Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

And the screens went blank in Ramallah (Plus: Palestinians depict Obama as an ape)

September 25, 2011


1. “63 years of occupation”
2. And the screens went blank in Ramallah
3. Palestinians abuse donkey and depict Obama as an ape in statehood demonstrations
4. Abbas’s formal letter to UN demands 1947, not 1967, borders
5. Abbas’s logo shows all of Israel as Palestine
6. 25-year-old Israeli and his one year-old-son “murdered by Palestinians on Friday”
7. The 13 democracies that stood with Israel
8. A transcript of Netanyahu’s speech to the UN


[All notes below by Tom Gross]


I sent out videos of the speeches to the UN by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, on my smaller email list on Friday, shortly after they made them.

For those who haven’t seen them, I would recommend taking the time to watch Netanyahu’s speech in particular. It can be viewed here:

(I also attach a transcript at the foot of this page.)



Almost no international media have noted that while in Israel, all three main television networks broadcast Abbas’s speech in full without interruption, in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority TV turned the cameras off the moment Netanyahu took to the podium.

This is a small, but telling indicator of the difference between a free and open society, and a non-free one.

Netanyahu spoke about two states for two peoples, whereas Abbas spoke about two states without mentioning peoples.

Abbas spoke not of an occupation from 1967, but of an occupation of 63 years – i.e. not just the West Bank is occupied as far as Abbas is concerned.

Abbas has repeatedly said this in Arabic too, for example, in his interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm al-Sabea on Aug. 27 he said Israel must end 63 years of occupation.

Abbas’s UN speech contained many other inaccuracies too. For example, he called Israel’s “the last occupation”. This is certainly news to Chechens, Kurds, Tibetans, Tamils, Basques, Cypriots and 130 other stateless peoples around the world.



(Hat tip: Challah Hu Akbar’s blog)

Palestinians have abused donkeys before. See, for example, here.



Many leading media outlets have also failed to report that Palestinian Authority President Abbas’s formal application to join the UN makes no reference to the 1967 borders, but to the 1947 resolution prior to Israel’s war of independence. It states:

“This application for membership is being submitted on the Palestinian people’s natural, legal and historic rights and based on United Nations General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947.”

Here is the text of Abbas’s letter as reproduced by the Palestinian Maan news agency.



Abbas’s official text of his UN remarks included a logo on the top right hand side of the page showing all of Israel as a future Palestinian state:



Israeli media reports that police have confirmed that Hillel Palmer and his infant son Jonathan were likely murdered in an act of Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank on Friday, after Palestinians dropped a large boulder on their car as it was being driven, causing it to overturn.

As usual, most international media are not reporting on this latest death of Israeli civilians.



Thirteen countries stood with Israel and boycotted the UN’s shamefully anti-Semitic “Durban III” conference in New York last week. They were:

The United States, Australia, Canada, Britain, France, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria.

Those who believe in freedom and human rights will take heart at the quality of countries on this list, but may despair that other democracies (including those with traditionally anti-Semitic societies such as Spain, Belgium, Sweden and Greece) chose instead to be grouped with Iran, Syria, North Korea, Burma, China, Zimbabwe and other dictatorships.)

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


Remarks by Israeli PM Netanyahu to the UN General Assembly
September 23, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, and innovators apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland - it was then that this was branded shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it was denounced! And it’s here, year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel - the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunate part of the UN institution. It’s the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraq headed the UN Committee on Disarmament. You might say: That’s the past. Well, here’s what’s happening now - right now, today, Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thing up.

So here in the UN, automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun rises in the west. But they can also decide - they have decided - that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me - and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people, serving their nations here - But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. The truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have.

Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents - in London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.

Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday - can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it’s too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter.

That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.

And the world around Israel is definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant Islam has already taken over Lebanon and Gaza. It’s determined to tear apart the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. It’s poisoned many Arab minds against Jews and Israel, against America and the West. It opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.

Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times - if you want to slow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to make territorial compromises. And this theory sounds simple. Basically it goes like this: Leave the territory, and peace will be advanced. The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay. And don’t worry about the pesky details of how Israel will actually defend itself; international troops will do the job.

These people say to me constantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and everything will work out. You know, there’s only one problem with that theory. We’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked. In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of the Palestinian demands. Arafat rejected it. The Palestinians then launched a terror attack that claimed a thousand Israeli lives.

Prime Minister Olmert afterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008. President Abbas didn’t even respond to it.

But Israel did more than just make sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That didn’t calm the Islamic storm, the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought the storm closer and made it stronger.

Hezbollah and Hamas fired thousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated. See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn’t defeat the radicals, the moderates were devoured by the radicals. And I regret to say that international troops like UNIFIL in Lebanon and EUBAM in Gaza didn’t stop the radicals from attacking Israel.

We left Gaza hoping for peace.

We didn’t freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

And I don’t think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas.

Now the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded. They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a bold act of peace.

But ladies and gentlemen, we didn’t get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day - in one day.

President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams. Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.

Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might understand that, given all this, Israelis rightly ask: What’s to prevent this from happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our major cities in the south of the country are within a few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in the center of the country, opposite the West Bank, our cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometers away from the edge of the West Bank.

So I want to ask you. Would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israelis are prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we’re not prepared to have another Gaza there. And that’s why we need to have real security arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate with us.

Israelis remember the bitter lessons of Gaza. Many of Israel’s critics ignore them. They irresponsibly advise Israel to go down this same perilous path again. You read what these people say and it’s as if nothing happened - just repeating the same advice, the same formulas as though none of this happened.

And these critics continue to press Israel to make far-reaching concessions without first assuring Israel’s security. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, or at the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.

So in the face of the labels and the libels, Israel must heed better advice. Better a bad press than a good eulogy, and better still would be a fair press whose sense of history extends beyond breakfast, and which recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed, but they will not be addressed without negotiations. And the needs are many, because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.

I want to put it for you in perspective, because you’re all in the city. That’s about two-thirds the length of Manhattan. It’s the distance between Battery Park and Columbia University. And don’t forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel’s neighbors.

So how do you protect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to its destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can’t defend it from within that narrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth, and that’s exactly why Security Council Resolution 242 didn’t require Israel to leave all the territories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about withdrawal from territories, to secure and defensible boundaries. And to defend itself, Israel must therefore maintain a long-term Israeli military presence in critical strategic areas in the West Bank.

I explained this to President Abbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country, it could never accept such arrangements. Why not? America has had troops in Japan, Germany and South Korea for more than a half a century. Britain has had an air base in Cyprus. France has forces in three independent African nations. None of these states claim that they’re not sovereign countries.

And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed. Take the issue of air space. Again, Israel’s small dimensions create huge security problems. America can be crossed by jet airplane in six hours. To fly across Israel, it takes three minutes. So is Israel’s tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to a Palestinian state not at peace with Israel?

Our major international airport is a few kilometers away from the West Bank. Without peace, will our planes become targets for antiaircraft missiles placed in the adjacent Palestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank? It’s not merely the West Bank, it’s the West Bank mountains. It just dominates the coastal plain where most of Israel’s population sits below. How could we prevent the smuggling into these mountains of those missiles that could be fired on our cities?

I bring up these problems because they’re not theoretical problems. They’re very real. And for Israelis, they’re life-and-death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel’s security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared, not afterwards, because if you leave it afterwards, they won’t be sealed. And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.

The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell you this. After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. We will be the first.

And there’s one more thing. Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier Gilad Shalit captive for five years.

They haven’t given even one Red Cross visit. He’s held in a dungeon, in darkness, against all international norms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit. He is the grandson of Zvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust by coming in the 1930’s as a boy to the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the son of every Israeli family. Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release. If you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that’s the resolution you should pass.

Ladies and gentlemen, last year in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year in the Knesset and in the U.S. Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state. Yes, the Jewish state. After all, this is the body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago. Now, don’t you think it’s about time that Palestinians did the same?

The Jewish state of Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than 1million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day - in fact, I think they made it right here in New York - they said the Palestinian state won’t allow any Jews in it. They’ll be Jew-free - Judenrein. That’s ethnic cleansing. There are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable by death. That’s racism. And you know which laws this evokes.

Israel has no intention whatsoever to change the democratic character of our state. We just don’t want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state. We want to give up the fantasy of flooding Israel with millions of Palestinians.

President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that’s odd. Our conflict was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the - I guess that the settlements he’s talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva. Maybe that’s what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn’t say from 1967; he said from1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict.

The settlements have to be - it’s an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border.

I think it’s time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader has recognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to President Truman in1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is the Jewish state.

President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and make peace with us. In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises. We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor its subjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should be ready, like us, for compromise. And we will know that they’re ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking Israel’s security requirements seriously and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancient homeland.

I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That’s like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we’re called “Jews”? Because we come from Judea.

In my office in Jerusalem, there’s an ancient seal. It’s a signet ring of a Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there’s a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu. That’s my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin - Binyamin - the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Samaria 4,000 years ago, and there’s been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.

And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back: Jews in Spain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms; Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling around it. They never stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land.

As the prime minister of Israel, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the sun, but who never gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace. I’ve worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn’t respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn’t respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement in the Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinian economy. But again - no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did that before, ever. Once again - you applaud, but there was no response. No response.

In the last few weeks, American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks. There were things in those ideas about borders that I didn’t like. There were things thereabout the Jewish state that I’m sure the Palestinians didn’t like.

But with all my reservations, I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.

President Abbas, why don’t you join me? We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s negotiate peace.

I spent years defending Israel on the battlefield. I spent decades defending Israel in the court of public opinion. President Abbas, you’ve dedicated your life to advancing the Palestinian cause. Must this conflict continue for generations, or will we be able our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how we found a way to end it? That’s what we should aim for, and that’s what I believe we can achieve.

In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you. If you wish, I’ll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better suggestion. We’ve both just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today in the United Nations. Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peace negotiations?

And I suggest we talk openly and honestly. Let’s listen to one another. Let’s do as we say in the Middle East: Let’s talk “doogri”. That means straightforward. I’ll tell you my needs and concerns. You’ll tell me yours. And with God’s help, we’ll find the common ground of peace.

There’s an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the same is true of peace. I can not make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President Abbas, I extend my hand - the hand of Israel - in peace. I hope that you will grasp that hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Your people call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch. We dwell in the same land. Our destinies are intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Isaiah - [Isaiah 9:1 in Hebrew] - “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.” Let that light be the light of peace.

“In truth the question of what Netanyahu would concede is irrelevant”

September 21, 2011

* Jeff Jacoby: “If the Palestinian Authority genuinely desired international recognition as a sovereign state, Mahmoud Abbas wouldn’t have come to New York to seek membership in the UN this week. There would have been no need to, for Palestine would have long since taken its seat in the UN. But for the better part of a century, the Arabs of Palestine have consistently said no when presented with the chance to build a state of their own.”

* “Kurds or Tamils or Tibetans – whose longstanding quests for a nation-state the world ignores – must find it maddening to watch the international community trip over itself in its eagerness to proclaim, again and again, the need for a Palestinian state. And they must be baffled by the Palestinians’ invariable refusal to take yes for an answer.”

* “It is no mystery, however. The raison d’être of the Palestinian movement has never been the establishment and building-up of a sovereign Palestinian homeland. It has always been the negation of a sovereign Jewish homeland.”

* Palestinian official: Even Palestinian “refugees” in the West Bank (i.e. the majority of the population there by Palestinian definitions) won’t get citizenship in the new Palestine. They have to move to Israel.

* Evelyn Gordon: “For years, the world has backed a Palestinian state on the grounds Palestinians are stateless people who deserve a country of their own. And now, a senior Palestinian official has announced once they have received a state, most Palestinians will still be stateless – even those who actually live in ‘Palestine.’”

* “Moreover, the new state won’t provide these residents with any services: It expects UNRWA – or, more accurately, the American and European taxpayers who fund it – to continue providing their schooling, healthcare, welfare allowances, etc.”

* Yossi Klein Halevi: “The Netanyahu government isn’t the cause of the breakdown of the peace process but its result.”

Palestinian strongman Abbas, who has clung on to power despite his term ending last year, now seeks international legitimacy



1. “Thank you Mr. Erdogan for supporting the establishment of an independent Kurdish state”
2. “‘Palestine’ to deny citizenship to 45 percent of its Palestinian residents” (By Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Sept. 21, 2011)
3. “There is no Palestinian state” (By Efraim Karsh, The Daily Beast, Sept. 16, 2011)
4. “A Palestinian state? Don’t count on it” (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, Sept. 21, 2011)
5. “No Apologies: Israel isn’t to blame for its growing isolation” (By Yossi Klein Halevi, New Republic, Sept. 19, 2011)
6. “The Palestinian Bid for Statehood and ICC Jurisdiction” (By David Benjamin, The Weekly Standard, Sept. 19, 2011)
7. “Direct negotiations are the true path to peace in the Middle East,” (By Julia Gillard, The Australian, Sept. 21, 2011)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach seven pieces relating to the Palestinian intention to seek an independent state at the UN on Friday. (Of these writers, Efraim Karsh, Jeff Jacoby, Yossi Klein Halevi and David Benjamin, are subscribers to this email list.)

I have removed the email address of the first writer to protect his privacy.



Date: Tue, 20 Sep 20 2011 at 2:37 PM
Subject: Thank You Mr. Erdogan for Supporting the Establishment of an Independent Kurdish State

Thank you PM Erdogan,

Selam Aleykum!

I am a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin living in Western Canada. I wanted to thank you very much for your support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, because logically, that means that you must also strongly support the establishment of a Kurdish state on the traditional territory where our ancient Kurdish people have been living for time immemorial.

Historically, it is clear that the Palestinians have been part of the great Arab nation for many generations. Until Catastrophe/Nakba War1948, the Muslims living in what was British Mandatory Palestine considered themselves Muslims and Arabs. Never did they refer to themselves as Palestinians. Only the Jews living there called themselves Palestinian.

But there is no doubt that today, there is a Palestinian people because the Muslims living there today and those who were kicked out by the Zionists consider themselves Palestinians.

The Palestinian people is therefore at most 63 years old. Many of their lauded nation did not even consider themselves Palestinians until after the June, 1967 war.

Whatever is the case, what is clear that the glorious Kurdish nation is not 63 years old. It has been in existence for more than 2,000 years and we have considered ourselves as Kurds during these long milleniums.

Indeed, I am sure that you will agree that if comparing an identity of people which is a most 63 years old which that of an ancient people more than 2,000 years old, that if the 63 year old people – maybe about 6-7 million of them – deserve a state, then we Kurds who number much more than 30 million in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and other places, deserve our own country.

Turkey is the country which has the most Kurds. Our birthrate in Turkey is much higher than the ethnic Turks, and if your government’s statistics are correct, then there are probably 6–7 million Kurds alone in Istanbul (out of about total of 20 million in the Istanbul greater region), means that there are probably more Kurds in Istanbul than in all of northern Iraq.

So Istanbul is therefore the largest Kurdish city in the world. Indeed, since that is in western Turkey of today, let us grant you and the ethnic Turks that city. But the traditional Kurdish heartland of today’s southeast Turkey is one of the great centers of Kurdistan, and by that definition, should be part of the Kurdish state.

And since you are such a strong supporter of the now relatively young Palestinian nation, and you also supported the creation of Kosovo for the Albanian majority in this territory which has been part of Serbia for many generations, you have, Mr. Prime Minister, by this same logic, to support our cause to create an independent Kurdistan including areas today in northern Iraq, Iran, northern Syria, and Turkey.

If you disagree, then, excuse me, you are being intellectually dishonest and politically expedient. If this is true, then how can we trust you to guide our country honestly, because you are oppressing the Kurds in Turkey and forcing them to become Turks.
But surely, Mr. Prime Minister, as the great leader you are of our country, you are an honest and true man, so that leaves us to come to only one conclusion – that is that you must done everything you can to help create Kurdistan, just as you are doing to help create a Palestine for the young Palestinian nation.

Thank you in advance for support the creation of a political nation called Kurdistan.

Warmest regards to the ethnic Turks of Turkey.


Feridun Turk (the name my family was forced to take)
True name: Goran Paloyi



“Palestine” to deny citizenship to 45 percent of its Palestinian residents
By Evelyn Gordon
Commentary magazine
September 21, 2011

It’s eminently fitting the woman the Palestinian Authority chose to formally launch its statehood bid is a proud mother of five murderers, of whom one is now dead while the other four are serving life sentences in Israel. After all, a woman who teaches her sons to kill Israelis even at the expense of their own welfare is the perfect emblem of a Palestinian state dedicated to destroying Israel even at the expense of its people’s welfare. And if that accusation seems far-fetched, just consider the shocking interview the PLO’s ambassador to Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah, gave the Lebanese Daily Star last week:

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state…

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees…

“When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

The Palestinian Liberation Organization would remain responsible for refugees, and Abdullah says that UNRWA would continue its work as usual.

This is simply unbelievable. For years, the world has backed a Palestinian state on the grounds Palestinians are stateless people who deserve a country of their own. And now, a senior Palestinian official has announced once they have received a state, MOST Palestinians will still be stateless – EVEN those who actually live in “Palestine.”

Moreover, the new state won’t provide these residents with any services: It expects UNRWA – or, more accurately, the American and European taxpayers who provide the bulk of that organization’s funding – to continue providing their schooling, healthcare, welfare allowances, etc.

According to UNRWA, some 689,000 of the West Bank’s 2.4 million Palestinians and 1.1 million of Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians are refugees. Thus, aside from the 2.9 million Diaspora refugees, a whopping 45 percent of the new state’s residents will also remain stateless, deprived of both citizenship and services by the country the world fondly imagines is being created to serve their needs.

But of course, the PA doesn’t want a state to serve its people’s needs; it wants a state to further its goal of destroying Israel. Hence the refugees can’t be given citizenship; that would undermine its demand to resettle them in Israel, thereby destroying the Jewish state demographically.

And if the price is leaving half its people in stateless squalor for the next several decades or centuries, it’s a perfectly acceptable one to pay for the goal of killing the Jewish state. Just like Latifa Abu Hmeid thinks one son dead and four in jail is an acceptable price to pay for the goal of killing Jews.


EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton enjoys a meeting in Ramallah last week with Palestinian leader Abbas



There is no Palestinian state
By Efraim Karsh
The Daily Beast
September 16, 2011

As the United Nations prepares to vote on the issue of Palestinian statehood, it might be worth bearing in mind that whatever the outcome, the result will certainly not be the creation of an actual Palestinian state, any more than the November 1947 partition resolution spelled the inevitable creation of a Jewish one.

In 1948, Israel came into being due to the extraordinary cohesion of Palestine’s Jewish community (the Yishuv). Armed with an unwavering sense of purpose and an extensive network of institutions, the Yishuv managed to surmount a bevy of international obstacles and fend off a pan-Arab attempt to destroy it. Likewise, it was the total lack of communal solidarity – the willingness to subordinate personal interest to the collective good – that accounted for the collapse and dispersion of Palestinian Arab society as its leaders tried to subvert partition.

Sixty-four years later, Palestinian society seems no better prepared for statehood. And the U.N. would be doing the Palestinians a great disservice by accepting the corrupt and dysfunctional Palestinian Authority as its newest member. While this would hardly be the first failed state to be delivered by the world organization, the unique circumstances of its possible birth make failure a foregone conclusion, and the consequences are too dire to contemplate.

The building of the Jewish state began in the Swiss town of Basel in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, which defined Zionism’s goal as “the creation of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine to be secured by public law,” and established institutions to promote it. By the time the League of Nations appointed Britain as the mandatory for Palestine 23 years later, the Yishuv had been transformed into a cohesive and organized national community that provided most of Palestine’s Jewry with work, trade union protection as well as with education, health care, and defense.

By contrast, it was the tragedy of the Palestinians that the two leaders who determined their national development during the 20th century – Hajj Amin Husseini and Yasser Arafat – were far more interested in destroying the Jewish national cause than leading their own people. As far back as 1978, Arafat told his close friend and collaborator, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the traditions, unity, and discipline to have a successful state. Once given control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza, this prognosis became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as his regime quickly became oppressive and corrupt. Later it helped launch the second intifada, the bloodiest and most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war. In the process, he destroyed the fragile civil society and relatively productive economy that had developed during the previous decade.

Paradoxically, it was Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the June 1967 war that laid the groundwork for Palestinian civil society. Not only did it bring the issue of Palestinian independence to the forefront of the international agenda, but it also produced dramatic improvements in the Palestinians’ quality of life. During the occupation, the territories became the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world – ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. From 1967 to 2000, life expectancy rose from 48 to 72, while infant mortality fell from 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 births in 2000. And while there was not a single university that existed in the West Bank or Gaza before Israeli rule, by the mid-1990s, there were seven such institutions, boasting more than 16,000 students.

All of these achievements were steadily undone after Oslo, as Arafat’s regime took control over parts of the territories. In September of 1993, conditions in the West Bank and Gaza were still better than those in most neighboring Arab states – and this despite the economic decline caused by the first intifada. Within six months of Arafat’s arrival in Gaza, the standard of living in the strip fell by 25 percent, and more than half of the area’s residents claimed to have been happier under Israeli rule. The launch of the second intifada six years later dealt the death blow to the economic and institutional gains that Israel bequeathed.

In an apparent departure from this destructive path, in the summer of 2007, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad embarked on the first true state-building effort in Palestinian history. And he has had some modest successes, most notably a sustained economic recovery that has nearly restored the West Bank’s pre-intifada levels of performance. Yet Fayyad has created no new institutions, and the PA remains a corrupt and wholly dysfunctional organization. The Palestinian prime minister may claim to have laid the groundwork for a democratic Palestine, but the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, and by extension his own position, are totally unconstitutional. Not only did Abbas defy Hamas’s landslide victory in the January 2006 parliamentary election, but Abbas’s presidency expired more than two years ago.

No less important, the two factions dominating Palestinian life, the Hamas and Fatah, remain armed groups, and active practitioners of terrorism – an assured recipe for a failed state. The Oslo Accords charged the PA to dismantle all armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza, but Arafat never complied; David Ben-Gurion, by contrast, dissolved all Jewish underground movements within a fortnight from Israel’s independence, incorporating them into the newly established Israeli Defense Forces. Following statehood, even if Abbas were to make a genuine commitment to reform, Hamas would continue to defy his tenuous authority; not only does the group rule the Gaza Strip, which it has transformed into an Islamist micro-state, but it also wields considerable power in the West Bank.

Small wonder that recent surveys show that more Palestinians in east Jerusalem, who are entitled to Israeli social benefits and are free to travel across Israel’s pre-1967 borders, would rather become citizens of the Jewish state than citizens of a new Palestinian one. Two thirds of them believe that a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence backed by the U.N. would have no positive effect. And they’re right. Unfortunately the ramifications – increased conflict with Israel and a deepening rift in an already divided Palestinian society – are manifold. Once again, the Palestinian leadership is leading its people astray.



A Palestinian state? Don’t count on it
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
September 21, 2011

IF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY genuinely desired international recognition as a sovereign state, Mahmoud Abbas wouldn’t have come to New York to seek membership in the UN General Assembly this week. There would have been no need to, for Palestine would have long since taken its seat in the United Nations.

Were Palestinian statehood Abbas’s real goal, after all, he could have delivered it to his people three years ago. In 2008, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state on territory equal (after land swaps) to 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, with free passage between the two plus a capital in the Arab section of Jerusalem. Yet Abbas turned down the Israeli offer. And he has refused ever since even to engage in negotiations.

“It is our legitimate right to demand the full membership of the state of Palestine in the UN,” Abbas declared in Ramallah on Friday, “to put an end to a historical injustice by attaining liberty and independence, like the other peoples of the earth.”

But for the better part of a century, the Arabs of Palestine have consistently said no when presented with the chance to build a state of their own. They said no in 1937, when the British government, which then ruled Palestine, proposed to divide the land into separate Arab and Jewish states. Arab leaders said no again in 1947, choosing to go to war rather than accept the UN’s decision to partition Palestine between its Jewish and Arab populations. When Israel in 1967 offered to relinquish the land it had acquired in exchange for peace with its neighbors, the Arab world’s response, issued at a summit in Khartoum, was not one no, but three: “No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.”

At Camp David in 2000, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a sovereign state with shared control of Jerusalem and billions of dollars in compensation for Palestinian refugees. Yasser Arafat refused the offer, and returned to launch the deadly terror war known as the Second Intifada.

There is no shortage in this world of stateless peoples yearning for a homeland, many of them ethnic groups with centuries of history, unique in language and culture. Kurds or Tamils or Tibetans – whose longstanding quests for a nation-state the world ignores – must find it maddening to watch the international community trip over itself in its eagerness to proclaim, again and again, the need for a Palestinian state. And they must be baffled by the Palestinians’ invariable refusal to take yes for an answer.

It is no mystery, however. The raison d’être of the Palestinian movement has never been the establishment and building-up of a sovereign Palestinian homeland. It has always been the negation of a sovereign Jewish homeland. That is why well-intended proposals for a “two-state solution” have never come to fruition, no matter how earnestly proposed by US presidents or UN secretaries-general. That is why the basic charter not just of Hamas but even of Abbas’s supposedly moderate Fatah vows to continue the “armed struggle” until “the Zionist state is demolished.” And that is why Abbas and other Palestinian leaders insist that a Palestinian state would be explicitly Arab and Muslim, but adamantly refuse to acknowledge that Israel is legitimately the Jewish state.

The goal of the Palestinian movement has always been the negation of the Jewish state. Both Fatah and Hamas feature logos that depict crossed weapons imposed against the map of Israel.

“Palestinian nationalism,” Edward Said told an interviewer in 1999, “was based on driving all Israelis out.” Sadly, it still is.

Last week, to kick off its campaign seeking UN recognition as a state, the Palestinian Authority staged a highly publicized march to the UN offices in Ramallah, where a letter was delivered for Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Officials named Latifa Abu Hmeid to lead the procession and hand over the letter. “She was chosen,” reported the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, “because she is a symbol of Palestinian suffering as a result of the occupation.”

What the paper did not mention is that Abu Hmeid is the mother of four murderers, whose sons are serving a total of 18 life sentences for their involvement in multiple terrorist attacks. According to Palestinian Media Watch, this is not the first time Abu Hmeid has been honored. Last year, the Palestinian Authority awarded her “the Plaque of Resoluteness and Giving,” and a government minister publicly extolled her virtues: “It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor.”

It is this grotesque and bloody culture that Palestinian leaders want the UN to affirm as worthy of statehood. The wonder is not they make the request, but that anyone thinks it should be granted.



No Apologies: Israel isn’t to blame for its growing isolation
By Yossi Klein Halevi
The New Republic
September 19, 2011

Jerusalem – As the U.N. votes on Palestinian statehood, and former regional allies of the Jewish state like Turkey and Egypt turn openly hostile, much of the international community is blaming Israel for its own isolation.

If only Israel had apologized to Turkey for killing nine of its nationals on last year’s Gaza flotilla, so the argument goes, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan would not be threatening now to send warships against the Israeli coast. If only Israel had apologized to Egypt for the accidental killing of six of their soldiers when Israeli helicopters entered Egyptian territory in pursuit of terrorists last August, an Egyptian mob wouldn’t have ransacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo, as Egyptian leaders refused to take calls from desperate Israeli leaders. And if only Israel had stopped building in settlements and offered the Palestinians a fair solution, they would not now be turning to the U.N. to substitute an imposed solution for the negotiating process.

This convergence of blame comes at a time of spiritual vulnerability for Jews. This is, after all, our season of contrition. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, the process of self-examination intensifies. And as Jewish tradition emphasizes, the basis for penitence is apology. Before seeking forgiveness from God, we are to seek forgiveness from those we have hurt, even inadvertently.

But in the present atmosphere Jews should resist the temptation for self-blame. Apology is intended to heal. Yet those demanding apologies of Israel aren’t seeking reconciliation, but the opposite – to criminalize the Jewish state and rescind its right to defend itself.

If any apologies are forthcoming, they must be on the basis of facts. Erdogan began dismantling the Israeli-Turkish alliance well before the flotilla incident, which he then seized as a pretext to sever ties with Israel: his goal is not to restore Israeli-Turkish relations but to bolster his image in the Muslim world as the leader who humiliated Israel. Still, in the spirit of this season of penitence, Israel could offer Erdogan the following solution: We apologize for the loss of life, and you apologize for encouraging Turkish jihadists to violate Israel’s legal and moral siege against the terrorist regime in Gaza.

So too with Egypt: Israel will apologize for the accidental killing of Egyptian soldiers – even though it’s not clear whether they were killed by Israeli fire or by a Palestinian suicide bomber – while Egypt apologizes for the atmosphere of government-instigated hatred against Israel, like the recent cover of one of Egypt’s leading magazines, October, which portrayed Netanyahu as Hitler.

The Palestinian issue, of course, is far more complicated. Israel, the Arab world and Palestinian leaders themselves all share blame for the Palestinian tragedy. Under the right circumstances – in an atmosphere of mutual penitence – Israel would apologize for its role in the displacement and occupation of the Palestinians. And the Palestinians would apologize for their role in encouraging the Arab world’s rejection of the Jewish people’s return home and encouraging too the renewal of anti-Semitism on a global scale. And then each side would forgive the other for having been so caught in its own trauma that it failed to recognize the trauma of the other.

But Israel is not to blame for the absence of peace.

I want to see my government declare an open-ended settlement freeze, convey the message to the Palestinians and to the Arab world that it has no interest in maintaining the occupation aside from security needs, that the Jewish people didn’t return home to deny another people its sense of home.

But a settlement freeze, however essential for our own integrity, will not bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Netanyahu’s ten-month settlement freeze was unprecedented – that was the word used by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yet the Palestinian Authority continued to boycott talks.

Would Netanyahu offer the Palestinians a state along the equivalent of the 1967 lines? In exchange for Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state and abandonment of the demand for refugee return to Israel: My sense is yes. I wish he would explicitly say so, even if that meant risking his coalition.

But in truth the question of what Netanyahu would concede is irrelevant. The Palestinians were offered the equivalent of the 1967 borders by former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. Yet Palestinian leaders rejected the offers because they refused to concede the “sacred” right of return, as P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas calls it – that is, the sacred right to destroy the Jewish state through demographic subversion. The Netanyahu government isn’t the cause of the breakdown of the peace process but its result.

The temptation for Jewish self-recrimination is deeply rooted in Zionist psychology. Zionism, after all, was a revolt against Jewish fatalism. If the Jewish situation is untenable, then clearly the fault lies with a lack of Jewish initiative. If you will it, said Zionist founder Theodore Herzl, it is no dream.

Israeli rightists and leftists agree, in effect, that Israel can unilaterally determine its own reality, regardless of outside circumstances. If Israel lacks security, insists the right, that’s because we haven’t projected enough power and deterrence. And if Israel lacks peace, insists the left, that’s because we haven’t been sufficiently forthcoming in offering concessions.

Both right and left, then, implicitly dismiss the Arabs as an independent factor, with their own wills and agendas. But what if the Arab world doesn’t accept Israel’s legitimacy? What if the Middle East is undergoing transformations that have little if anything to do with what Israel wills?

This Rosh Hashanah I will ask forgiveness for my own sins and for the collective sins of Israel, as the liturgy insists. But I will withhold my political apologies for a time when those confessions won’t be manipulated against me. There is no religious obligation to collaborate in my own demonization. I will not be seeking forgiveness from those who deny my right to be.



The Palestinian Bid for Statehood and ICC Jurisdiction
By David Benjamin
The Weekly Standard
September 19, 2011

One of the supposed “benefits” for the Palestinians of achieving U.N. recognition of statehood in the West Bank and Gaza would be the possibility for the new “state” to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), thereby paving the way for prosecutions of Israeli military personnel and government officials for alleged “war crimes” committed in the territory.

In January 2009, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of justice, Ali Khashan, submitted a formal declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over the “Territory of Palestine” for all alleged crimes committed since 2002. The Rome Statute governing the ICC allows for such declarations to be made by states that have not yet submitted themselves to the court’s jurisdiction. The legal question the chief ICC prosecutor has been mulling over for the last two-and-a-half years is whether the PA can qualify as a “state” for this purpose. The prosecutor has yet to make a determination on the matter.

The original point of the Palestinian declaration was to create a situation wherein Israelis could be prosecuted in the ICC. Without such a declaration being recognized by the ICC (or a referral by the U.N. Security Council), the court has no jurisdiction over Israel (since Israel is not an ICC member).

Whether the prosecutor would be more inclined to accept the Palestinians’ position if the U.N. were to recognize a Palestinian “state” is unknown. However, an unavoidable side effect of the PA’s declaration being recognized would be that the Palestinians themselves would then become subject to ICC jurisdiction.

This was a price the Fatah-run PA was willing to pay in the past, since the only Palestinians whom they saw as being potentially susceptible to accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity were the mortal enemies of Fatah, the terrorist gang Hamas. Hamas is now senior partner with a Palestinian “government” hoping to achieve international acceptance.

The reality is: The persistent, deliberate and indiscriminate launchings of Hamas rockets at Israeli communities, the suicide bombings, and the shootings all constitute heinous war crimes or crimes against humanity. Moreover, there is little or no factual dispute about whether these attacks took place, who was behind them, at whom they were directed, and what their purpose was. On the contrary, attacks on Israeli civilians are a source of pride for Hamas. The Hamas leadership bears responsibility for these crimes. No investigations have been carried out by Palestinian authorities into any of these violations. For the ICC prosecutor, this would largely be a simple case. Moreover, members of other Palestinians factions engaged in terrorism, including elements of Fatah itself, would also become potential defendants if the ICC obtained jurisdiction.

By contrast, the most serious accusations made against Israelis seem to be crumbling: Recently, the chief U.N. fact-finder on the Gaza conflict, Richard Goldstone, acknowledged that initial allegations of a deliberate Israeli policy to attack civilians were unfounded. Moreover, U.N. experts have pointed to a concerted investigation process on the part of Israel into alleged violations by Israeli personnel. This is important since in cases where a country has undertaken genuine steps to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing, the ICC is precluded from acting.

If the ICC recognizes the PA’s declaration and extends its jurisdiction to the territories, the PA will be obliged to either conduct genuine prosecutions against Hamas leaders and other perpetrators or render them to the ICC. Whatever the status of the Fatah-Hamas Unity Agreement, this would certainly become a highly divisive issue for the Palestinians.

The parallel with Lebanon looms large: There, the Lebanese government supported an international tribunal to investigate the murder of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Subsequently, Hezbollah – the prime suspects in the crime – became partners in the Lebanese government. Now the findings of that tribunal threaten to plunge Lebanon into civil war.

Thus, for the Palestinians, the cost benefit analysis with respect to their ICC jurisdiction gambit has changed somewhat. It would seem they have much more to lose than to gain if the ICC grants their wish.

(David Benjamin is a former senior legal advisor to the Israel Defense Forces.)



Direct negotiations are the true path to peace in the Middle East
By Julia Gillard
The Australian
September 21, 2011

AS we approach leaders’ week at the UN General Assembly in New York this month, much of the world’s attention will be on the conflict in the Middle East and Palestinian aspirations for the creation of a state of their own.

Like most people across the world, not least our friends in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Australia aspires to see a future Palestinian state existing alongside Israel in peace and security. We are strong backers of a two-state solution and we firmly support all initiatives that contribute constructively to this end.

Australia approaches this challenge as a good friend of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.

Australia is proud of the close bonds between Israel and Australia and our unwavering support for Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. When in 1949 the UN was called on to consider Israel’s membership as a member state, Australia cast its vote in support. And when Israel has faced its darkest hours, Australia has stood by it and its right to defend itself.

We are also great friends of the Palestinian people. In 1947, when considering the Palestinian question, Australia was the first country to vote in support of the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab state. Today, our commitment to the establishment of a state for the Palestinian people is firm, as is our support for the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Under the stewardship of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian people have made great strides towards their ultimate goal and their achievements should be acknowledged. Australia has provided concrete support for these efforts, through humanitarian support, contributions to the UN and non-governmental organisations working in the region, and direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Australia and the Palestinian Authority finalised a five-year partnership agreement recently under which Australia will provide up to $120 million in support across the next five years.

As is well known, efforts to reach a peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people face significant challenges and progress has been halting for many years. Many sincere and determined efforts to break the impasse have not succeeded and the sense of stalemate has led many to look for alternative answers.

Ultimately, however, the only durable basis for resolution of this conflict is negotiation. However hard it may be, it is only through negotiation between the two sides that final status issues such as borders, security and Jerusalem can be solved.

Australia understands the sense of frustration the impasse in peace talks has brought and we understand the strong desire of Palestinians to have their own state. If a Palestinian statehood resolution is introduced to the General Assembly we will consider it carefully and will consult widely before making our decision on how we will vote. But no UN resolution will change present realities on the ground. That is why we believe direct negotiation is the only true path to peace.

And that is why I have just written to President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to urge them to return to direct negotiations.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Dennis Ross, Catherine Ashton and UN, EU, US and Russia quartet envoy Tony Blair in attempting to create common ground for a return to talks. Australia supports all efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.

The path ahead will be difficult and progress will require courage, sacrifice and mutual compromise. As change comes elsewhere to the region, the Israeli and Palestinian people - for too long living in uncertainty and insecurity - deserve nothing less than that.

(Julia Gillard is Prime Minister of Australia.)

Consider the month that Israel has just had

September 14, 2011

* Richard Cohen: Back in 1953, an Egyptian army officer was asked by the magazine Al-Musawwar what he would write to Hitler if he were still alive. “My Dear Hitler,” he began gushingly, “I admire you from the bottom of my heart.” Years later, as the president of Egypt, he was himself murdered for making peace with the Jewish state. His name, of course, was Anwar Sadat. The peace that Sadat manufactured is now shredding.

* There are almost no Jews left in Egypt – the substantial community was expelled, first by Gamal Abdel Nasser and then by incessant oppression and fear – but there are plenty of Jews just over the border in Israel.

* Tim Marshall: The storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Friday night was not just planned, it was part of a 60 year campaign of hate which has permeated all levels of Egyptian society and which the current chaos in Egypt is allowing full rein.

* Sky News (the British broadcaster which is far less partisan than the BBC): “The chant last Friday evening was ‘Give us weapons and we’ll kill all the Jews’. The teaching of hatred is widespread in Egypt. School books are full of historical inaccuracies and holocaust denial. Portions of the Koran which deal with the Jews in a hostile way are promoted. Few politicians can resist the temptation to play to popular appeal and routinely engage in virulently hostile comments not just about Israel but about Jews. These politicians are not just from the Islamic parties, some of the brightest and best of Egyptian liberals also use deeply anti-Semitic language. Every Friday many Imams pour forth abuse against Jews without any official sanction. The mass media also routinely engages in anti-Semitism. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, used to justify slaughter for decades, is a best seller, Hitler’s Mein Kampf is popular.”

* In the West Bank, polls have shown that President Mahmoud Abbas’s UN statehood initiative is regarded as a low priority by the majority of Palestinians, 60 percent of whom said the better option was resuming direct negotiations with Israel.

* Washington Post editorial: “It is in the interest of Western governments, as well as of Israel, to resist the counterproductive and irresponsible initiatives of Abbas and [Turkish leader] Erdogan. The core demands of the Arab Spring have nothing to do with Israel: They are about ending authoritarian rule and modernizing stagnating societies. Scapegoating Israel will not satisfy the imperative for change.”

* Bret Stephens: Only Israel is on perpetual trial. Only Israel, by way of this or that policy, is routinely held to moral account for the terrorist outrages committed against it. Only the Jews, as Eric Hoffer put it in 1968, are expected to be “the only real Christians in the world.”

World renowned conductor Zubin Mehta, whose concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London was disrupted by anti-Israel protestors. The BBC said that because of the protests, for the first time in its history it had been forced to stop a live broadcast of a classical music concert



1. “Israel’s Predicament” (By Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 13, 2011)
2. “Once again, Israel is scapegoated” (Editorial, Washington Post, Sept. 13, 2011)
3. “Cairo: Israeli embassy attack planned’ (By Tim Marshall, Sky News, Sept. 12, 2011)
4. “The Mideast is slipping backward” (By Richard Cohen, Washington Post, Sept. 13, 2011)
5. “Turkish paper publishes photos of beaten Israelis” (By Tom Gross, National Post)
6. “A Proms protest with a whiff of Weimar” (By Stephen Pollard, Daily Telegraph, Sept. 2, 2011)

I attach a number of recent articles. Because of a heavy workload I don’t have time to summarize them but would recommend reading them all. (The authors of each of these pieces are subscribers to this email list.)

-- Tom Gross



Israel’s Predicament
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
September 13, 2011

What is Israel’s predicament? It is this: It is surrounded on nearly all sides by enemies who are aggressively committed to its destruction. And too many people who call themselves its friends are only ambivalently committed to its security.

Consider the month that Israel has just had:

• On Aug. 18, eight Israelis were killed in a sophisticated cross-border ambush near the frontier with Egypt.

• From Aug. 18-24, some 200 large-caliber, factory-made rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza.

• On Sept. 1, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency announced that it was moving the bulk of its enrichment facilities to a heavily fortified site near the city of Qom.

• On Sept. 2, the United Nations released a report on the May 2010 Turkish flotilla incident, which defended Israel’s right to enforce a naval blockade on Gaza and noted that Israeli commandos faced “organized and violent resistance.” The Turkish government responded by yanking its ambassador from Tel Aviv and expelling Israel’s from Ankara.

• On Sept. 4, the U.S. made a final appeal to the Palestinian Authority to drop its bid to seek statehood recognition at the U.N., a bid that sends to the rubbish bin decades of international agreements that a Palestinian state can be established only on the basis of negotiations. The PA rebuffed the American entreaties.

• On Sept. 8, Turkey’s prime minister announced that Turkish warships would escort future Gaza-bound flotillas.

• On Sept. 9, thousands of hooligans stormed and nearly sacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Israel evacuated nearly its entire diplomatic mission from Egypt the following morning.

Egyptian hooligans storm Israel’s embassy in Cairo, Sept. 9.

One other item: On Sept. 5, an organization called NGO Monitor reported that an associate director of the New Israel Fund, cited in a February 2011 State Department cable released by Wikileaks, said that “the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.” The NIF describes itself as a group “dedicated to a vision of Israel as both the Jewish homeland and a shared society at peace with itself and its neighbors.”

Maybe the case of the (now former) NIF official is a relatively rare one. Or maybe it’s just rare to have such off-the-record candor find its way into the public domain.

Not rare, however, is the idea that Israel’s legitimacy is a function of its moral performance, and that judgment of its performance lies in the hands of its foreign critics and their designated Israeli scolds. Should the legitimacy of Pakistan or Zimbabwe be called into doubt on account of the wretched mess they have made of their existence as self-governing states? Nobody says this. Nor do many people say that the Palestinian Authority – half of which is ruled by a terrorist group and the other half by a president whose elected term in office expired more than two years ago – hasn’t quite earned the moral right to statehood.

Only Israel is on perpetual trial. Only Israel, by way of this or that policy, is routinely held to moral account for the terrorist outrages committed against it. Only the Jews, as Eric Hoffer put it in 1968, are expected to be “the only real Christians in the world.”

But then the argument is made that Israel is occupying somebody else’s country. And risking its own future as a Jewish democracy, on account of well-known demographic trends. And all of this is corrosive, so it is often said, to Israel’s soul.

Yet the purported concern for Israel’s soul would be more convincing if it were joined by some decent respect for Israel’s mind. Israel today labors under the invidious stereotype that it is too clever to blunder militarily or politically – and therefore that any such blunders are, in fact, acts of malice aforethought. But Israel also labors under the stereotype that it is too stupid or shortsighted to recognize its own strategic interest in coming to terms with a Palestinian state.

Will it some day dawn on Israel’s so-called friends that 18 years of abortive efforts to come to terms with the Palestinians – the spurned statehood offers in 2000 and 2008, the withdrawal of the settlers from Gaza in 2005, the experience of what a “liberated” Gaza soon became – has soured Israelis on the idea of a Palestinian state? Or that the long-term demographic threat is worth risking in the face of the immediate threats of a near-nuclear Iran, a newly hostile Egypt, and a still-irredentist Palestinian leadership? Or that a professed commitment to Israeli democracy means, among other things, some regard to the conclusions Israelis have drawn about the prospects of peace by way of their electoral choices?

No democracy in the world today lies under a darker shadow of existential dread than Israel. And the events of the past month ought to demonstrate that Israel’s dread is not of shadows only. Israel’s efforts to allay the enmity of its enemies or mollify the scorn of its critics have failed. But is it too much to ask its friends for support – this time, for once, without cavil or reservation?



Once again, Israel is scapegoated
The Washington Post
September 13, 2011

ISRAELIS WORRY that the Arab Spring is turning from a popular movement against dictatorship into another assault on the Jewish state, and their worry is not unfounded. Last week in Cairo a mob attacked the Israeli Embassy, forcing the evacuation of the ambassador and most of his staff; the previous week the Israeli ambassador to Turkey was expelled. Later this month Palestinians are expected to introduce a resolution on statehood at the United Nations, and Israel could be further isolated if, as expected, a large majority of the General Assembly votes in favor of it.

There’s little doubt that plenty of Arabs and Turks are angry at Israel. But it’s worth noting that, as often is the case in the Middle East, those passions are being steered by governments.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who aspires to regional leadership, has directed a campaign against the government of Benjamin Netanyahu and stoked it with incendiary statements. Mr. Erdogan is furious that a U.N. investigation concluded that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, and thus its intervention to stop a Turkish-led flotilla last year, was legal. He also finds it convenient to lambaste Israel rather than talk about neighboring Syria, where daily massacres are being carried out by a regime Mr. Erdogan cultivated.

The assault on the embassy in Cairo has been condemned by the leaders of Egypt’s popular revolution and by some leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Both they and Western diplomats blame the ruling military for failing to secure the embassy, and they suspect the omission may have been part of an effort to divert rising public unrest toward a familiar target.

In the West Bank, polls have shown that President Mahmoud Abbas’s U.N. statehood initiative is regarded as a low priority by the majority of Palestinians, 60 percent of whom said the better option was resuming direct negotiations with Israel. But Mr. Abbas fears he may be the next target of popular uprising; the U.N. gambit appears aimed in part at preempting that.

This is not to say the trend is benign. Israel is looking more isolated than at any time in decades. It is more than a hapless bystander: Mr. Netanyahu’s government could have avoided a crisis with Turkey had it been willing to apologize for the deaths of nine Turks during the interception of the flotilla, which the U.N. panel rightly judged to be an excessive use of force. An incident in which five Egyptian guards were killed when Israeli forces pursued terrorists crossing the border helped to trigger the upsurge in tensions with Cairo. And Mr. Netanyahu’s slowness to embrace reasonable parameters for Palestinian statehood provided Mr. Abbas with a pretext for his U.N. initiative.

It nevertheless is in the interest of Western governments, as well as of Israel, to resist the counterproductive and irresponsible initiatives of Mr. Abbas and Mr. Erdogan. In Egypt, the military has cited the attack on the Israeli Embassy as a pretext to apply emergency laws and censor the media; those, too, are steps in the wrong direction. The core demands of the Arab Spring have nothing to do with Israel: They are about ending authoritarian rule and modernizing stagnating societies. Scapegoating Israel will not satisfy the imperative for change.



Cairo: Israeli embassy attack planned
By Tim Marshall, Foreign Affairs editor, Sky News
Sky News website
September 12, 2011

The storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Friday night was not just planned, it was part of a 60 year campaign of hate which has permeated all levels of Egyptian society and which the current chaos in Egypt is allowing full rein.

On the surface the attack was in revenge for the killing of several Egyptian security forces mistakenly shot by the Israelis. The IDF was pursuing a terrorist gang which had killed Israelis in the Eilat region last month.

A large anti Government demonstration was taking place on Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir Sq when a group of men broke away and headed for the embassy. They were armed with sledge hammers, hammers, and ropes.

They set about the security wall built, say the Egyptian authorities, to protect the residents of the apartment block which houses the embassy. As they battered at the concrete some attached ropes to cars in an attempt to finish the job they started last month.

The army stood by and watched as the wall was breached and the mob entered the building. By this point Israeli cabinet ministers had been pulled into a government emergency situation room in Jerusalem. Defence Minister Barak and Prime Minister Netanyahu were among those watching a live feed coming from the embassy security cameras. The embassy staff had been told to stay home but 6 Israeli guards were still inside.

Netanyahu assured them he would do everything to save them from the mob which was making its way up towards the 16th floor housing the consulate. Sources say he ordered them not to open fire. At ground level police cars had been set ablaze and it appeared no help was coming.

Israeli officials were phoning their Egyptian counterparts. A source tells me ‘every single possible channel was used to speak to the Egyptians but some senior officials refused to take the calls’.

Barak then phoned his opposite number in Washington, Leon Panetta, and President Obama’s Middle East advisor - Dennis Ross. Hillary Clinton then called the Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr. By this time the mob had reached the 16th floor and was smashing up the consulate and throwing paper work from the windows.

The security guards had retreated upstairs to the embassy proper. As some protesters tried to scale the outside of the building the guards used fire extinguishers to spray white powder into the faces of the attackers.

With just one door separating the guards from the mob an Egyptian commando unit finally arrived, cleared the consulate, and led the guards to safety.

It had been a close call, a source told me ‘I have no doubt the staff would have been killed’. If that had happened the troubled relationship between Egypt and Israel might have unraveled.

The attack did not come out of the blue and was widely supported in Egypt. During the previous assault protestor, Ahmad Shahat managed to scale the embassy building, seize the Israeli flag and throw it the crowd below who burnt it. The chant that evening was ‘Give us weapons and we’ll kill all the Jews’.

Shahat was feted across Egypt for his actions. Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi hailed him as ‘the people’s hero’ and a local governor, Azazy Ali Azazy rewarded him with a job and a flat.

The teaching of hatred for the ‘other’ is widespread in Egypt. School books are full of historical inaccuracies and holocaust denial. Portions of the Koran which deal with the Jews in a hostile way are promoted. Few politicians can resist the temptation to play to popular appeal and routinely engage in virulently hostile comments not just about Israel but about Jews. These politicians are not just from the Islamic parties, some of the brightest and best of Egyptian liberals also use deeply anti-Semitic language.

Every Friday many Imams pour forth abuse against Jews without any official sanction. The mass media also routinely engages in anti-Semitism. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, used to justify slaughter for decades, is a best seller, Hitler’s Mein Kampf is popular. The ‘Protocols’ were serialised as a 24 episode TV series a few years ago and portrayed as fact. In 2002 the number 1 hit in the Egyptian charts was a song about the Jews masterminding 9/11. Newspapers print deeply offensive cartoons which are used across the Arab world. These bigots have their mirror image in some of the wilder fringes of Israeli society, the difference is the views do not appear to be sanctioned at the highest levels, have not permeated the body politic, and are roundly condemned in the Israeli main stream media.

This is the background to Friday nights attack. Unless the authorities work to protect what is left of the relationship between Israel and Egypt it may not just be the Israeli flag which is ripped up, it could be the treaty which has kept the peace for three decades.



The Middle East is slipping backward
By Richard Cohen
Washington Post
September 13, 2011

Back in 1953, an Egyptian army officer was asked by the magazine Al-Musawwar what he would write to Hitler if he were still alive. “My Dear Hitler,” he began gushingly, “I admire you from the bottom of my heart.” He proceeded to extol the German dictator for, among other things, creating dissension between “the old man Churchill and his allies, the sons of Satan.” If the mass murder of Jews bothered the officer in the least, he did not mention it. Years later, as the president of Egypt, he was himself murdered for making peace with the Jewish state. His name, of course, was Anwar Sadat.

The peace that Sadat manufactured is now shredding, a thread here, a thread there. The Israelis and the Egyptians have traded insults of all sorts, and now the embassy of Israel, always an edifice constructed out of wishful thinking, has been sacked by a mob of Cairenes. The Israeli ambassador is gone, and when he will return, if ever, is not at all clear.

The Israeli-Egyptian peace is in jeopardy and so is the cordial rapport Israel once had with Turkey. Along with Iran and Ethiopia, Turkey comprised what was called “the strategy of the periphery,” the relationship that Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, established with non-Arab nations. But Iran now is Israel’s mortal enemy, Ethiopia hardly matters and Turkey is bristling with hostility. Ankara wants Israel to apologize – not merely express regret – for its perfectly legal attempt to turn back a so-called humanitarian flotilla heading for Gaza. Nine died. Israeli forces overreacted and now Turkey is doing the same.

Israel’s dilemma is that the Middle East, for all the talk of revolution, is slipping backward. Turkey is possibly evolving into an Islamic republic and even if this is not the case, it is reasserting its historical role as a regional power. Iran toppled its modernizing, Westernizing shah with his pro-Israel proclivities and in 1979 became a theocracy. And Egypt, long the leader of the Arab world, may find it cannot lead its own people. The peace with Israel has little support among the populace. It’s not just that Israel is not loved, it’s that Jews are hated.

Think back to Sadat writing his pretend letter to Hitler. This was eight years after the ovens of Auschwitz were demolished and much of the world was coming to grips with the enormity of the Holocaust. Yet not only could an Egyptian magazine solicit such letters, but an army officer with the intellectual wherewithal to someday run the country was an entrant. This suggests a society in which the Holocaust was thought to be a Jewish concoction, a Jewish exaggeration or some sort of just deserts.

Since those days, the situation has evolved but not necessarily improved. Egyptian society, indeed the entire Arab world, has been drenched by a steady drizzle of government approved or tolerated anti-Semitism. It would take willful historical ignorance to dismiss the possible consequences. There are almost no Jews left in Egypt – the substantial community was expelled, first by Gamal Abdel Nasser and then by incessant oppression and fear – but there are plenty of Jews just over the border in Israel.

The clock must move backward for the United States as well. It took Harry Truman just 11 minutes to recognize the new State of Israel in 1948 – and he did so over the vociferous objection of some key aides, particularly the immensely important Gen. George C. Marshall, the secretary of state. As the historian and Israeli ambassador Michael B. Oren writes in his book “Power, Faith and Fantasy,” Marshall felt so strongly that he told Truman to his face that if he recognized Israel, “I would vote against the president.” Truman didn’t blink.

Marshall’s arguments are not entirely invalid. The Arab world has the oil and the geography and the numbers. But the U.S. has the moral obligation to stick by the sometimes obstreperous democracy it felt morally obligated to embrace. The Obama administration has to show no daylight between it and Israel – never mind that Binyamin Netanyahu is no Ben-Gurion. Leaders come and leaders go, but what remains are values and cultural forces that transform glacially. Sadat proved this. He was a confounding character who showed what is possible and what is not. He was hope and he was despair and finally he was tragedy. It’s clear he changed greatly over the years. It’s not so clear his country has.



* Last week, the UN ruled in Israel’s favor and declared that Israel’s policy of preventing uninspected boats from reaching Gaza is a legal act of self-defense in order to prevent the smuggling of rockets and other weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza. Instead of gracefully accepting this verdict, the Turkish government has thrown a tantrum and launched a series of vicious verbal attacks on Israel.

In their misreporting of this story, prominent international media have continued to mislead audiences by saying that the “Turkish peace activists on the Mavi Marmari were unarmed.” I attach this piece from 2010, as a reminder that many were armed and injured Israelis, as the photos linked to below from the Turkish daily paper Hurriyet show.

-- Tom Gross

Turkish paper publishes photos of beaten Israelis
By Tom Gross
The National Post (Canada)
June 6, 2010

Photos taken by the Turkish “peace” activists on the Mavi Marmari boat, published in the leading Turkish paper Hurriyet, show Israeli soldiers bruised, beaten and bleeding having been attacked by “peace” activists on the boat.

They also back up Israeli accounts that there were attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers (possibly creating more Gilad Shalits), and put paid to the lies being told by British, French and Irish “peace” activists day after day last week in European and Middle Eastern media that no Israelis were attacked on the boat and that “the IDF is lying” when they said they were.

See the photos here.

The Israeli army has consistently said that it only gave permission for troops to fire 40 minutes after they had boarded the boat, once the lives of Israeli troops – who had tried to peaceably reach an agreement with the activists – were put at severe risk.

The Turkish media don’t run the fabricated accounts of the Western press saying the Israelis “shot from the helicopter and murdered civilians within seconds of landing on deck.” Instead they mock the IDF for being so reluctant to use lethal force for so long even when attacked.

Respectable Western journalists apparently continue to believe the American and British run “Free Gaza” movement is telling the truth when it says in its press release that the Israelis “began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck. They fired directly into the crowd of civilians asleep.”

For more coverage of the Gaza Flotilla incident, please see:

“Rachel Corrie is on Her Way” – Due to attempt to land shortly in Gaza

Videos, articles and notes about the tragic incident off the coast of Israel



A Proms protest with a whiff of Weimar about it: The demonstration at the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra BBC Proms concert was against Jews, not the Israeli state.
By Stephen Pollard
The Daily Telegraph (London)
September 2, 2011

Until Thursday night, nothing in the history of Proms broadcasts had forced a concert off air. Certainly not the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. On the very night the tanks moved into Prague, the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was at the Proms with the USSR Symphony Orchestra. And he was performing, with intense poignancy, the Czech composer

Dvorak’s cello concerto. I have a cherished recording of the concert. The audience was rapt and not a word was uttered.

When Chinese performers grace the Proms with their presence, there is not a word of protest about their government’s abuses of human rights. Nor should there be. They are musicians, not politicians.

But when the Israel Philharmonic played on Thursday evening, a band of around 30 thugs – none was wearing jackboots, but they should have been – launched into chanting and mock singing, disrupting the concert to such an extent that BBC Radio 3 decided it could not go on with the broadcast.

The corporation has come under attack for pulling the plug. Louise Mensch, the Conservative MP, called it a “disgraceful” decision. But I sympathise with the BBC. Why should a bunch of hooligans be given free rein on the airwaves to have their hooliganism validated with a broadcast? The real story isn’t the broadcast, but the behaviour of the anti-Zionists, which has opened many people’s eyes to their real agenda, and what really drives them.

As the IPO began Webern’s Passacaglia, a dozen people unfurled a banner reading “Free Palestine” and started to sing about “Israeli apartheid” and “violations of international law and human rights”. As the orchestra played over the disruption, the hooligans were removed by security guards. Then, as Gil Shaham, an Israeli violinist, prepared to play an encore after the Bruch violin concerto, another group began shouting and started to scuffle with audience members.

You can see videos of it on YouTube. They will remind you of something. It is inescapable. There is a chilling air to the so-called protests: an air of Weimar Germany, and the way Nazi party members broke up meetings.

It shouldn’t need saying that protesting against the actions of the Israeli government is not the same as being anti-Semitic. Clearly not: this month, 250,000 Israelis joined rallies against their government’s economic policies. They could hardly be driven by anti-Semitism.

But Thursday night’s events can only be understood in the context of anti-Semitism. When have there been similar protests against “violations of international law and human rights”, as was chanted on Thursday, by any other country? And this in the middle of the Arab Spring, when genuine protesters for human rights are daily risking their lives in Syria against a murderous dictatorship.

If, indeed, this was a protest against the actions of the Israeli government, rather than against Jews, where have been the similar disruptions of performances by Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Iranian or any number of other nations’ musicians? What about disruptions of British national companies, in protest at British human rights abuses? To pose the question is to answer it. There’s little doubt in my mind that this was an action motivated specifically by the fact that the performers were playing in the national orchestra of the Jewish state.

This should no longer surprise anyone. It seems to me that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) long ago moved from legitimate protest for a legitimate cause – the rights of Palestinians to self-determination – to attacks on Jews for being Jews.

Last month, a St Andrews student was convicted of racially abusing a Jewish postgraduate. Paul Donnachie forced his way into the man’s room, rubbed his own genitals and wiped his hands on an Israeli flag in the room. With another student, Donnachie then jumped on the Jewish postgraduate and urinated into his sink.

Legitimate protest against the Israeli government? That appears to be the view of the PSC, whose director, Sarah Colborne, has attacked the conviction. The Scottish branch of the organisation demonstrated last week in support of Donnachie. No wonder the Board of Deputies, often pilloried within the Jewish community for its spinelessness, says that the PSC’s anti-Israel rhetoric is “infused with anti-Semitism” and its members engage in “racist conspiracy theories”.

In July, Ellie Merton, the chair of Waltham Forest PSC, wrote that Anders Breivik’s massacre in Norway was “an Israeli government-sponsored operation”. The PSC is happy for her to continue in her role.

But it is far from all doom and gloom. The sheriff who tried Donnachie refused to allow the Scottish PSC to turn the trial into another vehicle for its venom and found that the student’s identification with Israel is part of his Jewish identity, so that to attack him on those grounds constituted a racially aggravated offence.

As for the Proms hooligans, there is one big difference from the Weimar audiences. Far from being afraid of the thugs, the Proms audience turned almost as one on them. They chanted “Out, out, out”. As one of the men fought with security guards, a woman can be heard shouting “Shut your mouth”. In fact, their violent, thoroughly illegitimate tactics did nothing but harm to their cause. Ed Vaizey, the Culture Minister, was in the Royal Albert Hall for the concert. As he tweeted on the night: “Demonstrators seem to have turned [the] entire audience pro-Israel.”

Ukrainian presidential advisor orders work stopped on Golden Rose hotel project

September 09, 2011

* Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s spokesperson: “This place is important for the memory of hundreds of thousands of Jews murdered in the Lviv region. Even the Communists never built over this place. Or should we be more barbaric than them?”


[Note by Tom Gross]

This is an update to my last dispatch, which carried the article “Goodbye, Golden Rose,” and can be read here.

Since the article appeared six days ago, it has been discussed both in the international and Ukrainian media. It has been translated into Ukrainian and Russian, the two main languages of Ukraine, and a number of prominent commentators and public figures there have spoken out in support of the article (in contrast to some of the readers both on Ukrainian and Western websites who have left vicious anti-Semitic comments and comments amounting to Holocaust denial).

Yesterday, Anna Herman, the spokesperson and chief advisor to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the capital Kiev, spoke with the mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovy, and ordered that works abutting the Golden Rose complex in Lviv be stopped.

Herman said: “This historic place in Lviv has to be preserved. This place is important for the memory of hundreds of thousands of Jews murdered in the Lviv region. Even the Communists never built over this place. Or should we be more barbaric than them?”

In response, the mayor of Lviv assured the authorities in Kiev yesterday that works adjacent to the former Golden Rose complex were now being stopped. (He also added that Lviv will now speed up plans to place memorials at important historic Jewish sites in the old town.)

Herman added in her statement that she was glad to hear from the Lviv mayor that the construction will be stopped. “But I am afraid,” she said, “that the construction will be renewed after things have quieted down. I address the investor to whom the local authorities sold the land for construction: I ask him to give up this business project. Nothing good can come from the profit he would get. This would be dirty money earned through shame. This site is historical for Lviv and it must be preserved,” she said.

Lviv was formerly an Austrian city called Lemberg, a Polish city called Lwow, and a Soviet city called Lvov. With the huge influx of Ukrainians into the city following World War Two, after it was annexed from Poland, the city has become a bastion of Ukrainian nationalism, and the local authorities there now often defy the somewhat more liberal and multicultural views emanating from the capital Kiev.

Among the dozens of Ukrainian and Russian language media reports on Herman’s statement yesterday are:

From the Ukrainian press agency:

From Ukrainian National News:



However, another new project built on a former site of mass murder in Lviv, the Citadel (pictured below), remains a five star hotel and resort, and activists are campaigning for the site to be turned into a place of memorial or a museum of Holocaust and genocide.

To see other pictures of the Citadel, please scroll down this webpage.

Goodbye, Golden Rose

September 04, 2011

Sept. 9, 2011 Update: Work on the hotel has been suspended as a result of the article below. Please see here:

Ukrainian presidential advisor orders work stopped on Golden Rose hotel project


Meylakh Sheykhet standing in front of another hotel built on the site of a place of mass death in Lvov (now called Lviv), the Citadel Inn


Sept. 4, 2011

* Exclusive report: Continuing now: The demolition of parts of the remnants of the adjacent buildings of what was once one of Europe’s most beautiful synagogues, despite it being a UNESCO-protected site, to build a hotel for soccer fans at next year’s European championships.

* Amazingly, the owner of another new five-star hotel elsewhere in Lviv, built over a major site of mass murder, is the deputy regional governor responsible for the preservation of culture and heritage.

* The last traces of the 420,000 Jews murdered by Nazis and their local collaborators in the Lviv region, are being buried under casinos and car parks.

(Please scroll down to the foot of the page to see the accompanying photos.)


This article appeared in a slightly edited form in The Guardian (Britain) and The National Post (Canada) online on Friday, and in their print editions, in a shortened form, yesterday.

Goodbye, Golden Rose
By Tom Gross
The Guardian / National Post, Opinion Page
September 2, 2011

LVIV, UKRAINE -- It seems parts of Europe are less tolerant now than they were in the 16th century. Last week, I watched as bulldozers began to demolish parts of the adjacent remnants of what was once one of Europe’s most beautiful synagogue complexes, the 16th century Golden Rose in Lviv. Most of the rest of the synagogue was burned down, with Jews inside, by the Nazis in 1941. Critics say the work has already put at risk the remaining, fragile sandstone walls of the synagogue and damaged other Jewish artifacts.

During the war, 42 other synagogues were destroyed in Lviv, which from the middle ages to the 20th century was known by its Latin name Leopolis and then by its Austrian (and Yiddish) name, Lemberg, before being called Lwow by the Poles and Lvov after the Soviets annexed it in 1945. The remnants of the Golden Rose are one of the few remaining vestiges of Jewish existence in Lviv, the majority of whose residents, in 1940, were Jewish.

It is not only morally wrong for bulldozers to drill through the last traces of this vibrant past without first giving the handful of remaining Jews here a chance to restore this site, or turn it into a place of memorial. It is legally wrong too. Ukraine’s own laws are designed to preserve such historic sites.

The Ukrainian authorities are not the only ones at fault. Where is the UN cultural organization UNESCO? The synagogue ruins were designated part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

And where is the European soccer body UEFA? The Ukrainians are planning to build a hotel on the site to host fans and players at next year’s European soccer championships, the world’s third most-watched sporting event, which they are co-hosting with Poland. So much for UEFA’s much-hyped campaign to “Kick racism out of football”. (In addition to there being some residual anti-Semitism in Ukraine, the authorities seem to be motivated by cultural and historical crassness and illiteracy, and denial of the past, as well as real-estate greed.)

During the Holocaust, 420,000 Jews, including over 100,000 children, were murdered in Lviv and the region around it. The killing was so efficient that the Nazis organized transports of Romanian and Hungarian Jews to be brought here to be killed once they were done killing the Polish and Ukrainian Jews. There were almost no survivors.

Yet you will hardly find any reference to this in the official guide books or in the museums of Lviv. There is no monument to the murdered Jews in Lviv’s old town.

A few elderly people still remember. One Ukrainian woman who approached me last week as I stood at what used to be the ghetto entrance told me she remembered as a child seeing Jews whipped as they were forced to walk on their knees back and forth for hours until they collapsed and were then shot while Nazis laughed.

Few tourists make their way here these days but many readers may recognize the city since it is where Steven Spielberg chose to film parts of Schindler’s List. This formerly Austrian and Polish town still resembles parts of pre-war Krakow, where much of the film was set.

Others may have read Robert Marshall’s harrowing In the sewers of Lvov – an account of the only group of Jews to stay alive for any length of time in the sewers of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Ten Jews, including two children and a pregnant woman, managed to survive for 14 months among the feces, rats and darkness despite the Nazi use of dogs and grenades to flush out the other estimated 500 Jews who tried to hide there. (The pregnant woman’s baby, who was born in the sewer, died.)

This group of 10 survived with help from Leopold Socha, an illiterate former Polish criminal who, on release from prison, became a sewer worker and made it what he called his “life’s atonement” to save a few Jews by risking his life to bring them food as often as he could. (There is now a plaque to Socha at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem.)

Leopold Sucha, left, and one of the children he saved: Krystyna Chirowski Chigier

The Lviv authorities know it is an outrage to destroy the remains of the Golden Rose, which is why last month they placed a tall fence around the planned hotel site and closed off most of the street so hide it from view. One of Lviv’s last Jews, Meylakh Sheykhet, and I had to mount a long ladder to peek over a wall and watch the drills at work.

For over 20 years, Sheykhet has almost singlehandedly been waging a campaign to stop the authorities destroying any more historic Jewish sites in this region and to encourage them to mark the sites of over 1000 mass graves with memorial plaques.

“It is hard to imagine these sites being treated less respectfully,” Sheykhet observed. “The Holocaust has not stopped here, the destruction goes on. Over the tombstones of some of history’s greatest rabbis, there are now movie theatres, discos and car parks. At the very least the authorities could put up some marker on these sites.”

Two years ago, another site of mass murder in Lviv, the Citadel – where tens of thousands of Jews and others were tortured to death – was converted into a five star hotel. Amazingly, the hotel is owned by Volodymyr Gubitsky, the deputy regional governor responsible for the preservation of culture and heritage.

Sheykhet failed to block the Citadel project. But he is campaigning to stop the destruction of the remains of the Golden Rose (as well as prevent the last preserved part of the Citadel being turned into a casino in preparation for Euro 2012).

In the 16th century, when the Golden Rose was built, Lemberg was a tolerant city where many ethnic groups lived side by side. Is the world today really so intolerant that it can’t countenance conserving the last remains of this once flourishing Jewish community and leave the murdered to rest in peace?

(Tom Gross is a former foreign correspondent for the London Daily and Sunday Telegraph.)


Among related reports, please see:





PHOTOS (taken Aug. 22 and 23, 2011)

Below: heavy building machinery at work on the edge of the Golden rose complex. Campaigners say the drilling is putting at risk the fragile remaining sandstone walls of the synagogue, and damaging other Jewish artifacts in the area.

Above: where the mikveh once was and other
Jewish artifacts may remain buried


A young Jewish man peers over a wall to view the hotel construction work


The discarded remains of a Jewish cemetery in Kaminka Buz'ka, a town where many famous rabbis lived, north of Lviv


Meylakh Sheykhet clutching a pre-war map of the Jewish cemetery in Kaminka Buz'ka


Meylakh Sheykhet standing at the entrance of the new five star hotel, the Citadel Inn -- a building where tens of thousands of Jews and others were tortured to death between 1941-44


Below: The new five star hotel, the Citadel Inn, the central building in a complex where over 140,000 people were killed from 1941-44, including Jewish prisoners and prisoners of war from several countries. Some bullet holes can still be seen on the outer walls. Jews were singled out for particularly sadistic torture and ill treatment at the citadel, and were kept apart from the other prisoners for this purpose.

Meylakh Sheykhet standing in front of the Citadel Inn

All photos above, copyright Tom Gross. Taken on August 22-23, 2011.

Media and blogs wishing to use these photos can do so with accreditation to Tom Gross.

Iran punishes Hamas for failing to back Syria’s crackdown (& Saif Gadhafi on Israel)

September 01, 2011

This dispatch contains items relating to Iran, Syria and Libya.

There are also two other dispatches today, which can be read here and here.



1. Iran punishes Hamas for failing to back Syrian regime crackdown
2. Syrian cartoonist has hands and fingers broken after criticizing Assad
3. Cheney says he urged Bush to bomb Syria
4. U.S. and Israel “very concerned” about fate of Assad’s WMDs
5. Iran launches Bible-burning campaign
6. Ahmadinejad: “Zionists’ survival against human dignity; Holocaust is a lie”
7. Libyan “behind Yvonne Fletcher’s killing” found dead
8. Saif Gadhafi on Israel

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


The Reuters news agency reports that Iran has suspended its funding of Hamas because the Gaza-based terrorist group has failed to show more support for the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad which continues to massacre its own people.

Both the Syrian regime and Hamas are strongly under the sway of the Iranian regime and receive large sums of money from Teheran. Hamas is headquartered in Damascus.

Iran has demanded that Hamas organize rallies in Gaza in support of Assad. Most Palestinians are Sunni Muslims and most of the Syrians Assad’s “apartheid” Alawite regime is massacring and torturing on a daily basis are also Sunni Muslims, hence the reluctance of Hamas to speak out in support of Assad at this time.



Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat – who is one of the most popular cartoonists in the Arab world – was kidnapped and severely beaten by hooded gunmen earlier this week. He was then dumped on the side of a road with a bag over his head. The attack came days after he published a cartoon comparing Syria’s president to Libya’s outgoing leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Ferzat, 60, had his fingers broken by the gunmen, who warned him never to criticize Assad again. Caricatures of the president are forbidden by Syrian law.

Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat lies injured at a hospital in Damascus

In 2006, the Assad regime was at the forefront of stirring up unrest against Denmark after cartoons of the prophet Mohammed were published in a Danish newspaper. The Danish embassy in Damascus was set alight. Despite this, in the last five years many senior European politicians continued to delude themselves and refer to Assad as a moderate and a reformer.

* For images of those Danish cartoons, and other historic images of Mohammed drawn by Muslims themselves, please see here.



Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney says in his new memoir (published yesterday) that he urged former president George W. Bush to bomb a suspected nuclear reactor site in Syria in June 2007 but Bush rejected his advice.

Cheney writes that he was “a lone voice” for military action against Syria among senior Bush administration officials in the room.

Other advisers were reluctant, Cheney says, because of “the bad intelligence we had received about Iraq’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction” before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The Israelis bombed the Syrian site three months later, and since then international bodies have confirmed that both Cheney and Israel were correct: the Assad regime, with North Korean help, was indeed trying to build a nuclear bomb at that site.



The Wall Street Journal reports that the United States and Israel are concerned that amid the upheaval in Syria, weapons of mass destruction will find their way into the hands of terrorist groups. The Syrian regime may seek to store them with its Hizbullah allies in Lebanon, for example.

President Bashar Assad is believed to be in possession of large stockpiles of chemical weapons and long-range missiles capable of delivering the deadly loads. The list of unconventional agents includes mustard gas, VX and Sarin gas. It also believed that North Korea has continued to provide Syria with nuclear-related material, even after Israel bombed a previous facility in 2007.



Iranian authorities have resumed their campaign of systematically seizing and destroying bibles after a senior Shi’ite cleric issued an urgent warning about the spread of Christianity.

Authorities in northwestern Iran seized 6,500 bibles, according to the Iranian Christian news organization Mohabat News.

Mohabat reported that the government cleric Ayatollah Hadi Jahangosha has warned of “the spread of Christianity among our youth,” pointing to burgeoning satellite programming, literature, and religious articles “promoting Christianity”.

“Everyone in society should feel a responsibility in this matter and play his or her role in the spreading of pure Islam and fighting false and distorted cultures,” he said.



Delivering his Friday prayers pre-sermon address last week, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said “the Zionist regime’s existence is not merely a threat to the Palestinian and the entire regional nations, rather its establishment and continued survival undermines the interests, independence and dignity of all regional nations.”

He said “the prelude to establishment of the regime was lies and deception.”

“One of the big lies is the Holocaust fable.”

Full text:

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30536134



A former Libyan embassy official in London, one of three men sought by Britain over the murder of British police officer Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984, has been found shot dead in Tripoli.

The bullet-ridden body of Abdulqadir al-Baghdadi, an embassy official in 1984 who went on to become chairman of the Libyan revolutionary committees and a senior regime apparatchik, was found in Tajoura, a suburb of eastern Tripoli.

It is not yet clear who killed al-Baghdadi, and some Libyans are even speculating that he may have been assassinated by British intelligence officials on the ground with rebel forces in Tripoli. There is no evidence for this.

Another Libyan embassy official, Matouk Mohammed Matouk, is still wanted in connection with the policewoman’s death.


I attach an article below by Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, a longstanding subscriber to this email list.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


The Libyan Apprentice
Seif Gadhafi, his father’s heir apparent, proved that evil is never banal and often self-conscious.
By Bret Stephens
August 23, 2011
The Wall Street Journal

Several years ago I sat next to Seif al-Islam Gadhafi at a luncheon in Davos and listened in astonishment as he extolled the virtues of – the Israeli military.

Why did the tiny Jewish state defeat its enemies time and again? Because, he explained, the Israeli army is not top-heavy with generals the way Arab armies typically are. Israeli NCOs know how to take the initiative without clear orders from the top. And mid-ranking officers don’t while away the hours scheming to take over the state.

So spoke the second son of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, apropos, I suspect, of the fact that I am a past editor of the Jerusalem Post. What did he intend by it? Was the praise for the Israeli military meant as a kind of diplomatic overture, or was it simply a remonstrance against brain-dead Arab ways? Did the scarcely veiled critique of his father’s regime – indeed, of the very way he came to power – hint at a broader change in political direction for Libya, or was it just fodder for credulous Westerners? If good wombs could bear bad sons, I wondered, maybe the reverse could also be true.

It didn’t take long before I was reminded of the Iron Rule of Davos: Nothing good that comes of it is ever real, and nothing real that comes of it is ever good.

Shortly after my encounter with Seif, the case of Libya’s imprisoned Bulgarian nurses – preposterously accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV, horribly tortured, sentenced to death, and ultimately released as part of a diplomatic minuet that included arms sales to the regime – burst freshly into view. Then there was the case of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, given a hero’s welcome in Tripoli after his release on bogus humanitarian grounds by Scottish politicians. Col. Gadhafi also found time to declare jihad against Switzerland out of pique that his miscreant son, the aptly named Hannibal, had been detained there for beating a servant.

As for the Israeli angle, there was also the case of Rafram Chadad, an Israeli artist who was arrested in Libya while on an assignment to photograph the physical remains of the Jewish community of Tripoli. In a February interview with Tablet magazine, he described the methods of his torture:

“They tied me up again and began to hit my soles and knees with an iron pipe. After that they made me take my clothes off, and sitting in my underwear, they connected a car battery to my fingers and administered electric shocks.” Mr. Chadad then recalled the chilling words of his interrogator: “Welcome, you are in the custody of the Libyan secret police. We are the worst secret police in the world. If you had heard stories about us, you would kill yourself now.”

Where was Seif Gadhafi during all this? About the Bulgarian nurses, he freely admitted to al Jazeera that their confessions had been extracted by torture. About Megrahi, he was quick to say that the release was part of a quid pro quo with the British government involving lucrative oil concessions. About Mr. Chadad, he acknowledged the Libyans knew the Israeli was no spy but arrested him anyway “to reap benefits.”

Seif, in other words, knew that his was a kingdom of cruelty. He knew of the arbitrary arrests, the routine prison torture, the cynical diplomatic ploys, the wanton mistreatment of foreigners, the top-to-bottom abuse of the people. For a time he burnished a reputation as a reformer, aided by puff pieces in the New York Times that touted his “bold independent streak.” And Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch wrote in 2009 about a “Tripoli Spring” and praised Seif as “the real impetus for the transformation.”

Yet when the rebellion against the regime began, he promised to fight “until the last bullet” and later warned “liberals” that they would either “escape or be killed.” He also threatened to forge an alliance with Islamic extremists.

Now Tripoli is all but fallen and Seif is reportedly under arrest and possibly headed for a war crimes tribunal at The Hague. What are we to think of his loyalty to his father, other than as a proverbial case of the dog returning to his vomit? Nothing much I suspect, except as a fresh reminder that tyrants are not just tortured souls or over-zealous ideologues or misunderstood dreamers, and that evil is never banal and often self-conscious. The essence of tyranny is lust for power. And people will sacrifice for their lusts.

The more important question is why so many Westerners were ready to fall for Seif. He was intelligent, often surprising, wore well-cut suits and chewed his food with his mouth shut. He was also the face of a regime that tore through abattoirs of human flesh. The very name Seif means “sword.” Who could have forgotten it?

Nearly everybody did. Nearly everybody, out of some combination of moral indifference, economic self-interest, political calculation or a willingness to suspend disbelief, wanted to give Seif and his father’s regime a pass. Now sage commentaries are being offered as to whether the unkempt rebels will be able to chart a better course for Libya. They would do better to ponder what would have become of Libya in the grip of the polished apprentice in his immaculate suits.

Turkish men pose to show women’s hidden wounds (& Kuwait: Israel was right on flotilla)

* Kuwaiti court shelves Turkish flotilla lawsuit: “The Turkish ship violated international law”

This dispatch contains items relating to Turkey.

There are also two other dispatches today, which can be read here and here.



1. Turkish paper publishes photos of men posing in order to expose women’s hidden wounds
2. Turkey to return Christian and Jewish properties
3. Turkish army admits it killed over 150 Kurds
4. Arab Times: Kuwaiti court shelves flotilla lawsuit: “Israel could win because the Turkish ship violated international law”
5. Turkish paper: “Why Golda Meir was right”

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


The Turkish paper Hürriyet Daily News has published an intriguing photo gallery of Turkish men – including prominent public figures – protesting the treatment of women in their country.

The first image in the series, below, is of politician Gürsel Tekin.

The accompanying text in the newspaper reads:

“Forty-nine per­cent of women are exposed to violence, 48 percent do not speak up, while 44.1 per­cent of working women and 41.1 per­cent of unemployed women are victims of violent acts. One of every 10 women who conceive at least once is beaten during the pregnancy.

“This year in the south­eastern province of Adıyaman, a 16-year-old girl was buried alive by her family and died in the honor killing. I will never forget her. This is not a part of religion, conscience or humanity. Our women are massacred under the guise of honor killings. And if they are not murdered, they live in hell because of violence from their husbands every day,” says Tekin.

The other photos can be seen here.



The Turkish government has announced that it is to return some of the properties it has confiscated from its Christian and Jewish communities since 1936. The move is seen as a step towards alleviating European Union concerns about the treatment of minorities in Turkey, an EU candidate country.

The decision was announced ahead of a dinner held to break the Ramadan fast that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan attended with representatives of the Christian and Jewish communities in Istanbul earlier this week.

Turkey confiscated billions of dollars worth of property belonging to the Armenian, Greek and Jewish communities. The seized properties include hospitals, schools and cemeteries. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that these seizures were illegal.

Around 100,000 Christians and 25,000 Jews remain in Turkey, which has an overwhelmingly Muslim population of 74 million.

Istanbul, previously known as Constantinople, was once home to a large Christian population and was capital of the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire.


For background on Constantinople, see:

* From Turkey: A tale of two cities: Istanbul vs. Jerusalem (June 10, 2011)



The Turkish military has said it killed between 150 and 160 Kurdish fighters in August with artillery fire and air strikes. Some of the Turkish air strikes were carried out in northern Iraq. An unknown number of Kurdish civilians also died.

The Western media and human rights groups appear to care very little about the fate of the Kurds, the Middle East’s largest stateless minority.

On one day alone last month Turkey carried out air strikes on 60 sites, but this was barely reported internationally.

At least 40,000 civilians and soldiers have died in the Kurdish fight for a separate homeland over the last 25 years, far more than the number of Israelis and Palestinians in their conflict during the same time period.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government continues to berate Israel over its supposed wrongdoing.


* Among past dispatches on this, please see:

Turks kill 130 Kurds (& The world’s favorite sport is…) (June 21, 2010)



The Arab Times reports as follows:

Case against Israel shelved

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 28: The Ministry of Justice intends to shelve the case which has been filed by MP Dr Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and others against the Israeli government for humiliating and assaulting them while they were aboard the Turkish flotilla which was carrying humanitarian assistance to the people of the Gaza Strip in Palestine, reports Al-Dar daily.

It has been reported the ministry was preparing to file a lawsuit in international courts but was advised by lawyers not to go ahead with the suit because Israel could win the case and Kuwait would end up paying billions of dollars in compensation because the ship had violated the international law by entering the Israeli territorial waters without permission.


[Update: since I sent this item out, the paper has altered its website.]

* For more on the flotilla, please see here.


I attach an article below from the Turkish paper Hurriyet Daily News:

Why Golda Meir was right
By Burak Bekdil
Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey)
August 23, 2011

It has been more than two and a half years since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told to Israeli President Shimon Peres’s face, “You (Jews) know well how to kill.” Prime Minister Erdogan has also declared more than a few times that the main obstacle to peace in this part of the world is Israel, once calling the Jewish state “a festering boil in the Middle East that spreads hate and enmity.” In this holy month of Ramadan full of blood on Muslim territories, let’s try to identify who are the ones who know well how to kill.

As the Syrian death count clicks every day to come close to 2,000, the Turkish-Kurdish death count does not stop, already over 40,000 since 1984, both adding to the big pool of blood called the Middle East. Only during this Ramadan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK’s, death toll has reached 50 in this Muslim Kurds vs. Muslim Turks war. This excludes the PKK casualties in Turkey and in northern Iraq due to Turkish military retaliation since they are seldom accurately reported.

Let’s speak of facts.

Sudan is not in the conventional Middle East, so let’s ignore the genocide there. Let’s ignore, also, the West Pakistani massacres in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) totaling 1.25 million in 1971. Or 200,000 deaths in Algeria in war between Islamists and the government in 1991-2006.

But a simple, strictly Middle East research will give you one million deaths in the all-Muslim Iran-Iraq war; 300,000 Muslim minorities killed by Saddam Hussein; 80,000 Iranians killed during the Islamic revolution; 25,000 deaths in 1970-71, the days of Black September, by the Jordanian government in its fight against the Palestinians; and 20,000 Islamists killed in 1982 by the elder al-Assad in Hama. The World Health Organization’s estimate of Osama bin Laden’s carnage in Iraq was already 150,000 a few years earlier.

In a 2007 research, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found out that some 11 million Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, (0.3 percent) died during the six years of Arab war against Israel, or one out of every 315 fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent who perished were killed by fellow Muslims.

According to Mssrs. Heinsohn and Pipes, the grisly inventory finds the total number of deaths in conflicts all over the world since 1950 numbering around 85 million. Of that, the Muslim Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict were at 46,000 including 11,000 during Israel’s war of independence. That makes 0.05 percent of all deaths in all conflicts, or 0.4 percent of all Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In another calculation ignoring “small” massacres like the one that goes on in Syria and other deaths during the Arab Spring, only Saddam’s Iraq, Jordan, the elder al-Assad’s Syria, Iran-Iraq war, the bin Laden campaign in Iraq, the Iranian Islamic revolution and the Turkish-Kurdish conflict caused 1.65 million Muslim deaths by Muslims compared to less than 50,000 deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1950, including fatalities during and after Operation Cast Lead which came after the Heinsohn-Pipes study. For those who don’t have a calculator ready at their desks, allow me to tell: 50,000 is three percent of 1.65 million.

Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, or rather the “Mother of Israel,” had a perfectly realistic point when she said that peace in the Middle East would only be possible “when Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”


[All notes above by Tom Gross]

Israeli ambassador to US hosts Ramadan dinner (PA warned by own lawyers against UN vote)

This dispatch will be posted soon. Please come back later and “refresh” this page.


There are also two other dispatches today, which can be read here and here.