Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Only one group could be behind the latest hit -- the Irish Jews

February 24, 2010

* Revealed: Son of Hamas founder was top Israeli agent; he prevented dozens of suicide bombings and saved hundreds of Israeli lives.

ON DUBAI:

* Tom Gross: The Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya TV networks report the latest from the Dubai authorities: They have “discovered” 15 more people supposedly involved in the plot, bringing the total to 26. They have arrested several people, all Arabs, no Israelis. Three spies supposedly escaped to… Iran. Are the Dubai authorities making all this up?

* Gerald Steinberg: “The bitter reality is that for Israel, international legal frameworks provide no protection and no hope of justice … Cases involving Muslim terrorists, supported by Iran, would never be pursued by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, or raised in the framework of the United Nations. It is equally hard to imagine Interpol issuing arrest warrants in response to Israeli requests.”

* Michael J. Totten: “Mabhouh was a terrorist commander on a mission to acquire Iranian weapons for use against civilians. He was a combatant. Unlike his victims, he was fair game. In Dubai, he was taken out quietly without harming any of the civilians around him. If only Israel could fight all its battles this way. It would be the cleanest and least-deadly war in the history of warfare.”

* Ian O’Doherty: “The widespread belief that it was Mossad behind the operation has led to an unprecedented orgy of Israel-bashing, with the hoary old arguments about the only democracy in the region being a ‘rogue’ state or, even more inaccurately an ‘apartheid’ state – a disgusting allegation at the best of times, particularly when you consider that Israeli Arabs have infinitely more rights than their brethren in Arab states.”

* Chris Roycroft-Davis: “Make no mistake, I think a British passport is the most valuable document in the world and I don’t like it being used to gain illegal entry to another country. But my top priority will always be security and the world is undoubtedly more secure now Hamas has lost another murderer from its ranks.”

 

CONTENTS

1. Five passports
2. Son of one of Hamas’ founders “prevented dozens of suicide bombs”
3. Iranian website: Iranian nuclear bomb spells death to Israel
4. “International law provides no means for stopping terrorists like Mabhouh”
5. “That woman was almost certainly a man in drag”
6. “Whose side are we on, the terrorists or those with the courage to stand up to them?”
7. Better Hizbullah leaders get whacked than civilians later cowering in Beirut bomb shelters
8. “Israel’s right to self-defense” (By Gerald Steinberg, Wall Street Journal Europe)
9. “Only one group could be behind the latest hit…” (By Ian O’Doherty, Irish Independent)
10. “Why can’t this country follow Israel’s lead?” (By Chris Roycroft-Davis, UK Daily Express)
11. “More like this please” (By Michael J. Totten, Commentary magazine, Contentions blog)
12. “Son of Hamas founder was top Israeli agent” (The Associated Press)

 

This dispatch is a follow-up to:

Journalism 007: Reporting fiction as fact (Feb. 22, 2010)
Is Israel the only suspect over Dubai death? (Feb. 18, 2010)


FIVE PASSPORTS

[Note by Tom Gross]

A large number of people have written to me about the Dubai matter, and therefore I include four more articles that buck the general (anti-Israel) media trend on the subject. There are extracts first for those who don’t have time to read the articles in full.

To remind readers, I don’t necessarily endorse of agree with all the points in the articles selected for these dispatches. These articles are items of interest that often fill the gaps in reporting elsewhere. There are also two other news items before the extracts.

***

In my previous dispatch I wrote:

“Mabhouh had five different passports with him in Dubai: there seems to be no media coverage or interest in which countries’ passports he was using.”

Several journalists have written to ask where it was reported that he had five passports.

Hamas have themselves said this and it has received widespread reports in the Arab media (though not in the anti-Israeli Western media).

For example, this (in English) from the January 31, report in the United Arab Emirates paper, The National:

“He has five passports, one of them with his real name the other with different names, and this time he travelled under his actual identity,” said Talal Nasser, a senior spokesman for Hamas in Damascus. “He has travelled to Dubai many times before in this way without any problems.”

I know from other sources that one of the passports he used with a false name was Iraqi.

-- Tom Gross

 

SON OF ONE OF HAMAS’ FOUNDERS “PREVENTED DOZENS OF SUICIDE BOMBS”

The son of one of Hamas’ founders says in a new book that he served as a top informant for Israel for more than a decade, providing top-secret intelligence that helped prevent dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.

Mosab Yousef’s memoir, “Son of Hamas,” is being published next week in the United States. The revelation of such a high-level informant deals another blow to Hamas, which suffered a key setback last month when one of its top commanders was killed in Dubai.

His father is Sheik Hassan Yousef, a founder of the Islamist terror group in the 1980s and still a senior figure in the organization. He is currently serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison. The younger Yousef converted to Christianity and moved to California in 2007.

“So many people owe him their life and don’t even know it,” Yousef’s handler in the Shabak told Ha’aretz today. (Full AP piece below.)

 

IRANIAN WEBSITE: IRANIAN NUCLEAR BOMB SPELLS DEATH TO ISRAEL

An editorial on the Iranian website Asr-e Iran says that Iran’s possessing nuclear weapons will threaten Israel’s existence and lead to its elimination, even if they are never used. Once Iran possesses nuclear weapons and shifts the balance of power in the Middle East, this will be the end of Israeli society, it says. “Iran’s possession of such weapons will sow in Israel a sense of insecurity – and this sense alone will be enough to shatter the glass palace of this illegitimate regime in the Middle East. An Iran with nuclear weapons means an end to the dream of ‘secure Israel’ – and this means the exodus of most of the residents.”

 

EXTRACTS

“INTERNATIONAL LAW PROVIDES NO MEANS FOR STOPPING TERRORISTS LIKE MABHOUH”

Writing in today’s European edition of The Wall Street Journal, Gerald Steinberg (who is a subscriber to this email list), says:

The headlines and video images allegedly showing Israeli spies in Dubai are titillating, but they mask the serious issues involved in the death of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh… this case is the latest example of the failure of the international legal system and the United Nations to provide a remedy to mass terror.

Al-Mabhouh was a cold-blooded murderer … But international law provides no means for stopping terrorists like Al-Mabhouh, or for his Hizbullah counterpart, Imad Moughniyeh, whose life ended with an explosion in Damascus in 2008. (In addition to numerous attacks against Israelis, Moughniyeh has been blamed for the 1983 Beirut bombings that killed hundreds of American and French peacekeepers and the murder of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri.) Cases involving Muslim terrorists, supported by Iran, would never be pursued by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, or raised in the framework of the United Nations.

… It is equally hard to imagine Interpol issuing arrest warrants in response to Israeli requests. And if warrants were issued, history shows that German, French, Belgian, and other European governments would not risk the consequences of acting on them. Little effort was ever made to apprehend the perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre, or of the deadly bombing attacks against synagogues in Istanbul and Athens. It’s a widely known secret that European governments had ungentlemanly agreements with the PLO that allowed the Palestinians to operate from their territories, provided the terror attacks occurred elsewhere.

… The bitter reality is that for Israel, international legal frameworks provide no protection and no hope of justice. Instead, these frameworks are used to exploit the rhetoric of human rights and morality to attack Israel.

 

“THAT WOMAN WAS ALMOST CERTAINLY A MAN IN DRAG”

Writing in The Irish Independent, Ian O’Doherty says:

It was the assassination – or ‘assasination’ as the Irish Anti War Movement misspelled it yesterday – that has been heard around the world.

In scenes reminiscent of something from a Freddie Forsyth novel, a supposedly crack team of 11 hit men (that woman was almost certainly a man in drag) entered a hotel in Dubai, targeted a top Hamas terrorist whom they had been trailing for years and promptly took him out.

Before equally promptly finding their faces splashed all over the world’s media.

The widespread belief that it was Mossad behind the operation has led to an unprecedented orgy of Israel-bashing, with the hoary old arguments about the only democracy in the region being a ‘rogue’ state or, even more inaccurately an ‘apartheid’ state – a disgusting allegation at the best of times, particularly when you consider that Israeli Arabs have infinitely more rights than their brethren in Arab states.

The irony, of course, is that it hasn’t even been conclusively proved that Mossad were the people behind the operation.

… Frankly, I find it hard to understand anyone who doesn’t simply shrug their shoulders and realise that it’s one fewer terrorist planning murderous attacks on civilians.

... The story took a fantastic turn for the surreal yesterday. MPAC, the Muslims Public Affairs Committee, which recently issued not-very-thinly-veiled death threats against myself and Kevin Myers (when a group of Muslim extremists publicly announces that: “we will not shirk our responsibility, we cannot be blamed for defending ourselves” then there can be only one conclusion) have figured out who is responsible for the attack: Irish Jews.

Ireland’s Jewish community is not exactly renowned for being particularly militant. Indeed, one of the criticisms I often level against some of my mates who happen to be Jewish is that they are not vocal enough in their support of Israel, but according to MPAC: “Scheming Zionists used Ireland’s generous welcome as a means to launch their own insidious campaign for a homeland, a land they convinced the world was without a people”.

Now one can be forgiven for raising a quizzical eyebrow at the notion that arriving Jews received a “generous welcome” – certainly the Jews who were attacked in the Church-organised pogrom in Limerick in 1904 might have a different perspective…

 

“WHOSE SIDE ARE WE ON, THE TERRORISTS OR THOSE WITH THE COURAGE TO STAND UP TO THEM?”

Writing in the British paper, The Daily Express, Chris Roycroft-Davis says:

Excuse me for not sending flowers to the funeral of the terrorist the Israelis bumped off in Dubai. Unlike the bleeding hearts in the liberal media I’m not shedding any tears.

As military chief of terrorist group Hamas, Mahmoud al Mabhouh had the blood of many Israeli soldiers and civilians on his hands. He was in charge of smuggling rockets and grenades into the Gaza Strip so his murderous gangs could lob them into Israel.

He could hardly complain when a hit squad from Mossad, the Israeli security service, brought his life to a swift end. To say he had it coming is an understatement.

So why such a fuss about his execution? Why has the Foreign office twisted the arm of the Israeli ambassador? And possibly the most crucial question of all: whose side are we on, the terrorists or those with the courage to stand up to them?

The Israelis don’t mess about, they don’t sit back and take it… Did Mahmoud al-Mabhouh reflect on that as he checked in to room 230 at his posh hotel in Dubai?

… Unlike Britain, Israel doesn’t tolerate an enemy within. It doesn’t give those who hate them free housing and welfare handouts. It doesn’t let the right of free speech enable them to preach murder on its streets.

… We should take no lessons either from the BBC, which for too long refused to call Hamas suicide bombers “terrorists” and hid behind weasel words like “radicals” and “militants”. Its anti-Israel bias is clear today…

… Make no mistake, I think a British passport is the most valuable document in the world and I don’t like it being used to gain illegal entry to another country. But my top priority will always be security and the world is undoubtedly more secure now Hamas has lost another murderer from its ranks.

 

“BETTER HIZBULLAH LEADERS GET WHACKED THAN CIVILIANS HAVING TO DIVE INTO A BEIRUT BOMB SHELTER DURING ISRAELI AIR RAIDS”

In the fourth piece, Michael J. Totten (also a subscriber to this email list), writes:

… Mabhouh was a terrorist commander on a mission to acquire Iranian weapons for use against civilians. He was a combatant. Unlike his victims, he was fair game. He would have been fair game for even an air strike if he were in Gaza. As he was, instead, in Dubai, he was taken out quietly without even alerting, let alone harming, any of the civilians around him.

If only Israel could fight all its battles this way. It would be the cleanest and least-deadly war in the history of warfare. Even some of Israel’s harshest critics should understand that.

… Hamas and Hizbullah use civilians as human shields. Hizbullah uses an entire country as a vast human shield. Some critics, for various reasons, are more interested in lambasting Israel than the terrorist organizations it’s fighting. That’s easy when you live in New York or Brussels. People in the Middle East have to live with (or die because of) what happens. How Middle Easterners fight wars isn’t political or academic to me. I’ve never been inside Gaza, but I once lived in Lebanon, I travel there regularly, and there’s a real chance I’ll be there when the next war pops off. I’d rather not be used as a human shield if that’s OK with those who give Hamas and Hizbullah a pass. And I’d much rather read about Hizbullah leaders getting whacked by mysterious assassins with forged passports than dive into a Beirut bomb shelter during Israeli air raids…

[Extracts above prepared by Tom Gross]

 

UPDATE: LINKS

Melanie Phillips on The Spectator website. (And more here.)
Douglas Murray on The Daily Telegraph website.
Stephanie Gutmann on The Daily Telegraph website.
Comments at The National Post (Canada) here, here, and here.
The National Review recommendations here, here, and here.
FPI daily brief
Powerline
Roger L. Simon
Beltway Bips
HonestReporting: Mossad passport affair


FULL ARTICLES

“FOR ISRAEL, INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORKS PROVIDE NO PROTECTION AND NO HOPE OF JUSTICE”

Israel’s right to self-defense
By Gerald Steinberg
The Wall Street Journal Europe (Comment page)
February 24, 2010

The headlines and video images allegedly showing Israeli spies in Dubai are titillating, but they mask the serious issues involved in the death of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Along with predictable European hand-wringing over forged passports, this case is the latest example of the failure of the international legal system and the United Nations to provide a remedy to mass terror.

Al-Mabhouh was a cold-blooded murderer – in an interview just last year on Al Jazeera he boasted about kidnapping and then killing two Israeli soldiers. He was also a major figure in arranging arms shipments from Iran to Gaza. Al-Mabhouh shared responsibility for the thousands of rocket attacks fired at civilians in Sderot and other Israeli towns, which resulted in last year’s war in Gaza. In his travels, the Hamas terrorist was probably making arrangements for the next round of attacks.

But international law provides no means for stopping terrorists like Al-Mabhouh, or for his Hizbullah counterpart, Imad Moughniyeh, whose life ended with an explosion in Damascus in 2008. (In addition to numerous attacks against Israelis, Moughniyeh has been blamed for the 1983 Beirut bombings that killed hundreds of American and French peacekeepers and the murder of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri.) Cases involving Muslim terrorists, supported by Iran, would never be pursued by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, or raised in the framework of the United Nations. Al-Mabhouh violated the human rights of untold Israeli civilians, but the U.N.’s Human Rights Council – which is dominated by such moral stalwarts as Libya, Algeria, and Iran – has no interest in Israeli complaints.

It is equally hard to imagine Interpol issuing arrest warrants in response to Israeli requests. And if warrants were issued, history shows that German, French, Belgian, and other European governments would not risk the consequences of acting on them. Little effort was ever made to apprehend the perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre, or of the deadly bombing attacks against synagogues in Istanbul and Athens. It’s a widely known secret that European governments had ungentlemanly agreements with the PLO that allowed the Palestinians to operate from their territories, provided the terror attacks occurred elsewhere. Not until 2003 did the EU even put Hamas on its terror list. Hizbullah is currently free to operate in Europe.

The bitter reality is that for Israel, international legal frameworks provide no protection and no hope of justice. Instead, these frameworks are used to exploit the rhetoric of human rights and morality to attack Israel. In European courts, universal jurisdiction statutes, initially created to apprehend and try dictators and genocidal leaders, are now exploited as weapons in the service of the Palestinian cause. In this way, Israeli defense officials are branded as “war criminals.”

Similarly, Richard Goldstone’s predetermined “fact finding inquiry” into the Gaza war makes no mention of Al-Mabhouh or Iran, which supplied Hamas with over 10,000 rockets for attacks against Israelis. Mr. Goldstone and his team have remained silent about what would be the “legal” way to bring jihadi murderers to justice. In their efforts to demonize Israel, Palestinian terror actually doesn’t really exist. The Goldstone team simply refused to accept conclusive Israeli video evidence of Hamas war crimes.

The same legal distortions are found among the organizations that claim to be the world’s moral guardians, such as Human Rights Watch. HRW’s systematic bias is reflected in a Middle East division that sees no problem in holding fund-raising dinners in Saudi Arabia – one of the world’s worst human rights violators and a country officially still at war with Israel – to help finance their campaigns against the Jewish state.

In the absence of any legal remedies or Western solidarity, Israel’s only option to protect its citizens from terror has always been to act independently and with force. When in 1976 a group of Palestinian and German terrorists hijacked an Israel-bound Air France plane to Uganda and separated the Jewish passengers, Israel decided to act. In a daring mission, it rescued all but three passengers while killing all terrorists and several Ugandan soldiers who had been protecting the terrorists. Back then, Israel’s detractors also fretted about the “violation of Ugandan sovereignty” even though dictator Idi Amin was in cahoots with the terrorists. Entebbe, though, quickly became the gold standard for successful counter-terror operations. Only a year later, Israeli-trained German special forces freed in Mogadishu, Somalia a Lufthansa plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. Similarly, when after years of horrific suicide bombings Israel pioneered the targeted killings of Hamas terrorists – often with the help of unmanned drones – Israel’s Western adversaries complained about “extrajudicial assassinations.” Today, though, U.S. forces have copied Israel’s technique with their own drone killings of jihadi terrorists in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.

Unlike those Predator strikes, though, which hardly raise an eyebrow in the West these days, there was no “collateral damage” in the mysterious Dubai hit. No innocent civilians were hurt, no buildings were damaged. Justice was done, and al-Mabhouh’s preparations for the next war ended quietly.

All this is lost on those diplomats, “legal experts,” and pundits who blame Israel for Dubai, and angrily denounce the passport infractions. In the absence of viable alternatives, and a refusal to share any of the risks, they are in no position to condemn actions aimed at preventing more terror.

 

“MABHOUH CERTAINLY HAD ENOUGH FORM TO MERIT HIS EXECUTION”

Only one group could be behind the latest hit – the Irish Jews
By Ian O’Doherty
The Irish Independent (Comment page)
February 19, 2010

It was the assassination – or ‘assasination’ as the Irish Anti War Movement misspelled it yesterday – that has been heard around the world.

In scenes reminiscent of something from a Freddie Forsyth novel, a supposedly crack team of 11 hit men (that woman was almost certainly a man in drag) entered a hotel in Dubai, targeted a top Hamas terrorist whom they had been trailing for years and promptly took him out.

Before equally promptly finding their faces splashed all over the world’s media.

The widespread belief that it was Mossad behind the operation has led to an unprecedented orgy of Israel-bashing, with the hoary old arguments about the only democracy in the region being a ‘rogue’ state or, even more inaccurately an ‘apartheid’ state – a disgusting allegation at the best of times, particularly when you consider that Israeli Arabs have infinitely more rights than their brethren in Arab states.

The irony, of course, is that it hasn’t even been conclusively proved that Mossad were the people behind the operation. And while a betting man would certainly have a flutter on their involvement, one frequently overlooked fact is that there have already been arrests – of two Palestinians who were pulled in Jordan and have been extradited to Dubai.

So, if the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was indeed those pesky Israelis and not the result of a Hamas power struggle or an assassination carried out by one of the many Arab groups who loathe the Islamist Hamas with as much passion as the Israelis, were they right to do it?

Frankly, I find it hard to understand anyone who doesn’t simply shrug their shoulders and realise that it’s one fewer terrorist planning murderous attacks on civilians.

Al-Mabhouh certainly had enough form to merit his execution – he was personally responsible for the murder of IDF soldiers in the ‘80s and was, by all accounts, in Dubai to arrange an arms deal with the main Hamas sponsor, Iran.

Any country has the right to defend itself from attack, and Israel has even more right to do so than any other country on earth for the simple reason that when a country loses a war it faces a few years of rebuilding and recovery. If and when Israel loses a war it will simply cease to exist.

So, when you know that you are facing the possibility of complete and total annihilation rather than just military defeat, the niceties of international law tend to become rather moot.

One of the reasons why many military analysts aren’t so quick to immediately pin the blame – or should I say credit – on Mossad is the shoddiness of the attack.

All 11 have been clearly identified and were identified quickly.

For a country that prides itself on the power and ability of their two main security services, Mossad and their domestic counterparts Shin Bet, such looseness rather dents the aura of invincibility that surrounds them. An aura, it must be said, that has taken a bit of a battering over recent years with such humiliating climb-downs as having to provide the antidote to one of their targets after it emerged that they had poisoned him.

Not exactly the handiwork of a crack team of spooks.

But the story took a fantastic turn for the surreal yesterday.

MPAC, the Muslims Public Affair Committee, which recently issued not-very-thinly-veiled death threats against myself and Kevin Myers (when a group of Muslim extremists publicly announces that: “we will not shirk our responsibility, we cannot be blamed for defending ourselves” then there can be only one conclusion) have figured out who is responsible for the attack: Irish Jews.

Ireland’s Jewish community is not exactly renowned for being particularly militant. Indeed, one of the criticisms I often level against some of my mates who happen to be Jewish is that they are not vocal enough in their support of Israel, but according to MPAC: “Scheming Zionists used Ireland’s generous welcome as a means to launch their own insidious campaign for a homeland, a land they convinced the world was without a people”.

Now one can be forgiven for raising a quizzical eyebrow at the notion that arriving Jews received a “generous welcome” – certainly the Jews who were attacked in the Church-organised pogrom in Limerick in 1904 might have a different perspective.

But the group then goes on to say: “The three alleged Mossad assassins (who) either illegally procured Irish passports or were indeed part of Ireland’s Jewish community. The three Irish passport holders were named as Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron.”

They’re not exactly very Jewish names, but hey, let’s not let the facts get in the way when there’s a chance to launch an attack on the integrity of Irish Jews that would be repugnant if it wasn’t so amusingly implausible.

But maybe my friends at MPAC have raised an interesting opportunity – the next time I pop down to the rather fantastic corner bakery where I live to buy some of their delicious Challah bread, I’ll let it slip that I have an Irish passport for sale – only one previous owner and thanks to the fact that I’ve been bloody skint for the last 12 months, it hasn’t been used much either.

 

“DID MABHOUH REFLECT ON THAT AS HE CHECKED IN TO ROOM 230 AT HIS POSH HOTEL IN DUBAI?”

Why can’t this country follow Israel’s lead?
By Chris Roycroft-Davis
Daily Express (London) (Comment page)
February 19, 2010

Excuse me for not sending flowers to the funeral of the terrorist the Israelis bumped off in Dubai. Unlike the bleeding hearts in the liberal media I’m not shedding any tears.

As military chief of terrorist group Hamas, Mahmoud al Mabhouh had the blood of many Israeli soldiers and civilians on his hands. He was in charge of smuggling rockets and grenades into the Gaza Strip so his murderous gangs could lob them into Israel.

He could hardly complain when a hit squad from Mossad, the Israeli security service, brought his life to a swift end. To say he had it coming is an understatement.

So why such a fuss about his execution? Why has the Foreign office twisted the arm of the Israeli ambassador? And possibly the most crucial question of all: whose side are we on, the terrorists or those with the courage to stand up to them?

The Israelis don’t mess about, they don’t sit back and take it. You kill one of them and they will kill you. And afterwards they won’t explain, they won’t apologise, they won’t even deny it.

WORLD opinion means nothing – whatever London, Washington or Damascus may say the Israelis are convinced that they are right. An eye for an eye is the most basic concept of natural justice, dating back 4,000 years to Babylonian times and is promoted three times in the old Testament. Even in the New Testament Jesus says: Those who take up the sword shall die by the sword.

Did Mahmoud al-Mabhouh reflect on that as he checked in to room 230 at his posh hotel in Dubai? He was the man behind the kidnapping and killing of two Israel soldiers 21 years ago; he had been smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip; he was believed to be in Dubai to buy more weapons from an Iranian dealer. If Mossad agents came to call they were hardly there to inquire after his health.

Unlike Britain, Israel doesn’t tolerate an enemy within. It doesn’t give those who hate them free housing and welfare handouts. It doesn’t let the right of free speech enable them to preach murder on its streets.

Retribution is a vital part of Israel’s psyche. After the Second World War the Israelis spent half a century tracking down evil Nazis. When Israeli athletes were murdered at the 1972 Olympics their Palestinian killers were hunted around the world and eliminated: one by a bomb in his bed, another by a booby-trapped phone.

Who can forget the electrifying raid on Entebbe in 1976 when Israeli special forces stormed a hijacked airliner, killed the terrorists and freed all but three of the hostages? It was a salutary lesson to the world.

You’d think that Britain of all countries would understand the need to pull no punches with those who have sworn to be your enemies. That’s what the SAS did in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years, taking out IRA members before they could perpetrate further outrages. It is what our special forces did in Iraq and are doubtless doing in Afghanistan.

It is what the SAS should be doing today in Somalia, where British yacht couple Paul and Rachel Chandler are being held by pirates. Can you imagine the Israelis allowing two of their people to suffer so long in some fly-blown African hellhole?

Israel has no reason to be ashamed of its actions. As Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman points out: “our security activity is conducted according to the very clear, very cautious and responsible rules of the game.” rule No 1 of course in any security activity is kill or be killed.

Where Britain has a right to be upset, however, is the way the Israelis have carried out ID theft on the passports of six of our citizens. It’s not the first time they’ve done it and last time they promised they wouldn’t do it again.

One Foreign office source says Britain could cut ties with Mossad if the Israelis have been “found to be acting against British interests”. You might think executing the would terrorist might be precisely in our interests but the career diplomats take a loftier view.

Gordon Brown says Israel has questions to answer about nicking our passports but the implication is that Britain wouldn’t be in the least bit put out if the Israeli hit squad had used fake documents from Libya, Japan, Peru – in fact anywhere other than Britain.

BROWN even has the cheek to spout that “a British passport is an important part of being British”. This from a Prime Minister whose policy was to welcome millions of immigrants so he could socially engineer the country to be less British and more likely to vote Labour.

We should take no lessons either from the BBC, which for too long refused to call Hamas suicide bombers “terrorists” and hid behind weasel words like “radicals” and “militants”. Its anti-Israel bias is clear today when BBC News pontificates that Israel “may have scored a costly own goal” by using British identities for what it calls “nefarious activities”.

Make no mistake, I think a British passport is the most valuable document in the world and I don’t like it being used to gain illegal entry to another country. But my top priority will always be security and the world is undoubtedly more secure now Hamas has lost another murderer from its ranks.

 

MORE LIKE THIS PLEASE

More like this please
By Michael J. Totten
Commentary magazine (Contentions blog)
February 23, 2010

I can understand why Dubai authorities aren’t happy about the killing of Hamas senior military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, presumably by Israeli Mossad agents, in one of the city-state’s hotel rooms last month. More than most countries in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has stayed out of the Arab-Israeli conflict and would rather it not wash up on the beach.

Even as European Union officials perfunctorily squawk about the use of forged passports by the assassins, few others have grounds to complain. Al-Mabhouh was a terrorist commander on a mission to acquire Iranian weapons for use against civilians. He was a combatant. Unlike his victims, he was fair game. He would have been fair game for even an air strike if he were in Gaza. As he was, instead, in Dubai, he was taken out quietly without even alerting, let alone harming, any of the civilians around him.

If only Israel could fight all its battles this way. It would be the cleanest and least-deadly war in the history of warfare. Even some of Israel’s harshest critics should understand that.

“The Goldstone Report,” Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Jerusalem Post, “suggests that Israel cannot lawfully fight Hamas rockets by wholesale air attacks. Richard Goldstone, in his interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself from these unlawful attacks by more proportionate measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists engaged in the firing of rockets. Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate and focused attack on a combatant deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel than the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.”

Hamas and Hizbullah use civilians as human shields. Hizbullah uses an entire country as a vast human shield. Some critics, for various reasons, are more interested in lambasting Israel than the terrorist organizations it’s fighting. That’s easy when you live in New York or Brussels. People in the Middle East have to live with (or die because of) what happens. How Middle Easterners fight wars isn’t political or academic to me. I’ve never been inside Gaza, but I once lived in Lebanon, I travel there regularly, and there’s a real chance I’ll be there when the next war pops off. I’d rather not be used as a human shield if that’s OK with those who give Hamas and Hizbullah a pass. And I’d much rather read about Hizbullah leaders getting whacked by mysterious assassins with forged passports than dive into a Beirut bomb shelter during Israeli air raids.

But I’m not particularly concerned about my own skin here. Nobody forces me to travel to war zones. I don’t have to visit the Middle East ever again if I don’t want to. Every trip I’ve ever taken has been voluntary, and I can leave whenever I’ve had enough.

A lot of people I care about live in Lebanon, and some of them can’t leave. They never volunteered to be used as human shields by Hizbullah, and in fact had their neighborhood – my old neighborhood – shot up and blown up by Hizbullah gunmen recently. Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah doesn’t consult them or their elected officials on his foreign policy and would sooner shoot them than be relieved of his ability to declare war unilaterally or on the orders of Tehran.

It’s unlikely that Israel can avert the next war by assassinating its enemy’s leadership, but it’s always better to take out a high-level target in person whenever possible than with a blockbuster bomb from a distance. I can’t help but wonder if those griping about the recent hit in Dubai – assuming the Mossad actually did it – care less about the lives of real human beings than the latest excuse to bash Israel. If the Arab-Israeli conflict will continue – and it will continue –civilians on both sides should prefer combatants be taken off the board quietly while everyone else goes about their daily business in peace.

 

SON OF HAMAS FOUNDER WAS TOP ISRAELI AGENT

Son of Hamas founder was top Israeli agent
The Associated Press
February 24, 2010

JERUSALEM – The son of one of Hamas’ founders says in a new book that he served as a top informant for Israel for more than a decade, providing top-secret intelligence that helped prevent dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis.

Mosab Yousef’s memoir, “Son of Hamas,” is being published next week in the United States, and highlights of the book and an interview with the author appeared Wednesday in Israel’s Ha’aretz daily. Yousef declined comment, but his Facebook page plugs the book as “a gripping account of terror, betrayal, political intrigue, and unthinkable choices.”

The revelation of such a high-level informant would deal another blow to Hamas, which suffered a key setback last month when one of its top commanders was assassinated in Dubai last month. Dubai authorities have accused Israel of carrying out the hit, and there have been reports that a Hamas insider assisted the killers.

Hamas, however, claimed it was suspicious of Yousef’s activities for years, and had kept a close eye on him to prevent him from gathering valuable information. His father, Sheik Hassan Yousef, a founder of the Islamic militant group in the 1980s and still a senior figure, issued a statement through his lawyer saying his son had been “blackmailed” by Israeli authorities during a stint in jail in 1996.

Mosab Yousef, dubbed “the Green Prince” by his handlers, told the Ha’aretz daily that he was one of Israeli intelligence’s most valuable sources in Gaza. His reports led to the arrests of several high-ranking Palestinian figures during the violent Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule that began in 2000, the newspaper said.

The younger Yousef converted to Christianity and moved to California in 2007.

Hamas officials rejected the Ha’aretz report as propaganda meant to divert attention from the Dubai assassination.

The elder Yousef said in his statement that when Hamas concluded Israel was extorting his son, “the members of the movement were warned about him.”

It said he was placed “under the supervision” of his father, whom it described as a politician uninvolved in militant activities. The elder Yousef is currently serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison for his political activities.

Collaboration with Israel is tantamount to treason in Palestinian society and can be punishable by death.

In his Facebook posting, Yousef told his friends his story “will blow your minds away. It is going to be like a tsunami in the Middle East” and “will spread like a wild fire.” His book plug describes Yousef’s journey as one that “jeopardized Hamas, endangered his family, and threatened his life.”

The book’s publisher, Tyndale House Publishers, which prints books with Christian themes, confirmed the details in the Ha’aretz report.

Yousef told Ha’aretz that Israeli intelligence agents first approached him in prison in 1996 and proposed he infiltrate the upper echelons of Hamas. He did so and is credited by Israel with saving hundreds of Israeli lives.

Yousef told the paper he hoped to send a message of peace to Israelis, though he remained pessimistic about prospects for ending the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

He had particularly sharp comments for Hamas, the Iranian-backed movement that seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has been branded a terrorist organization by Israel and the West.

“Hamas cannot make peace with the Israelis. That is against what their God tells them. It is impossible to make peace with infidels,” he told Ha’aretz.

He claimed, however, that his relationship with his handlers helped thwart an Israeli plan to assassinate his father.

The Shin Bet internal intelligence agency declined comment. But Ha’aretz published comments by a former official it said was Yousef’s former handler.

“So many people owe him their life and don’t even know it,” said the handler, identified in Yousef’s book only as Capt. Loai. He described one incident in which “the Green Prince” tracked a would-be suicide bomber in the West Bank town of Ramallah, enabling agents to arrest the attacker.

“This was an almost daily thing for the Prince,” he told the newspaper. “He displayed courage, had sharp antennae and an ability to cope with danger.”

The techniques described in the report – recruiting a potential agent in jail and targeting a family member of a valuable target – are believed to be common tactics used by the agency.

The dramatic defection of someone of Yousef’s stature is a huge setback to Hamas, says Martin Kramer, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, a conservative Jerusalem think tank.

“This obviously is the sort of thing that makes Hamas wonder whether there aren’t still more informers in their ranks,” he said.


Journalism 007: Reporting fiction as fact

February 22, 2010

* Richard Littlejohn: “None of it makes sense outside of the kaleidoscope universe of Middle East espionage. Was this double-bluff, triple-bluff, blind man’s-bluff? I shouldn’t think we’ll ever know. Ultimately, whoever killed him, a notorious terrorist is dead. Works for me.”

* Douglas Murray: “Most people are terrible at keeping secrets, and Jews are no different. So the idea that up to a million of them keep this secret knowledge strikes me as not just one of the most ridiculous, but in the present climate one of the most dangerous, ideas for the BBC to pump into circulation.”

* Alan Dershowitz: “If Israel killed Mabhouh, there can be absolutely no doubt that he was a combatant. He was actively participating in an ongoing war by Hamas against Israeli civilians. Both the United States and Great Britain routinely kill such combatants.”

* Melanie Reid: “All nice people, quite rightly, are adopting the proper moral stance and expressing outrage and disgust at this affront to international law and justice. But the rest of us, well, we simply can’t wait until the movie comes out.”

* Tom Gross: “Mabhouh had five different passports with him in Dubai: there seems to be no media coverage or interest in which countries’ passports he was using.”

* Tom Gross: “It is not even clear that the nine photographs that the Dubai authorities have released to the media actually portray real people. (Have they been heavily retouched, for example? Is each one a composite of several faces?) The photos have been shown repeatedly in news broadcasts and plastered on the front page of newspapers around the world in the last week, but not a single person has come forward to say they recognize any of them, even from high school days, despite front page headlines such as Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper saying ‘If you recognize any of these people, call us’.”

 

CONTENTS

1. Reporting 007: Separating fact from fiction
2. Making things up?
3. Ignoring their own countries’ “murders”
4. Nothing known for certain about Mabhouh’s death
5. “Nice job, shame about the syrups” (By Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail)
6. “BBC blasted for ‘bigoted fear-mongering’” (By Haviv Rettig Gur, Jerusalem Post)
7. “BBC broadcast: ‘One million Jews help Mossad’” (By Douglas Murray, Daily Telegraph)
8. “If Israel killed Mabhouh, did it have the right to?” (By Alan Dershowitz, Hudson NY)
9. “We’re all thrilled by Mossad the movie” (By Melanie Reid, The Times)
10. “A Dubai victory” (By Noah Pollak, Commentary Magazine, Contentions blog)

 

(This is a follow-up to the Feb. 18 dispatch: Is Israel the only suspect over Dubai death?)

(Please note there is also a third subsequent Feb. 24 dispatch on this here: Only one group could be behind the latest hit -- the Irish Jews.)


REPORTING 007: SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

By Tom Gross

We all know that journalists (including some at highly-regarded newspapers) often makes things up, but rarely have we witnessed such a mix of misinformation, disinformation and innuendo passed off as fact, as we have in recent days in the reports dealing with the death of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Mabhouh. (Some of this admittedly can be attributed to the complete failure of the Israeli government – whether or not Israel had anything to do with the matter – to provide an effective response to the media.)

For example, the story in yesterday’s (London) Sunday Telegraph that British immigrants to Israel had their passports removed and copied at passport control at Tel Aviv airport, is highly implausible. Passports are not taken from immigrants at Tel Aviv airport. This has never been the practice. I have checked with several recent immigrants and they have confirmed that this is not so.

The Telegraph story, written by a London-based correspondent, has all the signs of being planted by anti-Israel elements at the British Foreign Office (of which there are many – witness, for example, the reinstatement last year of Rowan Laxton, a high-ranking diplomat and “Middle East expert” at the British Foreign Office, even after a London court had found him guilty of racially aggravated harassment for saying “F**king Israelis, F**king Jews… they should be wiped off the face of the earth” in a crowded London gym).

But other media lapped up the Telegraph story. For example, Sky News ran it all day yesterday on its ticker tape at the foot of the screen, probably doing great damage to future British tourism to Israel by falsely reporting that British passports would be removed and copied at Ben Gurion airport.

(Among other nonsense published in The Sunday Telegraph yesterday was the claim that “Tzipi Livni, the head of the opposition Kadima Party in Israel, was another Mossad high-flier. She was posted to Paris as a kidon, carrying out ruthless operations against Arab terrorists.” See the second note here.)

MAKING THINGS UP?

Even worse was the story in yesterday’s London Sunday Times by its notoriously unreliable reporter Uzi Mahnaimi, claiming that the paper had evidence that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had personally ordered the hit on Mabhouh, and even providing quotes attributed to Netanyahu when he supposedly gave such orders. The Sunday Times story was then splashed all day as the lead story on the websites of papers like Ha’aretz, which is so full of contempt for the elected government of Israel that it will publish almost anything to paint Netanyahu in a bad light.

A comparable motive is true in Britain in the case of The Daily Mail, who were determined to attack Gordon Brown’s government and thus on Friday published an anonymous story (without any author’s byline, or quoted persons in it) claiming that the British government “knew in advance that Israel was going to use British passports”. The Daily Mail claimed in its story that they had been told this by a serving member of the Mossad. Again, this is virtually inconceivable since serving members of the Mossad do not speak to journalists but The Daily Mail’s report was treated seriously and rebroadcast around the world as lead item by major TV stations.

Even The New York Times and International Herald Tribune got in on the act on Friday, telling readers that Israel has engaged in 40 Dubai-type assassinations in recent years – again claims made without a shred of evidence, and highly unlikely to be true.

The French media have also regurgitated the stories of the British media, leading to French Prime Minister François Fillon, who was in Syria this weekend, to declare – in front of President Assad of all people! – “we are against this form of assassination; whoever orders them should be punished. Like the British and the Germans we have asked Israeli authorities to explain themselves.”

IGNORING THEIR OWN COUNTRIES’ “MURDERS”

At the same time that they blamed Israel, these very same British and American media made very little of the fact that every day last week their own governments killed terrorists in Afghanistan (and elsewhere).

Given the level of censorship they are imposing on their Afghan coverage (censorship that news broadcasters like the BBC fail to tell viewers about), they almost never mention the civilians their armies are killing. (The almost three dozen civilians – mainly women and children – killed by a NATO strike yesterday are being reported in some media, but similar strikes last week were largely ignored by the same media so eager to paint the death of a leading Hamas terrorist as some kind of “master crime”. Preliminary reports indicate that Dutch forces were in charge of the area where the civilians died yesterday, but instead EU foreign ministers are preparing today to condemn Israel, not Holland.)

(Having milked all it could out of its reports in recent days that British citizens’ passports were used, The Times of London’s main online world news headline today reads “Dubai hit squad ‘used diplomatic passports’” – which is the opposite of what The Times was claiming last week.)

Mabhouh had five different passports with him in Dubai: there seems to be no media coverage or interest in which countries’ passports he was using.

 

NOTHING KNOWN FOR CERTAIN ABOUT MABHOUH’S DEATH

(This next part of the note was sent in a slightly difficult form to some people on my email list on Friday, but not to most of you.)

The governments of Jordan and Egypt (where Mabhouh previously spent a year in prison in 2003) had sought Mabhouh for some time. Some Arab media have reported that the operation against Mabhouh may have been carried out by a rival Palestinian group and the photographed individuals have nothing to do with it.

Indeed it is not even clear that the nine photographs that the Dubai authorities have released to the media actually portray real people. (Have they been heavily retouched, for example? Is each one a composite of several faces?) The photos have been shown repeatedly in news broadcasts and plastered on the front page of newspapers around the world in the last 48 hours [it is now almost a week], but not a single person has come forward to say they recognize any of them, even from high school days, despite front page headlines such as Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper saying “If you recognize any of these people, call us”.

(Even if Israel was responsible for Mabhouh’s death, it doesn’t mean the photos produced by Dubai had anything to do with it. Almost no one is questioning whether this evidence is really evidence at all.)

* Unlike the anti-Israeli elements of the Western media that have rushed to blame Israel (creating a public furor and thereby forcing the hands of the British, Irish and French governments to summon their respective Israeli ambassadors), the Arab media are suggesting that the truth is far more complicated.

For example, the Arab world’s leading and arguably its most reliable newspaper, Al Sharq Alawsat, ran these stories:
* UAE Tipped Jordan of Palestinian Suspects whilst they were in the Air – Sources
* Palestinian Dubai Murder Suspects are Hamas Members – Palestinian Security Official

* This article in al-Hayat (Arabic only) also examines Palestinian involvement (with assistance from Arab and Western intelligence agencies) into Mabhouh’s death.

 

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

I have received dozens and dozens of emails as a result of my Dubai dispatch last week and apologize that I don’t have time to answer all of them.

I attach below several articles on the subject, which I believe are all worth reading. They put forward some points of view not found in many other parts of the media, including in the case of The Daily Mail, Times and Telegraph items, in the rest of the coverage inthose same papers. The authors of these articles (Alan Dershowitz, Douglas Murray, Haviv Rettig Gur, Noah Pollak and Richard Littlejohn) are all long time subscribers to this email list. (Melanie Reid is not.)

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

WAS THIS DOUBLE-BLUFF, TRIPLE-BLUFF, BLIND MAN’S-BLUFF?

Nice job, shame about the syrups
By Richard Littlejohn
Daily Mail (extracts from his column – the rest of the column is about other matters)
February 19, 2010

www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1252133/Man-pedaloes-chaps-save-Falklands.html

When it was reported that Mossad had stolen the identities of British passport holders to carry out a covert operation in Dubai, it didn’t add up.

Why would Israeli intelligence implicate British Jews living in Israel? And given that Mossad has access to the most sophisticated assassination techniques in the world, why were the alleged assassins wearing the kind of ill-fitting nylon wigs and comedy moustaches last seen being sported by bank robbers in The Sweeney, circa 1975?

None of it makes sense outside of the kaleidoscope universe of Middle East espionage. Was this double-bluff, triple-bluff, blind man’s-bluff?

Even one of the men who had his identity stolen doesn’t believe it was Mossad. I shouldn’t think we’ll ever know, which suits everyone involved. The diplomatic ‘row’ between Britain and Israel is a dog-and pony show, which will soon blow over.

Ultimately, whoever killed him, a notorious terrorist is dead.

Works for me.

 

THE BBC “SHOULD EXAMINE THIS DISGRACEFUL TRANSMISSION, APOLOGIZE TO JEWS AND REMOVE FROM ITS ARCHIVE THE SLANDEROUS WORDS”

BBC blasted for ‘bigoted fear-mongering’
By Haviv Rettig Gur
The Jerusalem Post
February 22, 2010

www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=169316#

The New York-based American Jewish Committee blasted the BBC on Sunday for airing an accusation that Jews around the world assist in supposed Mossad assassinations.

The AJC said in a statement that it was “dismayed that a guest on BBC Radio 4 was allowed to state unchallenged” that the Mossad relies on Jews for assassination plots.

“This baseless accusation crosses every red line between legitimate public discussion and bigoted fear-mongering,” said AJC executive director David Harris. “In less than a minute, the BBC has cast a shadow on the lives of Jews worldwide.”

BBC Radio 4’s PM program interviewed Gordon Thomas, author of Gideon’s Spies, a book about the Mossad, about the January 20 assassination of Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

Local authorities and many international media outlets believe that the killing of Mabhouh, who bought rockets for Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip, was carried out by the Mossad.

In explaining the Mossad’s operating methods outside Israel, Thomas told PM host Eddie Mair, “They have a whole backup system called ‘asylum.’ These are people, local residents, Jewish people, who help the Mossad. It is estimated to be in the world about half a million; some people say a million; I tend to say it’s about half a million, all of them Mossad people.”

“Of course, Mr. Thomas is irresponsible in making such unfounded assertions on a radio program heard around the world,” said Harris, “but even more shocking is BBC, a premier public broadcaster with a far-reaching global network. How can the interviewer allow such aspersions to be cast on a community without the reporter calling the so-called expert to order?”

The comments also drew condemnation from observers of the BBC.

“Unfortunately, such ugly and nonsensical statements on the BBC come as no surprise. The BBC often handpicks interviewees who are likely to say such things as part of a wider pattern to demonize the State of Israel,” said Tom Gross, a former Middle East correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph and a Middle East analyst who has long been critical of BBC coverage of the region.

The AJC called on the BBC “to examine this disgraceful transmission, apologize to Jews around the world and remove from its archive the slanderous words.”

Reached for comment, the BBC press office in London said, “This interview was part of a wider piece about the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh which involved contributions from a number of people including Gordon Thomas, an author of a book about [the] Mossad.

“The sentiments expressed by Gordon Thomas were clearly his own opinions. They came at the end of the interview when it was being wrapped up and there was no time to come back on them.”

 

[Tom Gross adds: Last night, in a speech in London, former senior British army officer Col Richard Kemp, who was a commander in Afghanistan, said international media including the BBC are being exploited by “dark forces” who want to harm Israel and were “motivated by anti-Semitism”.]

 

“AMID ALL THE EXCITABLE NONSENSE BEING TALKED ABOUT DEAD HAMAS COMMANDER MAHMOUD AL-MABHOUH I THINK THE BBC HAS TOPPED THE LOT”

BBC broadcast: ‘One million Jews help Mossad’
By Douglas Murray
Daily Telegraph blogs
February 18, 2010

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/douglasmurray/100026549/bbc-broadcast-one-million-jews-help-mossad/

Amid all the excitable nonsense being talked about dead Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh I think the BBC has topped the lot. In an interview broadcast on Radio 4’s PM programme last night broadcast (at 17:35 mins) one interviewee explained that up to one million Jews worldwide might be on hand to assist Mossad in executions. That would mean about one in every dozen Jewish people worldwide is a secret assistant to assassins.

Now I must have more than a dozen or so Jewish friends. So which is it? Maybe I know two? It makes you think doesn’t it?

The next time I am at a friend’s child’s bar mitzvah the likelihood is that on at least 10 separate occasions during the day I’ll be helping myself at the buffet beside, or dancing opposite, someone who secretly helps in assassinations. Which will certainly make me more circumspect about my dance moves, not to mention barging in at the buffet queue.

Most people are terrible at keeping secrets, and Jews are no different from anyone else in this regard. So the idea that up to a million of them keep this secret knowledge strikes me as not just one of the most ridiculous, but in the present climate one of the most dangerous, ideas for the BBC to pump into circulation. Yet it typical of the lather nearly all the press have got into with this Dubai business.

If anyone is interested in a more balanced and factual view of things, can I heartily recommend the indispensable Tom Gross here, not least the section “Has Israel been set up?”

***

Thank you too to all the other journalist subscribers to this list who also linked to my previous Dubai dispatch, such as Stephanie Gutmann on The Daily Telegraph website, and Melanie Phillips on The Spectator website.

 

“OBVIOUSLY IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER TO CAPTURE HIM AND SUBJECT HIM TO JUDICIAL JUSTICE. BUT IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO DO SO, ESPECIALLY IN DUBAI.”

If Israel killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, did it have the right to?
By Alan Dershowitz
February 18, 2010

www.hudsonny.org/2010/02/if-israel-killed-mahmoud-al-mabhouh-did-it-have-the-right-to.php

If Israel killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, Did It Have the Right To? I don’t know whether Israel did or did not assassinate the leader of the Hamas military wing, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. But assuming for argument’s sake that the Mossad made the hit, did it have the right to engage in this “extrajudicial assassination?”

Not all extrajudicial killings are unlawful. Every soldier who kills an enemy combatant engages in an extrajudicial killing, as does every policeman who shoots a fleeing felon. There are several complex legal questions involved in assessing these situations.

First, was the person who was killed a combatant, in relation to those killed him? If Israel killed Mabhouh, there can be absolutely no doubt that he was a combatant. He was actively participating in an ongoing war by Hamas against Israeli civilians. Indeed, it is likely that he was killed while on a military mission to Iran in order to secure unlawful, anti-personnel rockets that target Israeli civilians. Both the United States and Great Britain routinely killed such combatants during the Second World War, whether they were in uniform or not. Moreover, Hamas combatants deliberately remove their uniforms while engaged in combat.

So if the Israeli Air Force had killed Mabhouh while he was in Gaza, there would be absolutely no doubt that their action would be lawful. It does not violate international law to kill a combatant, regardless of where the combatant is found, whether he is awake or asleep and whether or not he is engaged in active combat at the moment of his demise.

But Mabhouh was not killed in Gaza. He was killed in Dubai. It is against the law of Dubai for an Israeli agent to kill a combatant against Israel while he is in Dubai. So the people who engaged in the killing presumptively violated the domestic law of Dubai, unless there is a defense to such a killing based on international principles regarding enemy combatants. It is unlikely that any defense would be available to an Israeli or someone working on behalf of Israel, since Dubai does not recognize Israel’s right to kill enemy combatants on its territory.

If it could be proved that Israel was responsible for the hit – an extremely unlikely situation – then only Dubai could lawfully bring Israelis to trial. They would not be properly subjected to prosecution before an international tribunal. But what if a suspect was arrested in England, the United States or some other western country and Dubai sought his extradition? That would pose an interesting legal, diplomatic, political and moral dilemma. Traditional extradition treaties do not explicitly cover situations of this kind. This was not an ordinary murder. It was carried out as a matter of state policy as part of an ongoing war. A western democracy would certainly have the right and the power to refuse to extradite. But they might decide, for political or diplomatic reasons, to turn the person over to Dubai.

Turning now to the moral considerations, which might influence a decision whether to extradite, the situation is even murkier. The Goldstone report suggests that Israel cannot lawfully fight Hamas rockets by wholesale air attacks. Richard Goldstone, in his interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself from these unlawful attacks by more proportionate retail measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists engaged in the firing of rockets. Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate, retail and focused attack on a combatant who was deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel, than the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Not only was Mabhouh the commander in charge of Hamas’ unlawful military actions at the time of his death, he was also personally responsible for the kidnapping and coldblooded murder of two Israeli soldiers several years earlier.

Obviously it would have been better if he could have been captured and subjected to judicial justice. But it was impossible to capture him, especially when he was in Dubai. If Israel was responsible for the killing, it had only two options: to let him go on his way and continue to endanger Israeli civilian lives by transferring unlawful anti-personnel weapons from Iran to Gaza, or to kill him. There was no third alternative. Given those two options, killing seems like the least tragic choice available.
I leave to others, more expert in these matters, whether if Israel ordered the killing, it was strategically the right thing, or whether they carried it off in an intelligent manner. But as to the legal and moral right to end the threat posed by this mass murderer, the least bad alternative would seem to be his extrajudicial killing.

 

WHERE WERE GEORGE CLOONEY AND BRAD PITT?

We’re all thrilled by Mossad the movie
Of course we should condemn extrajudicial murder, but I still can’t help admiring Israel’s nerve
By Melanie Reid
The Times (of London)
February 18, 2010

www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/melanie_reid/article7031188.ece

Steven Soderbergh, evidently, was only kidding when he said that there would be no Ocean’s 14. He’s plainly been hard at work filming in a hotel in Dubai, as we can see from the trailers running on News at Ten. With Mossad operatives filling in as movie extras.

Now I know we really, really shouldn’t joke about these things. I should be wearing black and have a long face and be uttering pieties about the disgraceful “extrajudicial” killing of the Hamas military chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, apparently by Israeli agents.

All nice people, quite rightly, are adopting the proper moral stance and expressing outrage and disgust at this affront to international law and justice. But the rest of us ... well, we simply can’t wait until the movie comes out. Largely thanks to the blurry CCTV pictures, there is an element to the assassination in Dubai that is appallingly irresistible. What the secret agents did – and, critically, what we saw them do – was compelling and breathtaking in its cleverness.

It was also, in the darkest sense, comic – hence the feeling of Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13.

That the agents were using fake identities, one of them being that of Paul Keeley, 42, a bewildered Kent-born odd-job man who was living in Israel, just added to the sense that this was too good to be true. Where were George Clooney and Brad Pitt? To see the images of tubby tennis players bimbling across the hotel lobby and into the lift with the Danny Devito-like figure of Mr al-Mabhouh, and then following him so that they could note down his room number, was to know that this was an incomparable heist; a case of life imitating art imitating life. That it was a rare glimpse into the shadowy world of international espionage makes it all the more seductive.

Now everything I write, of course, is on the understanding that the Israelis refuse to comment on allegations that they are responsible for the killing. But their motive, it is said, is that Mr al-Mabhouh is rumoured to have played a key role in smuggling Iranian-funded arms to Islamist militants in Gaza, and may have been on his way to Iran. And just because the Israelis haven’t said that they did it doesn’t mean for a minute that they weren’t responsible.

It is an unfashionable thing to say, but I have a considerable admiration for the Israeli way of doing things. They want something, they get it. They perceive someone as their deadly enemy, they kill them. They get hit, they hit back. They don’t waste time explaining or justifying or agonising; nor do they allow their detractors to enter their country and then afford them generous welfare payments. They just act. No messing. No scruples. Not even a shrug and a denial, just a rather magnificent refusal to debate anything.

This absolutism, based on their history, carries its own moral weight; one that is rather electrifying in a Western world grown flabby with niceties. Clearly, the Israelis could defend their policies if they wanted to, but they quite simply can’t be bothered. It’s a waste of breath. One admires them for that, too.

I’ve felt this way ever since the Entebbe raid in 1976, an occasion when the Israelis showed Hollywood a thing or two. After two Palestinians and two Germans had hijacked an aircraft on a flight that had originated in Israel, the Israeli army simply swooped in, killed the hijackers and freed all but three of the hostages. It was decisive, bloody and clever. Lieutenant-Colonel “Yoni” Netanyahu, the older brother of the present Prime Minister, Binyamin, was the only commando killed in the fighting.

They also outdid fiction after the massacre at the Munich Olympics in 1972, when they hunted down 11 Palestinians who were responsible and eliminated them wherever they were in the world. Aided by fake passports and disguises, Mossad agents employed methods including a booby-trapped telephone, a bomb planted in a bed and a raid in Beirut in which the present Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, dressed as a woman. Nobody caught it on CCTV, but on the ground that human nature can never resist this kind of stuff, Steven Spielberg made it into the Oscar-nominated 2005 movie Munich.

Maybe, as the West becomes increasingly gentle and polite, and pays those monthly direct debits to Amnesty International, we need the Israelis to remind us that the world is not made according to our template. Maybe that is why we are drawn towards tales of uncompromising, ruthless derring-do. How else to explain the veneration of the SAS, the worldwide glut of books and movies on covert operations?

One last point. Usually, in comedy heist movies, no one gets killed. Somewhere a family is weeping at the death of Mr al-Mabhouh and no one takes any pleasure from that. But the people who die in Mossad operations tend to be, like the Hamas leader, morally compromised. There’s a side to us that acknowledges that some assassins’ victims may have had it coming to them. So we’re appalled, but not so appalled that we don’t look forward with relish to the sequel. Ultimately, this is less about siding with the Israelis than loving winners.

 

“IT’S FASCINATING TO WATCH THE WORLD TRY TO TURN THE DUBAI ASSASSINATION INTO A DEBACLE FOR ISRAEL”

A Dubai Victory
By Noah Pollak
Commentary magazine (Contentions blog)
February 18, 2010

It’s fascinating to watch the world try to turn the Dubai assassination into a debacle for Israel – all because the team members were captured on CCTV and the British and Irish authorities are making a momentary stink about the use of forged British and Irish passports.

You, the reader of this post, will be captured on CCTV a dozen times today simply going about your business. The people calling the operation “sloppy” and a “debacle” seem to actually believe that the Mossad is unaware that there are video cameras in airports and hotels today, or that the passport photos of the agents would not be revealed to the public. Really.

More important, the fact of the matter is that the team got into Dubai, rubbed out a bad guy, and got out. No drama, nobody was captured, and nobody knows the real identities of the team or where they are now. Given the extraordinary risk and complexity of the operation, that’s a win in my book. And now the Iranians, Syrians, and their terrorist clients have been given another reminder that their people aren’t safe anywhere – even in the heart of the Arab world.

And as for the people who are whining about “passport fraud” misdemeanors while ignoring the felony staring them in the face: what do you say about the fact that the terrorist in charge of illegally smuggling missiles from Iran to Hamas apparently had an open invite to hang out in Dubai? This isn’t a problem?

The Israelis either deal with high-level terrorists discreetly, or they leave them alone to go about their work, which means more and better arms in Gaza and Lebanon, which means a more destructive war down the road for the Arabs who live in these combat zones. Those who are pretending to be scandalized by the Dubai assassination tend to be the same people who pretend to care deeply about Palestinian civilians. I wonder if they’re aware of their own hypocrisy.


Is Israel the only suspect over Dubai death?

February 18, 2010

* Dubai death may have the support of many actors
* Did the Saudis have a hand? Did British intelligence?
* Few weeping over death of Hamas master terrorist
* There’s much we don’t know about Mabhouh’s death, so it’s unwise to jump to conclusions

***

[Please note that there is also a Feb. 22 follow-up dispatch to the dispatch below, here:
Journalism 007: Reporting fiction as fact

and also a third Feb. 24 dispatch on this here: Only one group could be behind the latest hit -- the Irish Jews.]

 

Victims of Mabhouh’s missiles: Below left: Yuval Abebeh, 4, an Ethiopian-Israeli boy murdered in Sderot by a Hamas missile on Sept. 29, 2004. He died shortly after the picture (above) was taken, as did 2-year-old Dorit Aniso, below right.

 

CONTENTS

1. A death in Dubai
2. Has Israel been set up?
3. Data banks
4. Region-wide conflagration
5. Disappearing Iranians
6. “The incrimination of Israel”


A DEATH IN DUBAI

By Tom Gross

I previously wrote about the death of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud Mabhouh in the dispatch of Feb. 2, 2010. (See the first note, titled Israel has ‘no comment’ on Dubai death.)

Yesterday, without any actual evidence, the media in some European countries – notably Britain – went much further than even the media in Dubai, and blamed Israel unreservedly for Mabhouh’s death.

Headlines included:
* Britons had passport details stolen by ‘Mossad death squad’ (Times of London)
* Why choose us, ask Britons whose identities were stolen by Mossad hit squad (Daily Mail, page 1). Another story on page 4 of the Daily Mail was headlined: Dragged into a Mossad murder plot and photo captions in the paper described those involved as “Mossad agents” and “Mossad killers”.
* And today the lead editorial in The Guardian is titled: Israeli assassinations: passports to kill.

* And BBC Radio 4’s PM show, choosing as their “expert” to interview the unreliable writer Gordon Thomas, yesterday broadcast the following at 17:35 minutes: 1 million Jews on hand to assist local Mossad executions.

Other papers mixed fact with pure nonsense about the supposed past exploits and misdeeds of Israeli intelligence.

Prominent international TV stations have paid enormous attention to this story, also blaming Israel without any concrete evidence. For example, the first four stories on the 8 a.m World News broadcast on CNN International yesterday also concerned Mabhouh’s death (even though it occurred four weeks earlier). Only after those items did CNN report on the capture of the most senior Taliban commander since 2001, which many would argue is a far more important news story, both strategically in terms of international politics and specifically for the United States.

This morning CNN again led its news with a series of reports on the Dubai matter lasting 7 minutes, and BBC World led reports on the subject lasting almost 8 minutes. (The channels spent only a few seconds much later in their broadcasts mentioning the ongoing vicious fighting in Afghanistan involving U.S. and British troops, and failed to mention fresh Afghan civilian deaths there.)

Meanwhile, the former editor of the British tabloid newspaper The Sun, said “I’d be happy if someone used my passport to kill such a disgusting Hamas terrorist.”

And Douglas Murray, who is emerging as one of Britain’s leading political thinkers, has two posts on The Daily Telegraph website (here and here) in which he keeps a refreshingly open mind on this matter .

 

HAS ISRAEL BEEN SET UP?

I would make the following points further to my February 2 dispatch on this subject. (Journalists wishing to use these points can attribute them to me as quotes.)

* There seems a very real possibility that Israel is being set up. Airlines keep detailed passenger records these days and anyone could have got the flight manifestos of British and other passport holders who have flown to Israel in the past and then used these names in a deliberate attempt to point the finger of blame at Israel.

* The Dubai authorities have provided no forensic evidence that points to Israel, only a series of photos and videos of random hotel guests who may or may not all know each other. In any event, the persons shown in these photos and videos are not shown committing any crime. It would be very easy to frame Israel, using the identities of six randomly-chosen Israelis based on flight manifestos. This could have been done by anyone – and especially by persons who wanted to avoid being suspected of this action by blaming the Israelis and diverting attention from the real perpetrators.

DATA BANKS

* It is not necessarily a Middle Eastern actor that is behind what The Daily Telegraph called a “ruthlessly efficient assassination” and “a meticulously-planned operation.” In this atmosphere of hypertension, where governments are fighting battles with terror organizations (often clandestinely) in many locations around the world, the intelligence agencies of many countries have created data banks of identities using flight lists and other sources. Persons with longstanding familiarity with intelligence matters tell me that many governments – and not just the European ones – use European operatives to carry out their killings, including in the cases of other previous assassinations in Dubai.

* It would be uncharacteristically stupid of Mossad operatives if they had in fact so easily allowed themselves to be filmed, and Mossad operatives are not stupid.

* Mabhouh entered Dubai on a fake passport and it may have been difficult for the Mossad to follow his footsteps and synchronize any assassination with his travel schedule. But Hamas knew his whereabouts and plans at all times, and so did the Iranians and presumably the Syrians.

REGION-WIDE CONFLAGRATION

* Many governments wanted Mabhouh out of the way, not only Israel. Sources confirm to me that the missiles Mabhouh was procuring from the Iranians had the capability of hitting central Tel Aviv, and were Hamas to use such missiles later this year, the Israeli response might lead to a region-wide conflagration, which many Western and Arab governments want to avoid.

* If Israel was responsible – and that is a very big if – it would be an indication of how strongly Israel feels it is being left with few other options in protecting its citizens from deadly threats. All the governments that have supported the Goldstone report have in effect told Israel that it cannot defend itself when attacked by missiles from Gaza in future, missiles that put over five million people at risk, so it would not be surprising if Israel decided it has no choice but to try and prevent those missiles reaching Gaza at an earlier stage in the supply chain.

* Sources tell me that this was a particularly significant trip by Mabhouh (to Dubai, the regional arms hub, from his home in Damascus), in which he was en route to procure weapons of particular significance. His present activity was viewed as a turning point in the type of weaponry being smuggled, and it was considered very important to intervene at an early stage.

DISAPPEARING IRANIANS

* The governments of Jordan and Egypt (where Mabhouh previously spent a year in prison in 2003) have sought Mabhouh for some time. Some Arab media have reported that the operation against Mabhouh may have been carried out by a rival Palestinian group and the photographed individuals have nothing to do with it.

* Indeed it is not even clear that those nine photographs that the Dubai authorities have released to the media actually portray real people. (Have they been heavily retouched, for example? Is each one a composite of several faces?) The photos have been shown repeatedly in news broadcasts and plastered on the front page of newspapers around the world in the last 48 hours, but not a single person has come forward to say they recognize any of them, even from high school days, despite front page headlines such as Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper saying “If you recognize any of these people, call us”.

* Unlike the anti-Israeli elements of the Western media that have rushed to blame Israel (creating a public furor and thereby forcing the hands of the British, Irish and French governments to summon their respective Israeli ambassadors), the Arab media are suggesting that the truth is far more complicated.

For example, the Arab world’s leading and arguably its most reliable newspaper, Al Sharq Alawsat, runs these stories:
* UAE Tipped Jordan of Palestinian Suspects whilst they were in the Air – Sources
* Palestinian Dubai Murder Suspects are Hamas Members – Palestinian Security Official

* This article in al-Hayat (Arabic only) also examines Palestinian involvement (no doubt with assistance from Arab and Western government intelligence agencies) into Mahmoud Mabhouh’s death.

* What is true is that someone is making increasing moves against operatives connected to the Iranian regime. In recent years, senior Iranian officials linked to the intelligence services or nuclear program have disappeared quietly, the latest one while on pilgrimage to Mecca. Perhaps the Saudis were responsible.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

Above: Still image of a video released by the Dubai police.

 

“THE INCRIMINATION OF ISRAEL”

In an editorial, the Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom reflects that “The events in Dubai prove to us once again that the world has totally changed for those dealing in terrorism and, unfortunately, for those seeking to foil it... The affair which is developing before our very eyes, is becoming weirder and weirder by the minute. So much so that it is even possible to surmise that this is not only about the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh assassination, but also about the incrimination of Israel.”

***

Among past dispatches on this list concerning the Mossad, please see:

* Israel Harel, “The man who made the Mossad” (Feb. 19, 2003)
* “Patricia Roxborough,” the Mossad’s Christian superspy, buried in Israel (Feb. 21, 2005)
* BBC set to name woman agent who killed Olympics massacre mastermind (Jan. 24, 2006)
* Mossad’s hidden successes against Iran so far – but they are not enough (May 17, 2009)

 

UPDATES, FEB. 19-25, 2010

Third item here by Richard Littlejohn, Britain’s most read columnist.
Melanie Phillips on The Spectator website. (And more here.)
Douglas Murray on The Daily Telegraph website.
Stephanie Gutmann on The Daily Telegraph website.
Comments at The National Post (Canada) here, here, and here.
The National Review recommendations here and here.
FPI daily brief
Powerline
Roger L. Simon
Beltway Bips


Goldstone co-author: Hamas fired “something like two” rockets before Gaza war

February 10, 2010

* A female Arab combat soldier in the IDF
* Robert Fisk admits the “resistance” is bringing Qassams and Kalashnikovs into Gaza
* Fisk asks, amazingly, “Has Hamas lost its moral compass?”
* Red Cross convoy attacked in Gaza (but since Israel had nothing to do with it, media ignores it)

Today’s dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The other part (titled: Police probe “Kill Jews” remark at Oxford university (& Mussolini iPhone app withdrawn) can be read here.

 

CONTENTS

1. Goldstone co-author: Hamas fired “something like two” rockets before Gaza war
2. NY audience vote that “The U.S. should step back from its special relationship with Israel”
3. Fisk admits the “resistance” is bringing Qassams and Kalashnikovs into Gaza
4. Red Cross convoy attacked in Gaza
5. A female Arab combat soldier in the IDF
6. PA security official: No coordination with Israel on al-Qaeda arrests
7. Israeli killed in West Bank attack
8. Shalit family begs Red Cross: Please try and visit our son
9. Palestinian Investment Fund launched
10. 54 Congressmen demand Obama pressure Israel to end “siege” of Gaza
11. Pro-Government protestors attack Italian embassy in Tehran
12. Medical hope for Congo


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

GOLDSTONE CO-AUTHOR: HAMAS FIRED “SOMETHING LIKE TWO” ROCKETS BEFORE GAZA WAR

Desmond Travers, a retired Irish army colonel with a track record of anti-Israel statements, who was chosen by the UN to co-author last year’s Goldstone Report, claims Gaza militants fired only two rockets at Israel prior to last’s winter conflict, according to a new report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA).

Travers disputes that Israel launched the offensive in Gaza on December 27, 2008, as an act of self-defense in response to Hamas rockets.

The JCPA report quotes an extensive interview with Travers in the Middle East Monitor, in which he also says that Hamas had sought “a continuation of the cease-fire” prior to Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

Travers also rejects Israel Defense Forces photographs as proof that Hamas hid weapons in mosques during the conflict. “I do not believe the photographs,” Travers (who worked with Goldstone) said.

In fact, in a one month period alone, as documented even by Hamas themselves (who proudly lauded the attacks) hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.

Travers is also involved in the Russell Tribunal coming up in March which will put Israel “on trial”.

 

NY AUDIENCE VOTE THAT “THE U.S. SHOULD STEP BACK FROM ITS SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL”

Yesterday, Intelligence Squared US (IQ2US), the Oxford-style debate series that is popular among the intelligentsia in London and New York, hosted a debate on the American/Israeli relationship to a sold-out audience at NYU’s Skirball Center.

By a vote of 49% to 47% the audience voted in favor of the motion “The U.S. should step back from its special relationship with Israel” (4% abstained).

The evening’s winning team arguing for the motion comprised Roger Cohen, formerly The New York Times’s foreign editor and now a columnist for the paper, and Columbia University Arab Studies professor Rashid Khalidi.

Arguing against the motion were former senior U.S. diplomat Stuart Eizenstat and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Itamar Rabinovich.

Roger Cohen won over New Yorkers by claiming: “Jihadi terrorism aimed at the United States is not primarily motivated perhaps by the Palestinian issue, but it is a major factor.”

“If the United States moved away from the special relationship what will happen with some of our allies?” asked Rashid Khalidi. “They would applaud. They see the United States as systematically weakening itself by this perverse special relationship.”

John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News Nightline, moderated the debate, the results of which don’t bode well for Israel.

 

FISK ADMITS THE “RESISTANCE” IS BRINGING QASSAMS AND KALASHNIKOVS INTO GAZA

In an article in today’s Independent (of London), anti-Israel polemicist Robert Fisk, reporting from Gaza, admits that the tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border are being used to bring in “Qassam rockets, Kalashnikov ammunition, explosives” for what Fisk calls “the resistance”.

Fisk writes: “Terrorists they may be to the Israelis – the promiscuous use of this word makes it fairly meaningless these days – but heroes they are to the Palestinians of Gaza. Rich ones, too, perhaps.”

(In fact the British media almost never use the word “Palestinian” and “terrorist” together, even when writing about the suicide bombers of recent years, or the perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre and airline hijackings in the 1970s, so I am not quite sure why Fisk regards the use of this word as “promiscuous”.)

Last week I had the pleasure of observing Fisk sitting in the auditorium at the Herzliya security conference in Israel with a scowl on his face. The next day he wrote an article praising to the hilt Judge Richard Goldstone and saying “The real danger… is a nation called Israel.”

Fisk has another 5200-word diatribe about Israel in The Independent tomorrow which went on line tonight and I have just read.

Fisk writes “it is a fact – that it [Israel’s security barrier] has decreased the number of suicide bombers in Israel, but it is an outrage… The Wall. It snakes … over hills like a beast, a confidence trick…”

HAMAS HAD A MORAL COMPASS?

Later in the piece Fisk asks, amazingly, “Has Hamas lost its moral compass?”

But at least Fisk writes of “the Hamas murders of collaborators during the Gaza war a year ago. They killed 35 Palestinians.”

In fact, as I outlined on this email list in a series of dispatches a year ago, Hamas killed considerably more than 35 Palestinians and they have since been included in the list of “Palestinians killed by Israel” put out by international human rights groups, left-wing Israeli human rights groups, and the much-discredited Goldstone Report.

***

For those interested, you can watch ths short impromptu interview that Israeli TV asked me for at the Herzliya conference.

Also, someone whom I don’t know wrote up a talk I gave earlier this week at the JCPA (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs), the think tank headed by Israel’s former ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold.

 

RED CROSS CONVOY ATTACKED IN GAZA

A roadside bomb was detonated as a Red Cross convoy passed by in northern Gaza a few days ago. The device blew out the windows of one vehicle, but luckily no-one was injured, a spokesman for the Red Cross said.

This is not the first time the Red Cross has been targeted by Islamic radicals who (among other things) reject the “cross” part of the “Red Cross” – and yet this news was barely reported anywhere. It did go out on the international news agency wires but most news broadcasters and newspapers decided to ignore it.

Would they have reacted the same way if instead it had been Israel that had targeted a Red Cross convoy? Or would they have run it as a “breaking news” item for hours on end, and brought in studio “experts” from NGOs to explain how Israel was committing “war crimes”?

 

A FEMALE ARAB COMBAT SOLDIER IN THE IDF

The following are extracts from an article by Chen Kotas Bar in Ma’ariv, one of Israel’s Hebrew dailies:

IDF Cpl. Elinor Joseph was born in Gush Halav in the Galilee to an Arab Christian family. Her father served as a paratrooper in the IDF. She identifies herself as “Arab, Christian, and Israeli.”

“I was born here. The people I love live here – my parents, my friends. This is a Jewish state? True. But it’s also my country. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

“I believe that everyone should enlist. You live here? Go defend your country. So what if I’m Arab?” she says.

Cpl. Joseph serves in the Caracal battalion, which operates on the Egyptian border and is engaged in blocking the entry of terrorists and smugglers into Israel.

 

PA SECURITY OFFICIAL: NO COORDINATION WITH ISRAEL ON AL-QAEDA ARRESTS

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports that Ibrahim Ramadan, a Palestinian Authority Preventative Security official, has denied a report in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that Israel and Palestinian security forces coordinated the arrest of an Al-Qaeda-linked cell in the West Bank.

Ha’aretz reported that the PA and Israeli security forces recently teamed up to make a joint arrest of six members of a radical Islamist group with links to Al-Qaeda in the town of Qabatiya near Jenin.

 

ISRAELI KILLED IN WEST BANK ATTACK

A Palestinian police officer from the “moderate” Fatah faction murdered an Israeli soldier at random in broad daylight in Tapuach, south of Nablus, this afternoon.

MK Michael Ben Ari of the rightwing National Union party lashed out at the Israeli government following the attack. “Netanyahu is busy removing roadblocks and allowing terrorists to move freely, and the consequences are quick to follow,” Ben Ari said.

The Yesha council of settlers also blamed the attack on Israeli government policy. “The terror attack today is a direct result of the pathetic attempts to bolster Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and to lure him back to the negotiating table with security concessions, and the transfer of authority over security issues to the Palestinians, from whom the murderer emerged,” it said in a statement.

Last month Meir Chai, a kindergarten teacher and 45-year-old father of seven, was killed when a terrorist opened fire at his car in nearby Shavei Shomron. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (the so-called armed wing of Palestinian President Abbas’s Fatah faction) claimed responsibility for that attack.

 

SHALIT FAMILY BEGS RED CROSS: PLEASE TRY AND VISIT OUR SON

The family of the young kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit yesterday pleaded with the International Committee of the Red Cross to contact Hamas and confirm they are treating Gilad in line with the Geneva Convention, and that his health and dignity are being maintained.

The Red Cross has traditionally been hostile to Israel (and before that, during the Holocaust, to Jews; after the Holocaust too, several senior Nazi criminals fled using Red Cross papers and assistance).

In recent years, following strong pressure from Bush administration and from the American Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross has improved relations with Israel.

Convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails are afforded good treatment and many are even studying for university degrees at Israel’s Open University, paid for by the Israeli taxpayer.

(For more on this, please see the dispatch “How many degrees does Gilad Shalit have?”)

 

PALESTINIAN INVESTMENT FUND LAUNCHED

A $50 million private equity fund has been launched in the West Bank by two investment companies, the Palestine Investment Fund and Dubai’s Abraaj Capital. Both said they were encouraged by continuing Palestinian economic growth. The fund will provide financing for small and medium-sized businesses operating in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

 

54 CONGRESSMEN DEMAND OBAMA PRESSURE ISRAEL TO END “SIEGE” OF GAZA

A letter asking President Barack Obama to pressure Israel into lifting its partial closure of the Gaza Strip has attracted the signatures of 54 members of the House of Representatives, a larger than usual number of signatures for a Congressional action critical of Israel. The letter was initiated by Congressmen Jim McDermott (D-Wa.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). The letter claims that, “The current blockade has severely impeded the ability of aid agencies to do their work to relieve suffering,” and encouraged the administration to “press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza.”

The letter is also being touted as evidence that the lobbying group J-Street is making inroads in its campaign against the government of Israel. (They don’t have anything to say about the Egyptian “siege” of Gaza.)

Of course, life in Gaza is much better than the sorry tale told by so many politically prejudiced journalists and NGOs. See, for example, about 20 recent photos from Gaza if you scroll down to the second half of the page here.

 

PRO-GOVERNMENT PROTESTORS ATTACK ITALIAN EMBASSY IN TEHRAN

This is a follow up to my recent items on Italy and Iran. Last week, Hillary Clinton helped pressure Italy into announcing that it would cut back on its trade with Iran because of Tehran’s nuclear program.

This week, about 100 Iranians staged a violent protest in front of the Italian Embassy in Tehran, shouting “Death to Italy, Death to Berlusconi,” and pelting eggs and tomatoes against the building. Protests were also held outside the French and Dutch embassies. Some demonstrators there called for the killing of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Italian government has lodged an official complaint with Iran.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini condemned the protests and said the protestors were not regular Iranian citizens but members of the government-backed Basij militia, which is linked to the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

 

MEDICAL HOPE FOR CONGO

The Congo, with a population of over 65 million, does not have a single plastic surgeon who specializes in burn treatment, and as a result people injured in the terrible ongoing war there – the world’s worst – often die from even relatively simple burns. In an effort to help with this “forgotten war,” Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, has flown Congolese doctors to Israel where they are being trained in how to specialize in burn treatment.

The first surgeon set to graduate and return to Congo is 33-year-old Dr Leon Mubenga. The course is funded by a private Israeli charity.

Because of Israel’s long history of enduring bomb attacks, Israeli doctors have substantial experience treating burns victims. See, for example, this piece I wrote for The Wall Street Journal about one such victim.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


Police probe “Kill Jews” remark at Oxford univ. (& Mussolini iPhone app withdrawn)

* Senior Saudi diplomat shakes Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon’s hand
* But British police probe “Kill Jews” remark as Ayalon speaks at Oxford university
* A heated debate over foreign correspondents at the New York Times

Today’s dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The other part (titled: Goldstone co-author: Hamas fired “something like two” rockets before Gaza war) can be read here.

 

CONTENTS

1. Police probe “Kill Jews” remark at Oxford university talk by Danny Ayalon
2. Students arrested in California as they try to prevent Israeli ambassador from speaking
3. Islamists in Paris threaten to kill imam who sought good relations with Jews
4. New York Times to Iran: “Enough is enough”
5. A heated debate over foreign correspondents at The New York Times
6. Saudi prince shakes hands with Israeli deputy foreign minister
7. Egyptian journalists punished for contacts with Israelis
8. Mussolini speech collection for iPhone withdrawn in Italy
9. Egyptian news conference will reveal DNA tests on the boy king, Tutankhamen
10. “Time’s up” (Editorial, New York Times, Feb. 10, 2010)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

POLICE PROBE “KILL JEWS” REMARK AT OXFORD UNIVERSITY TALK BY DANNY AYALON

British police say they have opened an investigation under the country’s race hate laws into an Oxford University student who shouted “kill the Jews” as Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon gave a talk at the university’s Oxford Union yesterday. A spokesman from Thames Valley Police said they were taking the matter “very seriously,” though no arrests had yet been made.

As Ayalon spoke, students demonstrating outside the lecture hall chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” (i.e. all of Israel should be wiped out).

The president of the Oxford Union, Stuart Cullen, said: “The Union will be taking disciplinary action against these members, in accordance with the Society’s rules.” He also praised the local police who worked in concert with security guards from the Israeli embassy in London to protect both Ayalon and Jewish students attending the event.

“The Oxford Union believes in the rights of free speech,” he said, “and we will support whatever measures are necessary to allow our invited speakers ability to express themselves. The Oxford Union will not tolerate this kind of behavior by its members.”

(Last week, fearing similar protests, Cambridge University students – belonging to the university’s Israel society no less – cancelled a talk by the distinguished Israeli historian Benny Morris.)

 

STUDENTS ARRESTED IN CALIFORNIA AS THEY TRY TO PREVENT ISRAELI AMBASSADOR FROM SPEAKING

Meanwhile, California police made a dozen arrests after a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, descended into chaos on Monday. Hecklers interrupted Oren’s lecture at the University of California in Irvine over ten times, shouting “killers” and “how many Palestinians did you kill?” Oren was speaking about U.S.-Israeli relations. The college’s Muslim Student Union released a statement prior to Oren’s appearance which said, “As people of conscience, we oppose Michael Oren’s invitation to our campus. Propagating murder is not a responsible expression of free speech.”

The ambassador was removed from the stage for a period because of the outbursts, prompting strong criticism by Professor Mark Petracca, chairman of the university’s Political Science department, who told the students: “This is no way for our undergraduate students to behave. We have an opportunity to hear from a policy-maker relevant to one of the most important issues facing this planet, and you are preventing not only yourself from hearing him but hundreds of other people in this room and hundreds of other people in an overflow room. Shame on you! This is not an example of free speech.”

You can watch the video of his talk and the interruptions here:

At the end of the video, there are some interviews including one with a West Bank Palestinian who has been living in California for the last three years, who condemns the “hatred” shown towards Oren by the young American-born Arab-American students at the lecture.

(Ambassador Oren is a subscriber to this email list, as are Danny Ayalon and Benny Morris, who were mentioned in the previous item.)

 

ISLAMISTS IN PARIS THREATEN TO KILL IMAM WHO SOUGHT GOOD RELATIONS WITH JEWS

A group of Islamic extremists burst into a mosque near Paris during a prayer service two weeks ago and threatened to kill the local Imam, Hassen Chalghoumi, because of his efforts to improve relations between Jews and Muslims.

“We are going to get rid of this Jew-loving imam,” shouted some of the mob of about 80 people who stormed into Chalghoumi’s service in Drancy, on the outskirts of Paris. (Drancy is the district which once contained a notorious holding camp where Jews were interned on their way to Auschwitz.) According to news reports the intruders also called Chalghoumi a “Jew-lover” and an “apostate.”

He went back to his mosque a few days later, with a police escort. The verbal assaults were so violent on this occasion that he had to be escorted out by a policeman with his hand on his gun. A journalist in Paris who subscribes to this email list tells me she doesn’t think he can go back to the mosque again.

Chalghoumi has consistently spoken out against Islamist extremism and worked actively with Muslim youths and Jewish leaders in France to condemn anti-Semitism. In 2006, his home was broken into and badly vandalized (and anti-Semitic graffiti written on his walls) following his public request that Muslims respect the memory of the thousands of Jews sent to Nazi death camps from Drancy during the Nazi occupation.

 

NEW YORK TIMES TO IRAN: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”

Today, several years late, the editorial board of The New York Times finally appears to be waking up to the seriousness of the Iranian nuclear threat. The self-proclaimed “paper of record” runs an editorial titled “Time’s up”. I attach it below.

“If the Security Council can’t act swiftly, or decisively, the United States and its allies will have to come up with their own tough sanctions,” says The New York Times. “Enough is enough,” it adds.

It is in fact very late in the day for sanctions alone to work. The Times doesn’t mention the option of targeted airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, which I have discussed several times in the past on this email list.

For reasons I won’t discuss here, it may also be very late in the day for that too.

***

Among previous dispatches on this subject, please see:

* “Obama, and the world, in 2012, after he fails to deal with Iran”
* “Why Israel will bomb Iran” (& “The myth of meaningful Iranian retaliation”)
* Mossad’s hidden successes against Iran so far – but they are not enough

 

A HEATED DEBATE OVER FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES

An almighty kerfuffle has broken out at The New York Times following demands by the paper’s public editor, Clark Hoyt, who is meant to be neutral, that the Times reassign its Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, on the grounds that Bronner’s wife is Israeli, which automatically makes their 20-year-old son an Israeli citizen who is required to do compulsory army service.

Hoyt appears to be bowing to an organized email campaign from readers of the anti-Israel website, the Electronic Intifada.

Other New York Times journalists have backed up Hoyt, even though it is not Hoyt’s job to recommend staff reassignments.

Their hypocrisy in singling out Bronner is startling. They have nothing to say, for example, about Anthony Shadid, who covers Iraq for The New York Times, and who is an Arab-American, or Nazila Fathi, the Times’s Tehran correspondent, who was born in Iran.

Indeed, from my experience, a large number of foreign correspondents for major media around the world have some direct or family connections to the peoples they are covering, and most manage to stay broadly neutral.

Bronner, while less hostile to Israel than some of the Times’s previous Jerusalem correspondents, is nevertheless a classic liberal whose sympathy for the Palestinian cause often shows through in his reporting, though clearly not enough to satisfy the Electronic Intifada.

On other occasions in his reports, Bronner has bent over backwards to be critical of Israel precisely because he did not want readers to think he was sympathetic to Israel because he was Jewish.

 

SAUDI PRINCE SHAKES HANDS WITH ISRAELI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon shook the hand of a senior Saudi diplomat, Prince Turki al Faisal, during a session of the Munich Security Council last weekend.

Ayalon was supposed to sit on a panel with the Saudi prince, the Turkish foreign minister, senior Egyptian Foreign Ministry adviser Hossam Zaki, and independent American senator Joe Lieberman.

But al-Faisal asked for the panel to be split so that Lieberman and Ayalon would be paired with a Russian delegate and he would sit with the Turkish and Egyptian representatives.

At the event, Ayalon protested the fact that some countries refused to sit next to Israel’s representative, saying that it showed a gap existed between claims of good intent by some Middle East states and their actual behavior. He also asked why they wouldn’t shake his hand. At that point, the Saudi rose from his seat and the two shook hands.

I noted in a dispatch last month that Iran’s tourism minister agreed to shake hands with Israel’s tourist minister, Stas Mezeshnikov, at a recent tourism fair in Madrid.

Interestingly both Ayalon and Mezeshnikov are members of the Knesset for Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu party, which Lieberman’s political enemies in the Western and Israeli media like to characterize as being anti-Arab. It seems that it is Israel Beitenu ministers that officials from “enemy” states like Saudi Arabia and Iran choose to shake the hands of (and perhaps in future come to a peace accommodation with?) rather than ministers from previous left-wing Israeli governments.

Al-Faisal, the country’s former intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to the United States, said yesterday that his handshake with Ayalon did not mean Saudi Arabi had recognized the Jewish state.

 

EGYPTIAN JOURNALISTS PUNISHED FOR CONTACTS WITH ISRAELIS

Two senior Egyptian journalists have been reprimanded by Egypt’s Journalists Union for violating the group’s ban on contacts with Israelis. Hussein Serag was suspended from his job for three months for visiting Israel, and Hala Mustafa received a warning after she conducted an interview in her office with Shalom Cohen, Israel’s ambassador in Cairo.

Mustafa is the editor-in-chief of the state-run weekly Democratiya and a senior member of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party. Serag – an expert on Jewish affairs – is deputy editor of the weekly magazine October.

Incidentally, I had dinner last week with three staff from the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv, together with two Israelis, and no one has been reprimanded as a result.

Mustafa called the ban “obsolete” and “out of sync with political developments in the region.”

 

MUSSOLINI SPEECH COLLECTION FOR IPHONE WITHDRAWN IN ITALY

The application “iMussolini” for Apple’s iPhone, which allowed users to download speeches by the former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, has been withdrawn, following legal threats and protests by Holocaust survivors.

IMussolini had become the most popular iPhone download in Italy, but the 30-minute-long collection of video and audio clips from 100 of Mussolini’s speeches was withdrawn by its developer after a row with the institute which held the rights to the film material. The institute said the application did not serve the educational purposes for which the clips were designed.

Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors had protested to the Apple computer company last week. The 25-year-old creator of the application told Italian media that it had already been downloaded thousands of times since its launch, at a cost of one euro for each download.

Mussolini came to power in 1922. Under his rule, Italy became a close ally of Nazi Germany, and Mussolini introduced harsh anti-Semitic legislation in 1938.

Italian Jewish leader Tullia Zevi said the application was part of the “the slide towards legitimizing fascism and the rehabilitation of Mussolini”.

 

EGYPTIAN NEWS CONFERENCE WILL REVEAL DNA TESTS ON TUTANKHAMUN

Among the more surprising press releases I received this week:

At a news conference at the Cairo Museum on February 17, Egyptian authorities say they will reveal the results of DNA testing which has been undertaken on the remains of Tutankhamen.

The ruler, known as the “boy king,” reigned from 1333 to 1324 B.C., from the age of 9 until he was 19. When his tomb was unearthed by British archaeologists in 1922, the hoard of treasure he was buried caused great public excitement.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


FULL ARTICLE

Time’s Up
Editorial
The New York Times
February 10, 2010

Over the last four years, the United Nations Security Council has repeatedly demanded that Iran stop producing nuclear fuel. Iran is still churning out enriched uranium and has now told United Nations inspectors that it is raising the level of enrichment – moving slightly closer to bomb-grade quality.

President Obama was right to offer to negotiate with Tehran. Washington and its allies were right to look for possible compromises even after Tehran was caught – again – hiding an enrichment plant.

Enough is enough. Iran needs to understand that its nuclear ambition comes with a very high cost.

President Obama said on Tuesday that the United States and its allies are “moving along fairly quickly” on a new sanctions resolution. He also said it would take several weeks to draft a proposal. That is not reassuring. Once a resolution is written, the negotiating process typically drags on for weeks, if not months.

Iran is in such economic and political turmoil that its government may be more vulnerable to outside pressure. Security forces have expanded a crackdown on the political opposition, arresting hundreds of people ahead of Thursday’s anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

American officials say they are eager to impose sanctions that would inflict maximum damage on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which runs the nuclear program and a large chunk of the Iranian economy. The plan, as we understand it, is to block their banking, their shipping, their insurance. American officials also say they want to minimize the additional suffering of the Iranian people. That makes sense to us, although squaring the circle won’t be easy.

If the Security Council is to move ahead with sanctions that bite, Washington and its allies are going to have to step up the pressure on Russia and China – Iran’s two enablers, both with a veto – to go along.

Russia has signaled support for another resolution. If history is any guide, we fear Russia will sharply whittle down the impact. China, eager to buy ever more oil from Iran, is an even bigger obstacle. China needs to understand that ensuring reliable oil supplies would become a lot harder if the Middle East is roiled by a nuclear-armed Iran.

The more the Security Council temporizes, compromises and weakens these resolutions, the more defiant and ambitious Iran becomes. If the Security Council can’t act swiftly, or decisively, the United States and its allies will have to come up with their own tough sanctions. They should be making a backup plan right now.


Christian Aid apologizes for Nazi comparisons on Holocaust Memorial Day

February 07, 2010

* Christian Aid, one of the world’s largest anti-poverty NGOs, apologizes after comparing Shimon Peres to a Nazi on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day
* But other leading NGOs that have contributed to hatred against the state of Israel – in particular Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and The New Israel Fund (NIF) – have yet to apologize
* A recent former Trustee of Christian Aid, Baroness Jenny Tonge (who is also leading member of Britain’s Liberal Democratic party) is known for her support of Palestinian suicide bombers

(This is one of an occasional series of dispatches dealing with NGOs waging a political war against the state of Israel.)

 

CONTENTS

1. Christian Aid uses Holocaust Remembrance Day to say Israelis are Nazis
2. No one should forget what the Holocaust really was
3. Christian Aid: “An urgent review of our procedures is underway”
4. Letters to The Guardian: “Christian Aid can F*** off”
5. Christian Aid Watch, monitoring the anti-Semitism of Christian Aid
6. “Hamas sickened at being linked to [Britain’s] Liberal Democrats”
7. From left to right, Israelis are furious with “The New Israel Fund”
8. “Beyond criminal”
9. “Goldstone cannot possibly believe his report’s conclusions”
10. “Christian Aid’s anti-Israel blunders” (By Adam Levick, Guardian website, Feb. 5, 2010)
11. “We apologize unreservedly” (By Matthew Reed, director of marketing, Christian Aid)
12. “Slush fund” (By Ben-Dror Yemini, Ma’ariv, Feb. 2, 2010)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

CHRISTIAN AID USES HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY TO CALL ISRAELIS NAZI

Christian Aid, which is based in Britain, is one of the world’s largest anti-poverty NGOs. It chose January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, falling on the date of the liberation of Auschwitz, to issue an article containing a vicious attack on Israeli President Shimon Peres, accompanied by pictures of Holocaust victims juxtaposed with photos of Palestinians. The article, by Jody McIntyre, appeared in Christian Aid’s new British-based online youth publication, “Ctrl.alt.shift”. Christian Aid has allowed McIntyre to become the website’s most frequent contributor on Israel, despite her record of posting diatribes against the Jewish state on The Electronic Intifada and elsewhere.

Below, I attach an article condemning Christian Aid by Adam Levick, a researcher at NGO Monitor. (By way of full disclosure, I am on the international advisory board of NGO Monitor.)

In his article, which appears in Comment is Free, the online section of The Guardian, Levick writes: “That such an odious essay would appear at all on the pages of a mainstream ‘humanitarian’ organization’s website is highly disturbing. In the past, Christian Aid has assured critics that it is not anti-Israel, but simply ‘pro-justice, pro-peace, and pro-poverty eradication’. This claim is undermined by the fact that the target of this recent attack, Shimon Peres, is the Israeli statesman perhaps most associated with peace, accommodation, and co-existence.

“While the article suddenly disappeared without explanation six days after it was published [but has since been republished by The Guardian -- TG], the highly inflammatory rhetoric it contained – published on the memorial day for millions of Holocaust victims – is not an isolated incident on Christian Aid’s new website. Many other posts contain similarly hateful commentary about Israel.”

Christian Aid describes Ctrl.Alt.Shift as an “innovative youth project giving voice to the impassioned desire to change the world felt by… young people [16-25 years old] and to fight against global poverty and social injustice”.

 

EXTRA NOTE: NO ONE SHOULD FORGET WHAT THE HOLOCAUST REALLY WAS

Holocaust distortion (rather than outright Holocaust denial) has now emerged as one of the most evil and effective tactics of Fascists of both Left and Right. They have succeeded to the extent that there are now many examples of Holocaust distortion creeping into mainstream media and academic discourse.

As a small contribution in efforts to counter this, this weblist occasionally highlights articles containing accounts of what the Holocaust actually involved. Please, for example, read the following dispatch again: “By the time the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz, my father was no longer there”.

That dispatch includes, among other items, pieces by two journalistic subscribers to this email list about the experience of their parents: “A factory for death” (by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby) and “My mother remembers the day she saw through the camp wire that her school friend from Amsterdam, Anne Frank, had arrived in Belsen” (by Danny Finkelstein, of The Times of London).

(Incidentally, on January 27, as the Christian Aid article was being published, President Peres was making a historic speech – delivered in Hebrew – to the German Bundestag, at the invitation of German President Horst Koehler and Chancellor Angela Merkel to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.)

 

“AN URGENT REVIEW OF OUR PROCEDURES IS UNDERWAY”

It was only after Adam Levick’s article appeared – eight days after Christian Aid’s article on Shimon Peres was published – that the organization apologized.

Matthew Reed, director of marketing at Christian Aid, writes:

“Christian Aid apologises unreservedly for the article that appeared… Christian Aid also apologises for the deep offence caused by the timing of the article – Holocaust Memorial Day – and the use of Holocaust images alongside the article… [An] urgent review of [our] procedures is underway.

“Christian Aid repudiates the suggestions made in the article about the Israeli President Shimon Peres. All sides to the conflict bear responsibility for atrocities that have taken place…”

 

LETTERS TO THE GUARDIAN: “CHRISTIAN AID CAN F*** OFF”

Most letters to The Guardian in response to Levick’s article defended Christian Aid and viciously attacked Israel, Jews in general, NGO Monitor and Shimon Peres. The Guardian’s web editors have removed some of the most blatantly anti-Semitic readers’ comments (in contrast to The Times of London which has left up unquestionably anti-Semitic readers’ comments after its anti-Israel news articles).

Among those few online letters that condemned Christian Aid published by The Guardian is the following:

“I always had Christian Aid down as the right guys and gave when they came round with their little envelopes. As it now turns out that they are foul anti-Semites (I’ve read the original article, and then gone and had a wash) and they can fuck off the next time they knock on my door. Why should I give money to pay people to write filth like that? Even if its contents were true, which they aren’t, and its imagery acceptable, which it isn’t, what possible job is it of Christian Aid, or their donors, to publish material like this?”

 

CHRISTIAN AID WATCH, MONITORING THE ANTI-SEMITISM OF CHRISTIAN AID

Tom Gross adds:

None of this is new. Christian Aid, like several other prominent NGOs (the worst is probably War on Want), has been involved in anti-Israeli propaganda for years.

The website, ChristianAidWatch, which is run by a Christian trying to combat anti-Semitism perpetrated by his fellow Christians in the guise of anti-Zionism, has run several posts in the past highlighting the problem.

For example, this post highlights a statement by a former Trustee of Christian Aid, Baroness Jenny Tonge (who is also leading member of Britain’s Liberal Democratic party, a party which could conceivably hold the balance of power after this spring’s British general elections. Employing classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, Tonge said:

“The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip on our party.”

 

“HAMAS SICKENED AT BEING LINKED TO LIBERAL DEMOCRATS”

As I have outlined in past dispatches, Tonge has previously praised Palestinian suicide bombers who murdered Israeli schoolchildren, and she also led a minute’s silence by British MPs for Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin, after his death in 2004. (Last item here.)

Since then, she has been elevated by her party from the House of Commons to the House of Lords.

While the British Conservative Party denounced her comments praising Palestinian suicide murderers as “sickening,” The Guardian described Tonge (who is also a children’s doctor as) “a veteran community doctor” and “a pragmatic liberal.”

At the time, my friend the Daily Telegraph Parliamentary sketchwriter, Frank Johnson (who has since passed away), wrote about the incident with biting humor:

“... Less widely reported was that a Palestinian suicide bomber caused equal outrage by saying that, were she British, she might just become a Liberal Democrat MP. She was immediately called in by the Hamas chief whip and had her bomb withdrawn.

“A Hamas spokesperson said: ‘Her comments would have sickened those Conservatives across England who over the years have lost seats to Liberal Democrats.’ The bomber had said: ‘I do not condone Liberal Democrat policies, but I do understand, having been to Britain and seen the way that Britons have to live, why people there adopt this most desperate of actions of joining the Liberal Democrats, and in some cases, voting for them...’”

***

Tom Gross adds: Jenny Tonge has been promoted since her pro-suicide bomber comments, and the Liberal Democrat website now lists as “an expert on the Middle East”.

 

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, ISRAELIS ARE FURIOUS WITH “THE NEW ISRAEL FUND”

There is also ongoing fury in Israel from politicians across the political spectrum against the American and British-based charity, The New Israel Fund (NIF), following revelations that the NIF funded NGOs responsible for “92 percent” of the lies about Israel contained in the widely-discredited but nonetheless damaging Goldstone Report. (Those same organizations received almost $8 million from the NIF last year.)

Members of the Knesset from various parties have called for a full investigation into the NIF, which is for the most part funded by liberal Diaspora Jews (unlike its counterpart, J Street, which gets lots of funding from Arab sources).

In one of many articles in the Israeli press criticizing the NIF in recent days, commentator Ben-Dror Yemini (who is a long-time subscriber to this email list) writes in Ma’ariv:

“The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people’s right to self-determination.

“The New Israel Fund is angry. It thinks that it is correct to spread false testimony about the State of Israel. It thinks that it is OK to participate in the demonization campaign of groups whose goal is to eliminate Israel. It thinks that it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, even though it was established by the automatic majority of dark dictatorships that controls the ‘UN Human Rights Council.’

“… But there is something else that is also legitimate: Expose the truth about the Fund and the groups that falsely carry the description ‘human rights.’ If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – then do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.”

(Full article below.)

(Ma’ariv also ran a major expose of the New Israel Fund on its front page, written by Ben Caspit, a senior Ma’ariv columnist whose politics are left of center.)

 

“BEYOND CRIMINAL”

Tom Gross adds: The New Israel Fund, like Christian Aid, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, often engage in good work. But this doesn’t excuse much of their political activity which has nothing to do with human rights or social well-being, but everything to do with supporting the aims of Hamas, the Iranian regime and other human rights abusers.

There are hundreds of millions of people in desperate need of help the world over. It is beyond criminal for these groups to solicit money for worthy causes and then instead use some of the funds raised to, in effect, promote groups campaigning to demonize and eventually to destroy the Jewish state.

Jewish groups in Melbourne, Australia, have canceled an NIF-fundraiser this week after the controversy over the NIF erupted in Israel.

The NIF was also criticized last year for funding an Arab-Israeli anti-Zionist feminist group which produced a poster suggesting – wrongly – that Israeli soldiers raped Palestinian women.

To be fair to the NIF, they also authorized grants of over $12m which went to NGOs unconnected to the Goldstone report.

***

Among previous recent dispatches on HRW, please see:

* HRW senior staff compare Israeli conduct to the 3.5 million dead and raped in Congo (Oct. 23, 2009)
* Israel criticizes Human Rights Watch for its fundraising from Saudi regime (Aug. 17, 2009)

To remind readers, Judge Richard Goldstone was until last year a board member of HRW, and his report accusing Israel of “war crimes and possible crimes against humanity” greatly resembles some of the HRW reports published earlier last year.

HRW continues to denounce Israel. In its latest pronouncement, it criticizes the British government’s “unfortunate intervention over Tzipi Livni’s arrest warrant” saying that Livni, the leader of Israel’s opposition Kadima party and a long-time campaigner for a two state solution, should be prosecuted for war crimes – on the basis of the concocted evidence HRW themselves supplied to Goldstone.

 

“GOLDSTONE CANNOT POSSIBLY BELIEVE HIS REPORT’S CONCLUSIONS”

In a series of dispatches last year, I carried articles by many commentators concerning Richard Goldstone and his UN report. Among them was one by Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard lawyer.

Dershowitz (who is a longtime subscriber to this email list) now adds:

“In light of the hard evidence, that is easily accessible online and in the media, Goldstone cannot possibly believe that Hamas did not intentionally use human shields, have their fighters deliberately dress in civilian clothing and use mosques and hospitals to store rockets and other weapons. Videotapes conclusively prove these charges, and Hamas acknowledges – indeed boasts of – them.

“He cannot possibly believe that Israel used the thousands of rockets that Hamas directed against its children as an excuse, or a cover, for its real goal, namely to kill as many Palestinian civilians as possible.

“Nor could he possibly believe that the Israeli government made a policy decision, at the highest levels, to deliberately target Palestinian babies, young children, women and the elderly for murder. All the evidence points away from these wild charges. Yet he signed a report asserting that those demonstrably false conclusions were true.”

[All above below by Tom Gross]


FULL ARTICLES

CHRISTIAN AID’S MORAL STANDING CONTINUES TO BE ERODED

Christian Aid’s anti-Israel blunders
By hosting vicious attacks on Israel, Christian Aid is destroying its reputation as a non-partisan charitable organisation
By Adam Levick
Comment is free (online only article on the website of The Guardian)
February 5, 2010

Christian Aid, one of the world’s largest anti-poverty NGOs, chose 27 January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to issue a vicious attack on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres. An article headed “Peres: War Criminal and Proud”, written by the anti-Israel ideologue Jody McIntyre, appeared in Christian Aid’s new UK-based online youth publication, Ctrl.alt.shift. McIntyre – the website’s most frequent contributor on Israel – branded Peres (a former Nobel peace prize winner) a war criminal.

This vitriolic commentary was accompanied by photos juxtaposing images of what appear to be (presumably Jewish) victims of Nazi genocide with photos of dead Palestinians, to advance the abhorrent impression of a moral equivalence between Israel and Nazi Germany. Such ugly charges are typically levelled only in explicitly antisemitic and extremist publications. That such an odious essay would appear at all on the pages of a mainstream “humanitarian” organisation’s website is highly disturbing.

In the past, Christian Aid has assured critics that it is not anti-Israel, but simply “pro-justice, pro-peace, and pro-poverty eradication”. This claim is undermined by the fact that the target of this recent attack, Shimon Peres, is the Israeli statesman perhaps most associated with peace, accommodation, and co-existence. While the article suddenly disappeared without explanation six days after it was published, the highly inflammatory rhetoric it contained – published on the memorial day for millions of Holocaust victims – is not an isolated incident on Christian Aid’s new website. Many other posts on Ctrl.Alt.Shift by McIntyre, who also blogs for the Electronic Intifada website, contain similarly hateful commentary about Israel.

In one post, McIntyre refers to Zionism as a “racist ideology with the sole aim of stealing the land of Palestine and expelling Palestinians from their country”. Christian Aid describe Ctrl.Alt.Shift as an “innovative youth project giving voice to the impassioned desire to change the world felt by… young people [16-25 years old] and to fight against global poverty and social injustice”.

The publication may be new, but the organisation’s attempt to reach out to the youth market by engaging in Israel-bashing is not. Christian Aid’s promotion of a youth-oriented anti-Israel agenda was evident back in 2004 with the launch of a website called Pressureworks. The site drew attention to Christian Aid’s highly politicised and misleading report, Facts on the ground: The end of the two-state solution? The recommendations section of the report is notable for its complete absence of any call for Palestinians to end terrorism, which, by that time, had already claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives, including scores of children.

While the anti-Israel venom advanced in Ctrl.Alt.Shift is especially egregious, the broader context should not be lost. As NGO Monitor has previously reported, Christian Aid has a well-documented history of promoting a distorted narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its reports myopically focus on alleged Israeli “violations” and seriously underplay the impact of Palestinian terrorism, as well as the threat posed by terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, who openly call for Israel’s destruction.

To salvage its reputation as a non-partisan, charitable endeavour offering constructive approaches to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Christian Aid must attempt to develop greater accountability for such negative agendas within its organisation. Its leaders must act now to create a comprehensive set of ethical guidelines for all of its publications and initiatives. Without a meaningful re-examination of funding practices and activities such as Ctrl.Alt.Shift, Christian Aid’s moral standing, and its ability to have a positive impact, will continue to be eroded.

 

AN APOLOGY

Matthew Reed, director of marketing, Christian Aid, writes in response to the above article:

Christian Aid apologises unreservedly for the article that appeared. It was written by an outside contributor and was taken down immediately it was brought to the attention of senior staff. Christian Aid also apologises for the deep offence caused by the timing of the article – Holocaust Memorial Day – and the use of Holocaust images alongside the article.

The incident exposed shortcomings in the moderation procedures for the Ctrl.Alt.Shift website and an urgent review of these procedures is underway.

Christian Aid repudiates the suggestions made in the article about the Israeli President Shimon Peres. All sides to the conflict bear responsibility for atrocities that have taken place. Singling out one to the exclusion of others will not advance the cause of peace.

Christian Aid believes that only dialogue between all parties can achieve lasting peace and a viable solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Christian Aid has always been unequivocal in its support for the security of Israel and the rights of all Israeli people to live safely and securely. While deeply regretting this particular incident, Christian Aid will continue to press for Palestinians to be afforded the same rights as Israelis.

Ctrl.Alt.Shift is an innovative youth project launched by Christian Aid last year to give a voice to the many British young people who, according to research we commissioned, are keen to understand and get involved in global development issues. It is a forum for debate, and that debate is often impassioned. In this case, however, the material was clearly inappropriate.

 

“JOINING THE GLOBAL DECEPTION CAMPAIGN”

Slush fund
By Ben-Dror Yemini
Ma’ariv
February 2, 2010

(Translated from Hebrew)

The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people’s right to self-determination.

The New Israel Fund is angry. It thinks that it is correct to spread false testimony about the State of Israel. It thinks that it is OK to participate in the demonization campaign of groups whose goal is to eliminate Israel. It thinks that it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, even though it was established by the automatic majority of dark countries that controls the “UN Human Rights Council.” It thinks that it is OK for Israel to cooperate with the Commission even though no country in the free world supported its establishment. It is certainly legitimate, in a democratic country, to do all these things.

But there is something else that is also legitimate: Expose the truth about the Fund and the groups that falsely carry the description “human rights.” If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.

For example, the New Israel Fund supports the Zochrot non-profit association, which openly aspires to eliminate the State of Israel via the realization of the “right of return.” Not that there is any such right and not that there has been even one precedent of a mass “return” after post-war population exchanges – but this does not bother the Fund. It always jumps at the slogan “human rights.”

None of this is to say that Israel is exempt from criticism. Among the hundreds of claims, there are those that have merit. But many sane people abhor the human rights bodies, not because they abhor human rights, on the contrary. It is because most sane people are fed up that human rights have become a weapon for dark forces.

The New Israel Fund has turned itself into yet another body, one among many in the world, that are party to global deception. There are a million and one attacks on human life and human rights in the world. Israel, as a state in the midst of conflict, makes fewer attacks than any other element. This has been verified. This is anchored in numbers. But it is Israel that absorbs most of the criticism. This is called demonization, delegitimization and obsession.

There is no defense of human rights here but rather an orchestrated campaign in the service of Iran and Hamas. This is not the Fund’s intention but this is the result. Things should be called by their name. Most of the groups supported by the Fund deal in the delegitimization of Israel. But the Fund rolls its eyes and whines: What is wrong with human rights? There is nothing wrong. There is something wrong with those who clearly aspire to deny the Jews’ right to exist in the only place where they have sovereignty, in order to turn Israel into a “state of all its citizens,” in which the majority will be Hamas supporters. There is something wrong with those who want to perpetrate politicide on only one people in the world. There is something wrong with those who collaborate with dark forces and try to sell the lie that it is all about “human rights.”

How is it that so many people, mainly Jews, support the Fund? How is it they facilitate this systematic campaign that masquerades as humanitarian and is, in effect, demonic? They are not anti-Semites. They are people with good intentions. Their rhetoric deals with human rights and minorities. Jews are sensitive to this and good for them. Most are simply unaware. Most truly and innocently want Israel to be more enlightened and more progressive, and stricter about human life and human rights. But they do not know that the money goes to other goals.

Even Professor Naomi Chazan, who heads the Fund, does not hate Israel. But what has happened to countless bodies that deal with “the rights talk” has happened to them. In the end, they serve the agenda of Iran and Hamas.

Human rights groups can restore the confidence in themselves. They need to support human rights, not groups that deal in denying Israel’s right to exist. In the meantime, these groups, including the New Israel Fund, are the major enemy, not only of Israel but of the free world and human rights.


Less Mideast “peace processing” please (& Berlusconi: “Let Israel join the EU”)

February 02, 2010

My article from today’s Wall Street Journal – “Obama misjudges his misjudgment” – is the 8th item on this dispatch (below).

* Hamas operative Mahmoud Mabhouh, who died in Dubai, was a key coordinator for smuggling missiles from Iran to Gaza
* The BBC slips up, and broadcasts a report that includes the Israeli view
* The fact there are signs that the Palestinians are finally beginning to get their own house in order, can only be welcome news for those of us who want to see a viable, independent – and peaceful – Palestinian state
* The Belfast Telegraph: “Israelis are perhaps the only people in the world for whom extenuating circumstances are routinely cited in explanation of their charitable deeds”
* The Financial Times’ poor record on commenting on Israel

 

CONTENTS

1. Israel has “no comment” on Dubai death
2. Perhaps the BBC didn’t know what they were getting?
3. Less Middle East “peace processing” will advance Middle East peace
4. Some people just can’t accept charity as it is
5. No FT, no comment?
6. An Albanian and a Moroccan rescue a synagogue
7. Silvio Berlusconi: “My dream is to see Israel become a member of the European Union”
8. “Obama misjudges his misjudgment” (By Tom Gross, Wall Street Journal)
9. “When good deeds are worse than doing nothing” (By Oliver Worth, Jerusalem Post)
10. “Financial Times 2009: A year of Middle East editorials” (Just Journalism report)
11. “The Shame of Modern Greece” (By Andrew Apostolou, Wall Street Journal)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

ISRAEL HAS “NO COMMENT” ON DUBAI DEATH

In line with standard policy, Israeli officials are not commenting one way or the other on suggestions that the Mossad was responsible for the death of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Mabhouh in Dubai. Mabhouh’s death was reported on Sunday. Hamas says Mabhouh was injected with a drug that induced a heart attack, and his death was not the result of natural causes. Mabhouh’s family claimed he was also strangled. Hamas has already vowed to attack Israeli targets outside Israel in retaliation.

Mabhouh’s known crimes date back as far as 1989 when he masterminded the kidnapping and murder of two young Israelis. More recently, Mabhouh played a key role coordinating the smuggling of missiles and other weapons from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, which has already killed and maimed dozens of Israeli civilians with such weapons, and terrorized thousands more, continues to acquire ever-more powerful rockets from Iran.

Separately, other Hamas officials have suggested that the killing of Mabhouh was likely carried out by agents of an Arab government, and not by Israel. Mabhouh was wanted by authorities in both Jordan and in Egypt. He spent a year in prison in Egypt in 2003. He had flown to Dubai from Damascus a day before his death and it is believed that despite the fact he entered Dubai on a forged passport using an assumed name, he was tracked from the airport to his hotel.

Dubai was a stopover for Mabhouh, whose destination was another country. As a result he stayed at a hotel which was close to the airport and did not plan on staying in Dubai longer than 24 hours, sources say.

 

PERHAPS THE BBC DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE GETTING?

Newsnight, the influential program broadcast on the domestic BBC channel, BBC 2, hired an independent production company, Conflict Zones, to make one of (over a dozen) programs the BBC have commissioned to mark the first anniversary of the Gaza war, hosted by celebrated Gulf War veteran British Colonel Tim Collins.

Collins’ report is extraordinary. The BBC actually ended up airing a report that sympathized with Israeli civilians and revealed some of Hamas’s terrorism. It is almost as if the BBC didn’t know what they were getting – and is something utterly unlike the anti-Israel invective regularly broadcast by the BBC’s own reporters in the region.

Colonel Collins is highly regarded in Britain, so it would have caused considerable controversy had the BBC tried to censor this report, as some BBC producers may well have wished.

You can watch it here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/8470100.stm

You can read some of the script here: www.conflictzones.tv

(This report does not represent any kind of change in policy by the BBC, which has continued to broadcast terribly misleading and unfair reporting about Israeli conduct in Gaza in January 2009, during its main world news yesterday and today.)

 

LESS MIDDLE EAST “PEACE PROCESSING” WILL ADVANCE MIDDLE EAST PEACE

I attach four articles below, with brief summaries first, though I would recommend reading them in full if you have time.

The first is my op-ed piece from last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. The paper asked me to expand on a note I wrote in one of my dispatches last week. (The piece also runs today in The Australian, one of Australia’s leading newspapers, which like the WSJ is owned by News International.)

I explain that President Obama has gone from one extreme to the other – from being ridiculously optimistic about the prospects for swiftly resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, to becoming overly pessimistic now.

In fact, Obama’s first year in office, from late January 2009 until the present, turned out to be one of the most encouraging for Israelis and Palestinians in over 15 years – not that Obama seems to grasp this, probably because it had little to do with him.

In the article I outline various reasons why I believe this to be the case, and conclude that (despite all the problems and pitfalls) the Palestinian Authority is finally doing some state-building instead of engaging in endless hollow “processing” involving talks about talks with foreign leaders. For a Palestinian state to be viable, it is not just a question of what Israel might give the Palestinians, but of the Palestinians getting their own house in order.

The fact there are signs that they are finally beginning to do so, can only be welcome news for those of us who want to see a viable, independent – and peaceful – Palestinian state.

 

SOME PEOPLE JUST CAN’T ACCEPT CHARITY AS IT IS

The second piece is by Oliver Worth, a past observer at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, who is now based in Britain. Worth picks up on the theme in one of last month’s dispatches about media coverage of Israel’s crucial role in helping Haitians after the recent earthquake.

I had criticized the way The Times of London covered this. Worth points out that Britain’s Guardian newspaper too, in effect attacked Israel’s Haiti mission in a piece titled “Israel’s double standards over Haiti”

As Kevin Myers writes in The Belfast Telegraph: “Israelis are perhaps the only people in the world for whom extenuating circumstances are routinely cited in explanation of their charitable deeds”.

Incidentally, the IDF has now flown back a five-year-old boy from Haiti for emergency heart surgery by top Israeli heart surgeons.

 

NO FT, NO COMMENT?

In the third item, the British-media watchdog “Just Journalism” publishes a report about The Financial Times, a British paper with a wide international readership.

The group analyzed all 121 of the newspaper’s editorials relating to the Middle East in 2009, and reveals a number of important trends.

While the FT was sympathetic towards some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, like the regime in Saudi Arabia, its criticism of Israel was sweeping, sustained and harsh.

The FT downplays the threat of Palestinian terrorism, disunity within Palestinian ranks and the Palestinians’ failure to accept Israel as a Jewish state, while obsessing with Israeli settlement-building (even though it was largely put on hold last year) which the FT refers to as “colonization” in nine editorials

The prospect of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is referred to in five editorials, yet no Financial Times editorial in 2009 makes reference to the murderous rhetoric from Iran’s President Ahmadinejad against Israel.

 

AN ALBANIAN AND A MOROCCAN RESCUE A SYNAGOGUE

The last piece below is by Andrew Apostolou, a longtime subscriber to this email list. I attach it as a follow-up to the 13th note in this dispatch last month

Apostolou, who is of Greek origin but is now based in the U.S, notes the almost complete indifference of Greek society to the high levels of anti-Semitism in the country. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he observes, it was non-Greeks who saved Crete’s historic synagogue when it was twice attacked last month. An Albanian immigrant was the first to call for help following the arson attack and an Albanian caretaker of the synagogue and a Moroccan immigrant also rendered vital assistance in putting the fire out.

The vast majority of Greece’s historic Jewish communities were murdered during the Holocaust, some with the assistance of Kurt Waldheim, who later served as UN Secretary-General. Greece’s media is among the worst in the world when it comes to making comparisons between democratic Israel and Nazi Germany.

 

ITALY, IRAN AND ISRAEL

My note in the dispatch of January 17, titled “Italian companies – with Rome’s backing – have equipped Iran’s military and contributed to the regime’s satellite and possibly nuclear programs,” has come to the attention of Hillary Clinton, through senior U.S. officials who subscribe to this list.

Clinton has now raised the matter with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Frattini has promised Clinton that Eni (the Italian energy giant that is reportedly Iran’s largest business partner in Europe) will stop investing in Iran and will freeze its current deals.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is currently visiting Israel (bringing an extraordinary seven cabinet ministers with him), today made a number of statements strongly supportive of Israel and said that his “dream is to see Israel become a member of the European Union”.

***

I attach four articles below and hope you have time to read them.

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

MOVES IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Obama misjudges his misjudgment: Too much Middle East peace processing
By Tom Gross
The Wall Street Journal
January 28, 2010

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703906204575027383170233218.html

Last week, in an “exclusive” interview granted to Time magazine, U.S. President Barack Obama admitted he erred during his first year in office by raising unrealistically high expectations of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I’ll be honest with you, this is just really hard,” Mr. Obama said when asked about the Middle East.

“This is as intractable a problem as you get,” he went on, noting that while Israel had showed a willingness “after a lot of time” to make “some modifications” in policy, it “still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures.”

“I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn’t produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted, and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high,” Mr. Obama added.

Judging from these remarks, the American President appears almost as lost on this issue as he is on how to counter the Iranian nuclear threat. He has gone from one extreme to the other – from being ridiculously optimistic about the prospects for swiftly resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (did he think he could just wave a magic wand and solve a 100-year-old-dispute?), to becoming overly pessimistic now.

In fact, Mr. Obama’s first year in office, from late January 2009 until the present, turned out to be one of the most encouraging for Israelis and Palestinians in over 15 years – not that Mr. Obama seems to grasp this, probably because it had little to do with him. Indeed his initial policies were unhelpful to both Israeli and Palestinian moderates, but luckily both groups generally ignored him.

There were several factors that made the first 12 months of Obama’s presidency better for peace prospects (for those of us who want a two-state solution) than previous years.

Firstly, there was less violence, both between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Palestinians and Palestinians, than there had been for years. Among other landmarks, 2009 was the first year in a long time without any successful suicide bombings against Israel.

In addition, the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank have finally started to behave like a security force rather than like a terrorist group. For example, last week they rescued an Israeli settler who was trapped under her overturned car near Qalqilya in the northern West Bank. They used special equipment to extricate the seriously injured woman, and provided her with initial emergency treatment until Israeli medics could arrive. In previous years (and especially when Yasser Arafat lorded it over the Palestinians), they would probably have shot her instead.

Then, there was the strong economic growth in both Israel and the Palestinian territories relative to most of the rest of the world, for which 2009 was a bleak year. (While Gaza is not undergoing the same kind of economic growth enjoyed by the West Bank, the standard of living there is nonetheless considerably better than you would suppose from the distorted picture provided by certain partisan journalists and NGO workers, and much better then in many other areas of the world.)

And most importantly, 2009 was the year that a Likud Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, not only recognized the principle of an independent Palestinian state, but also made the most sweeping freeze on Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank since 1967.

Yet barely any of this seems to have registered with Mr. Obama. Instead, in his remarks to Time, even when he acknowledged there had been mistakes, he implied that the responsibility for the mistakes always rested with others, not with him.

Try telling that to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hardly a day goes by without Mr. Abbas privately pointing the finger of blame at Mr. Obama for his clumsy approach.

Occasionally, Mr. Abbas airs his exasperation in public. For example, in an interview published on Dec. 22 in the London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat, he explained that he could not afford a situation in which Mr. Obama appears more Palestinian than the Palestinians.

“[Mr.] Obama laid down the condition of halting the settlements completely,” he noted, even in areas which Palestinian negotiators have already agreed in principle will form part of Israel. “What was I supposed to say to him? Should I say this is too much?”

Every informed observer knows that for a realistic two-state solution to be achieved, Israel cannot return to what Abba Eban famously referred to as Israel’s “Auschwitz borders” (i.e., borders that were indefensible), and that there will be land swaps between Israelis and Palestinians so final borders will more closely reflect demographic and security considerations. Indeed as long ago as 1967, the international diplomats who carefully crafted U.N. Resolution 242 acknowledged that the 1967 borders would not and should not necessarily constitute Israel’s final boundaries. They made clear in the wording of their text that they believed that not all of the land previously occupied by Jordan (land that has come to be known as the West Bank) should necessarily be relinquished by Israel.

And yet Mr. Obama stepped in and tried to insist on just that, much to the consternation not only of Israelis, but of Mr. Abbas.

What has been happening on the ground in the past year – brought about by both Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders effectively ignoring Mr. Obama and the other so-called “peace processers” – is that the Palestinian government in Ramallah, with quiet assistance from Israel (assistance which I outlined in some detail in a piece on these pages last month), is finally doing some state-building instead of engaging in endless hollow “processing” involving talks about talks with foreign leaders. For a Palestinian state to be viable it is not just a question of what Israel might give the Palestinians, but of the Palestinians getting their own house in order.

And even if Mr. Obama isn’t quite aware of this accomplishment, those of us who want to see a viable, independent and peaceful Palestinian state can only welcome it.

 

HAITI HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GAZA

“When good deeds are worse than doing nothing”
By Oliver Worth
The Jerusalem Post
January 25, 2010

When sending two jumbo-jets of aid, and setting up a field hospital with hundreds of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel is met with scorn, you know something isn’t right.

While most of the mainstream American and British news networks reported extensively on Israel’s reaction to Haiti’s devastating earthquake, unfortunately we were also reminded just how entrenched some of the world’s hatred for the Jewish state really is.

While the fact that most of the Arab world donated mere pennies or nothing at all, has escaped mention Israel’s attempt to save lives has been labeled by many as nothing but a PR exercise. The sad truth is that the anti-Israel hard left has done such a great job of dehumanizing Israelis, that the idea they could be doing good deeds is totally incomprehensible. It’s true – Israel’s actions in Haiti are creating good press, but that’s what happens when you do good things.

The assertion that Israel should somehow have to apologize for coming across positively is absurd and grounded in anti-Semitism. As Kevin Myers writes for the Belfast Telegraph “They are perhaps the only people in the world for whom extenuating circumstances are routinely cited in explanation of their charitable deeds”.

While it’s no surprise that the Islamist anti-Semitic Iranian mouth-piece Press TV accuses Israeli doctors of using the Haiti emergency to harvest organs one should not expect to read the headline “Israel’s double standards over Haiti,” in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, except, of course in the comparison between Israel’s efforts in Haiti and the efforts of any of Israel’s neighbours. Unfortunately it comes as no surprise to those regularly inflicted with the Guardian’s bias that the piece is, of course in reference to Israel’s treatment of Haitians and those it is at war with.

Israel’s commitment to saving lives in disaster zones has nothing to do with Gaza. Israel has shown its amazing commitment to the preservation of life in India, Indonesia, Kenya and many other nations, Gaza war or no Gaza war.

There is simply no comparison between the response shown to a people at the mercy of horrific natural events and a people who have effectively been at war with Israel since its birth.

It’s truly astonishing that part of the mainstream British press has found itself unable to differentiate between a helpless Haitian people in desperate need of aid, and the Palestinian people who elected a terrorist organization into power.

While no one in their right mind would deny the widespread suffering of the Gazan people, drawing any moral equivalence between Israel’s relationship with them and those trapped under rubble in Haiti is truly perverse. When the attitude toward Israel is so widely based on anti-Semitism and hate, what evidence is there to believe things would change with an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement? For peace to be possible, Israel rightly has to believe that its concessions and sacrifices would be met by more than continued hatred, that peace with the Palestinians is also peace with the world.

As things stand, Israel is the only country in the world- bar none- that has to justify giving aid and saving lives. As long as Israelis (or perhaps simply Jews) are viewed as incapable of doing anything good, in a sentiment propagated by so much of the world media, then Israel will be in no position to make concessions for peace.

No one is asking for the world to kiss Israel’s feet for acts which are in line with its own moral code, but when Israel provides more per capita than any other nation in the world and is met with scorn, and the world’s worst and wealthiest human rights abusers give nothing and are met with silence, well, something isn’t right.

 

A REPORT ON THE EDITORIALS AND COMMENT PAGE OF THE FT

“Financial Times 2009: A year of Middle East editorials”
Financial Times blames Israel for Middle East conflict and ignores Iran threat
Just Journalism special report
January 28, 2010

Just Journalism today publishes ‘Financial Times 2009: A year of Middle East editorials’ analysing all 121 of the newspaper’s editorials relating to the Middle East last year, and revealing a number of important trends.

The report is divided into four sections addressing the FT editorial column’s position on:

1. Israel and the Palestinians: Leaders and efforts for peace
2. Key points of conflict: Settlements and Gaza
3. Iran: Nuclear ambitions and tensions with Israel
4. The Arab world: Regimes and peacemaking

The study shows that threats against Israel’s existence issued by Iranian President Ahmadinejad were ignored in the paper’s editorial column, yet the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities was referred to on numerous occasions.

The FT also downplayed other factors in the other conflict such as terrorism and the political split between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. By contrast, Israeli settlement activity was cited as the chief cause of tension between Israel and the Palestinians.

Executive Summary:

* The FT views Israel as primarily responsible for the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while downplaying other factors. In particular it places the role of settlement-building in the West Bank above any other single factor affecting the conflict. Settlement-building is referred to as ‘colonisation’ in nine editorials

* Other aggravating factors such as terrorism, disunity within Palestinian ranks and a failure to accept Israel as a Jewish state are downplayed. Neither of these last two are addressed as areas of legitimate concern for Israel; rather, both are viewed as ploys by Israel to ‘change the subject’

* The editorial coverage over the past year reflects a gradual shift away from the view that Iran’s nuclear intentions might be peaceful towards the conclusion at the end of 2009 that they are not

* The prospect of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is referred to in five editorials; yet no Financial Times editorial in 2009 makes reference to the threatening rhetoric from Iran’s President Ahmadinejad against Israel

* The publication backed the Goldstone Report, which described the Israeli military operation as ‘a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population’. The Financial Times described Israel’s actions in Gaza as ‘disproportionate’ in four editorials

* Israeli political leaders are depicted as ‘irredentist’, ‘hawkish’, and ‘ultra-nationalist’. In contrast, Palestinian leaders are portrayed as ‘moderate’ and ‘conciliatory’, if corrupt

* Israel’s total military and civilian withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005 is not viewed as a meaningful Israeli concession, rather it is seen as inadequate at best, and a cynical ploy at worst

* The Arab world is portrayed as having made a substantial effort for peace in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. The Saudi Peace Initiative of 2002 is touted in seven editorials and the newspaper expresses sympathy with the recent Arab refusal to meet Israeli concessions with Arab concessions

* Mixed attitudes towards the nature of Arab regimes are displayed. The newspaper attacks the West - the US in particular - for backing ‘an ossified order of ... Arab strongmen’ typified by the Mubarak regime in Egypt; however, Saudi Arabia is spared harsh criticism, particularly regarding its human rights record

For the full report, visit www.justjournalism.com

 

GREECE’S JEWISH PROBLEM

The shame of modern Greece
By Andrew Apostolou
Wall Street Journal Europe
January 21, 2010

The repeat arson attacks on a synagogue in Greece demonstrate that Turkey is not the only Mediterranean democracy cursed with anti-Semitism. Arsonists have attacked the Etz Hayyim synagogue in Chania, on the Greek island of Crete, twice this year. The fires on Jan. 5 and 17 have inflicted substantial damage on a structure that was only restored in 1999 after lying derelict since the Holocaust. The attempts to destroy Crete’s only synagogue follow a spate of vandalism of Jewish graves in Ioannina in northwestern Greece.

Compounding these acts of violence is Greek society’s shameful indifference to anti-Semitism. This was amply demonstrated during the arson incidents in Crete. Non-Greeks played an admirable role in saving the synagogue. An Albanian immigrant was the first to spot the fire in the early hours of Jan. 5. The Albanian caretaker of the synagogue and a Moroccan also rendered vital assistance. Nikos Stavroulakis, the director of the synagogue and the man behind its restoration, has written about the “the lack of ‘locals’” on the scene after the first attack – all the more shocking given that these ‘locals’ would have lost their homes and businesses had the fire spread.

Those who sleep through the night while a synagogue burns in their own town are a metaphor for Greece’s attitude to anti-Semitism. The fundamental problem with Greek anti-Semitism is not that it is rampant. It is that in a country of 11 million with just 5,000 Jews, few Greeks care to resist it. Greece suffers from a lack of moral, religious and social leadership denouncing the embarrassment of anti-Semitism, be it vandalism or the now banal comparison of Israel with the Nazis in the national media.

The indifference of many Greeks is unsurprising. The official version of the history ensures that few know of the Jewish component of Greece’s past. Many Greeks do not know that their second largest city, Salonika, had a Jewish majority for most of its modern history. Instead of the Holocaust being treated as a moment for moral and historical reflection, it is portrayed as an opportunity for national self-congratulation because of the rescue of a small number of Greek Jews. The genuine heroism of Greek Christians who saved Greek Jews from the Nazis in such places as Zakynthos and Athens is used to obscure the collaboration and indifference that helped condemn tens of thousands of Greek Jews to death in Salonika and northern Greece.

This ignorance has been reinforced by historians, Greek and foreign alike, who have largely skated over collaboration during the Holocaust. Like the Greek government, historians prefer to emphasize the rescue of Jews rather than prompt an examination of the often shameful and ambiguous stance that too many Greeks took during the Second World War. The leaders of Greece’s barely 5,000 strong Jewish community take a similar historical approach for obvious political reasons. Over sixty years after the Holocaust, myths prevail over scholarship.

Most Greek politicians are complicit, failing to take anti-Semitism seriously as a local problem. With the admirable exception of former conservative prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, who has vigorously condemned the arson attacks, Greek politicians have responded lethargically to the latest incidents. This is despite the tremendous and commendable efforts of such organizations of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which has sought to educate Greek opinion leaders. The AJC’s efforts have convinced some Greek politicians that their country is diminished by ignoring anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, too many still regard anti-Semitism as a public relations issue that affects Greece’s image abroad, rather a moral question bearing upon its social sanity at home.

Very occasionally, some principled citizens express their disgust, but national figures generally do not bother to support these small local initiatives. In December 2009 hundreds of non-Jews in Ionnina formed a human chain around the Jewish cemetery there to protest its repeated desecration. In Salonika a few young historians have begun to ask questions about the massive theft of Jewish property during the war.

What these handfuls of activists have understood is that anti-Semitism can be as harmful to non-Jews as to Jews. Only a handful of Jews remain in Chania and Ioannina. These are places more of Jewish memory than of community – over 90% of Chania and Ioannina’s Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. The non-Jews in these towns now have to live with the lingering hate and immoral ambivalence that over sixty years ago allowed so many Greek Jews to be taken away to their deaths.