Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Britain’s biggest bookseller promotes Mein Kampf for Christmas (& other stories)

December 30, 2011

* Norwegian journal publishes an article by a Swedish professor suggesting Israel was behind the massacre of Norwegian teenagers last summer

* Professor at a leading British University accused of deliberately giving low marks to a student because she was Israeli


Mein Kamp is “the perfect present for Christmas”
according to at least one branch of Waterstone’s

 

CONTENTS

1. Britain’s biggest bookseller promotes Mein Kampf for Christmas.
2. Swedish professor says Israel behind last summer’s Norway massacre
3. UNESCO finally stops funding Palestinian children’s magazine that thanked Hitler
4. Professor at British University accused of deliberately giving low marks to a student because she was Israeli
5. Luckily, Havel wasn’t a Guardian reader


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

I hesitate to bring depressing news during the Christmas-New Year period, but I thought these stories from Europe are so important that they shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

BRITAIN’S BIGGEST BOOKSELLER PROMOTES MEIN KAMPF FOR CHRISTMAS

Several branches of Britain’s biggest bookseller, Waterstone’s, promoted Hitler’s book Mein Kampf as the “perfect” Christmas present.

Mein Kampf, of course, paved the way for the genocide of European Jews. Waterstone’s has now issued a half-hearted apology.

Staff at a Waterstone’s branch in the northern English town of Huddersfield, for example, used a festive point-of-sale sticker to promote the book as “the perfect present” with an accompanying personal recommendation message by a staff member trumpeting the book as “an essential read for anyone”.

According to the (London) Jewish Chronicle, Waterstone’s stores in Manchester, Liverpool and elsewhere also displayed front covers of multiple copies of Mein Kampf, a sales technique designed to attract shoppers.

There has been remarkably little coverage of this story in Britain’s national press, though The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian did run short news items, and so did Fox News in America. (I have seen no editorials or comments pieces or letters to the editor.)

Several Jewish leaders regarded Waterstone’s apology as less than satisfactory.

A Waterstone’s spokesperson said: “We do not believe we actively promote this book; our customers are capable of forming their own opinions on whether to purchase it or not… However staff should not have used inappropriate seasonal stickers on the book. We will also communicate with all our branches at the earliest possible opportunity to remind them of the sensitivities surrounding our stocking of Mein Kampf.”


Update: Alan Dershowitz (who is a subscriber to this list) reminds me that Waterstone’s is the same store that also refused to stock his book “The Case for Israel” when it was published, claiming that “There is no case for Israel”.


“The perfect present” according to a staff member called Tom at Waterstone’s in Huddersfield

 

SWEDISH PROFESSOR SAYS ISRAEL BEHIND LAST SUMMER’S NORWAY MASSACRE

In the latest burst of anti-Semitism from Scandinavia, a Swedish professor, Ola Tunander, at the (questionably named) “Peace Research Institute Oslo”, has published an article in the Norwegian academic journal “Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift” in which he suggests Israel was behind the massacre of Norwegian teenagers committed by Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik in July.

Tunander suggests that Brevik didn’t act alone and had help from a foreign government, implying it was Israel.

Far-right extremist Breivik, 32, has already confessed to acting alone when he perpetrated the Oslo bombing, which killed eight people, and the youth camp massacre in which he murdered 69 youngsters on the small island of Utoeya, northwest of Oslo, on July 22.

Among the reasons Professor Tunander gives as “evidence” for his theory is that July 22 was also the date of the bombing at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem carried out by the Irgun on July 22, 1946.

Others in Norway have criticized Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift for publishing the article.

Many of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories now found on the European far left originate in Iran, which in turn is copying anti-Semitic hate mongering from the European far right.

* For more, please see my dispatch of August 2, 2011: Iran: “Zionist regime directed terrorist attacks in Norway” (& Iran to sue West)

 

UNESCO FINALLY STOPS FUNDING PALESTINIAN CHILDREN’S MAGAZINE THAT THANKED HITLER

The UN cultural organization UNESCO has said it will stop funding a Palestinian youth magazine which praised Hitler.

In February 2011, Zayzafouna, a magazine for Palestinian children which supposedly promotes democracy and tolerance, published an article by a ten-year-old Palestinian girl that praised Hitler for his policies.

Zayzafouna is also funded through the Palestinian Authority, which in turn is funded by European and American taxpayers.

UNESCO, which has long been criticized by Jewish groups for its bias against Israel, has said it will be more careful in future.

A UNESCO spokesperson said “We are deeply committed to the development and promotion of education about the Holocaust, and UNESCO disassociates itself from any statement that is counter to its founding principles and goals of building tolerance in the full respect for human rights and human dignity.”

Another statement issued from the agency’s Paris headquarters, said “UNESCO strongly deplores and condemns the reproduction of such inflammatory statements in a magazine associated with UNESCO’s name and mission and will not provide any further support to the publication in question’.”

The article in Zayzafouna was brought to the public’s attention by the NGO, Palestinian Media Watch.

 

PROFESSOR AT BRITISH UNIVERSITY ACCUSED OF DELIBERATELY GIVING LOW MARKS TO A STUDENT BECAUSE SHE WAS ISRAELI

Smadar Bakovic (also written as Berkovich), an Israeli postgraduate student at Britain’s prestigious Warwick University, has finally succeeded in having her dissertation re-marked after it was originally given a poor mark by Nicola Pratt, a professor who is known for her attacks on Israel.

After a year’s battle with the university authorities they allowed her dissertation to be re-marked by two other professors overseen by an external marker from outside Warwick University, and she obtained a distinction, with a score 11 points higher than when it was first marked by Pratt.

Professor Pratt was one of more than 100 British academics who wrote to The Guardian in 2009 under the title “Israel must lose” and calling for Britain to implement a campaign of boycotts and sanctions against Israel and Israelis.

Bakovic, 35, from Harei Yehuda, near Jerusalem, spent a year challenging Warwick’s original rejection of her appeal. Pratt is associate professor at the university’s politics and international studies department.

However, the authorities at Warwick University are refusing to discipline Prof. Pratt, and there has been remarkably little national newspaper coverage of this story in the British press, which usually has no problem running articles about Israelis.

One wonders if there would have been so little media coverage if a student was marked down by a politically active professor at a top university for being African, or Arab, or anything else other than an Israeli Jew.

 

LUCKILY, HAVEL WASN’T A GUARDIAN READER

On a completely different topic, this is note and short item from The Weekly Standard that I sent to some people on December 22.

***

I wrote a very small item about Vaclav Havel today (below). I don’t have much to add to what others have written but thought I would share it with some of my Czech friends and a few other people. One other point I would like to mention is that one of the very first things Havel did, in his inaugural speech as president on New Year’s Day 1990, was to say that the newly liberated Czechoslovakia would recognize and establish relations with the state of Israel. He simply announced it without even informing the Czech foreign ministry (which was still then staffed with many communists) that he was going to do so.


Luckily, Havel Wasn’t a Guardian Reader
By Tom Gross
Weekly Standard (website)
Dec 22, 2011

www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/luckily-havel-wasn-t-guardian-reader_614631.html

I first met Vaclav Havel in 1988, shortly after he had been released from prison and a year before he led his country out of the Communist abyss. As a young undergraduate in England I had decided to travel round eastern Europe that summer, and was given various books and other materials to smuggle to Havel on behalf of Czech dissident friends of his in London. In the years since, especially when I lived in Prague, he occasionally found time to speak to me because, as he said, he was very grateful for receiving those items.

Havel was a true liberal and understood the nature of communism better than most, which is why so many distinguished people will be attending his funeral tomorrow. But Neil Clark won’t be there.

When it published Clark’s article on Monday, The Guardian was parroting 1970s Soviet-style propaganda. Clark wrote: “Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgment of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.”

Who needs Pravda when you have The Guardian?

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


All I want for Christmas is...

December 24, 2011


This is the twelfth in a series of video dispatches. (This is much a lighter dispatch than the often intense material I send out.) Happy Christmas and Hanukkah everybody!


JON STEWART & STEPHEN COLBERT SING HANUKKAH SONGS



 

I GOT A FEELING (HANUKKAH SONG)



 

MARIAH CAREY: ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS... JEWS



 

JACK BAUER (OF "24") INTERROGATES SANTA CLAUS



 

DISNEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS



 

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW

<


 

AND ONE MORE TIME: LET IT SNOW



Please "like" these dispatches on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.


Other dispatches in this video series can be seen here:

* Video dispatch 1: The Lady In Number 6

* Video dispatch 2: Iran: Zuckerberg created Facebook on behalf of the Mossad

* Video dispatch 3: Vladimir Putin sings “Blueberry Hill” (& opera in the mall)

* Video dispatch 4: While some choose boycotts, others choose “Life”

* Video dispatch 5: A Jewish tune with a universal appeal

* Video dispatch 6: Carrying out acts of terror is nothing new for the Assad family

* Video dispatch 7: A brave woman stands up to the Imam (& Supporting Bin Laden in London)

* Video dispatch 8: Syrians burn Iranian and Russian Flags (Not Israeli and U.S. ones)

* Video Dispatch 9: “The one state solution for a better Middle East...”

* Video dispatch 10: British TV discovers the next revolutionary wave of Israeli technology

* Video dispatch 11: “Freedom, Freedom!” How some foreign media are reporting the truth about Syria

The New York Times, simply making things up (& 2 million watch Egypt video)

December 19, 2011

Cairo, last Saturday


* The New York Times today claimed Israel imprisoned a Palestinian child merely for “throwing stones and hanging Palestinian flags from telephone poles.” In fact the teenager in question was convicted for attempted murder and possession of explosives.

* Former Islamist radical: “If Israel did this to a hijab-wearing woman, we’d have uproar - yet Arab capitals silent. Shame.”

* Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has just bought a $300m stake in Twitter.

* Ma’ariv: “The first anniversary of the ‘Arab Spring’ has almost come to be known as the day the Americans folded up their flag in Iraq and went home. Had the American administration learned this Iraqi lesson, perhaps it would not have hurried a year ago to stab the dictator Mubarak in the back before being certain that the foundation had been laid in the direction of real democracy in Egypt.”

* Britain might not welcome the Israeli embassy in London demanding all the other 26 European Union countries spend their taxpayers’ money on conducting extensive research into the “apartheid” neighborhoods in which Muslims live in northern English towns.

 

CONTENTS

1. The New York Times, simply making things up
2. Video of woman brutalized in Egypt watched by 2 million online
3. “Had the American administration learned this Iraqi lesson…”
4. Other European states object to Britain’s obsessive focus on Israel
5. Holland to reconsider UNRWA funding

6. Israeli minister: J Street’s lobbying against Iran sanctions was the final straw
7. Anger at anti-Israel statements by Gutman…
8. … And those by Panetta and Hillary Clinton
9. Apple “to choose Israel for its first non-American development center”
10. Jordan plans to create hub with airport expansion

11. Gang of mostly female car-jackers caught in Lebanon
12. Netanyahu sends Christmas greetings in seven languages.
13. Christmas cartoon
14. “Pro-Israel advocacy group runs ads against Obama” (By Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Dec.19, 2011)


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

THE NEW YORK TIMES, SIMPLY MAKING THINGS UP

In the latest in a series of reports slanted against Israel, Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times, today claimed Israel imprisoned a Palestinian child merely for “throwing stones and hanging Palestinian flags from telephone poles.” In fact the teenager in question was convicted for attempted murder and possession of explosives.

Bronner’s report, concerning yesterday’s second stage of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, named only one of the 550 Palestinian prisoners being released by Israel.

Bronner wrote in the paper of record (which, as I noted in my dispatch on Friday, has become one of the more biased papers in the world concerning Israel):

www.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/world/middleeast/israel-begins-second-part-of-prisoner-swap.html

Sarah Abu Sneineh came with her family to greet her grandson Izzedine Abu Sneineh, who was arrested three years ago at age 15 for throwing stones and hanging Palestinian flags from telephone poles.

“He was just a schoolkid when he was arrested,” she said as she waited for him outside the tomb of Yasser Arafat. “We want him to go back to school. Only education is the way forward.”

But Bronner (who is a subscriber to this email list) is on the same Israel Government Press Office email list that I am.

In an email sent on that list on December 14, the Israeli Prison Service offered to provide journalists with full details of the prisoners being released. Izzedine Abu Sneineh was convicted and sentenced for “Weapons training; attempted murder” and possession of “weapons and explosives.”

Readers might wait to see whether The New York Times runs a proper correction.

UPDATE: The New York Times has now made a correction in its online version at the footof its article online. We will wait and see if they inform print readers too.

 

VIDEO OF WOMAN BRUTALIZED IN EGYPT WATCHED BY 2 MILLION ONLINE

While BBC World TV was again using its resources to run lengthy, partisan reports from Gaza yesterday (even though Gaza and the West Bank are two of the quietest places in the Middle East at present, both sustaining good economic growth and a relative lack of violence), much of the rest of the international media, and in particular Arab networks like Al Arabiya, were focusing on important developments in neighboring Egypt.

Indeed, social media throughout the Arab world is abuzz in outrage at this video, which shows a female protester being stripped of her black headscarf and then viciously kicked and beaten by the Egyptian security forces, before leaving her unconscious lying on the street:

The video has been watched more than two million times on YouTube since it was posted on Saturday evening. (Update: now more than 3 million times.)

Ed Husain, the former Islamist radical who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington (and is also a longtime subscriber to this email list), tweeted yesterday:

“If Israel did this to a hijab-wearing woman, we’d have uproar - yet Arab capitals silent. Shame.”

(Incidentally, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has just bought a $300m stake in Twitter.)

At least 11 civilians were killed in protests in Egypt over the weekend, and over 300 others treated in hospital.

There was also dismay among many as fire gutted the Egyptian Scientific Institute, which houses archives, historic documents and 200,000 books dating back to 1798. Many of the books were saved as some protesters risked their lives to run in and out of the building rescuing them.

 

“HAD THE AMERICAN ADMINISTRATION LEARNED THIS IRAQI LESSON…”

The events in Egypt, while not being highlighted by many Western media, haven’t been ignored in neighboring Israel.

A headline on the front page of yesterday’s Ha’aretz read:

“Harsh clashes in Cairo: police beat demonstrators to death in front of the cameras”

In editorials yesterday, other Israeli papers noted the first anniversary of the burning to death of a Tunisian market vendor, an act credited with giving rise to the so-called “Arab Spring”.

Israel’s largest paper, Yediot Ahronot, commented: “This is the first anniversary of the ‘Islamic winter’ and all of the perceptions of Islam arising from it have one common denominator: Nullification of the existence of Israel. In the view of Sunnis, Shiites, religious and secular, there is but one verdict for us all.”

Ma’ariv wrote: “The first anniversary of the ‘Arab Spring’ has almost come to be known as the day the Americans folded up their flag in Iraq and went home. Had the American administration learned this Iraqi lesson, perhaps it would not have hurried a year ago to stab the dictator Mubarak in the back before being certain that the foundation had been laid in the direction of real democracy in Egypt.”

The Jerusalem Post commented: “When Obama administration senior figures, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, publicly caution Israel against a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, another unfortunate perception is produced. Intentional or not, the impression is that Washington has tied Israel’s hands and that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has less to fear. Whatever misgivings exist in Washington, they need to be discussed with Israel in private and not aired in a manner that engenders glee in Tehran. This is no time to build up the ayatollahs’ confidence.”

***

Meanwhile, in Syria, dozens more civilians were killed over the weekend, including several children. Around 70 more people were killed today. And while Egyptian authorities may be trying to make some political advances by holding at least partly fair elections, the country’s economic situation looks dire, as its foreign currency reserves continue to fall.

 

OTHER EUROPEAN STATES OBJECT TO BRITAIN’S OBSESSIVE FOCUS ON ISRAEL

The European Union should consider Israel’s treatment of its Arab population a “core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to a classified working paper produced by European embassies in Israel, parts of which were obtained by Ha’aretz.

“This is an unprecedented document in that it deals with internal Israeli issues. According to European diplomats and senior Foreign Ministry officials, it was written and sent to EU headquarters in Brussels behind the back of the Israeli government.”

“According to a European diplomat involved in drafting the report, work on it began more than a year ago at Britain’s initiative,” added Ha’aretz.

Several other European Union countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands, have expressed objections to Britain’s “unwarranted” attempt to interfere in internal Israeli affairs.

Indeed Israeli Muslims are proportionately better represented in the Israeli parliament and other public bodies than British Muslims are in the UK.

Britain might not welcome the Israeli embassy in London demanding all the other 26 European Union countries spend their taxpayers’ money on conducting extensive research into the “apartheid” neighborhoods in which Muslims live in northern English towns.

 

HOLLAND TO RECONSIDER UNRWA FUNDING

The Netherlands will “thoroughly review” its policy on the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Dutch Foreign minister told the parliament in The Hague.

He said UNRWA’s role in deliberately sustaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by classifying as “refugees” the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who left in disputed circumstances, and today do not in any meaningful sense of the word live like refugees, is “worrisome.”

Holland is UNRWA’s 6th largest donor, with an annual contribution of $30 million. “UNRWA uses its own unique definition of refugees, different from the rest of UN’s. The refugee issue is a big obstacle to peace. We therefore ask that the government acknowledge this discrepancy, which leads to third- and fourth-generation Palestinian refugees,” VVD party speaker Hans Ten Broeke said.

Last year Canada withdrew its $10 million annual funding for UNRWA.

In 2011 UNRWA enjoyed a budget of $1.23 billion, half provided by the U.S., Sweden, Britain and Norway.

Among previous dispatches on UNRWA, please see: Exclusive: This is CNN (& BBC-UNRWA connection revealed)

 

ISRAELI MINISTER: J STREET’S LOBBYING AGAINST IRAN SANCTIONS WAS THE FINAL STRAW

Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, says Israel has “had it” with the leftist Washington-based Jewish organization, J Street.

J Street’s lobbying against Iran sanctions was said to be the final straw for Israel.

“They’re not pro-Israel. They’re anti-Israel,” Edelstein, said.

J Street describes itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace” but few in Israel familiar with J Street believe this to be the case. J Street, whose main funder is George Soros, and which claims to have the ear of the Obama administration, has lobbied against Israeli positions on a range of issues over the last few years.

 

ANGER AT ANTI-ISRAEL STATEMENTS BY GUTMAN ...

There is also despair among Jewish leaders in Europe, Israel and the U.S. at what one British-Iraqi Jew termed “the sheer ignorance” of Howard Gutman, Obama’s ambassador to Belgium, who seemed to imply in a speech earlier this month that anti-Semitism in the Middle East was a new phenomenon caused by Israel.

It may not have been as bad as in Europe but that doesn’t mean the pogroms, murders, rapes and general discrimination against Jews in the Arab world for the last 1000 years were not absolutely terrible.

And this month marked the 70th anniversary of the meeting between the Mufti of Jerusalem and Hitler, where the two of them conspired to wipe out European and Middle East Jewry.

A wide range of European Jewish leaders have denounced Gutman, and editorials in all leading Israeli papers said Obama should distance himself from Gutman. (Gutman is one of the leading fundraisers for Obama, and Obama has not done so.)


Hitler greets the mufti in Berlin

 

… AND THOSE BY PANETTA AND HILLARY CLINTON

There is also outrage by many in Israel at recent comments by Obama’s Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that it is Israel that is refusing to sit at the negotiating table with the Palestinians, when in fact the reverse is true.

Indeed, over the past three years the Palestinian Authority has realized it has no need to sit down with Israel and actually agree to some kind of compromise that would make a peace deal possible, when President Obama will instead merely pressure Israel into making one-sided concessions on their behalf.

Secretary Panetta’s remarks can be found at the end of this transcript: www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4937

***

Hillary Clinton’s remarks comparing Israel and Iran also caused outrage in Israel.

(I attach an article about this, from today’s Jerusalem Post, at the end of this dispatch.)

 

APPLE “TO CHOOSE ISRAEL FOR ITS FIRST NON-AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT CENTER”

The Israeli paper Ha’aretz says that the computer giant Apple is drawing up plans to make Israel its first off-shore development center. Apple is reportedly initially planning to employ about 200 people near Haifa.

The move follows Apple’s acquisition of Anobit, the Israeli company that is a world leader in the manufacture of flash memory for various devices.

 

JORDAN PLANS TO CREATE HUB WITH AIRPORT EXPANSION

Jordan is planning to challenge Qatar and Dubai as a regional airport hub. The kingdom has hired the leading firm headed by British architect Norman Foster to transform the relatively small and run down Queen Alia International Airport into a new billion dollar state-of-the-art building.

The roofs of the new terminal will be topped by distinctive sculpted domes that resemble the shape of Jordan’s traditional Bedouin tents.

 

GANG OF MOSTLY FEMALE CAR-JACKERS CAUGHT IN LEBANON

The Lebanese armies say they have finally managed to apprehend a gang of car-jackers in northern Lebanon that included four women. The Beirut Daily Star newspaper said the gang sometimes brought their children along so that those targeted to be robbed would first let down their guard.

Unlike a previous gang arrested in Lebanon recently that killed some of its victims, this group didn’t physically injure its victims, but merely stole their cars.

 

NETANYAHU SENDS CHRISTMAS GREETINGS IN SEVEN LANGUAGES.

Here is the version with Arabic subtitles, which was watched over 50,000 times within days of being posted: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRm0NV88bbA

While perhaps welcomed by Israel’s Christian supporters, these kinds of gimmicks don’t substitute for a more sustained and thoroughly thought-out diplomatic and public relations effort by Israel.

 

CHRISTMAS CARTOON


In a letter, Christian Solidarity International have pleaded with President Obama to come to the aid of more than 12 million “endangered non-Muslim minorities in North Africa and the broader Islamic Middle East.”

They said that “The crisis of survival for non-Muslim communities is especially acute in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Iran and Pakistan.”

***

I attach one article below.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


ARTICLE

Pro-Israel advocacy group runs ads against Obama
By Benjamin Weinthal
Jerusalem Post
December 19, 2011

www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=249982

WASHINGTON – The Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) launched a new round of ads last week slamming US President Barack Obama’s policies toward the Jewish state.

The ad by the American right-wing political advocacy group poses the question: “Why does the Obama administration treat Israel like a punching bag?” and lists a series of anti-Israeli actions initiated by the Obama administration since early November.

The ad shows a punching bag with a Star of David superimposed on it, and closes with the words, “Enough with the cheap shots. It’s time for the Obama administration to stop blaming Israel first.”

The escalating series of attacks on Obama’s record appeared Thursday in the New York Times, the Miami Herald, the Palm Beach Post, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Variety.

The ad asserts Obama’s complicity with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to mock Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s veracity at a G-20 meeting. When Sarkozy was caught on a hot microphone calling Netanyahu a liar, Obama replied, “You’re sick of him, but I have to deal with him every day.”

Additional examples cited by the ECI in the ad were Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comparison between Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran and US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, who blamed the Jewish state for the outbreak of Muslim-animated anti-Semitism.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s statement, which seemingly attributed the breakdown in peace talks mainly to the Israeli side, was also highlighted in the hard-hitting ad.

When asked about the aim of the ad, Noah Pollak, executive director of ECI, wrote The Jerusalem Post by e-mail Saturday that “It’s an election year, and American voters are strongly pro-Israel. President Obama is trying, as we saw in his speech to the Union of Reform Judaism on Friday, to paper over the past three years of hostility to Israel and failure in the peace process.

“ECI is going to keep reminding Americans that this is a blame Israel first-administration, and we’re going to hold the president accountable for the attacks on our ally that members of his administration keep making.”

The ECI jolted the political landscape in September with billboards in New York City and a New York Times ad placing giant questions marks over Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security interests. The ad stated: “Tell President Obama: Enough. It’s time to stand with Israel.”

Last week’s ad contains quotes from Israeli newspapers, including a December Post editorial that states, “In recent days there has been a truly frightening articulation of the US administration’s perception of Israel. It is downright scary, especially in light of Israel’s growing need for American support as radical changes sweep the region.”

Tom Gross, a leading Middle East commentator, told the Post Saturday “The Emergency Committee and its chairman Bill Kristol and director Noah Pollak are proving a very important counterweight to the intense J-street lobbying on the Obama administration and Congress.”

“I think these ads in the New York Times and elsewhere will really rattle the administration as they gear up for what could be a very tight presidential election next year,” added Gross.

ECI Chairman William Kristol said, “The Obama administration has been using Israel as a punching bag. The pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community is punching back.”

Pollak said that “Obama has made it clear over and over again that he views the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as a ‘constant sore,’ as he once put it, that ‘does infect all our foreign policy’ in the region.”

He continued, “It’s a view shared by many European governments, but it has the effect of excusing political dysfunction in the Middle East, excusing acts of terror and incitement, and blaming Israel for it.”

“Israel has perhaps been hit hardest by Obama’s policy of ‘engagement’ – because to cooperate with the world is to cooperate with the world’s obsession with Israel.”


“We wouldn’t want to be seen as ‘Bibiwashing’” (& Saudi woman beheaded, another raped, lashed)

December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, one of the founding subscribers to this dispatch list, who died last night

 

CONTENTS

1. Christopher Hitchens
2. Netanyahu says he won’t allow the New York Times to exploit him
3. “We wouldn’t want to be seen as ‘Bibiwashing’”
4. The Times refused to run bipartisan pieces in support of negotiated peace
5. Israel set to release more Palestinian prisoners
6. Saudis behead woman for allegedly “being a witch”
7. Young Saudi woman lashed as a punishment for being raped
8. Full text of Ron Dermer’s letter to The New York Times


[Notes below by Tom Gross]

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

I would like to join others in expressing great sadness at the death of the prolific American-based British author, critic and journalist Christopher Hitchens, who has died in a hospital in Houston, Texas, at the age of 62 from complications relating to his throat cancer.

When we met, Christopher usually out-drinking me and certainly out-smoking me, we often disagreed on the subject of Israel, Christopher adopting a more hostile approach. But in recent years Christopher had softened his position and warmed to the Jewish state (though not to Judaism or any other religion), taking a more robust line on the need and right of Israel to defend herself.

I would also like to mention the unremarked kindness of Michael and Nina Zilkha with whom Christopher and his wife stayed in Houston for much of his last months. Michael and Nina made Christopher’s extremely difficult final months much more comfortable than they might have been had he had to stay as an in-patient at the nearby hospital or in rented accommodation.


David Frum writes:

A friend of theirs once took Christopher Hitchens and his wife Carol Blue to dinner at Palm Beach’s Everglades Club, notorious for its exclusion of Jews.

“You will behave, won’t you?” Carol anxiously asked Christopher on the way into the club. No dice. When the headwaiter approached, Christopher demanded: “Do you have a kosher menu?”

Christopher was never a man to back away from a confrontation on behalf of what he considered basic decency.

 

NETANYAHU SAYS HE WON’T ALLOW THE NEW YORK TIMES TO EXPLOIT HIM

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has turned down an offer to write an op-ed piece for The New York Times, signaling the extent to which he is fed up with the increasingly extreme editorial attacks on the state of Israel by the “paper of record”.

In declining the request on behalf of the prime minister, Netanyahu’s senior adviser Ron Dermer – in a letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post’s diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon – said Netanyahu had decided to “respectfully decline.”

Dermer wrote that this was partly a result of the fact that 19 of the paper’s 20 op-ed pieces on Israel since September have been extremely unfriendly. (Many Times pieces, especially those by Roger Cohen and Tom Friedman, have been more hostile towards Israel than editorials I have read in the Arab press during the same period -- Tom Gross.)

The one positive piece that the Times published was written by Richard Goldstone – chairman of the UN’s Goldstone Commission Report – defending Israel against charges of apartheid. (For more, see this dispatch.)


“WE WOULDN’T WANT TO BE SEEN AS ‘BIBIWASHING’”

“We wouldn’t want to be seen as ‘Bibiwashing’ the op-ed page of The New York Times,” Dermer said in his letter, in reference to a piece in the Times last month titled “Israel and Pinkwashing” in which a New York humanities professor was invited by the Times to attack Israel’s record on gay rights.

Given the fact that gay organizations say that Israel probably has the best record of any country in the world when it comes to the rights of homosexuals (extending rights to gays decades ago that were only afforded in many Western countries more recently), and given the fact that some of Israel’s Middle East neighbors carry out the death penalty against gays, even the most staunch defenders of The New York Times were shocked at the lengths the Times is now going to demonize Israel.

Dermer’s letter came a day after Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote that the resounding ovation Netanyahu received in Congress when he spoke there in May had been “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” Friedman, not for the first time, has been accused of employing anti-Semitic motifs in his efforts to denigrate the government of Israel. (Both Dermer and Friedman are subscribers to this email list.)

Even the Times’s one positive piece about Israel since September – Judge Richard Goldstone’s piece rejecting the charge that Israel could be compared to apartheid South Africa – came several months after The New York Times reportedly refused to run Goldstone’s previous submission retracting his misrepresentations about Israel.

In that earlier piece (which was instead picked up by The Washington Post), Goldstone, who had previously been cited all over the world (including on numerous occasions in The New York Times) for alleging that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza, fundamentally changed his position. Yet apparently for The New York Times op-ed page, Goldstone’s retraction was news “unfit to print.”


Tuvia Grossman (above) was an Israeli victim of Palestinian violence. Yet in one of hundreds of instances where the New York Times has misled readers about Israel, the Times photo caption reversed the truth, stating he was a Palestinian victim of Israel

THE TIMES REFUSED TO RUN BIPARTISAN PIECES IN SUPPORT OF NEGOTIATED PEACE

The New York Times has consistently refused to publish pro-Israel op-eds. For example, the Times reportedly refused to run a bi-partisan piece in September co-written by the majority leader of the House of Congress, Eric Cantor (a Republican) and the minority whip Steny Hoyer (a Democrat), expressing joint support for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral statehood bid that contravened the Oslo peace accords.

“In an age of intense partisanship, one would have thought that strong bipartisan support for Israel on such a timely issue would have made your cut,” said Dermer, in his letter to the Times.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party congressmen Steve Rothman called on Tom Friedman to apologize for writing last week that the congressional ovation Netanyahu received in May was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

“Thomas Friedman’s defamation against the vast majority of Americans who support the Jewish state of Israel is scurrilous, destructive and harmful to Israel and her advocates in the U.S.,” the Democratic congressman said. “Friedman is not only wrong, but he’s aiding and abetting a dangerous narrative about the US-Israel relationship and its American supporters.”

As commentator Isi Leibler pointed out, “Despite Jewish ownership, throughout its history, The New York Times has rarely displayed affection or sensitivity towards Jewish issues. As far back as 1929, during the Arab riots in Palestine, the local Times correspondent, Joseph Levy, boasted that he was a committed anti-Zionist.”

And of course The New York Times’s cover-up of the Holocaust, was beyond disgraceful, as I have pointed out several times, for example, here and here:

* Reporting Auschwitz, Then & Now: The lamentable record of The New York Times

* All The News That’s Fit To Print?

***

I attach the full text of Ron Dermer’s letter to the New York Times at the end of this dispatch.

 

ISRAEL SET TO RELEASE MORE PALESTINIAN PRISONERS

Israel is set to release some 550 Palestinian prisoners on Sunday. This marks the second stage of the grossly disproportionate prisoner swap in which Israel agreed to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including some of those responsible for the worst terror attacks in Israel’s history, in exchange for the young kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit. Israel released 477 prisoners in the first stage in October, including the bloodiest killers Hamas wanted freed. Yesterday, the Israeli prison service released the names of the next 550 to be released. Most of these are minor criminals.

Hamas is believed to have kept tensions with Israel relatively low and reduced the number of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in recent months in order not to give Israel any pretext for reneging on the deal.

 

SAUDIS BEHEAD WOMAN FOR ALLEGEDLY “BEING A WITCH”

Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser, a Saudi woman in her 60s, was beheaded on Monday in the northwest province of Jawf for being a witch, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement. The country’s high court upheld the death penalty.

So far this year, the kingdom has executed 73 people.

The Saudi government remains one of America’s closes allies.

When President Obama met Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on one of his first foreign trips as president, he bowed down to Abdullah only a day after a man was publicly beheaded in the Saudi capital and his body and head left on public display for many hours. Yet Obama instead reserved criticism that week for Benjamin Netanyahu.

Among previous dispatches on Saudi Arabia:

* Saudi gang-rape victim gets 90 lashes for International Women’s Day

 

YOUNG SAUDI WOMAN LASHED AS A PUNISHMENT FOR BEING RAPED

In a separate news story this week, the Saudi Gazette reports as follows:

Girl gets a year in jail, 100 lashes for adultery
By Adnan Shabrawi

JEDDAH – A 23-year-old unmarried woman was awarded one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant fetus.

The District Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict on Saturday after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of friends assaulted her all night long.

The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks’ pregnant then, the hospital confirmed.

According to the ruling, the woman will be sent to a jail outside Jeddah to spend her time and will be lashed after delivery of her baby who will take the mother’s last name.

***

[All notes above by Tom Gross]


THE FULL TEXT OF RON DERMER’S LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dear Sasha,

I received your email requesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu submit an op-ed to the New York Times. Unfortunately, we must respectfully decline.

On matters relating to Israel, the op-ed page of the “paper of record” has failed to heed the late Senator Moynihan's admonition that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but that no one is entitled to their own facts.

A case in point was your decision last May to publish the following bit of historical revision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:

It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.

This paragraph effectively turns on its head an event within living memory in which the Palestinians rejected the UN partition plan accepted by the Jews and then joined five Arab states in launching a war to annihilate the embryonic Jewish state. It should not have made it past the most rudimentary fact-checking.

The opinions of some of your regular columnists regarding Israel are well known. They consistently distort the positions of our government and ignore the steps it has taken to advance peace. They cavalierly defame our country by suggesting that marginal phenomena condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu and virtually every Israeli official somehow reflects government policy or Israeli society as a whole. Worse, one columnist even stooped to suggesting that the strong expressions of support for Prime Minister Netanyahu during his speech this year to Congress was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” rather than a reflection of the broad support for Israel among the American people.

Yet instead of trying to balance these views with a different opinion, it would seem as if the surest way to get an op-ed published in the New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel.

Even so, the recent piece on “Pinkwashing,” in which Israel is vilified for having the temerity to champion its record on gay-rights, set a new bar that will be hard for you to lower in the future.

Not to be accused of cherry-picking to prove a point, I discovered that during the last three months (September through November) you published 20 op-eds about Israel in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. After dividing the op-eds into two categories, “positive” and “negative,” with “negative” meaning an attack against the State of Israel or the policies of its democratically elected government, I found that 19 out of 20 columns were “negative.”

The only “positive” piece was penned by Richard Goldstone (of the infamous Goldstone Report), in which he defended Israel against the slanderous charge of Apartheid.

Yet your decision to publish that op-ed came a few months after your paper reportedly rejected Goldstone's previous submission. In that earlier piece, which was ultimately published in the Washington Post, the man who was quoted the world over for alleging that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza, fundamentally changed his position. According to the New York Times op-ed page, that was apparently news unfit to print.

Your refusal to publish “positive” pieces about Israel apparently does not stem from a shortage of supply. It was brought to my attention that the Majority Leader and Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives jointly submitted an op-ed to your paper in September opposing the Palestinian action at the United Nations and supporting the call of both Israel and the Obama administration for direct negotiations without preconditions. In an age of intense partisanship, one would have thought that strong bipartisan support for Israel on such a timely issue would have made your cut.

So with all due respect to your prestigious paper, you will forgive us for declining your offer. We wouldn't want to be seen as “Bibiwashing” the op-ed page of the New York Times.

Sincerely,

Ron Dermer
Senior advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu


“Freedom, Freedom!” How some foreign media are reporting the truth about Syria

December 08, 2011

This is the 11th in series of video dispatches. It contains important and exclusive reporting from Syria (and one video from Iran).

(You can comment on this dispatch here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. Please also first press “Like” on that page.)


THE FEARLESS PEOPLE OF SYRIA

[Note by Tom Gross]

While ABC’s Barbara Walters was busy this week airing what has been described by Syrian pro-democracy activists as an “irresponsible and disgusting propaganda interview with President Bashar al-Assad” some brave reporters working for other media have been courageous enough to report accurately on the dramatic ongoing events in arguably the Middle East’s most oppressive country, Syria. (Over 50 civilians were murdered by Assad’s forces on the very day Walters conducted her interview.)

The first report below is from the Rupert Murdoch-owned British-based broadcaster Sky News, which has once again outshone the BBC in its foreign news coverage.

(Assad did make one truthful admission in his interview. When Barbara Walters asked him why he didn’t accept the rulings of the United Nations he declared the UN irrelevant. She said, “Sir, you have an Ambassador there” to which he responded “It’s a game we play. We don’t believe in it”.)

 

FROM SKY NEWS: WELCOME TO HOMS

Sky News devotes almost ten minutes on its peak morning news (Dec. 6) to report on Syria, below.

Stuart Ramsay reports: “Waking to the sound of gunfire is never pleasant; when it is incoming and down your street it is particularly unnerving. In Homs, every day starts with sniper fire. Every day. People queuing, to buy bread or vegetables, scatter. Children start crying, cars screech into reverse while men and women gather what they have and head for the protection of alleys and doorways. Nine people died at a crossroads at the end of the street we were staying in last week. More will likely die today.”



 

FROM BRITAIN’S CHANNEL 4: SYRIA UNDERCOVER

A crew from Britain’s Channel 4, this time reporting mainly from Damascus, presents evidence of widespread torture and crimes against humanity.



 

FROM ARTE TV IN FRANCE: IRANIAN INVOLVEMENT

This full-length documentary is from Sofia Amara of Arte TV in France. She manages to interview soldiers who have defected from Assad’s security forces and report on the Iranian involvement in Assad’s brutal suppression of the uprising.


 

IRAN RELEASES VIDEO OF DOWNED U.S. SPY DRONE, CLAIMS THAT CHINA & RUSSIA WANT TO INSPECT IT

Finally, on another topic, below is video shown today on Iranian television of the U.S. spy drone that the Iranian government claims it shot down.

American officials have acknowledged that an unmanned U.S. reconnaissance plane was lost on a mission a few days ago, but say that there is no evidence that it was downed by hostile acts. They say the drone probably went down because of a malfunction, and that the advanced stealth reconnaissance plane would likely have fallen from such a high altitude (it can fly as high as 50,000 feet) that it would not be in as good shape as the drone that the Iranians claim they have.

However, Western military analysts said the footage aired by Iranian TV today appears to them to be the American drone in question.

The headline on Iran’s Mehr news agency reads: “China, Russia want to inspect downed U.S. drone.”


 

Among past recent dispatches on Syria, please see:

* Syria’s Assad is worse than Gaddafi in many ways
* Carrying out acts of terror is nothing new for the Assad family
* Syrians burn Iranian and Russian Flags (Not Israeli and U.S. ones)
* Syria: Where massacre is a family tradition
* As Syria slaughters hundreds, its ambassador gets wedding invite denied to Blair and Brown
* Peres tells Arab media “Assad must go,” and Netanyahu again hints at it too


Other dispatches in this video series can be seen here:

* Video dispatch 1: The Lady In Number 6

* Video dispatch 2: Iran: Zuckerberg created Facebook on behalf of the Mossad

* Video dispatch 3: Vladimir Putin sings “Blueberry Hill” (& opera in the mall)

* Video dispatch 4: While some choose boycotts, others choose “Life”

* Video dispatch 5: A Jewish tune with a universal appeal

* Video dispatch 6: Carrying out acts of terror is nothing new for the Assad family

* Video dispatch 7: A brave woman stands up to the Imam (& Supporting Bin Laden in London)

* Video dispatch 8: Syrians burn Iranian and Russian Flags (Not Israeli and U.S. ones)

* Video Dispatch 9: “The one state solution for a better Middle East...”

* Video dispatch 10: British TV discovers the next revolutionary wave of Israeli technology


The Arab spring comes to Russia? (& America has squandered its opportunity to lead)

December 05, 2011

An Egyptian soldier outside a polling station


* Pre-filled ballots, invisible ink and multiple visits to polling booths: Videos below from this weekend’s elections in Russia.

* Samuel Tadros: “While the final results of the Egyptian elections have not been officially announced, the information available makes the outcome all but sealed. The Islamist tsunami has begun and the wave will only rise higher in the next two rounds of voting. While this might come as a shock to readers of the New York Times, anyone actually observing Egypt outside of the lens of Tahrir, Cairo, and the imagined liberals would find the results quite expected.”

* In nearly every single district in Egypt with the exception of a few in Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood came in first place, followed by the even more extreme Salafists’ Islamic Alliance. The gap between both groups and the rest of the parties is huge. In Fayyoum’s first district, for example, out of 445,000 votes cast, the Muslim Brotherhood received 200,000, the Salfists 130,000. The Egyptian Bloc received less than 10,000.

* Mark Steyn: “I’ve been alarmed by the latest polls. No, not from Iowa and New Hampshire, although they’re unnerving enough. It’s the polls from Egypt. Two-thirds of the Arab world’s largest nation is voting for sharia. America has squandered its opportunity to lead.”

* “In 1923, Egypt’s Finance Minister was a man called Joseph Cattaui, a member of Parliament, and a Jew. Couldn’t happen today. In the unlikely event the forthcoming Muslim Brotherhood government wishes to appoint a Jew as finance minister, there are very few left available. Indeed, Jews are so thin on the ground that those youthful idealists in Tahrir Square looking for Jews to club to a pulp have been forced to make do with sexually assaulting hapless gentiles like the CBS News reporter Lara Logan.”

* “The surreptitious departure of Israel’s ambassador from Egypt last month symbolized to many Israeli officials the new state of affairs between the neighboring countries. Yitzhak Lebanon flew out of Cairo International Airport for the last time, ending his time in Cairo without a departure ceremony or even a nod of farewell from Egypt’s foreign ministry.”

***

This dispatch concerns the elections in Egypt (and Russia).

(Please "like" these dispatches on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.)

 

CONTENTS

1. Pre-filled ballots, invisible ink and multiple visits to polling booths
2. Two-thirds of the Arab world’s largest nation votes for Islamist parties
3. “The Egyptian Elections: An analysis” (By Samuel Tadros, National Review, Dec. 2, 2011)
4. “America has squandered its opportunity to lead” (By Mark Steyn, NRO, Dec. 3, 2011)
5. “Israel preparing for day when it has no relations with Egypt” (McClatchy, Nov. 22, 2011)


RUSSIA: PRE-FILLED BALLOTS, INVISIBLE INK AND MULTIPLE VISITS TO POLLING BOOTHS

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below are three interesting articles about the Egyptian elections.

But first here are some videos relating to yesterday’s elections in Russia.

This one, which has been viewed over half a million times on YouTube since being posted yesterday afternoon, shows an election commissioner falsifying ballots:


In this video, at another polling station, pro-democracy activists find a stack of pre-stamped, pre-approved ballots hidden in the lavatory. Each had been marked with a vote for Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. The video has been watched almost 400,000 times on YouTube since being posted last night.


In this video, invisible ink is being used at a polling station:


Here is a YouTube round-up page where people have posted clips of election violations.

 

Muslim Brotherhood party logo


EGYPT: TWO-THIRDS OF THE ARAB WORLD’S LARGEST NATION VOTE FOR ISLAMIST PARTIES

[Note by Tom Gross]

The translation of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s credo, displayed on its election posters, is: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; Islam is the solution; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

Despite this, New York Times reporters (as the article below notes) have for months been trying to persuade its readers that the Muslim Brotherhood is in reality a “moderate” movement.

And the Obama administration and U.S. State Department urged last week’s elections to proceed as planned even though Egyptian liberals and secularists begged them not to, and only the Islamist parties were properly prepared for these hasty elections. (For a past dispatch on the unholy alliance between Egypt’s military Junta and the Muslim Brotherhood, please see here: Egypt: The Hangover begins (& Egypt Air wipes Israel off the map) March 30, 2011).

The military itself is largely composed of recruits from the country’s more conservative rural areas, where the Brotherhood is strong.

Democracy is not, of course, about a holding a single election in which Islamists force their way into power never to hold a free election again (witness Hamas in Gaza).

The results of the first round of Egypt’s elections are hardly a surprise. Polls in recent months show that Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated candidates have taken control of syndicates for pharmacists, lawyers, teachers and engineers.

But in last week’s first round of general elections, an Islamist party even more extreme than the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafi “al-Nour,” (which means “the light”) party, also scored well, winning about 20 percent of the seats. The Muslim Brotherhood gained about 40 percent of the votes.

So far, al Nour say they will not water down their views to ally with the slightly less radical Muslim Brotherhood. And the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s new political party, Essam el-Erian, said on Saturday, on its English-language Twitter account, that the Brotherhood’s first priorities were to fix Egypt’s economy, “not to change the face of Egypt into an Islamic state.”

However, it remains to be seen what this will mean in practice for the rights of women, Christians and others in Egypt. (The country’s more than 2,000 year old Jewish community has already been purged.)

I attach three articles below.

-- Tom Gross

***

PS. And meanwhile in Tunisia

Agence France Presse reports:

Police fired tear gas as thousands of Islamist supporters swooped on central Tunis on Saturday to confront liberal demonstrators rallying against extremism as MPs were drafting a new constitution for Tunisia.

The protest was partly a response to ongoing demonstrations at a university outside the capital, where Islamists disrupted courses, demanding a stop to mixed-sex classes and for female students to wear the full-face veil, or niqab.


ARTICLES

“THE ISLAMIST TSUNAMI HAS BEGUN”

The Egyptian Elections: Analyzing the First Round
By Samuel Tadros
National Review Online
December 2, 2011

While the final results of the Egyptian elections have not been officially announced, the information available makes the outcome all but sealed. As we predicted, the Islamist tsunami has begun and the wave will only rise higher in the next two rounds. While this might come as a shock to readers of the New York Times, anyone actually observing Egypt outside of the lens of Tahrir, Cairo, and the imagined liberals would find the results quite expected.

To understand why NYT readers will be so shocked, one has only to look at the reporting from Cairo they have been reading. An Egyptian activist was quoted in February predicting that the Muslim Brotherhood would receive 10 percent of the vote. In June, readers were informed that the Muslim Brotherhood was facing “internal divisions, as the unifying sense of opposition to a secular dictatorship fades and various factions – including two breakaway political parties and much of the group’s youth – move toward the political center.”

And the Salafists? According to the NYT’s David Kirkpatrick (and one wonders why he still has a job after getting pretty much everything in Egypt wrong for the past ten months), writing as late as the 28 of November, the Salafists are “less organized” and their “relative strength is one of the major questions hanging over the polls.” Imagine their shock today when informed that “a big surprise was the strong showing of ultra-conservative Islamists, called Salafis.” Surprising indeed!

In the coming days, readers will be bombarded with editorials and news reports about the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood. The NYT, which will enter history for coining the astonishing term “a liberal Islamist” in August, will attempt to show us how nice the Brotherhood actually is. After all, back in February, we were told that the Muslim Brotherhood is actually very much like the Catholic Church. “As the Roman Catholic Church includes both those who practice leftist liberation theology and conservative anti-abortion advocates, so the Brotherhood includes both practical reformers and firebrand ideologues.”

Back on planet earth, the election results paint a very gloomy picture of the chances of non-Islamists in the remaining rounds. Let us take a look at some of the numbers involved.

1. As expected, the real battle was between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. In nearly every single district in Egypt with the exception of a few in Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood came in first place, followed by the Salafists’ Islamic Alliance. The gap between both groups and the rest of the parties is humongous. In Fayyoum’s first district, for example, out of 445,000 votes cast, the MB received 200,000, the Saalfists 130,000. The Egyptian Bloc received less than 10,000.

2. The Salafists gave the MB a run for their money in the governates, also as expected. In Kafr El Sheikh’s first district, out of 700,000 votes cast, the MB received 210,000 and the Salafists 275,000. In Fayyoum’s second district, the MB received 130,000 votes compared to the Salafists’ 116,000.

3. The imagined Sufi balance to the Islamists proved to be a pipe dream. Not a single Sufi won a seat, nor did they affect the results. Sufism in Egypt has no political ramifications.

4. The Wafd Party performed poorly. It will get a seat here and there, but it is not a relevant player.

5. The Egyptian Bloc performed relatively well, but that is simply a reflection of Christian votes. There is a clear correlation between the bloc’s numbers and the number of Christians in a district. In districts with high Christian concentration, such as Asyut and Cairo and Alexandria, they managed to win a number of seats; in places with no Christians, such as Damietta, they received 9,000 votes out of 274,000 cast.

6. Candidates matter. Even in party list elections, the name on top can add a lot to a list. The few seats that El Wafd won are in places where their lists were headed by known figures with actual grassroots support.

7. The former NDP candidates proved to be totally irrelevant in the elections. The election law with its wide districts had killed the ability of local families to balance the Islamist onslaught.

8. The MB’s best performance proved to be in the individual seats. Out of a total of 56 seats available, the MB won two outright without a need for a runoff and is in competition for 47 seats in the runoff. In many of those seats, the runoff is between MB candidates and Salafists, ensuring an Islamist victory.

9. The complicated electoral system resulted in 500,000 invalid votes out of a total 8,500,000. Egyptians continue to be confused as to how they are actually supposed to vote.

10. The Revolution Continues coalition performed poorly. They will win very few seats.

 

“I’VE BEEN ALARMED BY THE LATEST POLLS”

America has squandered its opportunity to lead
Two-thirds of the Arab world’s largest nation is voting for sharia
By Mark Steyn
National Review Online
December 3, 2011

I’ve been alarmed by the latest polls. No, not from Iowa and New Hampshire, although they’re unnerving enough. It’s the polls from Egypt.

Foreign policy has not played a part in the U.S. presidential campaign, mainly because we’re so broke that the electorate seems minded to take the view that if government is going to throw trillions of dollars down the toilet they’d rather it was an Al Gore-compliant Kohler model in Des Moines or Poughkeepsie than an outhouse in Waziristan.

Alas, reality does not arrange its affairs quite so neatly, and the world that is arising in the second decade of the 21st century is increasingly inimical to American interests, and likely to prove even more expensive to boot.

In that sense, Egypt is instructive. Even in the giddy live-from-Tahrir-Square heyday of the “Arab Spring” and “Facebook Revolution” I was something of a skeptic.

Back in February, I chanced to be on Fox News with Megyn Kelly within an hour or so of Mubarak’s resignation. Over on CNN, Anderson Cooper was interviewing telegenic youthful idealists cooing about the flowering of a new democratic Egypt.

Back on Fox, sourpuss Steyn was telling Megyn that this was “the unraveling of the American Middle East” and the emergence of a post-Western order in the region. In those days, I was so much of a pessimist I thought that in any election the Muslim Brotherhood would get a third of the votes and be the largest party in parliament.

By the time the actual first results came through last week, the Brothers had racked up 40% of the vote – in Cairo and Alexandria, the big cities wherein, insofar as they exist, the secular Facebooking Anderson Cooper types reside. In second place were their principal rivals the Nour party, with up to 15% of the ballots. “Nour” translates into English as “the Even More Muslim Brotherhood.”

As the writer Barry Rubin pointed out, if that’s how the urban sophisticates vote, wait till you see the upcountry results. By the time the rural vote emerges from the Nile Delta and Sinai early next month, the hard-core Islamists will be sitting pretty. In the so-called “Facebook revolution,” two-thirds of the Arab world’s largest nation is voting for the hard, cruel, bigoted, misogynistic song of Sharia.

The short 90-year history of independent Egypt is that it got worse. Mubarak’s Egypt was worse than King Farouk’s Egypt, and what follows from last week’s vote will be worse still. If you’re a westernized urban woman, a Coptic Christian, or an Israeli diplomat with the goons pounding the doors of your embassy, you already know that.

The Kingdom of Egypt in the three decades before the 1952 coup was flawed and ramshackle and corrupt, but it was closer to a free-ish pluralist society than anything in the years since.

In 1923, its Finance Minister was a man called Joseph Cattaui, a member of Parliament, and a Jew. Couldn’t happen today. Mr. Cattaui’s grandson wrote to me recently from France, where the family now lives.

In the unlikely event the forthcoming Muslim Brotherhood government wishes to appoint a Jew as finance minister, there are very few left available. Indeed, Jews are so thin on the ground that those youthful idealists in Tahrir Square looking for Jews to club to a pulp have been forced to make do with sexually assaulting hapless gentiles like the CBS News reporter Lara Logan.

It doesn’t fit the narrative, so even Miss Logan’s network colleagues preferred to look away. We have got used to the fact that Egypt is now a land without Jews. Soon it will be a land without Copts. We’ll get used to that, too.

Since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact two decades ago we have lived in a supposedly “unipolar” world. Yet somehow it doesn’t seem like that, does it? The term “Facebook Revolution” presumes that technology marches in the cause of modernity. But in Khartoum a few years ago a citywide panic that shaking hands with infidels caused your penis to vanish was spread by text messaging.

In London, young Muslim men used their cell phones to share Islamist snuff videos of Westerners being beheaded in Iraq. In les banlieues of France, satellite TV and the Internet enable third-generation Muslims to lead ever more dis-assimilated, segregated lives, immersed in an electronic pan-Islamic culture, to a degree that would have been impossible for their grandparents.

To assume that Western technology in and of itself advances the cause of Western views on liberty or women’s rights or gay rights is delusional.

Consider, for example, the “good” news from Afghanistan. A 19-year old woman sentenced to 12 years in jail for the heinous crime of being brutally raped by a cousin was graciously released by President Karzai on condition that she marry her rapist.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the last Christian church in the nation had been razed to the ground last year, as the State Department noted in its report on “international” religious freedom.

But Afghanistan is not “international” at all. It is an American client state whose repugnant leader is kept alive only by the protection of Western arms. Say what you like about Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, but at least their barbarous theocratic tyranny doesn’t require vast numbers of NATO troops to build it.

I am not a Ron Paul isolationist. The U.S. has two reasonably benign neighbors, and the result is that 50% of Mexico’s population has moved north of the border and 100% of every bad Canadian idea from multiculturalism to government health care has moved south of the border.

So much for Fortress America. The idea of a 19th century isolationist republic holding the entire planet at bay is absurd. Indeed, even in the real 19th century, it was only possible because global order was maintained by the Royal Navy and Pax Britannica. If Ron Paul gets his way, who’s going to pick up the slack for global order this time?

Nevertheless, my friends on the right currently fretting about potentially drastic cuts at the Pentagon need to look at that poor 19-year-old woman’s wedding to her cousin rapist and ponder what it represents: in Afghanistan, the problem is not that we have spent insufficient money but that so much of it has been entirely wasted.

History will be devastating in its indictment of us for our squandering of the “unipolar” moment. During those two decades, a China flush with American dollars has gobbled up global resources, a reassertive Islam has used American military protection to advance its theocratic ambitions, the Mullahs in Tehran are going nuclear knowing we lack the will to stop them, and even Russia is back in the game of geopolitical mischief-making.

We are responsible for 43% of the planet’s military spending. But if you spend on that scale without any strategic clarity or hardheaded calculation of your national interest it is ultimately as decadent and useless as throwing money at Solyndra or ObamaCare or any of the other domestic follies. A post-prosperity America will mean perforce a shrunken presence on the global stage. And we will not like the world we leave behind.

 

ISRAEL PREPARING FOR DAY WHEN IT HAS NO RELATIONS WITH EGYPT

Israel preparing for day when it has no relations with Egypt
By Sheera Frenkel
McClatchy Newspapers
November 22, 2011

The surreptitious departure of Israel’s ambassador from Egypt on Tuesday symbolized to many Israeli officials the new state of affairs between the neighboring countries.

Yitzhak Lebanon flew out of Cairo International Airport for the last time, ending his time in Cairo without a departure ceremony or even a nod of farewell from Egypt’s foreign ministry. He had hardly been active in Cairo, having fled the Israeli Embassy there in September when rioters attacked and burned down part of the building. Since then, he has remained stationed in Israel, flying back occasionally for diplomatic meetings and to formally close his offices.

But Israeli officials saw his unheralded departure as a sign of Israeli-Egyptian relations to come.

“This is the state of relations now. There is no real diplomacy, just shuttling back and forth and talks at a bare minimum,” said an official from Israel’s foreign ministry, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak on the issue. “At least we still have relations.”

Perhaps not for long. Officials said they are quietly preparing for what they called a “complete break” in diplomatic ties with Egypt. That would mark a dangerous downturn in Israel’s relations with its neighbors unequalled in the past three decades.

“Our peace treaty with Egypt was the backbone of our diplomatic relations with the Arab world,” said former ambassador Eli Shaked.

Even as events were unfolding Tuesday in Egypt, where the military government offered to step down in July, a concession thought unlikely to satisfy the tens of thousands of demonstrators who crowded into Tahrir Square, Israeli officials were considering it likely that whatever eventually happens there will bode ill for Israel.

Rumors have spread through Cairo that the tear gas and other weapons used by Egypt’s military against the protesters were supplied by Israel – despite the English writing and U.S. serial labels found on empty tear gas canisters. Several forums on Facebook suggested that Israel was indirectly supporting the Egyptian military and pressing it to use harsh means against the protesters.

“Israeli evil is behind this,” the deputy head of the Egyptian Al-Wasat Party, Osam Sultan, said Tuesday on Egyptian television.

Israeli news anchors showed the report alongside images of protesters in Tahrir Square burning Israeli flags as evidence that relations with Egypt were headed for a break.

“The chances that at the end of the democratic process we will have a secular, democratic, pro-Western Egypt, one that adheres to the peace agreement with Israel and views it as being in its national interest, are eroding,” military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronoth.

He added that the view among Israel’s top diplomatic officials was that they “had lost Egypt” and that the widely supported Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group had asserted itself.

“Now there is concern – not just in Israel and in the U.S. but in all the pro-Western states around us – that the military junta will not be able to withstand the pressure and that the Muslim Brotherhood will also dictate how the elections are run and will attract many more votes than predicted in Egypt, more than Israel hoped or Washington prayed for,” Fishman wrote.

Israeli officials were also said to be troubled by pledges from several Egyptian politicians that they would cut diplomatic ties with Israel after the elections.

“Although the relations between Egypt and Israel have been undermined after the collapse of Mubarak’s regime, we are still unsatisfied with these conditions and serious efforts will be made after the elections to cut relations with the Zionist enemy completely,” Majdi Hussein, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Amal Party, said at a press conference Tuesday in Cairo.