic-language paper in Israel included an interview with Khaled, a child from Gaza. He said: “We the children ... are fulfilling missions of support for the [Hamas] resistance fighters, by transmitting messages about the movements of the enemy forces or by bringing them ammunition and food.”

The Palestinian forces utilized the civilian infrastructure of Gaza so completely that IDF soldiers and commanders could never be sure that people usually considered to be noncombatants were not participating in the hostilities, and that installations typically considered to be of a civilian nature were not being used to stage attacks on them. Without this crucial context, it is impossible to understand the dilemmas faced by the IDF during the operation or the reasons why injury to Gazan civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure were incurred.

Further, the report’s accounts of some incidents are dubious. For example, in its investigation of the shelling of Al Quds Hospital in Gaza City, the commission astonishingly concluded that it was unlikely that there was any armed presence in any of the hospital buildings at the time. Yet the report itself cites a Newsweek article in which a Palestinian witness stated “resistance fighters were firing from positions all around the [Al Quds] hospital.” An article in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera corroborates this, quoting a resident of the neighborhood saying, “The Hamas gunmen had taken refuge mainly in the building that houses the administrative offices of Al Quds” and that “nurses were forced to take off their uniforms ... so they [the gunmen] could blend better and escape the Israeli snipers.”

The mission also claims it found no evidence to suggest that Palestinian armed groups forced civilians to remain within the vicinity of the attacks. But in the Corriere della Sera article, Gaza residents explicitly stated that Hamas fighters forcibly prevented them from leaving their houses and shot at Israeli forces from the same locations, telling them that they should be happy to die together with the “holy warriors.”

The egregious omission or airbrushing of such information is not a matter of incompetence. These details simply contravened the political agenda of the mission, and so the investigators either overlooked them, declared them to be irrelevant or found them to be inconclusive.

The lasting legacy of the Goldstone report will be to have emboldened terrorists and illegitimate guerrilla forces at the expense of armies seeking to protect the innocent from the deliberate and murderous attacks against them. By refusing to call Hamas to account for the manner in which it deliberately endangered its own people, terrorist groups everywhere and their leaders can rest assured that they will not have to pay the consequences for such gross abuses of the laws of war. Instead, the Goldstone panelists decided to hamstring a democracy that had suffered more than 10,000 missile attacks on its citizens and to send the message that self-defense is not legitimate.

Capitulation in the face of terror is the order of the day from the Goldstone mission.

 

THE PREDETERMINED VERDICT OF A KANGAROO COURT

UN’s Israel frame-up
Editorial
The New York Post
September 20, 2009

Here we go again: The badly misnamed UN Human Rights Council last week delivered a scathing – and outrageously one-sided – report on last winter’s three-week conflict in Gaza.

The report denounced Israel for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and urged the Security Council to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice for criminal prosecution.

This, just hours after the United States joined the discredited council, which the Bush administration had boycotted because of (among other outrages) its blatant anti-Israel record.

Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer said Washington would press for “discussions that are thoughtful, focused and open to all viewpoints and perspectives” – all of which is lacking in the Gaza report.

But its findings were predictable from the start – given that the resolution authorizing the initial investigation declared that Israel “has caused massive violations of human rights.”

Which is why numerous states – including Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union – refused to support the probe.

And why even a longtime critic of Israel, Mary Robinson, denounced that mandate as “not balanced, because it focuses on what Israel did, without calling for an investigation on the launch of rockets by Hamas” at Israeli civilians.

And get this: A member of the investigating mission, Prof. Christine Chinkin, had actually signed statements denouncing Israel’s actions in Gaza as “an act of aggression and . . . contrary to international law.”

No wonder Israel declined to cooperate with such an obviously biased probe.

The report’s “evidence” is based entirely on unverified claims by Palestinians and anti-Israeli groups – including Human Rights Watch, whose own Gaza report was penned by an official who was suspended last week after it was disclosed that he’s an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia.

(Another news story noted that HRW’s deputy director hailed the “achievement” of the 1972 Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes for providing “an important boost in morale among Palestinians.”)

True, the report also labels Hamas’ firing of Katyusha rockets – which provoked Israel’s response – as a war crime. But the overwhelming bulk of its findings focus on alleged Israeli violations.

Little wonder, then, that a senior Hamas official hailed the report as “ammunition in the hands of the people who are willing to sue Israeli war criminals.”

More honest observers will recognize the report for what it is: the predetermined verdict of a kangaroo court.


Iran: “Einstein secretly converted to Shi’a Islam” (& Reuters “terrorist” journalist)

September 06, 2009

* Missing pirate ship carried Russian S-300 missiles for Iran
* Russia raids ship off coast of Africa based on Mossad information
* Former Abbas ally calls him “a third world tyrant”
* Swedish FM cancels trip to Israel, while Spanish FM apologizes for David Irving WW2 piece

* “Had the S-300 missiles been delivered, Iran would have significantly strengthened its air defenses. An Israeli air force source said that in the event of an attack on Iranian nuclear installations, such missiles could increase Israeli casualties by 50%.”

This dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The other part is: Associated Press: thousands of Arabs moving into Jewish areas of Jerusalem.

(I will be away on a lecture tour over the next two weeks and there won’t be any more dispatches until later in the month.)

 

CONTENTS

1. Iranian cleric: “Albert Einstein secretly converted to Shi’a Islam”
2. Another biased story from a Reuters’ contributor with a terrorist past
3. “Mossad supplied information, Russian commandos raided”
4. Former Abbas ally calls him “a third world tyrant”
5. Swedish Foreign Minister cancels this week’s trip to Israel, while Spanish FM apologizes
6. Spanish FM doesn’t have a problem with denouncing media anti-Semitism
7. UNRWA says it denounces Holocaust denial, but won’t teach Palestinians Holocaust
8. Encrypted video link installed between White House and Netanyahu’s office
9. Iran replacing envoys who backed “rioters”
10. Jane Fonda, Naomi Klein protest as Toronto Film Festival shows positive films about Tel Aviv


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

IRANIAN CLERIC: “ALBERT EINSTEIN SECRETLY CONVERTED TO SHI’A ISLAM”

If you want to understand the delusional beliefs of much of the leadership (and media) in Iran and the Arab world, this story from the Iranian media last week is a good example:

“According to an unnamed cleric delivering a sermon at a mosque in Tehran, the nuclear physicist Albert Einstein allegedly converted to Shi’a Islam through the efforts of Grand Ayatollah Boroujerdi, who also had urged Einstein to keep his conversion secret in order not to be assassinated.”

(In Persian here.)

 

ANOTHER BIASED STORY FROM A REUTERS CONTRIBUTOR WITH A TERRORIST PAST

On September 2, 2009, a Reuters stringer wrote a lengthy piece on the Reuters website about Palestinian smuggling tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The piece completely failed to mention the weapons that Hamas and other groups smuggle daily in large quantities through these tunnels, and that have in the past been used to murder Israeli civilians. Instead there were a number of photos with the article designed to engender sympathy for the smugglers.

The Reuters stringer responsible for the story and photos is none other than Suhaib Salem, arrested on suspicion of terrorism by Israel in 2002 (for having a hand grenade in his car), as I noted in this dispatch in 2002.

He is also brother to Salah Salem who was one of the men involved in the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldier Nachson Waxman in 1994.

***

Much of the world media uses information, photos and film footage supplied by the British-based company Reuters for its international reporting, and in particular its Middle East reporting.

The Reuters Trust Principles state: “Thomson Reuters is dedicated to uphold the Reuters Trust Principles and to preserve its independence, integrity and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of information and news.”

(For more background on Reuters, please see here. See also: Reuters Middle East Watch.)

 

“MOSSAD SUPPLIED INFORMATION, RUSSIAN COMMANDOS RAIDED”

Last week there were various headlines in the Israeli press such as “Mossad supplied information, Russian commandos raided: Thus the attempt to smuggle missiles to Iran aboard a pirated ship was foiled” (Yisrael Hayom).

And “The Pirates of the Mossad: Pirates raided Russian ship at the behest of the Israeli intelligence service” (Yediot Ahronot).

Now some foreign media have reported on this too. The (London) Sunday Times runs a story today headlined “Missing channel pirate ship carried Russian arms for Iran”.

The paper notes that “A cargo ship that vanished in the Channel was carrying arms to Iran and was being tracked by Mossad, the Israeli security service, according to sources in both Russia and Israel.

“The Arctic Sea, officially carrying a cargo of timber worth GBP 1.3m, disappeared en route from Finland to Algeria on July 24. It was recovered off west Africa on August 17 when eight alleged hijackers were arrested… sources in Tel Aviv and Moscow who claimed the ship had been loaded with S-300 missiles, Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while undergoing repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad.

“Mossad, which closely monitors arms supplies to Iran, is said to have tipped off the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers linked to the underworld.

“The Kremlin then ordered a naval rescue mission which involved destroyers and submarines. Any evidence that the Kremlin had let advanced weaponry fall into the hands of criminals or be sold to Iran would be highly embarrassing, so military officials believe a ‘cover story’ was concocted. ‘The official version is ridiculous and was given to allow the Kremlin to save face,’ said a Russian military source. ‘I’ve spoken to people close to the investigation and they’ve pretty much confirmed Mossad’s involvement. It’s laughable to believe all this fuss was over a load of timber [as Russia now officially claims]. I’m not alone in believing that it was carrying weapons to Iran.’

“… Had the S-300 missiles been delivered, Iran would have significantly strengthened its air defenses. An Israeli air force source said that in the event of an attack on Iranian nuclear installations, such missiles could increase Israeli casualties by 50%.”

“Since the Arctic Sea was retaken, Russia has imposed a security blackout. The hijackers, the crew and two investigative teams were flown back to Moscow in three Il-76 air freight planes. For more than a week after being freed the crew were not allowed to talk to their families.”

 

FORMER ABBAS ALLY CALLS HIM “A THIRD WORLD TYRANT”

Nabil Amr, a long-time political ally of Mahmoud Abbas (and before that a close confidante of Yasser Arafat), has described the Palestinian Authority president as a “third-world tyrant.”

Amr, who until recently served as Palestinian Minister of Information, also joined a long list of senior Fatah officials who have accused Abbas of “forging the results” of the recent elections for Fatah’s Central Committee and Revolutionary Council.

Amr’s attack is the latest sign of the continued bitter dissensions within Fatah.

As I wrote in a previous dispatch, former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), last month said “the fraud in the recent Iranian presidential election was nothing compared to what happened in Bethlehem in Fatah’s election.”

For more on the Fatah elections, please see The truth about Fatah – revealed by Fatah itself (Aug. 11, 2009).

 

SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER CANCELS THIS WEEK’S TRIP TO ISRAEL, WHILE SPANISH FM APOLOGIZES

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has cancelled a planned trip to Israel on September 11, against the background of Israeli anger at the Swedish government’s refusal to condemn an article in Sweden’s bestselling newspaper which accused IDF soldiers of murdering innocent Palestinians and harvesting their organs. (Please see previous dispatches on this list for background on this affair.) Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had let it be known he was considering not meeting Bildt unless he condemned the article in Aftonbladet, something the Swedish government has adamantly refused to do. Netanyahu said it was reasonable to expect the Swedish government to speak out against the type of defamation, which had in living memory led to the mass murder of Jews.

Sweden had no trouble condemning cartoons of Mohammed three years ago that Muslims found offensive (See here, for example.) By contrast Bildt reprimanded Sweden’s ambassador to Israel, who had called the article about Jews – which the newspaper now admits it made up – “shocking and appalling.”

In any case there is no comparison between depicting a long-dead religious figure as aggressive in a cartoon and falsely accusing contemporary Jews of murdering Palestinians based on a blood libel that played a key part in paving the way for a Holocaust that Sweden did little to stop.

It would also be difficult to imagine the Swedish government standing by an invented front-page article in the country’s most read newspaper that said black people are secretly murdering white people to cut them up and sell their organs.

 

SPANISH FM DOESN’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH DENOUNCING MEDIA ANTI-SEMITISM

Ironically, while the Swedes continued to refuse to condemn the article, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos chose the Swedish capital Stockholm (where he was attending an EU meeting yesterday) to denounce the Spanish newspaper El Mundo’s decision to run an interview this weekend with convicted Holocaust denier David Irving as part of its “experts” retrospective on the start of World War II 70 years ago.

“The foreign minister, while maintaining the most absolute respect for freedom of expression, regrets that space was given to a historian who denies one of the biggest tragedies for humanity in modern history,” Moratinos’s spokesman said. “These types of statements deeply hurt the Jewish people.”

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman welcomed Moratinos for his statement, saying “he understood the heart of the matter in this case, and did the right thing.”

Irving, who spent 13 months in jail in Austria for Holocaust denial, consistently argues that time is on his side. He wrote again on his website last month: “All that interests me now is the question, whose books will scholars be using in a hundred years’ time – mine, or those of the conformist historians like Ian Kershaw and Martin Gilbert?”

 

UNRWA SAYS IT DENOUNCES HOLOCAUST DENIAL, BUT WON’T TEACH PALESTINIANS HOLOCAUST

This is a follow-up to the note “Hamas accuses UN of plan to teach Gaza kids Holocaust ‘lies’” in the dispatch titled Obama’s approval rating in Israel falls to new low (& No male teachers allowed) (Sept. 1, 2009)

UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) has in the last two days issued two forceful press statements out of its New York office denouncing Holocaust denial.

But while UNRWA says it “condemns Holocaust denial in all its forms” it says it will not, as had been suggested, teach Palestinian children about the Holocaust. This follows threats to senior UNRWA staff by Hamas if it did.

In Gaza, Karen Abu Zayd, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, reiterated to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that the curriculum at UN schools in Gaza would not refer to the Jewish Holocaust. “Anyone can have a look at the school books. Really we focus on human rights in the curriculum. We don’t mention any Jewish Holocaust,” she said.

UNRWA, which runs schools for hundreds of thousands of Arab children in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, is largely funded by America and European governments.

An increasing number of European, American and Canadian politicians subscribe to this email list and I would urge them to look into UNRWA’s policy of denying these children the chance to learn about the Holocaust.

 

ENCRYPTED VIDEO LINK INSTALLED BETWEEN WHITE HOUSE AND NETANYAHU’S OFFICE

The Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported this weekend that an encrypted video link has been installed between the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office so that it is possible to hold secure video conferences. It is not known whether the White House has established such a link with any other country.

Could Iran possibly be on the agenda?

 

IRAN REPLACING ENVOYS WHO BACKED “RIOTERS”

Iran is replacing 40 of its ambassadors, including some who voiced support for what the regime called “rioters” during the unrest that followed June’s disputed presidential election, the semi-official Fars news agency reports.

This is part of an increased hardening of Iranian government personnel, including the appointment of a terrorist wanted by Interpol (for mass murder in Argentina) as the regime’s new defense minister, at a time when it is proceeding at rapid speed with its uranium enrichment program.

Meanwhile Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi today repeated the claim that three Persian Gulf islands were “an indispensible part of Iranian territory,” and Arab statements that they belonged to the UAE were “groundless, especially since the UAE was only born in 1971.” The islands may lead to a future clash between Shia Iran and the Sunni Arab world.

***

LABOR ACTIVIST IN CRITICAL CONDITION

* A lawyer representing Tehran Bus Company union chief Mansour Osanlou said last week that his client’s heart condition had worsened following a raid on his prison cell by guards who beat up his fellow inmates and destroyed Osanlou’s personal belongings. The lawyer added that Osanlou is being held with drug addicts, thieves and murderers as a form of special punishment. He was arrested for demanding workers’ rights.

* Iranian reformist websites report that dozens of victims of post-election violence were secretly buried in Tehran’s Behesht-i Zahra Cemetery.

* Mohammad Maleki, the former chancellor of Tehran University, has also now been arrested as the crackdown in Iran continues, largely unreported in the Western media.

 

JANE FONDA, NAOMI KLEIN PROTEST AS TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL SHOWS POSITIVE FILM ABOUT TEL AVIV

The New York Post reports (September 4, 2009):

HOLLYWOOD studios love to use the Toronto Film Festival as a launching pad for Oscar contenders, but this year there’s a different buzz. In an online letter to event chiefs, an array of notables -- Jane Fonda, Naomi Klein, Danny Glover and David Byrne among them -- have protested the festival’s choice to spotlight the city of Tel Aviv and 10 Israeli moviemakers.

“Intentionally or not,” the letter says, “the festival has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.” A week earlier, a Canadian filmmaker pulled his short from the event in protest. But the festival, which opens Thursday, refused to back down, insisting it would continue to show “the best films we can find.”

***

Tom Gross adds: Since that item appeared Jane Fonda has announced she will boycott this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Another “artist” saying she will boycott the event is Eve Ensler (the American-Jewish playwright and left-wing activist, who wrote The Vagina Monologues) who says she “would not stand by while the festival showed a film celebrating Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary.”

So much for tolerance and artistic freedom of expression.

Rewriting history (but then when did anti-Semites ever care about facts?), Fonda, Ensler and Klein said in a statement that Tel Aviv was built on the “suffering of thousands of former residents” of the city.

A Canadian Jewish leader said: “By calling into question the legitimacy of Tel Aviv, they are supporting a one-state solution, which means the destruction of the State of Israel. I applaud the organizers of the festival for celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv. If every city in the Middle East would be as culturally diverse, as open to freedom of expression as Tel Aviv is, then peace would long have come to the Middle East long ago.”

(For more on Naomi Klein, please see The Brides wore Black: Hamas widows re-marry (& The idiocies of Naomi Klein) (July 13, 2009)

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


Associated Press: thousands of Arabs moving into Jewish areas of Jerusalem

* Economic growth in Israel this year expected to exceed all other developed countries
* West Bank economy also growing at record rate of 9%
* By 2007, 1,300 of Pisgat Zeev’s 42,000 residents were Arabs
* In nearby French Hill, nearly one-sixth of the population are now Arabs
* Tariq Ramadan sacked in Holland, but still welcome in Britain

This dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The other part is: Iran: “Einstein secretly converted to Shi’a Islam” (& Reuters “terrorist” journalist)

(I will be away on a lecture tour over the next two weeks and there won’t be any more dispatches until later in the month.)

 

CONTENTS

1. Associated Press: thousands of Arabs moving into Jewish areas of Jerusalem
2. Economic growth in Israel this year expected to exceed all other developed countries
3. Credit to Stanley Fischer, who was Ben Bernanke’s doctoral supervisor at Princeton
4. “The Jewish state unwittingly supplies America with sobering food for economic thought”
5. How would a deal benefit ordinary Israelis?
6. Tariq Ramadan, welcome in Britain, sacked in Holland
7. “Israel’s recession started later and ended earlier. Here’s why.” (MarketWatch, Aug. 31, 2009)
8. “Don’t make me laugh” (The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 2, 2009)
9. “Holy city twist: Arabs moving into Jewish areas” (Associated Press, Sept. 5, 2009)
10. “Tariq Ramadan repudiated” (The American Thinker, Aug. 28, 2009)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

AP: THOUSANDS OF ARABS MOVING INTO JEWISH AREAS OF JERUSALEM

The Associated Press yesterday finally reported on the fact that thousands of Palestinian Arabs continue to move into Jewish areas of Jerusalem. While the world in general (and the Obama administration in particular) made such a fuss when two Jewish families moved into a predominantly Arab area of Jerusalem recently, the daily occurrence of Arabs buying homes and moving into Jewish areas is completely ignored.

I have long reported this phenomenon and questioned why the press never mentions it. While the media (and NGOs, and governments) continuously criticize the (relatively few) number of Jews living in the heart of Arab areas, they have nothing to say about Arabs moving to Jewish areas.

(I am not making a political assessment here about whether this two-way migration will help or hinder an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, only making a media analysis of the incredible double standards involved in criticizing only one party, Jews, but not the other.)

“THIS IS MUCH MORE THAN A SIMPLE MATTER OF REAL ESTATE”

The Associated Press (full article attached below) says the thousands of Arabs now living in Jewish areas “represent a potentially volatile twist in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the holy city.”

AP notes that “thousands of Arabs have now crossed the housing lines to Pisgat Zeev and neighborhoods like it in a migration that is raising tempers among some Jewish residents… while other Jewish neighbors are warming up to them.”

AP adds: “This is much more than a simple matter of real estate. Demographics could figure heavily in how Jerusalem is partitioned in a future peace deal. If that happens, it is expected the city will be split along ethnic lines – Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, Arab neighborhoods to Palestine.”

“In 2007, the latest year with available statistics, about 1,300 of Pisgat Zeev’s 42,000 residents were Arabs. In nearby French Hill, population 7,000, nearly one-sixth are Arabs, among them students at the neighboring Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Neve Yaakov, with 20,000 people, had 600 Arabs, according to the Israel Center for Jerusalem Studies, a respected think tank.”

***

Tom Gross adds: The AP article suggests the only reason that Arabs are moving to Jewish neighborhoods is because they are more middle class and enjoy better infrastructure. But my Palestinian friends who have moved to the western side of Jerusalem tell me that the prime reason they do so is they fear the city will be split in future under pressure from the U.S. government and if they stay in Arab districts they will be left to live under the dictatorship of the Palestinian Authority. They prefer the political and social freedoms Israel offers.

The AP also fails to mention that Palestinian Arabs live safely in the heart of Jewish neighborhoods, whereas Jews risk their lives if they live in the heart of Arab ones. In my opinion this is an important phenomenon that helps to explain why Middle East peace has yet to be achieved and is well worthy of media attention.

 

ECONOMIC GROWTH IN ISRAEL THIS YEAR EXPECTED TO EXCEED ALL OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

According to statistics released by the Bank of Israel, the projected growth for the Israeli economy is expected to be about 0% in 2009 and 2.5% in 2010. This projection makes Israel the only country in the developed world not to have had negative growth in 2009.

Israel ranks sixth in global economic growth among the world’s top 45 countries. The concern now is that the growth will spark increased interest rates; with some saying it could reach 3% by next summer. Last week, Israel became the first Western nation to raise its interest rates from 0.25% to 0.75%.

The estimates from the Bank of Israel were mirrored in a report released last week by Bank of America Merrill-Lynch, which wrote “we increased our GDP forecasts for Israel last week to 0.0%, and 2.5% for 2009 and 2010 respectively.”

 

CREDIT TO STANLEY FISCHER, WHO WAS BEN BERNANKE’S DOCTORAL SUPERVISOR AT PRINCETON

The Bank of Israel is headed by Professor Stanley Fischer, previously the number two at the American financial institution Citigroup. Zambian-born Fischer was also the doctoral supervisor at Princeton of Ben Bernanke, the current chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board.

Israel is, of course, a tiny player in the world economy, but, as James Lord, an economist with London-based Capital Economics puts it, the response of its central bank to the financial crisis “has been sophisticated ... [and] Bernanke’s preferred method for reversing any inflationary impact ... is essentially what the Bank of Israel has done”.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s luring to Israel of Stanley Fischer five years ago (when Netanyahu served as finance minister under Ariel Sharon) now seems more than ever like a masterstroke.

 

“THE JEWISH STATE UNWITTINGLY SUPPLIES AMERICA WITH SOBERING FOOD FOR ECONOMIC THOUGHT”

Below, in the first article in the “full articles” section I attach a commentary from MarketWatch (by Amotz Asa-El), sub-titled “Israel’s recession started later and ended earlier. Here’s why.”

“The U.S. recession, already its longest since the Depression, has yet to die,” notes the influential financial publication, “but Israel’s is already being eulogized, as the Jewish state unwittingly supplies America with sobering food for economic thought.”

It adds: “America seems headed in the opposite direction of the path Israel took from the economic delinquency of its youth, to the frugality that has now helped it emerge from a global recession almost unscathed.”

***

I attach four articles below. I mentioned two of them above, and there are summaries of the other two first for those of you who don’t have time to read the articles in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

HOW WOULD A DEAL BENEFIT ORDINARY ISRAELIS?

Evelyn Gordon writes in The Jerusalem Post:

There must have been something in the air last month: Two prominent Israeli leftists publicly acknowledged fundamental problems in the “peace process” that will make a deal unachievable if not resolved.

Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz’s diplomatic correspondent, articulated one problem in an August 7 column describing a conversation with a “senior European diplomat.” Benn posed one simple question: How would a deal benefit ordinary Israelis? The diplomat was stunned. Wasn’t it obvious? It would create a Palestinian state! “There would be an end to terror.” “Don’t make me laugh,” Benn replied.

When the IDF withdrew from parts of the West Bank and Gaza under the Oslo Accords, Israelis got suicide bombings in their cities. When it quit Gaza entirely, they got rockets on the Negev. But the bombings stopped after the IDF reoccupied the West Bank, and the rockets stopped after January’s Gaza operation. In short, the IDF has done a far better job of securing “peace” as Israelis understand it – i.e., not being killed – than the “peace process” ever has.

… Benn’s conclusion from the conversation was shocking: Thus far, the international community has never thought about how a deal might benefit Israelis; that was considered unimportant.

But to persuade Israelis to back an agreement, he noted, the world is going to have to start thinking. For Israelis already have what they want most, “peace and quiet,” and they will not willingly risk it for “another diplomatic adventure whose prospects are slim and whose dangers are formidable.”

A week later, Prof. Carlo Strenger – a veteran leftist – noted in his Ha’aretz column that for years leftists claimed a deal with the Palestinians would produce “peace now.” Instead, the Palestinian Authority “educated its children with violently anti-Israel and often straightforwardly anti-Semitic textbooks,” failed to prevent (or perhaps even abetted) repeated suicide bombings in 1996, torpedoed the final-status negotiations of 2000-2001 and finally produced the second intifada.

But instead of admitting it had erred in expecting territorial withdrawals to bring peace, Strenger wrote, the Left blamed Israel as if the Palestinians weren’t responsible for their incitement and violence…

Because the world placed the onus on Israel, Palestinians never felt any pressure to amend their behavior... Israel has repeatedly upped its offers over the past 16 years, but the Palestinians have yet to budge an inch…

 

TARIQ RAMADAN, WELCOME IN BRITAIN, SACKED IN HOLLAND

Stephen Schwartz, who is a Muslim and serves as executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, writes:

In an important development for the fight against extremist Islam in the West, the Dutch city of Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam have dismissed Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born Islamist academic, from his two local jobs.

Born in Switzerland, Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. He is a close associate of the fundamentalist Muslim theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the leading theorist of a “European Islam” that would abuse Western standards of religious freedom by erecting a parallel system of Shariah law alongside established civil law, coupled with aggressive da’wa or Islamic proselytizing. Ramadan has endorsed this strategy.

Ramadan has been barred from entry into the U.S. since 2004, after he made financial contributions to fundraising agencies for Hamas. Early in July of this year, however, given the new atmosphere of outreach to Muslim radicals under President Barack Obama, the Second Circuit U.S. Appeals Court reversed the lower-court ruling, effectively nullifying the prohibition on an American visa for Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Britain in 2005 allowed Ramadan to take up a position at Oxford University, where he holds the His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies.

Yet while the U.S. authorities now seem inclined to allow him on our shores, and Britain appears untroubled by his presence the Dutch have taken action to curb Ramadan’s ambitions.

He has been dismissed from the Rotterdam city post and Erasmus University because of his continuing involvement with the Iranian television channel Press TV, which continues to broadcast vile anti-Semitic and homophobic propaganda...


FULL ARTICLES

“IT TAKES NO ECONOMIST TO FEEL THE RENEWED OPTIMISM”

Lost U.S. Protestant ethic found in Jewish state
Israel’s recession started later and ended earlier. Here’s why.
By Amotz Asa-El
MarketWatch
August 31, 2009

www.marketwatch.com/story/lost-us-protestant-ethic-found-in-jewish-state-2009-08-31

The U.S. recession, already its longest since the Depression, has yet to die, but Israel’s is already being eulogized, as the Jewish state unwittingly supplies America with sobering food for economic thought.

Last week, the Commerce Department reported a fourth consecutive quarter of negative growth, while in Jerusalem the Central Bureau of Statistics reported that the Israeli economy grew 1% in the second quarter after two quarters of shrinkage.

Not only did Israel’s recession end earlier and begin later than most others, it was also milder, with its lone quarterly contractions measuring 3.2% and 1%. By contrast, the American economy shrank once by 5.4% and once by 6.4%.

It takes no economist to feel the renewed optimism. Customers crowd realty agencies, car dealerships, appliance stores and gourmet restaurants, while at Ben-Gurion Airport thousands flock every hour to vacations abroad. No wonder, then, that private consumption rose 2.7% in the second quarter after slumping 5.6% in the first quarter, while purchases of durable goods soared 19% after sinking 40% during the first three months. The burgeoning turnaround became so obvious that the July consumer-price index rose 1.1%.

Faced with all this, the Bank of Israel last week changed course after a year of monetary expansion, and pulled up interest rates 0.25 percentage point from their historic low of 0.5%. Gov. Stanley Fischer, the first among the world’s central bankers to raise rates this year, and the first to cut them last year, now says the worst is behind us.

True, over the past two years unemployment has mushroomed to 8% from less than 6%, but the Israeli economy has clearly suffered less than others in this crisis, and whatever ailments it experienced were imported rather than self-produced. What, then, explains this defiance of the global trend, and what lesson, if any, does it hold for other economies?

DEFYING A GLOBAL CRISIS

This is not the first time the Promised Land has defied a global economic crisis. It happened during the Great Depression and during the Bush recession in 1990-91, when waves of immigrants stimulated local consumption and construction, and it happened during World War II, when Britain used Palestine as a production center and shipping hub.

However, there was no such context this time around, as the previous decade’s post-Soviet immigration had ended long before Lehman Brothers went under. Instead, Israel benefited from the kind of governmental prudence, corporate poise and middle-class caution that once, when they had yet to take root in Israel, were synonymous with American finance.

It’s only been one generation since the Bank of Israel became independent, and less than that since it became illegal for the Treasury to breach a set budget deficit. Back when the two lacked such constraints, the former habitually printed billions and the latter spent them at will, thus feeding hyperinflation, which in turn obstructed investment and growth.

At the same time, the public gambled in a stock market where a banking cartel manipulated shares until the entire system - the stock exchange, the major banks and the public that abandoned its inflated money to their devices - collapsed.

That was Israel’s equivalent of America’s subprime crisis as well as the political and corporate dereliction that inspired it. That era and the painful recovery plan that ended it are recalled vividly by a whole generation of Israelis. No wonder, then, that this decade Israelis were much less likely to either manufacture or consume toxic financial assets.

Israelis had generally become suspicious borrowers moving in a marketplace governed by strict regulators.

This attitude began with the government itself, which halved the public debt, to 78% last year from 158% of GDP in 1986, while over the course of this decade shrinking the budget’s share of GDP to 43% from more than 50% and reducing the budget deficit in 0% in 2007 from 5.3%.

With such leadership by example, Israeli regulators could proceed to establish financial prudence as a national value. While the American credit-card industry seduced retailers to borrow more and more for things they needed less and less, Israel’s central bank tightened households’ financial leeway by banning bank overdrafts. Since Israelis pay their credit-card deals not by writing checks but through automatic deductions from their bank accounts, this drastically reduced their ability to embark on shopping binges beyond their means.

This explains the Bank of Israel’s confidence as it responded to the global crisis, which included not only its global leadership in expanding and tightening monetary policy but also its decision at the height of the crisis to buy $100 million daily to weaken the shekel and thus help Israeli exporters. Having helped to depreciate the shekel some 20% from a peak of nearly 3.2 to the dollar, the bank has now ceased the daily purchases, and the shekel began appreciating again.
The corporate side

Corporate Israel also traversed the crisis impressively.

Yes, there have been failures, like the announcement Sunday by real estate tycoon Lev Leviev that his holding company, Africa-Israel, is seeking to restructure its 21-billion-shekel ($5.52 billion) debt, or the Zim container-shipping company, which is now grappling with a 15% decline in its far-flung fleet’s activity.

However, while affecting average Israelis who bought their securities, these companies’ travails do not reflect, for better or worse, the Israeli economy’s performance: Neither is a major local manufacturer or employer, and both got into trouble abroad, where Leviev bought American and Russian real estate on the eve of the meltdown and Zim saw international commerce plunge with the global economy.

The hard core of Israeli industry performed entirely differently, benefitting from its dominance by the technology, biomedicine and defense sectors, whose products remain highly in demand even in times as hard as these. Israel Aerospace Industries, the largest defense manufacturer, saw a 25% drop in first-half sales to $1.44 billion but remained firmly in the black with $50 million of net income, while software giant Check Point’s second-quarter sales rose 12% to $223 million, netting $75 million, and pharmaceutical trendsetter Teva’s sales in the quarter jumped 20% to $3.4 billion while net climbed 25% to $742 million.

Yes, not everyone fared as impressively, but this recession saw no Israeli equivalent of General Motors, a labor-intensive Godzilla whose insolvency affects the entire economy. It’s been two decades since such a species last roamed the Israeli economic landscape, when holding company Koor, then Israel’s largest employer and carrying a heavy debt burden, was sold to private investors who turned it around while presiding over the biggest layoffs the country had ever seen.

Does all this mean that Israelis have become more economically responsible than the meltdown’s many protagonists, from the management of Bear Stearns to the government of Iceland? Of course not. Israeli real estate’s 10.8% appreciation during the first half, the steepest rise in the world, serves as a reminder that a critical mass of gamblers is still out there, ready to dive into the unknown with millions strapped around their waists. The question is where their leaders are while they climb the diving board.

In the past, Israeli leaders not only failed to block such divers, they joined them. Now they stand in their way, in this case by raising interest rates, and therefore also mortgage prices, and in another case, after a large bank made particularly ill-conceived deals abroad, by forcing its chief executive to resign.

So, after some two decades of prudent economic leadership, most Israeli managers, regulators and households behave as if inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s advice to work hard, save patiently, borrow responsibly and repay punctually, dictums that sociologist Max Weber later depicted as epitomizing the Protestant ethic that, as he saw it, gave rise to capitalism in general and American economic values in particular.

It remains to be seen to what extent America’s current leaders will uphold the financial ethic that until recently was seen as their mighty economy’s hallmark.

U.S. public debt is expected this year to reach 55% of GDP, roughly double its level a generation ago, and the U.S. budget deficit is expected to total $1.6 trillion this year and a cumulative $9 trillion over the next decade. Both threaten the dollar’s future as the world’s dominant currency. In addition, President Barack Obama is nationalizing ailing companies while demanding astronomic social spending without showing how it will be financed.

In sum, America seems headed in the opposite direction of the path Israel took from the economic delinquency of its youth, to the frugality that has now helped it emerge from a global recession almost unscathed.

 

“NO PEACE DEAL IS LIKELY UNLESS THE WEST STARTS LISTENING TO ORDINARY ISRAELIS”

Civil Fights: Don’t make me laugh
By Evelyn Gordon
The Jerusalem Post
Sept. 2, 2009

There must have been something in the air last month: Two prominent Israeli leftists publicly acknowledged fundamental problems in the “peace process” that will make a deal unachievable if not resolved.

Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz’s diplomatic correspondent, articulated one problem in an August 7 column describing a conversation with a “senior European diplomat.” Benn posed one simple question: How would a deal benefit ordinary Israelis? The diplomat was stunned. Wasn’t it obvious? It would create a Palestinian state! After Benn pointed out that most Israelis care very little about the Palestinians; they want to know how peace would benefit them, the diplomat tried again: “There would be an end to terror.” “Don’t make me laugh,” Benn replied.

When the IDF withdrew from parts of the West Bank and Gaza under the Oslo Accords, Israelis got suicide bombings in their cities. When it quit Gaza entirely, they got rockets on the Negev. But the bombings stopped after the IDF reoccupied the West Bank, and the rockets stopped after January’s Gaza operation. In short, the IDF has done a far better job of securing “peace” as Israelis understand it – i.e., not being killed – than the “peace process” ever has.

Normalization with the Arab world is also scant attraction, Benn noted; most Israelis “have no inherent desire to fly El Al through Saudi Arabian airspace or visit Morocco’s ‘interests section.’” And the downsides of a deal – financing the evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers and “the frightening prospect of violent internal schisms” – are substantial.

Benn’s conclusion from the conversation was shocking: Thus far, the international community has never thought about how a deal might benefit Israelis; that was considered unimportant.

But to persuade Israelis to back an agreement, he noted, the world is going to have to start thinking. For Israelis already have what they want most, “peace and quiet,” and they will not willingly risk it for “another diplomatic adventure whose prospects are slim and whose dangers are formidable.”

A week later, Prof. Carlo Strenger – a veteran leftist who, as he wrote, thinks “the occupation must end as quickly as possible” – addressed a second problem in his semi-regular Ha’aretz column. Seeking to explain why Israel’s Left has virtually disappeared, he concluded that this happened because leftists “failed to provide a realistic picture of the conflict with the Palestinians.”

For years, he noted, leftists claimed a deal with the Palestinians would produce “peace now.” Instead, the Palestinian Authority “educated its children with violently anti-Israel and often straightforwardly anti-Semitic textbooks,” failed to prevent (or perhaps even abetted) repeated suicide bombings in 1996, torpedoed the final-status negotiations of 2000-2001 and finally produced the second intifada.

But instead of admitting it had erred in expecting territorial withdrawals to bring peace, Strenger wrote, the Left blamed Israel: The 1996 bombings happened “because the Oslo process was too slow”; the talks failed because Israel’s offers were insufficient; the second intifada began because Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount.

In short, the Left adopted two faulty premises: First, “anything aggressive or destructive a non-Western group says or does must be explained by Western dominance or oppression,” hence “they are not responsible for their deeds.” Second, “if you are nice to people, all conflicts will disappear”; other basic human motivations, like the desire for “dominance, power and... self-respect,” are irrelevant.

Strenger concluded that if the Left “wants to regain some credibility and convince voters that it has a role to play, it needs to give the public a reasonable picture of reality.”

But the same could be said of the international community, which has also blamed every failure of the peace process on Israeli actions: settlement construction, “excessive force” against Palestinian terror, insufficient concessions, etc.

Though Benn and Strenger were ostensibly addressing different issues, they are closely related. Leftists reinforced the West’s habit of blaming Israel for every failure, because they are the only Israelis that Western politicians and journalists take seriously. And this habit contributed greatly to mainstream Israelis’ view of the peace process as all pain, no gain.

First, because the world placed the onus on Israel, Palestinians never felt any pressure to amend their behavior, whether by stopping terror or by making concessions on final-status issues vital to Israelis. Israel has repeatedly upped its offers over the past 16 years, but the Palestinians have yet to budge an inch: Not only will they not concede the right of return, they refuse to even acknowledge the Jews’ historic connection to this land.

Second, while Israelis care very little about relations with the Arab world, they care greatly about relations with the West. Thus a major attraction of the peace process was the prospect of enhancing this relationship.

Instead, Israel’s standing, especially in Europe, has plummeted since 1993. Europeans now deem Israel the greatest threat to world peace. Anti-Semitic violence in Europe has surged. European and American leftists routinely deny Israel’s very right to exist, and calls for sanctions and divestment are gaining momentum. All this would have been unthinkable 16 years ago.

And this nosedive in status is directly connected to the fact that every time something goes wrong with the peace process, most of the West blames Israel. Indeed, the fact that Washington (pre-Barack Obama) was the one exception to this rule goes far toward explaining why Israel’s standing remains strong in America.

Because this knee-jerk response has remained unchanged for 16 years, Israelis are now convinced it will continue even after a final-status agreement is signed: The moment Palestinians voice a new demand post-agreement or engage in anti-Israel terror, the West will insist that Israel accede to the demand or refrain from responding to the terror, and vituperate it for not doing so. In short, Israel is liable to make all the concessions entailed by an agreement and still see its relationship with the West deteriorate.

The bottom line that emerges from both Benn and Strenger is that no peace deal is likely unless both the West and Israel’s Left radically alter their behavior. The million-dollar question is whether anyone in either camp is listening.

 

HOLY CITY TWIST: ARABS MOVING INTO JEWISH AREAS

Holy city twist: Arabs moving into Jewish areas
By Ben Hubbard
The Associated Press
September 5, 2009

JERUSALEM -- Yousef Majlaton moved into the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev for such comforts as proper running water and regular garbage pickup. But he represents a potentially volatile twist in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the holy city.

The hillside sprawl of townhouses and apartment blocks was built for Jews, and Majlaton is a Palestinian.

Pisgat Zeev is part of Israel’s effort to fortify its presence in Jerusalem’s eastern half which it captured in the 1967 war.

But Majlaton, his wife and three kids are among thousands who have crossed the housing lines to Pisgat Zeev and neighborhoods like it in a migration that is raising tempers among some Jewish residents.

It wasn’t so much the politics of this contested city that drew Majlaton to Pisgat Zeev, however; it was the prospect of escaping the potholed roads and scant municipal services he endured for 19 years while renting in an Arab neighborhood.

“You see that air conditioner?” he said, pointing to the large wall unit cooling his living room. “In the Arab areas, the electricity is too weak to run one that big.”

Majlaton, 50, says some Jewish neighbors are warming up to him, but the influx bothers others, who say they’re thinking of moving out or refuse to sell or rent to Arabs.

This is much more than a simple matter of real estate. Demographics could figure heavily in how Jerusalem is partitioned in a future peace deal. If that happens, it is expected the city will be split along ethnic lines – Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, Arab neighborhoods to Palestine.

Palestinians see east Jerusalem as their future capital. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows the whole city will remain united as Israel’s capital.

Palestinians have long accused those among them who sell land to Jews of betraying their homeland, and last week similar language was heard from a group of rabbis. Meeting in Pisgat Zeev, they issued an edict denouncing Jews who sell land to Arabs as “traitors” and barring them from participating in communal prayers.

“This is a war, and if the Arabs conquer one neighborhood, they will conquer others and they will strangle the Jews,” said Hillel Weiss, a spokesman for the “New Sanhedrin,” which takes its name from the supreme court of ancient Israel.

In 2007, the latest year with available statistics, about 1,300 of Pisgat Zeev’s 42,000 residents were Arabs. In nearby French Hill, population 7,000, nearly one-sixth are Arabs, among them students at the neighboring Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Neve Yaakov, with 20,000 people, had 600 Arabs, according to the Israel Center for Jerusalem Studies, a respected think tank.

Weeks after the 1967 war, Israel annexed east Jerusalem with its major Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites in a move recognized by no other country. It continues to build housing in sensitive areas in defiance of U.S. protests.

Netanyahu says Arabs have the right to live anywhere in the city, and so should Jews, though the Old City’s Jewish Quarter is closed to Arabs.

Jerusalem’s mayor and city councilors are all Jewish. Almost all the city’s Arabs refuse to vote or run in municipal elections, saying that would be recognition of Israeli rule. But it deprives them of clout in competition for city spending.

Today, while west Jerusalem is overwhelmingly Jewish, the eastern half is an ethnic checkerboard. More than 180,000 Jews live there, most in places like Pisgat Zeev but also in enclaves in Arab areas. Nearly all the city’s 220,000 Palestinians live in eastern neighborhoods.

Ironically, much of the Arab migration was set off by the separation barrier which Israel started building through the West Bank in 2002 during a wave of suicide bombings. Its Jerusalem segment meanders to scoop up as many Jewish areas as possible and make several Arab neighborhoods a part of the West Bank.

The wall stranded tens of thousands of Jerusalem Arabs on the “West Bank side,” and many moved to Arab neighborhoods on the Jerusalem side for easier access to jobs and schools. But a housing shortage in those districts is pushing the overflow into Jewish areas, residents and real estate agents said.

These areas are “less crowded, you can live in a house, and there are streets, parks and places to play,” said Moukhless Abu el-Hof, an Israeli Arab lawyer who owns a home in Pisgat Zeev. “In the Arab neighborhoods, there’s nothing.”

Jewish resident Shlomi Cohen, 37, said the Arab influx made him sell up and move elsewhere in Pisgat Zeev. “If an Arab comes to live in the building and someone wants to buy and he knows there is an Arab there, he will not buy,” he said.

Yael Antebi, editor of the Pisgat Zeev community newspaper and a Jerusalem city council member, said Arab and Jewish teens sometimes brawl, Arab youth often harass Jewish girls, and parents fear their daughters will date Arabs.

Majlaton and his wife are both Hebrew-speaking Christians. He said his new neighbors cold-shouldered them when they arrived in 2002, but gradually became friendlier.

He said he has since helped about 30 Arab families to move in and gets calls from prospective renters almost every day.

While his primary motivation was quality of life, he says living in Pisgat Zeev is “a nationalistic act” – a way to cement Arab presence in the city of his birth.

He said Palestinian leaders should follow his lead.

“They should bring all the Arabs to Pisgat Zeev,” he said. “I’ll help them find homes one by one.”

 

TARIQ RAMADAN DISMISSED AND REPUDIATED

Tariq Ramadan repudiated
By Stephen Schwartz
The American Thinker
August 28, 2009

In an important development for the fight against extremist Islam in the West, the Dutch city of Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam have dismissed Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born Islamist academic, from his two local jobs.

Born in Switzerland, Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. He is a close associate of the fundamentalist Muslim theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, with whom he collaborates in the so-called European Council for Fatwas and Research [ECFR], a Brotherhood-oriented body. Al-Qaradawi is the leading theorist of a “European Islam” that would abuse Western standards of religious freedom by erecting a parallel system of Shariah law alongside established civil law, coupled with aggressive da’wa or Islamic proselytizing. Ramadan has endorsed this strategy. The ECFR scheme, and Tariq Ramadan’s involvement in it, are documented in the recent Center for Islamic Pluralism report, A Guide to Shariah Law and Islamist Ideology in Western Europe, 2007-2009.

Ramadan has been barred from entry into the U.S. since 2004, when he was invited by the University of Notre Dame to become the Henry R. Luce Professor at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. That ruling was based on Ramadan’s financial contributions to two Palestinian groups designated by the U.S. Treasury as fundraising agencies for the terrorists of Hamas. Early in July of this year, however, given the new atmosphere of outreach to Muslim radicals under President Barack Obama, the Second Circuit U.S. Appeals Court reversed the lower-court ruling, effectively nullifying the prohibition on an American visa for Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Britain in 2005 allowed Ramadan to take up a position at Oxford University, where he holds the His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies.

Ramadan is an indefatigable self-promoter. Few who have observed him paid attention to his work in The Netherlands as an integration adviser for the city of Rotterdam and a professor of “Citizenship and Identity” at Erasmus University.

Yet while the U.S. authorities now seem inclined to allow him on our shores, and Britain appears untroubled by his presence - although the UK bars his associate al-Qaradawi - the Dutch have taken action to curb Ramadan’s ambitions.

His simultaneous dismissal from the Rotterdam city post and the Erasmus appointment was announced on August 19. The specific reason: his weekly television program on PressTV, an Iranian government media network which operates studios in Britain and the U.S. in addition, of course, to the Middle East. PressTV also employs British politician George Galloway of the leftist-Islamist electoral alliance known as the Respect Party, and Yvonne Ridley, a former captive of the Taliban who became Muslim after her kidnapping.

Ramadan’s PressTV show was titled “Islam and Life” -- not very different, one might note, from the notorious “Shariah and Life” feature run by al-Qaradawi on Al-Jazeera. Al-Qaradawi has used that platform for outrageous sermons against Jews and Judaism, among other objectionable opinions that support the British decision to keep him out.

In an official statement, Erasmus University stated:

“The Municipality of Rotterdam and the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) have decided to terminate the appointment of Dr. Tariq Ramadan... The reason for this is his involvement in the Iranian television channel PressTV, which is considered to be irreconcilable with his positions in Rotterdam...

“Press TV is a channel financed by the Iranian government. The excessive force used by this government in June against demonstrators, many of whom were students, prompted a number of journalists to cut their ties with the channel. However, Tariq Ramadan chose not to do so, and has since justified his decision in a statement... [T]here is no longer the essential public support for the contribution to the city and the university and... the credibility of Dr. Ramadan’s continued work for the city and the university has suffered lasting damage.”

Tariq Ramadan has always been extremely capable in his manipulation of Western public opinion, but the problematical items on his CV are not limited to his link with PressTV. As if his association with Al-Qaradawi were insufficient, Ramadan was also criticized in France in 2003 when he published a Jew-baiting attack on several leading French intellectuals, including Bernard-Henri Lévy and André Glucksmann. Ramadan claimed it was “curious” that that these two individuals were the most important Western European defenders of the Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, as well as of the human rights of the Chechens, but also supported the U.S. intervention in Iraq. According to Ramadan, the removal of Saddam Hussein was intended to guarantee “a greater security for Israel with assured economic advantages.”

In the same article, Ramadan falsely alleged that Israeli military advisers participated in the Iraq war, and labeled Paul Wolfowitz the “notorious Zionist” allegedly responsible for the invasion of Iraq in the interest of Israel. He accused Lévy and Glucksmann of abandoning universal principles and acting “as Jews, or nationalists, as defenders of Israel.” Publication of this screed was refused by the Parisian dailies Le Monde and Libération, but it was eventually posted on an Islamist website, www.oumma.com.

Tariq Ramadan hides his extremist views in plain sight. Why do the British and now, unfortunately, the American authorities fail to comprehend the evidence in front of them? The U.S. ban on him should be reviewed again... and upheld.


Gadhafi celebrates 40 years in power by blaming Israel for “all of Africa’s conflicts”

September 01, 2009

* Peace Now: West Bank Settlement construction has dropped under Netanyahu
* Outgoing head of World Council of Churches delivers farewell trashing of Israel

Today’s dispatch is split in two for space reasons. The other part (titled “And were there never any Romans in Rome either?”) can be read here.

 

CONTENTS

1. Gadhafi celebrates 40 years in power by blaming Israel for “all of Africa’s conflicts”
2. Outgoing head of World Council of Churches delivers farewell trashing of Israel
3. Peace Now: West Bank Settlement construction drops under Bibi
4. British academic declared Israel guilty of “war crimes” before joining UN Gaza mission
5. Hamas official: Abbas personally intervened to foil Shalit deal
6. Senior Saudi Prince survives assassination attempt
7. Iraq recalls ambassador, accusing Syria of state-sponsored terrorism
8. North Korean arms for Iran seized in UAE
9. Mideast arms race defies economic slowdown
10. Vatican newspaper says U.S. and U.K. knew about Holocaust early on

 

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

GADHAFI CELEBRATES 40 YEARS IN POWER BY BLAMING ISRAEL FOR “ALL OF AFRICA’S CONFLICTS”

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Colonel Gadhafi’s seizure of power in Libya in a coup in 1969. As part of the official celebrations, African leaders have gathered for a summit in the Libyan capital Tripoli. At a speech welcoming the African leaders Gadhafi accused Israel of being “behind all of Africa’s conflicts.” He called on them to close all of Israel’s embassies in the African continent.

Libya is also staging official celebrations to mark the release from a British jail last week of the Libyan man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

 

OUTGOING HEAD OF WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES DELIVERS FAREWELL TRASHING OF ISRAEL

Samuel Kobia, a Methodist minister from Kenya who is retiring as head of the World Council of Churches, the world’s largest ecumenical group, used his departure speech to attack Israel. He called Jews living near Jewish holy sites in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) “a sin against God.”

WCC is the umbrella organization for 349 denominations, including more than 30 American Protestant denominations. Kobia was criticized by other Christians for singling out Israel for attack, and also for failing to mention Islamic persecution of Christians.

 

PEACE NOW: WEST BANK SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION DROPS UNDER BIBI

Construction in the Jewish areas of the West Bank has dropped 15 percent since Benjamin Netanyahu became Israeli Prime Minister earlier this year, compared to the second half of 2008, according to a new report by the Peace Now lobbying group.

Peace Now’s use of the term “structures” in its report is broader than that used by the Israeli government, which counts only legal housing units in permanent structures, not modular homes or construction in outposts.

The Israeli government’s Central Bureau of Statistics said there has been a 39 percent drop in the number of new housing starts in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) in the first quarter of 2009, the latest government statistic available, compared to the first quarter of 2008.

The structures being built are part of pre-existing work that commenced some time ago. Peace Now says that no new tenders for Jewish building in the West Bank have been issued since the Netanyahu government came to power (although plenty of new Arab building has begun).

 

BRITISH ACADEMIC DECLARED ISRAEL GUILTY OF “WAR CRIMES” BEFORE JOINING UN GAZA MISSION

The Geneva-based organization, UN Watch, has submitted a legal brief to the UN calling on the forthcoming UN fact-finding mission to Gaza to disqualify London School of Economics (LSE) law professor Christine Chinkin from the mission because of prior statements she made that bring her impartiality into question.

In a letter published in the (London) Sunday Times in January, Chinkin declared Israel “guilty of war crimes.”

The UN commission of inquiry is being headed by left-wing Jewish South African judge, Richard Goldstone. Some in Israel say the UN deliberately picked a Jew to chair the UN commission in order to deflect charges of anti-Semitism if it accuses Israel of war crimes.

 

HAMAS OFFICIAL: ABBAS PERSONALLY INTERVENED TO FOIL SHALIT DEAL

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas personally intervened to foil a prisoner deal between Hamas and Israel last June, prominent Hamas official Mushir al-Masri has said.

“We were very close to striking a deal that would have resulted in the release of Shalit. But Abbas personally intervened to prevent the prisoner exchange because he was opposed to the release of Hamas legislators and officials from Israeli prisons.”

Masri said that Abbas was afraid that the release of the Hamas terrorists would undermine his authority and revive the debate about his legitimacy as PA president, particularly since his term in office expired at the beginning of this year.

The Hamas official said that the U.S. also intervened to thwart an imminent prisoner exchange out of fear that such a move would boost the Islamic movement’s standing among Palestinians.

Gilad Shalit spent his fourth birthday in captivity last week.

* For more on Shalit and Hamas prisoners, please see How many degrees does Gilad Shalit have? (& Facebook closes Hamas leader’s fan page) (Aug. 16, 2009)

 

SENIOR SAUDI PRINCE SURVIVES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

A suicide bomber in Jiddah lightly wounded Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, the man behind Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism campaign, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday. It was the first known assassination attempt against a member of the royal family since Saudi Arabia began its crackdown on al-Qaeda.

“This attack has increased my resolve to fight terror,” the prince, who serves as the Assistant Interior Minister for Security Affairs, said from his hospital bed afterwards.

The bombing was the first significant attack by terrorists in the Kingdom since 2006. Saudi Arabia has waged a fierce war on al-Qaeda, hunting down and killing most of its leaders in the country, after a string of attacks that started in 2003.

 

IRAQ RECALLS AMBASSADOR, ACCUSING SYRIA OF STATE-SPONSORED TERRORISM

Iraq has withdrawn its ambassador from Syria, deepening a diplomatic crisis sparked by Iraqi accusations that Damascus is aiding, abetting and sheltering the terrorists who masterminded the massive truck bombings in Baghdad last month. In response Syria recalled its envoy from Baghdad.

The truck bombs at the ministries of finance and foreign affairs killed over 100 people and wounded about 600 in the Iraqi capital two weeks ago. It was the worst day of violence in Iraq in 18 months.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and other top officials have accused the Syrian Baath party dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad of deliberately trying to destabilize Iraq to prevent democracy taking hold there. Israel and Lebanon have also long accused Damascus of harboring terrorists.

The spate of deadly bombs in Iraq last month has also significantly hampered the U.S.-Syrian rapprochement, security officials tell me. They believe the terrorists almost certainly had assistance from Syria.

 

NORTH KOREAN ARMS FOR IRAN SEIZED IN UAE

The Dubai-based Khaleej Times reports that the United Arab Emirates has seized a ship carrying North Korean weapons to Iran. This marks the first time a nation has acted on UN sanctions to stop the communist state’s weapons proliferation, a diplomat told the paper.

The paper commented: “The seizure would indicate that North Korea is set on exporting its military technology, long a top money-maker for one of the world’s poorest and most isolated nations.”

 

MIDEAST ARMS RACE DEFIES ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN

Defense spending in the Middle East will exceed $100 billion by 2014, according to a study released by Frost & Sullivan, which says that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are spearheading the arms race in the Middle East. Both countries are particularly nervous about the rise of Iran and what they perceive as President Obama’s weak response to Iranian nuclear ambitions.

The report says that Saudi Arabia looks set to spend at least $36 billion annually over the next five years. “The ratio of their defense spending to that of their total GDP is the highest in the world,” it notes, stressing that the ratio was unaffected by the global economic slowdown and fluctuating oil prices.

According to the report, Jordan is eyeing 85 AIM-120C-7 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles and 120 C captive air training missiles in a deal estimated at around $130 million. Bahrain is also considering the purchase of 25 AIM-120C-7 missiles.

Separately, RIA Novosti reports that Saudi Arabia is to buy 30 Mi-171B Russian military helicopters. The Saudis have traditionally bought only Western, mainly U.S.-made, military equipment, but have recently expressed an interest in acquiring Russian weaponry, including S-400 air defense systems, T-90 tanks, BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, and various types of helicopters.

 

VATICAN NEWSPAPER SAYS U.S. AND U.K. KNEW ABOUT HOLOCAUST EARLY ON

The official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said the United States and Britain knew about the Holocaust, but did nothing to stop it. According to the report British and American governments ignored, downplayed or suppressed intelligence reports about the Nazis’ extermination plans. The Vatican says it is unfair to suggest it was only the papacy that failed to help Jews during the Nazi genocide.

Meanwhile, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that an apology by British Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson, who last year in a TV interview denied the Holocaust, was not good enough. Lombardi said Williamson had to repudiate his views if he wants to be a Catholic clergyman. Williamson’s statement “does not appear to respect the conditions” the Vatican set out for him in February 2009, he said.


And were there never any Romans in Rome either?

* Fury among French Jews as al-Dura myth journalist awarded Legion d’honneur
* Two leading Palestinian scholars: No Jews ever lived in Jerusalem
* DJ beaten up for playing The Pet Shop Boys
* New Dow Jones Sharia-compliant indexes will exclude companies involved in alcohol, tobacco, pork-related products, and entertainment

Today’s dispatch is split in two for space reasons. The other part (titled: Gadhafi celebrates 40 years in power by blaming Israel for “all of Africa’s conflicts”) can be read here.

 

CONTENTS

1. Palestinian professor: No Jewish connection to Western Wall
2. And were there never any Romans in Rome either?
3. Amazement as Sarkozy gives propagator of al-Dura myth an award
4. Arab DJ beaten for playing Pet Shop Boys
5. West Bank Palestinian kills Israeli in west Jerusalem
6. PA allocates 1 million NIS for prisoners during Ramadan
7. Jordan jails two in plot to kill Israeli
8. Dow Jones launches new Sharia compliant index
9. Swine Flu leads to rise in Saudi private jet rental
10. Gaza minister’s son caught smuggling hashish

 

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

PALESTINIAN PROFESSOR: NO JEWISH CONNECTION TO THE WESTERN WALL

A Palestinian Authority university lecturer is the latest PA academic to rewrite history and deny the role of Jerusalem in the history of the Jews, claiming in particular that the Jewish people’s connection to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) of the Jewish Temple was invented.

Shamekh Alawneh, a lecturer in modern history at Al-Quds Open University (which receives grants from Western governments), says the Jews invented the connection to the Wall for political purposes. “The Jews have no historical roots in Jerusalem,” he added.

 

AND WERE THERE NEVER ANY ROMANS IN ROME EITHER?

A few days later, the Palestinian Authority’s chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, also asserted that there was no evidence that Jews had ever lived in Jerusalem. Tamimi said Israeli archeologists had “admitted” that Jerusalem was never inhabited by Jews.

Tamimi, one of the most influential Palestinian Islamic leaders, made his pronouncement in response to statements made last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the British press during a visit to London. Netanyahu had said: “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and the Jews have been building in Jerusalem for 3,000 years.”

“Netanyahu’s claims are baseless and untrue,” said Tamimi, the highest religious authority in the Palestinian territories. “Jerusalem is an Islamic city and it always has been so,” he said, referring to the religion which was founded some 1,800 years after Judaism.

***

Tom Gross adds: One would laugh this off were it not for the fact that many Palestinians, including those in the leadership, actually believe this nonsense, just as they believe the Holocaust never happened and that Israel blew up the World Trade Center in New York.

The denial of Jewish history is a central tenet of PA political ideology. It was started and encouraged by Yasser Arafat and is regularly repeated today by academics, politicians and religious leaders. Western governments continue to fund the dissemination of such fantasies, which can hardly be helpful in preparing for future peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis.

Of course, the Western press can’t be bothered to report on it, even though Western tax-payers are helping to fund such dishonesty.

 

AMAZEMENT AS SARKOZY GIVES PROPAGATOR OF AL-DURA MYTH AN AWARD

Charles Enderlin, the French journalist at the center of the al-Dura affair, who is accused of manipulating the truth to portray Israel in a negative light in one of the most infamous examples of media deception of modern times, has been awarded the Legion d’honneur, one of France’s highest accolades. The French consul general in Jerusalem presented the award to Enderlin on behalf of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The news has caused outrage among Jews in France who say Enderlin has helped stir up the new wave of anti-Semitism which has led to a number of brutal assaults and murders of French Jews in recent years. Enderlin is the longtime correspondent in Israel for the state-controlled France 2 TV. It was in recognition of this that he was given the award.

Curiously, the award was presented under the auspices of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and not, as would be more appropriate for a journalist, the Ministry of Culture.

French subscribers to this email list also tell me that it is unheard for the award to be made in the middle of August, when many people are on vacation, and to be presented at a foreign consulate rather than in Paris. They suspect this was done deliberately in an effort to avoid protest. No prior announcement was made that Enderlin was to receive the award, which was also unusual.

Among previous dispatches on the al-Dura affair, please see here.

 

ARAB DJ BEATEN FOR PLAYING PET SHOP BOYS

A DJ hired to spin tunes at a Bedouin wedding in Israel was beaten up for playing Western music which some guests felt encouraged lewdness in the women present, Ma’ariv reports.

The DJ initially played Arabic music for the hundreds of guests at the wedding in Israel’s Negev desert region.

But when he put on a song by the British group the Pet Shop Boys, causing some women to “dance exuberantly to the foreign music,” several angry young men gave the DJ a “severe beating”.

“The fact that women were dancing at the wedding goes against tradition,” one guest told Ma’ariv, “and the fact that it was to this Western filth is a dishonor to their husbands.”

 

WEST BANK PALESTINIAN KILLS ISRAELI IN WEST JERUSALEM

Paramedics were unable to save a Jewish man after he was repeatedly stabbed by a West Bank Palestinian at a Jerusalem hostel on Sunday evening.

“We tried to resuscitate the man for 40 minutes, but failed,” medic Guy Gonen told Israeli media. “There was nothing we could do. There was a substantial amount of blood at the scene – on the walls and floor.”

 

PA ALLOCATES 1 MILLION NIS FOR PRISONERS DURING RAMADAN

The Palestinian Authority will allocate 1 million shekels (more than $250,000) during the Ramadan holiday to Palestinian members of Fatah imprisoned in Israel for terrorism offenses, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports. The decision was taken at yesterday’s weekly Palestinian cabinet meeting.

The Palestinian Authority gets much of its money from Western governments.

 

JORDAN JAILS TWO IN PLOT TO KILL ISRAELI

Jordan’s military court has convicted two terrorists of plotting to kill an Israeli civilian and sentenced them to 12 years in jail.

The court initially sentenced Loay Shehadah, 38, and Mohammed Odatallah, 37, to life in prison but the judge immediately commuted the sentence to give them a chance to repent, a standard practice in Jordan.

If only other Arab countries would apply the rule of law to those who murder and attempt to murder Israelis.

 

DOW JONES LAUNCHES NEW SHARIA COMPLIANT INDEX

Dow Jones Indexes is to launch four new indexes for the Middle East and North Africa region, giving investors access to both conventional and Sharia compliant indexes.

Dow Jones Indexes, best known for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is launching the Dow Jones GCC Index, covering the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The company is also launching a Dow Jones GCC Islamic Market Index.

In order to be listed on an Islamic Market Index, the company must comply with Islamic law known as Sharia. Companies involved in alcohol, tobacco, pork-related products, financial services, or entertainment will not be included on this index.

 

SWINE FLU LEADS TO RISE IN SAUDI PRIVATE JET RENTAL

One of the world’s leading private jet operators, International Air Charter, based in the United Arab Emirates, is reporting a 50 percent increase in demand over Ramadan for flights to Saudi Arabia.

The company said it believed that fears about catching the swine flu N1H1 virus were the main reason for increased demand by wealthy pilgrims undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage during Ramadan, which is currently underway.

***

Tom Gross adds: 90,000 Palestinian Muslims traveled to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound to attend Ramadan prayers last Friday – and yet an Associated Press story falsely suggested Israel was not allowing Palestinian access to Muslim shrines for Ramadan.

 

GAZA MINISTER’S SON CAUGHT SMUGGLING HASHISH

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports that Hamza Ahmad Al-Kurd, son of the Hamas government’s minister of social affairs, has been caught smuggling hashish into the southern Gaza Strip.

Ma’an says that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has given directives that Al-Kurd be tried immediately despite his family connections. If convicted, he could face up to two years in prison.


Obama’s approval rating in Israel falls to new low (& No male teachers allowed)

* While the Swedish government refuses to properly condemn the blood libel in the country’s bestselling paper, Italy’s foreign minister today criticized Sweden, saying that the allegations were “terrible, lying and hurtful, and have the power to assist all those who seek to incite against Jews or who oppose the existence of the State of Israel.” (Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union)

* Hamas accuses UN of plan to teach Gaza kids Holocaust “lies”

* Guardian comment writer: “The most inaccurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state”

* Only 4 percent of Israelis feel Obama is pro-Israel. Much of the world might not understand why Israelis are so disappointed and frustrated with Obama, since the world media so often shamelessly misreports what is happening in Israel and the Palestinian territories and thus fails to convey the realities on the ground

* Obama had promised his foreign policy would constitute “smart power” but how smart is it for him to have alienated most of the Israeli population, including much of the Israeli left, ahead of peace negotiations?

* Madonna tours Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem

[This dispatch was posted and sent on Aug. 31 but appears on the website dated Sept. 1 due to a technical error.]

 

CONTENTS

1. Only 4% of Israelis say Obama pro-Israel
2. Hamas accuses UN of plan to teach Gaza kids Holocaust “lies”
3. Swedish murder allegations row continues
4. Guardian writer: “The most inaccurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state”
5. A note on Neve Gordon

6. Sky News reporter: Unless the Israelis are responsible, people don’t care
7. Israeli TV broadcasts footage of Hamas men executing Palestinians
8. Silence, what a surprise
9. Interviews with Palestinian victims of Hamas
10. No male teachers allowed

11. Desmond Tutu causes outrage with latest Holocaust comment
12. Mary Robinson has yet to apologize
13. Kassam rockets hit Israel
14. Israel holds seminar for Israeli and Palestinian businesswomen
15. Madonna tours Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

ONLY 4% OF ISRAELIS SAY OBAMA PRO-ISRAEL

The number of Jewish Israelis who believe U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policies are helpful to Israel has fallen to only 4 percent, according to a new poll by Smith Research Institute, one of Israel’s leading pollsters.

Fifty-one percent of Jewish Israelis consider Obama’s administration to be pro-Palestinian, 35 percent consider it balanced, and 10 percent declined to express an opinion.

After a previous poll in June that showed only 6 percent of Israelis thought Obama sympathetic to Israel, the White House and the State Department toned down some of their almost daily criticism of Israel in an effort to keep the disagreement between America and Israel from spiraling out of control.

But even many left-wing Israelis rallied behind the government of Benjamin Netanyahu in his confrontation with Obama, after the State Department summoned the Israeli ambassador to Washington in July and told him two families of Jews could not live in a private home, long-owned by Jews, in the heart of Jerusalem, and that the Jerusalem municipal authorities should not have evicted two Palestinian families who had been squatting in the property and had not paid the Jewish owner any rent since 1985.

Obama and Hillary Clinton’s approach toward Israel has been particularly inept and lacking in understanding of both the historical centrality of Jerusalem to Jews and the security concerns Israel has in the wake of extremely belligerent stands taken by both Fatah and Hamas. This clumsiness makes it much harder for Israelis to trust Obama.

The new polls contrast sharply with Israelis’ views of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. 88 percent of Israelis said the Bush administration understood Israeli concerns.

Several senior Democratic senators have also criticized Obama’s mishandling of Israel.

Even the editorial board of The Washington Post, a liberal leaning paper which is strongly in favor of the creation of a Palestinian state, has been taken aback by some of the hostile positions and pronouncements and hectoring of Israel by American officials.

As I pointed out in a previous dispatch, a lead editorial in The Washington Post observed: “One of the more striking results of the Obama administration’s first six months is that only one country has worse relations with the United States than it did in January: Israel. The new administration has pushed a reset button with Russia and sent new ambassadors to Syria and Venezuela; it has offered olive branches to Cuba and Burma. But for nearly three months it has been locked in a public confrontation with Israel… The tensions persist, and public opinion is following: The Pew Global Attitudes Project reported last week that Israel was the only country surveyed where the public’s image of the United States was getting worse rather than better… If he is to be effective in brokering a peace deal, Mr. Obama must be tough on more than one country, or one party to the conflict.”

SMART POWER?

Tom Gross adds: I don’t think Obama is being deliberately hostile to Israel. He has, however, allowed himself to be advised on the Middle East by some very naïve people, including those associated with the far-left American Jewish lobby group J Street, who are completely out of touch even with the views of the Israeli left. J Street seem to be stuck in a 1990s mindset as if the Intifada, the radicalization of Fatah, and the use of Gaza as a launching pad for thousands of rocket attacks on Israel after Israel did what was asked of it and withdrew in its entirety (despite 3000 year old Jewish ties to Gaza), had never happened.

Much of the world might not understand why Israelis are so disappointed and frustrated with Obama, since the world media so often shamelessly misreports what is happening in Israel and the Palestinian territories and thus fails to convey the realities on the ground.

Obama had promised his foreign policy would constitute “smart power” but how smart is it for him to have alienated most of the Israeli population, including much of the Israeli left, ahead of peace negotiations?

 

HAMAS ACCUSES UN OF PLAN TO TEACH GAZA KIDS HOLOCAUST “LIES”

Hamas condemned the United Nations yesterday over the international body’s apparent plan to teach Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip about the Holocaust.

Branding the Nazi genocide of the Jews “a lie invented by the Zionists,” the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip wrote an open letter to senior UN official John Ging warning him to withdraw plans for a new history book in UN schools. That book is said to contain references to the genocide of European Jews.

However, Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is responsible for the education of some 200,000 children in Gaza, said the Holocaust was not on its current curriculum. He would not comment on Hamas’ statement that it was about to change.

In the West Bank, which is run by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, children are not taught about the Holocaust. Abbas himself cast doubt on the truth of the Nazi genocide in his doctoral thesis in the 1980s. In the book he published based on his PhD from Moscow’s Oriental College he writes of “the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed” in the Holocaust.

(For more on Abbas’s Holocaust denial, see here.)

 

SWEDISH MURDER ALLEGATIONS ROW CONTINUES

(This is a follow-up to the Aug. 19 dispatch Dutch journalist: Flu pandemics are a Jewish conspiracy (& Swedish media blood libel).)

The video below is from Russia’s English-language TV news channel. It shows Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University vigorously confronting Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom of Aftonbladet regarding his allegations that Israeli soldiers murdered Palestinians for their body parts.

The Swedish Prime Minister and its Foreign Minister Carl Bildt have refused to condemn the Aftonbladet’s fabrications, infuriating Israel, which says the article is an anti-Semitic blood libel of the worst kind. The Swedes won’t condemn the article even though the Palestinian family at the center of the organ-theft story now deny that they told journalists from Aftonbladet that organs had been taken.

Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

When asked by British journalists during his trip to London last week why Israel was “making such a fuss” over the issue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “I disagree with those who underestimate the significance of these kind of articles. Israel has a historic responsibility to speak out firmly against such lies. Otherwise the lies trickle down to the public and spread malignantly. We have seen this in the past.”

ITALIAN CRITICISM

In contrast to the utterly inadequate response of his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini told Ha’aretz today that the allegations in Aftonbladet were: “terrible, lying and hurtful, and they have the power to assist all those who seek to incite against Jews or who oppose the existence of the State of Israel.”

The Swedish article “is a blatant act of anti-Semitism,” Frattini added.

SWEDISH HISTORY

Contrary to popular misconceptions, Sweden is one of the more racist countries in Europe. In an extensive survey in 2006, 41 percent of Swedes admitted to harboring anti-Semitic sentiments.

As journalist Sarah Honig points out, as late as 1961 a law forbade Jews from serving in Sweden’s government. The country’s World War II nonaligned status was essentially bogus as it abetted the Third Reich, affording Nazi manufacturers generous credit and allowing Wehrmacht reinforcements safe passage through Sweden into Norway.

The Swedish government has long financed NGOs that have demonized Israel and partly financed the 2001 book in which the original organ-snatching defamation appeared.

 

GUARDIAN WRITER: “THE MOST INACCURATE WAY TO DESCRIBE ISRAEL TODAY IS AS AN APARTHEID STATE”

Amid the daily slurs on Israel in the influential British paper The Guardian, the paper printed a rare positive online article last week by former South African campaigner against apartheid Benjamin Pogrund. Pogrund, who is now resident in Israel, wrote:

“The most inaccurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. That’s the exact opposite of what [anti-Zionist Israeli professor] Neve Gordon* said in The Guardian last week. Level whatever criticisms you want against Israel – start with West Bank occupation and oppression of Palestinians, and go on to the domestic discrimination suffered by the Arab minority – but the simple fact is that none of it is the apartheid of the old South Africa. Abundant evidence of this is readily available, in The Guardian and elsewhere.

“Why then is the comparison so often made? One reason, in a different context, is in the words of American comedian Stephen Colbert: ‘Remember kids! In order to maintain an untenable position, you have to be actively ignorant.’

“The apartheid accusation is the way to destroy Israel. If Israel can be linked with apartheid then it can be denounced as illegitimate as was white-ruled South Africa and hence be wide open to international sanctions. Those who pursue this couldn’t care less about facts. They have an agenda and are unscrupulous about distortion, lying and exaggeration.”

 

A NOTE ON NEVE GORDON

* Tom Gross adds: Neve Gordon is a tenured professor at Israel’s Ben Gurion University and a visiting professor at the University of Michigan where he has been teaching courses on the “Arab-Israeli Conflict”. His outrageous writings about Israel have been carried on the website of the prominent neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel.

Last year, Alan Dershowitz wrote about him, “It is my opinion that Neve Gordon has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust justice deniers, and anti-Semites. He is a despicable example of a self-hating Jew and a self-hating Israeli.”

Gordon continues to lead an international campaign of vilification against Israel. The latest paper to print his slanders was The Los Angeles Times which two weeks ago gave him a prominent place on its op-ed page.

Students in Michigan who dared question his anti-Zionist diatribes report being forcibly shouted down in the most intimidating way by Prof. Gordon, who used classic Stalinist intimidation tactics on a campus where open discussion is supposed to be encouraged. The University of Michigan refused to come to the aid of several students, who were left in tears.

In an article Gordon published in the National Catholic Reporter he said Israel was a Fascist state.

 

SKY NEWS REPORTER: UNLESS THE ISRAELIS ARE RESPONSIBLE, PEOPLE DON’T CARE

Even though other journalists at the British-based international satellite broadcaster Sky News often produce some very unfair reports about Israel, Sky News foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall is an exception. Following on from points made recently in these dispatches, Marshall writes on his blog on the Sky website (August 26, 2009):

“Thirty Palestinians killed. Women and children caught in the crossfire. Missiles fired at a Mosque. Muslim prisoners ‘executed’ in cold blood. A massacre. Media restrictions.

A familiar tale? Indeed. International outrage and demonstrations in the streets of London? Nope.

And why might that be? Why it’s simple. The Palestinians were killed by Palestinians and, it would appear from the lack of reaction that in those circumstances their lives are cheap, but when they are killed by Israelis it is an outrage.

On August 15th Hamas militiamen attacked a Mosque in Rafah in the Gaza Strip… In the assault Hamas desecrated holy ground, firing rocket and after rocket at the Mosque, some hit surrounding houses. It would be reasonable to assume that at least one Holy Koran may have been damaged.

After they took the building they rounded up the survivors. Mobile phone footage shows what appears to be Hamas men ‘executing’ some of them.

It is not hard evidence, but local reporters say that is what happened, and the footage is certainly of the aftermath of the attack. Audio material has Hamas commanders ordering the killings.

I put ‘executed’ in quotation marks as in this context, i.e., the killing of someone, it is a legal term. But in the context of what Hamas did, perhaps it should be substituted for murdered.

And where is the outrage about these murders. The marches, the petitions, the calls for a boycott, the conspiracy theory of a war against Muslims, ad infinitum? I hear just the wind blowing across the freshly dug graves. Because unless the Israelis kill them, people don’t care.”

 

ISRAELI TV BROADCASTS FOOTAGE OF HAMAS MEN EXECUTING PALESTINIANS

Israeli Channel 10 and Channel 2 TV last week broadcast video showing Hamas forces killing fellow Palestinians in Gaza on Aug. 15.

Black-clad Hamas gunmen are shown firing at anti-Hamas forces trapped in the courtyard of a mosque and then mowing them down. In two scenes, Hamas militiamen execute captives by gunshots at close range.

Channel 2 said it obtained the video, which was taken using a cellphone, from Hamas’s rival Fatah. International TV networks so eager to condemn Israel, have barely mentioned the August massacre by Hamas, let alone made a request to air the video.

 

SILENCE, WHAT A SURPRISE

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have yet to publish reports about the bloody events, even though Palestinian women and children were among those killed by Hamas. 120 Palestinians were also injured, some severely.

Despite the disturbing eyewitness accounts, the UN Security Council did not meet to condemn the alleged massacre.

Sweden, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union, did not even bother to comment on it.

As leading Palestinian journalist (and longtime subscriber to this email list) Khaled Abu Toameh notes: “As far as the mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe is concerned, an Israeli soldier who, for example, confiscates a mobile phone from a Palestinian at a checkpoint is more important than a story on the death of 30 Palestinians and the wounding of more than 120 others.”

 

INTERVIEWS WITH PALESTINIAN VICTIMS OF HAMAS

The footage below contains interviews with Palestinian victims of a previous round of Hamas killings and torture in Gaza, one of several that took place last year. The injured Palestinians are interviewed by Israeli TV in Israeli hospitals where they were treated. Not only did the international media generally not report on this, but some international news outlets actually added the dead Palestinians (killed by fellow Palestinians) to a “death count” they keep of Palestinians killed by Israelis.

 

NO MALE TEACHERS ALLOWED

As the new school year starts in Gaza, Hamas is requiring girls to wear a head covering and full length robes in order to attend class. Jeans have been banned. Girls who do not comply will be expelled from school, signs posted in Gaza say. Males are now forbidden from teaching girls.

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported that Christian girls studying at government schools in Gaza had also been included in the new wave of conservative dress requirements. Some said they were also forced to cover their hair, which represents another restriction on Gaza’s Christian minority (which human rights groups and the Western media apparently have nothing to say about).

 

DESMOND TUTU CAUSES OUTRAGE WITH NEW HOLOCAUST COMMENT

Former South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, visiting Israel and the West Bank with former American president Jimmy Carter, has again insulted Israelis by misusing the Holocaust to make a political point. “The lesson that Israel must learn from the Holocaust is that it can never get security through fences, walls and guns,” he told Ha’aretz, referring to the security barrier which has saved thousands of Israeli lives.

Rewriting history and further insulting Jewish Holocaust survivors, Tutu added that the “true victims” of the Holocaust were the Palestinians.

Tutu also amazed South Africans and Israelis alike when he favorably compared Hamas, the organization that has mastered the art of suicide terrorism, to the anti-apartheid movement led by Nelson Mandela, the former South African president.

Unbelievably, Tutu also said the Israeli and Palestinian activists who demonstrate against the security fence and have on a number of occasions thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers guarding the fence, injuring a number of soldiers, “reminded me of Gandhi”.

Tutu also criticized Israel’s supposedly poor treatment of Ethiopian Jews. (While there is certainly room for improvement in the advancement of Ethiopians in Israeli society, there is probably less discrimination against them than against any comparable minority in Europe or elsewhere, about which Tutu has little to say.)

 

MARY ROBINSON HAS YET TO APOLOGIZE

Tutu and Carter were accompanied by Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, another retired politician who makes a habit of issuing negative comments about Israel in order to keep herself in the media spotlight.

Despite pleas by several American Jewish organizations not to (because of her central role presiding over the infamous Durban conference which became an “international anti-Semitic hatefest”), President Obama awarded Mary Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this month.

There was international in addition to American criticism of the award. In a statement, the European Jewish Congress said the award “provided additional fodder for those who encouraged hate”.

Tom Carew, chair of the Ireland-Israel Friendship League, said that Obama’s honoring of Robinson gave credence to the “highly anti-Semitic” Durban conference. “Robinson, so critical herself, seems to think she’s beyond criticism,” he added.

While then Secretary of State Colin Powell walked out of the conference, saying he wasn’t prepared to legitimize anti-Semitism, Robinson shown no remorse for the calls to gas Jews and wipe out Israel made at the conference, and described Durban’s outcome as “remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East.”

Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos, a member of the U.S. delegation to the Durban conference, said afterwards: “It is clear that much of the responsibility for the debacle rests on the shoulders of Mary Robinson, the secretary-general of the conference.”

Robinson has yet to apologize.

In 2002, Robinson’s “UN High Commissioner for Human Rights” voted on a decision that condoned suicide bombings as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood.

 

KASSAM ROCKETS HITS ISRAEL

A Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel on Saturday morning, hours after a visiting Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu offered words of sympathy for Hamas. No one was injured.

The level of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel has been greatly reduced since Israel took strong action against Hamas at the beginning of the year. Earlier last week, a mortar shell fired by Hamas towards Israel landed within the Gaza Strip, damaging Palestinian property.

UPDATE: Four mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israel’s western Negev on Sunday evening.

Also on Sunday, Egyptian security forces said that they had foiled an attempt to smuggle 700 kilograms of explosives into the Gaza Strip through a tunnel.

 

ISRAEL HOLDS SEMINAR FOR ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN BUSINESSWOMEN

Israel has held another special seminar for Israeli and Palestinian businesswomen, titled “Women Making Business”. The Israeli government said it wished to encourage increased Israeli-Palestinian trade and also develop opportunities for women in both societies, and particularly in the West Bank.

Attending the event in Haifa, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, welcomed the participants and said that Israelis and Palestinians can be partners not only in peace but also in economic development. Ayalon noted that Israel is investing in Palestinian infrastructure but also called on the Arab world to invest money in Palestinian economic development.

Since 2004, Israel has conducted 17 such seminars, with the participation of more than 500 Palestinian women.

***

Trade between Israel and the Palestinians is continuing to grow at a steady pace despite political and security tensions, and despite the global economic downturn. The Israeli Customs Administration announced last week that Israeli-Palestinian trade for 2009 will reach $5 billion. This brisk import-export trade goes both ways for Israelis and Palestinians.

 

MADONNA TOURS JEWISH HOLY SITES IN JERUSALEM

Madonna has begun her visit to the Holy Land with a spiritual touch. She headed to Jerusalem’s Old City late last night where she toured an ancient Jewish tunnel near the Western Wall – the holiest site at which Jews can pray.

Madonna has chosen to perform the final two concerts of her world tour in Israel, a country she says she has great affection for. It will be her first performance in Israel since 1993, though she came on private visits to Israel in 2004 and 2007.

Madonna will also meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.

(Above: Madonna and Jesus, her Brazilian boyfriend, at the wall.)