Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

If only the Yazidis or Baluchis or Kurds or Rohingya Muslims were so lucky

June 27, 2019

In protests organized by the western-funded Palestinian Authority against an enormous $50 billion aid and investment package to help boost the Palestinian economy -- said to be the biggest financial offer of its kind anywhere in the world since the Marshall Plan -- a Palestinian man tramples on posters prepared by the Palestinian Authority.

Virtually the entire Arab world has welcomed the US plan, whereas the corrupt and wealthy despots that govern the West Bank (Fatah) and Gaza (Hamas) have rejected it outright.



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a video from the international Turkish channel TRT World, in which I debate the US-Arab “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain, with Ali Abunimah, the founder of the anti-Israel “Electronic Intifada” website and with Debra Shushan, the Director of “Americans for Peace Now”.

As I said, the poor starving millions in Yemen, or the Syrian Sunnis, or the Rohingya Muslims could only dream of such aid and attention.


Full debate:



As David Horovitz says in the Times of Israel:

The U.S. Peace to Prosperity program is, in theory, hugely beneficial for the Palestinians, promoting an end to victimhood and a route to empowerment. It sets out a framework for a revolutionary improvement in the daily lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It also indicates empathy with Palestinian national aspirations.

While not endorsing independent Palestinian statehood, neither does the plan negate it. Indeed, its authors have made clear that a mutually acceptable political resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a precondition for this vision of economic revolution.


Or as been pointed out by a guest on the Paris-based channel France 24: “The Palestinians are being offered five times more than what it took to reconstruct Japan after World War II. If they stop sinking money into terror tunnels and corruption, they can have Singapore in Gaza.”


Below, I attach three articles about the conference, from Haaretz, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. After that, a piece in the Times of Israel: “Bahrain FM: Israel is here to stay, and we want peace with it,” and then extracts from two other items.

-- Tom Gross



It Won’t Bring Peace, but the Bahrain Conference Is Still Important
* Just by taking place, Jared Kushner’s conference has moved the needle against the Palestinians and in the direction of Netanyahu’s vision for the Middle East
By Anshel Pfeffer
June 26, 2019

The “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop currently taking place in Bahrain is important. Not because it will lead to peace: it won’t. And most of the dismissiveness about it has been justified. As one Palestinian leader said, “It’s a technocrats’ conference.” No decisions will be made there and the glossy realtors’ prospectus prepared by Jared Kushner’s team for the event is a copy-paste job, plagiarized from previous failed initiatives, totally devoid of any context or connection to the reality on the ground.

But the Bahrain gathering, which ends Wednesday, is still important. For the first time, official representatives of a significant number of Sunni Arab states will be openly attending an international conference on resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. They will be doing so against the express wishes of the Palestinians, and not one of the cardinal Palestinian demands – statehood, Jerusalem, borders, refugees – will be on the conference’s official agenda.

Yes, some of the Arab governments are attending only after significant pressure from the Trump administration. And they have reiterated in advance that peace can only be reached through recognizing the Palestinians’ national aspirations.

To signal their dissatisfaction with the agenda, most countries have sent no rank higher than deputy minister. But they are there, at an international conference on the Palestinians, without the Palestinians’ participation. And it is being hosted by and in an Arab country. In public.

So no, it won’t bring peace. But just by taking place, the economic workshop has moved the needle in a major way against the Palestinians and in the direction of Benjamin Netanyahu’s vision for the region.

Throughout his entire career – as early as his days as a freelance Israeli propagandist in the United States, even before he was officially employed as a diplomat – Netanyahu promised that the day would come when the Arab states would choose relations with Israel over championing the Palestinian cause.

Danny Danon, the man who serves in the post that Netanyahu held 32 years ago (Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations), wrote in the New York Times this week that the Palestinians should “surrender.”

Netanyahu has never called for their surrender because, as far as he has ever been concerned, the Palestinians will simply be left with no choice once their Arab brothers abandon them. And Bahrain brings him closer to that objective.

For Netanyahu, it is Israel’s grand strategy; for most of the Arab states, it’s a matter of expediency.

A year ago, on his grand tour of the United States, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told a group of Jewish leaders privately that he and like-minded leaders in the Gulf were conducting a series of surveys to try to assess the views of the wider Arab public. They hoped to find that the “Arab street” was not as pro-Palestinian as some believe, and that it would be willing to accept a gradual normalization of ties with Israel. As far as most Arab leaders are concerned, the main obstacle to closer relations with Israel is the fear of a possible public backlash. If it wasn’t for that, they would have come out into the open years ago.

There is no question that, from their perspective, a security alliance with Israel against Iran – preferably with American backing – coupled with trade and tech sales, are more important than any notion of solidarity with the Palestinians. But for now at least, the public mood is shifting only gradually, so lip service to Palestinian aspirations and token resistance to “normalization” continue. Which is why the event in Bahrain is so important: It’s another sign of Arab leaders bringing the burgeoning secret relationship into the open.

This doesn’t necessarily spell ultimate disaster for the Palestinians. Their nosedive down to the bottom of the global agenda is not yet final. Kushner and the rest of President Donald Trump’s Middle East team may all be gone in 18 months and the next U.S. administration could reverse their policies. The Europeans may sort out their own internal problems and become a diplomatic force again. The Arab leaders’ calculations could change. Israel may yet come under pressure once again to make concessions and the two-state solution could be back on the table.

But that is all in an uncertain future. For now, Bahrain is happening.



What’s Wrong With Palestinian Surrender?
By Danny Danon
June 22, 2019
New York Times

The “economic workshop” in Bahrain this week, a summit of business leaders and political figures, is the first step in the rollout of the Trump administration’s long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. However, because the plan offers a new approach, many on the Palestinian side, including President Mahmoud Abbas and the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, say that the plan is dead on arrival and that engaging with it is tantamount to a Palestinian declaration of surrender. I ask: What’s wrong with Palestinian surrender?

Surrender is the recognition that in a contest, staying the course will prove costlier than submission. Applied to the Israeli-Palestinian context, Mr. Erekat takes the inverse position: Negotiating with Israel is costlier to the Palestinian people than the Palestinian Authority’s current political and economic policies. This is an absurd viewpoint.

More than 20 years after the Oslo Accords began what was supposed to be a foundation for a lasting peace process, the Palestinian body politic is bifurcated, perhaps irreparably. In the West Bank, Mr. Abbas, who is in his 80s, is still serving the four-year term he was elected to in 2005 and presides over a Palestinian Authority so corrupt that according to at least one poll, more than 90 percent of Palestinians distrust it. The Gaza Strip is run by Hamas, a terrorist organization with its ideological roots in the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, its tactical playbook drawn from Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, and much of its financial support from Iran.

Unemployment among Palestinians is north of 30 percent, including over 50 percent in Gaza. Encouraged by the United Nations and the international community, millions of Palestinians are kept in perpetual refugee status around the world, with host countries unable or unwilling to absorb them. And the international community continues to shower the Palestinians with some $2.3 billion in development aid annually – more than most countries receive.

Given this woeful state of affairs, it is self-evident that the Palestinian people need a new course of action.

Yet Mr. Erekat and the Palestinian leadership choose to stay the course and reject the term “surrender.” In doing so, they expose the uncomfortable truth about the Palestinian national identity: It is motivated not by building a better life for its people but by destroying Israel.

The words a country uses in its official statements and founding documents speak volumes about its animating ethos. The United States’ Declaration of Independence enshrines the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” France’s national motto is “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Israel’s own Declaration of Independence speaks about “the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate in their own sovereign State.”

In contrast to these Western national ethoses, the charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a precursor to the Palestinian Authority, states its “mottos” as “national unity, national mobilization, and liberation” and talks about the “basic conflict that exists between the forces of Zionism and of imperialism on the one hand, and the Palestinian Arab people on the other.” Palestinian leaders have rejected multiple peace overtures, launched intifadas and wars, and sponsored countless acts of terrorism in adherence to this belief.

With this national ethos, negotiating without the explicit endorsement of a Palestinian state is seen as a rejection of the Palestinian national identity, and an acknowledgment that Israel and the Jewish people are here to stay. In short, for Mr. Abbas and Mr. Erekat, this approach is akin to national suicide.

Yet a national suicide of the Palestinians’ current political and cultural ethos is precisely what is needed for peace. The belief that the Jews have no right to the land and Israel is to be destroyed, which engenders a culture of hate and incitement, needs to end.

Mr. Erekat misleadingly suggests that a “surrender” will lead to an end of the Palestinian people. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Instead, surrendering will create the opportunity to transform Palestinian society, thereby leading to his people’s liberation.

The United States did not eradicate the German and Japanese people after their surrender in World War II, but instead helped transform them from imperial military powers to what are today among the world’s leading economic powerhouses. In the Middle East, following defeat in four conventional wars between 1948 and 1973, Egypt surrendered the idea that it could wipe Israel from the region, and President Anwar Sadat chose peace, which Israel was ready to accept. After the 1979 peace agreement, Egypt became a favored recipient of American foreign and military aid, and the beneficiary of an influx of Western investment.

There is no reason to believe a Palestinian declaration of surrender could not lead to a similar transformation.

The Palestinians have little to lose and everything to gain by putting down the sword and accepting the olive branch. Israel awaits the emergence of a Palestinian Anwar Sadat, a leader who is willing to do what is best for his people – a leader who recognizes that building a bright future requires surrendering a dark past.

Danny Danon is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.



Take the Palestinians’ ‘No’ for an Answer
They’ve rejected every peace initiative. Their no-show this week in Bahrain should be the last.
By Eugene Kontorovich
The Wall Street Journal
June 24, 2019

This week’s U.S.-led Peace to Prosperity conference in Bahrain on the Palestinian economy will likely be attended by seven Arab states – a clear rebuke to foreign-policy experts who said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the Golan Heights as Israeli territory would alienate the Arab world. Sunni Arab states are lending legitimacy to the Trump administration’s plan, making it all the more notable that the Palestinian Authority itself refuses to participate.

The conference’s only agenda is improving the Palestinian economy. It isn’t tied to any diplomatic package, and the plan’s 40-page overview contains nothing at odds with the Palestinian’s purported diplomatic goals. Some aspects are even politically uncomfortable for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Given all that, the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to discuss economic opportunities for its own people, even with the Arab states, shows how far it is from discussing the concessions necessary for a diplomatic settlement. Instead it seeks to deepen Palestinian misfortune and use it as a cudgel against Israel in the theater of international opinion.

This isn’t the first time the Palestinians have said no. At a summit brokered by President Clinton in 2000, Israel offered them full statehood on territory that included roughly 92% of the West Bank and all of Gaza, along with a capital in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority rejected that offer, leading Israel to up it to 97% of the West Bank in 2001. Again, the answer was no. An even further-reaching offer in 2008 was rejected out of hand. And when President Obama pressured Israel into a 10-month settlement freeze in 2009 to renew negotiations, the Palestinians refused to come to the table.

After so many rejections, one might conclude that the Palestinian Authority’s leaders simply aren’t interested in peace. Had they accepted any of the peace offers, they would have immediately received the rarest of all geopolitical prizes: a new country, with full international recognition. To be sure, in each proposal they found something not quite to their liking. But the Palestinians are perhaps the only national independence movement in the modern era that has ever rejected a genuine offer of internationally recognized statehood, even if it falls short of all the territory the movement had sought.

The best example is Israel itself, which jumped at a 1947 United Nations proposal for a Jewish state, even though it was noncontiguous and excluded Jerusalem and much of its present territory. The Arab states rejected the proposal, which would have also created a parallel Arab country.

India and Pakistan didn’t reject independence because major territorial claims were left unaddressed. Ireland accepted independence without the island’s six northern counties. Morocco didn’t refuse statehood because Spain retained land on its northern coast.

While there have been hundreds of national independence movements in modern times, few are fortunate enough to receive an offer of fully recognized sovereign statehood. Including 1947, the Palestinians have received four. From Tibet to Kurdistan, such opportunities remain a dream.

Several lessons must be drawn from the Palestinians’ serial rejection of statehood – and this week, even of economic development. First, the status quo is not Israeli “rule” or “domination.” The Palestinians can comfortably turn down once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because almost all Palestinians already live under Palestinian government. Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, they’ve enjoyed many of statehood’s trappings, particularly in foreign relations. Israel undertakes regular antiterror operations, but that’s different from overall power. For instance, the U.S. doesn’t “rule” over Afghanistan.

Second, statehood and a resolution to the conflict is not what the Palestinians truly seek. This is what economists call a “revealed preference”: To know what consumers truly want, look at what they choose. The Palestinians have repeatedly chosen the status quo over sovereignty.

Finally, throw out the assumption that when Palestinians reject an offer, it stays on the table and accrues interest. If offers will only improve with time, the Palestinians have an incentive to keep saying no.

The Palestinian Authority cannot be forced to accept a peaceful settlement, and Israel doesn’t wish to return to its pre-Oslo control over the Palestinian population. But rejectionism, culminating this week in Bahrain, must have consequences.

For more than 50 years, the future of Jewish communities in the West Bank – and the nearly half a million Jews who now live there – has been held in limbo pending a diplomatic settlement. While the authority rejects improved hospitals, port arrangements and employment centers, many of the benefits for Palestinians could still be achieved by locating them in parts of the West Bank under Israeli jurisdiction. But to do that, the question mark over these places, which include all of the Jews living in the West Bank and a much smaller number of Palestinians, must be lifted. Washington should support Israeli initiatives to replace military rule with civil law in these areas, normalizing their status. The Palestinians’ no-show in Bahrain should end their ability to hold development and growth hostage.

Mr. Kontorovich is director of the Center for International Law in the Middle East and a law professor at George Mason University.



Bahrain FM: Israel is here to stay, and we want peace with it
* Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa says Manama conference could be ‘gamechanger’ like Israel-Egypt Camp David Accords; urges Israeli leaders to ‘talk to us’ about Arab Peace Initiative
By Raphael Ahren
The Times of Israel
June 26, 2019

MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahrain sees the US-led economic workshop taking place in Manama this week as a possible “gamechanger” tantamount in its scope to the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, the Gulf state’s foreign minister said Wednesday, also firmly backing Israel’s right to exist.

“We see it as very, very important,” Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told The Times of Israel [and other Israeli media] on the sidelines of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop.

Khalifa also stressed that his country recognizes Israel’s right to exist, knows that it is “there to stay,” and wants peace with it.

He said the US-organized conference here, which is focused on the economic aspects of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, could be like Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977, which helped pave the way to the Camp David Accords and the normalizing of relations between Egypt and Israel.

“As much as Camp David 1 was a major gamechanger, after the visit of President Sadat — if this succeeds, and we build on it, and it attracts attention and momentum, this would be the second gamechanger,” Khalifa said.

In an interview in his suite at Manama’s posh Four Seasons hotel, Khalifa did not commit to normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel in the near future, but unequivocally affirmed Israel’s right to exist as a state with secure borders.

“Israel is a country in the region… and it’s there to stay, of course,” he said.

“Who did we offer peace to [with] the [Arab] Peace Initiative? We offered it to a state named the State of Israel, in the region. We did not offer it to some faraway island or some faraway country,” Khalifa continued, referring to a Saudi-backed peace framework.

“We offered it to Israel. So we do believe that Israel is a country to stay, and we want better relations with it, and we want peace with it.”

While Bahrain might be only Arab state, besides Egypt and Jordan, to publicly acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, “we know our brothers in the region do believe in it” as well, he said.

Khalifa pointed to the Arab Peace Initiative as the blueprint for normalizing ties with Israel. Israel’s rejection of the plan is a “missed opportunity,” he lamented, but Jerusalem can always rethink its position.

He encouraged Israelis to approach Arab leaders about any issues they may have with the proposal.

“Come and talk to us. Talk to us about it. Say, guys, you have a good initiative, but we have one thing that worries us,” he said.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, said this week that the White House’s proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace will not follow the contours of the Arab Peace Initiative, but be closer to Israel’s position.

Turning to Trump’s peace plan, Khalifa said he has not yet seen the political part of the US administration’s two-pronged proposal, but sounded cautiously optimistic about it.

“We have to wait. I cannot talk about something that I don’t know. But we hope that this political plan will also be attractive to everybody,” he said. “Look at the workshop. It’s very attractive. You don’t want to give an attractive offer and then come and bring something that could stall it. We want to see it continue on the same momentum. So we’ll see it.”

Asked about which elements of a possible deal Bahrain could get behind, he replied: “Whatever you can agree on with the Palestinians.”

Speaking Wednesday at the conference, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he would like the White House’s economic plan to be adopted by the international community.

“This is a regional economic plan. Although Gaza and the West Bank are a major focus of this plan, it also includes Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon… it is very important that we focus on these economies as a whole,” he said.

“Most importantly, we want an international consensus… We want this to become not a United States plan, we want this to become an international plan. Now that the plan is out there, we’re looking for changes, we’re looking for additions, we’re looking for buy-in, and really as a next step that this becomes a collective” plan, said Mnuchin.

Mnuchin said: “This is a plan that can very much be accomplished.”

“I know there is a lot of money in this room,” he said to the smiling audience.



Haaretz correspondent Noa Landau writes:

Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told Israeli journalists on the sidelines of the U.S. Mideast peace conference in Manama that “Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region, historically. So, the Jewish people have a place among us.”

He also voiced support for Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, saying “every country has a right to defend itself.” He called Iran a “major threat to the stability and the security of the region,” and said Iran’s support for militant groups have hindered Arab-Israeli peace efforts.



Alex Ryvchin writes in The Australian (extracts):

The petulant refusal of the Palestinian leadership to even consider a proposal intended to offer ordinary Palestinians an alternative to war, conflict and victimhood is impeccably consistent with earlier Palestinian responses to international efforts aimed at giving them statehood. Palestinian unionist Majdi Shella admitted the Palestinians “have a long tradition of boycotting everything. Sometimes boycotting is the easier road. If you want to do nothing, boycott.”

The Palestinians have refined their instinct for rejection and political self-immolation to such an extent that they appear to know no other path. This is why Palestinian rioters destroyed greenhouses left to them by the Israelis following the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. This is why last year Palestinians in Gaza set fire to the Kerem Shalom border crossing through which medicine, aid and consumer products intended for the Palestinians are transferred.


PM Netanyahu to chair trilateral summit of the US, Russian and Israeli national security advisers
June 24, 2019

PM Netanyahu: The fact that this summit is being held here in Israel is additional testimony to Israel’s unique standing among the nations at this time.

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will, tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 25 June 2019), at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem, chair a trilateral meeting of the US, Russian and Israeli national security advisers. The talks will focus on Iran, Syria and regional issues.

Prime Minister Netanyahu met, earlier today, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, with the Secretary of the Russian National Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev. Yesterday he met with US National Security Adviser John Bolton, also at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, and also held with him a tour of various points in the Jordan Valley, as well as a helicopter tour of the Jerusalem area, the security fence and the Jordan Valley.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following at today’s Cabinet meeting:

“Tomorrow I will lead an unprecedented summit between the two superpowers – the US and Russia, and Israel, here in Israel. The fact that this summit is being held here in Israel is additional testimony to Israel’s unique standing among the nations at this time.”


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

If only the Kurds or Baluchis or Rohingya Muslims were so lucky

YouTube forced to restore video critical of Holocaust denial (& Remembering Norman Stone)

June 26, 2019



[Note by Tom Gross]

(This is an update to my dispatch of June 10, titled: Why is YouTube banning videos which oppose anti-Semitism?)

The London Jewish Chronicle decided to write a news report about the banning by YouTube of the educational video I posted warning about antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

As soon as the Jewish Chronicle reached out to YouTube’s press office yesterday afternoon in preparation for their article today, YouTube abruptly restored the video to my account.

You can see the previously banned video on YouTube here:

I am quoted today in The Jewish Chronicle saying: “I am glad that YouTube suddenly restored it. Yet there was no apology, no explanation, no indication that they have learned from this episode and will stop taking down other educational tools to prevent antisemitism. Not everyone can have a newspaper intervene on their behalf.”

I would add that YouTube’s attitude to anti-Semitism is shameful. People have died in recent months as a result of self-radicalization including on YouTube by those who carried out the shootings in Pittsburgh, Poway and elsewhere.

Antisemitism researcher David Collier had his entire YouTube account (which warns against racism) banned. It has also now been restored following media intervention. But many other bans remain in place.

YouTube continue to ban videos educating against antisemitism while leaving up antisemitic videos with titles such as “My Question for the Jews” which falsely claims that the Talmud instructs Jews to view non-Jews as “animals”.

Facebook allowed my video, here

I attach a piece below from today’s Jewish Chronicle, followed by a tribute to the historian Norman Stone, a friend and a long time subscriber to this email list who, sadly, has died.



YouTube ‘mistakenly’ takes down anti-Shoah denial video
Video streaming company admits error while continuing to host films containing antisemitic tropes
By Ben Weich
Jewish Chronicle
June 26, 2019

YouTube has reinstated a video denouncing antisemitism and Holocaust denial having initially removed it for violating its hate speech policy.

The video in question, posted by journalist Tom Gross, featured Observer investigative reporter Carole Cadwalladr criticising suggested antisemitic search terms on Google.

On June 5 YouTube, which is owned by Google, announced that it had updated its policies regarding “harmful content and hate speech”, saying that videos in breach of its rules “are removed faster than ever and users are seeing less borderline content and harmful misinformation”.

Mr Gross’s video was removed on June 10 — despite YouTube continuing to host many videos elsewhere promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories. It was then reinstated on June 25, but only after the JC contacted YouTube for this article.

A YouTube spokesperson said: “We have an appeals process in place for users, and when it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.

“The video flagged by the JC was previously removed mistakenly but has now been reinstated.”

Videos that remain available on YouTube include one titled, “My Question for the Jews”, which claims that the Talmud instructs Jews to view non-Jews as “animals”, while others seen by the JC contain antisemitic tropes regarding “the Rothschild banking dynasty” and the “New World Order”.

In the video that Mr Gross posted, Ms Cadwalladr revealed during a conference speech that entering the phrase “Are Jews…” yielded a suggested search of “Are Jews evil?” She claimed a further suggested search was “Did the Holocaust happen?”, which led to a link to the neo-fascist Stormfront website.

Mr Gross, who has served as the Jerusalem correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, told the JC: “I am glad they suddenly restored it. Yet there was no apology, no explanation, no indication they have learned from this episode and will stop taking down other educational tools to prevent antisemitism. Not everyone can have a newspaper intervene on their behalf.”

YouTube added: “We are a company committed to free expression and access to information. But it’s not anything goes on YouTube. The safety of our users has always been a priority. Since our earliest days, we’ve had Community Guidelines — or content policies — that govern what videos may stay on the site, which we rigorously enforce.”

Earlier this month David Collier, a British antisemitism researcher, had his YouTube account mistakenly deleted because it contained examples of hate speech. It was later restored.



Above: Norman Stone (left) and my father John_Gross (right)

On a boat trip down the Nile organized by George Weidenfeld for historians, academics and writers.



Whenever possible, I note the passing of long time subscribers to this email list who I knew personally.

The historian Norman Stone died a few days ago in Budapest, aged 78.

I attended Norman’s lectures at Oxford, and kept in touch with him since, and had dinner with him most recently a year ago in Budapest. He was for the most part brilliant and charming.

The obituary of him in yesterday’s Guardian is one of the nastiest and most unfair obits I’ve ever read. By contrast, The Times and Daily Telegraph gave Norman favorable, generous tributes.

Norman was often controversial, and sometimes provocative, but he was in many ways exceptionally knowledgeable. He had, for example, insights into mandate era Israeli and Palestinian history that I haven't heard from others.

The Times obituary notes:

Stone was the favorite historian of Margaret Thatcher and especially useful to her as an adviser on foreign policy and a speechwriter during her premiership.

He was among the coterie of historians that Thatcher invited to Chequers for a seminar on German reunification. With wartime memories still strong, she feared the enlarged Germany would become a “Fourth Reich”. Stone sought to reassure her, arguing that in taking over East Germany, West Germany was only getting “six Liverpools”.

He was born in Kelvinside, Glasgow, in 1941. His father, a Spitfire pilot, was killed when Norman was one and he was raised by his mother, a teacher, Presbyterian and Labour voter.

In a separate tribute in The Sunday Times, Professor Niall Ferguson writes:

Of all the “media dons” who flourished in the 1980s, Norman was the most wickedly clever, and the academic left hated him as much for the cleverness as for the wickedness. But Norman exulted in its disapproval. He once told me: “I wear my enemies like medals.” And that is how I shall always remember him: Guinness in one hand, Nietzsche in the other, cigarette balanced on lower lip – and the heads of Oxford’s dullest dons dangling from ribbons on his barrel chest.

Norman’s son, Rupert, a journalist, is also a subscriber to this Mideast email list.


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

Haaretz: Why neo-Nazis Love the BDS Movement so much (& Berlin museum boss forced out)

June 17, 2019

German neo-Nazi party Die Rechte boasts on Twitter about hanging a poster with the slogan “Israel is our misfortune” on a signpost marking the destroyed synagogue in the German town of Gelsenkirchen.

Both the extreme right and extreme left are now promoting the phrase “Israel is our misfortune,” inspired by the Nazi electoral slogan of 1933, “The Jews are our misfortune.” See also here.



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach an article from today’s Haaretz exploring the increasing way the neo-Nazi right and the extreme “progressive” (and all too often anti-Semitic) left are mimicking each other’s phrases and slogans.

After that, I attach articles from The Jerusalem Post and The New York Times, about the enforced resignation of Peter Schäfer, the director of Berlin’s Jewish museum, on Friday.

This followed widespread criticism of the increasing politicization of the museum (including my quote to the Jerusalem Post last Monday and the fact that the museum had coddled up to the Islamic regime of Iran and promoted Europeans who support the destruction of Israel).

I attach a new front-page story from yesterday’s Jerusalem Post, which included this follow-up quote by myself:

British journalist Tom Gross, who was invited to tour the museum by Schäfer’s office last year and expressed his dismay afterwards to the director’s office at some of the anti-Israel political aspects he saw, told the Jerusalem Post:

“The important thing now, since the museum is currently replacing its permanent exhibit, due to reopen next year, is to make sure Schäfer’s replacement is someone who is more interested in remembering the enormous contributions of Berlin’s Jews to German and world history, and in accurately explaining the sheer sadistic horrors of the Holocaust, rather than engaging in anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, extreme left-wing posturing.”

“Enough is enough,” said Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the nearly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany. “[Under Schäfer] the Berlin Jewish Museum seems to be completely out of control. Under these circumstances, one has to think about whether the term ‘Jewish’ is still appropriate.”

Tom Gross adds: Because of the Holocaust, and because it was opened to great international fanfare in 2001 using the designs of award-winning architect Daniel Libeskind, the Berlin Jewish museum is in some ways the most significant Jewish museum in the world.



Ross Anthony Farca, 23, of Concord, northern California, has been arrested for plotting to emulate the Poway and Pittsburgh synagogue shooters “except with a Nazi uniform on.”

The Mercury News reports that Concord police found an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle with 13 magazines, a 3-foot sword, camouflage clothing, ammunition, and Nazi literature during a search of his home.

His screen name on the Steam platform is “Adolf Hitler (((6 Million))).” He was arrested after an anonymous tip off to the FBI. The FBI said Farca regularly referred to Jews online as “subhumans”.


See also:

* The New York Post: Man hurls subway rider’s phone onto tracks for recording his anti-Semitic slurs

* The Mail on Sunday (London): Jewish teenager who was menaced by racists flees the country - 80 years after his grandfather did the same to escape Nazis

Among previous related dispatches:

* The funeral of David and Cecil Rosenthal (& “Jewish Lives Matter, only if threatened by the right people”)


The alliance of the extreme right and extreme left is happening in other countries too.

* For example, in Britain: “If it quacks like a duck…” (& Holocaust survivor brutally murdered in Paris)

* France: “Macron, whore of the Jews” (& NY Times photographer praises murderer of Jewish baby)

* “Europe will be white” (& ‘Proud Anti-Semite’ bumper sticker ‘sign of the times’ in NY)



Why neo-Nazis Love the BDS Movement So Much
‘Stop Zionism!’ ‘Israel is our misfortune!’ Who said it: ‘progressive’ supporters of the boycott Israel movement – or U.S. white supremacists and German neo-Nazis?
By Petra Marquardt-Bigman
June 17, 2019

It’s been clear for quite some time that “progressive” spaces have a problem with “Zionists” and their “offensive” symbols – including any flags with the most recognizable Jewish symbol, the Star of David, on them.

(Tom Gross adds: See for example The Forward: DC Dyke March Bans Flags with Jewish Stars of David.)

That must be why, when progressive protesters countered a small Ku Klux Klan demonstration in Dayton, Ohio they tried to burn an Israeli flag. Their passionate “anti-Zionism” must have prompted burning the Jewish state’s flag to equate it with KKK white supremacy.

(Tom Gross: Left wingers protesting KKK join with KKK in attacking Jewish symbols.)

But it’s increasingly clear that a similar antipathy for “Zios” energizes the far right. Last weekend, a neo-Nazi, who had come with his buddies to protest the Detroit Pride parade, felt the urge to demonstrate that Jew-haters can also be anti-Zionists when he urinated on an Israeli flag. And the small neo-Nazi German party Die Rechte campaigned for the recent EU elections with the slogan: “Israel is our misfortune.”

That’s quite the common denominator. If, as a progressive, you claim to take the fight against the oldest hatred seriously and find yourself on the same side as neo-Nazis, it’s arguably time to reconsider your views.

Which leads to the critical question: what has facilitated this meeting of minds, rhetoric and action? My answer: the tireless efforts of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

BDS supporters on the far left and far right are only too happy to support the claim that anti-Zionism has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism – and to assert that in fact it is Zionism that equals racism. But if you insist on treating Israel as the Jew of the nations, don’t feign outrage when that is considered anti-Semitic.

This dynamic is playing out clearly in Germany today.

The German parliament recently voted for a non-binding motion denouncing BDS as anti-Semitic. The motion pointed out the undeniable similarity between the BDS movement’s “Don’t Buy” stickers on Israeli products and the “Don’t buy from Jews” slogan of the Nazis.

Cue the “progressive” backlash, most clearly expressed by the Hamas-friendly Electronic Intifada, which bitterly complained that the German parliament had “smeared” the “quest for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.”

Similar-sounding arguments were raised by Jewish and Israeli academics, German Near East experts and Haaretz itself.

When the Jewish Museum in Berlin shared on Twitter a petition calling BDS “a legitimate and nonviolent tool of resistance,” Israel’s Ambassador to Germany called it “shameful,” and The Central Council of Jews in Germany asked whether the museum can even “continue to claim to be a “Jewish” museum at all,” in light of its opposition to a move aimed to end discrimination against Jews. Days later, the director of the museum resigned “to prevent further damage to the museum.”

So when Germany’s far-right “Die Rechte” party chose its “Israel is our misfortune” slogan, they were not only well aware that it mirrored the Nazi-era “Der Stürmer” rallying cry: “The Jews are our misfortune.” They were obviously also well aware of the determined efforts to deny that demonizing Israel is anti-Semitic - and felt emboldened to freely advertise this new “acceptable” face of hate.

Posters with the “Israel is our misfortune” slogan in bold print, framed by calls in smaller print to “Stop Zionism” and to “Put an end to it!” were proudly displayed wherever the party campaigned in the EU elections.

The party’s poor showing in the elections (0.1 percent of the total vote) shouldn’t overshadow its activists’ sense of achievement in managing to attach one of their “Israel is our misfortune” posters to a signpost marking the location of the synagogue destroyed by the Nazis in the German town of Gelsenkirchen.

A sinister, boasting tweet alluded to fantasies of lynching: “Now they also hang at the synagogue... our posters!” In 1937, that same street had been renamed after “Der Stürmer.”

The party also used its “Israel is our misfortune” poster in “mainstream” social media campaigns calling for a boycott of this year’s Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv. Party leader Sascha Krolzig expressed appreciation for everyone who opposed “the Zionist aggressor” and subtly hinted that the BDS movement was just an imitation, whereas his party was “the anti-Israel original.”

I’ve long argued that if one had to summarize the message conveyed by BDS activism in one sentence, “The Jewish state is our misfortune” would get it just right. “Die Rechte” has come to the same conclusion.

Don’t think that the neo-Nazi party’s support for BDS is merely tactical lip-service. Yes, they’re neo-Nazis, and looking for outlets for Jew-hatred they can express in ways that won’t get them so easily in trouble for anti-Semitic incitement.

But “Die Rechte” clearly feels connected to the BDS movement. The party has linked to the German BDS website, and suggested an auction to benefit it, noting that BDS is dedicated to efforts “to isolate the Zionist aggressor state” politically, economically and culturally in defense of “the rights of the Palestinian people.”

And another crucial connection they feel is with BDS’ relentless efforts to fight against the widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Since the IHRA definition cites the demonization of Israel as an example of contemporary anti-Semitism, BDS supporters, including the UK’s Corbyn cult, oppose this definition just as bitterly as neo-Nazis, who want to promote the slogan “Israel is our misfortune.”

If your activism focuses laser-like on casting the world’s only Jewish state as the despicable “Jew of the nations” – an illegitimate and irredeemably racist “settler colonial” entity that is guilty of monstrous war crimes including “apartheid” and “genocide” – you can’t really feign surprise and disdain when old-fashioned Jew-haters hear tunes that sound pleasantly familiar to their ears.

The phenomenon of supposedly progressive “Israel critics” being hailed by the far-right is amply documented, whether it’s the celebrated Israel-hating academic Shlomo Sand attracting praise from a “diverse spectrum of anti-Semites,” or BDS rock star Roger Waters being featured on “The Daily Stormer,” under the helpfully explanatory headline: “Roger Waters Condems the Jews “ or other prominent BDS supporters winning endorsements from David Duke.

And it is by no means a one-way street: some BDS activists promote views that are hard to distinguish from material that is popular on far-right sites, while others don’t mind publishing on sites that feature blatantly anti-Semitic writings.

Moreover, as the endless revelations about anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party as well as other reporting shows, Holocaust deniers, white supremacists, and peddlers of assorted antisemitic conspiracy theories can be cherished members of “pro-Palestinian” pro-BDS Facebook groups. David Duke’s followers surely appreciate his fairly frequent “Free Palestine” tweets.

Given that there are by now not only countless articles but also several excellent books that document and analyze the anti-Semitism that is an inevitable part of BDS campaigns, it is almost pathetic that the critics of the recent German motion against BDS repeat well-worn claims that the movement only opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and advocates for “justice” and legitimate Palestinian rights.

Apparently it doesn’t matter how often activists chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”; it doesn’t matter how often they whitewash Palestinian terrorism, and how often they explain that “The ‘Occupation’ of #Palestine is not an entity that is separate from #Israel - it IS Israel. There is no israel that is not occupied, colonized, Palestinian land.”

It is hard to believe that those who are always eager to defend BDS as a legitimate “pro-Palestinian” movement are acting in good faith. As Cary Nelson shows in depressing detail in his new book “Israel Denial,” BDS supporters on campus have done a lot to promote blatant anti-Semitism and a polarized and poisoned discourse.

But when it comes to promoting peaceful co-existence and a negotiated two-state solution, BDS supporters will only show up to protest and disrupt. After all, as Nelson rightly emphasizes, “the BDS movement is about two things only: demonizing and punishing Israel. It is no accident that the terms that give it a name - boycott, divestment, and sanctions - are all punitive.”

If you really believe it is not anti-Semitic to demonize Israel, you presumably also agree with “Die Rechte” that there’s nothing wrong with the “Israel is our misfortune” poster. Indeed, replace the party’s name with a pro-BDS organization, and it could easily “pass” as as a reasonable, inoffensive pro-Palestine, pro-BDS messaging you might seat any protest or rally, despite so obviously echoing “Der Stürmer.”

You might also think it’s reasonable for “progressives” to keep daubing graffiti lauding the BDS movement on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto - equating Israel with the Nazis, and dishonoring and exploiting the Jews who died there.

As long as the academics who are so eager to shield BDS from well-deserved accusations of anti-Semitism are unable to quote even one leading BDS activist who campaigns for a negotiated two-state solution that would ensure peaceful co-existence by neutralizing Islamist terror groups, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who are dedicated to murdering Jews, they cannot claim to be serious about fighting anti-Semitism.

And the next time you hear a BDS supporter claiming they’re talking about Israel, it’s not about Jews, just think how the the same words would sound coming out of the mouth of a neo-Nazi. In a way, we should be grateful to the far right, from Detroit to Dortmund: they’ve stripped away the illusion that BDS can be dissociated from the most basic, grotesque tenets of anti-Semitism.



Director of Berlin’s museum resigns over Tweet endorsing antisemitic BDS
The Jerusalem Post first exposed the antisemitism scandal.
By Benjamin Weinthal
Jerusalem Post
June 16, 2019

The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum, Peter Schäfer, announced his resignation on Friday “to avoid further damage” a week after The Jerusalem Post first reported that the institution endorsed the BDS campaign on the museum’s Twitter feed.

The pressure for Schäfer’s removal rose over the past week, and experts in the field of antisemitism told the Post that they implored German Culture Minister Monika Grütters, who oversees the board of the museum foundation, to take action against Schäfer and the antisemitism scandals at the museum.

“All those responsible must help ensure that the Jewish Museum Berlin can again concentrate on its important work in terms of content,” Grütters said on Friday. Schäfer’s deputy, Martin Michaelis, will assume responsibility for running the museum until a successor can be hired.

B’nai B’rith International president Charles O. Kaufman, who sent a letter last week to Schäfer about the museum’s anti-Israel direction, told the Post on Friday: “What’s crucial now is for the museum to identify leadership that commits to professionalism and the truth of sharing the long and rich Jewish life of Germany. This museum must earn the name Jewish Museum and, in doing so, earn the trust of the country, Europe and all visitors from around the world. It must not immerse itself in politicizing history, stooping to propaganda and, worse, revisionism.”

British journalist Tom Gross was invited to tour the museum by Schäfer’s office last year and expressed his dismay afterwards at some of the anti-Israel political aspects he saw.

“The important thing now, since the museum is currently replacing its permanent exhibit, due to reopen next year, is to make sure Schäfer’s replacement is someone who is more interested in remembering the enormous contributions of Berlin’s Jews to German and world history, and in accurately explaining the sheer sadistic horrors of the Holocaust, rather than engage in anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, extreme left-wing posturing,” Gross told the Post.

Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin, spokeswoman for the museum, was summarily dismissed, according to a Munich-based media outlet. The paper reported that she had written the anti-Israel tweet.

The Post asked Schmidt-Narischkin numerous times last week for a comment, but she declined to respond. The museum is widely considered a hot-bed of anti-Israel resentments.

“Enough is enough,” said Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the nearly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany. “The Jewish Museum Berlin seems to be completely out of control. Under these circumstances, one has to think about whether the term ‘Jewish’ is still appropriate.” His comments came after the museum tweeted an article from a left-wing Berlin-based paper, calling on the Bundestag to reverse its anti-BDS resolution, which classified BDS as antisemitism.

The council added that the museum’s management “has lost the trust of the Jewish community in Germany.”

Schuster said on Friday that Schäfer’s decision to toss in the towel was “an important step.”

Schäfer has been facing criticism over the years for promoting a one-sided exhibit on Jerusalem that plays down the role of Jews in the city, according to critics. In March, Schäfer invited the antisemitic Iranian regime diplomat Seyed Ali Moujani to the museum. Ali Moujani used the meeting to promote the view that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. Schäfer regretted the interaction last week but in March he welcomed the anti-Israel tirade against the Jewish state.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, first coined the phrase the “anti-Jewish Museum” in 2012 in connection with the institution hosting the pro-BDS academic Judith Butler.

She promoted BDS at the museum in 2012, after having expressed support for the terrorist entities Hezbollah and Hamas in 2006.

“Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important,” said Butler at the time.



Director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum Quits After Spat Over B.D.S.
By Melissa Eddy
The New York Times
June 15, 2019

BERLIN — The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum quit his post on Friday amid criticism that he had become too politically involved in the battle over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, which was recently designated as anti-Semitic by the German Parliament.

Pressure had been mounting against the director, Peter Schäfer, over what critics said was an inappropriately political stance for the head of a cultural institution tasked with explaining Jewish traditions, history and art. An exhibition that opened last year about Jerusalem was accused of being anti-Israeli in a prominent, unsigned letter, criticism that Israeli officials said they agreed with at the time.

And Mr. Schäfer himself was criticized last year for inviting a Palestinian scholar to give a lecture at the museum and giving a personal tour to the cultural director of the Iranian Embassy.

But it was a post by the museum’s Twitter account last week that sparked the backlash that Mr. Schäfer could no longer withstand. The post promoted an article from a German daily that cited an open letter signed by 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars. In the letter, which was issued before Parliament acted, the scholars urged lawmakers not to sign the resolution declaring the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as B.D.S., anti-Semitic.

The resolution “does not assist this fight,” the scholars said. “On the contrary, it undermines it.”

The B.D.S. movement seeks to put economic and political pressure on Israel. It is especially sensitive in Germany, where responsibility for Israel’s right to exist is a cornerstone of foreign policy, and where calls to boycott the Jewish state carry historical associations with the Nazis.

The museum sought to defend the Twitter post, saying that it was only trying to point out the scholars’ argument that the resolution in Parliament would not help in the fight against anti-Semitism. But the post proved the last straw.

“Enough is enough. The Jewish Museum appears to be completely out of control,” the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, wrote in a response published on Tuesday. He went on to question whether it was still “appropriate” to call the museum “Jewish,” and said the council no longer trusted the institution.

In his resignation announcement, Mr. Schäfer said he had decided to quit immediately “to prevent further damage to the museum.” The museum opened in 2001 with the mission to reflect Jewish life and culture, as well as diversity and the diaspora in Germany. It is in the process of developing a new permanent exhibition, as well as a children’s museum, both of which were started under Mr. Schäfer’s direction.

Germany’s culture minister, Monika Grütters, who heads the board of the museum foundation, said she had accepted the resignation of Mr. Schäfer, who took over the position in 2014. Mr. Schäfer’s deputy, Martin Michaelis, will run the museum until a new director can be found, she said.

“All those responsible must ensure that the Jewish Museum of Berlin can return to concentrating on its important work,” she said.

Mr. Schuster, of the Central Council of Jews, said in a statement that he welcomed Mr. Schäfer’s decision to resign, calling it “an important step.”

Cultural institutions have recently become a battlefield for the fight over the B.D.S. movement in Germany. Last summer, the Ruhrtriennale, an international arts festival in western Germany, rescinded an invitation to a Scottish rap group after pressure mounted surrounding the artists’ association with the B.D.S. movement.

Anti-Semitic crimes and hate crimes against Jews have been on the rise in Germany, with crime statistics released last year showing they had increased by almost 20 percent last year compared with 2017.


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30 years and 111 lashes for posting on social media (& Berlin’s “anti-Jewish museum”?)

June 13, 2019

Brave Iranian human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi is unlikely to still be alive at the end, if he is subjected to 111 lashes



1. 30 years in prison and 111 lashes for Iranian human rights advocate
2. Iran-backed Houthis attack Saudi airport with cruise missile, injuring 26 travelers
3. Iran introduces 2,000 new morality police units in response to women’s hijab protests
4. India votes with Israel at UN for first time
5. British online store selling products with Auschwitz poison ‘Zyklon B’ logo
6. Belgian prosecutors drop case against cafe owner who welcomed “dogs, but not Jews”
7. “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive”
8. German anti-Semitism commissioner slams Berlin’s pro-BDS ‘Anti-Jewish Museum’


I attach a variety of items – Tom Gross


Iranian human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi has been sentenced to 30 years in prison and 111 lashes for his human rights work, which includes publicizing human rights cases on the Telegram mobile messaging app and giving media interviews.

Amnesty International said in a statement:

“Amirsalar Davoudi is the latest victim of a vicious crackdown waged by the Iranian authorities against human rights lawyers over the past two years, which has seen Iranian courts hand out increasingly harsh sentences to stop them from being able to carry out their work.”

“On 1 June 2019… he was convicted by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on multiple charges and sentenced to 30 years in prison and 111 lashes. The punishment of flogging violates the prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment under international law.

“The charges on which he has been convicted include ‘insulting the Supreme Leader’… Amirsalar Davoudi is well known for representing human rights activists and other individuals detained for their social and political activities…

“Another lawyer, Mohammad Najafi, was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison and 74 lashes in three separate cases. Other lawyers who have either been arrested or have faced prosecution since January 2018 include Arash Keykhosravi, Ghassem Sholeh-Sa’di, Farokh Forouzan, Mostafa Daneshjoo, Mostafa Tork Hamadani, Payam Derafshan and Zeynab Taheri…”

Tom Gross adds: As opponents of the widely-criticized “appeasement” deal with the Iranian regime crafted by Barack Obama, John Kerry and the EU have repeatedly pointed out, the deal has (as predicted) emboldened the Iranian regime and encouraged it to greatly increase repression both at home and abroad, particularly in Syria.



The Associated Press reported yesterday that Yemen’s Iranian-armed and backed Houthi militia launched a cruise missile at Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport, injuring 26 people.

A missile struck the arrival hall of Abha’s airport in the southern part of the kingdom near its border with Yemen. Among those injured are three women and two children.

Houthis officials claimed responsibility for the cruise missile attack.

Saudi Arabia, which has been at war against the Iranian-allied Houthis in Yemen since 2015, has also been responsible for many deaths and injuries.

The fighting between Iranian and Saudi-backed forces in Yemen has left an estimated 24 million people malnourished, including many who are starving.

For related dispatches please see: Why some wars get more attention than others



The (London) Daily Telegraph reports (June 7, 2019) that:

Iran has introduced 2,000 new morality police units in reaction to what officials call an “increasing defiance” of the compulsory wearing of hijabs… They are each made up of six women who have the power to arrest and detain those they deem to be flouting the country’s strict veiling laws.

The move comes amid a growing backlash by women in the Islamic Republic, hundreds of whom have been arrested for taking off their head coverings in public in protest at the law…

While Iran has had various forms of “morality police” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the decision to increase their numbers as well as introduce all-female brigades, is a sign that authorities are adopting a tougher approach…

Nasrin Sotoudeh, prominent human rights lawyer, was sentenced last May to seven years in prison after defending women who had removed their hijab…

A recent study showed that up to 70 per cent of the female population would like to see the relaxing of laws on the mandatory wearing of headscarves, while 30 per cent accepted it as part of the national culture.


See also this video of Iranian women bravely removing their hijabs

Also scroll down this page to see: Arrested in Teheran for dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy”.



For the first, time India has voted in favor of Israel at a UN forum. The vote was against admitting a Palestinian human rights group called Shahed which is actually a front for the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Other countries voting with Israel included the US, France, Germany, the UK, Japan, South Korea and Canada.

See also: Bibi and Modi frolic in the Med, as the Indian-Israeli love affair deepens



The British-based online Redbubble – which recently removed the sale of Auschwitz-printed mini-skirts – is now selling products with the logo of the chemical used by the Nazis to murder millions in its death camp gas chambers.

The Berliner Zeitung newspaper broke the story, which was then picked up by the (London) Daily Mail, which has mounted a campaign to have Redbubble stop selling this repulsive item.

Miniskirts and handbags printed with images of the Auschwitz death camp were removed after official complaints from the Auschwitz museum in Poland.

Redbubble’s website said it offers “awesome products designed by independent artists”.

Update: Under pressure from the Daily Mail, Redbubble have removed the ‘Zyklon B’ items.

See also:

Jews denounced as being “in the gutter with rats” at Corbyn-endorsed London rally (& Auschwitz miniskirt scandal)



Jewish organizations have strongly criticized the decision by prosecutors in Belgium to drop criminal complaints against a Turkish-Belgium cafe owner in the town of Saint-Nicolas, who put up a large sign saying dogs are welcome, but not Jews.

The La Dernière Heure newspaper reported that the Prosecutor’s Office in Liege dropped discrimination charges filed in 2014 against the owner.

Joel Rubinfeld, the president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism told the paper that he was “disgusted and deeply disappointed” by the decision, which a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office confirmed to the newspaper but declined to explain.

The case’s closing shows that “the fight against racism, including anti-Semitism, remains in the rhetorical realm only,” said Rubinfeld.



I attach a piece below published in the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday for which I gave the following quote:

British journalist Tom Gross told the Post: “I was recently invited by the Berlin Jewish Museum director’s office to tour the museum’s current ‘Jerusalem’ exhibition. I was shocked by the prevalence of the anti-Zionist, often anti-Semitic, fringe Neturei Karta movement in the Jewish part of the exhibit. The hateful placards of this group (who have supported Holocaust deniers in Iran) were on display without any contrary explanation for museum goers of who they are.”

He added: “When I expressed my dismay to the museum director’s office, even though they had invited me to the museum, they failed to respond. The Jerusalem exhibit presently dominates the museum since the permanent exhibition is closed for over a year while it is completely re-done. I just hope that when it reopens it will give an honest assessment of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, and not some distorted version.”

... The museum previously hosted a propagandist diplomat from the Iranian embassy, and the pro-BDS academic Judith Butler. Butler, who promoted BDS at the museum, previously expressed support for the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas in 2006: “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important,” said Butler.




German anti-Semitism commissioner slams Berlin’s Pro-BDS ‘Anti-Jewish Museum’
By Benjamin Weinthal
Jerusalem Post
June 10, 2019

Uwe Becker, commissioner of the Hessian federal state government for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism, has blasted Berlin’s Jewish Museum for stoking an anti-Semitic boycott of the Jewish state.

In a written statement to The Jerusalem Post, Becker said on Sunday that “The Jewish Museum in Berlin obviously sees as its task to take a stand against Jewish life in our country and especially against Israel. The recent support for BDS is a disgrace! After a total single-sided exhibition about Jerusalem now another scandal. This is not a Jewish but an anti-Jewish Museum.”

The Post obtained a letter from Charles O. Kaufman, president of B’nai B’rith International, to Peter Schäfer, the controversial director of the museum in Berlin.

“It appears that the German propaganda machine of the 1930s lives,” Kaufman wrote on Sunday in the letter. “I became aware of your anti-Israel mission with your recent ‘Welcome to Jerusalem’ exhibit, an utter distortion of the capital of the Jewish State. Now with its pro-BDS message to Twitter followers, the Jewish Berlin Museum becomes the leading contender to be renamed the Insult to Injury Museum. This latest action from the ‘Jewish Berlin Museum’ is ridiculous if not shameful. BDS is an anti-Semitic movement that demonizes Israel, Jews and seeks to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Economic data shows that the BDS movement actually harms, not helps, the plight of the Palestinian people. It’s sad that this museum so miserably misses the mark time and again in telling the story of the Jewish people. Its work not only serves as an insult to Jews; it’s an insult to the intelligence of the German people.”

The intense criticism directed at Schäfer’s alleged anti-Israel and anti-Jewish direction of the museum comes in response to a pro-BDS Tweet from the publicly-funded Jewish Museum on Thursday. The museum appeared to endorse an article in favor of reversing an anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) resolution passed by the German parliament last month.

The museum tweeted to its 7,510 followers: “must read. The [anti-BDS resolution recently passed by Bundestag] decision of the parliamentarians does not continue to help in the fight against anti-Semitism: @tazgezwitscher on the accusation of 240 Jewish and Israeli academics to the Bundestag.”

The museum’s tweet linked to an article sympathetic to the BDS movement that appeared in the left-wing paper taz, a paper that has been engulfed in anti-Semitism scandals over the years.

Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, tweeted on Sunday in response to a Post story about the BDS activity at the museum: “Demonization campaigns singling out Israel (BDS) are immoral, and propaganda promoted by jmberlin [Berlin Jewish Museum] from tazgezwitscher and 200 ‘intellectuals’ does not change that.”

Steinberg first coined the phrase the “anti-Jewish Museum” in 2012 in connection with the museum hosting the pro-BDS academic Judith Butler. Butler promoted BDS at the museum in 2012, and expressed support for the terrorist entities Hezbollah and Hamas in 2006: “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important,” said Butler.

BRITISH JOURNALIST Tom Gross told the Post: “I was recently invited by the Berlin Jewish Museum director’s office to tour the museum’s current ‘Jerusalem’ exhibition. I was shocked by the prevalence of the anti-Zionist, often anti-Semitic, fringe Neturei Karta movement in the Jewish part of the exhibit. The hateful placards of this group (who have supported Holocaust deniers in Iran) were on display without any contrary explanation for museum goers of who they are.”

He added: “When I expressed my dismay to the museum director’s office, even though they had invited me to the museum, they failed to respond. The Jerusalem exhibit presently dominates the museum since the permanent exhibition is closed for over a year while it is completely re-done. I just hope that when it reopens it will give an honest assessment of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, and not some distorted version.”

In March, Prof. Peter Schäfer, the non-Jewish director of the Jewish Museum, hosted a diplomat from the Islamic Republic of Iran, sparking widespread criticism for mainstreaming the Iranian regime’s genocidal anti-Semitism.

“With the invitation, the Jewish Museum gives the Iranian Embassy the opportunity to make its anti-Semitic anti-Zionism part of the public debate,” said Stop The Bomb spokeswoman Ulrike Becker at the time.

Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin, a spokeswoman for the museum, did not immediately respond to a Post query regarding the new wave of criticism facing the museum. Schmidt-Narischkin told the Post on Sunday that the museum rejects BDS.


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NY Times ‘Fake news’? US ambassador didn’t endorse unilateral annexation


[Note by Tom Gross]

There has been substantial pushback across the Israeli and American Jewish media (including in Haaretz) against the New York Times in the last two days, for what has been called the “disgraceful” misrepresentation of U.S. Ambassador David Friedman’s remarks in an interview with New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger.

Both Halbfinger and his editors and headline writers at the Times are being criticized for badly misleading readers in a piece of “fake news” that has, in turn, been picked up and copied from the Times in hundreds of other publications across the world.

Halbfinger’s headline and article began: “Israel has a right to annex at least some, but ‘unlikely all,’ of the West Bank, the United States ambassador, David M. Friedman, said in an interview, opening the door to American acceptance of what would be an enormously provocative act.”

Yes, as is pointed out in the articles attached below from Haaretz and other publications, Friedman never said the word “annexation.” Nor did he say anything different from long-standing international policy to try and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As the articles below point out, what Friedman said was consistent with the policy of US presidents dating back to Lyndon Johnson in 1967. It is consistent with the policy of the Soviet Union/Russia and much of the rest of the world which supported the key UN 1967 Security Council Resolution 242 that envisaged border adjustments in order to bring about lasting peace and security. It is consistent with the words of the president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

It is consistent with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ acknowledgement that land swaps will be necessary in any final agreement and that Israel has the right to keep Jerusalem’s Western Wall and other parts of terroritory beyond the 1948 armistice lines.

No serious observer of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could imagine sustainable peace existing along the exact 1948 armistice lines. Hence resolution 242.

The leading left-wing Israeli paper Haaretz has now acknowledged that it also misrepresented the US’s ambassador’s remarks (after it first rushed to follow the New York Times’s lead). Will the New York Times have the integrity also to do so?




What Did U.S. Ambassador David Friedman Say That Was New?
By Dore Gold
June 12, 2019

It is hard to understand the outrage in Haaretz in response to U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who voiced support for Israel retaining a portion of the West Bank. After all, historically, U.S. policy always left open this very possibility. This was the heart of the debate between American President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin in 1967 over whether the draft resolution that was to become UN Security Council Resolution 242 should include the definitive article in the withdrawal clause requiring a withdrawal from “the territories,” as Moscow required, or just a withdrawal “from territories,” as Washington suggested.

The way Washington kept the door of territorial modifications open expressed itself in different ways. With the opening of the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, President George H. W. Bush spoke about there needing to be a “territorial compromise,” but not a full withdrawal. In his 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon, President George W. Bush spoke about a full and complete return to the 1967 lines as being “unrealistic.” Like President Clinton’s Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, Bush declared that Israel had a right to “defensible borders.”

What seems to offend the author of Haaretz’s critique of Friedman the most is his assertion about Israel’s rights. The article tells Haaretz readers that Israel has no legal rights to any of the territories it captured in 1967. The most important legal analysis of this question, in fact, was written in 1980 by Stephen Schwebel, who would become the Legal Adviser to the Department of State and subsequently president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Schwebel did not doubt Israel’s rights; looking purely at the legal side, he wrote, “… Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt.” In short, by suggesting Israel had legal rights to retain some West Bank land, Friedman was not very far away from a traditional American view that appeared in previous public statements.

Haaretz then raises the possibility that Friedman was speaking merely of Israel’s historical rights, implying to the reader that this provides no relevant rationale for the Jewish people’s presence. This approach ignores the fact that Israel’s roots as our people’s historical homeland are recognized in a chain of international documents, beginning with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and in the 1922 document instating the British Mandate – a legally binding treaty – which recognized the Jewish people’s historical connection with their land. This documented recognition culminated in 1948, when the very opening sentence of Israel’s Declaration of Independence duly noted the Land of Israel as the historical and spiritual birthplace of the Jewish people.

(Dore Gold is a former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a long time subscriber to this Mideast list.)



Trump’s Ambassador Is Right on Israel’s Annexation. His Posturing, pro-Palestinian Critics Are Wrong
David Friedman is right: International law supports Israel retaining some of the West Bank. I should know – I helped draft it
By Alan Dershowitz
June 12, 2019

The United States Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman has been criticized for making the following statement:

“Under certain circumstances, I think that Israel has the right to retain some, but not all, of the West Bank.” His critics, including Haaretz, argue that Israel has no such right under international law because “this is occupied territory that cannot be annexed.”

Friedman is correct and his critics are wrong.

I know, because I participated – albeit in a small way – in the drafting of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 back in 1967, when Justice Arthur Goldberg was the United States Representative to the United Nations. I had been Justice Goldberg’s law clerk, and was then teaching at Harvard Law School. Justice Goldberg asked me to come to New York to advise him on some of the legal issues surrounding the West Bank.

The major controversy was whether Israel had to return “all” the territories captured in its defensive war against Jordan, or only some of the territories.

The end result was that the binding English version of the United Nations Resolution deliberately omitted the crucial word “all,” and substituted the word “territories,” which both Justice Goldberg and British Ambassador Lord Caradon publicly stated meant that Israel was entitled to retain some of the West Bank.

Moreover, under Resolution 242, Israel was not required to return a single inch of captured territory unless its enemies recognized its right to live within secure boundaries.

Friedman is right, therefore, in these two respects: (1) Israel has no right to retain all of the West Bank, if its enemies recognize its right to live within secure borders; (2) Israel has “the right to retain some” of these territories. The specifics – the amount and location – are left to negotiation between the parties.

In the last month of the Obama administration, President Obama pushed through a Security Council Resolution that declared all of the captured territories – including the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Israel’s main Hadassah Hospital – to be illegally occupied territories.

That benighted resolution was categorically and correctly rejected by Israel. It does not represent binding international law, and virtually no one believes that the Western Wall is being illegally occupied by Israel. Indeed, every world leader who has visited Israel – including Obama – have prayed at this illegally “occupied” sacred place.

The reality is that Israel will, under any circumstances, maintain control over these traditionally Jewish areas, as well as the settlement blocks close to the Green Line. How do I know this? Because Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told me on more than one occasion when we have met.

Abbas wants this to occur as a result of negotiations, but he knows that any negotiation will produce Israeli sovereignty over these areas. The problem is that Abbas now refuses to accept the invitations by President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sit down and negotiate these issues.

The attack on Ambassador Friedman is mere posturing by the Palestinian leaders and their supporters. The realpolitik, recognized by all reasonable people, is that Israel does have a right to retain some, but not all, of the West Bank.

In 2000-2001 the Palestinians were offered a deal in which they would control more than 90 percent of the West Bank. In 2008, they were offered an even more generous deal. In both such deals, and most likely in the one now being drafted by the Trump administration, the Palestinians will get Israeli land equivalent to the West Bank land that Israel will annex. The Palestinians have either rejected or refused to negotiated over these offers.

So when Ambassador Friedman talks about “certain circumstances” that would lead Israel to “retain some” of the West Bank, he is likely referencing circumstances under which the Palestinians would persist in their refusing to come to the bargaining table, thus maintaining the status quo.

The Palestinians can end this untenable status quo by agreeing to compromise their absolutist claims, just as Israel will have to comprise its absolutist claims. The virtue of Ambassador Friedman’s statement is that it recognizes that both sides must give up their absolutist claims, and that the end result must be Israeli control over some, but not all, of the West Bank.

Ambassador Friedman’s statement is not a barrier to peace or negotiations. It is a realistic recognition of what Israel will demand, and to what the Palestinians will ultimately have to agree, regarding territorial compromise.

(Alan Dershowitz is one of Harvard University’s leading law professors, and is a longtime subscriber to this Mideast list.)



Fake news? David Friedman didn’t endorse annexation
Contrary to the way a “New York Times” interview has been reported, Israel retaining the right to some of the West Bank has been U.S. policy long before Trump.
By Jonathan Tobin
June 11, 2019

The New York Times got quite a scoop when, in an interview with its Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that he favored Israel’s annexation of the West Bank. That was the lede of Halbfinger’s article, as well as in the headline. And that was also the way the story was played in virtually every one of the many publications that picked up on the story.

If true, that would be big news indeed. But there are two problems with the way the interview has been reported. The first is that Halbfinger didn’t publish a quote from Friedman in which he actually said the word “annexation.” The second is that what he did say has actually been U.S. policy for more than 20 years. In other words, in the disturbing phrase that has become all too much part of our public discourse in the last few years, the widely reported claim that the Trump administration just endorsed Israeli annexation of the West Bank appears to be “fake news.”

Halbfinger’s article began with the following assertion: “Israel has a right to annex at least some, but ‘unlikely all,’ of the West Bank, the United States ambassador, David M. Friedman, said in an interview, opening the door to American acceptance of what would be an enormously provocative act.”

That assertion is backed up by only one line of the article in which Friedman is quoted as saying, “Under certain circumstances,” Mr. Friedman said, “I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

Friedman didn’t say the word “annexation.” It’s Halbfinger who uses the word in his narrative. But in what he otherwise describes as a “wide-ranging interview,” he can’t supply a single quote to specifically back up the one newsworthy aspect of the piece.

That’s important because although the transcript was not published, Halbfinger probably gave Friedman many opportunities to say “annexation.” But he got not a single quote with the key word escaping Friedman’s lips.

The possibility of annexation has been in the news because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at it in an interview prior to the April 9 general elections.

Netanyahu promised that he would extend Israeli law to the settlements, even though that meant nothing since Israeli law is already applied there. It was a gesture aimed at winning some pro-settlement votes.

But when his pro-annexation allies sought to translate that vague promise into tangible results during the post-election coalition negotiations, it’s been widely reported that Netanyahu made it clear they were wasting their time. The prime minister had zero interest in doing anything that might be perceived as undermining a Trump peace plan. Which is to say there will be no annexation anytime soon, if ever.

Yet it’s also true that Friedman is a longtime supporter of the settlement movement, meaning that he likely would personally welcome Israeli holding on to as much of the West Bank as it could. But the one comment that Friedman made in his interview that seemed to directly address annexation was actually equivocal: “Mr. Friedman declined to say how the United States would respond if Mr. Netanyahu moved to annex West Bank land unilaterally. ‘We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves,’ Mr. Friedman said. ‘These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.’ “

Which shows that despite the fact that he is a diplomatic novice, Friedman knows how to obfuscate and not answer questions as well as any State Department veteran.

So despite the claim that Friedman endorsed annexation, Halbfinger’s article proved nothing of the kind.

But there’s another important point that was lost in the rush to put words in Friedman’s mouth and to condemn the Trump administration for allegedly overturning decades of U.S. policy. It’s that it has been official U.S. policy for more than 20 years that Israel has “the right to retain some” of the West Bank.

That was the formula for peace pursued by the Washington at the Camp David summit in July 2000 when President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered PLO chairman Yasser Arafat an independent state in most of the West Bank, Gaza and a share of Jerusalem. But part of that plan, which Arafat turned down, was that Israeli would retain some of the West Bank. It would be repeated in all future peace negotiations carried out under George W. Bush and even Barack Obama.

Bush put it in writing in a letter to Ariel Sharon in 2004 prior to the withdrawal from Gaza in which he assured the Israelis that they could count on U.S. support for holding onto Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement blocs.

So the argument that Friedman said something worthy of his being fired – as some on the left have claimed – is as absurd as it is outrageous.

What his critics really can’t stand about Friedman is that he is willing to say that the West Bank or any other part of the country isn’t “Palestinian territory” but disputed land, and that Israel can assert its rights as well as its security needs in any negotiation. He’s right about that. And he’s also right that the United States is not opposed to Israel holding on to at least some of the West Bank in the event of a theoretical peace agreement that the Palestinians clearly have no interest in negotiating, let alone signing.

The fact that both the Times and those who repeated Halbfinger’s spin have misreported this interview, in addition to the facts about established American policy under the last four presidents, is more evidence of the partisanship and declining ethical standards in so much of the contemporary news media.



Friedman’s ‘controversial’ comments do not diverge from traditional US policy
By Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post
June 11, 2019

Haaretz said on Monday that US Ambassador David Friedman represents the settler Right, Peace Now called for his immediate dismissal, and the Palestinian Authority – whose leader once referred to him as the “son of a dog” – said it was weighing whether his “racist rhetoric” was grounds to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court.

Why? Because in an interview with The New York Times, Friedman said, “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

Friedman neither said the word “annex” nor “unilateral” in the interview, but all of a sudden his words were taken as if the Trump administration had suddenly given Israel a green light to annex the West Bank, something that Netanyahu put squarely on the agenda in the days leading up to the April 9 election when he said this was something he might consider.

Friedman also did not say how much of the West Bank Israel could retain. “Some” of the West Bank could range from the Western Wall to all of Area C.

The ambassador’s remarks came during a “wide-ranging” interview with the Times, and it is safe to assume that he neither knew exactly which questions he would be asked – though he probably had a good idea, considering this was not his first interview – nor that his remarks were cleared in advanced by the White House.

In the ensuing brouhaha, the White House clarified that its policy had “not changed.”

Which raises an even more important question: what is the US policy on annexation? What would it do if Israel unilaterally annexed any part of Judea and Samaria?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been asked this question repeatedly over the last number of weeks – twice in Senate hearings immediately after Netanyahu’s pre-election comments, and once in a meeting two weeks ago with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that was leaked to the press. And in each of those cases his answer was the same: everyone will see what the US vision is when the “Deal of the Century” is rolled out. To the Presidents Conference he articulated the hope that any decision toward annexation of territory would wait for the roll out of the plan.

“We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves,” Friedman said. “These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”

In short, the US has not articulated any policy regarding annexation – neither pro nor con – and that is actually the only new element here, because in contrast to previous administrations that indicated that unilateral annexation is unacceptable under any circumstances, this administration is not saying publicly that this is something that it is completely unacceptable.

At the same time, it is also not saying that unilateral annexation would be something that Washington accepts – and that is also not something Friedman said in his interview.

Moreover, Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, pointed out that by saying that Israel has the right to retain some of the territories taken in the Six Day War, Friedman was not breaking with traditional US policy, which was that Israel would withdraw from territories, but not all the territories, taken during the war.

Gold cited a number of instances which indicated that this was the US policy. For instance, this was the crux of the debate between Washington and Moscow during the drawing up of UN Security Council Resolution 242 following the war, with the US stubbornly insisting that the resolution call for a “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” not “all the territories” or even “the territories.” The language accepted implied that Israel would retain some territories so that it has “defensible borders,” another term that became a key part of US Middle East policy.

Twenty-three years later, US president George H.W. Bush opened up the Madrid Conference speaking of the need for territorial compromise, and not a full withdrawal from all the territories.

And his son, George W. Bush, wrote in his famous letter to Ariel Sharon in 2004, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”

For Friedman to say that Israel will retain an unspecified amount of territory is, therefore, not a fundamental break from US policy. What is worth looking into, on the other hand, is how and why over the years the idea that Israel will have to withdraw from all the territories acquired during the Six Day War has become so axiomatic, when that was not the intention of many US administrations, going back to President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.



(Tom Gross adds: The piece below was published in Haaretz before it was revealed that Friedman had never talked about unilateral annexation, as the New York Times claimed he had. Nevertheless it is worth reading, because Anshel Pfeffer makes some interesting points about how Prime Minister Netanyahu is in bind with Israel’s right wing as he refuses to give in to the right-wing’s demands.)


With Annexation Comment, Friedman Just Made Netanyahu’s Life More Difficult
For years, the prime minister has cited U.S. pressure to stymie settlement-building in the West Bank. The American ambassador just took away that excuse
By Anshel Pfeffer
June 10, 2019

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is no fool. You don’t have to understand much about business to realize that keeping Donald Trump afloat for over two decades through bankruptcy after bankruptcy, as Friedman did, was an act of financial and legal wizardry.

Friedman is also a man who has never tried very hard to hide his political views on Israel. His characterization, in a column he wrote for far-right outlet Arutz Sheva in 2016, of the pro-Israel organization J Street as being “far worse than Kapos ... smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas” is just one blatant example. (Note that this was a piece he himself wrote, one in which he could reflect on what he was saying before hitting “Send.”)

So, if anything, Friedman was on his best behavior – for him at least – when he was expertly interviewed last week by David Halbfinger in The New York Times. He was speaking not as a private citizen but as the U.S. ambassador, sitting in his official residence (now moved to Jerusalem). And from his point of view, he was making a concession. Friedman fervently believes Israel has a right to all of the West Bank, but in the interview he was prepared to accept that “Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.” This was Friedman at his most moderate.

There is a tendency among journalists and diplomats to see Friedman as Benjamin Netanyahu’s ideological partner. The truth is that while they are extremely well coordinated – probably on an unprecedented level for ambassador and leader of a foreign country in which the ambassador is stationed – Friedman is clearly to the right of Netanyahu. And while there is significant overlap, he adheres to a different ideology.

Friedman is a long-standing supporter of the religious settler movement and has even been a fundraiser for some of the most hard-core settlements in the West Bank. As far as he is concerned, the Jewish people has every right to every inch of land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, and relinquishing that land is both forbidden by the Torah and an existential threat to the Jewish state.

This makes him a member of an extremely vocal but relatively small community that probably numbers no more than 10 percent of American Jewry. It isn’t a large proportion of Israeli society either. The party that best represents his views, the Union of Right-Wing Parties, received less than four percent of the total vote in the April 9 Knesset election.

The bizarre sequence of events that made Trump president and his bankruptcy lawyer U.S. ambassador to Israel is, from Friedman’s perspective, divine intervention: A window of opportunity opening from the heavens to perpetuate Israel’s hold over Judea and Samaria.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, is a secular Jewish nationalist and pragmatist. He doesn’t believe in God; only in himself. And, like Friedman, he is adamantly opposed to granting the Palestinians sovereignty in the West Bank.

But he doesn’t seek to extend Israeli sovereignty over the entire territory either. He has no desire to rule directly over the Palestinians and would prefer to see them accepting limited autonomy over disjointed enclaves of Gaza and parts of the West Bank instead. He knows they are not about to accept that, so he is in no hurry to annex any territory beyond what Israel’s Labor government already annexed in and around Jerusalem in 1967.

For now, he is content to preserve Israel’s rule of Area C – the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and security control. Sovereignty can wait. If necessary, for another generation.

It’s a matter of priorities. While the settler movement has been clamoring for sovereignty for decades, Netanyahu has had other priorities – mainly countering Iran on multiple battlefields. The “creeping annexation,” the building of settlements and normalizing of the occupation, has been happening under every Israeli prime minister over the last 52 years. But Netanyahu would prefer not to provoke another intifada or jeopardize the ties he is building with the Saudis and other Arab regimes by annexing parts of the West Back anytime soon.

Back in April, when Netanyahu dangled annexation as an enticing carrot for right-wing voters, it was nothing more than an election promise. He was vague, contradictory and didn’t back it up with any form of policy planning. When he actually sat down for government coalition talks and the hard-right leaders made a list of demands for the first stage of annexations, he waved them away.

“We’ve talked to Trump’s people. We know that Netanyahu could do so much more,” said one frustrated right-winger. “He doesn’t want to, and he’s been making excuses that we have to wait for the Trump plan.”

Throughout his entire political career, Netanyahu’s overriding strategy has been to try to take the Palestinian issue off the international agenda. That meant both stymieing the Palestinians’ national aspirations but also reining in the settlers somewhat.

Over the years, international pressure on Israel has decreased as a result of fatigue from lack of progress; different politicians coming to power; and the gradual shift of the global center of gravity away from the West and toward Asian powers who are interested in commerce, not human rights. A rush for annexation, resulting in an outbreak of violence, could refocus international attention. Why risk it?

The easiest way for Netanyahu to counter the settlers’ demands while keeping them in his coalition was to complain about pressure from the Americans. That was his answer every time he was asked why Israel wasn’t building more settlements or evicting more Palestinians.

Friedman has taken away Netanyahu’s excuse.

It is certainly no coincidence that Netanyahu – usually so quick to praise the slightest gesture coming from the Trump administration – has yet to say a word publicly about the interview.

Friedman has done Netanyahu no favors. In less than 100 days – assuming the right wing/religious bloc wins another majority in 2019’s second election, which is almost a certainty – Netanyahu will be more vulnerable than ever.

The far right is furious at him for not appointing Bezalel Smotrich as justice minister, and for going behind their backs to Labor leader Avi Gabbay two weeks ago in an attempt to cement a last-minute coalition.

Netanyahu, with his pre-trial indictment hearings just around the corner, will have no more excuses when they demand annexation. By then, the Trump peace plan – if it ever existed in reality – will almost certainly be dead and buried after the farcical “economic workshop” in Bahrain and with Trump entering his own election season and quite possible impeachment.

Friedman has denied Netanyahu his main strategy for holding back the far right, and made his life much more difficult on the day after the September 17 election.


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

Why is YouTube banning videos which oppose anti-Semitism?

June 10, 2019

After years of requests to do so, YouTube (owned by Google) finally announced last week that they will start removing hundreds of thousands of videos promoting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. But instead they have banned a video I posted which opposes anti-Semitism. Please watch the short anti-Holocaust denial video below now, before Facebook also inadvertently bans it.



[Note by Tom Gross]

YouTube have already banned this video I posted even though it is an ANTI-racist, anti-Holocaust denial video. (See their email below.)

You may want to watch it here now on Facebook before Facebook also mistakenly removes it. You do not need a Facebook account to open it and watch it:

Or here:

This clip features the crusading British journalist Carole Cadwalladr. After it was broadcast two years ago, Google claimed to have changed their search criteria so “are Jews evil?” no longer comes up as an automatic result when people type in “are J…” which then directs users to anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial websites.

However, it was only last week (June 5, 2019) that YouTube, which is owned by Google, finally announced it would begin to take down Holocaust denial videos.

Yet it is also taking down educational videos which oppose Holocaust denial!

There are hundreds of thousands of anti-Semitic videos remaining on YouTube and millions of such posts on Facebook (quite a number spread by British Labour Party activists and MPs).

Carole Cadwalladr works for the Observer, and was formerly at the Daily Telegraph. (Before that, when both she and I were less “serious” journalists, she and I helped co-write the first edition of The Time Out Guide Book to Prague.)



Update, June 26, 2019:

Under media pressure, YouTube have now restored this video YouTube forced to restore video critical of Holocaust denial


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

Tom Gross on Turkish TV: The role Memri in Mideast coverage

June 05, 2019

This will be posted today

World media fails to note: Last survivor of Sobibor death camp dies aged 96

June 04, 2019

Semyon Rosenfeld with his grandson



[Note by Tom Gross]

There were very few survivors of the Sobibor Nazi extermination camp. The last one died yesterday.

Semyon Rosenfeld escaped Sobibor in 1943 during an uprising along with 300 other prisoners, most of whom were recaptured and shot.

Rosenfeld, who was born in Ukraine in 1922, died in hospital in the central Israeli city of Rehovot. He is survived by two sons and five grandchildren.

I posted about his death on Facebook yesterday but because almost no newspapers in the world outside of Israel (apart from one German one) have reported on his death either yesterday or so far today, I decided to note his death now to subscribers of this email list.



Auschwitz was both a death camp, and a slave labor and concentration camp. And while the vast majority of those murdered at Auschwitz were Jews, others were held and killed at Auschwitz too, including Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war.

But Sobibor, Treblinka and Belzec were the three largest pure extermination camps, set up solely for the purpose of murdering Jews en masse, and staffed primarily by German Nazis and Ukrainian volunteers.

At least 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor between April 1942 and October 1943, making it the fourth most deadly camp after Treblinka, Belzec, and Auschwitz.

There were only a handful of survivors at Sobibor. Jews from Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union, were gassed to death there.

At Belzec, where over 600,000 Jews were murdered according to Yad Vashem, only seven Jews performing slave labor for the camp’s staff survived.

The Sobibor death camp was destroyed by the Germans at the end of 1943 in order to erase the evidence of its existence.

Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid paid tribute to Semyon Rosenfeld in statements they issued yesterday.

Semyon Rosenfeld’s parents and other family members were all murdered during the Holocaust.



Updating: Vile ‘Miss Hitler’ beauty contest held; Vienna Holocaust exhibit defiled for third time this month (May 28, 2019)

The Miss Hitler page on the Russian equivalent of Facebook has now been removed by the Russian service provider, although the contest is still continuing.

The page was written on the site in English for an international audience by the Portuguese neo-Nazis who are organizing the event.


Updating: Using football to attack the Jews

A few hours after I sent my dispatch yesterday, George Galloway was fired from his show by TalkRadio. TalkRadio is owned by a UK subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Rupert Murdoch’s personal assistant and advisor is a subscriber to this list.

Galloway responded to news of his sacking by threatening the station with legal action. He wrote on Twitter: “See you in court guys … Long live Palestine.”

I also forgot to note another Israeli player, Yossi Benayoun, who played at Liverpool. Tony Barrett also omitted him from his list of Israelis who played for Liverpool, including Ronnie Rosenthal and Avi Cohen.

Galloway was a political ally of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, although he recently switched to support the far right Brexit party.

In a speech yesterday Tony Blair, a former prime minister and long-time leader of Labour, said Corbyn is an anti-Semite who doesn’t know that he is one.

He called the anti-Semitism of those around Corbyn “shameful”.

Blair said he no longer recognizes the party he led from 1994 until 2007.


Ivo Schwarz, out walking with his dog passing a memorial to some murdered Israelis, while serving as Czech ambassador to Israel



When possible, I note the passing of long time subscribers to this email list who I knew personally.

I didn’t have the appropriate dispatch to mention this in before. I would like to note with sadness the death a few weeks ago of former Czech ambassador to Israel (and previously head of the Czech intelligence services), Ivo Schwarz, who had been bravely battling leukemia.

Ivo, who I knew for many years and was a longtime subscriber to this Middle East dispatch list, did much to help strengthen the close relations between the Czech Republic and Israel, both in public and behind the scenes.

He never lost his sense of humor even while he was ill these past two years.

He was also very proud of his Jewish heritage on his father’s side. His grandfather survived Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp.


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

MbZ, not MbS, is the most powerful Arab ruler and maybe the richest man in the world

Above: Pope Francis with MbZ (Prince Mohammed bin Zayed) of the United Arab Emirates during the Pope’s visit to the UAE in February 2019.

MbZ hosted Likud cabinet ministers last year, sent his foreign minister to meet secretly with Israeli PM Netanyahu as early as 2012, and – furious with Obama’s Iran nuclear deal – abruptly cancelled lunch with President Obama at the White House in 2016 and flew from Washington to New York to request a meeting with Jared Kushner instead.

One third of MbZ’s cabinet are women, and he has established franchises of the Louvre and the Guggenheim, as well as sent UAE troops to fight in at least six wars.



[Notes by Tom Gross]

I attach two articles below.

The first is a lengthy profile of the leader of the United Arab Emirates, Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ), by David Kirkpatrick in Sunday’s New York Times.

The second, by Dr Adnan Abu Amer in the Middle East Monitor, is titled “The PA and the UAE have a long-standing estrangement.”

For those who don’t have time to read the first very long piece, here are a few points that I extracted from it (together with one or two of my own):


MbZ is the son of a semi-literate Bedouin who founded the United Arab Emirates.

He is a British, Sandhurst-trained helicopter pilot who already in 1991 persuaded his father to transfer $4 billion into the United States treasury to help pay for the first war in Iraq.

Thirty years later, Prince Mohammed, now 58, is arguably the most powerful leader in the Arab world. He is also among the most anti-Iran.

He helped lift his protégé to power in Saudi Arabia: Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), now 33.


His tiny country has fewer citizens than Rhode Island. But MbZ may be the richest man in the world. He controls sovereign wealth funds worth $1.3 trillion, more than any other country.

Unlike any other Arab state, the UAE have deployed their forces to fight alongside the United States military in six conflicts: in Iraq, Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, and against the Islamic State.

His military are currently active in Yemen, Libya, Somalia and in Egypt’s North Sinai.

MbZ has established a ring of ports and bases around the Horn of Africa.

He acquired more weaponry in the four years before 2010 than the other five Gulf monarchies combined, including 80 F-16 fighters, 30 Apache combat helicopters, and 62 French Mirage jets.

Western diplomats say (according to leaked Wikileaks cables) that MbZ is obsessed with two enemies, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.


Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, said Obama’s sympathy for the Arab Spring and negotiations with Iran brought blistering criticism from MbZ more than from any other Middle East leader.

MbZ reached out to Trump’s inner circle early on, holding a secret meeting during the transition period with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.


The United Arab Emirates are a tiny federation of city-states, yet Abu Dhabi alone accounts for 6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, making it a tempting target to a larger neighbor like Iran. In 1971, when the UAE gained independence from Britain, the shah of Iran seized three disputed Persian Gulf islands.


American officials invariably describe MbZ as “concise, inquisitive, even humble. He pours his own coffee, and to illustrate his love for America, sometimes tells visitors that he has taken his grandchildren to Disney World incognito.”


In the capital, Abu Dhabi, he has overseen a construction craze that has hidden the former coastline behind man-made islands. One is intended to become a financial district akin to Wall Street. Another includes a campus of New York University, a franchise of the Louvre and a planned extension of the Guggenheim.

Each winter, Prince Mohammed invites financiers and former officials to Abu Dhabi for a salon that demonstrates his global influence.

The guest list last December included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and a Russian businessman linked to Vladimir Putin.


Women have more opportunities than most other Arab countries: A third of his cabinet ministers are female.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE allow Christian churches and Hindu and Sikh temples, partly to accommodate a vast foreign work force. The country has nine million residents, but fewer than a million citizens; the rest are foreign workers.

He has hosted the Special Olympics and Pope Francis.


Prince Mohammed sees Israel as an ally against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel trusted him enough to sell him upgrades for his F-16s, as well as advanced mobile phone spyware.

Among previous related dispatches:

* Israeli warplanes hold joint exercise with UAE (March 28, 2017)
* How Israel’s tech firms are quietly doing business in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states (Feb. 2, 2017)


By 2015, MbZ was disappointed with Obama for his overly pro-Palestinian positions which he thought encouraged the Palestinian leadership to be even more intransigent, and together with the new Saudi leadership was urging Obama that the Palestinians should be cajoled into a peace agreement using the so-called “outside-in” approach to a deal, which the Trump administration has now adopted.


In December 2016, the prince abruptly cancelled lunch with Obama at the White House and instead flew to New York to meet Jared Kushner and other advisers to president-elect Trump.

As the New York Times says: “The trip was supposed to be secret, but intelligence agencies detected the prince’s arrival. Mr. Obama’s advisers were stunned. But Prince Mohammed was already working to reverse the administration’s policies, talking to Mr. Trump’s advisers about the dangers of Iran and about Palestinian peace talks, according to two people familiar with the meetings.”



Tom Gross adds:

As I have previously reported, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed met secretly as early as September 2012 to discuss their joint alarm over what they saw as President Obama’s appeasement policy towards the Islamic regime in Iran. This is unsurprising since some in the Iranian regime have designs on the UAE, just as they wish to also destroy Israel.

Since then, there have been increasing ties behind the scenes, which last year came out into the open. The UAE hosted two hard-line Israeli Likud cabinet ministers at the end of October 2018, Miri Regev and Ayoob Kara.

See: Four Israeli ministers visit Gulf states in the space of just over a week - and without headscarves



The Most Powerful Arab Ruler Isn’t M.B.S. It’s M.B.Z.
By David D. Kirkpatrick
New York Times
June 2, 2019

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the 29-year-old commander of the almost negligible air force of the United Arab Emirates, had come to Washington shopping for weapons.

In 1991, in the months after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the young prince wanted to buy so much military hardware to protect his own oil-rich monarchy – from Hellfire missiles to Apache helicopters to F-16 jets – that Congress worried he might destabilize the region.

But the Pentagon, trying to cultivate accommodating allies in the Gulf, had identified Prince Mohammed as a promising partner. The favorite son of the semi-literate Bedouin who founded the United Arab Emirates, Prince Mohammed was a serious-minded, British-trained helicopter pilot who had persuaded his father to transfer $4 billion into the United States treasury to help pay for the 1991 war in Iraq.

Richard A. Clarke, then an assistant secretary of state, reassured lawmakers that the young prince would never become “an aggressor.”

“The U.A.E. is not now and never will be a threat to stability or peace in the region,” Mr. Clarke said in congressional testimony. “That is very hard to imagine. Indeed, the U.A.E. is a force for peace.”

Thirty years later, Prince Mohammed, now 58, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, is arguably the most powerful leader in the Arab world. He is also among the most influential foreign voices in Washington, urging the United States to adopt his increasingly bellicose approach to the region.

Prince Mohammed is almost unknown to the American public and his tiny country has fewer citizens than Rhode Island. But he may be the richest man in the world. He controls sovereign wealth funds worth $1.3 trillion, more than any other country.

His influence operation in Washington is legendary (Mr. Clarke got rich on his payroll). His military is the Arab world’s most potent, equipped through its work with the United States to conduct high-tech surveillance and combat operations far beyond its borders.

For decades, the prince has been a key American ally, following Washington’s lead, but now he is going his own way. His special forces are active in Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Egypt’s North Sinai. He has worked to thwart democratic transitions in the Middle East, helped install a reliable autocrat in Egypt and boosted a protégé to power in Saudi Arabia.

At times, the prince has contradicted American policy and destabilized neighbors. Rights groups have criticized him for jailing dissidents at home, for his role in creating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and for backing the Saudi prince whose agents killed the dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Yet under the Trump administration, his influence in Washington appears greater than ever. He has a rapport with Mr. Trump, who has frequently adopted the prince’s views on Qatar, Libya and Saudi Arabia, even over the advice of cabinet officials or senior national security staff.

Western diplomats who know the prince – known as M.B.Z. – say he is obsessed with two enemies, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Trump has sought to move strongly against both and last week took steps to bypass congressional opposition to keep selling weapons to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“M.B.Z. has an extraordinary way of telling Americans his own interests but making it come across as good advice about the region,” said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama, whose sympathy for the Arab Spring and negotiations with Iran brought blistering criticism from the Emirati prince. When it comes to influence in Washington, Mr. Rhodes added, “M.B.Z. is in a class by himself.”

Prince Mohammed worked assiduously before the presidential election to crack Mr. Trump’s inner circle, and secured a secret meeting during the transition period with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The prince also tried to broker talks between the Trump administration and Russia, a gambit that later entangled him in the special counsel’s investigation into foreign election interference.

Today, at least five people working for Prince Mohammed have been caught up in criminal investigations growing out of that inquiry. A regular visitor to the United States for three decades, Prince Mohammed has now stayed away for two years, in part because he fears prosecutors might seek to question him or his aides, according to two people familiar with his thinking. (His brother, the foreign minister, has visited.)

The United Arab Emirates’ Embassy in Washington declined to comment. The prince’s many American defenders say it is only prudent of him to try to shape United States policy, as many governments do, and that he sees his interventions as an attempt to compensate for an American pullback.

But Prince Mohammed’s critics say that his rise is a study in unintended consequences. The obscure young prince whom Washington adopted as a pliant ally is now fanning his volatile region’s flames.

By arming the United Arab Emirates with such advanced surveillance technology, commandos and weaponry, argued Tamara Cofman Wittes, a former State Department official and fellow at the Brookings Institution. “We have created a little Frankenstein.”

[Note by Tom Gross: the New York Times fails to mention that the Brookings Institution received substantial funds from UAE’s regional enemy Qatar, whereas it did mention that Richard A. Clarke, who it cites earlier in the piece, received funds from UAE.]


Most Arab royals are paunchy, long-winded and prone to keep visitors waiting. Not Prince Mohammed.

He graduated at the age of 18 from the British officers’ training program at Sandhurst. He stays slim and fit, trades tips with visitors about workout machines, and never arrives late for a meeting.

American officials invariably describe him as concise, inquisitive, even humble. He pours his own coffee, and to illustrate his love for America, sometimes tells visitors that he has taken his grandchildren to Disney World incognito.

He makes time for low-ranking American officials and greets senior dignitaries at the airport. With a shy, lopsided smile, he will offer a tour of his country, then climb into a helicopter to fly his guest over the skyscrapers and lagoons of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“There was always a ‘wow’ factor with M.B.Z.,” recalled Marcelle Wahba, a former American ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

In the capital, Abu Dhabi, he has overseen a construction craze that has hidden the former coastline behind man-made islands. One is intended to become a financial district akin to Wall Street. Another includes a campus of New York University, a franchise of the Louvre and a planned extension of the Guggenheim.

When he meets Americans, Prince Mohammed emphasizes the things that make the United Arab Emirates more liberal than their neighbors. Women have more opportunities: A third of the cabinet ministers are female.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates allow Christian churches and Hindu or Sikh temples, partly to accommodate a vast foreign work force. (The country is estimated to have nine million residents, but fewer than a million citizens; the rest are foreign workers.)

To underscore the point, the prince last year created a Ministry of Tolerance and declared this the “Year of Tolerance.” He has hosted the Special Olympics and Pope Francis.

“I think he has done admirable work not just in diversifying the economy but in diversifying the system of thought of the population as well,” said Gen. John R. Allen, former commander of United States and N.A.T.O. forces in Afghanistan, now president of the Brookings Institution. (In between, General Allen was an adviser to the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Defense.)

The United Arab Emirates are a tiny federation of city-states, yet Abu Dhabi alone accounts for 6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, making it a tempting target to a larger neighbor like Iran. In 1971, when the U.A.E. gained independence from Britain, the shah of Iran seized three disputed Persian Gulf islands.

The Muslim Brotherhood, a 90-year-old Islamist movement founded in Egypt, has become mainstream in many Arab countries. On that subject, Prince Mohammed says his dread is more personal.

His father assigned a prominent Brotherhood member, Ezzedine Ibrahim, as Prince Mohammed’s tutor, and he attempted an indoctrination that backfired, the prince often says.

“I am an Arab, I am a Muslim and I pray. And in the 1970s and early 1980s I was one of them,” Prince Mohammed told visiting American diplomats in 2007, as they reported in a classified cable released by WikiLeaks. “I believe these guys have an agenda.”

He worries about the appeal of Islamist politics to his population. As many as 80 percent of the soldiers in his forces would answer the call of “some holy man in Mecca,” he once told American diplomats, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

For that reason, diplomats say, Prince Mohammed has long argued that the Arab world is not ready for democracy. Islamists would win any elections.

“In any Muslim country, you will see the same result,” he said in a 2007 meeting with American officials. “The Middle East is not California.”

The United Arab Emirates began allowing American forces to operate from bases inside the country during the Persian Gulf war of 1991. Since then, the prince’s commandos and air forces have been deployed with the Americans in Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as against the Islamic State.

He has recruited American commanders to run his military and former spies to set up his intelligence services. He also acquired more weaponry in the four years before 2010 than the other five Gulf monarchies combined, including 80 F-16 fighters, 30 Apache combat helicopters, and 62 French Mirage jets.

Some American officers describe the United Arab Emirates as “Little Sparta.”

With advice from former top military commanders including former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and General Allen, Prince Mohammed has even developed an Emirati defense industry, producing an amphibious armored vehicle known as The Beast and others that he is already supplying to clients in Libya and Egypt.

The United Arab Emirates are also preparing a low-altitude propeller-driven bomber for counterinsurgency combat – an idea Mr. Mattis had long recommended for the United States, a former officer close to him said.

Prince Mohammed has often told American officials that he saw Israel as an ally against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel trusted him enough to sell him upgrades for his F-16s, as well as advanced mobile phone spyware.

To many in Washington, Prince Mohammed had become America’s best friend in the region, a dutiful partner who could be counted on for tasks from countering Iranian influence in Lebanon to funding construction in Iraq.

“It was well known that if you needed something done in the Middle East,” recalled Richard G. Olson, a former United States ambassador to Abu Dhabi, “the Emiratis would do it.”


Prince Mohammed seemed to find a kindred spirit when President Barack Obama took office in 2009, White House aides said. Both were detached, analytic and intrigued by big questions. For a time, Mr. Obama sought out phone conversations with Prince Mohammed more than with any other foreign leader, several senior White House officials recalled.

But the Arab Spring came between them. Uprisings swept the region. The Muslim Brotherhood was winning elections. And Mr. Obama appeared to endorse the demands for democracy – though in Syria, where the uprising threatened a foe of the Emiratis, he balked at military action.

Then it emerged that the Obama administration was in secret nuclear talks with Iran.

“They felt not only ignored – they felt betrayed by the Obama administration, and I think Prince Mohammed felt it particularly and personally,” said Stephen Hadley, a national security adviser under President George W. Bush who has stayed close to the prince.

After the uprisings, Prince Mohammed saw the United Arab Emirates as the only one of the 22 Arab states still on its feet, with a stable government, functional economy, able military and “moderate ideology,” said Abdulkhalleq Abdulla, an Emirati political scientist with access to the country’s senior officials.

“The U.A.E. is part of this very dangerous region that is getting more dangerous by the day – full of chaos and wars and extremists,” he said. “So the motivation is this: If we don’t go after the bad guys, they will come after us.”

At home, Prince Mohammed hired a company linked to Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater, to create a force of Colombian, South African and other mercenaries. He crushed any hint of dissent, arresting five activists for organizing a petition for democratic reforms (signed by only 132 people) and rounding up dozens suspected of sympathizing with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The United Arab Emirates revved up its influence machine in Washington, too. They were among the biggest spenders among foreign governments on Washington advocates and consultants, paying as much $21 million in 2017, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics. They earned good will with million-dollar donations after natural disasters, and they sought to frame public debate by giving millions more to major think tanks.

The Middle East Institute recently received $20 million. Its chairman is Mr. Clarke, the former official who pushed through the U.A.E. defense contracts. After leaving government in 2003, he had also founded a consultancy with the United Arab Emirates as a primary client. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Emirati Ambassador Yousef Otaiba hammered his many contacts in the White House and on Capitol Hill, arguing that Mr. Obama was ceding the region to extremists and Iran. The prince himself made the case at the highest levels. He “gave me an earful,” former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recalled in a memoir.

In the Middle East, Prince Mohammed did more than talk. In Egypt, he backed a military takeover in 2013 that removed an elected president who was a Muslim Brotherhood leader. In the Horn of Africa, he dispatched a force to Somalia first to combat piracy and then to fight extremists. He went on to establish commercial ports or naval bases around the Gulf of Aden.

In Libya, Prince Mohammed defied American pleas and a United Nations embargo by arming the forces of the militia leader and would-be strongman Khalifa Hifter. Emirati pilots carried out airstrikes in Tripoli and eventually established an air base in eastern Libya.

In the past, the prince looked for a “green light” from Washington, said Ms. Wahba, the former American ambassador. Now he may send a heads-up, she said, but “he is not asking permission anymore.”

Saudi Arabia, the giant next door, had quarreled with the United Arab Emirates over borders and, as the regional heavyweight, also constrained U.A.E. foreign policy. By the end of 2014, the position of crown prince – next in line for the throne – had passed to a known foe of the Emirati prince.

So he plunged into the internal Saudi succession battle and waged an all-out lobbying campaign in Washington on behalf of a little-known alternative: the 29-year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a favorite son of the aged Saudi king.

“M.B.Z.’s message was, if you trust me and you like me, you will like this guy because he is cut from the same cloth,” recalled Mr. Rhodes, the Obama adviser.

By March 2015, the two princes had invaded Yemen together to roll back a takeover by a faction aligned with Iran. Then in 2017, as the Saudi prince consolidated his power, they cut off all trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar to pressure it into abandoning support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Both the Yemen and Qatar conflicts are routinely described as Saudi-led, but the Emirati prince first sought to sell them to Washington, Mr. Rhodes and other former officials recalled.

By late 2015, American diplomats say, Prince Mohammed was also suggesting that the United Arab Emirates and a new Saudi leadership could be crucial in bringing the Palestinians around to some new peace agreement – the so-called “outside-in” approach to a deal.

But for that, Prince Mohammed awaited a new administration.


It was meant to be a personal farewell.

Despite their sharp differences, Prince Mohammed had remained cordial with Mr. Obama, and the president thought they shared a mutual respect, according to four senior White House officials. So when the prince requested a final meeting, as friends, Mr. Obama agreed to a lunch at the White House in December 2016.

But Prince Mohammed backed out without much explanation. He flew instead to New York for his first face-to-face meeting with Jared Kushner and other advisers to the president-elect, Donald J. Trump.

To arrange the meetings, Prince Mohammed had turned to a financier, Richard Gerson, founder of Falcon Edge Capital. He had worked with the prince for years, and he was also a friend of Mr. Kushner.

“I am always here as your trusted family back channel any time you want to discreetly pass something,” Mr. Gerson wrote to the prince after the election in a private text message, one of several provided to The Times by a third party and corroborated independently. He signed off another message as “your loyal soldier.”

The trip was supposed to be secret, but intelligence agencies detected the prince’s arrival. Mr. Obama’s advisers were stunned. But Prince Mohammed was already working to reverse the administration’s policies, talking to Mr. Trump’s advisers about the dangers of Iran and about Palestinian peace talks, according to two people familiar with the meetings.

“They were deeply impressed with you and already are convinced that you are their true friend and closest ally,” Mr. Gerson wrote to the prince after the meetings.

Prince Mohammed was positioning himself as an intermediary to Russia, too.

One of Prince Mohammed’s younger brothers had introduced Mr. Gerson to a Russian businessman who acts as a liaison between President Vladimir V. Putin and the Persian Gulf monarchs, according to the special counsel’s report. The Russian businessman, Kirill Dmitriev, conferred with Mr. Gerson about a “reconciliation plan” for the United States and Russia, and shortly before the inauguration Mr. Gerson gave a two-page summary of the plan to Mr. Kushner.

Mr. Gerson declined to comment for this article.

The next month, in January, Prince Mohammed invited Mr. Dmitriev to an Emirati retreat in the Seychelles to meet with someone else they thought represented the Trump team: Mr. Prince, the Blackwater founder who had recruited mercenaries for the United Arab Emirates.

Why Prince Mohammed would seek to connect Russia with Mr. Trump’s circle remains a matter of debate, but he has worked for years to try to entice Mr. Putin away from Iran, according to American diplomats and leaked emails from the Emirati ambassador in Washington.

But prosecutors are also investigating the activities of other operatives and go-betweens working for the prince who tried to insinuate themselves around Mr. Trump.

Investigators are still examining the campaign contacts of an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation who has worked for Prince Mohammed and of a Lebanese-American businessman who acted as his emissary. Other prosecutors are investigating whether another top Republican donor whose security company worked for the prince should legally have registered as his agent.

The special counsel’s office has also questioned Rashid al-Malik, an Emirati real-estate developer based in Los Angeles who is close to Prince Mohammed and to his brother – the head of Emirati intelligence. Mr. al-Malik is also close to Mr. Trump’s friend Tom Barrack, and investigators are asking whether Mr. al-Malik was part of an illegal influence scheme, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Another investigation, prompted by a whistle-blower, is examining the possibility that the United Arab Emirates used cyberespionage techniques from former American operatives to spy on American citizens.

Yet the prince’s courtship of the Trump administration has not been damaged. In the two and a half years since his first meeting with Mr. Kushner, Prince Mohammed has received almost everything he sought from the White House.


Each winter, Prince Mohammed invites financiers and former officials to Abu Dhabi for a salon that demonstrates his global influence.

The guest list last December included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Mr. Hadley, the Bush-era national security adviser; the American investors Mohamed A. El-Erian, David M. Rubenstein and Thomas S. Kaplan; and the Chinese computer scientist and investor Kai-Fu Lee.

Undeterred, the prince also included Mr. Dmitriev, the Russian businessman linked to Mr. Putin.

Prince Mohammed’s post-Arab Spring interventions have hardly stabilized the region. An aide he sent to Cairo to help turn around the moribund economy has returned in frustration.

Egypt’s military-backed government still depends on billions of dollars a year in assistance from the United Arab Emirates and its Gulf allies, and despite Emirati help and Israeli airstrikes, Cairo has not yet quelled a militant backlash centered in the North Sinai.

The isolation of Qatar has failed to change its policies. In Libya, Khalifa Hifter is mired in a bloody stalemate.

Prince Mohammed’s push in the Horn of Africa has set off a competition for access and influence among rivals like Turkey and Qatar. In Somalia, after allegations of bribery by the fragile central government, Emirati forces have shifted to the semiautonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland.

Djibouti, alleging neglect, last year replaced its Emirati port managers with a Chinese rival.

“He thinks he is Machiavelli but he acts more like Mussolini,” said Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and a former official in the Central Intelligence Agency.

In Saudi Arabia, the Emirati prince has been embarrassed by the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that his Saudi protégé had ordered the brutal murder of Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia-based Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist. Their joint, four-year-old intervention in Yemen is turning into a quagmire, with horrific civilian casualties.

“The U.A.E. is a stain on the world conscience – the U.A.E. as it is currently governed is violating every norm of the civilized world,” said Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California.

Yet the prince’s standing remains strong inside the Trump administration. The “outside-in” proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace passed over by the Obama administration are at the core of Mr. Kushner’s emerging plans.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly backed the positions of the Emirati prince: by endorsing his Saudi protégé after the Khashoggi killing, by applauding the isolation of Qatar even as the secretary of state and secretary of defense publicly opposed it, by canceling the nuclear deal with Iran, by seeking to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, and by vetoing legislation to cut off American military support for Saudi and Emirati forces in Yemen.

Last month, Mr. Trump publicly endorsed the Emiratis’ favored militia leader in Libya one day after a phone call with Prince Mohammed – even through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had previously urged the same leader to retreat.

Mr. Mattis, the former secretary of defense, last month delivered a lecture in Abu Dhabi sponsored by Prince Mohammed. When he joined the Trump administration, Mr. Mattis disclosed that he had received $242,000 in annual fees as well as valuable stock options as a board member at the defense contractor General Dynamics, which does extensive business with Abu Dhabi. He had also worked as an unpaid adviser to Prince Mohammed.

“It’s the Year of Tolerance. How many countries in the world right now are having a year of tolerance?” Mr. Mattis asked. “I don’t know of any,” he said. “You are an example.”



The PA and the UAE have a long-standing estrangement
By Dr Adnan Abu Amer
Middle East monitor
May 20, 2019

The relations between the Palestinian Authority and the United Arab Emirates are not at their best; the two are almost totally and officially estranged due to their growing differences over various issues. These include the UAE’s growing normalisation with Israel; Abu Dhabi’s support for PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s archenemy, Mohammed Dahlan; and the talk of pressure on the PA by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to accept the US “deal of the century”.

The latest episodes of PA-UAE tension revealed Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Information Minister and spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, violating diplomatic norms last month when he denied knowing Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs by saying that he had never heard of him. His comment was in response to a question by French television regarding the UAE official’s demand for the Palestinians to open up on Arab-Israeli communication.

Abu Rudeineh continued to be harsh towards the UAE, saying that the normalisation campaigns with Israel carried out by some Arab countries (including the UAE, although he did not mention it by name) are violations of the Arab Peace Initiative and resolutions, and are happening under US pressure.

Saeb Erekat, Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee, expressed his own disbelief at Gargash’s demand. He called upon the UAE minister to correct his mistake.

The foreign and international relations advisor to the Palestinian President, Nabil Shaath, kept the pressure up by agreeing with his two colleagues in their attack on the Emirates. He pointed out that the UAE’s hosting of Israel at the Expo 2020 in Dubai was “contrary to the decision of the Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, and contrary to the Palestinian position.” There will be official contact with the UAE on the matter, he added. “We have asked all Arab countries to stop any normalisation with Israel and to abide by the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for normalisation only after Israel withdraws completely from all of the territories that it occupied in 1967.”

As far as Israel is concerned, the UAE invitation to participate in the exhibition is “another expression of its rising status in the world and the region.”

The UAE’s normalisation with Israel is at the top of the list of reasons for the tension in the UAE’s relationship with the PA. There is a long list of normalisation visits between Israel and the UAE, both secret and public, which have caused the escalating tension. The most recent of these was the visit to the UAE by the leader of Israel’s opposition Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, in early December last year, during which he met with senior officials in Abu Dhabi and discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the deal of the century, the regional threat posed by Iran and the political situation in Israel. After returning to Tel Aviv, Gabbay apparently briefed Mossad spy chief Yossi Cohen on the outcome of his talks.

The UAE also hosted two Israeli ministers at the end of October 2018. The first to go was Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev, the extremist Likud Party official. She watched the Israeli competitors at the International Judo Federation’s Grand Slam competition. The Israeli flag was raised on a large screen, the national anthem was played, and the Israeli team performed their religious rituals in the heart of Abu Dhabi.

This participation prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say, “There is much hope when we hear our national anthem; everyone is moved by this honour and pride.” The Israelis considered what happened in Abu Dhabi as a “major moment that every Israeli has awaited to signal that something great has happened.”

We then saw an Israeli delegation led by Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara taking part in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai. Israel’s name was written on two place cards which were placed on the table in front of the delegates.

In July 2017 it was revealed that a secret meeting had been held between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed at the end of September 2012.

The PA is not an innocent party in all of this, though. The UAE and other Arab countries have pointed out that the authority itself continues to hold “normal” meetings with the Israelis and insists on continuing its security coordination with the occupying power. Its criticism of the UAE and others stems from the fear of these countries disregarding the PA and establishing direct relations with Israel without the involvement of any mediators. Another factor contributing to strained Palestinian-UAE relations is Donald Trump’s “deal of the century”.

According to press reports last September, Arab countries held secret meetings in Abu Dhabi to change the features of the Palestinian issue, under the direct guidance of US President Donald Trump’s administration and Palestinian figures residing abroad who have major differences with President Abbas.

As no official parties from the PA attended these meetings, it was seen as a clear indicator that what was being prepared goes against the Palestinian position on the deal of the century, because the agendas focused on how to pressure the Palestinians to change their political positions towards Israel and the United States. They also discussed how to change the Palestinian scene to align with the normalisation projects to get closer to Israel.

A number of media and academic voices, either Emirati or close to the UAE, have tried to promote the deal of the century as bringing with it financial investment of benefit to a number of Arab countries. The value of passing the deal to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is estimated at $25 billion over 10 years. These voices have accused the Palestinians who reject the deal of arrogance that will not benefit their cause.

People close to Abu Dhabi have, in recent years, accused the PA and Fatah leadership of failure and corruption, and lacking in the confidence and trust of the people. The UAE stopped all of its aid to the PA after being ranked the 4th among the main countries offering financial support to the PA, to the tune of $2 billion.

The leadership of the Palestinians is another issue for the UAE, which favours its protégé Mohammed Dahlan to take over from President Abbas. The close relationship between Dahlan and Mohammed Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is the bridge that the former Fatah official wants to use to gain a senior position in the Palestinian leadership, either before or after Abbas steps down. Dahlan stands to be arrested if he returns to the occupied Palestinian territories, so he remains based in Abu Dhabi.

UAE officials have also admitted their support for Salam Fayyad after his resignation from the Palestinian government in 2013 because of major differences with Abbas. He decided to establish an NGO, which Abu Dhabi backed with $10 million, but the Palestinian Attorney-General accused the UAE of trying to launder money through the Palestinian territories. The PA confirmed that the funds were transferred from Dahlan’s account, and were not Emirati funds.

The situation has now reached the stage that the PA boycotts the National Islamic Commission for Development and Social Solidarity, a body supported fully by the UAE. It includes representatives from all of the Palestinian factions, except for Fatah, led by Abbas, because Dahlan oversees and coordinates the commission’s work.

The Palestinian press close to the PA has periodically launched unprecedented media campaigns against the UAE. They have accused the UAE of being involved in leasing Palestinian properties in Jerusalem to Israeli settler groups. This prompted the UAE to threaten the PA with stopping all dealings with it if it continues to make such accusations about its role in Jerusalem.

As long as these factors remain, we will continue to see the PA-UAE relationship in crisis. This will deprive the PA of much-needed funding. At the same time, the UAE will become even more unpopular amongst the people of Palestine due to its role in the Israeli and US pressure on the Palestinian leadership.


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Using football to attack the Jews

June 03, 2019


[Note by Tom Gross]

The head of the Liverpool supporters club Tony Barrett responds to a tweet by the left-wing British politician George Galloway (who also adds an umlaut, hint hint).

For those who don't know, Ronnie Rosenthal and Avi Cohen were Israelis who played for Liverpool football club in the past. Galloway is also probably unaware that Shankly was famously philo-Semitic.

Liverpool beat Tottenham in the European champions club soccer final on Saturday evening in Madrid. (It is the world's leading annual football club event, watched by a television audience of hundreds of millions of people.)

Tottenham is a north London district which traditionally had a sizable working class Jewish population.

Tottenham FC this morning issued a statement condemning George Galloway's "blatant antisemitism".

When Galloway was the MP for the English city of Bradford in 2014, he infamously declared he wanted to make the city an "Israel-free zone".

In the U.K., he continues to have his own popular radio show on TalkRadio, from which he spews his hateful views.


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