Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Corbyn took money from the Iranian regime as it was shooting its people in the streets

January 29, 2018

* “So in case anyone needs reminding, because Corbyn certainly won’t remind us: Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism – it has sponsored bomb attacks in places as far afield as Buenos Aires, Bangkok and Bulgaria, an EU member state. It has formed militias that have brought terror to the streets of Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. It has released rapists, paedophiles and other criminals from its prisons on condition they join the Shia militia it has sent to Syria, and who have killed more Syrian civilians than Isis did these past seven years. At home, the Iranian regime has tortured and executed political opponents, persecuted minorities including Baha’is, Baluchis and Kurds, and repressed gays and democracy activists.”


Jeremy Corbyn, who has a reasonably good chance of becoming Britain’s next prime minister, may greatly unnerve Britain’s NATO allies, as well as the UK.

Above, a 2014 rally in London “to commemorate the auspicious anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran” at which Corbyn spoke alongside Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s personal representative to the UK and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Lord Nazir Ahmed.



The truth about Iran is now of little importance to Jeremy Corbyn
By Tom Gross
The Spectator (London)
January 29, 2018

If any further evidence was needed about the disingenuousness of Jeremy Corbyn and the dangers a government led by him might pose internationally – not just for Britain but also for Britain’s Nato allies – it is worth watching Corbyn’s interview on Iran with the BBC’s Andrew Marr yesterday.

‘You’ve been very reluctant to condemn the government of Iran. Can I read you what Amnesty International has said about Iran… ?’ began Marr yesterday, to which Corbyn interrupted him with the extraordinary response:

‘I think that actually, if I may say so, you’re spending too much time reading the Daily Mail, do you know that?’

Having failed to read Corbyn passages from Amnesty’s report, Marr then turned to the issue of his generously paid appearances on the Iranian regime’s propaganda channel Press TV.

‘You took money from Iran. You took money from Press TV events,’ said Marr.

Corbyn responded: ‘A very long time ago I did some programmes for… Yes, I did some programmes for Press TV. I ceased to do any programmes when they treated the Green Movement the way that they did.’

Contrary to what Corbyn said (and unfortunately Marr didn’t follow-up on it), this is not true.

Corbyn continued to take money from Iran’s regime through his appearances on Press TV well after the reformist Green movement was ruthlessly put down in 2009 and hundreds of pro-democracy campaigners were killed and thousands imprisoned or driven into exile.

Corbyn was reportedly paid as much as £20,000 for his appearances on Press TV between 2009 and 2012, according to his register of interests, on the House of Commons database. He was even paid to appear on Press TV after the channel had its license revoked and was banned from broadcasting in the UK for its part in airing the forced confession of Newsweek’s Iran correspondent, Maziar Bahari.

Bahari was arrested for reporting on the pro-democracy protests, and held in solidarity confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for 118 days – where he was kicked, punched, whipped with belts and threatened with execution — before, under extreme duress, he agreed to read out a scripted confession on Press TV from inside his prison cell.

It was on one of his Press TV appearances that Corbyn made his much-criticised comments that it was a “tragedy” that Osama Bin Laden had been killed rather than being put on trial. And whereas Corbyn told Marr yesterday that he has “ceased to do programs” on Press TV, his friend and Labour party ally Ken Livingstone was on Press TV only last week in a program to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. In a thoroughly obnoxious insult to survivors, the title of the program suggested that the Jews have ‘exploited’ the Holocaust.

While Corbyn did go on to condemn human rights abuses in Iran during the course of his Andrew Marr interview yesterday, they were generalised (for example, he refused to answer Marr’s specific question about the woman who took off her hijab and has now been “disappeared”) and judging by Corbyn’s actual record over many years one must assume they are little more than expedient lip service. On other occasions, when asked about Iran, Corbyn often likes to answer, instead, by criticising the Saudi record on human rights. But unlike Iran’s, that record has very slightly improved, and indeed last week the Saudi-based Muslim World League (previously a very extreme organisation) sent a letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, to reject the kind of Holocaust denial that the Iranian regime has promoted.

“We consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimising of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished. It is also an affront to us all since we share the same human soul and spiritual bonds,” wrote Mohammad Al Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, in a letter to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with the encouragement of Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince, Muhammad bin Sultan.

Meanwhile, Corbyn continued to defend the Iranian regime both before and after the 2009 Green Revolution was put down.

Corbyn was the only non-Muslim speaker billed on the poster for ‘The All-Encompassing Revolution’ seminar, hosted at the Islamic Centre of England in 2014, ‘to commemorate the auspicious anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran’.

Here is a video from the event:

He was joined by Abdolhossein Moezi, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s personal representative to the UK; anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Lord Nazir Ahmed; Hassan al-Sadr, the British representative of Iraqi Shia extremist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr; and Mohammad Ali Shomali, of the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute in Qom, Iran.

The event was also co-sponsored by Kanoon Towhid which in 2012, hosted, via video, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, General Mohsen Rezai, who is on Interpol’s wanted list for his suspected involvement in the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish centre that killed 85 people. “He inshallah shall be joining us to make the case for Iran,” said the chair of the 2014 event as he introduced Corbyn. Corbyn replied by employing the traditional Islamic greeting “Peace be with you,” before telling us how tolerant Iran is. And how he deplores war.

So in case anyone needs reminding, because Corbyn certainly won’t remind us: Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism – it has sponsored bomb attacks in places as far afield as Buenos Aires, Bangkok and Bulgaria, an EU member state. It has formed militias that have brought terror to the streets of Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. It has released rapists, paedophiles and other criminals from its prisons on condition they join the Shia militia it has sent to Syria, and who have killed more Syrian civilians than Isis did these past seven years. At home, the Iranian regime has tortured and executed political opponents, persecuted minorities including Baha’is, Baluchis and Kurds, and repressed gays and democracy activists.

Corbyn claims to care about human rights. But he doesn’t seem to care much about those brave Iranians now lucky enough to have been exiled to the west, who have, at various human rights conferences, shown me the scars of their torture at the hands of the regime.

One might – just possibly – put to one side Corbyn’s appalling past disregard for human rights if there was some hint that he had changed his thinking from the days when he wrote a chapter in an “anti-imperialist” book defending the North Korean regime. But on the basis of his BBC interview yesterday, and other remarks since he became Labour leader, there’s little to suggest that if he comes to power he is going to become less ideologically rigid or more nuanced in his judgment about the world.


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook

Is Israel treated differently by the foreign press? The question of group think & ‘Fake News’

January 27, 2018

[Note by Tom Gross]

Below is an interview with me from last week.

Is Israel treated differently by the foreign press? The question of group think & ‘Fake News’


I posted three shorter clips from it too in case people only want to watch for one minute:

(1) 10,000 civilian deaths by US and allies in Mosul ignored


(2) Are the NY Times and BBC biased against Israel?


(3) Does Trump have a valid point about ‘fake news’?

Above: One of many past examples of media error against Israel that I have noted on this weblist.

When four Israeli Jews worshipping at a Jerusalem synagogue (and a Druze man who tried to save them) were murdered by Palestinian terrorists, CNN wrongly told viewers that a mosque been attacked and made it sound like the armed Palestinian terrorists were the prime victims of their own attack.

Among related dispatches:

* The New York Times: All the news that’s fit to print?

* Blatant BBC online anti-Semitism

* Living in a Bubble: The BBC’s very own Mideast foreign policy

* The BBC discovers ‘terrorism,’ briefly: Suicide bombing seems different when closer to home

* Is the BBC really pro-Israel?


* You can also find other items if you “like” this page on Facebook

First hijab-wearing L’Oréal hair model resigns over Israel comments (& brave Iranian woman missing)

January 23, 2018



[Notes by Tom Gross]

Just days after British blogger Amena Khan made headlines around the world for becoming the first hijab-wearing woman to be featured in a hair care campaign for Paris-based cosmetics conglomerate L’Oréal, Khan has stepped down from her role after her virulent anti-Israeli tweets and comments were revealed yesterday by the (London) Daily Mail.

“I deeply regret the content of the tweets I made, and sincerely apologise for the upset and hurt that they have caused,” Khan said yesterday.

“Championing diversity is one of my passions, I don’t discriminate against anyone. I have chosen to delete them as they do not represent the message of harmony that I stand for.”


Among her past tweets, Khan had called the Jewish state “sinister” and said “Insha’Allah, it’s only a matter of time [before it is destroyed].”

Prior to her announcement, Khan had received widespread praise for being the first hijab wearing women to appear in a hair care ad.

A spokesperson for L’Oreal told the BBC yesterday that it welcomes Khan’s decision to step down.


Some may find it somewhat odd that she was hired to sell shampoo without showing her hair.


L’Oreal has previously been criticized for its links to Nazi war criminals as well as its anti-Israeli activities. This has been discussed in the French media and written about in the book “Bitter Scent: The Case of L’Oreal, Nazis, and the Arab Boycott” by Michael Bar-Zohar.



This is a follow up to:I searched in vain in the New York Times… (& Who is standing up for her?) (January 3, 2018)

Dozens of Iranians were killed, and hundreds arrested and tortured, in the anti-regime protests in late December and early January.

Among those who have been “disappeared” by the regime and is probably being held in one for the regime’s notorious prisons, is this Iranian woman (pictured above) who I wrote about in my previous dispatch here, and who bravely stood on a pillar box in Tehran and took off her white hijab and waved it in the air at the start of the protests.

Leading Iranian women’s rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh told the AFP news agency yesterday that witnesses saw the woman being taken away. The photo of her later went viral, and she has become known as the “Girl of Enghelab Street,” although prominent western feminists have generally avoided saying anything in support of her or other brave Iranian women.

Sotoudeh, who declined to name the woman for her own protection, said the woman was 31 years old and had a 19-month-old baby.

Under Iran’s Islamic legal code, women are required to wear a headscarf and long clothes that cover the arms and legs, or they face fines and prison sentences.

Sotoudeh told AFP yesterday: “Before even being charged or tried by legal authorities, women are taken to a place called ‘Gasht-e Ershad’ [Guidance Patrol], where they can be harshly beaten up. Whether a case is opened for them or not is unimportant. The illegal punishment they have had to bear has always been much more than what is foreseen in the law.”



There continues to be much highly politicized (and effectively pro-regime) nonsense (some might even call it fake news) written about the recent anti-government protests in over 100 Iranian towns and cities. This is particularly the case in the New York Times’ international edition.

In its latest efforts to try and prove that the “death to the supreme leader” anti-Islamic regime protests were not in fact political in nature, the New York Times tried to convince its readers in a news piece this past weekend that the revolt was not against the regime but solely the result of global warming.

Below, by contrast, is a piece by someone who actually knows what he is talking about concerning Iran, Asharq Al-Awsat columnist Amir Taheri. (Taheri is a long-standing subscriber to this email list.)



This is a follow-up to other recent dispatches on football.

The former English national football team manager Steve McClaren has recently returned to England after a five month spell as coaching consultant at Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he assisted Maccabi manager Jordi Cruyff, who is the son of Dutch football giant Johan Cruyff.

Given how much anti-Israelism/anti-Semitism there is among some sections of the British media, as well as among many football fans, McClaren has this week emerged as somewhat of a spokesperson to counter this.

Yesterday in “The Big Interview” feature in The Times of London sports section, McClaren said:

“Tel Aviv was beautiful. Modern, but with history, too. Mediterranean. Multicultural, fantastic restaurants, great beach, the job looked interesting.

“My wife Kathryn didn’t want to go [at first], but two of my boys came over and had a great time and said ‘Go mum, go.’ She came over for a week and was blown away by it. She ended up returning three or four times.”

“I visited the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Nazareth at Christmas — fascinating. I saw the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It’s got that feeling of spirituality, whatever your beliefs. It’s the epicentre of three religions and all of them believe God will descend in that one spot. And they call Tel Aviv a country within a country because it’s different to the rest of Israel… I could be an ambassador for the Israeli Tourist Board.”


Among other recent football dispatches:

* Stars of David: The story of Israel’s first national soccer team (October 7, 2017)

* Palestinian girls’ soccer defies the odds in a conservative society (October 5, 2017)

-- Tom Gross



Iran: Anatomy of a National Revolt
By Amir Taheri
Asharq Al-Awsat
January 14, 2018

With its flames declining after days of high blaze, the “events” that shook Iran in December and early January are still attracting a tsunami of comment, speculation and, as always in such cases, misrepresentation.

The first question is what should we call what happened.

The term “events” is too anodyne and the term “revolution” too hyperbolic to do the job. The Khomeinist leadership in Tehran started by using the term “disturbances” (eghteshashat) as if we were dealing with a stampede in a bazaar or a crowd crash in a Spanish bullfight arena.

When it became clear that “disturbances” in some 100 cities couldn’t be dismissed in so cavalier a manner, the Khomeinist authorities went for their fallback position of blaming foreign conspirators for the whole thing.

Thus, state propaganda gave us the term “conspiracy” (to-teheh) with a colorful cast of characters supposedly involved. These included US President Donald Trump, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the Barzani clique in Iraqi Kurdistan, a brother-in- law of Saddam Hussein, a cousin of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and a retired CIA spook converted to the “wrong kind of Islam”.

Within days, however, the Khomeinist tune had become laughable.

How could such a disparate cast of characters put so many angry Iranians on the streets? And how could such big chunks of the Khomeinist establishment itself express sympathy with the protesters rather than shower them with abuse in the manner he mullahs have used since time immemorial?

No, the term “conspiracy” wouldn’t do either.

The Khomeinist propaganda barons then turned to the term “sedition” (fitnah) which has several advantages as far as they are concerned. To start with this is a theological term that denotes a major schism in which the established version of the faith of is challenged by a rival narrative backed by the sword.

Thus, the Khomeinist message was the protesters were directly attacking Islam. News outlets controlled by Islamic Security even put out footage and print reportages with photos claiming that the protesters were burning mosques and hussainiehs. The subtext was that Iranian protesters were like the Syrians who had risen against Bashar al-Assad with the sole aim of: destroy holy shrines and tombs.

However, the term “sedition” didn’t stick either. In fact, one remarkable feature of the protests was that, for the first time in Iranian contemporary history, there was no religious undertone in any of the slogans and speeches made by protest leaders. What we witnessed in Iran was a political movement with political aims.

The next attempt to misrepresent the “events” was to brand them as “economic”. Some former Obama administration officials and Khomeinist lobbyists in the US and Europe tried the gimmick to claim that the Khomeinist regime remains politically popular but faces popular anger because of economic sanctions that have made life difficult for most Iranians. When it became clear that most of the slogans were political that term, too, became redundant. In any case, the whole thing was based on a misreading of Marx’s division of reality into “economic infrastructure” and “political superstructure.”

Many Iranians, including some within the regime, implicitly agree that the mullahs took over a fairly prosperous country four decades ago and turned it into a poor house where up to five million suffer from chronic hunger and a further 25 million are housed in slums unfit for human habitation. And, yet, they know that the nation’s economic woes are a result of the regime’s reckless policies at home and abroad.

Thus, what we witnessed was a national political revolt against the status quo.

The term national does not mean that the whole of Iran or even a majority were involved. The revolt was national because it cut across class, regional ethnic and religious divides. In some places, for example Isfahan, the richest local families were marching alongside the poorest of the city with middle class and lower middle class people also on side. In Arak, an industrial city, workers and their industrialist employers marched shoulder to shoulder to indicate they were fed up with the Khomeinist system.

The revolt also skirted the generation gap, bringing together people of all ages. To be sure, most protesters were young; and over 90 percent of the 3,000 or so arrested by Islamic Security are aged below 30. But who could forget the scenes in which men and women in their 80s led the marches in Mash’had, Tabriz , Shiraz and Kerman?

The national revolt also cut across the gender gap by bringing together almost as many women as men. In many places, even smaller towns, women assumed leadership or revived the memory of Pasionaria with their fiery speeches.

While the Khomeinist set-up includes a few thousand clerics it certainly does not represent the whole of the Shi’ite clergy; this is why many mullah and students of theology joined the revolt, emphasizing its national character. It is interesting that none of the top or even middle –ranking mullahs of Qom, Mash’had or Najaf came out in support of the regime by condemning the national revolt. The regime had to find its defenders among a few hundred mullahs on government payroll.

Because the revolt took place in every one of 31 provinces it brought together all of the nation’s 18 ethnic communities

The revolt was national for another reason: no political party or group or known political personality played a major role in it. Almost all parties, including virtually all those who had supported Khomeini in 1978-79 joined the revolt, at least verbally, as did an amazing roster of former top officials and apologists of the Khomeinist system. Of the 290 members of the Islamic Majlis, the ersatz parliament, at least 60 made some noise in support of the revolt. Also remarkable was the reluctance of the military elite, especially in the regular army, to stand against the national revolt, at least in its early stages.

What happened was unprecedented in Iran’s contemporary history.

It was a truly national revolt against the established order. It didn’t offer a clear alternative but helped clear the air by puncturing the Khomeinist regime’s claim of invincibility. Even a year ago few would admit that the Khomeinist system was overthrowable. Now many, including some of the regime’s lobbyists abroad, publicly do so.

In 1989, Ali Khamenei had this to say to a session of the Assembly of Experts that hastily named him “Supreme Guide”: “One must shed tears of blood for Islamic ummah if I am considered worthy of becoming its leader.”

I don’t think crying tears of blood is the only option. A soberer option is to close the chapter of Khomeinism, Supreme-Guidism and related nonsensical notions by allowing the Iranian nation to reshape its life in a rational manner.

The national revolt was about the change that may be delayed but won’t be denied.


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook

On Trump’s comment: A different media reaction when Israel was described as “shitty”

January 16, 2018

A display in a book shop of titles from ‘s*hole countries’



When a French ambassador described Israel as a 'sh---y little country' – and polite society defended him
By Tom Gross
Daily Telegraph (London)
January 16, 2018

Donald Trump’s reference to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “s---hole countries” has rightly been condemned the world over.

Bookstores have put out display tables using the banner “Books from s---hole countries”. The word “s---hole” was projected, using enormous letters, alongside a poop emoji, onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

"This is CNN Tonight. I’m Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist,” is how CNN host Lemon began his prime time broadcast. “Have you no sense of decency?” asked James Fallows in The Atlantic, adding that we are now living in a “s---hole era”.

“Donald Trump Flushes Away America’s Reputation,” ran the headline of the New York Times editorial. The New York Daily News's front page was filled by an enormous cartoon replacing Trump’s body with a pile of excrement.

Equally strong words have been used in the British media about the president’s use of the S-word (which, for the record, Trump has not admitted using).

But if one recalls the last time the representative of a major western government used the S-word to describe an entire country, the media reaction was very different.

When then French ambassador to London, Daniel Bernard, told guests at a dinner hosted by writer Barbara Amiel (who was a Telegraph columnist at the time) in December 2001, that Israel was a “sh---y little country,” some journalists rushed to his defense or even praised him.

For example, an article in the Independent by one of the paper’s most prominent columnists at the time, Deborah Orr, described Israel as “sh---y” and “little” no fewer than four times (at the time the Independent was winning newspaper-of-the-year awards).

The French ambassador to London is not the American president, of course. But he is nonetheless the official representative of one of the world’s most important countries: a nuclear power, one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a G8 member, the land of egalité and fraternité and a supposedly sophisticated ruling elite.

And Bernard was not just any ambassador. He was one of then French President Jacques Chirac’s closest confidantes, and had previously served as France’s UN ambassador.

Also, whereas several countries had to bear the brunt of Trump’s insult last week, in Bernard's comment, Israel had the ignominy of being the only country singled out in this way.

Israel, the nation at the cutting edge of medical and scientific advance that benefits all mankind; Israel, that has won more Nobel prizes per capita than any other country; Israel the nation state of a people who have arguably suffered from more prolonged, pervasive and widespread racism than any other.

It is hard to think of anything more horrific than doctors experimenting on Jewish children; removing their eyeballs, injecting them with deadly diseases (without anesthetic of course) and so on. Or stripping naked and shooting dead tens of thousands of Jewish men, women and children in the biggest massacre in modern history at the Babi Yar ravine in Ukraine.

Anti-Semitism of course didn’t start – or end – with the Holocaust. It was still very much alive when Ambassador Bernard made his remarks and it was still very much in evidence last Friday when a 15-year-old French girl had her face slashed with a knife by a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs, as she left her Jewish school in a Parisian suburb.

Yet when Bernard made his “sh---y” remark, the British and French press seemed to spend more time criticizing the messenger, Barbara Amiel, in whose home the remark was made, than the ambassador.

Le Monde ran a front-page attack on Amiel, for having had the temerity to reveal the ambassador’s comment.

In The Guardian, Matt Wells (“Every salon tells a story – that’s why the lady is a hack”), denounced Amiel as “an arch-Zionist” but had nothing but sympathy for Bernard who, he claimed “was struggling against a tide of anger from Israel.” (In fact the Israeli government hadn’t made a single official comment on the matter at the time Wells’ article was published).

Writing in the Observer, columnist Richard Ingrams (in a piece titled “Black’s hole” – Black being Amiel’s married name) said the “gaffe” wasn’t made by the ambassador, but by Amiel for “betraying the confidences of the dinner table” and writing such an “intemperate article”.

Independent on Sunday columnist Joan Smith (“Dinner at Amiel’s leaves a bad taste”) wrote that Amiel’s “assumption that Bernard’s remark was anti-Semitic, is pretty dubious… If there is a lesson to be learned from this episode, it is not the French ambassador’s politics that have been called into question on this occasion, but his taste in friends.”

Richard Woods in the Sunday Times said Bernard’s remark was only “apparently anti-Semitic”.

It is hard to imagine an Observer or Guardian columnist calling “pretty dubious” the “assumption” that Trump’s “s---hole” remark was racist. And one wonders what the reaction would have been if, for example, the French ambassador had described Kenya as “shitty” at Amiel's table.

Anti-Semitism denial is so pervasive among some in Britain that in October, Momentum founder Jon Lansman – the person who perhaps more than any other helped to propel Jeremy Corbyn to the head of the Labour party in 2015 – told the BBC’s Andrew Marr:

“You have to be a Jew to actually experience anti-Semitism. I have experienced anti-Semitism; my children, who are only half Jewish, have experienced it. I know there is a problem with anti-Semitism and it has to be dealt with.”

Labour party members and activists have claimed Jewish bankers control Britain, that the Mossad was behind Isil and the Sandy Hook massacre, and that the Jews are behind the slave trade.

One would hope that if the representative of a major western government today were to describe the Jewish state, rather than African states, as sh---y, there would be an equal level of outrage. But somehow I doubt it.


(This piece was picked up elsewhere, for example, the second item here on the New York Post editorial page.)


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook

Major Israeli medical breakthroughs (& becoming one of world’s richer countries)

January 09, 2018

Khaled Kabub, a Muslim Israeli Arab, has been nominated to Israel’s Supreme Court, by Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of the right-wing Jewish Home party. He presently sits on the Tel Aviv District Court.



1. Israel ranked the 11th happiest country in the world
2. High life expectancy
3. And for Israeli Arabs
4. Jewish home party nominates Muslim Arab for Israeli Supreme Court
5. Israel becomes one of world’s 25 richest countries
6. The biggest health breakthroughs in Israel in 2017
7. Compound kills energy generating system of cancer
8. Personal menu to help avoid diabetes
9. World’s first bone implants
10. Artificial cornea
11. Hernia surgery just got simpler
12. Screening newborns for autism
13. Reversing cognitive decline with cannabis
14. Early diagnostic test for Parkinson’s
15. Hip-hope cushions falls in elderly
16. An injection that melts fat
17. Diagnosing sleep disorders while you’re awake
18. First implant for heart failure
19. Renewing damaged cells


[Notes by Tom Gross]

This dispatch contains a number of items about Israeli society and Israeli contributions to world medicine.

See also past related dispatches including:

* Dilemma for Israel boycotters as scientists make HIV breakthrough (& The Palestinian case against BDS)

* No Chinese-born scientist has ever won a Nobel: “We want to learn from Israel”

* Israeli scientists develop bionic eye for people born blind

* Video dispatch: Amazing Israeli innovations Obama will see on his visit to Israel



The “World Happiness Report” survey prepared by the UN and released in Rome last week in advance of March’s UN’s World Happiness Day has ranked Israel the 11th happiest country in the world in 2017. Israel came ahead of the US, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan, among other countries.

The report’s top 10 happiest countries are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

Among the least happy countries are Yemen, Syria, Haiti and various African countries.

The happiness scale measures factors including gross domestic product per person, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, perceptions of corruption, and social support.

93 percent of Israelis say they are happy or very happy with their lives.



Israel also ranked 11th in terms of world life expectancy in a separate Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report. The average Israeli lives 82.45 years, compared to the OECD average of 80.5.

The average life expectancy for Israeli women was 84.2 in 2017, a significant increase from 79.5 in 1995 and 73.9 in 1975.

The average life expectancy for men was 80.7 in 2017, compared to 75.5 in 1995 and 70.3 in 1973.


Israeli Arabs enjoy a higher life expectancy than the Arab population of any Arab or Muslim country.



Khaled Kabub, a Muslim Israeli Arab, is on the short list of nominees to Israel’s Supreme Court.

Kabub was selected by the (right-wing Jewish Home) Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. A committee will choose from a list of candidates at its next meeting, on February 22, to replace Justices Yoram Danziger and Uri Shoham, who are retiring this year.

Presently Kabub sits on the Tel Aviv Economic Affairs District Court.

There have been Arab Supreme Court justices in Israel in the past, but they were Christian Arabs. If selected, Kabub will be the first Muslim.


Among related dispatches:

* In Kerry’s fantasy “apartheid Israel,” an Arab judge sent the Jewish president to jail

* Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn’t one of them



As a result of strong government economic polices and a flourishing high tech and medical sector, Israel, until recently a relatively poor developing country, is now one of the 25 richest countries in the world, according to a MSN 24/7 Wall Street survey.

Israel is in 23rd spot, ahead of Italy in 24th place and only just behind Japan and France.

The top three countries are Norway, Switzerland and Luxemburg.



(The list below is written and compiled by Nicky Blackburn, of Israel21c.)


An Israeli researcher devised a synthetic compound to disable the enzymes that allow cancer cells to metastasize.

When cancer cells leave the primary tumor and spread to other organs, they reprogram their energy-generating system in order to survive in harsh conditions with a shortage of nutrients like glucose.

Prof. Uri Nir of Bar-Ilan University identified an enzyme called FerT in the energy-generating mitochondria of metastatic cancer cells – an enzyme normally only found in sperm cells (which need to function outside the body they came from). When he targeted FerT in lab mice, the malignant cells soon died.

Using advanced chemical and robotic approaches, Nir’s lab team developed a synthetic compound, E260, which can be administered orally or by injection, causing a complete collapse of the entire mitochondria “power station.”

“We have treated mice with metastatic cancer and this compound completely cured them with no adverse or toxic affect that we can see,” reported Nir, adding that normal cells were not affected.

Phase 1 clinical trials are planned over the next 18 months.



In 2015, two researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel released a groundbreaking study showing that specific foods and food combinations affect each individual’s blood-sugar level differently.

That discovery was incorporated into a made-in-Israel app, DayTwo, which helps pre-diabetics and diabetics who are not insulin dependent choose dishes that can best balance their individual blood-sugar levels. The algorithm predicts blood-glucose response to thousands of foods based on gut microbiome information and other personal parameters.

High blood sugar is linked to energy dips, excessive hunger and weight gain as well as increased risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

To use the app, which went on sale in the US in 2017, users need to answer a questionnaire about their medical history, physical characteristics, lifestyle and diet. A stool-sample kit is then FedExed to the user, who sends it on to DayTwo’s lab. There the microbiome DNA is sequenced and the data is plugged into an advanced machine-learning algorithm.

In about six to eight weeks, users receive a microbiome report and a six-month plan of personalized meal recommendations to help balance blood sugar.



In August and December, doctors at Emek Medical Center in Afula performed rare bone implants – one on a man missing part of his arm bone and the second on a man missing five centimeters of his shinbone, both as the result of car accidents.

Normally, the human body cannot restore bone segments, but revolutionary tissue-engineering technology developed by Haifa-based Bonus BioGroup enables growing semi-solid live bone tissue from the patient’s own fat cells.

The tissue is then injected back into the patient’s body in the expectation that the missing bone fragment will be regenerated in around six weeks without any danger of implant rejection or the complications of traditional bone transplants.

“This surgery is truly science fiction; it changes the entire game in orthopedics,” said Dr. Nimrod Rozen, head of orthopedics at Emek, who carried out the experimental procedure.

In the future, the Bonus BioGroup regeneration technology could be used for a variety of bone-loss conditions, including bone cancer, for which there is currently no solution.



An early-stage Israeli ophthalmic medical devices startup developed a revolutionary artificial cornea implant that holds out hope to millions of blind and visually impaired people.

The nanotech-based synthetic cornea by CorNeat Vision of Ra’anana proved successful in initial tests on animals. The company plans human implantations in Israel in mid-2018, and a larger clinical trial in the United States.

According to the World Health Organization, diseases of the cornea are the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, affecting as many as 30 million people.

“Unlike previous devices, which attempt to integrate optics into the native cornea, CorNeat’s implant leverages a virtual space under the conjunctiva that is rich with fibroblast cells, heals quickly and provides robust long-term integration,” said CorNeat Vision’s Almog Aley-Raz. The surgical procedure takes just 30 minutes.



A new tool developed by Via Surgical for attaching mesh to tissue, allows surgeons to treat hernias with fewer complications, less pain and faster recovery.

In the US alone, some five million people have a hernia – a protrusion of an organ or tissue through a weak spot in the abdomen or groin – according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Traditionally, open hernia-repair surgery involved stitching a mesh patch, or surrounding tissue, over the weak tissue. Today, many hernias are repaired laparoscopically, but because suturing through tiny laparoscopic incisions is difficult, most surgeons use a less ideal solution – screw-like tacks to secure the mesh to the abdominal wall or bone.

Via Surgical’s unique FasTouch cartridge system, which received FDA approval in 2016, affixes prosthetic material to soft tissue. It is designed like sutures and delivered like tacks, with the goal of providing the best of both worlds for laparoscopic hernia repair.

“Surgeons are very excited about it,” says Lena Levin, cofounder and CFO of Via Surgical. “Hernia repair is one of the most common surgeries.



Israeli engineer Raphael Rembrand developed a simple noninvasive way to screen newborns for signs of autism using the same instrument currently used to test infants’ hearing.

The SensPD diagnostic test, now ready for clinical trials, uses optoacoustic emissions as an indicator of the baby’s overall sensory perception.

It can be administered hours after birth, and because the inner-ear mechanism develops in the third trimester of pregnancy, one day it may even be possible to screen for autism spectrum disorders prenatally.

Some three million children are diagnosed with autism every year. The earlier the condition is detected the better the possible outcome. Thirty years ago, Rembrand’s four-year-old son was diagnosed as autistic, but it was too late at this point for critical early-intervention therapies.

“Applying interventions before the age of two results in better than 90% success rate in ingraining social skills for social integration,” says Rembrand.



In May, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and from the University of Bonn in Germany announced that they had restored the memory performance of lab mice to a juvenile stage by administering a small quantity of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

The report in Nature Medicine showed that after giving low doses of THC to mice over a four-week period, the cognitive functions of 12- to 18-month-old mice treated with cannabis were just as good as the functions of two-month-old mice in the control group.

Clinical trials on humans are to follow.

A study by Therapix Biosciences presented in September to the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines’ Conference on Cannabinoids in Cologne, Germany, similarly suggested that THC can significantly reverse age-related cognitive impairment in old mice.



This year, Hebrew University of Jerusalem PhD student Suaad Abd-Elhadi won the Kaye Innovation Award for her diagnostic tool, ELISA, which detects Parkinson’s disease at a much earlier stage than existing tools, and better tracks progression of the disease and response to therapy.

Parkinson’s disease, affecting seven to 10 million people worldwide, is characterized by stiffness, tremors and shaking. Medication to control symptoms is costly.

Currently there are no standard diagnostic tests for Parkinson’s other than clinical information provided by the patient and the findings of a neurological exam. Once Parkinson’s is revealed, the neurodegenerative disease is usually already progressing.

Abd-Elahdi’s diagnostic tool detects the alpha-synuclein protein closely associated with Parkinson’s disease, and could lead to a minimally invasive and cost-effective way to diagnose the disorder in time to improve the lives of patients.

Abd-Elhadi has demonstrated a proof of concept and is analyzing a large cohort of samples as part of a clinical study. Through its Yissumtechnology transfer company, Hebrew University has signed an agreement with Integra Holdings for further development and commercialization.



Each year, nearly 3 million seniors worldwide are hospitalized due to hip fractures – many experiencing a drastic deterioration in quality of life. The direct annual cost of treating hip fractures exceeds $15 billion in the US alone.

Rather than focus on better ways to treat the broken bone, Israeli engineer Amatsia Raanan decided to use cutting-edge technology to avoid injury in the first place. He and three cofounders developed Hip-Hope, a smart wearable device designed as a belt.

Once Hip-Hope’s multi-sensor detection system senses an impending collision with a ground surface, two large airbags are deployed instantly from each side of the belt to cushion the hips, and a connected smartphone app sends an automatic alert message to predetermined recipients.

The 1-kilo (2.2-pound) device, due to go on sale shortly, even has a built-in emergency call button that the user can activate in any situation of distress.

Hip-Hope is certified by the CE (Europe), FDA (United States), Health-Canada and AMAR (Israel). In studies carried out at a major Canadian lab, the Israeli device was proven to reduce impact by 90%.



Jerusalem-based Raziel Therapeutics has developed an injection that melts fat cells and postpones the proliferation of new fat cells. The medication generates heat to use up some of the free fatty acid that’s produced by fat cells in the body, which in turn reduces fat tissue.

Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic, and the World Obesity Federation predicts that by 2025, a third of the world’s population will be overweight or obese.

Raziel’s technology, which targets specific areas in the body, is now in clinical trials in the US. Preliminary results show a 30 to 50 percent reduction in subcutaneous fat at the treated site after a single injection.

Each treatment lasts between six and nine months, but treatment could be more effective in those who change their lifestyle in parallel.



An audio-analysis technology developed at Ben-Gurion University can assess sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) while the user is awake, at home and not hooked up to machines or sensors.

The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 22 million Americans suffer from the malady and that as many as 80% of moderate to severe OSA cases go undiagnosed.

Currently, patients are diagnosed using overnight polysomnography (PSG) to record brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing, and eye and leg movements via electrodes and sensors.

The new system, which does not require contact sensors, could be installed onto a smartphone or other device that utilizes ambient microphones. It analyzes speech during waking hours and records and evaluates overnight breathing sounds using new technology that is simpler and significantly less expensive than PSG.

The researchers have tested the system on more than 350 subjects and are working toward commercialization.



In July, a 72-year old Canadian man became the world’s first recipient of an Israeli-developed implant to treat diastolic heart failure – a fairly common condition for which there is no effective long-term treatment.

The minimally invasive surgery was performed at Rambam Health Care Campus, a medical center in Haifa.

The CORolla implant was developed by cardiologists at Israeli startup CorAssist Cardiovascular of Haifa. The elastic device is implanted inside the left ventricle and applies direct expansion force on the ventricle wall to help the heart fill with blood.

The patient, Robert MacLachlan, had run out of treatment options in Canada for his diastolic heart failure. His wife read about CORolla on the Internet and contacted Rambam.



Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science discovered a molecule in newborn hearts that appears to control the process of renewing heart muscle. The findings, published in June in Nature, point to new directions for research on restoring the function of damaged cardiac cells.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.

The Agrin molecule seems to “unlock” the renewal process and enable heart-muscle repair – never seen before outside the womb. Normally, after a heart attack the damaged muscle cells called cardiomyocytes are replaced by scar tissue, which cannot pump blood and therefore place a burden on the remaining cardiomyocytes.

Following a single injection of Agrin, damaged mouse hearts were almost completely healed and fully functional. Scar tissue was dramatically reduced, and replaced by living heart tissue that restored the heart’s pumping function.

The research team has begun pre-clinical studies in larger animals.


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook

I searched in vain in the New York Times… (& Who is standing up for her?)

January 03, 2018

A brave woman risks severe punishment by removing her headscarf on the first day of the recent demonstrations against the Islamic regime in Iran. Yesterday the Iranian government said those arrested during the last six days of protests may face the death penalty.



1. Who is standing up for her?
2. I looked in vain in the New York Times…
3. New York Times: There is “widespread public support” for the regime
4. Roger Cohen admits “Trump is right about Iran”
5. Silence
6. International media reports what Kerry won’t say
7. Rest of media: Protestors shout death to ‘Hezbollah’, ‘Shame on Khamenei’
8. Obama official: Obama made a mistake not to support 2009 Iran demonstrations
9. Fake news about Iranian protestors on CNN and BBC
10. Overturning buses, in 1979
11. Iranian women post photos free of hijab – but only for a few seconds
12. Iranian intelligence operating in the West Bank



Egyptian writer Hamed Abdel-Samad writes in relation to the above photo:

For all fake feminists who claim that hijab means empowerment, here is a woman from Iran who took off her hijab to empower herself and other women facing one of the most brutal regimes on earth. Taking off the hijab in Iran is considered to be a crime!

For Barbie-Producer Matell who has chosen a hijab woman as an icon, here is a real icon of freedom!

For Time Magazine which has chosen a Saudi girl as one of the most influential women on earth just because she convinced Apple to introduce a hijab-emoji, here is a real woman with real influence!

For Glamour Magazine which has chosen Linda Sarsour as Woman of the year although she defends Sharia Law, here is a real feminist who defies Sharia Law. Here is a real woman of the century!

More than a 100 years after Clara Zetkin and Rosa Luxemburg, the German authorities were segregating men and women in swimming pools and were making safe zone areas for women during the New Year Celebrations, while this brave woman was standing in the middle of men facing the tanks of Regime of the Islamic Republic!

This brave woman is not only a feminist but also a humanist who stands up for the freedom of a whole nation. Who is standing up for her?



[Notes below by Tom Gross]

For the second consecutive day there was no mention on the front page of the print edition of the International New York Times this morning of the “regime change” protests that have swept at least 52 cities in Iran in recent days.

But then I looked inside the paper and to my further amazement discovered that there is not one mention of Iran in any of the news, opinion, or any other place in the entire print edition of today’s International New York Times.

Iran is the lead story or front page news on pretty much every other major media outlet in the world today, but not in the a paper that boasts on its print edition each day that it contains “All the news that’s fits to print” and is constantly emailing adverts that the New York Times is the place to go to “stay informed” and “learn the truth”.

On the other hand (no surprise here) the lead front-page story of today’s International New York Times was yet another attack on Donald Trump, as was the whole of page 4.

There are anti-Israel stories or headlines in today’s international New York Times under the Trump story on page 1, at the top of page 3 and in the culture pages. No surprise there either.


The front covers of the International New York Times today and yesterday.



The silence by the New York Times comes after the paper has come under sustained attack from Iranians in recent days for some appalling news coverage in which they say its Tehran correspondent has essentially sided with the regime hardliners in the selectivity of his reporting.

For years, correspondent Thomas Erdbrink has been accused of misrepresenting the true feelings of Iranians in order to reinforce the stereotypes of New York Times readers.

Here is one among many examples by Erdbrink, from November 26, 2017:

NYT headline: Long Divided, Iran Unites Against Trump and Saudis in a Nationalist Fervor

NYT text: “Mr. Trump and the Saudis have helped the government achieve what years of repression could never accomplish: widespread public support [for the regime]”…. they now believe they have something to be proud of, with Iranian-led militias playing a central role in defeating the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq, increasing Iran’s regional influence in the process.”

Tom Gross comments: There has never been “widespread public support” for the regime – whatever the New York Times might try to convince itself. And, no, it was Kurdish militias that played a central role to help defeat Islamic State. By contrast Iranian militias have been at the forefront of gassing and massacring many tens of thousands of Syrian Sunni men, women and children. And no, most Iranians are not proud of this. Only the regime is proud of this.



A rare exception in the New York Times is Roger Cohen, the paper’s former foreign editor and now a foreign affairs columnist, who for most of the eight years of the two Obama administrations was at the forefront together with Obama officials in justifying the hardline of the murderers and terrorist backers who run Iran.

In an article (which does not appear in today’s international New York Times print edition) but which you can find online, Cohen writes:

“I have a New Year’s confession: I retweeted President Trump with approval, not something I had expected to do, especially on the subject of Iran. But Trump has been right to get behind the brave Iranian protesters calling for political and economic change…

“These are the largest popular protests since the Iranian uprising in 2009 against a fraudulent election. I was in an enormous crowd (estimated in the millions) that marched from Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Square to Azadi (Freedom) Square three days after the vote….

“In Tehran, then, the silence of the Obama White House was deafening… So Trump – even if he understands little or nothing of Iran – is right to speak up in solidarity and tweet that the “wealth of Iran is being looted” by a “brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.” It is. Given where American-Iranian relations stand, there is not much downside to this bluntness…”



An exiled Iranian friend writes to me (before the Cohen piece was published):

“We are sick of the New York Times and other western news media criticizing Donald Trump for tweeting support for Iranians. We want more expressions of support from Americans, not less. Where are Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s tweets expressing solidarity with the oppressed people and women of Iran?”



Tom Gross adds:

Obama’s former Secretary of State John Kerry, on the other hand, has been speaking out, though this has resulted in much derision across the internet.

On Sunday, Kerry tweeted the following about the Iranian protests: “With humility about how little we know about what’s happening inside Iran, this much is clear: it’s an Iranian moment and not anyone else’s.”

Actually if you read sources other than the New York Times and similar media, we know plenty.



Kerry only has to look at virtually any international newspaper or media outlet to discover, in the words of the is Al Arabiya headline from December 30:

Protestors in Iranian city of Qom shout death to ‘Hezbollah’, ‘Shame on Khamenei’

Al Arabiya (which, unlike its rival Al Jazeera, is generally reliable) reports:

“Protestors in different Iranian cities carried slogans condemning the interference of Iran in other countries at their own expense, as per slogans such as “get out of Syria and take care of us” and “Not Gaza, or Lebanon, I would give my soul for Iran.”

Iran supports Bashar al-Assad annually with billions and supports Hezbollah with hundreds of millions, arming and funding sectarian militias brought from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon to suppress the Syrian people’s revolution as well as supporting the Houthis in Yemen.”



Former Obama Middle East advisor Dennis Ross writes in Foreign Policy magazine:

“In 2009, I was serving in the Obama administration as the secretary of state’s special advisor on Iran and was part of the decision-making process. Because we feared lending credence to the regime’s claim that the demonstrations in Iran at the time were being instigated from the outside, we adopted a low-key posture.

“In retrospect, that was a mistake. We should have shined a spotlight on what the regime was doing and mobilized our allies to do the same; we should have done our best to provide news from the outside and to facilitate communication on the inside.”



(I previously posted this on Facebook on December 30, 2017)

Retweeted Imam Tawhidi (@Imamofpeace):

CNN plagiarizes news from Tasnim News, the Iranian Guard’s propaganda site, and makes it seem as though the protest images are against Israel and not the Iranian Government.


Tom Gross adds: The above link shows how CNN took a photo from a state organized anti-Israel rally and then claimed it was from the anti-government protests this week, which in fact have contained anti-Hamas, anti-Hizbullah and anti-Assad chants, (i.e. three of the closest allies of the Islamic regime) but no chants against Israel.

CNN’s reporting on the Iran situation has improved in the last two days, but yesterday the BBC was using the same Iranian propaganda photo against Israel to suggest these were anti-regime protestors.

This is what some might call fake news.



On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “People have the right to criticize the government, but have no right to damage public property and vehicles.”

Above is a photo from the Rouhani-regime orchestrated 1979 Islamic takeover when regime thugs looted and burnt buildings and destroyed vehicles.



I’m reposting this video to shine a spotlight on the brave anti-Islamic regime women of Iran.

Iranian women risk arrest by the Islamic regime as they remove their hijabs and allow themselves to be photographed before quickly putting them back on again.



Haaretz reports today: The Israel Security Agency said today that it had uncovered an Iranian intelligence operation in the West Bank.

Mohammed Maharmeh, 29, from Hebron, was recruited into Iranian intelligence in 2015 when he visited a relative, Bahar Maharmeh, who lives in South Africa.

Bahar introduced Mohammed several times to Iranian agents, “some of whom came from Tehran to meet him.”

Mohammed was tasked with organizing terror attacks against Israeli targets including recruiting a suicide bomber and a terror cell that would carry out shooting attacks. Mohammed Maharmeh recruited two operatives from Hebron (Nur Maharmeh and Diaa Sarahana, both aged 22) and in return he received $8,000 from Iran.


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook