Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Nazi scandal engulfs Human Rights Watch - at last covered properly by a major paper

March 28, 2010

* “Let’s face it, the thing that really excites them is Israel.”

* Bob Bernstein concluded that if HRW did not “return to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it... its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished”. HRW’s response was ferocious – and disingenuous. In their letters to The NY Times, Roth and others made it sound as if Bernstein had said that open societies and democracies should not be monitored at all.

* According to an interview HRW’s Marc Garlasco gave to Der Spiegel, he was a key player in an air strike on Basra on April 5, 2003 intended to kill Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, but which instead took the lives of 17 civilians. In another interview, Garlasco said he was responsible for up to 50 other air strikes in Iraq – none of which killed anyone on the target list but which accounted for several hundred civilian deaths.

* In June 2006, Garlasco had alleged that an explosion on a Gaza beach that killed seven people had been caused by Israeli shelling. However, after seeing the details of an Israeli army investigation that closely examined the relevant ballistics and blast patterns, he subsequently told The Jerusalem Post that he had been wrong and that the deaths were probably caused by an unexploded [Hamas] munition in the sand. But this went down badly at Human Rights Watch HQ in New York, and the admission was retracted by an HRW press release the next day.

* The problems at HRW go way beyond Garlasco. Having first defended Garlasco, HRW are now trying to make him a scapegoat for all their other ills.


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a piece about Human Rights Watch from today’s (London) Sunday Times magazine. The writer, who is a founding subscriber to this email list, tells me that his piece is inspired by and based on several dispatches on this email list last year. (The article also draws on research by NGO Monitor and blogger Omri Ceren.) This is the first time this topic has been covered properly by a major paper.

Human Rights Watch, of which Judge Richard Goldstone was a director and senior advisor, is (with Amnesty International) at the forefront of international efforts to denigrate and demonize the state of Israel. The world is full of terrible human rights abuses and we desperately need human rights groups to do their job and not spend so much of their energy attacking Israel.

Earlier versions of the article below included more substantive comment on the ways that HRW has singled out Israel for criticism while fundraising from the Saudis, but these were cut by the editors at The Sunday Times. Lest anyone imagine that The Sunday Times and its sister paper The Times of London have suddenly gone soft on Israel, another viciously anti-Israel comment piece by Andrew Sullivan in today’s Sunday Times will dispel that illusion.

Brad Pitt and other celebrities who have naively promoted HRW might want to read the article below.

-- Tom Gross


Nazi scandal engulfs Human Rights Watch
By Jonathan Foreman
The Sunday Times magazine
March 28, 2010

Human Rights Watch champions the brutally repressed. But in the wake of a ‘Nazi’ scandal involving an employee, is all well in its own back yard?

At the headquarters of Human Rights Watch, more than 30 storeys above the noise and bustle of Manhattan, there is so much high-mindedness hanging in the air you can almost taste it. This is the epicentre of a certain type of socially smart, progressive activism — the kind that persuades Hollywood grandees, power lawyers and liberal financiers to dig deeply into their pockets.

When the story broke that one of the organisation’s most prominent and vocal members of staff might be a collector of Nazi-era military memorabilia it felt like some sort of sexual scandal had erupted in the Victorian church. For a lobbying group accustomed to adulatory coverage in the media, it was a public-relations catastrophe.

Human Rights Watch is one of two global superpowers among the world’s myriad humanitarian pressure groups. It is relatively young – established in its current form in 1988 – but it has grown so quickly in size, wealth and influence that it has all but eclipsed its older, London-based rival, Amnesty International.

Unlike Amnesty, HRW, as it is known, gets its money from charitable foundations and wealthy individuals – such as the financier George Soros – rather than a mass membership. And, also unlike Amnesty, it seeks to make an impact, not through extensive letter-writing campaigns, but by talking to governments and the media, urging openness and candour and backing up its advocacy with research reports. It is an association that is all about influence – an influence that depends on a carefully honed image of objectivity, expertise and high moral tone. So it was perhaps a little awkward that a key member of staff was found to have such a treasure trove of Nazi regalia.

By day, Marc Garlasco was HRW’s only military expert, the person that its Emergencies Division would send to conflict zones to investigate alleged war crimes. He wrote reports condemning the dropping of cluster bombs in the Russia-Georgia war, the alleged illegal use of white phosphorus by the Israeli army in Gaza and coalition tactics that he said “unnecessarily” put Iraqi or Afghan civilians at risk. An enthusiastic source of quotes for the media, he was incessantly on the phone to journalists.

But by night, Garlasco was “Flak88”, an obsessive contributor to internet forums on Third Reich memorabilia and an avid collector of badges and medals emblazoned with swastikas and eagles.

A lavishly illustrated $100 book he compiled and self-published is dedicated to his grandfather, who served in the Luftwaffe. On members-only sites such as he was writing comments like “VERY nice Hitler signature selection”; “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!”

An interest in Nazi memorabilia does not necessarily suggest Nazi sympathies – but it is hardly likely to play well in the salons where Garlasco’s employer might solicit donations.

Human Rights Watch started small, but there is now a grandness about it, a deep hum of power and connectedness. In Los Angeles, its annual Hollywood dinner is said to raise more than $2m. When he was guest editor of Vanity Fair, Brad Pitt published a profile of the executive director, Kenneth Roth.

In London, HRW’s board meetings and fundraising parties are held in huge houses in Notting Hill and Hampstead, with wealthy expat Americans – “the Democratic party in exile”, one board member calls it – vying to outdo each other in lavishness. Significant contributors in the UK include Tony Elliott, the owner of Time Out, and Catherine Zennstrom, whose husband, Niklas, created Skype. When the philanthropic London-based banker John Studzinski joined the board it was proof positive that he had “made it”.

The enthusiasts for Third Reich memorabilia who meet up in cyberspace make up a cosy little community. In one posting Garlasco put up a photograph of himself wearing a sweatshirt with an Iron Cross on the front, sitting next to his daughter. One of his internet buddies comments: “Love the sweatshirt… Not one I could wear here in Germany though – well I could but it would be a lot of hassle.”

Garlasco certainly seems to have been more open with his online collector friends than he had been with his employer. “Flak88” was more than happy to talk openly about his day job. He wondered whether he should reveal his hobby to Human Rights Watch – who evidently knew nothing about it: “So I am trying to figure out what to do. My book is clsoe [sic] to done, but I am not sure if I should put my name on it. If folks at work found out I might very well lose my job.”

His dilemma did not last long. In September a blogger noted that Marc Garlasco had long been reviewing books on Third Reich memorabilia on Amazon – and that he was the same Marc Garlasco who had written controversial HRW reports about alleged Israeli violations in Gaza and Lebanon. The blogger did not accuse him of being a Nazi, but wondered if Garlasco’s “obsession with anti-Semitic Nazi genocidal lunatics” was in any way related to his “apologism for anti-Semitic genocidal Hamas lunatics”. The story soon gained momentum. Human Rights Watch was forced to investigate.

Initially HRW offered Garlasco unequivocal support. This was not surprising. The organisation is supremely self-confident. When I asked the executive director Kenneth Roth if he could think of any errors made by HRW, he replied: “Nothing major. There is an errata page on our website.” And despite his oddness, Garlasco was also an asset. Born in Manhattan and raised in Queens, his background was a useful counterpoint to the posh-boho culture that pervades the group. He is a keen gun-owner, a member of the National Rifle Association, had worked for the Pentagon and counted key members of the military as friends. More than anything, his military and strategic know-how provided the group with desperately needed credibility – especially when talking about “disproportionate” military responses.

HRW’s public-relations machine quickly went into action. Garlasco was defended as “the author of a monograph on the history of German air force and army anti-aircraft medals and a contributor to websites that promote serious historical research… and which forbid hate speech”. They said that comments by Garlasco about Nazi regalia merely “reflect the enthusiasm of a keen collector… and have no bearing on Garlasco’s work for Human Rights Watch”.

Garlasco himself wrote an apologetic column on the political website the Huffington Post in which he claimed he had “never hidden my hobby, because there’s nothing shameful in it, however weird it might seem to those who aren’t fascinated by military history. Precisely because it’s so obvious that the Nazis were evil, I never realised that other people, including friends and colleagues, might wonder why I care about these things”.

It wasn’t enough for HRW to defend Garlasco or to make the sensible distinction between an innocent interest in the second-world-war German army and an unhealthy attraction to Nazi iconography. HRW also went on the offensive. It accused those who raised the issue of Garlasco’s hobby of being part of “a campaign to deflect attention from Human Rights Watch’s rigorous and detailed reporting on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Israeli government”. It even used the word “conspiracy”: its programmes director, Iain Levine, later went so far as to directly accuse the Israeli government of being behind it. But he provided no evidence for the charge.

The vehemence of Human Rights Watch in defending Garlasco surprised many. But it made sense for two reasons. Though HRW relishes complaints from infuriated dictatorships, it is not used to its personnel and methods being questioned at home. And it coincided with a series of less-well-publicised criticisms of the group. Suddenly, when its own practices came under scrutiny, it became very touchy.

On September 14 last year the organisation suspended Marc Garlasco with pay “pending an investigation”. But as the months went by, HRW said nothing about the investigation – and nothing about Garlasco’s status.

Garlasco himself kept mum. When I called him, he told me that he “had nothing more to say”. I learnt from friends of his, however, that he had been gagged by a confidentiality agreement. They said that he had in effect been fired, but would be paid for the duration of his contract as long as he kept silent.

When I visited HRW’s New York headquarters in February, I asked Kenneth Roth about Garlasco’s status. He said nothing had changed. Did he mean that Garlasco is still suspended pending an investigation? “Yes,” came the reply.

On March 5, Garlasco’s name was removed from the list of staff members on HRW’s website. Later that day, the Jerusalem Post newspaper asked about Garlasco’s status. A spokeswoman replied by email that HRW had “regretfully accepted Marc Garlasco’s resignation” two weeks before. Kenneth Roth has sent an email to staff, board members and some key donors insisting that they do not respond to any media inquiries about the matter. Garlasco, meanwhile, prefers to stay out of the limelight: when The Sunday Times Magazine inquired about using the picture of Garlasco wearing a sweatshirt featuring an Iron Cross, we received this reply:

“It is my understanding that you intend on using a photo or likeness of him, which is copyrighted, without his permission. Should you do so… we will prosecute this matter to the fullest extent of the law. Sincerely, Attorney Paul James Garlasco.”

We contacted Attorney Garlasco to find out if he was related to Marc Garlasco; he did not return our calls or emails.

HRW was also cagey about the photograph. Garlasco has become a non-person. “It might be him,” hedged the communications director Emma Daly, but “he doesn’t work here any more.”

Every year, Human Rights Watch puts out up to 100 glossy reports – essentially mini books – and 600-700 press releases, according to Daly, a former journalist for The Independent.

Some conflict zones get much more coverage than others. For instance, HRW has published five heavily publicised reports on Israel and the Palestinian territories since the January 2009 war.

In 20 years they have published only four reports on the conflict in Indian-controlled Kashmir, for example, even though the conflict has taken at least 80,000 lives in these two decades, and torture and extrajudicial murder have taken place on a vast scale. Perhaps even more tellingly, HRW has not published any report on the postelection violence and repression in Iran more than six months after the event.

When I asked the Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson if HRW was ever going to release one, she said: “We have a draft, but I’m not sure I want to put one out.” Asked the same question, executive director Kenneth Roth told me that the problem with doing a report on Iran was the difficulty of getting into the country.

I interviewed a human-rights expert at a competing organisation in Washington who did not wish to be named because “we operate in a very small world and it’s not done to criticise other human-rights organisations”. He told me he was “not surprised” that HRW has still not produced a report on the violence in Iran: “They are thinking about how it’s going to be used politically in Washington. And it’s not a priority for them because Iran is just not a bad guy that they are interested in highlighting. Their hearts are not in it. Let’s face it, the thing that really excites them is Israel.”

Noah Pollak, a New York writer who has led some of the criticisms against HRW, points out that it cares about Palestinians when maltreated by Israelis, but is less concerned if perpetrators are fellow Arabs. For instance, in 2007 the Lebanese army shelled the Nahr al Bared refugee camp near Tripoli (then under the control of Fatah al Islam radicals), killing more than 100 civilians and displacing 30,000. HRW put out a press release – but it never produced a report.

Such imbalance was at the heart of a public dressing-down that shook HRW in October. It came from the organisation’s own founder and chairman emeritus, the renowned publisher Robert Bernstein, who took it to task in The New York Times for devoting its resources to open and democratic societies rather than closed ones. (Originally set up as Helsinki Watch, the group’s original brief was to expose abuses of human rights behind the iron curtain.)

“Nowhere is this more evident than its work in the Middle East,” he wrote. “The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human-rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel… than of any other country in the region.”

Bernstein pointed out that Israel has “a population of 7.4m, is home to at least 80 human-rights organisations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government…and probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world… Meanwhile the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350m people and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic”.

Bernstein concluded that if HRW did not “return to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it… its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished”. HRW’s response was ferocious – and disingenuous. In their letters to the paper, Roth and others made it sound as if Bernstein had said that open societies and democracies should not be monitored at all.

I met Robert Bernstein at an office he keeps in midtown Manhattan. Though he has been retired from publishing for more than two decades, and from HRW for 12 years, he remains active in human rights, especially in China. He said: “It broke my heart to write that article… Of course open societies should be watched very carefully, but HRW is one of the very few organisations that is supposed to go into closed societies. Why should HRW be covering Guantanamo? It’s already covered by a lot of other organisations.”

The revelation of Marc Garlasco’s hobby was also significant because he was the first and only person at Human Rights Watch with any kind of military expertise. While staff members at HRW tend to be lawyers, journalists or political activists, Garlasco, 40, had worked as a civilian employee at the Pentagon for seven years before joining HRW in 2004. According to his HRW biography, he had served as “a senior intelligence analyst covering Iraq” and his last position there was as “chief of high-value targeting” at the very beginning of the Iraq war.

This apparently meant that it was he who selected targets for air strikes.

According to an interview Garlasco gave to Der Spiegel, he was a key player in an air strike on Basra on April 5, 2003 intended to kill Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, but which instead took the lives of 17 civilians.

In another interview, Garlasco said he was responsible for up to 50 other air strikes – none of which killed anyone on the target list but which accounted for several hundred civilian deaths. Soon after the Chemical Ali air strike, he left to join Human Rights Watch. In interviews he has suggested that he did so because he was sickened by his responsibility for these deaths, and had always been opposed to the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Associates of Garlasco have told me that there had long been tensions between Garlasco and HRW’s Middle East Division in New York – perhaps because he sometimes stuck his neck out and did not follow the HRW line. Garlasco himself apparently resented what he felt was pressure to sex up claims of Israeli violations of laws of war in Gaza and Lebanon, or to stick by initial assessments even when they turned out to be incorrect.

In June 2006, Garlasco had alleged that an explosion on a Gaza beach that killed seven people had been caused by Israeli shelling. However, after seeing the details of an Israeli army investigation that closely examined the relevant ballistics and blast patterns, he subsequently told the Jerusalem Post that he had been wrong and that the deaths were probably caused by an unexploded munition in the sand. But this went down badly at Human Rights Watch HQ in New York, and the admission was retracted by an HRW press release the next day.

Since the Garlasco affair blew up, critics of Human Rights Watch have raised questions about other appointments. An Israeli newspaper revealed that Joe Stork, the deputy head of HRW’s Middle East department, was a radical leftist who put out a magazine in the 1970s that praised the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. In 1976 he attended an anti-Zionist conference in Baghdad hosted by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

As Kenneth Roth pointed out to me, this was all three decades ago, Stork was just one of seven editors of the magazine when its editorial praised the massacre, and he later became a staunch critic of Saddam Hussein. Certainly, he no longer spices up reports with talk of “revolutionary potential of the Palestinian masses.” That said, when Stork was hired by HRW in 1996 he had never worked for a human-rights group, had never held an academic position, and had a history of anti-Israel activism.

Stork’s boss, Sarah Leah Whitson, and most of his colleagues in the Middle East department of Human Rights Watch, also have activist backgrounds – it was typical that one newly hired researcher came to HRW from the extremist anti-Israel publication Electronic Intifada – unlikely to reassure anyone who thinks that human-rights organisations should be non-partisan. While it may be hard to find people who are genuinely neutral about Middle East politics, theoretically an organisation like HRW would not select as its researchers people who are so evidently on one side.

While HRW was dealing with the fallout from the Garlasco affair, it was already on the defensive as a result of criticism of a fundraising effort in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s worst human-rights violators. This involved two dinners for members of the Saudi elite in Riyadh, at which Sarah Leah Whitson curried favour with her hosts by boasting about HRW’s “battles” with pro-Israel pressure groups, such as NGO Monitor.

Although HRW has a policy of not taking money from governments, there were at least two Saudi officials present. One was a member of the Shura Council, which, among other things, oversees the implementation of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law. HRW has not given out a transcript of its appeal for donations or to publish a list of attendees at the dinners.

I asked the HRW executive director Kenneth Roth about the controversy that surrounded the Saudi dinners. He said: “Because somebody is the victim of a repressive government, should they have no right to contribute to a human-rights organisation?” Even if they had been invited, few victims would have been able to make the dinners – most Saudi dissidents are either in prison or live abroad in exile.

It probably gives little comfort to Human Rights Watch that Amnesty International, the association’s great rival, is also dealing with a queasy scandal involving questionable links. Amnesty’s image suffered a blow in February when Gita Sahgal, the director of its gender programme, told The Sunday Times she was concerned that the organisation was compromising its core values by getting into bed with radical Islamists.

Amnesty has allied itself with the Cageprisoners programme that Sahgal said “actively promotes Islamic Right ideals and individuals”. The programme is led by Moazzam Begg, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee whom Sahgal called “Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban”.

Amnesty’s reaction to Sahgal’s criticism was swift and jaw-droppingly incompatible with the work of an outfit that actively encourages whistleblowing: she was suspended from her job. Although this provoked a fierce response from Salman Rushdie and a Facebook campaign, it is sticking to its guns while denying that Sahgal was suspended “for raising these issues internally”.

Many of those on the left of the human-rights “community” may feel conflicting emotions when it comes to dealing with radical Islam, as if the former is somehow a dangerous distraction from the real struggle. In 2006 Scott Long, the director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights programme at Human Rights Watch, attacked the British campaigner Peter Tatchell, accusing him of racism, Islamophobia and colonialism for having the temerity to lead a campaign against Iran’s executions of homosexuals – a campaign that Long believed was unconstructive and based on “a Western social-constructionist trope”.

Human Rights Watch does perform a useful task, but its critics raise troubling questions that go beyond Garlasco’s hobby or raising money from Saudis. Why put such effort into publicising alleged human-rights violations in some countries but not others? Why does HRW seem so credulous of civilian witnesses in places like Gaza and Afghanistan but so sceptical of anyone in a uniform?

It may be that organisations like HRW that depend on the media for their profile – and therefore their donations – concentrate too much on places that the media already cares about.

HRW’s reaction to the scandals has perhaps cost it more credibility than the scandals themselves. It has revealed an organisation that does not always practice the transparency, tolerance and accountability it urges on others.

Washington Post: Obama’s behavior to Israel is “startling” and “puzzling”

March 16, 2010

* “In recent weeks, the Obama Administration has endorsed ‘healthy relations’ between Iran and Syria, mildly rebuked Syrian President Assad for accusing the U.S. of ‘colonialism,’ and publicly apologized to Moammar Gadhafi for treating him with less than appropriate deference after the Libyan called for ‘a jihad’ against Switzerland.” But when it comes to Israel, Obama, Clinton and Axelrod have decided to join the international beat-up-on-Israel club.

* “If the Obama Administration opts to transform itself, as the Europeans have, into another set of lawyers for the Palestinians, it will find Israeli concessions increasingly hard to come by.”

* “It’s easy to dislike Israel’s settlements, and still easier to dislike many of the settlers. So it would be a splendid thing for Israel to tear down its settlements, put the settlers behind its pre-1967 borders and finally reach the peace deal with the Palestinians that has been so elusive for so long. Except for one problem: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t territorial. It’s existential.”

* “That helps explain why Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2008 put forward comprehensive peace offers to the Palestinians, and were rebuffed, even though in both cases, the offers included the division of Jerusalem.”

* “For years, Israel’s soi-disant friends, particularly in Europe, had piously insisted that they supported Israel’s right to self-defense against attacks on Israel proper. But none of them lifted a finger to object to the rocket attacks from Gaza.”

* “In the past decade, Israelis have learned that neither Palestinians nor Europeans can be taken at their word. That’s a lesson they may soon begin to draw about the U.S. as well. Which is a pity for many reasons – not least because it gives the settler movement every excuse it needs to keep rolling right along.”

* “White House strategists are cynically distancing themselves from Israel in order to curry popularity by capitalizing on the anti-Israeli hatred which has engulfed the world.”

A Palestinian rioter in Jerusalem today



1. Am I the only journalist in the world making this point?
2. A crisis of historic proportions?
3. Washington Post: Obama’s behavior to Israel is “startling” and “puzzling”
4. Ha’aretz: David Axelrod’s attacks on Israel are “dishonest”
5. For Israelis, Ramat Shlomo is as much a part of Israel as is Tel Aviv
6. Israel condemns Hamas’ anti-Semitic remarks
7. “To say that I am deeply concerned is an understatement”
8. “Obama’s turn against Israel” (Wall Street Journal editorial, March 15, 2010)
9. “The settlements aren’t the problem” (By Bret Stephens, WSJ, March 16, 2010)
10. “Obama has crossed the line” (By Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2010)
11. “America’s shiny new Palestinian militia” (By Daniel Pipes, NRO, March 16, 2010)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

[This dispatch is a follow-up to the previous dispatch: Palestinian Authority honors top terrorist the moment Biden leaves the West Bank.]

Both the White House and U.S. State Department are still refusing to criticize the Palestinian Authority’s honoring of a top Palestinian terrorist just hours after Joe Biden left the West Bank last week. This is despite the fact that one of the 38 adults and children killed by that terrorist was not only an American but she was the niece of a U.S. senator from President Obama’s and Secretary of State Clinton’s own Democratic party (Senator Abraham Ribicoff’s niece, nature photographer, Gail Rubin).

I mentioned this in my previous dispatch. I have done a search and I seem to be the only journalist in the world reporting on this fact, and I’m not even American. Does no American journalist think it worthy of reporting that the American taxpayer-funded Palestinian Authority, honors a terrorist who in cold blood killed an American who was a close relative of a Democratic senator in the very place where Joe Biden visited hours earlier, and Obama and Clinton still have almost nothing to say about this five days later? (The New York Times has reported the ceremony to honor of the terrorist but not the fact that she killed the niece of a U.S. senator nor the fact that no American official has condemned this.)



Below, I attach some reactions from American politicians followed by four articles (all by subscribers to this email list) relating to the present attacks on Israel by the Obama administration. Israel’s ambassador to Washington Michael Oren has called it “the worst crisis between Israel and the U.S. since 1975 – a crisis of historic proportions.” (Personally I think this is an exaggeration, yet it may become so if Obama pushes Israel any further into a corner.)

Former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy has said he believes the onslaught of statements against Israel is due to Obama’s determination to rehabilitate what he sees as America’s tarnished image among Muslims.

(Michael Oren and Ephraim Halevy are also subscribers to this email list.)

Meanwhile, the lies broadcast today around the world by CNN International – that Jerusalem’s Hurva synagogue has been built on a mosque and so on – are incendiary and dangerous beyond belief.



In a lead editorial, The Washington Post also criticized Obama. The paper said:

“President Obama’s Middle East diplomacy failed in his first year in part because he chose to engage in an unnecessary and unwinnable public confrontation with Israel over Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem… So it has been startling – and a little puzzling – to see Mr. Obama deliberately plunge into another public brawl with the Jewish state.

“… The dispute’s dramatic escalation seems to have come at the direct impetus of Mr. Obama… Mr. Obama risks repeating his previous error. American chastising of Israel invariably prompts still harsher rhetoric, and elevated demands, from Palestinian and other Arab leaders…”

“Last year Israelis rallied behind Mr. Netanyahu, while Mr. Obama’s poll ratings in Israel plunged to the single digits. The president is perceived by many Israelis as making unprecedented demands on their government while overlooking the intransigence of Palestinian and Arab leaders. If this episode reinforces that image, Mr. Obama will accomplish the opposite of what he intends.”



The Obama administration’s attacks on Israel are even too much for the leftist editorial writers on the Israeli daily Ha’aretz:

“Attempts to imply that Israeli policy is endangering the lives of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and even Iraq, verge on an insult to the intelligence. Afghans don’t care about Ramat Shlomo, or about the Palestinians and Netanyahu. As far as extremist Islamists are concerned, the seven-year presence of American forces on Iraqi soil is a good enough excuse to attack Americans. Efforts by Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, to imply otherwise in television interviews are dishonest.

“Palestinians see the Obama administration’s decision to attack Israel as an invitation to adopt a more confrontational line. The PA has smelled blood. So why not start a riot [as they did today] and blame the Israelis, especially when the U.S. government is doing the same.”

The car of an Israeli motorist attacked by Palestinian rioters today



Several people have asked me where Ramat Shlomo is located. Contrary to statements by prominent Western media commentators and European governments who should know better, it is not a new community and no Arabs are being evicted. It is a thriving community of 20,000 Jews located to the north of downtown Jerusalem between two larger Jewish communities, Ramot and French Hill. Its growth would not interfere with the contiguity of Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. There is more new Arab housing than Jewish housing being built in Jerusalem, a point the international media almost never seems to make.



The Israeli foreign ministry this afternoon “condemned with disgust the latest anti-Semitic remarks by senior Hamas officials, aimed at inflaming emotions in the region, referring to Jews as animals and advocating the murder of Jews in Jerusalem and elsewhere.” (I wonder whether the Obama administration or European governments will condemn them too?)

There will be no further dispatches on this list until the week after next because of other work commitments.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



While I am told that there is considerable discontent in private among senior Democratic Party members of Congress at the way Israel is being pushed around by the Obama administration, so far few have spoken out strongly*. In contrast many Republicans and others are speaking out.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) both urged the administration to ease the tone of the dispute. “It’s time to lower voices, to get over the family feud between the U.S. and Israel. It just doesn’t serve anybody’s interests but our enemies,” Lieberman said.

Here are some other examples.

• Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Florida) the leading Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that the Obama government’s condemnations of “an indispensable ally and friend of the United States… undermine both our allies and the peace process, while encouraging the enemies of America and Israel alike.”


• Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) said: “It is hard to see how spending a weekend condemning Israel for a zoning decision in its capital city amounts to a positive step towards peace.”


• Congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana), said: “Since taking the oath of office, President Obama has repeatedly extended a hand of cooperation to our enemies while pushing aside the concerns and interests of our allies. This disturbing pattern has been displayed time and again in our dealings with Israel over the past year. The recent rhetoric by the Obama Administration threatens the stability of Israel at a time when it faces terrorist threats on its borders and the possibility of a nuclear Iran just over its border.

“The United States of America knows no greater friend in the Middle East than Israel. House Republicans will continue to stand by our most cherished ally, and we will hold the administration accountable for the words and actions it takes toward the people of Israel and their democratically elected government.”


• Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Virginia): “To say that I am deeply concerned with the irresponsible comments that the White House, Vice President, and the Secretary of State have made against Israel is an understatement. In an effort to ingratiate our country with the Arab world, this Administration has shown a troubling eagerness to undercut our allies and friends. Israel has always been committed to the peace process, including advocating for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, in effort to bring this conflict to an end. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Government continues to insist on indirect talks and slowing down the process.

“While it condemns Israel, the Administration continues to ignore a host of Palestinian provocations that undermine prospects for peace in the region. Where is the outrage when top Fatah officials call for riots on the Temple Mount? Why does the Palestinian Authority get a pass when it holds a ceremony glorifying the woman responsible for one of the deadliest terror attack in Israel’s history?

“Israel continues to be a world leader in the fight against terrorism and speak out against the prospects of a nuclear Iran. For this Administration to treat our special relationship with Israel, one of our closest and most strategic Democratic allies, in this fashion is beyond irresponsible and jeopardizes America’s national security”


(*) One Democratic congresswoman who has spoken out is Shelley Berkley (D-Nevada), who is a subscriber to this email list and who accused Obama administration officials of using “overwrought rhetoric” and employing “an irresponsible overreaction” to Israel.



Obama’s turn against Israel
The U.S. makes a diplomatic crisis out of a blunder.
Wall Street Journal editorial
March 15, 2010

In recent weeks, the Obama Administration has endorsed “healthy relations” between Iran and Syria, mildly rebuked Syrian President Bashar Assad for accusing the U.S. of “colonialism,” and publicly apologized to Moammar Gadhafi for treating him with less than appropriate deference after the Libyan called for “a jihad” against Switzerland.

When it comes to Israel, however, the Administration has no trouble rising to a high pitch of public indignation. On a visit to Israel last week, Vice President Joe Biden condemned an announcement by a mid-level Israeli official that the government had approved a planning stage – the fourth out of seven required – for the construction of 1,600 housing units in north Jerusalem. Assuming final approval, no ground will be broken on the project for at least three years.

But neither that nor repeated apologies from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – at what White House sources ostentatiously said was the personal direction of President Obama – from calling the announcement “an insult to the United States.” White House political chief David Axelrod got in his licks on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday, lambasting Israel for what he described as “an affront.”

Since nobody is defending the Israeli announcement, least of all an obviously embarrassed Israeli government, it’s difficult to see why the Administration has chosen this occasion to spark a full-blown diplomatic crisis with its most reliable Middle Eastern ally. Mr. Biden’s visit was intended to reassure Israelis that the Administration remained fully committed to Israeli security and legitimacy. In a speech at Tel Aviv University two days after the Israeli announcement, Mr. Biden publicly thanked Mr. Netanyahu for “putting in place a process to prevent the recurrence” of similar incidents.

The subsequent escalation by Mrs. Clinton was clearly intended as a highly public rebuke to the Israelis, but its political and strategic logic is puzzling. The U.S. needs Israel’s acquiescence in the Obama Administration’s increasingly drawn-out efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear bid through diplomacy or sanctions. But Israel’s restraint is measured in direct proportion to its sense that U.S. security guarantees are good. If Israel senses that the Administration is looking for any pretext to blow up relations, it will care much less how the U.S. might react to a military strike on Iran.

As for the West Bank settlements, it is increasingly difficult to argue that their existence is the key obstacle to a peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel withdrew all of its settlements from Gaza in 2005, only to see the Strip transform itself into a Hamas statelet and a base for continuous rocket fire against Israeli civilians.

Israeli anxieties about America’s role as an honest broker in any diplomacy won’t be assuaged by the Administration’s neuralgia over this particular housing project, which falls within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and can only be described as a “settlement” in the maximalist terms defined by the Palestinians. Any realistic peace deal will have to include a readjustment of the 1967 borders and an exchange of territory, a point formally recognized by the Bush Administration prior to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. If the Obama Administration opts to transform itself, as the Europeans have, into another set of lawyers for the Palestinians, it will find Israeli concessions increasingly hard to come by.

That may be the preferred outcome for Israel’s enemies, both in the Arab world and the West, since it allows them to paint Israel as the intransigent party standing in the way of “peace.” Why an Administration that repeatedly avers its friendship with Israel would want that is another question.

Then again, this episode does fit Mr. Obama’s foreign policy pattern to date: Our enemies get courted; our friends get the squeeze. It has happened to Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras and Colombia. Now it’s Israel’s turn.



The settlements aren’t the problem
The Palestinians’ beef with Israel isn’t territorial – it’s existential.
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
March 16, 2010

I once got an angry letter from Baruch Goldstein’s father. Goldstein, remember, was an Israeli settler who in 1994 entered the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and gunned down 29 Muslim worshippers. A decade later, I wrote a column for the Jerusalem Post in which I described Goldstein as personifying Israel’s lunatic extreme. The father insisted that his son deserved to be celebrated as a hero. Indeed, his grave site was transformed into a shrine until the Israeli army eventually tore it down.

It’s easy to dislike Israel’s settlements, and still easier to dislike many of the settlers. Whatever your view about the legality or justice of the enterprise, it takes a certain cast of mind to move your children to places where they are more likely to be in harm’s way. In the current issue of the American Interest, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer persuasively spells out the many ways in which the settlement movement has undermined Israel’s own rule of law, and hence its democracy. And as last week’s diplomatic eruption over the prospective construction of 1,600 housing units in municipal Jerusalem shows, the settlements are a constant irritant to the United States, one friend Israel can’t afford to lose.

So it would be a splendid thing for Israel to tear down its settlements, put the settlers behind its pre-1967 borders and finally reach the peace deal with the Palestinians that has been so elusive for so long.

Except for one problem: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t territorial. It’s existential. Israelis are now broadly prepared to live with a Palestinian state along their borders. Palestinians are not yet willing to live with a Jewish state along theirs.

That should help explain why it is that in the past decade, two Israeli prime ministers – Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2008 – have put forward comprehensive peace offers to the Palestinians, and have twice been rebuffed. In both cases, the offers included the division of Jerusalem; in the latter case, it also included international jurisdiction over Jerusalem’s holy places and concessions on the subject of Palestinian refugees. Current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also offered direct peace talks. The Palestinians have countered by withdrawing to “proximity talks” mediated by the U.S.

It also helps explain other aspects of Palestinian behavior. For Hamas, Tel Aviv is no less a “settlement” than the most makeshift Jewish outpost on the West Bank. The supposedly moderate Fatah party has joined that bandwagon, too: Last year, Mohammed Dahlan, one of Fatah’s key leaders, said the party was “not bound” by the 1993 Oslo Accords through which the PLO recognized Israel.

Then there is the test case of Gaza. When Israel withdrew all of its settlements from the Strip in 2005, it was supposed to be an opportunity for Palestinians to demonstrate what they would do with a state if they got one. Instead, they quickly turned it into an Iranian-backed Hamas enclave that for nearly three years launched nonstop rocket and mortar barrages against Israeli civilians. Israel was ultimately able to contain that violence, but only at the price of a military campaign that was vehemently denounced by the very people who had urged Israel to withdraw in the first place.

As it happens, I supported Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, bloody-minded neocon though I am. On balance, I still think it was the right thing to do. By 2005, Israel’s settlements in the Strip had become military and political liabilities. But there is a duty to take account of subsequent developments. And the sad fact is that the most important thing Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza accomplished was to expose the fanatical irredentism that still lies at the heart of the Palestinian movement.

The withdrawal exposed other things too. For years, Israel’s soi-disant friends, particularly in Europe, had piously insisted that they supported Israel’s right to self-defense against attacks on Israel proper. But none of them lifted a finger to object to the rocket attacks from Gaza, while they were outspoken in denouncing Israel’s “disproportionate” use of retaliatory force.

Similarly, Israel withdrew from Gaza with assurances from the Bush administration that the U.S. would not insist on a return to the 1967 borders in brokering any future deal with the Palestinians. But Hillary Clinton reneged on that commitment last year, and now the administration is going out of its way to provoke a diplomatic crisis with Israel over a construction project that – assuming it ever gets off the ground – is plainly in keeping with past U.S. undertakings.

In the past decade, Israelis have learned that neither Palestinians nor Europeans can be taken at their word. That’s a lesson they may soon begin to draw about the U.S. as well. Which is a pity for many reasons – not least because it gives the settler movement every excuse it needs to keep rolling right along.



Obama has crossed the line
By Isi Leibler
The Jerusalem Post
March 16, 2010

The bureaucratic fashla [blunder] of our dysfunctional government to forestall the announcement of a new housing project in Jerusalem during the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden provided a pretext for the Obama administration to launch one of the harshest condemnations ever leveled against us by a US government. But while the timing of the announcement was appalling, it involved no breach of undertaking.

In fact, the Obama administration had previously publicly praised the Israeli government for making a “major concession” by imposing a settlement freeze which explicitly excluded Jerusalem.

The campaign was personally orchestrated by President Barack Obama. His Vice President Biden accused us of “endangering US lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s abject apology, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused him of “insulting” the US. Obama’s chief political adviser David Axelrod even claimed that the Israeli government was deliberately undermining peace talks.

These hostile outbursts must be viewed in the context of the fact that despite strong ongoing support for Israel by the American people, the US-Israel relationship has been on a downward spiral since the election of the new administration. Former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy attributes this to Obama’s determination to rehabilitate Islam’s global tarnished image.

Yet his strategy of “engaging” Islamic rogue states has been disastrous. The effort to prevent the nuclearization of Iran by appeasing the Iranian tyrants backfired with the ayatollahs literally mocking the US. The response of Syrian President Bashar Assad to US groveling and the appointment of an ambassador to Damascus, was to host a summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hizbullah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah and ridicule the US demand that he curtail his relationship with Iran. President Obama did not consider this “insulting,” prompting the editor of the Lebanese The Daily Star to say that “the Obama administration these days provokes little confidence in its allies and even less fear in its adversaries.”

The Arab League refuses to modify its hard-line against Israel. It insists that Israel unconditionally accept the Saudi peace plan, a full retreat to the ‘67 borders and the implementation of the Arab right of return which would signal an end to Jewish sovereignty in the region.

THERE ARE now ominous signals that to obviate their failures, White House strategists are cynically distancing themselves from us in order to curry popularity by capitalizing on the anti-Israeli hatred which has engulfed the world.

Despite continuously incanting the mantra that it remains committed to the alliance with Israel, the White House is not behaving in an even-handed manner. Obama does not disguise his animosity and repeatedly humiliates our prime minister. The administration “condemns” us for building homes, not in densely Arab populated areas of Jerusalem but in Jewish suburbs like Gilo and most recently Ramat Shlomo which most of us regard as Israel no less than Tel Aviv.

Instead of condemning the brutal Palestinian murderer of an Israeli civilian in December, the US requested “clarification” after Israel apprehended the killers who the PA extolled as heroes. They failed to block a UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli police for protecting worshippers at the Temple Mount from Arabs hurling stones at them. They even condemned us for authorizing repairs on Jewish heritage sites over the Green Line.

In stark contrast, the US has not publicly reprimanded the PA on a single issue over the past twelve months. It is unconscionable that neither the White House nor the State Department conveyed a word of protest concerning the ongoing incitement and spate of ceremonies sanctifying the memory of the most degenerate suicide killers and mass murderers. Not even when our peace partners President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad personally partook in these ghoulish ceremonies. In fact, during Biden’s visit, the PA announced that they would postpone a ceremony to name a public square in Ramallah to honor Dalal Mughrabi, the female monster responsible for the abominable 1978 massacre in which 37 Israelis including 13 children were butchered. Nevertheless the ceremony took place and the PA TV interviewed Mughrabi’s sister who stated: “This is a day of glory and pride for the Palestinian people. We must unite, and our rifles must unite, against the enemy who steals our land.” The US failed to register a protest.

NETANYAHU HAS extended more concessions than any other Israeli leader. His government immediately agreed to negotiations with the Palestinians. In contrast, Abbas told The Washington Post that being confident that the US would ensure that the Palestinians obtained whatever they sought, he saw no benefit in negotiating with the Israelis. This scenario is now being realized.

Netanyahu also overcame Likud resistance to a two-state solution and acceded to a temporary settlement freeze which no previous Israeli government was willing to consider. He authorized the release of prisoners and reduced checkpoints, even compromising the security of Israeli civilians.

Yet, far from acting as an honest broker, the US effectively endorsed most of the Palestinian positions and is poised to pressure Israel into making further unilateral concessions.

In a recent chilling document, reiterated by Biden in the course of his condemnation of construction in Jerusalem, the US assured the PA that the principal objective of the “indirect” negotiations was not peace, but the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and that parties who adopted negative positions would be dealt with “in order to overcome that obstacle.”

Our relations with the US will now be further tested.

Obama is surely aware that recent statements by his administration will only embolden the Palestinians and Jihadists to be more extreme in their demands, making it inevitable that the talks will almost certainly fail. Some may infer that this is precisely his intention. We will then be blamed for the breakdown and the US, with the backing of the Quartet and others, will then seek to impose a solution upon us.

There are certain red lines which no government of Israel may cross. Netanyahu, on this occasion, must stand firm. The current crisis transcends political or ideological differences between Likud, Labor and Kadima. All mainstream parties should unite and convey to President Obama that Israel is a sovereign state and will not automatically bow to diktats of the US administration. They need to make the US administration and public understand that no government of Israel will agree to freeze construction in Jerusalem, the heart and soul of the Jewish people.

We may not be a superpower but the Obama administration will hesitate to pursue a path which rejects the consensus of the nation. A demonstration of unity against the unprecedented attacks on Israel’s sovereignty by the Obama administration will also encourage the American people and Congress to publicly support and assist us to reaffirm the traditional alliance and bonds of friendship between our two nations.

It will hopefully also encourage the Obama administration to relate to us with at least the same level of courtesy and respect it extends to rogue states.



America’s shiny new Palestinian militia
By Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
March 16, 2010

“The stupidest program the U.S. government has ever undertaken” – last year that’s what I called American efforts to improve the Palestinian Authority (PA) military force. Slightly hyperbolic, yes, but the description fits because those efforts enhance the fighting power of enemies of the United States and its Israeli ally.

First, a primer about the program, drawing on a recent Center of Near East Policy Research study by David Bedein and Arlene Kushner:

Shortly after Yasir Arafat died in late 2004, the U.S. government established the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator to reform, recruit, train, and equip the PA militia (called the National Security Forces or Quwwat al-Amn al-Watani) and make them politically accountable. For nearly all of its existence, the office has been headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton. Since 2007, American taxpayers have funded it to the tune of US$100 million a year. Many agencies of the U.S. government have been involved in the program, including the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Secret Service, and branches of the military.

The PA militia has in total about 30,000 troops, of which four battalions comprising 2,100 troops have passed scrutiny for lack of criminal or terrorist ties and undergone 1,400 hours of training at an American facility in Jordan. There they study subjects ranging from small-unit tactics and crime-scene investigations to first aid and human rights law.

With Israeli permission, these troops have deployed in areas of Hebron, Jenin, and Nablus. So far, this experiment has gone well, prompting widespread praise. Senator John Kerry (Democrat of Massachusetts) calls the program “extremely encouraging” and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times discerns in the U.S.-trained troops a possible “Palestinian peace partner for Israel” taking shape.

Looking ahead, however, I predict that those troops will more likely be a war partner than a peace partner for Israel. Consider the troops’ likely role in several scenarios:

No Palestinian state: Dayton proudly calls the U.S.-trained forces “founders of a Palestinian state,” a polity he expects to come into existence by 2011. What if – as has happened often before – the Palestinian state does not emerge on schedule? Dayton himself warns of “big risks,” presumably meaning that his freshly-minted troops would start directing their firepower against Israel.

Palestinian state: The PA has never wavered in its goal of eliminating Israel, as the briefest glance at documentation collected by Palestinian Media Watch makes evident. Should the PA achieve statehood, it will certainly pursue its historic goal – only now equipped with a shiny new American-trained soldiery and arsenal.

The PA defeats Hamas: For the same reason, in the unlikely event that the PA prevails over Hamas, its Gaza-based Islamist rival, it will by incorporate Hamas troops into its own militia and then order the combined troops to attack Israel. The rival organizations may differ in outlook, methods, and personnel, but they share the overarching goal of eliminating Israel.

Hamas defeats the PA: Should the PA succumb to Hamas, will absorb at least some of “Dayton’s men” into its own militia and deploy them in the effort to eliminate the Jewish state.

Hamas and PA cooperate: Even as Dayton imagines he is preparing a militia to fight Hamas, the PA leadership participates in Egyptian-sponsored talks with Hamas about power sharing – raising the specter that the U.S. trained forces and Hamas will coordinate attacks on Israel.

The law of unintended consequences provides one temporary consolation: As Washington sponsors the PA forces and Tehran sponsors those of Hamas, Palestinian forces are more ideologically riven, perhaps weakening their overall ability to damage Israel.

Admittedly, Dayton’s men are behaving themselves at present. But whatever the future brings – state, no state, Hamas defeats the PA, the PA defeats Hamas, or the two cooperate – these militiamen will eventually turn their guns against Israel. When that happens, Dayton and the geniuses idealistically building the forces of Israel’s enemy will likely shrug and say, “No one could have foreseen this outcome.”

Not so: Some of us foresee it and are warning against it. More deeply, some of us understand that the 1993 Oslo process did not end the Palestinian leadership’s drive to eliminate Israel.

The Dayton mission needs to be stopped before it does more harm. Congress should immediately cut all funding for the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator.

Palestinian Authority honors top terrorist the moment Biden leaves the West Bank

March 14, 2010

* “We are all Dalal Mughrabi,” declares PA Central Committee member
* Dalal Mughrabi killed 38 Israeli civilians including 13 young children
* Obama White House, Clinton State Department, silent

* A few liberal journalists finally write about the Palestinian economic upswing

* As Netanyahu government continues to destroy Jewish settlement foundations, as it did last week, the international media simply refuse to report it

* One of America’s largest liberal organizations, says it is “shocked and stunned” by the severity of the Obama administration’s criticism of Israel: “We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States”

* LA Times: “Clinton’s harsh words stun Israel, as she calls Israeli policy an insult to the U.S.”
* Wall St. Journal: “Hillary Clinton levies a blistering rebuke of Israel”


There is also another dispatch this weekend which can be read here:
MSNBC’s Matthews and NYT’s Bronner’s racist slur against Israelis



1. Palestinian Authority honors terrorist the moment Joe Biden leaves the West Bank
2. Obama administration, EU helping to fund the glorification of terrorists
3. The Israeli victims, aged 2, 3, 5, 6 and up
4. Main liberal American Jewish organization says it’s “stunned” by Obama’s attacks on Israel
5. “A blistering rebuke of Israel”

6. Israel continues to destroy Jewish settlement foundations – unreported by media
7. Anti-Israel activist attacks Jewish girl on campus
8. Egypt stepping up pressure on Hamas
9. Palestinian economy showing good growth, says Fayad
10. A few liberal journalists finally take note of the Palestinian economic upswing

11. Annual export of Israeli-grown apples into Syria begins
12. David Kimche, a “founding father” of the Mossad, dies at 82
13. The rights and wrongs of Armenian genocide resolutions
14. Murdoch moves Middle East base to Abu Dhabi

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Dozens of Palestinian students from the youth division of Fatah, the party led by “moderate” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, gathered in Ramallah in the West Bank on Thursday to rename the main public square in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, the woman who in 1978 helped carry out the deadliest single terrorist attack in Israel’s history.

Mughrabi was the leader of a Fatah PLO terror squad armed with a stash of Kalashnikov rifles, RPG light mortars and high explosives, that sailed from Lebanon and landed on a beach between Haifa and Tel Aviv. They first killed a renowned American photojournalist (who was incidentally the niece of U.S. Democratic party Senator Abraham Ribicoff) who was taking nature photos, then hijacked a bus and commandeered another, embarking on a bloody rampage that left 38 Israeli civilians dead, 13 of them children.

Fatah representatives at the ceremony on Thursday described Mughrabi as “a courageous fighter who held a proud place in Palestinian history.”


“We are all Dalal Mughrabi,” declared Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee.

An official PA ceremony was postponed due to the visit to the region by Vice President Joe Biden. The square, planted with greenery and flowers, is outside the Palestinian Authority’s National Political Guidance headquarters. Political guidance chief Gen. Adnan Damiri said a statue of Mughrabi would be erected in the square.

The independent watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch said Fatah had already named two girls’ high schools, a computer center, a soccer championship and two summer camps for Mughrabi in the last two years.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had previously said, “Whoever sponsors and supports naming a square in Ramallah after a terrorist who murdered dozens of Israelis on the coastal road encourages terrorism. Stop the incitement. This is not how peace is made.”


In fairness to The New York Times, which I often criticize, it should be noted that it was one of the few papers in the world to report this story (on Page 9 of the New York edition); it was ignored by almost every European newspaper I checked. The Times reporter in this case was Isabel Kershner, the number two in their Jerusalem bureau, who exemplifies fair and balanced coverage of both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, unlike the Times’ bureau chief, Ethan Bronner.

The White House and Hillary Clinton’s State Department, which issued statements almost every day last week lambasting Israel, have yet to voice any criticism of this latest inflammatory gesture by the Palestinian government which clearly discourages its population from wanting peace. Indeed, while rebuking Israel week after week has become one of the Obama administration’s most consistent foreign policies, I cannot recall a single occasion when it has criticized the Palestinian Authority for anything.



Palestinian Authority Television (funded indirectly by west European governments and the Obama administration) also interviewed the terrorist’s sister, Rashida Mughrabi, on the anniversary of the attack. She called the attack a moment of “great pride” for all her family and urged Palestinian TV viewers to carry out more such attacks.

On Thursday, the host of Palestinian Authority TV also lavishly praised the 1978 attack which he called “a glorious chapter in the history of the Palestinian people.”

He told assembled children gathered in the studio audience that “the Shahida (Martyr) Dalal Mughrabi prepared to meet God by carrying out a self-sacrifice. She is a symbol and model of resistance, sacrifice, and Martyrdom-seeking.”



The Palestinian Authority deliberately chose the 32nd anniversary of the coastal massacre (March 11) to celebrate its chief perpetrator.

Time Magazine (March 20, 1978) reported then: “Slipping ashore from the Mediterranean on the afternoon of the Sabbath, the terrorists hijacked two buses filled with tourists and sightseers, took them on a wild ride down the road toward Tel Aviv, shooting along the way at everyone in sight, and finally destroyed one bus in an orgy of fire and death.”

Today many in the media would probably call it an “act of resistance” rather than “an orgy of fire and death”.

Since, as far as I can see, not a single newspaper, including even those few that mentioned the Palestinian Authority decision to honor the chief murderer on Thursday, named any of the victims, here is a list of all but 7 of them (whose names I couldn’t find):

Galit Ankwa (aged 2)
Yitzhak (Yitzik) Ankwa (10)
Haviv Ankwa (38)
Naama Hadani (5)
Ilan Hohman (3)
Roi Hohman (6)
Rebecca Hohman (28)
Mordechai (Moti) Zit (9)
Revital (Tali) Aharonovitch (14)
Naomi Elichai (18)
Erez Alfred (5)
Yitzhak Alfred (44)
Mathilda (Mathy) Askenazy-Daniel (68)
Yehuda Basterman (32)
Rina Bushkenitch (34)
Dov Bushkenitch (36)
Liat Gal-On (6)
Shim’aon Glotman (43)
Amnon Drori (43)
Josef Kheloani (66)
Malka Leibovitch-Wiess (58)
Tzyona Lozia-Cohen (32)
Abraham Lozia (37)
Otari Mansurov (37)
Yoav (Yoavi) Meshkel (6)
Tuvia Rozner (53)
Gail Rubin (40)
Meir Segal (73)
Katy (Rina) Sosensky (49)
Joseph Sosensky (56)
Zvi (Zvika) Eshet (46)
Omry Tel-Oren (14)



The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of America’s largest liberal organizations, with close ties to the Democratic Party, has said it is “shocked and stunned by the Obama Administration’s public dressing down of Israel.”

In a statement released Friday afternoon, it said: “We are shocked and stunned at the Administration’s tone and public dressing down of Israel on the issue of future building in Jerusalem. We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States. One can only wonder how far the U.S. is prepared to go in distancing itself from Israel in order to placate the Palestinians in the hope they see it is in their interest to return to the negotiating table.

“It is especially troubling that this harsh statement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly and privately explained to Vice President Biden the bureaucratic nature in making the announcement of proposed new building in Jerusalem, and Biden accepted the prime minister’s apology for it. Therefore, to raise the issue again in this way is a gross overreaction to a point of policy difference among friends.”

Tom Gross adds: On Friday, the U.S. State Department under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, used stronger language in public against Israel than it has done against many human rights abusing-governments the world over during the past year. Who cares, for example, that 50,000 Muslim Burmese refugees are on the verge of starvation in Bangladesh, when you can bash Israel day after day, as the Obama administration did last week?



From among the newspaper headlines:

The Los Angeles Times: Hillary Rodham Clinton’s harsh words stun Israel

A spat over the Ramat Shlomo housing project in east Jerusalem becomes a bigger clash as the secretary of State calls it “an insult to the United States.”


The Wall Street Journal: Clinton Blasts Israel For Imperiling Talks

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton levied a blistering rebuke of Israel, telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the two countries’ historic alliance could be adversely affected if his government doesn’t more aggressively embrace the Middle East peace process.


Reuters: Insulted by Israel, U.S. scrambles to save talks

Israel’s relationship with the United States, a defining feature of the troubled Middle East, was under severe strain as diplomats scrambled on Saturday to save newborn U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.


The Washington Post: U.S. warns Israel on “negative signal”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel yesterday that Israel had sent a “deeply negative signal” about the U.S.-Israeli relationship and urged him to take immediate steps to demonstrate that it was interested in renewing efforts at a Middle East peace agreement.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley described the nearly 45-minute phone conversation in unusually undiplomatic terms, signaling that the close allies are facing their deepest crisis in two decades… Officials noted the length of the call -- such diplomatic conversations usually last about 10 minutes -- and said Clinton did most of the talking.

… Relations with Israel have been strained almost since the start of the Obama administration. Now they have plunged to their lowest ebb since the administration of George H.W. Bush… In her call, Clinton appeared to link U.S. military support for Israel to the construction in Jerusalem.

…. Clinton’s call risked emboldening Arab and Palestinian officials to make new demands before talks start, if only so as not to seem softer than the Americans… Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was summoned to a meeting at the State Department..

[The above text is from The Washington Post.]



Tom Gross continues: The item below is from the JTA, a left-of-center American Jewish media outlet. All the Western journalists based in Israel know that the Netanyahu government has clamped down on Jewish settlement building more than any other government in Israeli history, while at the same time allowing massive expansion of Arab towns and neighborhoods both in the West Bank and inside Israel. But almost none of them report it, nor does the Obama administration mention it.

March 11, 2010
Israel destroys West Bank building foundations

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Civil Administration, accompanied by Israeli troops, destroyed six new building foundations in Jerusalem’s Etzion bloc.

Five of the foundations destroyed Wednesday night in the Bat Ayin community were for private homes and one was for a synagogue, according to reports.

Earlier Wednesday, the Civil Authority demolished a building foundation in the settlement of Yakir. Residents protested during the demolition.



The University of California at Berkeley was again the site of a clash involving pro-Israel and anti-Israel activists last Friday when Husam Zakharia, leader of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), assaulted Jessica Felber who was standing quietly with a sign that read “Israel Wants Peace” outside an “Israel Apartheid Week” event. Zakharia grabbed a shopping cart filled with goods donated to Hamas-controlled Gaza and rammed it into her from behind. The District Attorney is expected to file charges against Zakharia.

Felber said that Friday’s incident was not the first time Zakharia had used violence against pro-Israel advocates. According to her, physical intimidation has frequently been employed as a tool by SJP to silence students opposing their anti-Israel activities on campus. “SJP students have been terrorizing us for three years with intimidation, accusations and threats. This incident is simply the last straw and we are not going to tolerate it anymore.”



Cairo has severely toughened its stance against Hamas, refusing to allow exit permits for Hamas leaders to leave Gaza, and blocking the entry of Arab and Muslim delegations into Gaza.

It is also demanding that Hamas unconditionally sign a reconciliation agreement with Fatah prepared by the Egyptians.

The moves come amid tensions resulting from Egypt’s construction of a land and sea wall between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, and the killing of an Egyptian policeman by Palestinian snipers shooting across the border. Egyptian artists and actors have organized a protest against Hamas’ conduct while demanding that the officer’s killers be handed over. (Meanwhile many European artists and actors have issued statements in de facto support of Hamas rule in Gaza, much as their predecessors used to issue de facto pro-Soviet statements during the Cold War – an appalling practice for which most have never apologized; until now certain Western writers and artists are detested in eastern Europe and Russia as a result.)

Some Hamas leaders in Gaza, where Hamas is widely reviled by much of the populace, are said to be ready to compromise and take a more pragmatic stance, but the Hamas leadership in Damascus, which is increasingly acting under the direct orders of the Syrian regime, are trying to force them to further toughen their stance.



Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad said last week that economic revenues in the West Bank have hit a ten-year high. At a press conference on Monday, he told reporters (not that all those anti-Israeli media in the West bothered to report it) that he expects his financial reforms to spur a Palestinian economic growth rate of at least 7 percent this year, matching the significant growth last year. He estimated the loss of revenue to the Palestinian Authority because of Hamas’s control of the Gaza Strip to be about $500 million.



I have noted several times over the last 18 months that all the doom and gloom stories in certain Western media about Palestinian economic hardship have given Western publics a highly distorted view of reality on the ground in both the West Bank and Gaza. I know this from speaking on a daily basis with a wide range of Palestinians, and from my many trips into the West Bank in 2009, visiting towns like Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. I related some of these experiences in a series of pieces, for example here in this article for The Wall Street Journal: Building peace without Obama’s interference.

Now, finally, some among the anti-Israeli journalistic Left are begrudgingly beginning to admit that the Palestinian economic growth, which the Olmert and Netanyahu governments in Israel have done much to aid and encourage, is real.

For example, the sometimes aggressively anti-Israeli journalist Joe Klein writes this week of his recent trip to the West Bank, in a piece for Time magazine titled “West Bank Renewal”. He says: “Sometimes the prosaic can be breathtaking. I am standing in the new showroom of a company that manufactures plumbing supplies in Hebron… Royal now has 360 employees, new product lines – fireplaces, welcome mats – and a new wing, complete with an assembly hall. It has an on-site mosque and a cafeteria. The Izgayer brothers’ story is at the heart of the new optimism and old frustrations that mark the West Bank territory of Palestine.”

And Bernard Avishai, another harsh critic of Israel, writes a piece in Foreign Policy magazine titled “The real hope of economic peace”. He says: “Everybody knows the core issues between Israelis and Palestinians, except for the one that will matter the most and can be acted on immediately, before any comprehensive deal; the one where Israel’s concessions will not compromise its security but enhance it. I am speaking of Palestine’s economy, specifically, its private sector, the driver of civil society and spine of any future state.”


Of course, media in countries where hatred of Israel is rife, like the media in Britain, still have a long way to go before they stop their daily diatribe of phony stories about a “Palestinian humanitarian crisis”.



The annual export of Israeli-grown apples into Syria has begun in the Golan Heights. It will last for several weeks. The event is significant because Israel and Syria are officially at war and have no diplomatic or economic ties.

Syria agreed to accept only those apples grown by Israel’s Druze community, not those grown by Jews.

Over 30 trucks, carrying approximately 10,000 tons of apples are expected to cross into Syria every day over the course of the next few weeks. 2010 marks the fifth consecutive year in which Israeli-grown apples are transferred into Syria.

Representatives of the Red Cross and UN are coordinating the crossing under the supervision of the Israeli army.

(I have written about this annual apple export in dispatches in past years, but think it is worth drawing attention to it again.)



Former top Mossad operative David Kimche died earlier this week at the age of 82.

Born in London in 1928, Kimche moved to Israel in 1946. In the early 1950s, he joined the newly formed Mossad spy agency, and was in essence one of its founding fathers, and among those who fashioned its doctrines and modus operandi.

Yossi Melman, a subscriber to this list familiar with intelligence matters, notes that Kimche (who was also a subscriber to this list) was involved in almost every aspect of the Mossad over the course of his service, eventually reaching the position of deputy head of the organization.

“Kimche was a classic intelligence man, similar in style to the characters described by the British author John le Carre in his spy novels,” noted Melman. “He was a man of soft words, who was known for his elegant English accent and courteousness. These qualities would sometimes deceive people, as he could be very cunning, determined, and even cruel.”

At one point Kimche was responsible for recruiting and operating agents which were sent to Arab countries. He also helped forge ties between Israel and countries in Africa and was one of the founders of the Mossad’s research department. He was Israel’s point man in the Iran-contra affair, in the 1980s.

In his last years, Kimche, by then a Jerusalem Post columnist, became a radical leftist, urging Israel to recognize Hamas, among other things.

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

* Israel Harel, “The man who made the Mossad” (Feb. 19, 2003)
* BBC set to name woman agent who killed Olympics massacre mastermind (Jan. 24, 2006)



American commentator Max Boot (who is a subscriber to this email list) writes:

The Turks are wrong – and worse, stupid – to keep denying that a genocide was perpetrated against the Armenians in 1915. There is little doubt that mass killings occurred; to claim that it was not “genocide” is quibbling over terminology. I fail to see what Turkey would lose if it were to admit that genocide occurred. It’s not as if the current Turkish government or its immediate predecessors were responsible. The violence occurred during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. It would be easy enough for Turkish leaders to say, “We’re very sorry that these horrible acts were perpetrated by our countrymen under a previous regime that we repudiate and condemn.” They would thereby get considerable credit in world opinion. What’s the downside? At worst they might have to pay some reparations – but that’s something that prosperous modern Turkey could afford to do.

That said, Washington lawmakers are equally wrong – and worse, stupid – in trying to pass resolutions commemorating the Armenian genocide. That’s something the House Foreign Affairs Committee just did, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador from Washington. What good does such a resolution do? It does nothing to deliver justice for the victims, annoys a key NATO ally, and also does nothing to help the state of Armenia, which would benefit from better relations with its large neighbor, Turkey. Lawmakers find it easy to go along with what they view as essentially a meaningless gesture to wealthy Armenian campaign contributors; but, in the process, they create major headaches for policy makers.

That’s something that Obama, Biden, and Clinton are discovering for themselves. After having supported Armenian genocide resolutions while in Congress, they are now lobbying their former colleagues not to pass a resolution that will make it harder to work with Turkey on pressing issues such as Iranian sanctions. Doesn’t Congress have anything better to do with its time?



Fox News will follow its rival CNN International network, and move its Middle East base to the Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi.

News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch announced last week that Abu Dhabi is to become the headquarters of his global media empire in the Middle East. That empire includes Fox News and a slew of other TV stations and print media. Murdoch said he would also move a number of satellite television channels to the capital of the United Arab Emirates from Hong Kong.

Addressing 400 delegates at the opening of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, Murdoch noted that his corporation had started out as a small Australian firm and become a U.S.-based international company that employs 64,000 people.

“When we look to the future, News Corporation is betting on the creative potential of the more than 335 million people who make up the Arab world,” he said.

During his speech, Murdoch took the opportunity to urge leaders in the Arab world to encourage greater press freedom and tolerate critical coverage.

MSNBC’s Matthews and NYT’s Bronner’s racist slur against Israelis

March 12, 2010

* MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and The New York Times’s Ethan Bronner suggest Israelis hate Obama because he is black

* Ahmadinejad calls Israelis “the most criminal people in the world”

* “In Tunisia, a member of the Arab League, there is a ban on microphones at mosques due to the fear of Islamic extremism. But Israel, ‘the apartheid state,’ rightly allows imams to call the faithful”

* Can you imagine the reaction of the media and of Amnesty and HRW if Israel had detained a journalist for even four days in solitary confinement on trumped-up charges?

* Award-winning British columnist who says Israel reminds him of “shit” strikes again

* Rockets fired from Gaza into Israel yesterday. Western media don’t bother to report it. No condemnation by Obama administration, European Union (both of which issued condemnations of Israel yesterday and the day before)


There is also another dispatch this weekend which can be read here:
Palestinian Authority honors top terrorist the moment Biden leaves the West Bank



1. British journalist freed by Hamas
2. More on fake British passports
3. Number of recruits wanting to join IDF combat units at record high
4. Where to begin?
5. Ahmadinejad calls Israelis “the most criminal people in the world”
6. “So much for love bombs”
7. Matthews and Bronner play the race card
8. Israeli UAVs, world leaders
9. One more comment on “Israel Apartheid Week”
10. Israel taken aback as European Parliament endorses Goldstone Report

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


[This item of mine first appeared on NRO, in the U.S., and The National Post, in Canada.]

British journalist Paul Martin was released into freedom in Israel yesterday after being held captive by Hamas in Gaza for the last four weeks. Martin, who is a subscriber to this email list, had spent most of that time in solitary confinement and was denied regular access to a lawyer and other basic human rights.

His wife said she was “extremely relieved that Paul has been released.”

His daughters, Laura and Suzy, added: “Our dad is a brave and dedicated journalist, whose passion is to give an objective and informed picture of events in conflict zones around the world. We are thrilled to know that he is safe and he is coming home soon.”

It is not known whether the British government paid any money to Hamas to secure Martin’s release. There are widespread rumors in the Middle East that the British and other European governments paid considerable cash sums in the past to free European nationals held by Palestinian forces in Gaza.


What is amazing is the incredible lack of coverage of Paul Martin’s case in the media (including outlets where he had worked, such as the BBC and The Times of London) and the lack of concern from human rights groups. Can you imagine the reaction of the media and of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch if Israel had detained a journalist for even four days in solitary confinement on trumped-up charges?

One of Hamas’ aims in detaining Martin was, of course, to further deter any brave foreign journalist on assignment in Gaza who might dare report the truth about the Hamas regime.

Indeed according to the Palestinian Maan news agency (but not reported by most Western media) Hamas detained Martin because he “sought to distort the image of Palestinians by going to tunnels, trying to prove that Hamas smuggles weapons, that we used children as human shields during the war.” In other words Martin wanted to tell the truth.


For background on the case, and for comparisons to the very different way that the BBC and other liberal media covered the captivity of another British reporter in Gaza: Alan Johnson – a reporter who unlike Martin was blatantly pro-Palestinian, please see the third item here and the second item here and here.

Above: Paul Martin was detained by Hamas’ security forces, here pictured during training.

[Update: The NRO version of this item is already being linked to in several places. For example, here on Melanie Phillips’ Spectator magazine blog in the UK.



This letter was sent to The Times of London:

The Editor, The Times


It is fascinating that the issue of the availability of fake British passports should have become such a key issue in your newspaper.

When cupboards full of fake British and other countries’ passports were discovered during the raid on the Finsbury Park mosque, scarcely a mention was made and there was little concern.

Why the change now?

Adrian Korsner
London, N20



According to data publicized on Wednesday, 76% of the March 2010 recruits to the IDF have asked to be deployed in combat units, the highest percentage in the history of the IDF. This is up 3 % from last year, which was then a record.

These figures directly contradict the absolute untruths written by some Western journalists claiming there has been a drop in the desire by young Israelis to serve in combat units.



So much of what passes for news about Israel in major media such as the BBC is simply wrong. During the past week there has been considerable coverage concerning an announcement by the Israeli interior ministry of plans to build more housing in a severely overcrowded ultra-orthodox Jewish district to the north of downtown Jerusalem.

There has been so much inaccuracy surrounding housing and building in Jerusalem in much of the mainstream media these past few days – usually involving ill-informed journalists simply copying statements from one another – that it would take an entire dispatch (or two) to try and correct it. Unfortunately many policy makers and senior politicians in Western governments actually believe what they read in the media.



Foremost among the ill-informed, ignorant drivel that passes for comment about Israel was the piece yesterday by the award-winning columnist for The Independent, Johann Hari. Scarcely has so much dangerous and hateful misinformation appeared in a single piece in a supposedly respectable newspaper. I won’t repeat it here because it is so filled with repugnant assertions about Hitler and Gazan children and the like, that it is too upsetting to repeat.

I have previously written about Hari and his disgusting columns (for which fellow British journalists have given him an award) in items 4 and 5 here:
Journalist of the year calls Israel “shit,” as Israel marks Holocaust Memorial Day

I noted then that Hari, the leading political columnist for the British daily The Independent, and winner of the highly prestigious Orwell Prize for political writing, wrote “Whenever I try to mouth these words [about Israel], a remembered smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of shit.”

In another piece, Hari referred to the Virgin Mary (who was, of course, Jewish) as a “Palestinian refugee in Bethlehem”.

In 2007, Hari was named “Newspaper Journalist of the Year” by Amnesty International. He has also been invited to write for The New York Times and Le Monde.

In 2002, I wrote that top columnists for The Independent often like to say Israel was “shitty”. In one article, Independent columnist Deborah Orr described Israel as “shitty” no fewer than four times. (Please see here for more.)



Meanwhile the Western media continue to fail to report adequately on the hate towards Israel and the incitement of their own populations by various Middle East governments against Israel (and in the case of the Palestinian Authority the incitement to actually kill Israelis, as we witnessed again yesterday in Ramallah).

Also yesterday, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched yet another diatribe against Israel and called Israelis “the most criminal people in the world” in a speech to a crowd of thousands of supporters in Hormozgan province, in southern Iran.

He added that the Jewish state would “soon be annihilated, with God’s grace.” Ahmadinejad has on several occasions said he believed it is Allah’s will that Israel be destroyed. Iran is rushing at full speed ahead in its race to acquire nuclear weapons, while the U.S. government fumbles, and the Russian and Chinese governments look on in glee.



Jackson Diehl writes in The Washington Post:

“Over the years U.S. envoys from Baker to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have learned that the trick is to sidestep such broadsides, expressing disapproval without allowing the toxic settlement issue to take center stage and derail peace negotiations. After all, most Israeli settlement announcements, including this one, are pure symbolism: No ground will be broken anytime soon, and even if the homes are eventually constructed they won’t stand in the way of a Palestinian state.

“By that measure, Biden flunked. Interrupted in the middle of what was supposed to be a day of love-bombing Israelis with speeches and other demonstrations of U.S. support, he kept Netanyahu and his wife waiting for 90 minutes into a scheduled dinner before issuing a statement that harshly criticized the interior ministry’s announcement. Biden chose to use a word – “condemn” – that is very rarely employed in U.S. statements about Israel, even though he and his staff knew that Netanyahu himself had been blindsided by the settlement announcement. So much for love bombs.”


Daniel Pipes writes on National Review Online:

“What Israel needs is not hectoring about its residential housing policies but an American ally that encourages it to win its war against the irredentist Palestinians of both Fatah and Hamas.”


Tom Gross adds: I attended Biden’s speech at Tel Aviv University on Thursday and Biden’s performance was smoother and more polished than I have seen in past performances of his. He barely put a foot wrong, including in the unscripted question-and-answer session conducted with Tel Aviv university students.

Of course, as a senator, he voted against sanctions against Iran, said he didn’t see anything necessarily wrong with Iranian nuclear ambitions and reportedly suggested that George W. Bush should be impeached if he sent Americans to bomb the Iranian nuclear plants. So despite his suave performance in reassuring his audience of the “unshakable bond” between the United States and Israel, it is unclear just how much of a friend he really is.



In another disgusting bout of anti-Israeli racism, MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews and his guest, The New York Times’ Ethan Bronner, have suggested that Barack Obama’s low popularity in Israel is connected to the fact he is black.

Bronner is the Jerusalem Bureau Chief and former deputy op-ed page editor of The New York Times. He was asked by Matthews why Obama is less popular in Israel than Bill Clinton was.

Instead of outlining examples of the extraordinary anti-Israeli pressure and sentiment that the Obama administration displayed in its first year in office, Bronner said (live on air) “I think there’s some degree of racism to be perfectly honest” and Matthews replied “Yeah, because they see him as a black man.”

If Bronner or Matthews had any integrity, they would have relayed the polling data, in which Israelis clearly state that the reasons they are not fans of Obama is because of the relentless one-sided pressure he has put on Israel since assuming office, because of his failure to resolutely support the pro-democracy demonstrators in Iran, and because of all the arms the American government is supplying to Arab countries.

Instead of actually trying to understand the situation in the Middle East, these two leading lights of MSNBC and The New York Times merely play the race card – a vile insult to both African-Americans and Israelis Jews.

(Of course don’t expect much reporting from MSNBC and The New York Times on the commonplace racism against African-Americans in general, and Condoleezza Rice in particular, displayed in Arab news outlets over recent years.)



Poland will become the sixth country to fly Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Afghanistan, after the Polish Defense Ministry signed a $30m contract with Aeronautics (a company based in the Israeli town of Yavneh) to purchase eight Aerostar drones and support for use in Afghanistan.

Five NATO countries, Germany, Spain, France, Canada and Australia, already operate Israeli UAVs, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries.

Israel is at the forefront of a technological innovation in a range of areas, from life-saving medical technologies to cellphone operating systems.



This is a follow up my previous dispatch (Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn’t one of them (& Another hit job by the FT)).

The center-right Israeli paper Yisrael Hayom accuses the organizers of “Israel Apartheid Week” (which ends today) of ignoring not only genuine apartheid in Iran, Sudan and Syria but the fact that Israel has never adopted laws remotely similar to the 1950’s apartheid legislation in South Africa. The paper’s editorial writer notes that he heard the call of the muzzein as he ate at a restaurant last Saturday in Jaffa and says: “In Tunisia, a member of the Arab League, there is a ban on microphones at mosques due to the fear of Islamic extremism. But Israel, ‘the apartheid state’, rightly allows imams to call the faithful.”



The much-discredited Goldstone report, which was a creation of the UN, has been referred from one UN body to another these past months. So what on earth was the European Parliament doing when it decided this week to vote on the Goldstone Report (they don’t vote on other matters of no relevance to them), let alone passing it (by a vote of 335-287)?

In an official statement, Israel expressed great regret at the decision of the European Parliament, which it says was unhelpful to the peace process and “not commensurate with the principles of law and justice.”

“Israel will continue to protect its citizens and soldiers,” the Israeli foreign ministry added in a statement.


Drawing upon several of the points, phrases and statistics provided in past dispatches on this email list, the American Jewish Committee, whose senior staff subscribe to this list, have produced this short new video rebutting the Goldstone report:

Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn’t one of them (& Another hit job by the FT)

March 06, 2010

* “Hardly a day goes by that The Financial Times doesn’t do a hit job on Israel”
* “The use of the word has become commonplace – Google ‘Israel and apartheid’ and you will see that the two are linked in cyberspace, as love and marriage are”
* “The Israel of today and the South Africa of yesterday have almost nothing in common. In South Africa, nonwhites were denied civil rights, and in 1958, were even deprived of citizenship. Israeli Arabs have the same civil and political rights as do Israeli Jews”
* Let’s substitute Israel Apartheid Week with Palestine Democracy Week

This dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The other part can be read here: Delegitimization is a genuine threat for Israel (and so is anti-Semitism).



1. Washington Post writers: The FT should stop its slurs on Israel
2. What Saudi apartheid? asks FT
3. “One wonders what the FT’s views were on the rescue of Jewish children from the Nazis”
4. The Financial Times and its demonization of “only one country: Israel”
5. A platform for racism
6. Pravda criticizes Dubai’s anti-Semitism, but British press has nothing to say
7. Let’s substitute Israel Apartheid Week with Palestine Democracy Week
8. Australian cops investigating Dubai passport case flee Tel Aviv accident scene
9. Michael Foot and Israel: Times have changed for the Left

10. “Israel is no more rogue than America’ (By Andrew Roberts, FT, March 3, 2010)
11. “The Dubai police chief’s outlandish claims” (By Jackson Diehl, Wash. Post, March 3, 2010)
12. “Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn’t one” (By Richard Cohen, WaPo, March 2, 2010)
13. “Another hit job by The Financial Times” (By Marty Peretz, New Republic, March 2, 2010)
14. “Israeli Apartheid Week: A festival of bigotry” (National Post editorial, March 2, 2010)
15. “Hamas: Jordan, Egypt behind Dubai hit” (By Tom Gross, National Post, March 2, 2010)
16. “Israel was not alone in wanting to ‘detonate’ the Hamas missile man” (Irish Examiner)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


I attach several articles concerning the delegitimizing of Israel in the form of “Israel apartheid week” – which is actually occurring this year over two weeks (March 1-13) and has spread to as many as 40 major cities throughout the world.

I also attach further articles dealing with the recent death of a senior Hamas terrorist in Dubai. (Please see here for past dispatches on this matter.)

Four of the articles below criticize The Financial Times for its editorial slurs on Israel. (Among past criticism of the FT’s record on Israel, please see item 5 here.)

For example, writing in The Washington Post, Jackson Diehl says: “In an interesting bit of jujitsu, an editorial in London’s Financial Times on Monday lamented what it claimed was the softer standard ‘wimpish’ European leaders apply to Israel for its ‘lawless behavior,’ not to mention ‘possible war crimes’ in Gaza.

“‘If, say Russia’s FSB, or Libyan agents, had carried out a killing… the discussion would have taken a different turn,’ huffed the FT.

“Well put – except, Russia did carry out a killing in Dubai, less than a year ago. The victim was Sulim Yamadayev, a former Chechen general, who was gunned down in the parking lot outside his apartment. Far from trying to disguise the crime, the assassin left behind a golden gun belonging to Ramzan Kadyrov, the gangster who rules Chechnya under the watchful eye of Vladimir Putin.

“To his credit, police chief Tamim tried to subject Russia to the same treatment he has given Israel… The difference, of course, is that the audience for a story about a Russian-sponsored assassination in Dubai is nothing like that for an Israeli hit… there were no angry editorials in the Financial Times…” (Full piece below.)



Another of The Washington Post’s leading liberal columnists, Richard Cohen, writes:

“A recent op-ed on Israel in the Financial Times employs the word apartheid several times… Israel’s critics continue to hurl the apartheid epithet at the state when they have to know, or they ought to know, that it is a calumny. Interestingly, they do not use it for Saudi Arabia, which maintains as perfect a system of gender apartheid as can be imagined – women can’t even drive, never mind vote – or elsewhere in the Arab world, where Palestinians sometimes have fewer rights than they do in Israel.” (Full piece below.)

(Tom Gross adds: Please scroll down here for a photo showing Saudi apartheid in action.)



Writing in The New Republic, Marty Peretz notes that “Hardly a day goes by that the Financial Times doesn’t do a hit job on Israel. The otherwise sober pink sheet has such an obsession with the Jewish state that I’ve come to wonder what its views were on the rescue of Jewish children into England during the Nazi onslaught on them and on their parents.”

Peretz criticizes not just the FT’s editorials but the paper’s news coverage: “Tobias Buck is virtually on call full time to twist Israeli reality into his own jaundiced view of Zionism. Last week in the FT, he came to conclusions about Israel’s diplomatic isolation which he himself had trumpeted. Since Buck is the paper’s Israel correspondent, all you have to do is pick up the daily or log on to its web site, and you’re almost sure to find the same story he wrote yesterday or last week and will surely write tomorrow.” (Full piece below.)



Allowed a right of reply in The Financial Times itself, historian Andrew Roberts criticizes The Financial Times for being “violently critical of Israel in the wake of the assassination of the Hamas arms smuggler Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on 19 January.”

Roberts says: “Far from having any colonial ambitions, Israel wants nothing more than to live peaceably within defensible borders. But equally it demands nothing less.

“… The reason that such double standards still apply – more than six decades after the foundation of the state of Israel – is not because of the nature of that doughty, brave, embattled, tiny, surrounded, yet proudly defiant country, but because of the nature of its foes. Even though one has to be in one’s seventies to remember a time when Israel didn’t exist, nevertheless there are still those who call the country’s legitimacy into question, employing anything that happens to be in the news at the time – such as this latest assassination – to try to argue that Israel is not a real country, and therefore doesn’t really deserve to exist.

“… Are Messrs Siegman and Gardner going to call into question America’s legitimacy? No, that insult is reserved for only one country: Israel.” (Full piece below.)



The Financial Times website has allowed much anti-Semitic bigotry to be posted in the form of readers’ comments under Andrew Roberts’s piece.

Even The Guardian now makes some effort to remove from its website the kind of vile comments the FT has kept up by readers for some days now, despite complaints by the children of Holocaust survivors.

Comments use words like “filthy” and say Israel behaves worse than the Nazis.



I also attach an editorial from the leading Canadian paper, The National Post, attacking Israel Apartheid Week (which originated in Canada, incidentally), and a piece of mine from last Tuesday’s National Post, pointing out that Hamas have again alleged that Jordan and Egypt were behind the Dubai assassination.

Will the British, French, German, Irish and Australian governments now summon the ambassadors of Jordan and Egypt?

In my piece I also point out that Dubai has even gone so far as to announce it will ban persons with Israeli (by which it presumably means Jewish) “features” (whatever that means) from entering the country.

Even the Russian publication Pravda has now criticized Dubai for this, saying: “Will the Emirates liken itself to the Third Reich and use rulers and protractors to measure the shape of the nose and the skull structure? If it does, the UAE will lose all of its friends in the West”.

Or perhaps not, since the European press (and in particular that in Britain, Sweden and Greece) which is so quick to condemn Israel, has nothing to say about Dubai’s new anti-Semitic policy.


Many newspapers have adopted themes or, in some cases, copied entire chunks of my writing in their editorials on Dubai. For example, an editorial by The Irish Examiner (reproduced at the end of this dispatch), takes several passages from my three previous dispatches on Dubai, though they do at least credit me at one point. Other papers copied large parts of my text, almost verbatim, without crediting me. I would request that journalists who copy passages from my dispatches in future follow the example set by The Irish Examiner and one or two other papers and cite me.



Here is an extract from a previous dispatch on this list.

Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote:

It is hard to see how organizing events such as “Israel Apartheid Week” on a university campus could help the cause of the Palestinians. Isn’t there already enough anti-Israel incitement that is being spewed out of Arab and Islamic media outlets? ...

Instead of investing money and efforts in organizing Israel Apartheid Week, for example, the self-described “pro-Palestinians” could dispatch a delegation of teachers to Palestinian villages and refugee camps to teach young Palestinians English. Or they could send another delegation to the Gaza Strip to monitor human rights violations by the Hamas authorities and help Palestinian women confront Muslim fundamentalists who are trying to limit their role to cooking, raising children and looking after the needs of their husbands.

Here is an idea: Let’s substitute Israel Apartheid Week with Palestine Democracy Week, where Palestinians would be urged and encouraged to demand an end to financial corruption and bad government.


(Khaled Abu Toameh, like Andrew Roberts, Jackson Diehl and Richard Cohen quoted above, are all subscribers to this email list.)



Three Australian police investigators, in Israel to probe the apparent misuse of its citizens’ passports in connection with the Dubai assassination, have themselves become targets of an investigation into a hit-and-run accident in Tel Aviv.

Newspapers in Australia report that after leaving the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv, the car the policemen were traveling in struck an Israeli woman on a bicycle and continued on without stopping to assist the victim, who was slightly injured. No official complaint has been filed but the woman said she would like an apology and for the Australian government to pay for the repair of her bicycle wheel which was damaged. Neither an apology nor an offer of payment has yet been forthcoming from Australian authorities.



A small point in passing. Reading the obituary of former British Labour Party leader Michael Foot in yesterday’s Times, we are reminded that Foot (who died last week aged 96) said in 1947 that if he was a Jew in Palestine he would certainly join the Haganah. Together with another senior Labour politician Richard Crossman, Foot published a pamphlet attacking Ernest Bevin’s anti-Zionist policies, entitled “A Palestine Munich”. This is one more illustration of how much attitudes on the Left have changed over the years.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



Israel is no more rogue than America
By Andrew Roberts
The Financial Times
March 3, 2010

Is state-sanctioned assassination justifiable, or does it somehow de-legitimise the state that undertakes it? Two articles in this newspaper last week, by Henry Siegman and David Gardner, have been violently critical of Israel in the wake of the assassination of the Hamas arms smuggler Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on 19 January.

Mr Siegman wrote of how “Israel’s colonial ambitions” and “checkpoints, barbed wire and separation walls” were “turning Israel from a democracy into an apartheid state”, thereby creating a “looming global threat to the country’s legitimacy”. Two days later Mr Gardner wrote of how Israel’s “militarist extroversion” over the Dubai murder demonstrated an “Israeli preference for instantly satisfying executive solutions to complex political and geopolitical problems” which would “widen the international battle-space for tit-for-tat attacks” and “encourage the perception that [Israel] is a rogue state”.

Both commentators are completely wrong. All that the Dubai operation will do is remind the world that the security services of states at war – and Israel’s struggle with Hamas, Fatah and Hizbollah certainly constitutes that – occasionally employ targeted assassination as one of the weapons in their armoury, and that this in no way weakens their legitimacy. As for the “separation walls” and checkpoints that one sees in Israel, the 99 per cent drop in the number of suicide bombings since their erection justifies the policy. There is simply no parallel between apartheid South Africa – where the white minority wielded power over the black majority – and the occupied territories, taken by Israel only after it was invaded by its neighbours. To make such a link is not only inaccurate, but offensive. If Arab Israelis were deprived of civil and franchise rights, that would justify such hyperbole, but of course they have the same rights as every Jewish Israeli.

Far from having any colonial ambitions, Israel wants nothing more than to live peaceably within defensible borders. But equally it demands nothing less.

Furthermore, rather than some kind of knee-jerk “preference for instantly satisfying executive solutions”, the decision to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh – assuming it was sanctioned, planned and carried out by Mossad alone, which is anything but clear at this stage – would have been minutely examined from every political and operational angle. Yet sometimes complex political and geopolitical problems do require the cutting of the Gordian knot, and this was one such.

When Britain was at war, Winston Churchill sanctioned the assassination by its Special Operations Executive of the SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the capture (and killing if necessary) of General Heinrich Kreipe on Crete; ditto Erwin Rommel. Just as with some Mossad operations, such as the disaster in Amman in 1997 when agents were captured after failing to kill Khaled Meshal of Hamas, not all Churchill’s hits were successful. But the British state was not de-legitimised in any way as a result.

The intelligence agents of states – sometimes operating with direct authority, sometimes not – have carried out many assassinations and assassination attempts in peacetime without the legitimacy of those states being called into question, or their being described as “rogue”. In 1985 the French Deuxième Bureau sank Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior trawler, killing photographer Fernando Pereira, without anyone denouncing France as a rogue state. Similarly, in 2006, polonium 210 was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko without Putin’s Russia being described as “illegitimate”. That kind of language is only reserved for Israel, even though neither Pereira nor Litvinenko posed the danger to French and Russian citizens that was posed to Israelis by the activities of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

The reason that such double standards still apply – more than six decades after the foundation of the state of Israel – is not because of the nature of that doughty, brave, embattled, tiny, surrounded, yet proudly defiant country, but because of the nature of its foes. Even though one has to be in one’s seventies to remember a time when Israel didn’t exist, nevertheless there are still those who call the country’s legitimacy into question, employing anything that happens to be in the news at the time – such as this latest assassination – to try to argue that Israel is not a real country, and therefore doesn’t really deserve to exist. Real rogue states such as North Korea might be loathed and criticised, but even they do not have their very legitimacy as a state called into question because of their actions.

Those who wish to understand Israel’s actions and put them in their proper historical context should read Michael Burleigh’s cultural history of terrorism, Blood and Rage. Burleigh quotes a senior Mossad agent saying after the Munich Olympics massacre of 11 Israeli athletes: “If there was intelligence information, the target was reachable and if there was an opportunity, we took it. As far as we were concerned we were creating a deterrence, forcing them to crawl into a defensive shell and not plan offensive attacks against us.”

Is that attitude so very different from the pre-emptive targeted assassination of Taliban leaders that Nato carries out by flying drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan today? Yet are Messrs Siegman and Gardner going to call into question America’s legitimacy? No, that insult is reserved for only one country: Israel.



The Dubai police chief’s outlandish claims
By Jackson Diehl
The Washington Post
March 3, 2010

Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the police chief of Dubai, certainly knows how to milk a good story for all it’s worth. It’s now been six weeks since Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found dead in his room in an airport hotel, and most of the world long ago concluded that Israel’s Mossad spy agency was responsible. Yet day after day Tamim continues to make headlines, dribbling out more details of the clumsy and not-so-clandestine operation and issuing grandiose pronouncements.

Today, for example, he was quoted as saying Dubai would issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu and Mossad chief Meir Dagan. Two days ago, he announced that Dubai would begin training immigration officials to spot Israeli faces and accents, so as to prevent citizens of the Jewish state from entering on third-country passports. That followed a press conference last month at which he said he was “99 percent, if not 100 percent sure” that Mossad was behind the killing.

The general has an eager audience for these repetitive and increasingly implausible declarations – especially in the Arab and European media, which revel in excoriating Israel for deeds those media routinely excuse or ignore when practiced by other governments. In an interesting bit of jujitsu, an editorial in London’s Financial Times on Monday lamented what it claimed was the softer standard “wimpish” European leaders apply to Israel for its “lawless behavior,” not to mention “possible war crimes” in Gaza.

“If, say Russia’s FSB, or Libyan agents, had carried out a killing… the discussion would have taken a different turn,” huffed the FT.

Well put – except, Russia did carry out a killing in Dubai, less than a year ago. The victim was Sulim Yamadayev, a former Chechen general, who was gunned down in the parking lot outside his apartment. Far from trying to disguise the crime, the assassin left behind a golden gun belonging to Ramzan Kadyrov, the gangster who rules Chechnya under the watchful eye of Vladimir Putin.

To his credit, police chief Tamim tried to subject Russia to the same treatment he has given Israel. At a press conference last April, he named the author of the crime as Adam Delimkhanov, a Kadyrov associate who is a member of the Russian parliament, and said he would ask Interpol for his arrest. It is, he said, “Russia’s responsibility in front of the world to control these killers from Chechnya.”

The difference, of course, is that the audience for a story about a Russian-sponsored assassination in Dubai is nothing like that for an Israeli hit. Relatively few stories were written about the Yamadayev case; there were no angry editorials in the Financial Times. Perhaps it’s needless to say that Delimkhanov and the other suspects identified by Dubai have not been arrested or extradited. As Shmuel Rosner summed it up in a dispatch for Slate: “The consequences for the assassins? None at all. For the Chechen government? None. For the deputy prime minister? None. For Dubai-Russian relations? None.”

It could be that, in the end, Israel too will suffer little from Tamim’s offensive. It will certainly be interesting to see if Dubai, a would-be regional entrepot sinking under its own debt, begins pulling aside travelers at its airport who it deems to resemble Israelis. For now, it seems clear enough that, for whatever reason, stories about the Mossad’s skullduggery are much more interesting to the rest of the world than tales about the Russian FSB --- or Libya, for that matter.



Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn’t one of them
By Richard Cohen
The Washington Post
March 2, 2010

Toward the end of last year, Jimmy Carter apologized for some of his very harsh statements about Israel. In an “open letter to the Jewish community” – and with a vagueness that ill becomes him – he airily mentioned criticisms that “stigmatize Israel” but omitted his own contribution: the implication that Israel is, like the racist South Africa of old, an “apartheid” state.

Carter used the term in his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” It could be argued that he meant the label to apply only to the West Bank, but even so the use of the term was incorrect and deliberatively provocative. Carter was waving the bloody shirt of racism, and he knew it.

What can be said about others who apply the term to Israel in general? No apology has come from them – and the way things are going, none will be forthcoming. The use of the word has become commonplace – Google “Israel and apartheid” and you will see that the two are linked in cyberspace, as love and marriage are in at least one song. The meaning is clear: Israel is a state where political and civil rights are withheld on the basis of race and race alone. This is not the case.

The Israel of today and the South Africa of yesterday have almost nothing in common. In South Africa, the minority white population harshly ruled the majority black population. Nonwhites were denied civil rights, and in 1958, they were even deprived of citizenship. In contrast, Israeli Arabs, about one-fifth of the country, have the same civil and political rights as do Israeli Jews. Arabs sit in the Knesset and serve in the military, although most are exempt from the draft. Whatever this is – and it looks suspiciously like a liberal democracy – it cannot be apartheid.

The West Bank, more or less under Israeli military rule, is a different matter. But it is not part of Israel proper, and under every conceivable peace plan – including those proposed by Israeli governments – almost all of it will revert to the Palestinian Authority and become the heartland of a Palestinian state.

Yet Israel’s critics continue to hurl the apartheid epithet at the state when they have to know, or they ought to know, that it is a calumny. Interestingly, they do not use it for Saudi Arabia, which maintains as perfect a system of gender apartheid as can be imagined – women can’t even drive, never mind vote – or elsewhere in the Arab world, where Palestinians sometimes have fewer rights than they do in Israel.

A recent op-ed on Israel in the Financial Times employs the word apartheid several times. Some of the time it seems to be applied to the West Bank, but other times it is applied to Israel proper. Either way, this shoe doesn’t fit. (Security concerns are not rooted in racism.) The author of the piece is Henry Siegman, a harsh critic of Israeli policies and a former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, so anti-Semitism is not the issue here – just sound judgment. Sometimes impatience can lead to imprudence.

But anti-Semitism is not so easily dismissed with others. This is “Israeli Apartheid Week” on campuses across the world, and it is clear that what furiously animates many of the protesters are not legitimate grievances but imaginary ones. Israel is not above criticism and the Palestinians have their case, but when that case is constructed out of lies about the Jewish state, it not only represents a wholly unoriginal cover of some old anti-Semitic ditties but also denigrates the Palestinian cause. It does not need lies.

As for Israel, its critics do it no good when they couch their criticism in insults. Years of this sort of stuff have made Israel tone-deaf to legitimate criticism and exasperated with any attempt to find fault. That’s why Israel refused to cooperate with the South African jurist Richard Goldstone when, on behalf of the United Nations, he looked into alleged war crimes. The United Nations had once equated Zionism with racism. After that, it was hard to care what the United Nations thought.

To Carter’s credit, he must have understood that a hunk of his audience had stopped listening. He was right to apologize, wrong not to have been more specific and a bit late in appreciating the damage he’s done. Israel has its faults, (don’t get me started), but it is not motivated by racism. That’s more than can be said for many of its critics.



Another hit job by The Financial Times
By Marty Peretz
The New Republic
March 2, 2010

Hardly a day goes by that the Financial Times doesn’t do a hit job on Israel. The otherwise sober pink sheet has such an obsession with the Jewish state that I’ve come to wonder what its views were on the rescue of Jewish children into England during the Nazi onslaught on them and on their parents.

Tobias Buck is virtually on call full time to twist Israeli reality into his own jaundiced view of Zionism. Last week in the FT, he came to conclusions about Israel’s diplomatic isolation which he himself had trumpeted. Since Buck is the paper’s Israel correspondent, all you have to do is pick up the daily or log on to its web site, and you’re almost sure to find the same story he wrote yesterday or last week and will surely write tomorrow.

Sometimes the FT sinks so low that it will even ask Henry Siegman, a dreary old Jewish bureaucrat who found glory in being asked to speak at gentile soirees and left-wing “getting-to-yes” talkfests, to write. So, on the very same day, Siegman picked up Buck’s theme and argued that “for Israel, defiance comes at the cost of legitimacy.”

Both of them wrote on the occasion of the killing – very plausibly by the Mossad – of a Hamas terrorist. He was smothered in his hotel room a month ago. But the anti-Israel crowd can’t let up. And the FT has dismissed his importance by calling him “a Hamas gun-runner in Dubai.” This is so far from the truth that it is actually laughable. He was a murderer, a certified murderer, and is an official of the far-flung Hamas movement, which specializes in the murder of Israelis. He is more than a gun-runner. But even gun- running for Hamas, recipient of military hardware from Iran and Syria, cannot be seen with indifference by Jerusalem.

Which brings me to another FT habit that I’ve written about before. The paper simply refuses to name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But it’s much worse than that. The Financial Times writes about the “government in Tel Aviv.’ This is not just weird. It is a lie. The FT wants to rewrite the history of the Middle East. If it can’t tell the truth about a simple geographical fact, on what, pray tell, can it be trusted?



A festival of bigotry
Israeli Apartheid Week is a disgrace that our leaders are correct to denounce
Main Editorial
The National Post (Canada)
March 2, 2010

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), which began on Monday on dozens of university campuses, is an odious and bigoted annual ritual. While organizers bill it as an exercise in “Palestine solidarity,” it typically features rabid expressions of hatred against Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. As a general principle, it goes without saying that criticism of Israel is not automatically tantamount to anti-Semitism. But the atmosphere at some IAW events blurs the line – with extremist speakers whipping crowds into the sort of frenzy one more usually sees in newsreel footage from the streets of Cairo or Gaza City. As a result, many Jewish students often report feeling intimidated on their own campuses.

In its very conception, IAW is offensive for two related reasons. First, it directs participants to vilify a single country, an inherently bigoted exercise. Unlike, say, “anti-racism week” or “diversity awareness week,” IAW does not champion a concept – rather, it targets a particular group of people defined by religion and citizenship. Second, it does so with a false and poisonous analogy between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa. Taken together, the combined message is more or less the same one communicated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hamas – that Israel is a uniquely evil and fundamentally illegitimate nation. While IAW speakers generally are careful not to call for Israel’s destruction explicitly, they don’t need to: That message follows naturally from the claim that the nation is fundamentally illegitimate.

Defenders of IAW will protest this description and insist they are merely human rights advocates looking to protect Palestinians from Israeli predation. (They will even trot out a few self-hating Israelis and left-wing Jewish rabbis to prove their point.) But if that is so, then why do these same advocates ignore the dozens of other nations whose human rights records are far worse than Israel’s? Where is, say, North Korean Gulag Week or Zimbabwean Idi Amin Week?

Nowhere, because IAW types don’t care about human rights. They care about smearing the Jewish state.

In recent years, some Jewish leaders have urged university administrators to ban IAW. That’s a bad idea. Obviously, the powers that be must ensure that everyone on Canadian campuses feels safe, and that truly criminal hatemongers from overseas are kept out of the country. But otherwise, in a free society, the antidote to toxic speech isn’t censorship; it’s intelligent speech.

That’s why we applaud Ontario MPP Peter Shurman, who has successfully tabled a motion to denounce IAW. The motion received unanimous support from all 30 of the MPPs who were present when it was introduced – including, to our surprise and delight, those from the NDP. “What we need to build peace ... are not inflammatory words like ‘apartheid,’ particularly used inappropriately in the case of Israel,” NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo told the Toronto Star. “What we like to speak about is the occupation [of Palestinian territory], the [security] wall, other issues that face us.”

We suspect that this newspaper doesn’t have a lot of common ground with Ms. DiNovo when it comes to the “occupation” of the West Bank. But whatever our differences, we’re glad to see that she is responsible about recognizing proper rhetorical boundaries on this issue – something left-wing Canadian politicians have not always done.

Mr. Shurman’s motion is part of a larger move toward support of Israel among Canadian politicians. In May, Dalton McGuinty will take part in a trade mission to Israel – an unprecedented move for an Ontario premier since the 2000 Intifada broke out.

Last week, Conservative MP Tim Uppal announced that he would soon introduce a motion declaring “that this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’; and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the State of Israel with the rejected and racist policy of apartheid.” On Monday, Michael Ignatieff declared that Israeli Apartheid Week “should be condemned unequivocally and absolutely.” Even Jack Layton has kept a tight lid on the anti-Zionists in his party. As a result, anti-Israel activists – including not only the IAW crowd, but also those who campaigned against last year’s Israeli-themed Toronto Film Festival – have been shunned, or even denounced, by politicians.

This is the proper response to hatemongers in general, and the IAW crowd in particular. Campus revolutionaries can rail against Israel as much as they like – it’s a free country. But our elected officials must send the message that their campaign is an affront to Canadian values.



Hamas: Jordan, Egypt behind Dubai assassination
By Tom Gross
The National Post
March 2, 2010

Over the past two weeks, much of the world media has been engrossed with the story of the assassination of a senior Hamas terrorist in Dubai. (See past dispatches for background.)

Almost all western media have rushed to blame Israel (without any concrete evidence at all), resulting in Israeli ambassadors being summoned by the governments of Britain, France, Germany, Ireland and Australia. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the killing an “outrage”.

Yesterday Dubai even went so far as to announce it will ban persons with Israeli (by which it presumably means Jewish) “features” (whatever that means) from entering the country.

But today the Al-Quds Al-Araby daily reports, according to Reuters, that Hamas suspects the security forces of Jordan or Egypt of being behind the assassination. Mahmoud Nasser, a member of Hamas’ bureau, told the newspaper that slain commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was in possession of information “dangerous” to the Jordanian and Egyptian regimes.

So much for the hysterical way many western journalists and governments rushed to blame Israel.


The right-hand man of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, Damascus-based Mohammed Nassar, has also now told Hamas’s Al-Aqsa Radio in Gaza that “the security forces of an Arab country were behind the killing.”



Israel was not alone in wanting to ‘detonate’ the Hamas missile man
By Stephen King
The Irish Examiner
March 3, 2010

I was in Dubai at the weekend. Nice enough place if you like that kind of thing: glitzy, a bit soulless, but after the weather we’ve been having at home, who’s complaining?

Well, some of the people who live there without any say in the way it’s run actually. But if you ask no questions, the Emiratis won’t ask you any either. You get the picture.

That’s why Mahmoud Mabhouh dropped by presumably. No one quite knows why he was there. Some say he was also just passing through; others that he was buying arms. He was one of the military leaders of Hamas, after all. We don’t know. Nor do we know which of his five passports he was travelling on.

Only one thing is for certain: he left his hotel room in a body bag. Much of the Irish media, without much in the way of evidence, has jumped to the unreserved conclusion that his assassination was a Mossad operation.

Certainly, RTÉ’s Primetime last Thursday behaved as though it were an open and shut case. Maybe it was: the Israelis, as usual, are not commenting one way or the other. They are just glad he’s gone.

That’s hardly surprising. Mabhouh’s crimes date back at least as far as 1989 when he masterminded the kidnapping and murder of two young Israelis.

In more recent years, he played a key role coordinating the smuggling of missiles and other weapons from Iran to Gaza. These have been used to kill and maim dozens of civilians.

But looked at from the perspective of the Middle East, rather than Donnybrook, it seems a whole lot of people – not just the Israelis – wanted Mabhouh out of the way.

Hamas themselves don’t seem sure who killed Mabhouh. Some of their officials are pointing the finger at one or other of the Arab governments. He was wanted by the authorities in Jordan and Egypt, for instance.

Some Arab media have reported that the operation against Mabhouh may have been carried out by a rival Palestinian group; others that Dubai’s intelligence services tipped off the Jordanians. There has also been speculation that (Sunni) Saudi Arabia has an interest in limiting the regional power of (Shia) Iran and its proxies.

Who knows, perhaps his untimely death was due to a split within Hamas? They, presumably, knew his whereabouts and his plans at all times, as did the Iranians. The Syrians too – he had flown in from Damascus. Frankly, any Arab government trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s war in Gaza had an interest in bumping off Mabhouh. But, rather than keeping an open mind, governments in Europe have been egged into behaving as though only Israel is in the frame. The Israeli ambassador was invited by Iveagh House for a (not very enlightening) chat and, for sure, just because the Israelis have not said that they did it doesn’t mean for a minute that they weren’t responsible.

As political commentator Tom Gross points out, the Dubai authorities themselves have not actually provided any forensic evidence that points to Israel, just a series of photos and videos of random hotel guests.

Besides, the persons shown in these images are not shown committing any crime. Nor has anyone come forward and said they recognise any of these people. To be honest, finding and adopting the identities of a few Israelis would not be very difficult. Any government’s intelligence arm could have done this in the hope Israel would be blamed and attention diverted away from the true perpetrators.

Still, you can understand why the Dubai authorities are not happy about the killing of a Hamas senior military commander in one of their hotel rooms. The United Arab Emirates tries to stay out of the Arab-Israeli conflict. There, money is all and it doesn’t matter whose it is: unlike most Arab countries you can fly in with an Israeli stamp on your passport.

But it does make you wonder. There is an almighty stink about “passport fraud”, but no western government has much to 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. Funny that, isn’t it?

Given the degree of rumpus you could be forgiven for thinking Mabhouh was some UN official or a foreign statesman. On the contrary, he lived by terrorism. He could hardly complain when a hit squad brought his life to a swift end. To say he had it coming is an understatement.

Yes, Dubai needs to carry out its investigations and the issue of passport security needs to be looked at, but is such a fuss strictly called for?

Mabhouh was on a mission to acquire Iranian weapons for use against civilians. He was a combatant. Unlike his victims, he was fair game for whoever crept into his hotel room that night.

In fact, as a combatant he would even have been fair game for Israel if they had killed him by means of an air strike on Gaza. 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 any foreign agent to kill a combatant while he is in Dubai. So the people who engaged in the killing presumptively violated the domestic law of Dubai.

Obviously, it would have been better if Mabhouh could have been captured and put on trial. But so long as he stayed out of Israel proper, what chance was there of that?

WOULD the Irish, British, French or Australian governments – let alone any Arab government – have issued arrest warrants and extradited Mabhouh to Israel? With what consequences for their own security? This case is merely the latest example of the failure of the international legal system and the UN to provide a remedy to mass terror.

The world is full of cold-blooded murderers but international law provides no means for stopping the likes of Mabhouh.

So, if Israel took him out it’s because they had just two options: turn a blind eye to his murderous activities or kill him, preferably without harming any of the civilians around him. That’s ‘proportional’.

If Israel was responsible – and that allegation has to be treated with plenty of caution – it would be an indication of how strongly Israel feels it was between a rock and a hard place.

All the governments have in effect told the Israelis they cannot defend themselves when attacked by missiles from Gaza so perhaps they decided they had no choice but to try and prevent those missiles reaching Gaza in the first place.

Whoever wiped out Mabhouh, it was a daring operation. True, they got filmed but they got into Dubai, killed Mabhouh and got out. No drama, nobody captured, and nobody knows who the team were or where they are now.

And Hamas has been shown that their people aren’t safe anywhere – even in the heart of the Arab world. A sloppy miscalculation? I’m not so sure.

Delegitimization is a genuine threat for Israel (and so is anti-Semitism)

March 05, 2010

* “Shimon Peres has a YouTube channel. Hurrah! Danny Ayalon has a huge Facebook following. Muted hurrah! But the deeper you search on YouTube, the worse things get for Israel, and Israel demonizers are leading the field in Twitter and every other innovative avenue of social networking too.”

* “In the [Israeli government’s new website’s] review of modern Israeli history, the capture of missing airman Ron Arad gets 10 lines but the Oslo Accords get just three. The kidnapping of Gilad Shalit merits eight lines; the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 is only worthy of one-and-a-bit.”

* “The foreign media complain of being offended by Israeli government satire, yet there is a deafening silence on the coercion, threats and violence they face from the Palestinians, especially in Gaza… By contrast Israel has a free press; the government provides services and accreditation – even to those who choose to report in the most biased and slanted manner.”


Today’s dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The other part can be read here: “Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn’t one of them (& Another hit job on Israel by the FT)”.



1. Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, increasingly overlapping
2. Paul Martin: Where are the “human rights” groups?
3. “How the media distorts Israel and how Israeli PR could be improved” (By Tom Gross)
4. “Wrong troops, wrong ammunition” (By David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 26, 2010)
5. “The joke’s on Edelstein” (By Jeff Barak, Jerusalem Post, March 1, 2010)
6. “Opposing the digital pogrom” (By Daniel Seaman, Jerusalem Post, March 4, 2010)
7. Statement by Paul Martin’s wife on behalf of his family
8. “Statement by the British Foreign Office on detention of British journalist”


[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns Israel’s largely internal debate about what is perceived to be the increasing delegitimization of the Jewish state, a delegtimization which is now frequently crossing the line into full-blown anti-Semitism, as witnessed by some of the statements by those behind “Israel Apartheid Week” which is currently taking place at 40 leading universities around the world. (It is reported that swastikas and Ku Klux Klan symbols have also been spray painted near the dorm rooms of Jewish students in the U.S. during “Apartheid Week”.)

I attach three pieces (all by subscribers to this email list): David Horovitz (the editor of The Jerusalem Post), who sums up the feelings of the Israeli center, Jeff Barak (the former editor of The Jerusalem Post), who presents a more left-wing viewpoint in his article, and Danny Seaman, the director of the Israel Government Press Office.

All three talk about the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy’s new masbirim (“explainers”) webpage. (The site is an effort by the ministry to encourage ordinary Israelis traveling abroad to talk about their personal experiences in order to combat what they consider to be the misleading perceptions of Israel around the world.)

Before that I attach a video of one of my talks last month.


This dispatch also follows up on points made about the detention by Hamas of Paul Martin, which I covered in Monday’s dispatch.

Paul Martin is a British filmmaker and journalist whose reports have been used by BBC’s Panorama, Newsnight, Al Jazeera English, Arte and Channel 4 News – i.e. all media generally sympathetic to the Palestinians.

At the end of the dispatch are two statements put out since my last dispatch: A statement by his wife, and a somewhat lame statement by the British Foreign Office. Paul is a long-time subscriber to this email list.



For those interested, a video of my talk last month to retired Israeli diplomats and others at the JCPA in Jerusalem, one of Israel’s leading think tanks, has been put online.

You can watch or listen to it here:

I was asked to talk on: “How the media distorts Israel and how Israeli PR could be improved. An insider’s view.”



David Frankfurter, a reader, writes to me in response to my last dispatch:

Hi Tom,

Re: Paul Martin.

I realize that your list concentrates on the media, but the question is not just where is the media, but also what does it say about justice in Gaza? Where are the “human rights” groups?

Someone is being tried for collaborating with Israel (a capital crime) A second person (who knows some of the facts) wishes to testify on his behalf (happens to be a British journalist) so the witness is **arrested**.

This is justice in Gaza.


Sure encourages people to testify on behalf of persons on trial in Gaza.

(Hmmm. If the witness wasn’t a foreigner or a journalist he probably would be dead.)

One can only imagine what else goes on in Gaza’s courtrooms (and torture cells).



You can also read more here.

This is the BBC’s low-key report on the matter. (You can compare it to the emotionally-written stories on the BBC links next to the BBC article on Martin.)


Editor’s Notes: Wrong troops, wrong ammunition
By David Horovitz
The Jerusalem Post
February 26, 2010

Delegitimization is a genuine threat. Urging ordinary Israelis to become PR ‘ambassadors’ is no way to meet it. Could we please get serious?

Such a lovely idea: Encourage Israelis to act as ambassadors for our misunderstood and misrepresented little nation.

“Are you going overseas? Hosting people from abroad?,” asks the Ministry of Public Diplomacy’s new masbirim – “explainers” – Web page. Well then, it gushes, you too can become “ambassadors for Israel” and “together, we’ll change the picture.”

The campaign, backed by expensive advertising in the local media, is designed to offset “the vast sums of money available to Arab countries for propaganda,” our esteemed new Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein has declared, by conscripting ordinary Israelis to fight the PR fight, armed with “tools and tips to help them deal with the attacks on Israel.”

Somewhat contradictorily, however, Edelstein is also advising our new massed ranks of citizen-spokespeople to avoid discussing international politics. “Talk about your life, your neighbors, make your life sound normal,” he advises. “Tell people about going to a concert with your wife.”

Easy to imagine that working, isn’t it? Picture the scene. Our well-meaning, patriotic Israeli vacationers in, say, London these past few days, get onto a Tube train packed with tight-lipped commuters absorbing their daily headline diet of “Outrage over Mossad hit in Dubai,” “Scandal of forged British passports” and “War threat as Israel designates Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb national heritage sites.”

“Here’s our chance,” enthuses Moshe to Malka, and sits down with a confident grin between a middle-aged businessman reading The Independent and a young advertising-type flipping through The Guardian.

“Sorry to disturb,” Moshe manages in his halting English, smiling at the gents on either side of him. “But I am from Tel Aviv and I want to tell you that Israel is much nicer than you are reading. Let me tell you about my good neighbors. No? Ok, see my wife Malka over there? Well, we went to a very excellent concert together at the, er, Heichal Hatarbut hall last week. Beethoven, Richard Strauss and Brahms. Excuse me? Sir? Please...?”

The Brits wouldn’t so much as dip their dailies to acknowledge the sabra attempt at conversation. Remember, they don’t even talk to each other.


Of course it’s easy to scoff. And everyone’s a critic. But really, our new ministry and its new minister, created as a function of coalition arithmetic rather than in recognition of a strategic need that does genuinely exist, should stop deluding themselves and the rest of us about the nature of the challenge, and instead start meeting it properly.

For the past two-and-a-half years, an experienced Israel-advocate, not a citizen neophyte, has been doing his best to advance the last such half-hearted effort to improve Israel’s image: the great national rebrand.

And, what a shock, Ido Aharoni recently reached the inevitable conclusion that even Maxim magazine photo shoots of bikini-clad Israeli female soldiers don’t do the job. The way the media works today, Aharoni acknowledged in an interview with this newspaper a couple of weeks ago, “doesn’t allow enough time for presenting the facts.” As he further elaborated to a gathering of tourism professionals, the world’s perception of Israel is completely dominated by the Arab-Israel conflict, and even if people support Israel ideologically, that doesn’t translate into a positive image.

The fact is (and yes, it is possible that I may have mentioned this once or twice in past columns), Israel doesn’t get a fair shake in much of the international media and is being relentlessly bashed in a “lawfare” campaign of delegitimization.

If Operation Cast Lead prompted the last outbreak of local handwringing at the unfairness of all this a year ago, when much of the world bought the Hamas big lie about Gaza coming under unjustifiable Israeli assault, then Dubai provides a more recent case in point. Unlike any other intelligence operatives trying to save innocent lives the world over, Israel’s alleged secret agents are, at best, expected to travel on their own passports under their own names to their dangerous missions, the better to ensure their capture. But ideally, they are not meant to travel at all, because self-confessed murderers, working for a Hamas government avowedly intent on destroying Israel, should be allowed to go freely about their business of importing missiles to fire from Gaza at the civilians of Israel without having to fear for their personal safety.


As confirmed by Western attitudes to the 2006 war with Hizbullah, Cast Lead, the Dubai controversy and uncountable other conflicts everywhere else on the planet, the free world still refuses to internalize the nature of the Islamic extremist enemy, with its death cult imperative to kill and be killed.

But sending good-natured Israelis into the public diplomacy battlefield, to talk about how delicious Jaffa oranges are, how their nephew just went to work for this amazing new hi-tech start-up or how much the Israel Philharmonic has improved of late, is to use entirely the wrong troops with entirely the wrong ammunition for the fight. The end result will be no different from the hapless Aharoni’s doomed attempt to disingenuously rebrand Israel as the ultimate hedonist’s tourist paradise with no troubles, guaranteed sunshine and a unique splash of biblical history. And everybody in positions of authority here knows this full well.

Our enemies failed to destroy Israel through conventional warfare from 1948 to 1973. They failed again through the strategic terrorist onslaught of the second intifada. But they’re doing rather well through “lawfare” – through delegitimization.

Israel will start to make some headway in the long, uphill struggle to reverse the tide and to improve the way it is perceived overseas when, first of all, it starts to take that struggle seriously. When it internalizes that, no, we’re not a “normal” country with which Europe and the West can be expected to easily identify, but rather a lonely, gutsy democracy under relentless attack in a tyrannical region.

Israel will fare better when, before going to war, it prepares the diplomatic and the legal and the media ground as effectively as its prepares its fighting forces. (More than a year after Gaza, rather than thoroughly debunk and outflank the outrageous canards of the Goldstone Report, it is still desperately trying to reassure itself that it has dodged the Goldstone bullet; it hasn’t.) When Israel begins to hit back diplomatically – in the memorable phrase of Canadian human rights activist nonpareil Irwin Cotler, “to delegitimize the delegitimizers.” When Israel begins to reason articulately to people who don’t give a hoot about Israel being demonized that the UN, in its lopsided, indecent obsession with our perceived iniquities, is itself becoming ridiculous and discredited. When Israel begins to make the case, again as Cotler so succinctly puts it, that those guilty of apartheid attitudes in our region are not the Israelis, seeking survival, but those who discriminate against the Jewish state and push for an Israel-free Middle East.

Israel will fare better when it allocates resources to meet the public diplomacy challenge in an orderly, streamlined, strategic fashion: Israel needs a proper hierarchy to unify the disparate ministerial and army mechanisms – today, in addition to the Foreign Ministry’s personnel, the IDF Spokesman’s Office, the Government Press Office and Edelstein’s new fiefdom, we have the apparatus Ehud Olmert established in the Prime Minister’s Office, not to mention a new grouping being overseen by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon – adding up to what one despairing insider terms “a looming bureaucratic train wreck.”

And official Israel also needs an adequately equipped unit to monitor how it is being presented; resources to research and convey the enemy’s manipulations and deceits; funds for satellite television; funds to revive state radio’s dying foreign language broadcasts.

As things stand, Edelstein’s risible masbirim initiative is only the latest in a long line of haphazard outreach efforts that have made little impact in the familiar forums where Israel is judged, and incidentally are making little impact, either, in new media.


Shimon Peres has a YouTube channel. Hurrah! Danny Ayalon has a huge Facebook following. Muted hurrah! But the deeper you search on YouTube, the worse things get for Israel, and Israel demonizers are leading the field in Twitter and every other innovative avenue of social networking too.

As with the old media failures – typified by the refusal to properly inform Israel-based correspondents about what was at stake ahead of the Gaza assault, and then the numb-skulled ban on their very entry which saw the war covered for the world by Palestinian stringers – so, too, in new media there is insufficient engagement with potential supporters, insufficient outreach to social networks, blogs and news sites.

Insistently, pigheadedly, Israel chooses not to allocate the funds to adequately replicate AIPAC’s ongoing program to bring rising American politicians to see the reality of Israel firsthand – our very best public diplomacy tool. Politicians from the world over, along with other opinion-shapers, editors, reporters, bloggers and Twitterers – where’s the money to host them here, and to introduce them to all the passions and contradictions of our country? Where’s the effort, in President Barack Obama’s favored terminology, to engage them?

All of this would be a start. But even then, we should have no illusions. For all our righteous sense that we are so far more sinned against than sinning, Israel is also hobbling itself through incoherence.

While Fatah ostensibly wants peace along the pre-’67 lines and Hamas unequivocally wants us gone, nobody, but nobody, knows quite what it is that we want.

Our prime minister says he has a vision of a Palestinian state, but he is also planting saplings at bombastic ceremonies at West Bank settlements and extending national heritage status to the Cave of the Patriarchs. Even if that makes a certain kind of sense to some of us here, it is plain incomprehensible to most who are not. The Goldstone Report is a strategic threat to Israel but Israel is begging Mahmoud Abbas – who initiated Goldstone by accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza – to please, pretty please, come and talk peace with us. Where’s the clarity?

So, okay, let’s imagine for a moment that those Brits on that train did put down their newspapers and got talking with Moshe and Malka. When they’d finished discussing whose sopranos soar higher, how would our civilian envoys cope with those incoherencies and inconsistencies?

No wonder Edelstein is advising them to stay away from politics.



Opposing the digital pogrom: The foreign media claim they are offended by their negative portrayal in the new campaign, but what do they expect?
By Daniel Seaman
The Jerusalem Post
March 4, 2010

Last week, the Foreign Press Association in Israel circulated an e-mail to its members containing a Reuters article entitled “Foreign reporting depicted as stupid and condescending.” The article related to the Ministry for Public Diplomacy’s campaign calling on Israelis to counter anti-Israel prejudice, and complained that the foreign press was personally offended by the videos on the Web site

Surely not, I hear you say. Those foreign journalists – who daily dish out an unhealthy helping of material critical of Israel, denouncing its democratically elected government’s policies, and some accusing its defense forces of war crimes – should certainly be able to take a bit of criticism directed at them.

In all honesty, the videos were in no way meant to offend the press, who I am quite certain are able to recognize satire when they see it. Yet, when they paint a picture so different from the reality in the eyes of Israelis, and with such little regard for their point of view, what do they expect?

Being depicted as “stupid and condescending” as the Reuters article suggests, is not the nicest of punches, but it certainly beats being portrayed as baby eaters, Nazis and ethnic cleansers, as some in the international media has often inferred. Similarly, what of the “gullible European audiences” the article insists are inherent to the sketch? Is the press really decrying the suggestion that they influence those back home to whom they speak?

It is no coincidence that in countries where the media are most hostile to Israel, there is greater anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment in public discourse. Moreover, this becomes even more incongruous when placed in that all-important missing factor – context. The foreign media complain of being offended by Israeli government satire, yet there is a deafening silence on the coercion, threats and violence they face from the Palestinians, especially in Gaza.

It is this lack of context, this blatant disregard for the realities of living in the Middle East, that earns the foreign press the perception of being simplistic and monochromatic.

Why are headlines of war crimes and editorials on UN resolutions run-of the-mill during Israel’s military operations to defend its citizens, yet when other countries’ forces unintentionally kill civilians it is a case of “apology accepted”? The reality of war is brutal anywhere – so why does the media adopt such vastly different approaches?

Sadly, the issue runs much deeper. Israel today faces an onslaught of propaganda aimed at delegitimizing it. This week is bring “celebrated” as Israeli Apartheid Week on campuses worldwide, spreading lies and slander, promoting incitement and hatred. The media is a key tool – if not a willing accomplice – to this strategy. The manipulation of the rhetoric by human rights groups is all too often typeset in the media, and thus chiseled into history. Massacres are proclaimed where there have been none; terrorists hidden behind civilians remain hidden from the public eye.

These myths become widespread on the blogosphere, with groups on Facebook, threads on Twitter and countless videos on YouTube forming the basis of a digital pogrom against the Jewish narrative, whereby social media and on-line networking are employed to make the demonization of Israel part and parcel of mainstream discourse.

Hence the very purpose of the Masbirim campaign – to open up channels of communication. To overcome the mainstream media’s often one-dimensional approach. To answer those who seek to silence Israel’s narrative with boycotts and arrest warrants. To counter the allegations of those who falsely accuse Israel of breaching international law.

The Jerusalem Post’s Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz, when addressing a meeting in Jerusalem last week, noted that two areas where the issue of boycotting has been most prevalent have been journalism and academia – the two most essential channels of communication and understanding.

Even the most senior journalists are now attacked for being part of Israel’s daily existence or even for simply being Jewish; the harassment of New York Times bureau chief in Israel Ethan Bronner being the most notable, yet not the only, such incident.

This isolation and demonization of Israel as a pariah state or an international outlaw reflects a concerted effort to cast it as being beyond the pale. As the echoes of the past color the dark shadows of the future, we see an attempt to cast the Jewish people into a “virtual” ghetto, ethnically cleansing the Jewish narrative from the legitimate international debate on the Middle East.

This process of delegitimization is an affront to freedom of speech and freedom of the press – fundamental rights in a democracy.

Zionism itself was conceived by a journalist who looked at the world around him and saw that without a new reality, Jews would no longer be able to speak out.

Today Israel has a free press; the government provides services and accreditation for the foreign media – even those who choose to report in the most biased and slanted manner. There are, of course, journalists who carry out their duties in a fully professional way. They give due consideration to both the Israeli and the Palestinian argument, and inform their public accordingly.

However if there are those in the media who feel they are perceived as simplistic or inaccurate, then I would urge them to consider that there is another side to the story; perhaps Israel, as well as their own readers, viewers and listeners, deserves a more accurate contextualized picture of reality.

Otherwise, the historically most enlightened of professions risks being party to the reemergence of humankind’s darkest hatred.



Reality Check: The joke’s on Edelstein
By Jeff Barak
The Jerusalem Post
March 1, 2010

When was the last time a foreigner came up to you and said: “Oh, you Israelis. You all ride camels.” According to the Ministry of Public Diplomacy, this is one of the common myths foreigners hold about Israel. And the correct response to such a comment, a special ministry Web site helpfully instructs, is: “This is not correct. Israel has 17,900 kilometers of paved roads, on which there are no less than 2.3 million cars, of which 78 percent are private vehicles. Moreover, Israel Railways has lines running the length and breadth of the country and a light railway for Tel Aviv is in the planning and development stages.”

The Soviet newspaper Pravda couldn’t have phrased it better.

Nobody, it seems, has told Yuli Edelstein that his ministry is a joke office, one of the many dreamed up by Binyamin Netanyahu when he formed the most bloated government in the country’s history, comprising a ridiculous 32 ministers. Most of the ministers appointed to non-ministries have had the good sense not to further waste the public purse on unnecessary initiatives, but not so Edelstein. He’s launched a campaign to turn every Israeli into a potential diplomat.

Given that the thuggish Avigdor Lieberman is foreign minister, one has to accept that anything is possible in Israeli diplomacy, but even still, the Ministry of Public Diplomacy special Web site ( is a new low in the very undistinguished history of hasbara (which can be translated as “public information” but “propaganda” is nearer the mark).

The Hebrew-only Web site (so much for one-fifth of the country’s population also serving as potential ambassadors) is embarrassing in its over-eagerness to state Israel’s case. For example, according to the ministry, another common myth is that all Israeli women cover their hair. This claim should be answered with: “Not only do most Israeli women not cover their hair, but Israel is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world, on the same level as New York, Paris and London.”

Leaving aside the fact that Israel has suddenly turned from a country into a capital – not even the Ministry of Public Diplomacy has the hutzpa to claim that Jerusalem is at the center of world fashion, except of course for sheitels and streimels – I’m hard pushed to remember the last time Naomi Campell or Kate Moss graced the catwalks of Tel Aviv.

The web site’s misperceptions don’t stop at fashion, but this is when it stops being amusing. In its review of modern Israeli history, the capture of missing airman Ron Arad gets 10 lines. The Oslo Accords get three. The kidnapping of Gilad Schalit merits eight lines; the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 is only worthy of one-and-a-bit.

It’s hard to blame non-Israelis for lacking an understanding of the country when a Web site published by a government ministry puts out such a warped view of the country’s history.

And when one looks deeper at the information filling this Web site it becomes clear that its aim is not so much to turn every Israeli into a potential ambassador but simply to propagate Yuli Edelstein’s right-wing political views at the taxpayer’s expense.

The settlements in the West Bank, according to the Web site, are not an obstacle to peace; rather it’s the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the State of Israel. Now this is may be a view that many people hold, but it’s only one viewpoint of the conflict, not an incontrovertible fact. By using a publicly funded Web site to make this and other right-wing arguments, such as “the Golan Heights are a strategic asset for Israel, ensuring the country’s security,” a position that runs contrary to the position of most of the IDF General Staff who want to see a peace agreement with Damascus, even if this means withdrawing from the Golan, Edelstein is abusing his position.

Not only is the Web site an abuse of trust, the whole concept behind it is deeply troubling. There’s something essentially Stalinist in attempting to persuade every citizen to see himself as an ambassador for their country. Couple that with the attempt to then overload the would-be interested “ambassador” with ridiculous, incorrect facts and a heavily biased right-wing view of the conflict and of how the world sees Israel, and one ends up with a propaganda tool that is more fitting for some of the world’s darker, totalitarian regimes, and not the modern, free Israel it ironically wants to promote.

There are no shortage of useful Web sites putting out Israel’s case, among them the Foreign Ministry’s site ( which is an excellent repository of useful information, both on current issues and the country’s history. Ignoring for one moment the Ministry of Public Diplomacy’s scandalous use of a government Web site to push a biased view of the conflict, there is also the question of why Edelstein thought it necessary to create a Web site explaining Israel to the world when the government already has an excellent one doing the job.

If Edelstein is that desperate to make his mark as a minister, perhaps he should do the job he’s been tasked to perform and tackle the crisis at the Israel Broadcasting Authority. As the minister in charge of the IBA, Edelstein has been strangely silent while Israel Television pulls the plug every night at 11 p.m. and Israel Radio is unable to hold interviews over the telephone with would-be guests.

Or is that too much like hard work for someone whose only interest seems to be his own narrow political agenda?



Statement from Paul Martin’s wife on behalf of his family
Monday March 1, 7.30pm

My husband Paul Martin is an experienced and respected foreign correspondent who has been working and reporting on the Middle East for the last 30 years. For the past five years he has been covering events in Gaza and his filmed reports have been broadcast on the BBC’s Panorama, Newsnight, Al Jazeera English, Arte and Channel 4 News.

On February 14th Paul was detained without charge by the authorities in Gaza . He was arrested after travelling to Gaza to testify on behalf a former Fatah fighter whom he had previously interviewed.

For the last seven days Paul has been kept in solitary confinement and interrogated whilst being denied access either to his Gazan lawyer or to official British representatives. We understand that he is now being held without reading and writing materials and without means of communication with the outside world.

Until today we have refrained from commenting in the firm belief that Paul would be released. Today I and my family were shocked to hear that Paul is to be held for a further 15 days. No reason has been given. This is the first time that a foreign press representative has been held by the authorities in Gaza. We are becoming extremely concerned.

Paul has devoted his life to reporting on those fighting for justice in conflict zones. He is well known for his integrity and professionalism, and is well liked amongst colleagues and the local community in Gaza. We are appalled at the way he is being treated and appeal to the Government of Gaza to intervene forthwith to secure Paul’s release.



March 2, 2010

We are extremely concerned that the detention of the British film maker Paul Martin has been extended for a further 15 days.

Our consular staff have been in regular contact with Mr Martin, though we are also concerned that increased restrictions are now being placed on consular access.

We call for Paul Martin’s immediate release. We will continue to follow this case closely and are in touch with Mr Martin’s family. Our thoughts are with them at this time.

Senior Saudi: kill those who oppose gender segregation (& Paul Martin’s plight)

March 01, 2010

* Senior Saudi cleric says that those who oppose gender segregation should be killed
* Three Sikhs beheaded in Pakistan for refusing to convert to Islam
* Eighth Christian killed in a week in northern Iraq

* The case of Paul Martin: Where is the international outrage? Where are the BBC reports?

* Academic tells London university (SOAS) students that Israel “must come to an end” and he “longs to be a martyr”. Same academic invited to address students at Cambridge and Manchester

* Islamic preacher who called Jews and gays “filth” speaks at London university (King’s College) as part of their “Green Week”. (He is America-born and has a doctorate from the University of Toronto)

* Israel lodges a formal complaint with Spain, after 5- and 6-year-old pupils at Spanish state schools are taught to write “Jews kill for money” and “[Jews:] go to someplace where someone will be willing to accept you”



1. Who chooses the news?
2. Oh, you mean those human rights
3. A note on Paul Martin
4. Saudi cleric says that those who oppose gender segregation should be killed
5. Pakistan: Taliban behead 3 Sikhs for refusing to convert to Islam
6. Eighth Christian killed in a week in north Iraq
7. What a coincidence
8. Anti-Semitism being taught in Spanish schools to kids as young as five
9. Gaddafi calls for “jihad against Switzerland and Zionism”
10. Islamic preacher who called Jews “filth” to speak at London University
11. Academic tells London university students that Israel “must come to an end”
12. Passengers left stunned after Muslim bus driver pulls over and begins praying in the aisle


[Notes below by Tom Gross]

This dispatch primarily concerns the crimes and intolerance of radical Muslims. The stories below include items from the world’s largest news agencies (Reuters, AP, and AFP).

Yet despite the fact that almost all the world’s major newspapers and TV stations subscribe to these news agencies and obtain most of their foreign news – text, film footage and still photos – from them, I have hardly seen any reports on these items in the mainstream media. I can’t think why.



Incidentally, last week Time magazine ran a story on human rights in Egypt (“Egypt’s Crackdown: When a U.S. Ally Does the Repressing,” Time, February 24) – but with no mention of Copts’ or women’s or gay rights or the virulent anti-Semitism in Egypt.

No, the only human rights that Time appeared to be interested in were the rights of Hamas’ Egyptian sister organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.



Hamas has announced that the promised release from captivity today of British journalist and documentary filmmaker Paul Martin has been postponed. Martin was arrested by Hamas on February 14 in Gaza City as he arrived to testify at the trial of a Palestinian militant who defied Hamas by deciding to renounce violence against Israel.

I have known Paul Martin for some time, and he has been a subscriber to this email list for the last few years. I last spoke to him three weeks ago at the Herzliya conference in Israel. I should point out to his Hamas jailors and their Western sympathizers, should they be reading this, that Paul has produced stories that are unfavorable to Israel over the years, as well as being one of the only journalists to produce stories about Palestinian rocket-firers into Israel.

For example, he produced the (largely-staged) scenes in a Gaza hospital in January 2009, in which the Norwegian anti-Israeli activist Dr Mads Gilbert made hysterical accusations against Israel. (That footage by Paul was then rebroadcast on the BBC, CNN and elsewhere). (See the note titled “Why is the media quoting Dr Mads Gilbert without telling viewers of his support for 9/11?” here at section 9.)


Paul Martin, who formerly lived in Cairo, has worked for a number of media over the years, including BBC TV and radio. Indeed he was last in Gaza six weeks ago on assignment for the BBC, and yet the almost complete silence of the BBC now on his fate is deafening. Contrast this to the near hourly mentions, day after day, week after week, by the BBC of their former Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston while he was held in Gaza in 2007.

One suspects that the BBC’s concern for Johnston was that he was “a BBC man through and through” (which included, naturally, demonstrating a deep sympathy for the Palestinian cause in his broadcasts) whereas Paul Martin, who now only works on a freelance basis for the BBC, has at least made some attempts to be critical of Hamas as well as of Israel. (When Johnston was released, he noticeably avoided thanking the government of Israel, who had tried to help in all kinds of ways to secure his release, but instead called Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus to personally thank him. See last item here and other items on Johnston here.)


Furthermore, the Jerusalem-based Foreign Press Association (FPA), which last week continued to send out letters with scathing criticism of the Israeli government, has also said little on behalf of their colleague Paul Martin.

Hamas has announced that Martin had “violated the law and security of the Gaza Strip” (i.e. he dared to criticize Hamas in a report which I won’t draw attention to here as I don’t want to complicate matters for him.)

He went to Gaza to testify on behalf of Mohammed Abu Muaileq, a former member of the militant Abu Rish brigades. Abu Muaileq, who has defied Hamas, is subject to a possible death sentence according to Hamas, after Paul Martin filmed him saying he had decided to stop participating in violence against Israel.

Paul Martin has also written many times for The Times of London, which continues to lambast Israel on a daily basis, but has not done much reporting on Paul’s situation. (Ironically he was even the journalist who reported on Alan Johnston’s release for The Times in 2007.) By contrast, British-based Sky News and The Associated Press have done some reporting on Paul Martin.

Above: Paul Martin was detained by Hamas’ security forces, here pictured during training.



Reuters has the latest from the religion of tolerance:

Saudi cleric backs gender segregation with fatwa
Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:30 pm

RIYADH (Reuters) - A prominent Saudi cleric has issued an edict calling for opponents of the kingdom’s strict segregation of men and women to be put to death if they refuse to abandon their ideas.

Shaikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak said in a fatwa the mixing of genders at the workplace or in education “as advocated by modernisers” is prohibited because it allows “sight of what is forbidden, and forbidden talk between men and women.”

“All of this leads to whatever ensues,” he said in the text of the fatwa published on his website (

“Whoever allows this mixing ... allows forbidden things, and whoever allows them is an infidel and this means defection from Islam ... Either he retracts or he must be killed ... because he disavows and does not observe the Sharia,” Barrak said.

“Anyone who accepts that his daughter, sister or wife works with men or attend mixed-gender schooling cares little about his honour and this is a type of pimping,” Barrak said.

Barrak, believed to be 77, does not hold a government position but he is viewed by Islamists as the leading independent authority of Saudi Arabia’s hardline version of Sunni Islam, often termed Wahhabism…

The kingdom, a major U.S. ally, is ruled by the Al Saud family in alliance with clerics from the strict Wahhabi school of Islam who oversee mosques, the judiciary and vast parts of education, and run a religious police body.

The Saudi government pays a morals police squad that roams streets and shopping malls to make sure unrelated men and women are kept apart, that women are covered from head to toe and search for alcohol and drugs under the kingdom’s austere interpretation of Islam.



The Economic Times reports:

NEW DELHI: In what threatens to cast a shadow on the upcoming Indo-Pakistan talks, three Sikh youths were beheaded by the Taliban in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) region after they allegedly refused to convert to Islam. Their severed heads were dumped at a gurudwara in Peshawar.

The Sikh youths – identified as Jaspal Singh, Sarabjit Singh and Baronat Singh – were … told by the Taliban to embrace Islam or face death. When the Sikh youths refused, their heads were chopped and sent to the Bhai Joga Singh Gurudwara in Peshawar.

A sizeable number of Sikhs lived in the tribal belt, particularly Aurakzai Agency, till the Taliban imposed jiziya or religious tax on them in 2009. Most members of the community, faced with increasing pressure from the Taliban to convert to Islam, have since fled to cities across Pakistan.



Meanwhile in Iraq, AFP (Agence France Presse) reports the following. (Since this AFP article was written, another three Christians have been murdered in Mosul.)

Fifth Christian killed in a week in north Iraq

MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) - Iraqi police said they found a Christian shopkeeper shot to death in the restive northern city of Mosul, the fifth Christian killing in a week thought to be related to March 7 elections.

Adnan al-Dahan, a 57-year-old Syrian Orthodox, was found with bullet wounds to his head in the northern Mosul district of al-Belladiyat, police and his relatives said.

Dahan had been kidnapped from his grocery shop last week in the neighbourhood of Al-Habda, also in northern Mosul, according to a police officer who did not want to be named...

Dahan was the fifth Christian to have been killed during the past week in Mosul, which is located about 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Baghdad and has a Christian population of between 2,000 and 3,000...

On Wednesday, 20-year-old Assyrian Christian student Wissam George’s bullet-riddled body was recovered after he went missing the same morning.

A day earlier, a gunman killed 21-year-old engineering student Zia Toma and wounded 22-year-old pharmacy student Ramsin Shmael, both Assyrian Christians.

Greengrocer Fatukhi Munir was gunned down inside his shop in a drive-by shooting late on Monday, and armed assailants killed Rayan Salem Elias, a Chaldean, outside his home on Sunday.

In late 2008, a systematic campaign of killings and targeted violence killed 40 Christians and saw more than 12,000 flee Mosul.


Tom Gross adds:

Yesterday, The Sunday Telegraph reported that a British cyclist was “deliberately run down in Saudi Arabia,” in what is reported to be an anti-Christian attack.

On Saturday, Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants killed 11 Christian villagers in the southern Philippines.



While The New York Times and other prominent media fail to properly report on these matters, the Associated Press brings us the following story.

New York Times launching Qatar edition of `T’
Tuesday February 16, 2010, 12:17 pm EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Times Co. said Tuesday it is launching a bilingual Arabic-English version of “T: The New York Times Style Magazine” in Qatar.

The lifestyle and luxury magazine will be published every two months this year and every month in 2011. It will have local and regional features, photographs and commentary.

The magazine will be published by Oryx Advertising Co., one of Qatar’s largest publishers.

New York Times shares were up 44 cents, or 4.1 percent, at $11.08 in midday trade Tuesday.



Ha’aretz reports today:

Israel yesterday lodged a formal complaint with Spain, charging that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are being instilled in elementary students across parts of the country.

The Israeli embassy in Madrid has received dozens of postcards addressed to the Israeli envoy – from students ages 5 and 6 – including hand-written messages such as “Jews kill for money,” “Evacuate the country for Palestinians,” and “Go to someplace where someone will be willing to accept you.”

According to sources in the Foreign Ministry, this is an organized campaign by officials outside the education system in Spain that have been given permission to work with the students.

The Foreign Ministry had originally planned to summon the Spanish envoy to Israel, Alvaro Iranzo, to rebuke him.

However, in an effort to prevent a diplomatic crisis, the ministry decided instead to discuss the matter with him via telephone.

Naor Gilon, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director for Western Europe, spoke with Iranzo on Sunday and said, “Israel feels strong discontent over the postcards sent by school students and views the matter with utmost gravity.”

The Spanish envoy explained that the postcards were a private initiative, and not one that is part of Spain’s education ministry.

Gilon said Israel understands this is not a government policy, but stressed that these types of initiatives have no place in schools and that Israel requests action be taken to have the campaign stopped.



AFP (Agence France Presse) reports:

Gaddafi calls for jihad against Switzerland over minaret ban
February 25, 2010, 02:22 PM US/Eastern

Libyan leader Moammer Gaddafi called on Thursday for jihad (holy war) against Switzerland over the ban adopted last year on the construction of minarets in the country.

“It is against unbelieving and apostate Switzerland that jihad ought to be proclaimed by all means,” Gaddafi said during a speech in the Mediterranean coastal city of Bengazi to mark the birthday of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

“Jihad against Switzerland, against Zionism, against foreign aggression is not terrorism,” Gaddafi said.

“Any Muslim around the world who has dealings with Switzerland is an infidel (and is) against Islam, against Mohammed, against God, against the Koran,” the leader told a crowd of thousands in a speech broadcast live on television.

In a November 29 referendum, Swiss voters approved by a margin of 57.5 percent a ban on the construction in their country of minarets, the tower that are a signature part of mosques.



Gaddafi Bans Europeans from Libya

Gaddafi has announced that he would ban citizens of the European Union from entering Libya. The decision seemed to come as a surprise to most European officials, and marks a major escalation in a two year old dispute between Libya and Switzerland. Details of the travel ban, which would seemingly affect citizens of all E.U. states, are not yet clear. The European Commission said that Europeans arriving in Libya with valid visas were already being denied entry, but it was not clear whether European residents already in Libya, or perhaps even European diplomats, would be expelled. The European Commission has not yet responded to the move.


Tom Gross adds:

See also note 16 here, titled “Mental patient breaks into UN, gives ninety-minute speech (video)”



Islamic preacher who called Jews “filth” to speak at London university
(London) Evening Standard
February 25, 2010

A London university has been condemned for inviting an Islamic preacher with anti-Semitic and homophobic views to give a lecture to students.

Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick is due to speak at King’s College’s Strand campus at six tonight.

Peter Tatchell, of homosexual pressure group Outrage, accused university bosses of cowardice and “complicity with fundamentalism” by giving the preacher a public platform.

Sheikh Quick has denounced the “filth” of Jews and once gave a televised lecture in which he said the Islamic position on homosexuality is “death”.

He added: “Muslims are going to have to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it’s not enough to call names.”

He is due to give a talk on the environment in an event organised by the University of London Union Islamic Society for its Green Week campaign.

Mr Tatchell said: “King’s College would not host a white supremacist who advocated racism or death to black people… King’s College has an equal opportunities policy that prohibits the promotion of hatred against minorities, but it is not enforcing it.

“The university is not a safe place for Jewish and gay students when it facilitates a vicious homophobe and anti-Semite like Sheikh Abdullah Quick.”

He claimed that the university’s attitude represented “collusion with the gateways to terrorism”.

A King’s College spokeswoman said Sheikh Quick’s talk would be on “environmental problems, Islamic solutions”, adding: “He has already spoken at other universities without controversy and there is no indication that the topic of his talk will be controversial.

“The Dean of King’s College London, who oversees multi-faith relations, and the president of the students’ union will attend the event. If they deem any comments from Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick to be offensive to minorities, the talk will be stopped.”

Sheikh Quick is also due to visit the University of East London at the weekend.

His website says he was born in America and completed a masters degree and a doctorate in African history at the University of Toronto, and has served as an imam in Los Angeles, Jamaica, Canada and Cape Town.



The (London) Jewish Chronicle reports:

Police to investigate Azzam Tamimi SOAS talk
By Robyn Rosen, February 12, 2010

Police are investigating after Palestinian academic Azzam Tamim told students at a lecture at London’s School of African and Oriental Studies that he “longs to be a martyr” and that Israel “must come to an end”.

On Monday, Dr Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, addressed Cambridge University’s Islamic Society.

He is also due to speak at the Federation of Student Islamic Societies’ Palestine Week at Manchester University this weekend.

At SOAS, he praised Hamas and said: “Today Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation because that’s what the Americans and Israelis and cowardly politicians of Europe want, but what is so terrorist about it?

“You shouldn’t be afraid of being labelled extreme, radical or terrorist. If fighting for your home land is terrorism, I take pride in being a terrorist. The Koran tells me if I die for my homeland, I’m a martyr and I long to be a martyr.”

He criticised calls for a two-state solution and said: “Why are the Jews superhuman and better than anyone else that God would give them a homeland? Is God a racist? A god who would prefer people because of their race is not a god I want to associate with. Claiming they are being given the land of God is a racist idea.

“If the world felt so guilty about the Holocaust, the Jews should have been compensated, not brought to my country at the expense of my people.

“Israel does not belong to my homeland and must come to an end. This can happen peacefully if they acknowledge what they did – or we will continue to struggle until Israel is no more.”

He also urged students to continue hosting debates, despite calls to ban controversial speakers from campuses.

He said: “I want to encourage you not to be intimidated by the pro-Israel lobby. The Zionists tell a pack of lies.”



Passengers left stunned after Muslim bus driver pulls over and begins praying in the aisle
The Daily Mail (London)
February 12, 2010

A Muslim bus driver stunned passengers by pulling over mid-route and beginning to pray in the aisle. The driver stopped the bus without warning before removing his shoes and, using a fluorescent jacket as a prayer mat, beginning to chant in Arabic.

Passengers said they feared the driver could be preparing for a terror attack. No one was able to get on or off the vehicle during the five-minute prayer session.

Passenger Gayle Griffiths complained to Transport for London about the bizarre incident on the No.24 bus in Gospel Oak, north London, this week.

Mother-of-one Miss Griffiths, 33, of Camden, north-west London, had boarded the bus a few minutes earlier on her way home from work. She says that she even feared at the time that the driver might be a fanatic planning to blow up the bus.

She said: “I have done the journey a million times before but I was in a hurry to get home to pick my little girl up from school. We had just picked up and let off people at a bus stop and moved off again when the driver stopped the bus very suddenly.

“He got out of his cab, leaving the engine running, and walked towards the middle exit door. He laid out a fluorescent jacket on the floor and I thought that somebody must have been sick and he was covering it up.

“I didn’t really think much of it. But then he took off his shoes and began praying. I was gobsmacked and quite bewildered.’

Miss Griffiths said the bus driver didn’t give the passengers any explanation as to what he was doing.

“He hadn’t addressed the passengers at all,” she said. “I didn’t say anything and nor did anyone else. I thought it would all be over in 30 seconds but it went on for over five minutes. It even went through my mind that this might be some sort of terrorist attack with the bus blown up because I had heard that suicide bombers prayed before attacks.

“As the engine was running anyone could also have got in the cab and driven off with a bus full of passengers. He was also blocking the exit, so if something had happened we would not have been able to get off.”

“Everyone was looking round in a mix of shock and amazement. It was truly bizarre, ludicrous and aggravating. We are delayed often enough as it is in London.

“We live in a multi-cultural society but there is a time and a place for prayer and the middle of a journey with a busload of passengers is not it.”

Transport for London said it had apologised to all the passengers for the delay to their journey and said all Muslim drivers are being reminded that they should pray during statutory rest periods rather than hold up services.

A TfL spokesman said: “A route 24 bus was delayed following a decision by the driver to stop the bus to pray. TfL apologises to passengers for any inconvenience this may have caused them.

“As diverse employers, TfL and the bus operators provide suitable prayer or quiet rooms at garages and other key locations for staff who wish to practise their faith.

“We have asked London General to remind drivers who have a requirement to pray to use these facilities during their rest periods.”