Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

U.S. professor shouts “death to Israel” (& Facebook users offered $100k to kidnap Israelis)

October 28, 2011

* Leading politician in Tunisia’s Islamist political party labeled as moderate by Western media this week, called for the “the end of the germ called Israel”

* Condoleezza Rice confirms that Abbas turned down Israel’s 2008 statehood offer, which included some Palestinian control over Jerusalem



1. Tenured American professor shouts “death to Israel” at university event
2. Leading Saudi cleric offers $100,000 on Facebook to anyone who kidnaps more Israeli soldiers
3. Tunisia’s “moderate” Islamist political leader calls for the “the end of the germ called Israel”
4. Condoleezza Rice confirms that Abbas turned down statehood offer, including Jerusalem
5. PA recalls diplomat from Canada over anti-Semitic Twitter entry
6. Turkey finally accepts aid for Kurdish earthquake survivors
7. Released Israeli-American Ilan Grapel was not a spy
8. Poll of Egyptians: 85% want peace treaty with Israel to continue
9. Egyptian paper features map labeling all of Israel as Palestine
10. Israel welcomes Basque terror group’s farewell to arms

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Ishmael Khaldi, an Israeli Bedouin who is a senior Israeli diplomat, is used to being subjected to a tirade of abuse from students when he lectures in Europe and America.

But last week at Kent State, he tells me he had to deal with a tenured history professor, Julio Pino, who shouted “death to Israel” at him as he spoke.

It will be interesting to see whether the university authorities discipline Professor Pino, who also told students that “Israel kills babies”.

Khaldi had been invited to Kent to give a talk about his book, A Shepherd’s Journey, which describes his life journey from growing up in a small tent in a Bedouin village in southern Israel to become a senior advisor to the current Israeli Foreign Minister.

The outburst by Pino was reported in KentWired, an independent student publication and yesterday in Jewish publications, such as the Cleveland Jewish News, but has yet to be reported by national publications like The New York Times, which tends to avoid reporting on the increased harassment of Jewish and pro-Israel students on many American campuses.

(Khaldi is a friend of mine, and a longtime subscriber to this email list.)



In a message posted on his popular Facebook page, Saudi cleric Dr. Awad al-Qarni has offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who kidnaps more Israeli soldiers.

Yesterday, the post was taken down after Facebook users complained to Facebook, however, not before the page generated over 2600 “likes” and more than 1000 comments in Arabic, mostly positive.

A screenshot of al-Qarni’s post offering a $100,000 reward to anyone who kidnaps an Israeli soldier

Al-Qarni’s offer also received extensive coverage yesterday in Hamas-affiliated newspapers in Gaza, where many readers said they will aim to win the award.

Al-Qarni is a prominent Muslim cleric who often hosts shows on Saudi and other TV channels. He has previously said that “Neo-Cons are the closest thing there is to Nazism.”

Even though that particular post has been removed by Facebook, his page continues to attract many readers.

(Incidentally, if you would like to “like” my page on Facebook, after which you will receive occasional additional material beyond these dispatches, you can do so here:



Western media have noted that the Nahda party, which won most votes in the Tunisian elections earlier this week, is “moderate”.

It remains to be seen if that is in fact the case, and those Tunisian secularists and feminists who rioted this morning in Tunisia against the party and against the election results, certainly don’t seem to agree with the Western pundits.

Nor do comments made by party leader Rashid Ghannouchi in May appear to be moderate, even if the BBC insists on calling the party “moderate”:

“I bring glad tidings that the Arab region will get rid of the germ called Israel. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of the Hamas movement, once said that Israel would disappear before 2027. That date may be too far off; Israel may disappear before that.”



In her new memoir, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confirms that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “made an extraordinary offer in an attempt to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” in 2008 but Palestinian President Abbas did not respond.

Rice says that a peace accord based on a two-state solution for two peoples had been within reach but Abbas didn’t appear to want to accept it. She says that despite U.S. President George W. Bush’s request to Abbas that he accept Olmert’s offer, he refused.

Rice maintains the offer included international control of Jerusalem’s holy sites and a formula for dividing the rest of Jerusalem.

It seems that the Palestinian Authority isn’t quite as “desperate” for a state as many Western commentators and politicians claim it is.



The Palestinian Authority has recalled one of its top diplomats in Canada after she tweeted a link to an anti-Semitic YouTube video. The Canadian government, perhaps more than any other government in the world, has taken anti-Semitism seriously and it told the Palestinian Authority that it would “limit communications” with Linda Sobeh Ali, the chargé d’affaires to the Palestinian delegation in Ottawa, unless she was replaced. The Palestinians have now recalled her to Ramallah.

Sobeh Ali told Canadian TV that she would not have retweeted the link to the video had she watched it properly and knew what it contained. “I regret this unfortunate incident,” the PA envoy said in a statement.


Three Grad rockets were fired from the northern Gaza Strip at the Israeli town of Ashdod and the area of Bnei Aish shortly before midnight on Wednesday. No injuries have been reported, but a number of terrified Israelis were treated for shock. The Western media have not reported on the attacks at all, as far as I can see.



On October 26, 2011, I updated the dispatch Erdogan would rather see Turks die than have them rescued by Israelis as follows:

Today, Turkey finally asked for Israeli aid and Israel responded immediately. Israel is the nearest country to Turkey with advanced capabilities for dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake. (Some papers in Turkey, such as Hurriyet, promptly reported the news.)

However, critics said that had Turkey accepted Israel’s offer three days earlier lives may have been saved. They also pointed to the fact that many or most of the earthquake’s victims appear to be ethnic Kurds and questioned whether the Turkish government had been deliberately slow to take up offers of international aid, given its warlike stance towards the Kurds in the part of Turkey where the earthquake hit.


Update, October 28, 2011:

Yesterday evening a 13-year-old boy was pulled out alive over 5 days after the earthquake. The day before a 2-week-old baby girl was brought out alive.

How many more lives could have been saved if Turkey had accepted aid earlier?

Survivors of Sunday’s massive 7.2-magnitude earthquake have had to face several nights out in the open in near-freezing temperatures.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has also sent aid to help survivors cope.



Ilan Grapel, the duel Israeli and American passport holder whom the Egyptian military government detained four months ago, and released yesterday in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners held in Israel, was not a spy, according to well-informed sources in Israel.

Commentators in Israel and America have noted that the “Ilan Grapel incident was designed to distract Egyptians from real problems by conjuring up imaginary foreign plots against Egypt.”

Even under Mubarak, Cairo had a history of arresting innocent Israelis such as Azzam Azzam and Ouda Tarabin and framing them as spies to prove to its anti-Israel public that it was being tough on Israel.

Grapel, a law student at Emory University in Atlanta, had taken a job in Cairo in May with St. Andrew’s Refugee Services, a Christian organization that provides legal aid for Sudanese refugees.

Grapel’s false imprisonment is comparable with Iran’s kidnapping of three American hikers and accusing them of espionage two years ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro hosted Grapel upon his release. Grapel said he underwent difficult conditions over the last four months of being held in an Egyptian jail.

The 25 released Egyptians were not imprisoned by Israel for carrying out acts related to terror, but had been sentenced for drug dealing and other criminal offenses.


Meanwhile Israeli President Shimon Peres has paid a visit to the home of freed Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit. Peres praised Shalit for his bravery during his over 5 and a half years of captivity, during which time he almost never saw sunlight or breathed fresh air.

Peres with Gilad Shalit and his parents



The Egyptian publication Al-Ahram Weekly reports (in its issue of Oct. 20-26) on an opinion poll conducted by the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

Among the poll results:

4% favor declaring war on Israel now
7% favor abolishing the peace treaty with Israel but not starting a war
12% favor expelling the Israeli ambassador from Cairo
11% support recalling the Egyptian ambassador from Israel
62% would like to see the peace agreement continue, but with amendments
23% want the peace treaty to remain as it is



An article about developing the Sinai in the October 18 edition of Al-Masry Al-Youm includes a map (reproduced below) of the Sinai along with the Gaza Strip, Israel and the West Bank.

The entire area of Gaza, Israel and the West Bank is labeled “Palestine” and there are no lines distinguishing between the areas.



The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued the following statement earlier this week:

“The Basque terror group ETA announced yesterday that it decided to bid farewell to arms and abandon terror indefinitely. Israel considers this a positive step that could put an end to violence, while representing an achievement for democracy in its fight against terror.

“Israel hopes that this step serve as an example to other terror groups, and that they, too, abandon the path of terror, which leads only to death and suffering.”

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

Erdogan would rather see Turks die than have them rescued by Israelis

October 24, 2011

* Following a previous earthquake in Turkey, an Israeli rescue team pulled a 10-year-old girl from the rubble after she had been trapped for nearly 100 hours. The Israelis rescued 11 other people alive and recovered 140 bodies. But now Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan refused an Israeli offer of help following yesterday’s devastating earthquake in Turkey.

* “The Turkish Islamist regime has deliberately helped the Obama administration approve a Syrian opposition leadership that is more Islamist and more Muslim Brotherhood-controlled than was necessary.”

* “Erdogan claims Gaza is a big open air prison. But what the Turks did to Famagusta in Cyprus is worse: The Turks expelled an entire people.”


Update, October 26, 2011

Today, Turkey finally asked for Israeli aid and Israel responded immediately. Israel is the nearest country to Turkey with advanced capabilities for dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake. (Some papers in Turkey, such as Hurriyet, promptly reported the news.)

However, critics said that had Turkey accepted Israel’s offer three days earlier many lives may have been saved. They also pointed to the fact that many or most of the earthquake’s victims appear to be ethnic Kurds and questioned whether the Turkish government had been deliberately slow to take up offers of international aid, given its warlike stance towards the Kurds in the part of Turkey where the earthquake hit.


There is also another dispatch today, which can be read here:
Condi Rice admits to Gaddafi video: “It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy”

Thank you to all those websites that have linked to this dispatch: For example, the National Review and Atlas Shrugs.



This rest of this dispatch contains items relating to Turkey.

But first I would recommend watching this ingenious get-out-and-vote ad that ran in Tunisia prior to yesterday’s elections, the first free elections in the Arab world for some time.


(You can comment on this dispatch at You first have to press “Like” on that page.)



1. Turkey welcomes some of the worst Palestinian terrorists
2. “Erdogan would rather see Turks die than to have them rescued by Israelis” (By Jonathan Tobin, Commentary, Oct. 23, 2011)
3. “Turkey’s human rights hypocrisy” (By Steven Plaut, FrontPage Magazine)
4. “Obama administration (on Turkish advice) empowers largely Islamist leadership for Syrian revolution” (By Barry Rubin, Pajamas Media, Oct. 21, 2011)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach three articles below. In regard to the first article: partly as a result of its long history of being bombed and rocketed, Israel is a world leader in the human and technological knowhow necessary for extracting people from destroyed buildings and in quickly setting up field hospitals.

There have also been other comment articles, not included here, in recent days in the Israeli media expressing dismay at the way that the Turkish government has been so eager to welcome to their territory some of the worst Palestinian murderers of Israeli civilians who were released last week as part of the deal to free Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit.

There has also been remarkably little coverage in the international media of the killing of at least 60 Kurds by Turkey in recent days, as well as the Turkish military incursion into Iraq.

(I would again like to remind readers that I don’t necessarily agree with all aspects of the articles I attach in these dispatches.)



Erdogan would rather see Turks die than to have them rescued by Israelis
By Jonathan Tobin
Commentary magazine
October 23, 2011

How determined is Turkey to repudiate its decades-long alliance with Israel? Today’s decision by the Turks to reportedly refuse assistance from Israel is a stunning indication of how far the Islamist government in Ankara is willing to go to make a point.

Over 1,000 persons are feared dead in the aftermath of a quake that measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. With workers battling to save those trapped in collapsed buildings in towns and cities near the Iranian border, it’s more than likely that Israel’s experienced rescue teams – which participated in previous earthquake relief efforts in Turkey – would be of value to the effort. But according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told the Israelis they are not wanted. Erdogan would apparently prefer to see his compatriots die rather than to allow Jews to help them.

A Reuters report on Turkey’s refusal recalled Israel’s record of assistance to its former ally:

“In 1999, an Israeli military rescue team pulled a 10-year-old Israeli girl from the rubble of a collapsed building in Cirarcik in northwest Turkey, where her family was on holiday. She had been trapped for nearly 100 hours. The team spent a week in Turkey, rescuing 12 people and recovering 140 bodies. Israel also set up a field hospital in the region, where two large quakes that year killed more than 20,000 people, treating more than 1,000 victims.”

Erdoğan’s decision to embrace Hamas terrorists and discard the Israeli alliance appears to be part of a push for Turkey to reclaim the position it claimed during the Ottoman era as the leader of the Islamist world. It’s far from clear that most Arabs have any interest in being led by the Turks but hostility toward Israel is an integral element in this campaign. Whether Turkey’s people prefer to see their compatriots die rather than be rescued by Jews is also questionable.

Israel’s government did the right thing by offering aid despite Turkey’s atrocious behavior toward the Jewish state in recent years. By repudiating even humanitarian assistance from Israel, Ankara has demonstrated the depth of its malevolence. While the United States should also do what it can to help the Turks, Erdogan has given the Obama administration one more reason to reassess its heretofore-supine stance toward his country. A government that would rather see its people perish than acknowledge assistance from Israel has lost any moral legitimacy.



Turkey’s human rights hypocrisy
By Steven Plaut
FrontPage Magazine
July 15, 2010

The ghost town lies near the very center of the city, just outside the Venetian walls. But it is home only to snakes, scorpions, and rats of a hundred varieties. Signs on the fences around the ghost town show armed Turkish soldiers threatening those who dare to take photographs with arrest or worse. The crumbling buildings inside the perimeter are frozen in 1974, as if they were in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Nothing has changed since central Famagusta was converted into the ghost town by the military invaders.

It is said that the car distributorships in the ghost town even today are stocked with vintage 1974 models. For years after the rape of Famagusta, people told of seeing light bulbs still burning in the windows of the abandoned buildings. The few who have been allowed to enter the ghost town (called Varosha) tell of homes with uneaten breakfasts still on the tables and unmade beds. Books are opened to the exact pages where they were being read when the barbarous invasion commenced. Hollywood studios could clothe whole movie sets with the 1974 fashions still in the closets of the homes.

Three years after the invasion, the scene was described by Swedish journalist Jan-Olof Bengtsson. In the newspaper Kvallsposten, about his visit to the Swedish UN battalion in the port of Famagusta in 1977, he wrote: “The asphalt on the roads has cracked in the warm sun and along the sidewalks bushes are growing. Today – September 1977 – the breakfast tables are still set, the laundry still hanging and the lamps still burning. Varosha is a ghost town.”

The Turks, although they currently place themselves at the forefront of the assault against Israel for its “illegal occupation” of its own Jewish homelands, and for supposedly mistreating Palestinians, are the very same people who continue the massive crime against humanity in the form of the Famagusta ghost town. Born in ethnic cleansing, it is the enduring testimony to the illegal land grab on Cyprus by Turkey, the mass expulsion of the ethnic Greek Cypriots from the northern 40% of the island, the theft of their property, and an unknown number of murders.

The illegal “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is recognized by absolutely no one, not a single country besides Turkey itself. Since its brutal invasion, Turkey has moved countless thousands of its own citizens and regular troops onto northern Cyprus. This is the very same Turkey that venomously denounces Israel when it builds “settlements” in the suburbs of Jerusalem for Jewish civilians on lands they have purchased legally.

Famagusta was first erected in the 13th century BC. During the Iron Age, it was known as Salamis, and its kings traced their ancestry to the Teucer, brother of Ajax, a hero of the Trojan War. Phoenicians came and went, as did the Assyrians and Persians. Greek settlers came to dominate its population. The Romans turned Famagusta-Salamis into a port of significance and major administration center. Some Jews migrated in from their homeland, producing the wine used in the Jerusalem Temple described in the Talmud, and later, manufacturing silk.

The Byzantines strengthened the town’s defenses after it became a target for raids from Arab Moslems. In one of these, the mother of the Prophet Mohammed accompanied the troops and died during the raid. She is buried near the Cyprus airport, and the site has become a shrine of pilgrimage for Moslem believers. Crusaders from northern Europe took the island in the Middle Ages, but positioned their capital to the west of Famagusta. The town remained the main port for the entire island.

Crusader knights took refuge in Famagusta after being expelled from the Holy Land by the Saracens. In time, the island was taken over by Venice, in part to prevent her Italian rivals in Genoa from grabbing control of the strategic island. The Venetians gave the center of Famagusta its defining character, with its massive defensive bulwarks, gates, and towers. The winged lion of St. Mark, the patron of Venice, still looks down from the walls. Shakespeare’s mythical Othello served as ruler of Famagusta, and the largest Venetian fortress in the wall is obligingly called Othello’s Tower even today.

In 1571, the Ottoman Turks lost patience with their Venetian allies and seized the island, taking Famagusta only after a nine month siege. It was the last Christian stronghold to fall. The majority ethnic Greeks of the island maintained their cultural identity, speaking their own language, and stubbornly preserving their Christian Orthodox faith in spite of attempts by the Latins and Ottomans to expunge it from their midst. The impressive main cathedral of Famagusta was converted into a mosque, and remains so to this day.

The Turkish colonialists turned the island over to the British colonialists in 1878 as part of a deal to get Great Britain to back the Ottomans in their fight against subjugation by the Russian Czar. Britain wanted Cyprus to serve as a naval base to guard access to the Suez Canal, and they governed the island with a policy of benign neglect. In the 1940s, the British grabbed ships filled with Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler and seeking refuge in the Land of Israel. They imprisoned the Jewish refugees on the island in camps around Famagusta.

After an armed campaign by Cypriots to drive the Britain from the island, the Brits left in 1958 and Cyprus became a republic. Things were not well, however, in the inter-communal relations between Cypriot Greeks and Cypriot Turks, with growing incidents of atrocities and violence taking place. Crimes were committed by both sides. After a particularly horrific set of attacks, and partly in response to attempts by some radical Greek nationalists on the island to seek amalgamation with Greece, the Turks invaded the island militarily in the summer of 1974.

Turkish tanks landed on the northern shore west of Kyrenia and quickly drove out the weak Cypriot armed forces from the northern part of the island. Within two days they had taken Famagusta. The Turkish air force bombed the helpless town. The entire Greek population, fearing massacres at the hands of the invaders, fled south to the areas beyond the reach of the Turkish army. Evidently to show the Greek Cypriots who was the new boss in town, the Turks sealed off the wealthy tourist area of Famagusta altogether, denying civilians access. The new ghost town was filled with valuable Greek property, including homes and luxury hotels. It had been the capital of the Cyprus tourist industry, thereafter forced to relocate to the south. The artifacts and museum of the ghost town were looted.

Meanwhile, Turkish tanks rolled onward until Turkey had conquered exactly half of the Cyprus capital of Nicosia. There it erected a wall running through the center of the city, a wall still standing – many years after the similar wall in Berlin fell. To cow the Greek Cypriots of southern Nicosia, the Turks created the world’s largest flag on a mountainside facing the city. Other Turkish flags fly over the northern half of the city, and Nicosia mosque minarets are said to have their volume dials turned to the maximum just to antagonize the ethnic Greeks beyond the wall.

The wall of occupation running through central Nicosia does not attract “solidarity” protesters or leftist professors from the West. They are too busy denouncing and attacking Israel for building a security fence around Jerusalem to keep Palestinian suicide bombers from mass murdering Jewish children. No Rachel Corries come to Nicosia to defy the Turkish occupation army. They know they would be jailed without hesitation in a nice Turkish Midnight Express, or worse.

Countless UN resolutions since 1974 have demanded that Turkey leave the island and restore property stolen by Turkey to Greek Cypriots. The same Turkish government that regularly denounces Israel for daring to defend its own civilians from Arab terrorists and for otherwise disregarding anti-Israel world opinion, has never paid those UN resolutions any mind.

The Turkish pilliagers of Famagusta, the Turkish occupiers of northern Cyprus, are angry at occupation. But only by Israel. They send “peace flotillas” filled with armed terrorists to challenge the closure of Gaza by Israel, but never question the closure of Famagusta’s ghost town. Turkey demands a right of return to Israel for “refugees” claiming to be “1948 Palestinians” (never mind the twenty-two Arab states in which the same “Palestinians” can live comfortably), but refuse to even take under consideration a right of return for Greek Cypriots to their own property lost in 1974.

Turkey insists that “Palestinians” be granted statehood and “self-determination,” while refusing to allow Turkish Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Azeris and others to exercise any of it, even in the form of limited language autonomy. While Arabs living in Israel enjoy levels of freedom a hundred times better than Turks living in Turkey, the Turkish government continues to denounce Israel for its oppression of Arab “human rights.” Recently, on the very day when Turkey murdered 120 Kurds, it denounced Israel for “war crimes,” supposedly committed when the Israeli army invaded Gaza in response to the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians.

The respect for human rights in Turkey is only notable for its absence. Kurdish, Armenian, and other ethnic minorities have been forcibly Turkified. Religious minorities, such as the Alevi, are persecuted. Censorship is commonplace. Kurdish areas have been subjected to martial rule.

The operations of the Turkish military against the Kurds make Israel’s recent incursion into the Gaza Strip (in operation “Cast Lead”) look like a May Day picnic. Until 2003, it was forbidden to speak Kurdish on the radio or television; the Kurdish alphabet still cannot be used. The state of human rights in Turkey, according to numerous human rights NGOs, continues to be atrocious. Women in Turkey are mistreated; until very recently women students applying to universities had to pass a virginity test. The Turkish military police routinely kill civilians. Journalists have been assassinated. Islamofascism is growing stronger and local Islamic fundamentalist terrorists filled the Gaza “peace flotilla” sponsored by Turkey. Those are the terrorists whose suppression by Israel has now become the focus of Turkey’s demand for an Israeli apology.

When Israel invaded Gaza to put a stop to massive rocket attacks against its civilians by Hamas terrorists, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel for supposedly “massacring innocent women and children.” He repeatedly accused Israel of “mass murder” in Gaza. Erdogan ranted at length about how Israel had turned the Gaza Strip into an “open-air prison.”

But, in fact, the largest ongoing “open air” human rights violation and crime against humanity is on display for all today, behind the barbed wire and fences of the ghost town of Famagusta.



Obama administration does it again: Empowers largely Islamist leadership for Syrian Revolution
By Barry Rubin
Pajamas Media
October 21, 2011

The leadership of the Syrian revolution, or at least those who are recognized as such abroad, has released the names of 19 of the 29 members of the General Secretariat and five members of the Presidential Council. A lot of research should be one done on the individuals but let’s do a quick ethnic and political analysis based on this information.

But first let me give you my analysis: I believe that the Turkish Islamist regime deliberately helped produce a Syrian leadership that is more Islamist and more Muslim Brotherhood controlled than was necessary. Since Turkey’s government was empowered to do this by the Obama Administration, the White House is responsible for this extremely dangerous situation. It is a blunder or a betrayal – in effect, the motive and cause don’t matter – of the greatest dimensions. The Obama Administration may “only” have paved the way for the triumph of Islamist regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia – we don’t yet know the final result–but it has been actively involved in helping promote an (avoidable) Islamist revolution in Syria.

Of the 19 members of the committee whose names have been published, 4 are identified as Muslim Brotherhood and 6 more as independent Islamists. That means 10 of the 19 – a majority – and hence 10 of the 15 Sunni Muslim Arabs (two-thirds) are Islamists!

Of the non-Islamist Sunni Arabs, two are leftists, two are liberals, and one represents the tribes.

Thanks, Obama Administration, for putting Islamist Turkey in charge of the negotiations!

There are also two Christians (one a representative of the small Assyrian community), one Druze, and one Kurd. So that 40 percent of the non-Sunni Arab population (there are no Alawites listed) has only 20 percent representation. This might partly be due to the walk-out of many Kurds to protest the Turkish bias favoring the Islamists. But the over-representation of Sunni Arabs sends a signal to the minority groups as well as helps empower Islamists.

Of course, it is true that 10 members remain anonymous because they are in side Syria but there’s no particular reason to believe they are of a different composition.

To my knowledge, not a single journalist or expert in the entire world has yet used this publicly available information and done the simple math involved.

Name / Political Affiliation / Sectarian Background

1 Burhane Ghalioun / Independent Left, Sunni Arab / Homs
2 Samir Nashar / Damascus Declaration Counci,l Sunni Arab / Aleppo
3 Muhammad Taifur / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab / Hama
4 Basma Kodmani / Independent Left, Sunni Arab
5 Abdelbasit Sida / Independent Kurdish Activist, Kurdish
6 Abdel Ahad Steifo / Christian: Assyrian Democratic Movement, Christian / Hassakeh
7 Ahmad Ramdan / Old SNC, Islamist (Syrian Hamas Adviser), Sunni Arab
8 Ahmad Sayyid Youssef / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab / Homs
9 Abdel Hamid Atassy / Damascus Declaration Council, Sunni Arab / Homs
10 Abdel Ilah Milhem / Tribal Coalition, Sunni Arab / Homs
11 Emadiddine Rasheed / Old SNC, Islamist (Religion Instructor) Sunni Arab / Damascus
12 Jabr Al-Shoufi / Damascus Declaration, Arab / Druze
13 Wa’el Mirza / Old SNC, Islamist Sunni Arab
14 Muhammad Bassam Youssef / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab / Homs
15 Anas Al-Abdeh / Damascus Declaration Council, Islamist Sunni Arab / Damascus
16 Kathryn Al-Talli / Local Coordination Committees, Christian Christian
17 Motei Bateen / LCCs, Islamist (Imam), Sunni Arab /Deraa (Hauran)
18 Najib Ghadbian / Old SNC, Independent Islamist Sunni Arab / Damascus
19 Nazeer Hakeem / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab

The Presidential Council:

1 Burhane Ghalioun / Independent Left, Sunni Arab / Homs
2 Samir Nashar / Damascus Declaration Council, Sunni Arab / Aleppo
3 Muhammad Taifur / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab / Hama
4 Abdelbasit Sida / Independent Kurdish Activist, Kurdish
5 Abdel Ahad Steifo / Christian: Assyrian Democratic Movement, Christian / Hassakeh

Note that the Presidential Council is much more balanced with only one Islamist, and the remaining names include a leftist, a liberal, a Christian and a Kurd. This seems, however, to be more for show to conceal the imbalance in the overall leadership.
Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean the actual leadership is highly Islamist, but it does indicate that the official leadership, chosen with U.S. participation, is far more balanced with only one Islamist.

Now, with your permission, I will have a brief angry outburst:

Those fools in the U.S. government helped produce an official leadership that is highly Islamist, perhaps much more so than the actual participants. Might not U.S. interests require pushing for genuine moderates to lead? After all, these are the people likely to get Western money and assistance. When it had a choice, the Obama Administration preferred to empower the enemies of America and the West. (Shall I add, once again?)

One more time, this list isn’t a clear indication of the composition of those fighting in Syria yet it suggests that U.S. policy prefers to help enemies take power in Syria when it could have very easily done otherwise.

Condi Rice admits to Gaddafi video: “It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy”

* “As one looked at the photographs and videos of Gaddafi’s capture that went so quickly around the world, it was hard to feel quite as overjoyed as his captors evidently were. For any civilized person the images of the former dictator wounded, beaten, bloodied and begging for his life were disturbing.”

* “The clownishness and the comic-opera costumes in particular made it harder to see him as a tyrant every bit as savage and cruel as more conventional third world dictators. We Westerners from countries with genuine elections tend to put too much faith in appearances.”

* Will the disgraceful UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay now apologize for having supported Gaddafi by granting him key posts on the UN Human Rights Council?

This dispatch contains items relating to Libya.

There is also another dispatch today, which can be read here:
Erdogan would rather see Turks die than have them rescued by Israelis



1. Will the UN apologize for legitimizing Gaddafi with key human rights posts?
2. A video worth watching again
3. Condi admits to Gaddafi video: “It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy”
4. “A clownish killer” (By Jonathan Foreman, Frum Forum, Oct. 21, 2011)
5. “Libya’s interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law” (By Richard Spencer, Daily Telegraph, Oct. 23, 2011)
6. “What Gaddafi’s death teaches the Middle East… and should teach the West” (By Barry Rubin, Pajamas Media, Oct. 20, 2011)


[Note by Tom Gross]

45 NGOs have issued a joint statement urging the UN Human Rights Council’s Jean Ziegler, who founded the “Muammar Gaddafi Human Rights Prize,” to resign following the Libyan dictator’s downfall.

They also called on UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay to apologize for having supported Gaddafi by granting him key posts on the UN’s most influential bodies, including the Human Rights Council (as reported previously on this website).

According to (genuine) human rights groups, for over three decades, Ziegler has helped shield Gaddafi from scrutiny of his regime’s gross violations of human rights.

If the corrupt people who run the UN had any self-respect they might also now apologize for appointing the Gaddafi regime to head the planning of their 2009 Durban II world conference on racism.



I have posted the video below before, but it is worth watching again.

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



In her new memoir just published, the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice writes of Col. Gaddafi’s well-known “eerie fascination with me.”

She admits that he made a video showing pictures of her while a song called “Black Flower in the White House” played. “It was weird,” she writes, “but at least it wasn’t raunchy.”

Daniel Freedman also reported in Forbes magazine in August that on a 2008 trip to Libya Gaddafi “tried to seduce Rice with a specially made music video, before trying to drag her into his private quarters – apparently thinking the video had sufficiently impressed. State Department officials thought otherwise and grabbed her other hand – and (much to her relief) eventually won the ensuing tug-of-war.”


I attach three articles below. I particularly recommend reading the first piece. (Jonathan Foreman, Daniel Freedman and Barry Rubin are all subscribers to this list.)


Among other previous recent dispatches on Libya, which including a number of interesting videos:

* Will Libya’s $1000 an hour U.S. and British lobbyists stop their heinous work? (Feb. 22, 2011)
* Israeli song becomes accidental theme tune of Libyan rebels (March 1, 2011)

-- Tom Gross



A clownish killer
By Jonathan Foreman
Frum Forum
October 21, 2011

It is perhaps a shame that no one will have a chance to interrogate Gaddafi and find out the details of his regime’s involvement in crimes like the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103, the equally appalling but less cited bringing down of UTA Flight 772 in 1989, the bombing of the Berlin discothèque that led to Ronald Reagan’s air-strike on Tripoli, or his support for various terrorist groups.

On the other hand, it is far from sure that had he been tried in a court of law that Gaddafi would have given his enemies the satisfaction of hearing the truth. It is not clear that the trial of Saddam Hussein really did much psychological or political good or that it would not have been better for Iraq if he too had been dispatched near his hiding place.

As one looked at the photographs and videos of Gaddafi’s capture that went so quickly around the world, it was hard to feel quite as overjoyed as his captors evidently were. For any civilized person the images of the former dictator wounded, beaten, bloodied and begging for his life were disturbing. I had to remind myself of the thousands of terrified, bloodied people stripped of their dignity, who must have begged for their lives in his dreadful prisons before they were murdered. (Apparently Gaddafi liked to broadcast videos of victims of his show trials urinating on themselves in fear before they were tortured or executed.)

Then there were the mass executions, the purges that followed the many attempted coups and revolts against him, the wars he fostered in Chad and elsewhere, the bloody but little-reported anti-African campaigns conducted by his Islamic Legion mercenaries.

Gaddafi was a genuine monster and mass murderer, of foreigners as well as of his own people. Unfortunately some of the aspects of his personality and dictatorial style that helped him retain power for all those decades also served to obscure just how vicious he was.

The clownishness and the comic-opera costumes in particular made it harder to see him as a tyrant every bit as savage and cruel as more conventional third world dictators. We Westerners from countries with genuine elections tend to put too much faith in appearances. (It is why so many people wrongly assume that Syria’s Assads are not as cruel or dangerous as dictators sporting military fatigues and sunglasses, or wearing an animal pelt across their shoulders.) Gaddafi was indeed a clown but he was of the evil, John Wayne Gacy kind that inhabit nightmares.

It is worth examining further why Gaddafi seemed less horrible than he really was, and how he managed to gull informed foreigners who should have known better. Partly this was because he may have been a clown but was far from a fool. But it was also a function of the way greedy, cynical or bigoted foreigners chose to see and present him.

One thinks especially of LSE director Howard Davies, and his staff who only decided that it was wrong to take Gaddafi’s money after the killing of protesters this February; the thousands who had already been killed or tortured in the Abu Salim prison were beneath their notice. Or Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, who was seduced by Gaddafi and his slick international socialite son Saif al-Islam (apparently still alive and at large) into heralding a “Tripoli Spring” when the regime was actually happily murdering dissidents like Fathi Eljahmi.

Presumably Whitson’s head was too stuffed with Zionist and American crimes, real or imagined, for her to see what was really going on in Tripoli, though it would be a mistake to underestimate the charm that Gaddafi could deploy when necessary. In recent years his efforts to maintain an image as a Ladies man – including the female bodyguard corps and his troop of East European nurses – seemed sad and ridiculous. He began his rule as a handsome, dashing young officer and soon found that he had a genuine knack for seducing earnest foreign women. Indeed, one of the reasons why the coverage of Ronald Reagan’s bombing of Tripoli tended to be so hostile and so credulous of Gaddafi’s claims about civilian casualties was because a key BBC correspondent on the ground fell under his romantic spell.

It may also be that Western leaders and their publics generally misunderstand and underestimate third world dictators. If a dictator rules a notoriously underdeveloped country or, like Gaddafi, dresses like Michael Jackson, takes a tent to foreign capitals, and pursues strange, egotistical hobbies like novel-writing, then foreign interlocutors assume that he (in the modern era it is always a he) is a kind of joke figure, brittle and easy to overthrow given a modicum of effort.

The truth is that anyone who can hold onto violently seized power for more than a year or two is probably a person of impressive unpleasant abilities, especially if they are ruling over a compulsively conspiratorial society accustomed to political violence. Tyranny is not easy. To do what Gaddafi did and remain in power for four decades required remarkable cunning, psychological acuity, political skill, emotional intelligence and cleverly applied ruthlessness. (It is why dictators like him sometimes find it laughably easy to manipulate or outmaneuver the heads of state of more powerful democratic countries: our elected politicians have not been schooled in an academy where failure means the firing squad or the gallows. )

Arguably Gaddafi was even cleverer than that murderous survivor Saddam Hussein: unlike the Iraqi he usually knew when to stop supporting terrorists, working on weapons of mass destruction and irritating American presidents into taking military action.

Of course in the end, both he and Saddam made fatal errors, and in the end it was Western military force that brought about their downfall and death. Moreover it is almost certain that Gaddafi would never have met his end near a storm drain in Sirte if Saddam had not first been overthrown by the US-led coalition. When I was at the Oslo Freedom Forum in May, I was told in no uncertain terms by several of the young leaders of the “Arab Spring” that the toppling of the Iraqi dictator had changed their mental landscape: the overthrow of their longtime overlords no longer seemed impossible.

Whether something or someone better will replace him is impossible to tell at this early juncture. It is just possible that when Gaddafi’s henchmen claimed to skeptical foreign journalists that the army was battling “al Qaeda” fighters, that they were not always lying. And it is all too likely that (as was the case in Iraq) the tyrant long ago killed, crippled or drove into exile every person or party capable of forming a liberal, decent, moderate, efficient government, and that almost everyone who remained has literally been brutalized by the experience of living under his tyranny. Hence the brutality of his own end.



Libya’s liberation: interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law
By Richard Spencer
Daily Telegraph (London)
Oct. 23, 2011

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its “basic source”.

But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways – it was also the basis of Egypt’s largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.

Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.

In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya’s economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. “Interest creates disease and hatred among people,” he said.

Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, and other Muslim countries, have pioneered the development of Sharia-compliant banks which charge fees rather than interest for loans but they normally run alongside western-style banks.

In the first instance, interest on low-value loans would be waived altogether, he said.

Libya is already the most conservative state in north Africa, banning the sale of alcohol. Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision – made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process – will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.



What Gaddafi’s death teaches the Middle East… and should teach the West
By Barry Rubin
Pajamas Media
October 20, 2011

What can we learn from the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Qadhafi? First, we should note that he is the second Arab dictator to die in the last decade, the first being the Iraqi Saddam Hussein. Both met their demise due to direct Western intervention.

There are three lessons for the region:

1. To get rid of a dictator, you need either Western intervention or the support of the armed forces.

Consider this simple list:

* Dictatorships overthrown with Western forces taking the lead: Iraq, Libya.

* Dictatorships overthrown with the backing of the army: Egypt, Tunisia.

* Failed revolutions when these two factors are lacking: Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen.

That shows that it is not popular revolt that changes things in the region.

Dictators must fight or die and concessions don’t help.

The Western view is that revolutions are prevented by moderation and compromise, steps that please the masses and thus discourage them from revolting. This is so deeply ingrained that Western observers simply cannot conceive that approach as anything but a natural law. In contrast, in the Middle East, the political philosophy has been based on the idea that force and intimidation prevail.

With one notable exception, where brilliant maneuvering and concessions (albeit often illusory ones) worked – Morocco – the Middle East has shown that its approach works locally. Even in Turkey, where democratic norms are observed, once in power the Islamist regime has gained ground through toughness and not through concessions. The prisons are full of its opponents.

The event in Eastern Europe that most impressed Arab governments was the assassination in Romania of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena. They knew that this could happen to them. When combined with the lesson from the USSR – how Mikhail Gorbachev’s engagement in reforms brought him down – these events played a central role in destroying the 1990s era of toying with possible moderation. The “old-time religion” of toughness and repression was reaffirmed.

Nowhere has this proven to be truer than in Syria. Despite Western fantasies of moderation and reform from dictator Bashar al-Assad, there has never been the slightest chance of this happening. The whole Obama foreign policy toward Syria was demonstrably foolish.

2. The events of the last year have reinforced this worldview – repress or die. Have no illusions.

An interesting case study of how this works is offered by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi in a superb short article, “Assessing Bahrain.” The strength of al-Tamimi’s analysis is that he points out both the real threat (Iranian-backed, radical Islamist Shia opposition) and the tragedy (the regime’s failure to deal with a more moderate Shia faction that wants a constitutional monarchy and isn’t Islamist).

But would it have been possible to work with the latter without ending up having the hardliners triumph? Impossible to say for sure, of course, but the hardline ruling faction in the monarchy wasn’t interested in finding out, and the Saudis certainly didn’t want to take any chances. Hence, they turned to pure repression and are still in power.

3. (Ironically) You can’t trust the West, so be tough and defend yourself

Remember a peculiar fact: even though Gaddafi was generally a horribly repressive anti-American dictator, in his final years he tried making a deal with the Americans. Gaddafi was frightened by the U.S. attack on Iraq in 2003 and didn’t want to be next on the list. So he cooperated, gave up his nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction programs, and reduced his foreign subversive efforts.

That did not save him from being overthrown by the United States, just as it did not save a genuine American ally, President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. On this point, I’m not advocating anything about what the United States should have done in Libya but just observing how it will be received in the region.

Bashing the West in the current era brings little cost. Here’s a partial list:

Egypt: Obama courts Muslim Brotherhood and is indifferent to anti-Americanism of the newly empowered political forces

Gaza Strip: Terrorist Hamas gets Western support to stay in power, including bashing of Israel’s military operation and pressure on Israel to minimize sanctions.

Lebanon: No opposition to Syria-Iran sponsored forces and Hizballah; readiness to deal with the government they now control; no enforcement of 2006 UN resolution to stop arms smuggling and Hizballah’s return to the south. Incidentally, on the same day Gaddafi dies the first Hizballah delegation is officially received in Moscow.

Palestinian Authority: Refuses negotiations with Israel; refuses compromise; ignores U.S. requests but gets rewarded by the whole world while its enemy Israel is reviled.

Syria: Courted by the Obama administration; protected at the UN by a Russia-China veto, facing only very limited pressure despite massive repression.

Turkey: No punishment for regime’s sabotage of 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, sabotage of sanctions on Iran, alliance with radical Islamist forces. In fact, Obama administration rewards.

In contrast, allies – Bahrain, Mubarak’s Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the moderate oppositions in Iran, Lebanon, and Turkey – are not helped or are even punished by the West and especially the U.S. government.

Thus, the region will note that when Gaddafi was a leading sponsor of terrorism, subversion, and anti-Americanism, he got away with it. When he was on “good terms” with the United States, he lost power. That might not be fair, but it seems to make sense in terms of Middle Eastern political philosophy.

Remember the wisdom of Joseph Heller’s great novel Catch-22 on that point:

Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile: “But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way.”

“Then,” said Yossarian, “I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn’t I?”

British Muslim radical: “And then I started reading Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel”

October 17, 2011

Above: Abdel-Aziz Saleh - who is set to be released for Gilad Shalit - and one of his Israeli victims


* Ramallah lynch murderer among those set to be released tomorrow: Gruesome video below shows one of the most heinous crimes ever perpetrated against Israelis.

* Below: Benjamin Netanyahu’s letter today to the victims of the terrorists being released tomorrow.


* British Muslim Kasim Hafeez: “The reality is that there is real anti-Israel and anti-Semitic feeling on British university campuses. How do I know this? Because until recently I was the one doing the hating.”

* Hafeez: “Growing up in a Muslim community in the UK I was exposed to materials condemning Israel, painting Jews as usurpers and murderers. There was also constant, casual anti-Semitism around me. My father would boast of how Adolf Hitler was a hero, his only failing being that he didn’t kill enough Jews. Even the most moderate clerics I came across refused to condemn terrorism against Israel as unjustified.”

* “What changed? In Waterstone’s book shop one day I found myself in the Israel and Palestine section. To this day I don’t know why I actually pulled it off the shelf, but I picked up a copy of Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel…”


(You can comment on this dispatch at You first have to press “Like” on that page.)



1. One of the most heinous crimes in Israel’s history
2. Netanyahu’s letter today to the victims of the terrorists being released tomorrow
3. “From anti-Semite to Zionist” (By Kasim Hafeez, Jewish Chronicle, Oct. 7, 2011)
4. “Iran would gladly assassinate Saudis” (By Amir Taheri, New York Post, Oct. 13, 2011)
5. “WikiLeaks shakes security of Iraq’s tiny Jewish community” (McClatchy, Oct. 8, 2011)
6. “Steve Jobs’ father was…” (By Dennis Prager, National Review, Oct. 11, 2011)


[Note by Tom Gross]

[The first item below is a follow-up to the dispatch of Oct. 14, 2011, titled “A phone call this morning from the Pardons Board (& freed murderers kill again)”

While every person of conscience is very happy to see the young Israeli kidnap victim Gilad Shalit return home – he is expected back in Israel tomorrow – there is a growing backlash in Israel concerning the terms of the deal.

Among the many terrorists and murders the Israeli government has reportedly agreed to release, for example, is the man in this infamous video:

Warning, this 38-second video is one of the most gruesome I have ever posted. (The voiceover on the video is not mine, and I don’t necessarily agree with its content.)

Abdel-Aziz Saleh admitted participating in the lynching to death -- indeed he boasted of it -- of two young Israelis (Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami) who accidentally wandered into Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem, in 2000.

A British photographer who was there that day said “It was the most barbaric thing that I have ever seen and I have reported from many other horrific places such as Congo, Bosnia, and the like.”


At least 100 of those Palestinians being released are hardcore terrorists. Among them is Amana Muna, an adult Palestinian woman who lured a 16-year old Israeli boy from Ashkelon to Ramallah using an Internet dating site where he was brutally killed.


Many Israelis and others believe it is not only morally wrong to release terrorists but that Israel’s deterrence is being seriously eroded, along with the judicial system which prosecuted and sentenced murderers.

Feeling the pressure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has today sent an open letter to relatives of the victims of the terrorists being released. The letter is attached below. Among Israel’s senior cabinet ministers only Avigdor Lieberman and Moshe Ya’alon have opposed the Shalit-for-terrorists deal.


I also attach four other articles below. Two of the writers, the Iranian journalist Amir Taheri and the American commentator Dennis Prager, are subscribers to this email list. And others written about in the articles, including lawyer and author Alan Dershowitz and The Rev. Canon Andrew White, the Anglican priest in Baghdad, are longtime subscribers to this list.


A few minutes after I sent out the dispatch of Oct. 6, 2011, titled “One Israeli’s path from being mocked to winning a Nobel” I updated the dispatch to include information that Iraqi and Syrian subscribers to this list sent me about Steve Jobs’ biological father. Canada’s leading nationwide paper, The National Post, also ran that updated dispatch as an op-ed piece later than day.

Dennis Prager’s piece below, in effect serves as a follow-up to that updated dispatch.

--- Tom Gross


Jerusalem, 17 October 2011

Dear Families,

I write to you with a heavy heart. I understand and know your pain.

I belong to a bereaved family of the victims and fallen of terrorism. By brother was killed in the operation to rescue the Entebbe hostages.

I know that you have a heavy heart and that your wounds have been opened anew these past days; that your thoughts are not at ease.

Numerous misgivings accompanied me throughout the negotiations on the agreement to return the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. You were always in my thoughts.

The decision in the matter of the release of Gilad Shalit was among the most difficult that I have ever made. It is difficult for me for the same reasons that it is difficult for you, dear families.

In the decision to return Gilad home, I was faced with the responsibility of the Prime Minister of Israel to bring home every soldier who is sent to protect our citizens.

I also, when I went off to fight in the name of the State of Israel, knew always: The State of Israel does not abandon its soldiers and citizens.

Opposite the strong desire to return home a captive soldier, was the need to limit the heavy price that the State of Israel would have to pay upon the abduction of Gilad Shalit over five years ago.

I know that the price is very heavy for you. I understand the difficulty to countenance that the evil people who perpetrated the appalling crimes against your loved ones will not pay the full price that they deserve.

During these moments I hope that you will find solace that I and the entire nation of Israel embrace you and share your pain.

Your loved ones will forever be in my heart,
Yours in pain and deep sorrow for your loved ones,

Benjamin Netanyahu




From anti-Semite to Zionist
By Kasim Hafeez
The Jewish Chronicle (London)
October 7, 2011

In 2003, Pakistan’s then President Pervez Musharaff sought to re-examine his country’s relationship, or lack thereof, with Israel. He asked: “Do we have to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves?”

With their new “Liberation” campaign, it seems that the Union Of Jewish Students has decided to answer that question with a resounding “yes”.

Rather than being a brave move forwards for UJS, it is a hollow and cynical campaign that smacks of extreme cowardice.

The reality is that there is real anti-Israel and anti-Semitic feeling on British university campuses. How do I know this? Because until recently I was anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. Until recently, I was the one doing the hating.

Growing up in a Muslim community in the UK I was exposed to materials condemning Israel, painting Jews as usurpers and murderers. My views were reinforced when I attended Nakba Day rallies where speakers predicted Israel’s demise.

My hate for Israel and for the Jews was fuelled by images of death and destruction, set to the backdrop of Arabic melodies about Jihad and speeches of Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah or Osama Bin Laden.

There was also constant, casual anti-Semitism around me. My father would boast of how Adolf Hitler was a hero, his only failing being that he didn’t kill enough Jews. Even the most moderate clerics I came across refused to condemn terrorism against Israel as unjustified.

What changed? In Waterstone’s [a leading British book store -- TG] one day I found myself in the Israel and Palestine section. To this day I don’t know why I actually pulled it off the shelf, but I picked up a copy of Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel.

In my world view the Jews and the Americans controlled the media, so after a brief look at the back, I scoffed thinking “vile Zionist propaganda”.

But I decided to buy it, eagerly awaiting the chance to deconstruct it so I could show why Israel had no case and claim my findings as a personal victory for the Palestinian cause.

As I read Dershowitz’s systematic deconstruction of the lies I had been told, I felt a real crisis of conscience. I couldn’t disprove his arguments or find facts to respond to them with. I didn’t know what to believe. I’d blindly followed for so long, yet here I was questioning whether I had been wrong?

I decided to visit Israel to find the truth. I was confronted by synagogues, mosques and churches, by Jews and Arabs living together, by minorities playing huge parts in all areas of Israeli life, from the military to the judiciary. It was shocking and eye-opening. This wasn’t the evil Zionist Israel that I had been told about.

After much soul searching, I knew what I had once believed was wrong. I had to stand with Israel, with this tiny nation, free, democratic, making huge strides in medicine, research and development, yet the victim of the same lies and hatred that nearly consumed me.

As an outsider, I ask why so many in the Jewish community are closing their eyes to the constant stream of anti-Israel hated spewed out from all facets of British society.

And while pro-Palestinian organisations burn Israeli flags, urge boycotts of Israel and protest against appearances by Israeli politicians or artists, UJS’s response [i.e. the response of the timid British-Jewish establishment] is shameful. It is not the time for UJS or any other group to engage in hollow flag-waving to show their “progressiveness”. Let Israel’s democratic history speak for itself.

Instead of meekly trying to avoid coming across as too pro-Israeli or too Zionist, it is time to make the facts known, to defend Israel against delegitimisation. It is time to stem the tide of Israel bashing before it becomes even more mainstream and consumes even more people like me.



Iran would gladly assassinate Saudis
By Amir Taheri
October 13, 2011
The New York Post

No one knows where the accusations leveled against Iran by US Attorney General Eric Holder might lead. If true, the claim that Iran planned to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington would amount to an act of war against the United States. And that would require a response beyond the jumble of “new sanctions” proposed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

That the Islamic Republic plots terrorist operations abroad is neither new nor surprising. In 1980, the mullahs organized the murder in Bethesda, Md., of Ali Akbar Tabatabai, an Iranian diplomat who’d turned against the regime. The assassin, Dawoud Salahuddin, a US convert to Islam, claimed that the murder was “an act of war” and fled to Iran where he later emerged as an adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The United States was not the only place where the mullahs carried out “acts of war.” Between 1980 and 1995, the Islamic Republic planned and carried out 112 political assassinations in 22 countries across the globe.

France alone saw the murders of 17 Iranian exiles. In 1994, a French court issued arrest warrants against nine senior Iranian officials. In 1997, a German court issued warrants for the arrest of a number of Iranian officials charged with participation in the murder of four exiled Iranian politicians in Berlin five years earlier. Among those named were Iran’s “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei and former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. At trial, former President Abolhassan Banisadr testified that a four-man committee, headed by Khamenei, was orchestrating the murder of dissidents abroad.

The Islamic Republic has always regarded Saudi Arabia as an enemy, a sentiment amply reciprocated. The two neighbors market rival brands of militant Islam and have been engaged in proxy wars in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, among other places.

In Pakistan, Iran finances and arms the militant Shi’ite Jaafari Movement (Tehrik Jaafari), while the Saudis back the equally militant Sunni Lashkar Tayyibah (Army of the Pure). The two groups are responsible for more than 40,000 deaths in sectarian fighting in Pakistan over the past 20 years.

In Afghanistan, Iran backs the Hazara Shi’ites while the Saudis, having backed the Taliban until 9/11, support militant Sunni groups. In Iraq, the Islamic Republic backs Shi’ite armed groups such as the Mahdi Army; meanwhile, until 2008, thousands of Saudis fought on the side of Sunni militants.

The two are also fighting over Syria. Tehran is trying to preserve the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, who belongs to the heterodox Alawite branch of Shi’ism. Saudi Arabia has just concluded a deal with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to help the opposition get rid of Assad.

In Bahrain, the roles are reversed. Iran, declaring support for the Shi’ite majority, is trying to overthrow a minority Sunni government, while Saudi Arabia has sent 20,000 troops to keep it in power.

Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have been rattled by the “Arab Spring” and are trying desperately hard to define a place for themselves in the emerging Middle East political landscape.

Another source of contention: control of Mecca and Medina, the two major cities of pilgrimage in the Muslim world. Since the 1980s, the Saudi monarch has dubbed himself “Guardian of the Two Noble Precincts” and regards Mecca and Medina as two Saudi cities before anything else. Iran, however, claims that the two cities belong to the whole “Islamic Ummah” and should be administered by an international committee appointed by the Islamic Conference Organization.

The two neighbors have been engaged in a bitter propaganda war. Iranian media are calling for the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy while the Saudis have established contacts with dissident figures within the Khomeinist establishment. “This is a fight to the finish,” declares Khamenei’s mouthpiece, the daily Kayhan.

That part of that fight might be fought in the streets of Washington, DC, need surprise no one.



WikiLeaks shakes security of Iraq’s tiny Jewish community
By Roy Gutman
McClatchy Newspapers (syndicated story)
October 8, 2011

BAGHDAD — An Anglican priest here says he’s working with the U.S. Embassy to persuade the handful of Jews who still live in Baghdad to leave because their names have appeared in cables published last month by WikiLeaks.

The Rev. Canon Andrew White said he first approached members of the Jewish community about what he felt was the danger they faced after a news story was published last month that made reference to the cables.

“The U.S. Embassy is desperately trying to get them out,” White said. So far, however, only one, a regular confidante of the U.S. Embassy, according to the cables, had expressed interest in emigrating to the United States.

“Most want to stay,” White said. “The older ones are refusing to leave. They say: ‘We’re Iraqis. Why should we go? If they kill us, we will die here.’”

The U.S. Embassy said it would take steps to protect the individuals whose names appear in the cables and suggested in a statement that should any wish to leave, the U.S. would help relocate them.

“Protecting individuals whose safety is at risk because of the release of the purported cables remains a priority. We are working actively to ensure that they remain safe,” the embassy said.

It slammed WikiLeaks for releasing the cables. “Releasing the names of individuals cited in conversations that took place in confidence potentially puts their lives or careers at risk,” the statement said.

A furious White also hit the website for publishing the cables. “How could they do something as stupid as that?” he said. “Do they not realize this is a life and death issue?”

WikiLeaks did not respond to a request for comment. Previously, WikiLeaks has said that it had no choice but to make its copies of the cables public after the publication in a book of a password that opened an encrypted version of the cables already available on the Internet.

“We had to warn them of the danger and tell them that we want them all to leave,” White said. “I never wanted the Jews to leave Iraq. They belong here.”

If White persuades Baghdad’s remaining Jews to leave it will mark the end of a 2,700-year presence that dates to the Assyrian conquest of the Judean Kingdom.

By the time U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, Baghdad’s Jewish community, which had numbered about 130,000 in the 1950s before most fled to Israel, was down to about 35 members.

Now there are so few Jews here that their sole remaining place of worship, the Taweig synagogue, is shuttered, even during the Jewish High Holidays.

Emad Levi, who served as lay rabbi, kosher slaughterer, undertaker and community spokesman, recently emigrated to Israel.

One of the cables, some of 251,287 made public by the WikiLeaks website, recounts the deteriorating conditions one member of the community said Jews faced after U.S. troops toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, primarily because of the rise of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Another was poignant in its assessment of the future:

“The Jews of Iraq do not appear likely to share in Iraq’s future as a nation,” the writer said. “They have no children, and cannot contribute culturally or even materially while unable to participate freely in Iraq’s public life. They remain in Iraq, but not of it, hiding at the center of a country whose majority may, one day, welcome them again, but does not accept them at present.”

The cable provides biographical sketches of each of nine Jews that the cable writer said then made up the entire complement of the Baghdad Jewish community. They ranged in age at the time from 40 to 82. One of them was Levi, the recent emigre to Israel. Another has since died, bringing the total number of Jews in Baghdad to seven.

Jews first arrived in the land now called Iraq, exiled here after the Assyrian conquest of the Judean Kingdom. Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem and destroyed King Solomon’s temple, then led tens of thousands of Jews into captivity, where they built the hanging gardens of Babylon.

The population survived repeated conquests of Iraq, by Alexander the Great, the Persians, the Arabs, the Shiite Muslims and the Turks, but over the centuries it flourished, producing the Babylonian Talmud.

By the early 20th century, Iraqi Jews constituted one of the wealthiest communities in the country, serving as bankers, importers, retailers and academics. But Iraqi nationalists fighting British rule seized on Nazi ideology in the 1930s, giving rise to rabid anti-Judaic views.

The beginning of the end of a community then numbering some 130,000, was the Nazi-inspired pogrom in 1941, known as the Farhud, or violent dispossession, in which hundreds of Jews died at the hands of armed Iraqi Muslims. The creation of the State of Israel in 1948, followed by the declaration of war by Arab states including Iraq, brought more severe repression here.

The Iraqi government first made it a capital crime to be a Zionist, then reversed policy in 1950, after which more than 100,000 Jews emigrated to Israel. There was more repression in the 1950s and 1960s, and most of the remaining Jewish population emigrated to Israel in the early 1970s.

What will become of Iraq’s handful of remaining Jews seems a foregone conclusion.

One is a prominent surgeon, but most of the others rarely leave their dwellings, and many conceal their Jewish identity, according to the cables, one of which discusses the conversion to Islam of some members of the community.

“A 50-year old woman … reportedly converted to Islam after the fall of Saddam, as did a family of five,” the cable said. It quoted another member of the Jewish community as saying that “the members of this family will no longer speak to Jews in Baghdad.”

With Levi’s departure, the community lost its only public voice.

Reached in Israel on Friday, Levi said the Jews who remain here are “afraid” and “don’t like to talk to anyone.”

Canon White, the Anglican priest at Baghdad’s St. George’s church, agreed.

“I can guarantee you that you cannot meet any of them,” he told McClatchy Newspapers. “There’s not a chance in the world.”



Steve Jobs’ Father Was . . .
By Dennis Prager
National Review
October 11, 2011

On a daily basis, I sit in awe at the amount of nonsense that pervades the world’s media. The latest is the preoccupation with the ethnicity of Steve Jobs’ birth father.

Steve Jobs was adopted at birth. And until his untimely death last week, as far as almost anyone in the world knew, Steve Jobs was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jobs — father Paul and mother Clara.

In fact, as far as Steve Jobs himself was concerned, his only parents were Paul and Clara Jobs. As The New York Times reported nearly 15 years ago (“Creating Jobs,” January 12, 1997), “Jobs holds a firm belief that Paul and Clara Jobs were his true parents. A mention of his ‘adoptive parents’ is quickly cut off. ‘They were my parents,’ he says emphatically.”

But in reading much of the world’s press in the past week, one would be excused if he or she came to think of another man as Steve Jobs’ father.

The amount of attention paid to his birth father, a Syrian-born American named Abdulfattah Jandali, dwarfed the amount of attention paid to Paul (or, for that matter, Clara) Jobs.

By all accounts, Jandali is a fine man, and nothing written here is meant in any way to counter that assessment.

But I have to ask: Given that Jandali and Steve Jobs never once met, and that Steve Jobs thought only of Paul Jobs as his father, why all the attention to Jandali? And why no attention to Jobs’ birth mother?

For example, take this headline in the International Business Times: “Steve Jobs Dies: He Was The Most Famous Arab in the World.” Or the headline of this article in The New York Times: “Steve Jobs, Son of a Syrian, Is Embraced in the Arab World.”

I suspect that there are two unimpressive things going on here: political correctness and a widespread belief that blood is important and therefore adoptive parents aren’t a person’s “real” parents.

First, the political correctness.

The press feels bad for the Arab world in general and for Arab-Americans in particular. The former is almost never in the news for anything positive, and the latter are deemed victims of xenophobia and Islamophobia. So if one of the giants of our age can be declared an Arab and an Arab-American, many in the media are only too delighted to do so.

Though the birth father played no role whatsoever in the life of Steve Jobs, article after article has been written about Jandali. That this has been motivated by a desire to label Steve Jobs an Arab-American is further proven by the fact that we read nothing of the birth mother — which is particularly noteworthy given that those who are preoccupied with blood parents are almost always more preoccupied with the identity of the birth mother than that of the birth father. But the poor woman is merely a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, a member of the only American group that is granted no special status by the Politically Correct.

So a man whose only parents were WASPs and one of whose birth parents was a WASP is now declared an Arab. Google “Steve Jobs Arab” and you’ll get 86 million hits.

The other unfortunate trend is the belief — widely held in the media, academia, the social work community and among the well-educated, generally — that adoptive parents are not one’s “real” parents. Even many adoptive parents have been convinced by social workers and others that their foreign-born sons or daughters must be educated in the language and culture of their birth group. Instead of regarding their Korean- or Chinese- or Honduran-born child as fully American, many American adoptive parents are convinced that they must teach their child Korean, Chinese or Spanish language and culture. And many of the particularly sophisticated are adamant that their children one day go to those countries to find their “birth families.”

Once each year on my radio show, I devote an hour to making the case for how much less blood matters than love and values. And for anyone who disagrees, I offer the following story.

One year, a man called in to tell me that while he nearly always agreed with me, I was simply wrong on this issue. He explained that he was the only child of Jewish Holocaust survivors and that the Nazis had murdered every one of his parents’ relatives. He was literally the only blood relative they had. Now, he asked, can I see how blood can be very important — and that a blood child is different from an adopted one?

I responded by asking this man to ask his parents one question: “Would you rather have a blood child who converted from Judaism to another religion or an adopted child who was a committed Jew?”

That one question changed his mind.

None of this is meant in any way as disrespectful to Arabs or Arab Americans. I would say this if his birth father was Jewish or Albanian or Greek: Steve Jobs was an American, the son of Paul and Clara Jobs. Period.

A phone call this morning from the Pardons Board (& freed murderers kill again)

October 14, 2011

[You can see more photos by scrolling down the page .]

Above: Malki Roth, murdered aged 15. Her killer, who is one of those being released for Gilad Shalit, last week again said she was proud of killing Malki and the others

* Within the last hour, relatives of the victims of the Sbarro pizzeria bombing and other terror attacks received phone calls from the Israel Prisons Pardons Board informing them that the killers are about to be released.

* According to Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed in past prisoner exchanges have returned to terrorism, either as perpetrators, planners, or as accomplices. Hundreds of Israelis have been murdered, and thousands wounded, by freed terrorists.

Among them:

* After his release in 1996, Abbas ibn Muhammad Alsayd was involved in three terror attacks in Netanya, including the Park Hotel Passover massacre on March 27, 2002, in which 31 people were murdered and 155 wounded.

* After his release by the Netanyahu government as a “goodwill gesture” to Yasser Arafat, at the behest of Bill Clinton in 1998, Iyad Sawalha perptrated the June 5, 2002 bus bombing at the Megiddo junction, murdering 17 people and wounding 42.

* Seven months after his release, Ramez Sali Abu Salmim blew himself up in Jerusalem’s Café Hillel on September 9, 2003, murdering 7 young people and wounding over 50.

* Matsab Hashalmon was released from jail as part of the “Tennenbaum deal” on January 29, 2004. Three months later, on August 31, 2004, he masterminded the attack on two buses in Beersheba, that killed 16 civilians and wounded scores of others.

* The list of freed terrorists and their victims goes on and on.


There is a further dispatch on this subject here.

You can comment on this dispatch at You first have to press “Like” on that page.



1. A phone call this morning from the Pardons Board
2. “Terror victims divided over Shalit prisoner swap” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 12, 2011)
3. “To ransom or not to ransom?” (By Aryeh Tepper, Jewish Ideas Daily, June 7, 2011)
4. “Releasing terrorists: New victims pay the price” (By Nadav Shragai, JCPA, Aug. 24, 2008)


[Note by Tom Gross]

The dispatch concerns the proposed Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. Many murderers will be released in return for the kidnapped young Israeli. Among them are two terrorists who helped carry out the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria bombing in August 2001, in which 16 people, many children, were murdered and dozens horrifically injured. Those terrorists are serving sixteen consecutive life sentences. They have shown no remorse for what they have done. Quite the opposite last week they again said how proud they were of their actions.

While virtually everyone wants to see Gilad Shalit freed, many in Israel (and elsewhere) are very unhappy with this deal given Israel’s past experience when (in order to secure the release of kidnapped Israelis) Israel released convicted murderers who subsequently returned to Israel to kill again.

Many regard the prisoner exchange Israel has reached with Hamas as an enormous victory for terrorism and a setback for Israeli security.

Among those interviewed in the first article below is Leah Schijveschuurder, whom I have written about before in 2001, and then again in 2004, when I wrote:

Among others killed in that Sbarro Pizzeria bombing were five members of the Dutch-born Schijveschuurder family of Holocaust survivors. Among the many funerals I attended as a reporter covering the Intifada for British and American newspapers, the Schijveschuurder family funeral was perhaps the most moving.

Leah Schijveschuurder, aged 11, and very badly injured in the attack, insisted on being carried on a stretcher, with breathing tubes in her nose, through a crowd of hundreds of mourners, to attend the funeral of her father, mother and three murdered siblings – aged 2, 4 and 14. Her surviving sister (aged 9) was too seriously injured to attend.

Leah’s grandmother, Elisheva, a Dutch-born Auschwitz survivor, who lost her mother, father, sister, and brother in Nazi death camps, said at the funeral: “I vowed to rebuild my family after the war, and I that is what I did. Now for my family, Arafat has finished what Hitler started.”

As a reporter, I also attended the funerals of other victims the day after that bomb: of Yocheved Shoshan, aged 10; and of Tamara Shamilashvili, aged 8, from Russia, who was buried alongside her mother, Lily, who was also killed in the blast. Over 1000 Israelis, most of whom did not know Lily, attended the funeral.

Some of the other victims of the Sbarro pizzeria terror attack


Arnold Roth, a subscriber to this email list, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered in the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria, wrote (2004):

“Everything in our lives changed forever when Malki, our middle child, a delightful fifteen year old girl with a constant smile on her beautiful face, was killed on 9th August 2001.

“She was not caught in the crossfire of some battle. She was not a bystander. She was murdered with fourteen other Israelis [and two Americans] in a restaurant in the middle of the day, in the middle of this city.

“The women and children in that pizza restaurant on a hot school-holiday afternoon were the actual target. The terrorists who planned the massacre took their orders from a pediatrician and from a minister of religion in a wheelchair.

“They picked their target with exquisite care. The bomber was the son of a land-owning wealthy family. The other gang members were mainly university-educated and well traveled. To call them ‘desperate’, as many journalists have done, is to completely twist the meaning of the word ‘desperate’.”


Now a few minutes ago (Friday morning, October 14, 2011), Arnold writes to me:

“We received a phone call a few minutes ago from the director of the Department of Pardons at Israel’s Ministry of Justice notifying us of the official decision to release two prisoners convicted of carrying out the Sbarro restaurant massacre. The woman, Tamimi, will be exiled to Jordan. Her accomplice, Muhammad Douglas, will be exiled outside Israel’s borders. Where that is, we don’t know but it hardly matters. He and she will have their lives to live, despite having been sentenced in a court of law and after a full and proper trial to sixteen consecutive life sentences. And despite (in her case) having expressed pride in what she did, and an utter lack of remorse.”

-- Tom Gross

The Sbarro pizzeria shortly after the attack


Terror victims divided over Shalit prisoner swap
Jerusalem Post
October 12, 2011

In a sea of ecstatic supporters dancing and singing outside the Shalit family tent at midnight on Tuesday, a somber Lea Schijveschuurder stood silently, alone, to remind the masses that Gilad Shalit’s release after 1,935 days in captivity comes at a heavy price. Across from the Shalit tent, she held a sign that read “The blood of my parents is screaming in their grave.”

“Do they want them to kill more people?” a tearful Schijveschuurder asked the Post as she stood opposite the Shalit tent and fended off arguments from Shalit supporters. “For me, enough people have died.”

While it is still unclear if the terrorists involved with the Sbarro attack will be on the list of 1,027 prisoners to be released, the Israeli public will grapple with Schijveschuurder’s difficult question as preparations begin to bring Shalit home.

“There will be a public argument, there will be an argument between one pain and another pain,” said Shimshon Liebman, the head of the Campaign to Free Gilad Shalit, early on Wednesday morning as the crowds began to thin out. “We need to be courageous to pay a price and to stay strong. One of our soldiers is worth much more than theirs are. We’ll survive the appeals because at the end of the day the Jewish morals are stronger than anything else for the people of Israel,” he said.

The head of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, Meir Indor, slammed the prisoner swap deal. “The Shalit family wins and the state loses,” he said. “It’s a victory for terror and Hamas.”

“We know from our experience that hundreds of people will pay with future terrorist attacks, and that they’ll organize and more kidnappings,” Indor added.

According to Almagor, since 2004, 183 Israelis have been killed in terror attacks carried out by terrorists who were released from prison.

“How many will be killed for Shalit?” he asked, before heading into a marathon of meetings to prepare appeals to the High Court of Justice to halt the deal.

Indor accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of giving into popular pressure, and trying to do something to take the focus of the social protests from the summer, despite denouncing the practice of prisoner exchanges during his political career and in his book.

He denounced the government for sending a clear message to terrorists: “Go ahead and do terror. Continue to kill Jews. There’s no justice and no paying for it. It’s a revolving door and the system of terror is working in Israel.”

But many terror victims supported the deal. Kay Wilson, who survived a terror attack last December which killed her friend Christine Luken, said she cried with happiness when she heard that Gilad Shalit was coming home.

The trial of the terrorists who stabbed Luken to death and severely wounded Wilson just started last month, so it is highly unlikely that they will be included in the prisoner swap because they have not yet been sentenced.

Wilson said despite her support of the prisoner swap, she would have “very mixed feelings” if the men who had perpetrated the terror attack were eventually released. “I would feel that the country has done me a personal injustice,” she said on Wednesday. “On the other hand, there’s justice for another family. It’s the stupid dilemma we live with.”

“Emotionally, it’s healthier to celebrate life rather than to get stuck with loss,” Wilson said. “Death is horrible, but there’s something very redeeming about returning one of our own.”

She added that as a survivor, she had a different perspective from people like Schijveschuurder, who had lost multiple family members. Still, Wilson disagreed with the idea that the country must weigh who is in more pain, the Shalit family or the victims of terror.

“I don’t think you can ever compare pain because everyone’s experience is subjective,” she said. “On the other hand, if you experience death, it’s ghastly but there is a closure. It’s agony of waiting and non-closure and not knowing [of the Shalit family] that’s almost more horrendous because they can’t get on with their life.”

Wilson said the thought of eventually releasing terrorists who perpetrated the attack against her in a future swap had plagued her since the news broke, but she still support Aviva and Noam Shalit.

“Of course that’s a huge fear [of their eventual release],” she said. “But I don’t think that if they weren’t released, we could have stopped terrorism anyways. It’s like cutting the grass - you can get rid of some, but it keeps growing back. It’s not like if you keep these people in prison there’s not going to be terrorism, they’re breeding terrorists through poverty and lack of education, and it’s a much more complex problem.”



To Ransom or Not to Ransom?
By Aryeh Tepper
Jewish Ideas Daily
June 7, 2011

The PLO’s first attack on Israel came in 1965, when Mahmoud Hijazi and five other terrorists attempted to bomb a water-pump station in southern Israel. Once captured, Hijazi received the second death sentence ever handed down in Israel (Adolf Eichmann’s being the first). Though his sentence was later overturned, the story was far from over.

A new chapter began on January 1, 1970, when Fatah terrorists crossed into Israel from Lebanon and kidnapped a guard stationed in the border town of Metulla. That man, Shmuel Rosenwasser, was brutally tortured by his captors for over a year, until the Israeli government exchanged Hijazi for Rosenwasser’s release: a one-for-one deal.

Nine years later, the terms had already shifted, and the price for prisoners skyrocketed. In exchange for an Israeli soldier who had been abducted in Lebanon by Ahmed Jibril’s especially murderous branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Israeli government released 76 PLO operatives, 20 with “blood on their hands.”

In 1985, Israel agreed to the infamous “mother of all prisoner exchanges,” again with Jibril’s PFLP, trading 1150 Palestinian prisoners for three Israeli soldiers. The exchange came in for harsh criticism, with Haaretz’s veteran military analyst Ze’ev Schiff writing at the time that with each successive agreement, Israel was “conceding more and more to the terrorist organizations” and thus demonstrating greater and greater weakness.

Schiff passed away in 2006, before Israeli concessions reached a previously unthinkable acme in a 2008 prisoner swap with Hizballah. In that exchange, Israel freed five terrorists, including the notoriously savage Samir Kuntar, plus 200 bodies, in exchange for the bodies of two IDF soldiers. It was the first time that Israel traded live terrorists for corpses.

Israelis take great pride in their commitment never to abandon one of their own, whether dead or alive, behind enemy lines. But does the willingness to pay any price to bring home fellow Israelis reflect communal solidarity, or does it instead reflect an increasingly defeatist mentality? A recent conference at Hebrew University examined the legal, psychological, and political dimensions of negotiating with terror organizations for the release of Israeli captives. The painful dilemmas that these negotiations pose are exemplified in the heated discussion around the fate of Gilad Shalit.

In 2006, Shalit, then a twenty-year-old IDF corporal, was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid. Since then, he has become the literal poster child for captive soldiers: His face is ubiquitous in Israeli media, and his agonized family meets regularly with the public and with government officials alike to press for his ransom. His captors in Gaza are well aware of Shalit’s hold on the Israeli imagination, and have made numerous demands and threats, setting the bargaining terms at a scale of unprecedented imbalance. Thus, during the day-long conference, familial concern for Shalit went hand-in-hand with fear of the consequences of negotiating his release.

In the session devoted to the psychological dimension of captivity, Itamar Barnea powerfully evoked the horrors of the condition by narrating his experience as a prisoner of war in Syria. Toward the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Barnea, an Israeli fighter pilot, was shot down and seriously injured. He spoke in heartrending detail of how, as a POW, he lost control over his environment, became utterly dependent on his captors, and was reduced to a state of childlike helplessness. Barnea, a staunch proponent of the ransom of captives, today counsels other soldiers through their traumas.

The following session, military analyst Ronen Bergman implicitly criticized Barnea’s emotional approach, in terms similar to those laid out in his study of Israel’s war for its POWs and MIAs, By Any Means Necessary: “A very thin line runs between the solidarity deriving from the good deed of ransoming prisoners and the chilling panic that deters politicians from doing what is necessary and saying what should be said, no matter how difficult.”

In other words, however compelling the personal arguments for ransoming captives (and the military conscription of all Israeli citizens makes the arguments unavoidably personal), Israel ignores at its own peril the unintended – but at this point undeniable – consequences of such a calculus. By paying “any price” to bring Israelis home, Israel undermines the sacrifices made by soldiers sent to free captives – especially those soldiers who end up giving their lives during rescue operations. By rewarding terrorists, Israel weakens Arab moderates and harms Israel’s deterrence efforts; and by trading living terrorists for dead IDF soldiers, Israel undermines the captors’ motivation to keep Israeli POWs alive, not to mention healthy and safe.

Most perversely, by paying exorbitant ransom prices – as Israel has done in the past and as public pressure overwhelmingly favors – Israel gives terror organizations an incentive to kidnap more of its citizens. But since that situation is already in play, is there anything Israel can do to stem the tide of its children taken into captivity, and to reduce the terror groups’ motivation?

Researchers Justus Reid Weiner and Diane Morrison point out the risk factor of Israel’s current policy of imprisoning terrorists:

“Because Israel eschews the death penalty, Israel keeps terrorists alive in Israeli custody and thereby inadvertently creates a “bait” situation where terrorist groups attempt to free their men by ransoming newly-kidnapped Israelis.”

The admittedly harsh conclusion implied in Weiner and Morrison’s argument is that Israel should return to the situation that existed before Mahmoud Hijazi was exchanged for Shmuel Rosenwasser and reinstate the death penalty for terrorists. This argument was made explicitly by Ze’ev Schiff, for whom sentencing terrorists to death was the lesser of a number of possible evils:

“In the fight against terrorism, we should not refrain from using the death sentence in cases involving acts of brutal murder. Somebody killed by the court is preferable to the killing of prisoners by our soldiers or the release of murderers as an act of surrender.”

But the death penalty for terrorists isn’t going to be reinstated any time in the near future, if ever, and in the meantime, the Israeli public continues to insist that their government is obligated to bring Gilad Shalit home, even at the cost of the release of hundreds or even thousands of Palestinian terrorists. Bergman praised Netanyahu for so far withstanding public pressure. The prime minister will most likely continue to do so, but at the same time, he must keep trying to bring Israelis to the recognition of a bitter truth: that true mercy sometimes dictates harsh policy.



Releasing Terrorists: New Victims Pay the Price
By Nadav Shragai
Jerusalem Viewpoints (JCPA)
August 24, 2008

* The Israeli Cabinet approved on August 17 the release of almost 200 Palestinian security prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. The list includes several prisoners “with blood on their hands,” who, by definition, were involved in the murder of Israelis.

* According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as perpetrator, planner, or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded.

* Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. According to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, from the date of the deal on January 29, 2004, until April 17, 2007, those freed in the deal had murdered 35 Israelis.

* An investigation by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids.


In anticipation of the return to the Middle East of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Israeli Cabinet approved on August 17 the release of almost 200 Palestinian security prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. The list includes several prisoners “with blood on their hands,” who, by definition, were involved in the murder of Israelis.

Since 1985 the State of Israel has freed over 10,000 Palestinians who were serving prison sentences for hostile activity or terror actions, and this resulted in the murder and death of hundreds of Israeli citizens. Some of the Palestinian terrorists were freed in the framework of deals with terror organizations that involved the exchange of a few isolated Israelis who were taken captive by the terrorists, for hundreds and thousands of terrorists. Another portion were freed in the framework of what were termed diplomatic “goodwill gestures.” Sometimes the terrorists were freed because their prison terms had been concluded or shortened. [1]

According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as a perpetrator, planner or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded. [2] In the case of the Jibril deal in 1985, the Israel Defense Ministry determined that 114 out of the 238 who were released returned to terrorism. During 1993-1999, 6,912 terrorists were freed in the wake of various diplomatic agreements, and 854 of them (12.4 percent) returned to terrorist activity, carried out terrorist attacks, murdered or planned to harm Israeli citizens, and were reincarcerated. [3]

Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. The deal was transacted in Cologne, Germany, on January 29, 2004. According to the information provided by Knesset member Tzahi Hanegbi, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, from that date and until April 17, 2007, those freed in the Tannenbaum deal had murdered 35 Israelis. [4]

A comprehensive investigation recently conducted by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of deals, understandings, or goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids. These statistics have been informally confirmed by security officials. [5]


Dr. David Applebaum, head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Shaarei Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and his 20-year-old daughter Nava, were murdered by a suicide bomber on September 9, 2003, when they went to Café Hillel on Emek Refaim Street in central Jerusalem. Nava was to be married the next day. The murderer, Ramez Sali Abu Salim, from Rantis, northwest of Ramallah, had been freed from an Israeli prison in 2002. He was rearrested a few months later, but was freed again on February 20, 2003. Seven months later he was sent by the Hamas command in Ramallah to commit a terror attack in the heart of Jerusalem.

Also killed in this terror attack were Alon Mizrachi, 20; Gila Moshe, 40; Yehiel Emil Toubol, 50; David Shimon Avizdris, 51; and Shafik Yihya Karem, 22, from Beit Hanina. An additional 60 people were wounded.

The famous Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for five acts of murder, was arrested for the first time in 1976 for hostile activity. After being freed, he became one of the leaders of the first intifada in 1987. Arrested again by Israel, he was expelled to Jordan. Permitted to return in the framework of the Oslo agreements (1994), he became the general secretary of the Fatah organization on the West Bank. With the start of the second intifada, Barghouti became the leader of the Tanzim, which was responsible for many terror attacks against Israelis. Some were carried out under the name of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. In April 2002 he was arrested, placed on trial, and in May 2004 he was convicted of five acts of murder. The prosecution waived 21 additional murder charges and 33 other charges. [6]

Sheikh Ahmed Yasin was first arrested in 1983, after guns were seized in his home. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for holding weapons, establishing a military organization and calling for the liquidation of the State of Israel, but was freed by Israel 1985 in the framework of the Jibril deal. [7] In 1987 Yasin established and headed the terror organization Hamas. In 1989 he ordered the killing of Palestinians suspected of collaboration with the IDF and the Israel Security Agency, and he subsequently commanded the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers. For these crimes, Yasin was given a life sentence. He was freed in 1997 as part of an agreement between Israel and Jordan after the botched assassination attempt by the Mossad on Khaled Mashaal in Jordan. After his release, Yasin resumed preaching violence and terror, and the IDF and the Israel Security Agency reported to the government that Yasin was involved in planning terrorist attacks on the operative level. On March 22, 2004, he was killed by missiles fired by Israel Air Force combat helicopters. [8]


Abdullah Abd Al-Kadr Kawasme was originally arrested in 1988, following the murder of policeman Nissim Toledano, and was exiled together with 400 Hamas and Jihad activists. Upon his return to Israel, he was imprisoned and charged with membership in Hamas and involvement in hostile terrorist activity, and was released in 1994. He was responsible for many terrorist attacks including the infiltration into the community of Adura on April 27, 2002, where four people were killed, including five-year-old Danielle Shefi. Kawasme was also responsible for the infiltration of the community of Carmei Tzur on August 6, 2002, in which three people were murdered; two suicide bombings carried out in tandem in Jerusalem on May 18, 2003, in which six people were killed and 20 wounded; and a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in June 2003 in which 17 people were killed and 105 were wounded. Kawasme was killed by the IDF on June 21, 2003.

Karim Ratteb Younis Awis was serving a life sentence for causing the death of a collaborator, but was released in a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians. On November 27, 2001, he dispatched two terrorists who opened fire on civilians at the central bus station in Afula, murdering Michal Mor and Noam Guzofsky and wounding an additional 84 people. [9]

Nasser Abu Hameid, who had been given five life sentences for the murder of five collaborators, was released in September 1999 in the framework of the Sharm el Sheikh Agreement. After the outbreak of the second intifada, he was documented mutilating the corpses of IDF reserve soldiers Vadim Norzitz and Yossi Avrahami. In December 2000 he murdered Binyamin and Talia Kahane near Givat Zeev. In February 2002 he was involved in plotting the terrorist attack in which policewoman Galit Arbiv was murdered in Neve Yaakov, and he commanded the murder of Gadi Rejwan in the Atarot industrial zone in northern Jerusalem. In March 2002 he was responsible for a terror bombing at the Seafood Restaurant where Eliyahu Dahan, Yossi Havi, and policeman Salim Barakat were murdered. In December 2002 he was sentenced to seven life terms for the murder of seven Israelis and was convicted of 12 counts of attempted murder and additional crimes.

Abbas ibn Muhammad Mustafa Alsayd was released in 1996 after three years in prison for directing disturbances in Tulkarm. He was responsible for many terror attacks and in September 2005 he was convicted of murdering 35 people and wounding hundreds in the terror attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya on the eve of Passover, March 27, 2002, and at the HaSharon Mall in Netanya on May 18, 2001. [10]

Matsab Hashalmon was released from jail as part of the “Tennenbaum deal” on January 29, 2004. Three months later he recruited suicide terrorists Ahmed Kawasme and Nissim Jaabari, who blew themselves up on August 31, 2004, on two buses in Beersheba, killing 16 civilians and wounding scores of others.

Iyad Sawalha headed the military wing of Islamic Jihad in Samaria. He was imprisoned for two years for his involvement in the murder of collaborators and was freed in 1998 in the wake of the Oslo Accords. On June 5, 2002, he was responsible for blowing up a bus at Megiddo junction where 17 people were murdered and another 42 were wounded. On October 21, 2002, he was responsible for detonating an explosive-laden jeep near a bus at Karkur, leaving 14 people murdered and scores wounded.

The list of freed terrorists and their victims goes on and on.


The Victims of Arab Terror International has appealed many times to the High Court of Justice against the freeing of terrorists, but all the petitions have been rejected. In one of the petitions (High Court of Justice case 914/04), Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levi expressed the dilemma that he finds himself in as a justice and as an Israeli citizen when confronted with the freeing of terrorists, and their reversion to the path of terror.

This is not the very first time that by virtue of agreements it signed, the State of Israel frees terrorists who sowed death and destruction in our midst. After every such prisoner release, the hope reverberated in many hearts that this time a change would ensue and those freed would no longer return to the path of terror and could possibly even serve as ambassadors for disseminating the idea of peaceful coexistence. It would seem that there is no need to elaborate to what extent this hope was in vain, and it might be more fittingly defined as a false illusion. If we needed further proof that those freed were not intent on peace, one can find it in the bloody events that have accompanied us since October 2000. Many of those whom Israel had in the past set free participated in these horrific events. These incidents have taken their toll in human life, sometimes as an everyday occurrence, and altered the lives of the wounded victims' families from top to bottom. I saw myself forced to concur with the decision of my colleagues, and with trembling hand I added my signature, and with the sole hope that beats inside me, namely that those who adopted the decision and have a complete picture before them and whose shoulders bear the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Israeli citizens were persuaded that the decision that they adopted was the correct one, despite the terrible risk involved for all of us in the freeing of the miscreants. [11]


Hundreds have been murdered and many more wounded in terrorist attacks perpetrated by terrorists who have been freed from Israeli prisons.

There needs to be a change in the “rules” that have crystallized in recent years where thousands of terrorists are released in return for isolated kidnap victims. This will limit the damage, for fewer freed terrorists will be free to return to the path of terror. One should not pay any price in order to bring about the release of kidnap victims or captives.

Furthermore, the terrorists that Israel frees in return for captives should not be freed into the West Bank, but abroad, as was done in certain cases in the past. This will make it harder for them to injure residents of the State of Israel.



1. From a discussion with a military source.

2. From a discussion with a military source.

3. According to a senior figure in Central Command.

4. Confirmed by Knesset member Tzahi Hanegbi to the writer.

5. For further details, see the full investigation on the Almagor Terror Victims Association website

6. The security report, the reports of the Almagor organization, and the verdict and sentence handed down against Barghouti.

7. The Jibril deal involved an exchange of captives that took place on May 21, 1985, between the Government of Israel headed by Shimon Peres and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, a terrorist organization headed by Ahmed Jibril. In the framework of the exchange, 1,150 prisoners and security detainees who were imprisoned in Israel were freed in exchange for the return of three Israeli captives: Hezi Shai, Yosef Grof and Nissim Salem, who had been taken captive by Jibril's organization at the time of the First Lebanon War. The deal was supported by all the ministers in the Israeli government, both from the Labor Party and the Likud, with the sole exception of Yizhak Navon. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were freed in the territories and most of them, as almost all the security bodies concur today, constituted the backbone of the leadership for the first intifada that erupted three years later.

8. From newspaper reports and a security report summing up the incident.

9. From the sentence of the military court in Beit El, file 3478/02: “The crimes for which the accused is paying the penalty today, demonstrate that the gesture extended to them was not justified and that it led to the killing of additional innocent citizens. The danger posed by the accused was clear after he had already been convicted of murder in the past. The need to keep them at a distance from human civilization forever was also self-evident. After his release, the accused demonstrated that the gesture was unjustified and the steep price for this was paid by many Israeli families.”

10. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report on the terrorist attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya from March 2004, as well as a report by the Almagor organization.

11. High Court of Justice 914/04, Victims of Arab Terror International against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 2004 (1) pp. 781-783.

Egypt’s prime minister joins the conspiracy theorists

October 12, 2011

* Earlier this year, during the Tahrir Square demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military was widely praised for not using force to crush the protests and keep Mubarak in power. Then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for example, declared that Egypt’s military had “conducted itself in exemplary fashion” and “made a contribution to the evolution of democracy.” Popular, too, was the notion that the uprising could catalyze a new era of interfaith solidarity. “Egypt’s religious tensions have been set aside,” reported the BBC in February, “as the country’s Muslims and Christians join forces at anti-government protests.”

* Despite the fact that on Sunday there was another one-sided massacre of Christians, the BBC and other media again misled audiences with their talk of “clashes” between Christians and Muslims.


Thank you to all the websites that have linked to this dispatch, for example, Toby Young at the (London) Daily Telegraph.


An Egyptian Christian woman mourns at the coffin of Mina Demian, who was killed on Sunday

An Egyptian Christian holds a cross over the coffins of some of the Copts killed



1. Egypt’s Prime Minister joins the conspiracy theorists
2. Videos of Sunday’s violence
3. “The Cairo pogrom” (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, Oct. 12, 2011)
4. “Islam’s war on the Cross” (By Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph, Oct. 12, 2011)
5. “Never have so few been blamed for so much by so many” (Asia Times, Oct. 12, 2011)


[Note by Tom Gross]

This is the latest in an occasional series of dispatches on Egypt

After tens of thousands of Egyptian Jews were driven out of Egypt last century (and in some cases killed), Egypt’s eight million Christian Copts are now the country’s oldest surviving indigenous faith, having existed there for 19 centuries – six centuries before Islam was created in what is now neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Following the overthrow of President Mubarak earlier this year, things have once again become much worse for Egypt’s Copts, with churches, shops and homes set ablaze in recent weeks.

Thousands of Copts have fled the country, and Egyptian communities in northern Europe, North America and Australia are now disproportionately Christian.

Below I attach three articles on the situation (all written by subscribers to this list). Sunday’s death toll has now risen to 26, mainly Christians, with hundreds wounded. Bands of Muslim men armed with sticks, swords and guns roamed the streets on Sunday looking for Christians to attack. In some cases, they pulled men and women suspected of being Christian out of cars and taxis. Police and army troops did not intervene and in some cases joined in. In other cases, military vehicles were deliberately driven at high speed into groups of Christians.

Joining the conspiracy theorists following Sunday’s massacre, Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said “What’s happening is not sectarian tension. There are hidden hands involved,” absurdly suggesting the Jews and/or Americans may be to blame.

On another note, in the eight months since Mubarak’s ouster, the military government has tried and convicted over 12,000 Egyptian civilians in military tribunals, often after using torture to extract confessions. This is more than in the entire 30 years of Mubarak’s rule.

-- Tom Gross



Warning: Some of the pictures in the second video are gruesome.



The Cairo pogrom
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
October 12, 2011

Have you ever seen a pogrom? Sarah Carr has.

“The Coptic Hospital tried its best to deal with the sudden influx of casualties,” wrote Carr, a Cairo-based journalist and blogger, in her firsthand account [] of Sunday’s deadly attack on Christian protesters by the Egyptian military. “Its floors were sticky with blood and there was barely room to move among the wounded.”

In one room of the hospital morgue Carr counted the bodies of 12 people, some of whom had been killed when soldiers in armored personnel vehicles charged the crowd, firing at random and crushing the protesters they ran over. One of the victims was “a man whose face was contorted into an impossible expression. A priest . . . showed me the remains of the man’s skull and parts of his brain. He too had been crushed.”

What happened in Egypt on Sunday was a massacre. Government security forces assaulted Coptic Christians as they marched peacefully to the headquarters of the state TV network. They were protesting the recent burning of St. George’s, a Coptic church in the Upper Egypt village of El-Marinab. Yet broadcasters loyal to the ruling military junta exhorted “honorable Egyptians” to help the army put down the protests. “Soon afterward, bands of young men armed with sticks, rocks, swords, and firebombs began to roam central Cairo, attacking Christians,” the Associated Press reported. “Troops and riot police did not intervene.” Graphic video of the violence was quickly uploaded to the Internet. So were even more graphic images of the murdered protesters.

Back during the Tahrir Square demonstrations against strongman Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military was widely praised for not using force to crush the protests and keep Mubarak in power. Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for example, declared that Egypt’s military had “conducted itself in exemplary fashion” and “made a contribution to the evolution of democracy.” Popular, too, was the notion that the uprising could catalyze a new era of interfaith solidarity. “Egypt’s religious tensions have been set aside,” reported the BBC in February, “as the country’s Muslims and Christians join forces at anti-government protests.”

But the “spirit of Tahrir Square” has ushered in neither liberal democracy nor a rebirth of tolerance for Egypt’s ancient but beleaguered Christian minority.

One of the country’s leading liberal reformers, Ayman Nour, said Monday that with the latest bloodshed, the military has lost whatever goodwill it accrued last spring. It’s hard to believe that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces cares. In the eight months since Mubarak’s ouster, the military has tried and convicted some 12,000 Egyptian civilians in military tribunals, often after using torture to extract confessions. The country’s hated emergency laws, which allow suspects to be detained without charge, not only remain in force, but have been expanded to cover offenses as vague as “spreading rumors” or “blocking traffic.” And just as Mubarak did, the generals insist that government repression is all that stands between Egypt and social chaos.

As for Egypt’s Coptic Christians, their plight has gone from bad to worse. Post-Mubarak Egypt has seen “an explosion of violence against the Coptic Christian community,” the international news channel France24 was reporting as far back as May. “Anger has flared up into deadly riots, and houses, shops, and churches have been set ablaze.”

With Islamist hardliners growing increasingly influential, hate crimes against Christians routinely go unpunished. Copts, who represent a tenth of Egypt’s population, are subjected to appalling humiliations. The mob that destroyed St. George’s had first demanded that the church be stripped of its crosses and bells; after the Christians yielded to that demand, local Muslims insisted that the church dome be removed as well. For several weeks, Copts in El-Marinab were literally besieged, forbidden to leave their homes or buy food unless they agreed to mutilate their nearly century-old house of worship. On September 30, Muslim thugs set fire to the church and demolished its dome, pillars, and walls. For good measure, they also burned a Coptic-owned shop and four homes.

Many Copts are choosing to leave Egypt, rather than live under this intensifying anti-Christian persecution. The Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations calculated last month that more than 90,000 Christians have fled the country since March 2011. At that rate, estimated human-rights advocate Naguib Gabriel, one-third of Egypt’s Coptic population will have vanished within a decade.

Or maybe sooner – maybe much sooner – if Sunday’s anti-Christian pogrom is a sign of things to come.



Islam’s war on the Cross: Egypt’s move to democracy under threat after latest attack on Coptic community
By Con Coughlin
The Daily Telegraph (London)
October 11, 2011

In the 19 or so centuries since Christianity first took root in Egypt, the ritual of mourning has become an all-too-familiar experience for the majority of the country’s Coptic community. Egypt’s eight million Copts may claim to be their nation’s oldest surviving indigenous faith, but that has not spared them from prolonged periods of persecution, most recently at the hands of Islamist militants.

In many respects, the tone was set for nearly two millennia of oppression of the Copts, one of the world’s oldest Christian sects, by the martyrdom of St Mark the Evangelist, the disciple who established the Christian faith in Alexandria just a few years after the ascension of Christ.

The establishment of a new religion was bitterly resented by the city’s pagan population, who feared it would turn Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods. They exacted their revenge on Easter Monday in 68 AD when Roman soldiers put a rope around St Mark’s neck and dragged him through the streets of Alexandria until he was dead.

These days the methods used to persecute Egypt’s Copts might not be so primitive, but their overall effect is no less barbaric. During the latest outbreak of Coptic-related violence in Cairo on Sunday night, several Copts are reported to have been crushed to death by the tracks of an armoured military vehicle that ploughed into a group of protesters as they sang hymns and held aloft the Cross.

The roots of the current wave of anti-Coptic violence are murky. At first it was assumed that Islamist militants, who have waged a vicious campaign of intimidation, sparked the unrest by burning down a church in the southern province of Aswan. This attack was the latest in a series of clashes between Muslims and Christians, which began when 21 worshippers were killed as they left mass at a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve.

Thousands of Copts descended on the state TV building in Cairo on Sunday to protest against what many Christians regard as the growing strength of ultra-conservative Islamists since the overthrow of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in February. But the uncompromising response of the Egyptian authorities, which resulted in government forces firing live rounds at stone-throwing protesters, has prompted accusations that the army, which has interim control of the country, is deliberately fostering sectarian hatred in order to disguise its own plans to maintain control of the country.

Following the high-profile protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square earlier this year – during which Muslim and Coptic protesters joined forces to demand the overthrow of President Mubarak – the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces assumed responsibility for creating a modern, pluralistic democratic state following decades of authoritarian rule.

But the delays that have hindered plans to hold fresh parliamentary and presidential elections – they are now due to start at the end of next month – have led many to conclude that the military, which effectively ran the country during the Mubarak era, has no real interest in establishing democratic institutions. And what better way to abort the transition from military to democratic rule than to instigate nationwide sectarian violence?

As one Coptic protester commented in Cairo yesterday: “This is not about Muslim-Christian hatred. It is about the army trying to start a civil conflict for its own reasons, and we all know what those reasons are.”

Certainly the vitriolic language used by state-controlled broadcasters during coverage of the protests undermined the interim government’s claim to represent the interests of all Egyptians, Christians and Muslims alike. Newsreaders appealed for “honest Egyptians” to protect their soldiers against Christian “mobs”, while the Copts were denounced as “sons of dogs”, despite the fact many moderate Muslims, who want Egypt to be free of sectarian divisions, supported the protesters.

But then Egypt’s Copts are used to state-sponsored persecution. Tens of thousands of Copts fled the country in the 1950s after Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser nationalised Egypt’s private businesses, most of which were owned by Christians. Today it is estimated that two out of three Egyptians living in Britain are from Christian families. Egyptian communities in northern Europe, North America and Australia are also disproportionately Christian.

Nor is the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East confined to Egypt’s Copts. One of the more alarming trends of recent years has been the violent persecution of Christians throughout the region.

In Iraq, for example, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003 was supposed to herald a new era of sectarian harmony. Instead a wave of al-Qaeda-related attacks has had a devastating impact on Iraq’s once-thriving Christian community, which numbered around 1.4 million 10 years ago, but has now declined to around 400,000.

As in Egypt, the exodus was hastened by a series of grotesque attacks on Iraqi churches, the worst of which was the suicide bomb attack on the Church of our Salvation in Baghdad at the end of last year, which killed 58 people. To mark their contempt for the Christian faith, the al-Qaeda bombers blew themselves up on the altar, together with a child hostage.

Not all the persecution of Christian minorities is as violent as that experienced in Iraq, but the refusal of even pro-Western countries such as Saudi Arabia to tolerate any expression of Christianity has forced believers to practise their faith in private. There are an estimated one million Catholics in Saudi Arabia, most of them guest-workers from the Philippines, but they risk immediate expulsion if they are found observing their religion.

In Iran, meanwhile, the persecution of Christians that began with the 1979 Islamic revolution resulted in a Christian pastor being sentenced to death in the provincial town of Rasht earlier this month for refusing to renounce his faith. The ayatollahs’ refusal to countenance any other faith has also resulted in an upsurge in the persecution of the country’s Baha’i sect, the world’s youngest monotheistic faith.

Much of the blame for the deterioration in relations between Islam and Christianity in the region can be laid at the door of the growing legions of Islamist militants who refuse to acknowledge the other main monotheistic faiths. They point to the comment made by the Prophet himself on his deathbed, when he instructed his followers that only one faith – Islam – could be tolerated in Arabia.

This interpretation is disputed by moderate Muslims – such as those who joined the Copts for Sunday night’s protest in Cairo – who argue that Islam is a tolerant faith, which allows for peaceful co-existence with other religions.

Unfortunately for Christians in the Middle East, this is increasingly the minority view among the region’s ruling elites, which are no longer prepared to recognise basic rights of their citizens, such as freedom of worship.

Arguably the most extreme example of this intolerance has been seen in Sudan, where decades of mistreatment of non-Muslims by the conservative Islamic government in Khartoum resulted earlier this year in the secession of the country’s Christian population to form South Sudan. The new state, which is the size of France but has just 38 miles of paved roads, is the world’s poorest, but simply to be free of the tyranny of their former Islamic rulers is reward enough for the new country’s four million Christian inhabitants.

The break-up of neighbouring Sudan will serve as a warning to the military authorities in Cairo, who should be mindful of St Mark’s remark that “Every affliction tests our will”. The current wave of persecution directed at Egypt’s Coptic community constitutes not only a major test of the interim government’s ability to maintain order, but also of its desire to establish a government that represents the interests of all Egyptians, irrespective of their creed.



Never have so few been blamed for so much by so many
By Spengler
Asia Times
October 12, 2011

Here’s your final exam question in Middle Eastern studies:

A mass of Coptic Christians marches through Cairo to protest the military government’s failure to protect them from Muslim radicals. They are attacked by stone-throwing, club-wielding rowdies. Armed forces security personnel intervene, and the Copts fight it out with the soldiers, with two dozen dead and scores injured on both sides. Who is to blame?

The full credit answer is: Benjamin Netanyahu, for building apartments in Jerusalem. If that’s not what you wrote, don’t blame me if you can’t get a job at the New York Times.

Rarely in the course of human events have so few been blamed for so much by so many. There are precedents, for example, when Adolf Hitler claimed that a Jewish “stab in the back” lost World War I for Germany. The notion that the problems of three hundred million Arabs revolve around the governance of a few million Palestinians has the same order of credibility.

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations always presumed that Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan would remain intact - that Egypt would interdict terrorists infiltrating Israel from the Sinai, stop weapons from reaching Hamas in Gaza, and otherwise fill its obligations. But Egypt is dissolving. The Egyptian army crossed a red line on October 9, according to Egyptian blogger Issander al-Armani. [1] Soldiers attacked Coptic demonstrators who were demanding protection from the army, the military not only shut down news coverage of the massacre, but used state television to call on Egyptian Muslims to “defend the army from the Copts”.

On September 19, the Egyptian army showed that it could not protect Israel’s embassy in Cairo; on October 9, it showed itself ready to murder members of the country’s Christian minority. Egypt is dissolving because it can’t feed itself, and it can’t feed itself because it is going bankrupt. Former International Atomic Energy chief Mohamed ElBaradei, now a candidate for Egypt’s presidency, warned last week that Egypt would run out of money within months, according to the English-language edition of Almasry Alroum:

“Egypt might face bankruptcy within six months, Egyptian reform advocate and presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei warned on Monday. During a meeting with labor leaders at the Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS) in Helwan, south of Cairo, ElBaradei attacked the ‘failing’ policies of Egypt’s ruling military council. He criticized the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for what he called incompetence and lack of experience, saying that experienced government officials don’t have enough power. Egypt is currently relying on its cash reserve with no gross domestic product, he said [2].”

ElBaradei, the undeserved winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize (he helped Iran cover its tracks en route to enriching uranium to near weapons grade), nonetheless is the closest thing to a responsible figure in Egyptian politics. His warning that Egypt is burning its cash reserves is accurate. On October 5, the Financial Times reported that Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves had fallen from $35 billion in January to only $19.4 billion, [3] enough to cover less than five months’ worth of imports.

The central bank had reported $25 billion of reserves in August, [4] so the monthly decline appears to be around $6 billion; it is hard to tell precisely because the Egyptian central bank publishes contradictory data about its reserve position. The earlier $25 billion figure might have counted loans expected from the Gulf states, but as the FT explains, “Only $500m of some $7bn of promised aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have arrived so far.”

Almost 60% of Egyptians live in rural areas, yet the country imports half its caloric consumption and spends $5.5 billion a year in food subsidies. When it runs out of money, millions will starve. Many already are hungry. The state-controlled newspaper al-Dostour warned on October 9 that an “insane” increase in the price of food - up 80% so far this year - has left citizens “screaming”. [5]

The newspaper added that the “current state of lawlessness has left merchants and businesses with no supervision”, leading to hoarding, price-gouging and shortages. This was evident at the outset of the uprisings, [6] and a breakdown of the country’s food distribution system was evident by May, as I wrote at the time. [7]

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces appears baffled. Its leader, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, does not appear in public. Previously he ran Egypt’s military industries. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was briefly transportation minister, having taught highway engineering for most of his career.

He has spoken publicly about only one topic of political importance, namely the peace treaty with Israel, which he proposes to change, as he told Turkish television on October 8. [8] Egypt’s leaders face a crisis brewing for two generations in which the Egyptian government kept half of its population illiterate and mired in rural poverty as an instrument of social control. As ElBaradei warns, they have no idea what they are doing.

Syria, meanwhile, is in civil war, which may turn into a proxy war between the Sunni powers and Iran. And Iraq’s leader Nuri al-Maliki, the leader of the supposed Iraqi democracy we spent a trillion dollars and 4,000 lives to put in place, is backing the Bashar al-Assad regime in alliance with Iran. [9]

Turkey, the self-styled rising power in the region, is about to get its come-uppance in the form of a nasty economic downturn. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s belligerence has risen in inverse proportion to the market price of the Turkish lira:

I warned in August of the “instant obsolescence of the Turkish model” as the credit bubble engineered by the ruling party explodes. [10] Markets have already anticipated a sudden turnaround in the Turkish economy. The lira fell by a quarter between November 2010 and September 2011, making it the world’s worst-performing emerging market currency. The stock market has fallen in dollar terms by 40%, making Turkey the worst performer after Egypt among all the markets in the MSCI Tradable Index during 2011.

A hard landing for Turkey has now become the Wall Street consensus. “Goldman Sachs Group Inc added Garanti to its focus sell list, saying the stock’s gain last month was based on optimistic macroeconomic assumptions that don’t account for a ‘relatively high probability’ of a recession,” Bloomberg News [11] reported on October 6.

The Russian brokerage Renaissance Capital [12] and my own firm, Macrostrategy LLC [13] have published warnings about the Turkish banking system, which has increased lending at a 40% annual rate for the past couple of years.

In short, there is not a patch of ground in Israel’s proximity that is not roiling and boiling with political and economic turmoil. Echoing in the ears of Israel’s leaders are the words of Isaiah (57:20-21), which Jews around the world read on October 8 on the Day of Atonement: “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”

Spengler’s corollary states: Neither is there peace to the stupid. We have Nicholas Kristof writing in the October 6 New York Times: “Now it is Israel that is endangered most by its leaders and maximalist stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is isolating his country, and, to be blunt, his hard line on settlements seems like a national suicide policy. Nothing is more corrosive than Israel’s growth of settlements because they erode hope of a peace agreement in the future.”

Kristof is talking about the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, which was undeveloped land before 1967 and which every conceivable peace agreement would assign to Israel.

Nothing will appease the liberals, because if liberal social engineering can’t fix the problems of the Middle East, the world will have no need of liberals. The New York Times will demand [14] that Israel concede and apologize, as surely as a gumball will roll out of the machine when I crank in a quarter. Existential need trumps rationality, most of all among the self-styled priesthood of rationality.

For extra credit, class: If 15 million Egyptians starve to death, and all the Copts are murdered, and Syria plunges into a genocidal civil war, and Turkey kills another 40,000 Kurds, and the Iraqi Shi’ites and Iraqi Sunnis all fight to the death, whose fault will it be?

I bet you guessed right this time. Israel’s, for building apartments in Gilo.


For footnotes referred to in this article, see:

One Israeli’s path from being mocked to winning a Nobel

October 06, 2011

2011 Nobel Laureate Prof. Daniel Shechtman of the Technion Institute of Technology


This dispatch has also appeared as a comment piece in The National Post, Canada’s largest nationwide paper, and picked up elsewhere, for example here.



[Note by Tom Gross]

Israel, as is well known, is regularly treated with disdain by many reporters and columnists in the international media. Yet this small state continues to make astonishing contributions to the worlds of art, literature, and particularly to classical music, medicine and science.

Yesterday, yet another Israeli won a Nobel Prize, when Daniel Shechtman of Israel’s Technion institute in Haifa, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals.

Below, I attach a report from Reuters titled “Ridiculed crystal work wins Nobel for Israeli”.

(For those interested in science, here is a full explanation of the prize from the Nobel committee.)

Another Israeli, Ada Yonath, won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Two Israelis, Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover, won the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry (which they shared with Californian-Jewish scientist Irwin Rose). In the past, Israelis have also won nobel prizes for economics, literature and peace.


American and Canadian Jews with relatives in Israel also won yesterday’s Nobel prizes for Physics, and for Physiology or Medicine.

Saul Perlmutter, whose grandfather was the renowned Yiddish teacher and scholar Samuel Davidson, won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Adam Riess, who grew up in a Jewish family in New Jersey.

And Ralph Steinman, a Canadian immunologist and cell biologist at Rockefeller University in New York, won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for “his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity”. Unfortunately, Steinman died on September 30, three days before the announcement was made.

Many international media, determined to paint Israel in a negative light, regularly downplay the extraordinary impact Israelis and Israeli companies continue to make to a whole range of medical, scientific and technological advances, for example, to the development of Microsoft and Apple computers and other products. Noting the contribution, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer remarked in 2008 that “Microsoft is now an Israeli company almost as much as it is American.”

Very occasionally, international media do report on some of the innovative ideas and products coming out of Israel. For example, Britain’s Channel 4 ran these video reports earlier this year.

In spite of (or perhaps because they are jealous of) Israeli scientific advances, many anti-Israeli activists in Western countries continue to call for a boycott of Israeli academia.



Meanwhile, Israel slammed yesterday’s vote by UNESCO, the UN’s culture, science and education organization, to recognize Palestine as a separate state without the need for the Palestinians to first agree to make peace with Israel.

In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry noted that “UNESCO has remained silent in the face of significant change across the Middle East in recent months yet has found time during its current meeting to adopt six decisions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision to grant the Palestinians membership of UNESCO will not advance their desire for an independent state. Only negotiations between the parties will bring peace.”

Other commentators said it was a sad day for UNESCO, which had allowed itself to be turned into a political football.

Israel thanked the four countries that opposed the decision, the United States, Germany, Latvia and Romania. 14 other countries abstained. The 40 other members of the UNESCO board voted to admit Palestine.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that UNESCO should “think again” on plans for Palestinian membership in the absence of their making peace with Israel.

Clinton, speaking to reporters in the Dominican Republic where she was on an official visit, said she found it “inexplicable” that UNESCO would consider moving ahead on a Palestinian vote while the issue was still before the United Nations Security Council.

“Unfortunately there are those who, in their enthusiasm to recognize the aspirations of the Palestinian people, are skipping over the most important step which is determining what the state will look like, what its borders are, how it will deal with the myriad issues that states must address,” Clinton said.

Clinton noted that the United States, which pays 22 percent of UNESCO’s dues, might be required by law to cut off funding for the agency if it were to accept the Palestinians as a member.



An Iraqi-British reader of this website points out that Steve Jobs, the great pioneer at Apple who died last night, was Syrian.

The biological father of Jobs, who was born in San Francisco and adopted by an Armenian-American family, was indeed a Syrian Muslim immigrant to the U.S from Homs called Abdulfattah John Jandali. (Jobs’ biological mother was of German ancestry.)

However, the point I was really making in this dispatch is about culture and political systems rather than about ethnicity. No doubt there would be many Arab Nobel scientists and economists if political reform in the Arab world succeeds and societies like Syria’s become more open.

-- Tom Gross


Ridiculed crystal work wins Nobel for Israeli
By Patrick Lannin and Veronica Ek
Oct 5, 2011 4:45pm EDT

STOCKHOLM, Oct 5 (Reuters) - An Israeli scientist who suffered years of ridicule and even lost a research post for claiming to have found an entirely new class of solid material was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry on Wednesday for his discovery of quasicrystals.

Three decades after Daniel Shechtman looked with an electron microscope at a metal alloy and saw a pattern familiar in Islamic art but then unknown at a molecular level, those non-stick, rust-free, heat-resistant quasicrystals are finding their way into tools from LEDs to engines and frying pans.

Shechtman, 70, from Israel’s Technion institute in Haifa, was working in the United States in 1982 when he observed atoms in a crystal he had made form a five-sided pattern that did not repeat itself, defying received wisdom that they must create repetitious patterns, like triangles, squares or hexagons.

“People just laughed at me,” Shechtman recalled in an interview this year with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, noting how Linus Pauling, a colossus of science and double Nobel laureate, mounted a frightening “crusade” against him, saying: “There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.”

After telling Shechtman to go back and read the textbook, the head of his research group asked him to leave for “bringing disgrace” on the team. “I felt rejected,” Shechtman remembered.

“His discovery was extremely controversial,” said the Nobel Committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which granted him the 10-million crown ($1.5-million) award.

“Daniel Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science ... His battle eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter.

“In quasicrystals, we find the fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms: regular patterns that never repeat themselves.”


On Wednesday, Shechtman said he was “excited” but at pains to praise fellow scientists, many of whom once doubted him.

Nancy Jackson, the president of the American Chemical Society (ACS), called it “a great work of discovery”.

Scientists had previously thought solid matter had only two states -- crystalline, like diamonds, where atoms are arranged in rigid rows, and amorphous, like metals, with no particular order. Quasicrystalline matter offers a third possibility and opens the door to new kinds of materials for use in industry.

Sometimes referred to as Shechtmanite in the discoverer’s honour, hundreds of quasicrystals have been synthesised in laboratories. Two years ago, scientists reported the first naturally occurring find of quasicrystals in eastern Russia.

David Phillips, president of Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry, called them “quite beautiful”. Interlocking arrays of stars, circles and floral shapes are typical.

“You can normally explain in simple terms where in a crystal each atom sits - they are very symmetrical,” Phillips said. “With quasicrystals, that symmetry is broken: there are regular patterns in the structure, but never repeating.”

An intriguing feature of such patterns, also found in Arab mosaics, is that the mathematical constant known as the Greek letter tau, or the “golden ratio”, occurs over and over again. Underlying it is a sequence worked out by Fibonacci in the 13th century, where each number is the sum of the preceding two.

Living things, including flowers, fruit and shellfish, also demonstrate similar arrangements, which scientists associate with the efficient packing of materials into growing organisms.

Quasicrystals are very hard and are poor conductors of heat and electricity, offering uses as thermoelectric materials, which convert heat into electricity. They also have non-stick surfaces, handy for frying pans, and appear in energy-saving light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and heat insulation in engines.

Astrid Graslund, secretary for the Nobel Committee for chemistry, said: “The practical applications are as of now, not so many. But the material has unexpected properties. It is very strong, it has hardly any friction on the surface. It doesn’t want to react with anything -- they cannot ... become rusty.

“But it is more a conceptual insight - that these materials exist and we need to re-write all textbooks about crystals - it’s a shift of the paradigm, which I think is most important.”


Since Galileo was mocked by established scientists and persecuted by the church in the 16th century for observing that the Earth moved round the Sun rather than the reverse, overturning accepted wisdom has never been easy, as several of this year’s Nobel prizewinners in science have shown.

Research that was largely ignored for years secured the medicine prize for the late Ralph Steinman and the astounding finding that the universe’s expansion was speeding up not slowing down meant the physics prize for its joint discoverers.

But in a year when science is in a froth over whether particles may have been fired from Geneva to Italy faster than the speed of light -- apparently defying Einstein -- few in the modern age have had to battle disbelief as hard as Shechtman.

“He dealt with the scepticism in a very scientific and gentlemanly manner and answered his critics as every scientist should -- through science,” Ron Lifshitz, a physics professor at Tel Aviv University, told Reuters. “There were also personal slurs but those did not warrant a response ... He believed in his own work and carried on with determination.”

Interviewed about his Nobel by television in Israel, where the award was big national news for a small country with a long roster of laureates, Shechtman spoke of a photograph in his office that showed a small cat sipping water, surrounded by angry dogs; a biblical inscription read: “Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil”.

“That’s the way I felt for many years,” Shechtman chuckled. “It accurately describes the situation, during that period.”

He “trusted in his science”, however, and came to see the criticism by the late Pauling, which Shechtman has described as “almost theological”, as a positive source of strength:

“When you’re a young scientist, and you’re faced with perhaps the top international scientist, Professor Linus Pauling ... and he argues with you as an equal, and you know that he is wrong - that’s not really such a bad feeling.”

(Additional reporting by Simon Johnson in Stockholm, Ben Hirschler in London, Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago and Dan Williams, Ori Lewis and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Writing by Alastair Macdonald)