Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

Will Trump surprise some with Palestinian peace, just like he surprised with N Korea?

April 30, 2018

Fire seen last night at an Iranian missile base in the countryside south of Hama, one of dozens of bases that the Iranian regime has set up in Syria. Two dozen military personnel, 18 of whom were from Iran's feared Revolutionary Guards, were reported killed. Hundreds of advanced Iranian missiles were destroyed in the strike, according to Syrian sources.

Syrian state media claimed that the United States and Britain launched coordinated missile strikes from bases in northern Jordan last night, possibly as part of a campaign to roll back Iranian influence in preparation for renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal with the aim of making it much harder for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. By contrast, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Israel may have carried out last night’s strike.



[Note by Tom Gross]

Modern Israel celebrated its 70th independence day according to the Jewish calendar earlier this month, and on May 14 Israel will turn 70 according to the much younger Gregorian calendar.

There have already been many articles to mark the occasion, including some very strident attacks on the Jewish state in the New York Times by writers such as Roger Cohen and far-left Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy (invited by the New York Times to become a guest contributor).

Below, I attach three more positive (and more accurate) articles. (All three writers -- Shmuel Rosner, Bret Stephens and Gil Troy -- are subscribers to this list.)



If one closely reads the signals and hints delivered by Donald Trump, by his new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and by some Palestinians, and also the understandings on this issue with Russian President Putin, one can see that we may well be on the verge of a major peace breakthrough – which is the polar opposite of the impression one finds on the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post.

There have been indications that if Palestinian Authority President Abbas turns down yet another peace offer from Israel to create a Palestinian state, the leadership of the Arab world may replace him by someone (such as Mohammed Dahlan) who is more likely to agree to negotiate peace with Israel.



It was also revealed yesterday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said last month that “in the past 40 years the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly missed opportunities and rejected all the proposals it has been given. The time has come for the Palestinians to accept the proposals and agree to come to the negotiating table - or shut up and stop complaining.”

I would stick by my prediction – which I first made when the then candidate Donald Trump started outlining a foreign policy – that Trump’s worldview and approach to foreign policy (however brash, vulgar and insulting he may often be) is far more likely to deliver a peace breakthrough between Israelis and Palestinians (just as it may also improve relations between North Korea and the rest of the world) than the misguided policy approach of only pressuring Israel by Barack Obama and John Kerry.

Indeed the soon-to-be-revealed Trump Middle East peace plan is likely to send the Israeli far right into despair because of the concessions he will ask Israel to make. Trump’s moving the American embassy to west Jerusalem and allowing Jonathan Pollard to immigrate to Israel (as Trump is rumored to be about to do) are little more than crumbs thrown at the Israeli right in preparation for the concessions he is about to ask both Israelis and Palestinians to make, concessions which Netanyahu has already indicated behind the scenes he may be prepared to accept.



I would like to clarify one point. Last December, I wrote that were Trump to fire secretary of state Rex Tillerson and replace him with his CIA director Mike Pompeo, Pompeo would become “the first properly pro-Israel US secretary of state in decades.” When Trump did fire Tillerson three months later, The Times of Israel and other media cited my December comment.

Pompeo and Trump are pro-Israel – but not in the sense that they are going to side with the Israeli hard right, but in the sense that they are going to inject some hard headed realism into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and stop appeasing Palestinian anti-peace rejectionists in the way that previous US secretaries of state have done (and many European politicians still do). Rather than appease Palestinian rejectionists by giving them even more money every time they turn down peace offers, the Trump administration will deliver a real sustainable non-belligerent agreement (including some division of Jerusalem) – and in this sense it is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian.

* Among my previous interviews last year predicting that Trump’s polices may lead to a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are this interview with British journalist and analyst Jonathan Sacerdoti. Or this interview with Hungarian TV. (Part of this longer interview from April 2017.)



The Luckiest Jews in History
By Shmuel Rosner
New York Times
April 17, 2018

(Shmuel Rosner is the political editor at The Jewish Journal, and formerly Washington correspondent for Haaretz )

TEL AVIV – I am perhaps the luckiest Jew who ever lived. Or if you are Jewish, you might be.

I am the Jew who gets to see Jewish ingenuity unapologetically celebrated, Jewish material success flourish, Jewish might acknowledged and the Jewish language rejuvenated. I am the Jew who after 2,000 years gets to witness Jewish political independence. And this is true of all Jews, whether they live here in Israel or experience this success in Jewish communities elsewhere in the world.

True, there is some competition for the luckiest generation of Jews: the time of Moses, Solomon’s kingdom or the Golden Age in Spain. But I think I can make a solid case for it.

Israel, the Jewish state, turns 70 this week. Around the time my grandmother was born in Lithuania, at the end of World War I, there were, according to scholars, about 60,000 Jews living in Palestine. When my mother was born in Mandatory Palestine, shortly before Israel declared its independence, there were about 600,000. I was born in 1968, when Israel celebrated its 20th anniversary, and during my childhood the number of Jews in this country was about three million, according to Israeli government statistics. Whenever today’s population is mentioned, I have a moment of cognitive dissonance: In my still-young mind we are still three million, even as my older body lives in an Israel of six million Jews.

Still, 70 years of independence is barely a blip on the radar of Jewish history. And the Jews of Israel are highly aware of our role as a small link in a long chain of Jewish history. We are modern Israelis, of course, but our consciousness is one of ancient Jews. In survey after survey, more Israelis choose “Jewish” over “Israeli” as their main identity. And by this they do not refer to a religion (Judaism) but to a nation (the Jewish people).

Thus, when celebrating 70 years of statehood, we Jews must engage in a kind of balancing act. On one hand, we need to appreciate the great achievement of building this Jewish homeland in such a short time in such a hostile environment. On the other hand, we need to grasp the smallness of this achievement in the scheme of Jewish history.

The prophet Jeremiah described the Babylonian exile as a 70-year affair. We consider that short. In the second century BCE, the Hasmonean kingdom, widely viewed as the last period of Jewish political autonomy before the founding of Israel, lasted for about eight decades before it became client of the Romans. This kingdom is still today a source of Jewish pride, but it is also a cautionary tale: Most Israelis plan for a future that extends much further than merely another decade of statehood.

So being the luckiest Jew ever is a blessing and a burden. The more we have, the more obligated we are to guard it and the more afraid we are to lose it. We’re afraid for psychological reasons: Jews thought they were lucky in the past, and it often ended badly for them (remember Germany in the early 20th century). But we are also afraid because of indisputably dangerous circumstances: There are people out there who want to harm us, deny us what we have and destroy us, from Iranian leaders to Palestinian extremists to anti-Semites around the world.

And Israel faces other challenges, some of which are familiar to many countries: economic inequality, populism, homegrown radicalism and illegal immigration. Not even the lucky Jew can ignore these and other challenges that hover like clouds over the future of Jewish sovereignty and success.

Still, Israelis tend to be hopeful. In a survey taken a year ago, 73 percent of Israeli Jews said they were optimistic “about Israel’s future.” They must see something beyond the challenges that makes them so confident. One of them, I believe, is this sense of being lucky, of being born at such a good time.

The number 70 has a special place in the Jewish tradition. The people of Israel make up one of 70 nations; Moses had 70 elders at his side as he wandered the desert; a well-known commentary suggests that God has 70 names, as does the city of Jerusalem. Celebrating 70 years of independence instinctively feels more special than 60 or 80. It instinctively connects the mind of a modern Israeli to the long, complicated and treacherous Jewish past. And it instinctively makes him aware that what feels like a long and sometimes exhausting journey is barely one lucky step on the dusty Jewish road.



Jewish Power at 70 Years
By Bret Stephens
New York Times
April 20, 2018

Adam Armoush is a 21-year-old Israeli Arab who, on a recent outing in Berlin, donned a yarmulke to test a friend’s contention that it was unsafe to do so in Germany. On Tuesday he was assaulted in broad daylight by a Syrian asylum-seeker who whipped him with a belt for being “yahudi” – Arabic for Jew.

The episode was caught on video and has caused a national uproar. Heiko Maas, the foreign minister, tweeted, “Jews shall never again feel threatened here.”

It’s a vow not likely to be fulfilled. There were nearly 1,000 reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin alone last year. A neo-fascist party, Alternative for Germany, has 94 seats in the Bundestag. Last Thursday, a pair of German rappers won a prestigious music award, given largely on the basis of sales, for an album in which they boast of having bodies “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners.” The award ceremony coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day.

To be Jewish – at least visibly Jewish – in Europe is to live on borrowed time. That’s not to doubt the sincerity and good will of Maas or other European leaders who recommit to combating anti-Semitism every time a European Jew is murdered or a Jewish institution attacked. It’s only to doubt their capacity.

There’s a limit to how many armed guards can be deployed indefinitely to protect synagogues or stop Holocaust memorials from being vandalized. There’s a limit, also, to trying to cure bigotry with earnest appeals to tolerance. The German government is mulling a proposal to require recent arrivals in the country to tour Nazi concentration camps as a way of engendering a feeling of empathy for Jews. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that, to the virulent anti-Semite, Buchenwald is a source of inspiration, not shame.

All this comes to mind as Israel this week marks (in the Hebrew calendar) the 70th anniversary of its independence. There are many reasons to celebrate the date, many of them lofty: a renaissance for Jewish civilization; the creation of a feisty liberal democracy in a despotic neighborhood; the ecological rescue of a once-barren land; the end of 1,878 years of exile.

But there’s a more basic reason. Jews cannot rely for their safety on the kindness of strangers, least of all French or German politicians. Theodor Herzl saw this with the Dreyfus Affair and founded modern Zionism. Post-Hitler Europe still has far to fall when it comes to its attitudes toward Jews, but the trend is clear. The question is the pace.

Hence Israel: its army, bomb, and robust willingness to use force to defend itself. Israel did not come into existence to serve as another showcase of the victimization of Jews. It exists to end the victimization of Jews.

That’s a point that Israel’s restless critics could stand to learn. On Friday, Palestinians in Gaza returned for the fourth time to the border fence with Israel, in protests promoted by Hamas. The explicit purpose of Hamas leaders is to breach the fence and march on Jerusalem. Israel cannot possibly allow this – doing so would create a precedent that would encourage similar protests, and more death, along all of Israel’s borders – and has repeatedly used deadly force to counter it.

The armchair corporals of Western punditry think this is excessive. It would be helpful if they could suggest alternative military tactics to an Israeli government dealing with an urgent crisis against an adversary sworn to its destruction. They don’t.

It would also be helpful if they could explain how they can insist on Israel’s retreat to the 1967 borders and then scold Israel when it defends those borders. They can’t. If the armchair corporals want to persist in demands for withdrawals that for 25 years have led to more Palestinian violence, not less, the least they can do is be ferocious in defense of Israel’s inarguable sovereignty. Somehow they almost never are.

Israel’s 70th anniversary has occasioned a fresh round of anxious, if not exactly new, commentary about the rifts between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry. Some Diaspora complaints, especially with respect to religion and refugees, are valid and should be heeded by Jerusalem.

But to the extent that the Diaspora’s objections are prompted by the nonchalance of the supposedly nonvulnerable when it comes to Israel’s security choices, then the complaints are worse than feckless. They provide moral sustenance for Hamas in its efforts to win sympathy for its strategy of wanton aggression and reckless endangerment. And they foster the illusion that there’s some easy and morally stainless way by which Jews can exercise the responsibilities of political power.

Though not Jewish, Adam Armoush was once one of the nonchalant when it came to what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. Presumably no longer. For Jews, it’s a painful, useful reminder that Israel is not their vanity. It’s their safeguard.



How Israel’s so popular – despite its ‘lousy’ PR
Everyone knows Israel’s losing the propaganda war, except me.
By Gil Troy
The Jerusalem Post
April 3, 2018

On the speakers’ circuit, I’m constantly asked: “Why is Israel’s PR so lousy?” Everyone knows Israel’s losing the propaganda war, except me. We face challenges – especially on campus and among some liberal Jews. But a recent Gallup Poll ruined this decades-long lamentation with some devastatingly good news: “Americans remain staunchly in Israel’s corner”; Israel’s 74% approval matches the “long-term high.”

Gallup asks: “Are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” After 50-plus years of Palestinian terrorism, 25 years of Palestinian dictatorship and 17-plus years of Islamist terrorism, you need a PhD, European citizenship, or certain rabbinic degrees to be capable of endorsing Palestinians’ perfectly awful political culture over Israel’s imperfect democracy.

This weekend’s demonstrations again demonstrated Palestinians’ addiction to violence. The New York Times reported that at the Hamas march, Israel didn’t respond militarily until “some” Gazans “began hurling stones, tossing Molotov cocktails and rolling burning tires at the fence” (of course the Times editorial deemed them “unarmed demonstrators” conducting “peaceful protests”). If the Palestinians ever go Gandhi on Israel their chances of statehood will soar; until then, the stalemate persists.

Americans remain decent, democratic, pragmatic.

They respect a people who share biblical values, and who, after enduring history’s worst crime, nevertheless created a stable, democratic ally. By contrast, mocking American ideals, deploying your kids as suicide murderers, preferring killing Jews to building your state, inciting to thuggery, and making terrorism your only export doesn’t play in Peoria.

True, some millennials and liberals are wavering.

American Jews exaggerate Israel’s PR problem because Israel is least liked where they worship most: the media and universities. Still, real America – “flyover country” – loves Israel. One red-state Republican congressman told me: “I didn’t know Israel was unpopular until I came to Washington!” Conservatives must not make supporting Israel a partisan issue. And liberals who hate US President Donald Trump but still love America must remember they can hate Israeli policies or politicians but still love Israel.

So let’s celebrate Israel’s miraculous 70 years: three million refugees rescued, Jewish destiny redrawn, Jewish culture resurrected, Jewish pride restored.

Toast the democratic values upheld, the moral approach to wars often implemented, the universal good generated ideologically, technologically, scientifically.

Still, anticipate the two-front propaganda assault that might make next month rocky PR-wise. Ronald Lauder started the first – the “Israel’s-disappointed- me-and-is-responsible-for-the-assimilation-process- that-started-a-century-or-two-before-Zionism- even-began” chorus. Anyone who cannot see Israel’s many, stunning accomplishments is blind; anyone who cannot admit Israel still has improving to do is foolish. But disappointed? Find its equal.

Continuing to alienate Americans with their belligerence, Palestinians will emphasize the negative, pointing to Deir Yassin’s destruction in 1948 as proof of “the Nakba.” Calling Israel’s founding the Nakba – catastrophe – is like building your campus calendar around Libel Israel We... er, Israel Apartheid Week, not Affirm Palestinianism Day. Such reactionary nationalism gives nationalists a bad name – even the Saudis say Israelis “have the right to have their own land.”

Palestinians can mourn their 1948 loss. But Nakba talk doesn’t heal or help learn from mistakes – it tries tarnishing Israel’s victory, hoping to destroy the Jewish state. The accusation might sound paranoid if not for millions of Palestinian war cries – and hundreds of unnecessary Jewish graves.

The Deir Yassin blood libel dominates the Nakba narrative. Even if every lie about the alleged massacre of April 9, 1948, were true, Palestinian propagandists would still be drawing absurdly sweeping conclusions. They claim this one, atypical incident typifies Israelis and negates Zionism’s legitimacy.

Over-generalizing from one deviation is idiotic.

Besides, morally it rings false because Palestinians have spent decades trying to perpetrate such massacres.

Bar-Ilan University professor Eliezer Tauber’s new, authoritative, 384-page, heavily-footnoted book in Hebrew, Deir Yassin: The End of the Myth, concludes “there was no massacre in Deir Yassin.” The kind of tenacious researcher who listed every person killed – reaching 120, not the 254 alleged – Tauber then proved that most died fighting. He acknowledges a few unnecessary civilian deaths. Still, he blames the chaos of war amid house-to-house combat in a fortified village, not systematic slaughter.

With equal doggedeness, Tauber traces how two miscalculations spawned this smear. First, rightwing Irguinists trying to prove their might and left-wing Hagana Zionists trying to delegitimize the Right exaggerated the number of casualties. Alas – backfire! Palestinians have been attacking Zionism with that 254 for 70 years.

Similarly, Palestinian leaders, especially Hussein Khalidi, concocted the massacre story, inflating the death count “so the Arab armies will come.” One Palestinian survivor remembers Khalidi saying, “We should give this the utmost propaganda possible because the Arab countries apparently are not interested in assisting us.” Another backfire. His lie that women were raped sent Arabs fleeing. “Dr. Khalidi was the one who caused the catastrophe,” a Palestinian witness admitted. “Instead of working in our favor, the propaganda worked in favor of the Jews.”

Liberal Jews are most susceptible to Deir Yassin lies and Nakba laments – most Americans ignore them. Once, American Jews and Israelis, Left and Right, shared common enemies: Arab dictators in the 1960s, Palestinian terrorists in the 1970s, Soviet oppressors in the 1980s. Today, pro-Palestinian Jews often forget to affirm their love of Israel and hatred of Palestinian terrorism, while Jews who hate Palestinians, too often hate Jews who don’t hate Palestinians.

Still, for most Americans, Jews and non-Jews, their disgust for Palestinian terrorism reinforces their support for Israel. Thus, we bond over 70 years of Israeli miracle-making and American-Israeli friendship.

That’s why on Independence Day, while singing “Hatikva,” “The Hope,” we should also sing “God Bless America.”


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

French Jews 'face ethnic cleansing' (& Corbyn condemns, few believe him)

April 25, 2018

8-year-old Miriam Monsonego (above), daughter of school headmaster Rabbi Yaacov Monsonego, who was pulled by the hair and paraded around the school yard by an assailant who said he wanted to kill Jews in Toulouse, France, in 2012. He then calmly took out a second gun and executed her in front of the other Jewish children. He made sure to film the attack with a body cam and upload it to the internet. His video has become very popular viewing among anti-Semites.

Afterwards a teacher at another French school held a minute’s silence for pupils to honor not her, but her anti-Semitic murderer.



[Notes by Tom Gross]

I attach six pieces below. I posted them when they were first published on my website Facebook page, so some of you may have seen them already.


More than 300 French political leaders, intellectuals and celebrities have signed an open letter strongly condemning Muslim anti-Semitism and claiming that French Jews are in effect being ethnically cleansed from the areas they live following waves of assaults by Islamists.

Signatories include former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy, former socialist prime minister Manuel Valls, and actor Gérard Depardieu. The manifesto was drafted by a former editor of Charlie Hebdo, the French magazine whose staff were murdered by Islamists who went on to kill shoppers at a kosher grocery.

“French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their Muslim counterparts,” the letter says. “Ten per cent of the Jewish citizens of the Paris region . . . have recently been forced to move because they were no longer secure in certain council estates. This is a quiet ethnic cleansing.”

The letter also calls for the verses of the Koran that incite against Jews, Christians and non-believers to be declared “obsolete” in a way similar to how the Catholic church expunged anti-Semitic dogma in the 1960s.

The media reports on this French letter (such as the one from the London Times below) mention 11 Jewish victims. These are murder victims. There have also been hundreds of Jews injured in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years, in truly abhorrent instances, such as the acid placed in the pram (stroller) of a rabbi’s 14 month old baby daughter in Paris in February this year. The baby suffered burns to her back and thighs

Or, for example, this Jewish teacher in Paris had his nose broken, and a swastika drawn on his chest.

Those few French imams who have spoken out against Islamic anti-Semitism following Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll’s murder last month, have received death threats from fellow Muslims and been placed under French police protection, according to French media.



The third article below reports on the series of tweets sent last week by JK Rowling (who is not Jewish but is a prominent member of, and donor to, the British Labour Party) saying that “non-Jews should start shouldering the burden” with regard to fighting anti-Semitism.

She described how “UK Jews are currently having to field this kind of cr*p” by themselves and called on fellow non-Jews to stand with them. Unlike in France, few prominent British non-Jewish celebrities have joined her call.

JK Rowling has spoken out against anti-Semitism before, including in this letter which I helped her gather signatories for.

Here is a short interview with me (and the British ambassador to Israel) about that letter, with Israel Channel 2 news .

And perhaps more interesting to watch is this clip in wake of the JK Rowling letter. (It is part of a debate hosted by one of the leading female Muslim Arab hosts on Israeli TV Lucy Aharish, between myself and the head of “Peace Now” Yariv Oppenheimer.)



After that, I attach an important piece by Chuka Umunna, a senior moderate Labour Party politician in the UK, writing in the Independent. (For non-British readers who don’t know him, his father is Nigerian. He is seen as a potential moderate Labour rival to the far left Corbyn.)

The Independent is (after The Guardian) Britain’s most prominent left-wing publication. As an indicator of the widespread racism and anti-Semitism on the left, one need look no further than the truly revolting anti-Semitic comments left by readers under this piece on the Independent’s website, many now removed by the moderator.



After that, I attach a piece from yesterday’s (London) Evening Standard by British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, in which he condemns anti-Semitism among his supporters and apologizes to British Jews.

On the surface it is in many ways a good piece. But, true to form, a few hours after it was published, Corbyn held his long awaited meeting with mainstream British Jewish leaders, and failed to agree to any of their six requests, all of which were sensible and reasonable and a key to fighting anti-Semitism.

In light of the meeting, British Jewish leaders said his Evening Standard piece appeared to be nothing more than part of a clever PR game, and that he will continue to stonewall, and not expel Holocaust deniers and other anti-Semites from the party.



For those who have watched it, this video which I posted one week ago on my Facebook page has now been watched tens of thousands of times. If you only have time to watch one video clip on the subject this week, I suggest it is this one.



Finally I attach a piece about the Israeli Arab who was violently assaulted in an unprovoked attack in Berlin by three Arabs after he dressed as a Jew because he “wanted to see what it was like” to be Jewish.

Adam Armoush told German television he was wearing a Jewish skullcap in an attempt to prove it was safe to wear one on the streets of Berlin. He was set upon in the affluent neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg and whipped with a belt by three men who shouted “Yahudi”, the Arabic word for Jew.

The attackers are believe to be Syrian refugees. Angela Merkel described it as a “horrific incident” and vowed that the German authorities would respond with “full force and resolve”.


Jewish groups are pleading with the Austrian authorities to prohibit the upcoming Ustasha (Croatian Nazi) festival planned for May 12 in Bleiburg, Austria.

-- Tom Gross


1. “French Jews ‘face ethnic cleansing by Islamists’” (The Times (of London), April 23, 2018)
2. “Citing ‘Radical Islamists,’ top French figures sign letter condemning anti-Semitism” (Haaretz, April 23, 2018)
3. “JK Rowling: ‘non-Jews should start shouldering the burden’ of fight against anti-Semitism” (Jewish Chronicle, April 19, 2018)
4. “Labour can’t talk with credibility about racism until we tackle the anti-Semitism in our ranks” (By Chuka Umunna, MP, The Independent, April 23, 2018)
5. “What I’m doing to banish anti-Semitism from the Labour Party” (By Jeremy Corbyn, Evening Standard (London), April 24, 2018)
6. “Victim of Berlin anti-Semitic attack was an Israeli Arab who ‘wanted to see what it was like’ to be Jewish” (Daily Telegraph (London), April 19, 2018)




French Jews ‘face ethnic cleansing by Islamists’
By Adam Sage, Times correspondent, Paris
The Times (of London):
April 23, 2018

More than 300 political leaders, intellectuals and celebrities have signed a manifesto claiming that French Jews have fallen victim to a form of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by radical Islamists, amid the indifference of the country’s elite.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, Manuel Valls, the former prime minister, Charles Aznavour, the singer, and Gérard Depardieu, the actor, are among those who have thrown their weight behind the document.

It says that France has become “the theatre of murderous anti-Semitism” with 11 Jews having been “assassinated” because of their religion since 2006.

“French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their Muslim counterparts,” it adds. “Ten per cent of the Jewish citizens of the Paris region . . . have recently been forced to move because they were no longer secure in certain council estates. This is a quiet ethnic cleansing.”

France has Europe’s biggest Jewish community, with more than 500,000 people, and the biggest Muslim population, with about eight million people. More than 3,300 Jews left France for Israel last year, more than from any other western country.

The signatories say that radical Islamists are being allowed to act without restriction by the political establishment in France, thanks in part to the “silence of the media”. In a denunciation reminiscent of the criticism facing Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, the manifesto claims that historical far-right French anti-Semitism has been joined by that “of a part of the radical left which has found in anti-Zionism an alibi for transforming the executioners of the Jews into the victims of society”.

Politicians have made the “lowly electoral calculation that the Muslim vote is ten times bigger than the Jewish vote”, they say.

The 11 Jewish victims referred to in the text are a 23-year-old mobile telephone salesman tortured and killed by a gang of youths in 2006; a rabbi and three children shot by an Islamist in 2012; four shoppers murdered in a jihadist attack on a kosher store in 2015; a 65-year-old woman thrown out of her flat window last year; and an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who was stabbed in her Paris flat last month.



Citing ‘Radical Islamists,’ Over 250 Top French Figures Sign Letter Condemning anti-Semitism
Former president Sarkozy, five imams and actor Gerard Depardieu among signatories of open letter drafted by former Charlie Hebdo editor
April 23, 2018

A statement condemning anti-Semitism signed by more than 250 leading French figures including former President Nicolas Sarkozy, elected officials from various parties, writers and film stars, linked recent anti-Semitic incidents in France to radical Islam. The statement was published over the weekend by the Le Parisien daily and the Aujourd’hui en France Dimanche weekly and is the first of such prominence to explicitly draw the connection to the local Muslim minority.

Drafted by Philippe Val, a former editor at Charlie Hebdo from before the terrorist attack of January 2015, the statement begins: “Anti-Semitism is not the business of the Jews. It’s the business of all of us. The French, who have demonstrated their democratic maturity after each Islamist attack, are living through a tragic paradox. Their country has become the arena for murderous anti-Semitism.”

The statement goes on to say that in recent times, 11 Jews have been killed in France by “radical Islamists” because they were Jewish. French Jews, the statement says, are 25 times more likely to be victims of an attack than their Muslim compatriots. “Ten percent of the Jewish citizens of the [Paris region], meaning about 50,000 people, have recently had to change their residence because they were no longer safe in certain neighborhoods and because their children could no longer attend government schools. This involves quiet ethnic cleansing.”

Among the signatories is former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, actor Gerard Depardieu, former Prime Ministers Manuel Valls and Bernard Cazeneuve, former Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia, five imams and singers Charles Aznavour and Francoise Hardy.

The statement particularly cites last year’s murder of 65-year-old Sarah Halimi and the recent killing of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll, which prompted a march against anti-Semitism in Paris. Decrying lack of action in the face of this new anti-Semitism, the statement says that “Islamist radicalization and the anti-Semitism that serves as a vehicle for it are considered by a portion of the French elites as exclusively an expression of a social revolt.”

According to the signatories, “The old anti-Semitism of the extreme right is being supplemented by the anti-Semitism of a part of the radical left that has found an alibi in anti-Zionism to transform the executioners of the Jews into the victims of society.” The statement adds that a political calculus might also be behind these attitudes towards anti-Semitism: “because the electoral base composed of Muslims is 10 times greater than the Jewish vote,” the statement claims.

The document further notes that, following Mireille Knoll’s murder, there have been imams and other members of the Islamic clergy who called Islamic anti-Semitism “the greatest threat to Islam in the 21st century and in a world of peace and freedom in which they have chosen to live.” These representatives are, for the most part, under police protection.

The statement also calls for the verses of the Koran that incite against Jews, Christians and non-believers to be declared “obsolete” in a way similar to how the Catholic church expunged anti-Semitic dogma in the 1960s. The document then concludes with a call for the fight against anti-Semitism to become a “national cause before it’s too late. Before France is no longer France.”



JK Rowling: ‘non-Jews should start shouldering the burden’ of fight against anti-Semitism
In series of tweets, the Harry Potter author called out online antisemites
Jewish Chronicle
April 19, 2018

JK Rowling has said that “non-Jews should start shouldering the burden” with regard to fighting anti-Semitism, referencing the amount of bigotry British Jews are facing on social media.

In a series of tweets sent yesterday, the bestselling Harry Potter author showed examples of anti-Semitism and apologetics for it, and described how “UK Jews are currently having to field this kind of cr*p.”

Ms Rowling had retweeted the comedian David Baddiel, who had screenshotted a tweet someone had sent him which said: “You disgusting yid, nobody is proud of you. I bet you can smell the change in my pocket”. The comedian had sarcastically captioned it “anti-Semitism isn’t a real thing.”

Ms Rowling, who also writes the Cormoran Strike novels under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, then began to screenshot some of the replies she was getting on the subject of anti-Semitism. In response to one person who tweeted saying “Judaism is a religion not a race” in an attempt to deny that anti-Semitism is racism, she said “most UK Jews in my timeline are currently having to field this kind of cr*p, so perhaps some of us non-Jews should start shouldering the burden.

“Antisemites think this is a clever argument, so tell us, do: were atheist Jews exempted from wearing the yellow star? #anti-Semitism.”

Most UK Jews in my timeline are currently having to field this kind of crap, so perhaps some of us non-Jews should start shouldering the burden. Antisemites thinks this is a clever argument, so tell us, do: were atheist Jews exempted from wearing the yellow star? #anti-Semitism

After retweeting a “Basic test for Anti-Semitism” formulated by David Schneider, another Jewish comedian, Ms Rowling showed another response she had received, which suggested that “arguing against anti-Semitism is extremely culturally insensitive to Muslims.” She described it as “mind-boggling.”

The author then tweeted that “The ‘Arabs are semitic too’ hot takes have arrived,” a reference to a bad-faith argument (that Arabs are technically Semites too and so cannot be antisemitic, despite the phrase being coined in 19th century Germany specifically to describe hatred of Jews).

On the same topic, she then tweeted a picture of the dictionary definition anti-Semitism, which is “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” Along with the definition, Ms Rowling wrote: “Split hairs. Debate etymology. Gloss over the abuse of your fellow citizens by attacking the actions of another country’s government. Would your response to any other form of racism or bigotry be to squirm, deflect or justify?”

Finally, in response to someone who claimed that she was “tweeting against Labour again”, the author said: “No, I was tweeting about the anti-Semitism that’s rife on Twitter. You then jumped into my mentions to imply that ‘anti-Semitism’ is widely-accepted code for ‘Labour’ these days. You might want to rethink that career in PR.”

No, I was tweeting about the anti-Semitism that’s rife on Twitter. You then jumped into my mentions to imply that ‘anti-Semitism’ is widely-accepted code for ‘Labour’ these days. You might want to rethink that career in PR.



Labour can’t talk with credibility about racism until we tackle the anti-Semitism in our ranks
We can’t attack the racism that may lie behind the Tories’ mistreatment of the Windrush generation when we don’t get our own house in order on hate
By Chuka Umunna, MP
The Independent
April 23, 2018

“The failure of the Labour Party to deal consistently and effectively with antisemitic incidents in recent years risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally antisemitic.” That was one of the principal findings of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in the 2015-2017 parliament, of which I was a member. We made this finding in our report on anti-Semitism in the UK following a lengthy inquiry into the subject, which we published in October 2016.

It did not make for pleasant reading. Our report painted a picture of rising anti-Semitism in the UK over the last few years. There had been a 29 per cent increase in police-recorded antisemitic hate crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 2010 and 2015, compared with a 9 per cent increase across all the hate crime categories.

Unfortunately, the picture has got worse, not better, since then, with figures from the Community Security Trust showing antisemitic incidents hitting a record high last year.

When talking about anti-Semitism, it is important to define the term. Broadly speaking, we adopted and endorsed the definition used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, though the committee proposed an additional clarification to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine, without allowing anti-Semitism to permeate any debate. What this definition makes clear is that anti-Semitism is a particular, distinct form of prejudice.

But it is also clearly a form of racism too. My father arrived in this country in 1964. In the general election that year, Britain saw the Conservative Party wage one of the most racist parliamentary elections ever seen in the West Midlands constituency of Smethwick, which included the use of a slogan I slightly adapt as I don’t want to repeat the full extent of its ghastliness here: “If you want a negro for a neighbour, vote Labour.”

One of the reasons my late father, a black man, always supported the Labour Party was because we historically have always been anti-hate and anti-racist, something which the Tories sought to use against us in Smethwick.

It was impossible for our select committee to do our inquiry in 2016 properly without looking at anti-Semitism in politics. Our report stated unequivocally that all of the main political parties have had various controversies and problems with anti-Semitism over the years. We questioned all the main parties in detail and took evidence – in public and private – as well. However, I am a Labour Party member. I joined the party, at least in part, because of its history of fighting racism and, while I don’t want to see any hatred or prejudice anywhere, I feel a particular responsibility to act where I see it in my own party.

So, when I questioned the witnesses we heard from in that inquiry – witnesses who included Jeremy Corbyn and the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone – I was robust. I acted without fear or favour. I treated cross-examination with the seriousness and focus demanded by the issue, and would not let tribalism get in the way of doing so.

One member of Labour’s shadow cabinet at the time – he is still a member of it – told me he thought my questioning was inappropriate because, as a Labour MP, I should not publicly challenge the leader on anything. What he and many others fail to realise is that the issue of antisemitism and racism is not actually about Jeremy Corbyn (although his handling of it is obviously flawed). He is not the victim here – and the issue is far bigger than one party leader.

Our report found there is endemic antisemitism in parts of the Labour Party, and some of the evidence we heard was shocking. Despite that, some continue to deny that it was and remains a problem. One supporter of my party posted on my Facebook page commented saying our report was “utter rubbish” and said it was “a disgrace it was signed by a Red Tory and a Jew.” He was referring to me and David Winnick, the other Labour MP who was a co-author of the report and is Jewish.

Many who took exception to the report ended up proving their own antisemitism, somewhat ironically. A Labour Party supporter posted in response to my questioning of Ken Livingstone that “Chuka is well and truly in the pockets of ‘The Lobby’.” For the avoidance of doubt, he was not referring to the so-called lobby of Westminster journalists.

Another said on Twitter that we were “a bunch of embittered Zionists who are intent on smearing” Jeremy Corbyn. This accusation of smearing the leader has shamefully been parroted since by some members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Most disappointingly, in his response to the report, not only did our leader make basic factual inaccuracies about its contents but he seemed incapable of acknowledging the Labour movement has a particular problem with antisemitism. He even went so far as to insinuate that we were using the issue as a “weapon” (his words, not mine) for political purposes.

Coming from a family which has had direct experience of racism, I found this to be grossly insulting and offensive – I made my feelings clear about this at the meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party which followed publication of the report.

It is therefore unsurprising that antisemitism has continued unabated in and around the Labour Party since 2016. Just this month, Peter Kirker – who is a member of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy executive and has been a party officer in London and the Midlands – wrote in the Morning Star under the headline “Enough already with this Zionist frenzy”, in a piece which stated that “the noise around anti-Jewish racism has been engineered from within the murky right-wing world of British Zionism.”

The online abuse I quote above is, of course, nothing compared to the abuse meted out to Jewish Labour Members of Parliament and activists. My friends Luciana Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, and Ruth Smeeth, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, and others described in vivid detail the true awfulness of what they have been subject to last week. They have to live with this every day.

Sadly, even when there is an admission that antisemitism is a problem, too often it is followed by an avalanche of “whataboutery” by people in the party: But what about the Tories? But what about Gaza? But what about the bias of the mainstream media? Of course these are important issues. But the question on this issue is: if antisemitism exists in the Labour Party, which it clearly does, then what is the party going to do about it?

The constitution of the Labour Party says the Labour Party is a “democratic socialist party” and we seek to create, amongst other things, a community where “we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect”. It also says that we seek to create a society which “delivers people from the tyranny of prejudice”. As Martin Luther King said 50 years ago this month to America: “Be true to what you said on paper.” The Labour Party has lost its moral compass on the issue of antisemitism, and needs to reflect on the values it was founded upon.

It’s time to clear the large backlog of antisemitism cases in the party, rather than just sitting on them. It’s time to rebuild relations with the Jewish community, who understandably do not feel that Labour is a safe place for them. And it’s time to stop merging criticisms of the policies of Israel or capitalism with a commentary on Jewish people – something which happens time and time again in the party. How can we criticise the Conservative Party for running a racist, Islamophobic and prejudiced London Mayoral campaign in 2016, call them to book for delivering clearly racist leaflets last month in local elections Havering, or suggest racism lies behind the Tories’ mistreatment of the Windrush generation when we don’t get our own house in order?

Nothing currently illustrates just how broken British politics has become than the issue of antisemitism in Labour and the Tories’ appalling treatment of the Windrush generation – each of the main parties attacks the other on the issue, but both lack the credibility to do so in the eyes of many because of their party’s record on addressing prejudice within their own ranks.

A Jewish member of my constituency party – one of our most dedicated and active – emailed me a few weeks ago. She wrote: “What’s a dedicated Labour member such as myself supposed to do now? How many more incidents such as this should I take on the chin and stay in the party? How, when time and time again people I’ve supported and congratulated for winning elections turn out to hold antisemitic views, could I ever campaign and support anyone in the party, outside my immediate circle?

“Why should any Jewish person vote Labour?”

This is an instruction to act. We must do so.



What I’m doing to banish anti-Semitism from the Labour Party
By Jeremy Corbyn
The Evening Standard (London)
April 24, 2018

Anti-semitism is a poison that must be challenged wherever it raises its head, across Europe and at home. Hatred and bigotry towards Jewish people has no place in our society, whether on the streets or online. And that of course goes for the Labour Party too.

Today I am meeting leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council to discuss working together to tackle both old and new forms of anti-Semitism.

We have a particular duty to lead the fight against anti-Semitism in and around our party and movement. Jews have found a natural home in the Labour Party since its foundation, and been central to our movement.

The party has a long and proud record of standing against anti-Semitism. Jews belong in the Labour Party and we are utterly committed to making it a safe and welcoming place for them.

But we must also face the uncomfortable fact that a small number of our members and supporters hold anti-Semitic views and attitudes, which need to be confronted and dealt with more rapidly and effectively.

The evidence is clear enough. Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.

So let me be clear. People holding those views have no place in the Labour Party. They may be few — the number of cases over the past three years represents less than 0.1 per cent of Labour’s membership of more than half a million — but one is too many.

We are taking action. In the past fortnight more than 20 individuals have been suspended from party membership, and more are being investigated. But we have not done enough to get to grips with the problem, and the Jewish community and our Jewish members deserve an apology. My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused.

We must strive to understand why anti-Semitism has surfaced in our party, which has always stood for equality for all and opposed racism and discrimination.

As I indicated in my letter last month to the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, there are two particular contemporary sources. First, individuals on the fringes of the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people can stray into anti-Semitic views.

The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people and an end to their dispossession is a noble one — just as a genuine two-state solution is essential to lasting peace in the Middle East. But when criticism of or opposition to the Israeli government uses anti-Semitic ideas — attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis — then a line must be drawn.

Anti-Zionism is not in itself anti-Semitic and many Jews themselves are not Zionists. But there are also a very few who are drawn to the Palestinian question precisely because it affords an opportunity to express hostility to Jewish people in a “respectable” setting. Our movement must not be a home for such individuals.

Second, there are people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system. That is only a step from hoary myths about “Jewish bankers” and “sinister global forces”.

These views do no service to the struggle for a just society. Instead, they reproduce the sort of scapegoating that we recognise when directed at ethnic or religious minorities.

Anti-Semitism was responsible for the worst crimes of the 20th century. According to a survey conducted last year by two leading Jewish community organisations, anti-Semitic views are held by a minority in Britain, and are more likely to be found on the right of politics. But we did not look closely enough at ourselves.

I also believe our party’s structures, built to service a far smaller membership than we have now, have been simply not fully fit for purpose when it has come to dealing with complaints about anti-Semitism.

The problem has been aggravated by social media, which is where most of the instances of abuse appear to take place. Some high-profile cases have also been delayed by legal proceedings, and the reforms proposed by Shami Chakrabarti two years ago to make our response more effective were not fully implemented.

That is why our new general secretary Jennie Formby has, on my instruction, made it her priority to get on top of this problem and ensure that all complaints are dealt with swiftly and fairly, with investigations resourced as necessary. She will be setting out her plans in the coming weeks, including the appointment of a new legal adviser, and we are already taking action in many cases.

We will also embark on a programme of political education to deepen Labour members’ understanding of what anti-Semitism is and how to counter it.

When members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties we must recognise them as we would those of any other community. Their concerns are not “smears”.

I want to engage with the full range and diversity of Jewish organisations and have no truck with any attempt to divide the Jewish community into the “right” and “wrong” sort of Jews. Debate and pluralism are abiding characteristics of the Jewish community, and I celebrate them both within and without the Labour Party.

I hope that by taking the steps outlined, Labour will be reconnecting with our finest traditions of solidarity and equality. We stand with any community beleaguered or subject to hateful prejudice.

We cannot and will not fail our Jewish brothers and sisters now.



Victim of Berlin anti-Semitic attack was an Israeli Arab who ‘wanted to see what it was like’ to be Jewish
By Justin Huggler, Berlin
Daily Telegraph (London)
April 19, 2018

One of the victims of an anti-Semitic attack in central Berlin that shocked Germany this week is not Jewish, it has emerged.

Adam Armoush told German television he was wearing a Jewish kippah skullcap in an attempt to prove it was safe to wear one on the streets of Berlin.

But the experiment went wrong when he and a companion were set upon in the affluent neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg and whipped with a belt by three men who shouted “Yahudi”, the Arabic word for Jew.

The main suspect in the attack, a 19-year-old Syrian named only as Knaan S, surrendered to police yesterday. It is not clear whether he is a refugee.

The 21-year-old Mr Armoush is an Israeli citizen of Arab descent. “I’m not Jewish, I’m an Israeli, I grew up in Israel in an Arab family,” he told Deutsche Welle television.

A Berlin resident, he said he had worn the skullcap to make a point after being warned by a friend it could be dangerous on the streets in Germany. “I was saying it’s really safe and I wanted to prove it, but it ended like that,” he said.

Mr Armoush said he had grown up in an atheist family in the Israeli city of Haifa. He began to video the assault on his smartphone after the three men shouted insults at him and his companion. He suffered bruises and minor injuries in the attack.

“Honestly, I’m a little surprised a thing like this could happen,” he said in a separate interview with Israeli television.

The incident is the latest in a series of violent anti-Semitic attacks which are causing growing concern in Germany.

Angela Merkel described it as a “horrific incident” and vowed that the German authorities would respond with “full force and resolve”.

Mr Armoush said he would not allow the assault to stop him wearing a skullcap. “I’ll keep the kippah, no matter what others think,” he said.


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

Coming soon to Hollywood: The Mossad’s very own holiday village

April 23, 2018

The glossy brochure read “Arous on the Red Sea, a wonderful world apart… the diving and desert recreation centre of Sudan”.

The story of how the Arous resort provided cover for an extraordinary humanitarian mission by the Mossad to rescue thousands of beleaguered and persecuted Ethiopian Jews stranded in desperate conditions in refugee camps in Sudan (an enemy Arab country) and evacuate them to Israel, is the subject of a major Hollywood movie to be released this year.



[Note by Tom Gross]

In 2015, I mentioned that the creator of the hit TV show “Homeland” (Gideon Raff) was to direct a movie on the dramatic real life Mossad rescue of Ethiopian Jews from 1979 to 1984.

I attach an interesting new piece about the actual mission below, from BBC online.

(In a rare move for the BBC, this piece does not criticize Israel – often BBC coverage of Israel is so extreme and partisan, that it borders on hatred, and many attribute the sharp rise in British anti-Semitism, particularly among left-wing intellectuals, to the BBC’s inflammatory and often untruthful coverage of the Jewish state.)

(However, the piece below is from a rather obscure section of the BBC website, not from the much more prominent TV and radio broadcasts. The BBC is the world’s biggest English language news provider.)

Also not mentioned in the BBC piece is that the forthcoming Hollywood film, which was originally called “Operation Brothers” but is now called “The Red Sea Diving Resort,” stars Captain America’s Chris Evans as Mossad agent Ari Levinson, and Haley Bennett, who made her name in The Girl on the Train, as Mossad agent Rachel Reiter.

Among other actors in “The Red Sea Diving Resort” are academy award winner Ben Kingsley and Greg Kinnear.


The film follows the rescue of thousands of Ethiopian Jews, starting with Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s 1977 order to the Mossad to devise a plan to help them move from the camps to Israel.

Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were rescued by the Mossad team using a fake holiday village the Mossad established in Sudan.

As Jews were smuggled out under the cover of darkness every night, the resort became so successful that its clientele included an entire Egyptian army unit, a group of British SAS soldiers, foreign diplomats from Khartoum including the German military attaché, and Sudanese government officials – none of whom realized that their hosts were actually Mossad agents.

“It was constantly dangerous,” said one Mossad operative. “We all knew that if any one of us got exposed, we’d end up hanged on gallows in the centre of Khartoum.”

In March 1982, a group of Ethiopian Jews was spotted in mid-transfer boarding a Mossad boat from the beach by Sudanese soldiers, and the soldiers fired warning shots but the Ethiopian Jews managed to get away.


Ethiopian Jews eating their first proper meal for months, on an Israeli naval rescue boat



After that, the naval evacuations were abandoned, and Israeli agents located an abandoned World War Two British airfield in the desert for Israeli C130 Hercules planes to secretly airlift the refugees out of the country in the dead of night.

“The strips were hardly lit,” one agent told the BBC. “We had just 10 tiny infrared lights and the C130 pilots had to find us without navigational aids and after a long, tedious flight, in pitch black.

“By comparison, Entebbe was a piece of cake as far as flying’s concerned,” he added, referring to the daring hostage rescue in Uganda in 1976, which saw an Israeli Hercules land at the airport in a surprise raid and fly out again with more than 100 people freed by commandos.

Despite the extreme difficulties, dozens of clandestine flights were carried out to rescue the Ethiopian Jews.

There was a successful media blackout until in January 1985 “it was leaked to the press by some idiot from the Jewish Agency [an Israeli nonprofit organization]”, and “Operation Moses” was exposed in the international media.

492 Ethiopian Jews left stranded in Sudan by the abrupt halt of operations were, at the request of Israel, then airlifted out by the CIA two months later, in an operation overseen by the then US Vice-President (and former CIA director) George Bush.

The story has been told before (indeed I have also written about it) but the forthcoming Hollywood film will likely bring it to a much larger audience.

Over the last 30 years, in a series of operations, some 92,000 Ethiopians have fulfilled a 2700-years old dream and moved to Israel. Most have integrated very well, and some now serve in the Knesset and have senior positions in Israel’s diplomatic corps, become Miss Israel, among other accomplishments.

About 1,500 of the Jewish refugees were killed along the way, perished in the squalid camps around Gedaref and Kassala, or were abducted by Arab bandits.



In separate news relating to Israel and Hollywood, Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt has now made public his relationship with acclaimed Israeli “rock star” architect and MIT professor Neri Oxman (above), who Pitt called the “sexiest thing he has ever seen”.

More here from the (London) Daily Mail and New York Post.



Sometimes controversial American film director Oliver Stone arrived in Tehran to attend a film festival today, according to the Iranian government linked Tasnim news agency. It is his first visit there.

In 2007, Iran’s then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected a proposal by Stone to make a film about him, even though it would likely be “understanding” of the Iranian dictator. In 2012, Stone’s son Sean Stone visited Iran and converted to Shiite Islam.



I mentioned Entebbe above. After they wrote to thank me for my dispatches on their grandmother, I have become friendly with the grandchildren of Mireille Knoll, the 85-year-old child Holocaust survivor murdered in a brutal anti-Semitic attack in her apartment in a working class neighborhood of Paris last month.

One fact they mentioned to me which I don’t believe has been reported in the media, is that their other grandmother was on the Air France plane hijacked to Entebbe, and that Yonatan Netanyahu gave his life saving her and others. After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yonatan’s brother, called Mireille Knoll’s son to pay his condolences for Mireille’s death, the two families became bonded. (Three of Mireille Knoll’s grandchildren live in Israel, having previously left France following outbursts of anti-Semitism.)

-- Tom Gross



The holiday village run by spies
By Raffi Berg
BBC News website
April 19, 2018

Arous was an idyllic holiday resort in the Sudanese desert, on the shores of the Red Sea. But this glamorous destination was a base for Israeli agents with a secret mission.

“Arous on the Red Sea, a wonderful world apart,” the glossy brochure says, pronouncing it “the diving and desert recreation centre of Sudan”

Illustrated with pictures of putty-coloured chalets on a sun-drenched beach, a smiling couple in scuba gear, and varieties of exotic fish, the advertisement boasts of “some of the best, clearest water in the world”. As night falls - “after the landscape colours have paled” - there are, it says, “breathtaking views of the heavens, aflame with millions of stars”.

Arous Village, on the fringe of spectacular coral reefs and the odd shipwreck, appears to be a diving enthusiast’s dream.

The pamphlets were printed in their thousands and distributed in specialist travel agents across Europe. Reservations were booked through an office in Geneva. And over time hundreds of guests went on holiday there.

It was a long trek. But once at the desert oasis, they enjoyed first-rate facilities, water sports, deep-sea dives and an abundance of fresh food and wine. The visitors’ book was a catalogue of glowing comments.

The Sudanese International Tourist Corporation was also happy. It had leased the site to a group of people introducing themselves as European entrepreneurs, whose venture brought some of the first foreign tourists to the country.

The only thing was, unbeknown to the guests or the authorities, the Red Sea diving resort was entirely fake.

It was a front, set up and run for more than four years in the early 1980s by operatives from the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.

They used it as a cover for an extraordinary humanitarian mission - to rescue thousands of beleaguered Ethiopian Jews stranded in refugee camps in Sudan and evacuate them to Israel. Sudan was an enemy Arab country, and it had to be done without anyone finding out, either there or at home.

“It was a state secret, nobody talked about it,” says Gad Shimron, one of the agents who served at the village. “Even my family didn’t know.”

The Ethiopian Jews belonged to a community called Beta Israel (House of Israel), whose origins are shrouded in mystery.

Some believe they descended from one of the so-called 10 lost tribes of the ancient kingdoms of Israel, or from Israelites who accompanied a son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon back to Ethiopia around 950BC. Others think they fled there after the destruction of the first Jewish Temple in 586BC.

They adhered to the Torah, practised a Biblical version of Judaism and prayed in synagogues. But, isolated from the rest of Jewry for millennia, they believed they were the last remaining Jews in the world. The Beta Israelis’ authenticity was confirmed by Israel’s chief rabbis in the early 1970s.

In 1977 one of their members, Ferede Aklum, joined a wave of non-Jewish Ethiopian refugees who crossed the border into Sudan to escape civil war and a deepening food crisis.

He sent letters to relief agencies, pleading for help, and one found its way to the Mossad. For the then Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin - himself a refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe - Israel existed as a safe haven for Jews in peril. The Beta Israelis were no exception and he instructed the intelligence agency to act.

Located by a Mossad agent, Ferede channelled messages back to his community, saying there was a better chance of getting to Jerusalem from Sudan than Ethiopia, which had severely restricted emigration.

It offered the tantalising opportunity of fulfilling a 2,700-year-old dream. And in the period that followed, some 14,000 Beta Israelis made a perilous 800km (500-mile) journey by foot along with over a million other Ethiopians seeking refuge across the Sudanese border.

About 1,500 of the Jewish refugees were killed along the way, perished in the squalid camps around Gedaref and Kassala, or were abducted.

As there were no known Jews in Sudan, a Muslim-majority country, they were instructed not to disclose their religion so as to blend in and not get caught by the Sudanese secret police.


Almost straight away, some small-scale rescue activities got under way, with Ethiopian Jews spirited out of Sudan to Europe on forged papers, then on to Israel.

Sudan’s Red Sea coastline, though, presented the possibility of stepping up operations on an altogether different scale.

“We approached the [Israeli] navy for help,” says a high-level agent involved in the mission, who did not want to be named.

“They said, ‘OK,’ so a couple of Mossad guys went down to Sudan looking for possible landing beaches. They just stumbled across this deserted village on the coast, in the middle of nowhere.

“For us it was a godsend. If we could get hold of this place and do it up, we could say we’re running a diving village, which would give us a reason for being in Sudan and furthermore for roaming around near the beach.”

What happened next is the subject of a soon-to be released Hollywood film called Red Sea Diving Resort. Filmed in Namibia and South Africa, it tells the story of the operation and the village. Though while it is based on true events, some of the scenes are fictitious.

Completed in 1972 by Italian entrepreneurs, the resort was a cluster of 15 red-roofed bungalows, a kitchen and a large dining room opening out to the beach, a lagoon and the sea.

However, with no electricity, water supply or even a road, the Italians found the project impossible and the resort never opened.

“It’s a very difficult place to run, if you don’t have the Mossad behind you,” says the unidentified agent.

Using false passports, a group of agents posing as employees of a Swiss operating company went to Sudan, convinced the authorities of their business proposition, and rented the village for three years for $320,000 (£225,000).


They spent the first year renovating it and struck a deal with local suppliers for fresh water and fuel.

The resort was also kitted out with Israeli-made equipment, including air-conditioning units, outboard motors, and top-of-the-range water sports gear, all smuggled into the country.

“We introduced windsurfing to Sudan,” says Gad, smiling. “The first board was brought in - I knew how to windsurf, so I taught the guests. Other Mossad agents posed as professional diving instructors.”

They also recruited about 15 local staff, including chambermaids, waiters, a driver and a chef “poached” from a hotel. “We paid him double,” says the unnamed operative. None of the staff knew the resort’s real purpose, or that their Caucasian managers were Mossad spies.

Female agents were put in charge of the day-to day running of the place, which it was thought would lower any suspicions.

The diving storeroom was out-of-bounds. In it were concealed radios the agents used to keep in regular contact with headquarters back in Tel Aviv.

While seeing to their guests by day, every so often at night a squad would leave under cover of darkness and head to a rendezvous point 10km (six miles) south of Gedaref.

“We’d tell the staff we’re going to Khartoum for a few days, or to meet some Swedish nurses from the hospital in Kassala,” says Gad.

They would pick up groups of Ethiopian Jews, smuggled out of the camps by so-called Committee Men - a handful of Beta Israelis recruited for the job.

“The Ethiopian Jews were given no notice, as we could not risk word getting out,” says Gad. “They did not even know we were Israelis. We told them we were mercenaries.”

Gad with another Israeli in a lorry in Sudan
From there, a convoy of lorries carrying dozens of bewildered refugees drove a two-day - 800km - journey, evading detection at numerous checkpoints along the way by a combination of guile, bribery and occasionally ramming their way through.

At breaks, they would try to pacify the frightened passengers.

“When we let them sit in the driver’s cabin and touch the wheel, they were in seventh heaven,” Gad says, in his book Mossad Exodus. “It was amazing to see how happy they were at sharing a piece of chewing gum among 20 children. They looked at us as though we were creatures from outer space.”

When they got to the beach, north of the holiday village, Israeli navy special forces would come ashore on Zodiac dinghies, collect the refugees and transport them a further hour and a half to a waiting naval vessel, the INS Bat Galim.

The ship then took them to Israel.

“It was constantly dangerous,” says the unnamed operative. “We all knew that if any one of us got exposed, we’d end up hanged on gallows in the centre of Khartoum.”

They came close to it in March 1982, when on the third such operation the group was spotted in mid-transfer on the beach by Sudanese soldiers. Possibly suspecting smugglers, the soldiers fired warning shots - but the Zodiacs, with the Ethiopians on board, managed to get away.

After that, it was decided naval evacuations were too exposed, and a new plan was devised. The agents were tasked with finding a suitable landing spot in the desert for C130 Hercules planes. The refugees were going to be secretly airlifted out of the country.

In the meantime, the Israelis continued to run the diving resort and entertain the guests. By now, Arous Village had earned quite a reputation and word spread.

“By comparison to the rest of Sudan, we offered Hilton-like standards,” says Gad, “and it was such a beautiful place, it really looked like something out of the Arabian Nights. It was unbelievable.”

The resort counted among its varied clientele an Egyptian army unit, a group of British SAS soldiers, foreign diplomats from Khartoum and Sudanese officials - all unaware of their hosts’ true identity.

One German military attache told Gad he had had a good time in many places “in my life but never quite like this”.

Arous Village became so successful that it turned enough of a profit to become financially self-sustaining, much to the relief of the accountants back at Mossad HQ. Some of the money earned from guests was used to buy or rent the lorries that took the refugees.


Meanwhile, the airlifts got under way. Gad and his team got message back that there was an abandoned World War Two British airfield not far from the coast, and in May 1982 the first Hercules, carrying an Israeli platoon, landed there in the dead of night.

Years later, one of the 130 Ethiopians rescued on that flight told Gad: “You have no idea what it meant for me to go into an aeroplane in the middle of the Sudanese desert on a dark night.

“I’d never seen an aeroplane in my life before. I felt like Jonah the prophet going into the belly of the whale, and then all of a sudden three hours later I was in Zion [Israel].”

After two airlifts however, the Mossad discovered Sudanese authorities had got wind of suspicious activity - the unnamed agent is convinced “a Bedouin went and ratted on us”. The team was then instructed to find more inconspicuous landing sites.

They identified suitable locations much nearer Gedaref, which had the advantage of reducing the time on the road with the refugees to a couple of hours. The downside was “they weren’t airstrips, they were just a piece of desert”, according to the unnamed agent.
“The strips were hardly lit,” he says. “We had just 10 tiny infrared lights and the C130 pilots had to find us without navigational aids and after a long, tedious flight, in pitch black.

“By comparison, Entebbe was a piece of cake as far as flying’s concerned,” he says, referring to the daring hostage rescue in Uganda in 1976, which saw an Israeli Hercules land at the airport in a surprise raid and fly out again with more than 100 people freed by commandos.

Despite the complexities and potentially catastrophic consequences of failure, 17 clandestine flights were carried out, co-ordinated by the agents of the Red Sea diving resort, some 600km away.

Towards the end of 1984, famine was declared in Sudan, and it was decided to escalate the evacuations.

With intervention from the US, and a large payment, Gen Jaafar Nimeiri agreed to let Jewish refugees be flown directly out from Khartoum to Europe. He did so on condition of total secrecy, so as to avoid repercussions from the rest of the Arab world.

In a series of 28 covert airlifts, on Boeing 707s lent by a Jewish Belgian airline owner, 6,380 Ethiopian Jews were flown to Brussels and then straight on to Israel. The rescue was codenamed Operation Moses.

There was a media blackout in Israel, but eventually “the thing was leaked to the press by some idiot from the Jewish Agency [an Israeli nonprofit organisation]”, says the unnamed agent.


Newspapers around the world ran the story on 5 January 1985 and Sudan immediately stopped the flights. It publicly denied any involvement, dismissing allegations it had colluded with Israel as a “Zionist-Ethiopian plot”.

The Mossad continued running the holiday village, keeping it available as an undercover option. Despite a pause in rescue operations, the agents still had to cater for the influx of guests, and Gad had even been recalled from leave in Israel to organise the entertainment at Christmas and New Year.

Outside, the atmosphere was changing. “From January 1985, I could smell it in the air that a coup d’etat was coming,” says Gad.

It did not take long. On 6 April 1985, Gen Nimeiri was overthrown by army officers. It was a turn of events that imperilled the operatives at the village.

The new military junta turned its sights on flushing out Mossad spies, real or imaginary, to burnish its credentials in the Arab world.

The head of the Mossad gave the order to evacuate the resort. They did so the very next day, by stealth.

“Six of us left the diving village in two vehicles before dawn,” says one of the agents, who wishes to remain anonymous. “A C130 landed to the north, on a landing spot we had never used before. We got on it and came home.

“There were tourists in the village,” he says. “They would have woken up and found themselves alone in the desert. The local staff were still there, but no-one else - the diving instructor, the lady manager and so on, all the Caucasians had disappeared.”

When the plane landed at an air-force base outside Tel Aviv, they drove out in the same vehicles they boarded with, still bearing Sudanese registration plates.

In the wake of the agents’ sudden departure, the diving village shut down.

For the 492 Ethiopian Jews left stranded by the abrupt halt of Operation Moses, another airlift was engineered two months later, by then US Vice-President George Bush, and they were finally flown, by American Hercules, to Israel.

Over the course of the next five years, more operations followed, bringing in total almost 18,000 Beta Israelis to begin a new life in the Jewish state.

Ferede Aklum was among them.

“The Ethiopian Jews are the real heroes of the story,” says Gad, as he sipped tea in a cafe in Tel Aviv, “not the pilots, nor the Navy Seals nor the Mossad operatives.

“When I think of what they lived through - such horrors that an ordinary person could not endure for one day.

“We just did our job.”


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

How Assad’s war crimes bring far left and right together - under Putin's benevolent gaze



The Extreme left has joined the Facsistic right in supporting Assad and the brutal regimes that govern Russia, Iran and Gaza.

Above top: left-wing protesters in Manhattan last weekend. The second photo shows Serbian far right nationalists in Belgrade -- Tom Gross



[Note by Tom Gross]

I’m presently without a computer, as my previous old computer has finally collapsed. I have formulated this dispatch on my iPad, but it is difficult to do so.

For those interested in commentary about the Western airstrikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities, I have posted a number of items that you may not have seen elsewhere, on my public (website’s) Facebook page in recent days, which should be accessible even to those without Facebook accounts, here:

Israeli intelligence has let it be known through Israeli media that in their view Friday night’s joint US-UK-French bombing of Syrian chemical weapons facilities failed to meet the mission’s goals, and that Assad and his Iranian controllers and Russian backers will perceive the weakness of the strikes as a greenlight to step up attacks.

An Israeli source was quoted in Yediot Ahronot dismissing President Trump’s boast of “mission accomplished”.

Israeli intelligence say that the several days between the time President Trump first threatened retaliation and the actual mission gave the Syrians and Iranians and Hezbollah time to successfully move many things of value from the three targets that were hit. In addition, the “Syrian air force was left virtually unscathed and ready to again drop chemical weapons when ordered to do so.”

Even more worryingly, the most powerful chemical agent, VX, is apparently being held in reserve by Assad for potential use as a “doomsday weapon,” should he feel his rule is threatened.

I attach a piece on some of the Western response below, from today’s Haaretz, followed by a report by Reuters on the recent air strike on one of the dozens of bases that the Iranian Islamic regime is setting up around Syria.

Since President Obama’s Iran deal released billions of dollars to the Iranian regime, it is estimated that Iran has spent tens of billions of dollars in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq expanding its influence and setting up and arming proxy Shia and other militia in a number of Middle Eastern countries.

Dispatches will resume in a few days once my new computer arrives.

-- Tom Gross



How Assad's War Crimes Bring Far Left and Right Together - Under Putin's Benevolent Gaze

The 'anti-imperialist' left is now shilling for tyrants in Damascus and Moscow. And conspiracy theories are the toxic glue binding them to their fellow Assad and Putin apologists on the alt-right

By Alexander Reid Ross
April 17, 2018

Compare and contrast:

"We lost. War machine bombs syria. No evidence Assad did it. Sad warmongers hijacking our nation."

"Congratulations to all the war hawks and pundits and regime change propagandists who encouraged [Trump]. There is still no evidence that the [Syrian] government carried out last week’s alleged attack."

Little distinguishes these two tweets' content.

But the first is from conservative talk-radio host Michael Savage, and the second, from regular RT contributor and pro-Assad leftist Rania Khalek.

In recent months, the crossover between leftists and the far-right in defense of Syria's tyrant and Russian geopolitics has become increasingly obvious. Its implications are potentially disastrous for the course of the international left and political society in general.

Most of the stories in the media alleging that the Syrian regime's attacks on civilians are "fake news" have come from the conspiracist and InfoWars founder Alex Jones, and from Breitbart's London outfit, as well as the conspiracy-syncretic and far-right friendly Veterans Today, according to public scholar, Caroline O.

Interesting agreement beginning to form between the left and the right online about skepticism on the Syria story. Meanwhile, the establishment press as usual believes the Pentagon without question or evidence. The push for escalation on TV is overwhelming. #WarDrums
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) 9:04 AM - Apr 10, 2018

But left-wingers have joined the trend, finding common cause on the hard right with their blanket anti-war stance, leading Cenk Ugyur of The Young Turks to affirm the "interesting agreement" between right and left over Syria.

Others, like Caitlin Johnstone, have called for the left "to be absolutely shameless about collaborating with people on either side of the ideological divide" on Syria.

Leftists have found in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire a sanctuary to support Russia’s narratives. Just in terms of the past month, Glenn Greenwald joined Tucker Carlson to agree against intervention on FOX News. The Nation’s Stephen F. Cohen denied evidence in the Skripal case on a Sky News Australia program founded by far-right figure Mark Latham.

The pattern’s clear now: When the Syrian army advances or liberates cities from NATO/GCC backed insurgents, insurgents allege a chemical attack. Sources are invariably insurgent activists, NATO/GCC backed White Helmets, & SAMS. Independent confirmation is impossible. Bombs away!
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) 9:55 PM - Apr 8, 2018

Journalist Max Blumenthal went on the Rupert Murdoch-owned Australian network a week later to suggest that Syrian rebels are the most likely perpetrators of the Douma attacks.

In this situation of self-parody, it becomes difficult to tell satire apart from reality.

MSNBC invites on neocons to agree with them that Trump is bad, but few have the courage, like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, to invite me on to agree that it’s actually the liberal media, odious Dems and the Deep State who are bad.
— Glen Greenwald (@gggreenwald) 11:02 AM - Apr 12, 2018

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Labour Party is experiencing similar left-right controversies.

Watched Corbyn interview on #Marr again. Sorry to say my Party is led by a man who questions Russian responsibility for Salisbury, who rejects action to stop Assad use of chemical weapons, who opposes Humanitarian intervention and gives Russia a veto on UK action #NotInMyName
— Mike Gapes (@MikeGapes) 4:05 AM - Apr 16, 2018

Its leader Jeremy Corbyn’s controversial comments on the Skripal case brought widespread condemnations, Labour’s tepid response to the Douma attacks and Corbyn's rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action led long-time fascist, Nick Griffin, to declare his intention to vote Labour.

IF he sticks to his guns then for 1st time in my life I will vote #Labour - right now NOTHING is more important than resisting the psychotic rush to #WW3 of Boris & the #neocons Corbyn refuses to blame Assad for chemical attack in #Syria via @MailOnline
— Nick Griffin (@NickGriffinBU) 10:49 AM - Apr 9, 2018 · North West, England

Now for some facts.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has confirmed the UK’s account of the Russian source of the poison used against the Skripals in the UK. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Assad regime and its allies have butchered some 85% of the more than 500,000 lives taken over the course of the civil war. The regime indisputably uses chemical weapons - only one of their numerous techniques for crimes against humanity. The World Health Organization and France have presented compelling evidence regarding the Douma chemical attack.

Yet the Kremlin often relies on murky and unreliable sources linked to the "anti-interventionist" movement for far-fetched denials of war crimes - aided by mass trollfare.

Carlson and Greenwald Blast Media for Headlong Rush to War (Video) …
— Russia Insider (@RussiaInsider) 11:17 AM - Apr 11, 2018

Such widespread, and politically promiscuous, attempts at denial - of genocide and crimes against humanity - are as mystifying as they are unsettling.

Shortly after the Douma attacks, extreme-right activist Lyndon LaRouche blamed the UK for staging the chemical attack. Four days later, the Russia Federation’s spokesperson oddly echoed LaRouche’s charges that Britain had helped stage the attack. Regardless of whether LaRouche, who is known for his high-level Russian supporters, influenced or broadcasted the Kremlin’s narrative, the prevalence of such conspiracy theories on the left has an eerie historical resonance.

For many decades, the "preferred target of such theories was the Jews," notes Chip Berlet, veteran researcher of the far right, in an email, and there's a nice twist to the Kremlin's Britain-blaming: "Blaming England and Jews goes back to before WWII and conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds."

It would help if those contemporary "hoax" spinners on the left would recover even a modest historical perspective to the disastrous consequences of conspiracy thinking, and of embedding with the far right, not least in terms of modern anti-Semitism.

Some leftists still claim Bashar al-Assad is a champion of socialism and "national liberation." They appear to have conveniently forgotten how Gamal Nasser and Muammar Qaddafi, both one-time Arab world heroes of the hard left, drew support from the anti-Semitic hoax, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the embrace of Nazi war criminals by Nasser, Qaddafi, and Assad’s father, Hafez - not to mention the Soviets’ anti-Semitic campaigns and policies.

Serbian nationalists hold pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the former Serbian leader and indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic to protest U.S. strikes on Syria. Belgrade, Serbia. April 15, 2018

If those horror stories of left-right syncretism are too far removed from the present, some of the same groups aligned with Assad and Putin will probably recall their own defense of Slobodan Milosevic last decade, well before Russian media gave left-wing groups a platform alongside the right to support Putin’s Russia.

Indeed, it is not merely those reports of alt-right members joining nominally leftist-organized anti-interventionist protests that should cause concern.

At the last Hands Off Syria rally organised in Vancouver by the Stop War Coalition, alt-right people showed up on the same side as the rally organisers, the latter of which who even gave an interview to alt-right media, where they discussed their shared support for Assad.
— Steven R. D. Henderson (@SRDHenderson) 3:15 PM - Apr 14, 2018

High-profile members of the anti-interventionist movement include infamous conspiracy theorist, Vanessa Beeley, who has described meeting Bashar Assad in Damascus in 2016 as her "proudest moment", and Navid Nasr, who uses alt-right (((echoes))) to identify Jews and boasted of his "Eurasianist" (read: far-right, pro-Russian hegemony) sympathies to a far-right activist.

How have hard left and right come to this moment of unison? Look to the appeal of fascism.

According to Israeli scholar Zeev Sternhell, fascism is composed of a syncretic agreement between the revolutionary left and ultranationalist far right to overthrow the liberal center.

Conspiracy theories, which are core to both hard right and left Syria and Kremlin apologists, can serve to mystify rational contradictions, making such agreement easier.

Whether or not one agrees entirely with Sternhell’s thesis, it is impossible to deny that a synthesis of conspiracy mongering amid collaboration between right and left has been showcased in recent months.

Increasingly, the left seems little more than a propaganda tool in a cynical, "East-versus-West" geopolitical game through which the most serious economic, political, and social contradictions are ignored or obscured. The problems most people face are more complex, and the principle of equality more universal, than is realizable by authoritarian sects or creeds.

The confluence of hard left authoritarians with what’s left of the alt-right around Syria and ultimately Russian geopolitics echoes a broader turn of Western political culture toward a toxic impasse that precludes the genuine solidarity that the left is supposed to champion, in its DNA.

The only hope for progress lies in organized efforts to expose and debunk conspiracy theories, while promoting individual freedom and salvaging ethics from the opportunistic delusions of what British Syrian writer and activist Leila al-Shami has quite rightly called, "the anti-imperialism of idiots."

(Alexander Reid Ross is a Lecturer in Geography at Portland State University)



Israel conducted April 9 strike on Syrian airbase: NYT quotes Israeli military source
April 16, 2018

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel maintained its official silence on Monday over its possible involvement in an April 9 air strike on a Syrian airbase after the New York Times quoted an unnamed Israeli military source as saying Israel had carried out the raid.

Syria and its main ally Russia blamed Israel for the attack, near the city of Homs, which followed reports of a poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad's forces on the rebel-held town of Douma.

Israel, which has often struck Syrian army locations during its neighbor's seven-year civil war, has neither confirmed nor denied mounting the raid. But Israeli officials said the Tiyas air base was being used by troops from Iran and that Israel would not accept such a presence in Syria of its arch foe.

Iran's Tansim news agency said seven Iranian military personnel had been killed in the attack, which contributed to a sharp escalation of tensions between the West and Russia.

"(The Tiyas strike) was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets — both facilities and people," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman quoted the Israeli military source as saying.

Friedman described the seven Iranians killed as members of the Qods Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps that oversees operations abroad, and one of them as a commander of a drone unit.

Asked about the claim of Israeli responsibility cited in the New York Times article, which was published on Sunday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said: "There is no comment at this time.”

While acknowledging that it has carried out scores of strikes in Syria against suspect Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, Israel generally does not comment on specific missions.

The attack on Tiyas came days before the United States, Britain and France launched 105 missiles targeting what Washington said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for the suspected poison gas attack.
Assad has denied using chemical weapons.

Despite the Israeli source's comment to the New York Times that the killing of Iranians at Tiyas was unprecedented for Israeli missions in Syria, a 2015 air strike there that Hezbollah blamed on Israel killed an Iranian general along with several of the Lebanese guerrillas.


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

Imagine if instead his supporters denied African-American slavery had ever existed

April 09, 2018



[Note by Tom Gross]

Photos above: Supporters of British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn demonstrating near the prime minister’s office on 10 Downing street in central London on Saturday. Corbyn backed the protest and sent a prepared statement attacking Israel to be read out at it.

There were many similarly inflammatory signs held aloft at the demonstration, which was attended by schoolteachers and academics.

Corbyn has a good chance of becoming Britain’s next prime minister. If so, he may then become the most anti-Israel leader in the world, apart from the leaders of Iran, Syria and one or two other third world countries. Corbyn also sent out viciously anti-Israeli (and highly popular) tweets over the weekend.



In a reader’s comment on Corbyn’s Facebook last week, BBC journalist Becky Branford asked: “What’s actually wrong with Hamas? What have they done except resist occupation?”

(Answer: Hamas are the world pioneers of suicide bombing targeting children for death and injury -- Tom Gross.)

(BBC journalists are under a legal obligation, in return for receiving public funding, to be impartial. Time and again, as the BBC denigrates Israel, and as I have documented on countless occasions in these dispatches, this obligation has not been enforced.)



In the past two weeks, nearly 1,000 more people have paid to join the Labour party. However, 470 other members have also resigned their party membership in the past fortnight.



Here are TV interviews with me from yesterday, for those interested:

Would Corbyn be so ambiguous if his supporters instead denied African-American slavery had ever existed?


And in French, for the many French subscribers to this list:


There is a shorter extract from the interview here:

100 years after the Russian revolution, taking inspiration from the Bolsheviks in the UK

Tom Gross: “It is quite remarkable, that 100 years after the Russian revolution, in Britain of all countries -- tolerant, moderate Britain, that never had fascism, never had communism, never had a real revolution -- that in this country there is a party [that may form the next government] that in some way resembles the Bolsheviks among some of it leaders.”


Among past dispatches on this subject:

* “If it quacks like a duck…” (& Holocaust survivor brutally murdered in Paris)
* A rally in London, a rally in Paris
* Labour mayor: Israel behind US school shootings (& a hero dies, aged 107)


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