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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Should Israel Get Some Credit?

Guest post by Challah Hu Akbar aka CHA

On January 26, 2011, Treasury designated Ayman Joumaa, as well as nine individuals and 19 entities as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers. According to Treasury, Joumaa’s network “used LCB [Lebanese Canadian Bank] to launder narcotics proceeds.” In addition, Treasury said that “Hizballah derived financial support from the criminal activities of Joumaa’s network.”

When Treasury designated the Lebanese Canadian Bank, on February 10, 2011, “as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern” it said that “Joumaa's organization uses, among other things, Hizballah couriers to transport and launder narcotics proceeds. Joumaa's organization pays fees to Hizballah to facilitate the transportation and laundering of narcotics proceeds.” According to Treasury, the investigation’s findings “exposes the terrorist organization Hizballah’s links to LCB and the international narcotics trafficking and money laundering network.”

The New York Times recently reported on the connection between the Lebanese Canadian Bank and Hezbollah and on December 15, a complaint was filed by the US government, which stated that “some of the funds move to LCB’s U.S. correspondent accounts via suspiciously structured electronic wire transfers to multiple U.S.-based used car dealerships—some of which are operated by individuals who have been separately identified in drug-related investigations.”

While much of the focus has since been on the 30 car dealerships reportedly tied to the Hezbollah scheme, one minor detail has been lost from the NY Times report.

For the United States, taking down the bank was part of a long-running strategy of deploying financial weapons to fight terrorism. This account of the serpentine, six-year inquiry and what has since been revealed is based on interviews with government, law enforcement and banking officials across three continents, as well as intelligence reports and police and corporate records.

So, what happened in February 2005six years prior to the LCB's designation?

Israeli National Security Council Counterterrorism Director General Danny Arditi met with Treasury U/S Stuart Levey and his delegation on February 14 in Ramat Hasharon, near Tel Aviv…During his briefing for the USDEL, Brigadier General  Danny Arditi was joined by his Deputy for International Coordination Amnon Zehavi, Advisor for Terrorism Finance Lt. Col. Udi Levi, Advisor for Intelligence Uzi Shaya, NSA Legal Advisor Roy Dick, Israeli Embassy officer Eynat Shlien, Advisor for Intelligence Lt. Col. Amon Prodik, and a military staffer.  Treasury U/S for Enforcement and Head of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey was accompanied by Senior Advisor Adam Szubin, DAS Daniel Glaser, Senior Advisor Anne Wallwork, Public Affairs Specialist Molly Millerwise, IRS Senior Analyst Mark Weber, USSS Agent Jacqueline Marengo, USSS Agent Scott Salo, and Embassy notetaker.

Levi charged that at least two banks (the Lebanese-Canadian Bank and the Societe Generale de Banque au Liban) are "connected directly to the financial infrastructure of Hizballah."  In addition, he said, a Bank of America branch in the tri-border area of South America is handling Hizballah funds.  Shaya added that the Chavez government is allowing Hizballah to operate in Venezuela. Levi claimed that several NGOs in the United States are also supporting Hizballah and asked for them to be included on the USG lists of organizations that finance terrorism.  He agreed to provide further details on the banks and NGOs during the next terrorism finance meeting in Washington.

Should Israel get some credit?

Hamas cracks down on fortune tellers and mannequins

From Ma'an:

The Hamas-run government has launched a series of campaigns targeting fortune-tellers, mannequins and cigarette vendors in the Gaza Strip.

Police sources told Ma'an that 142 fortune tellers were forced to sign an agreement at the Ministry of Interior pledging that they would not practice their craft.

As well as predicting the future, fortune tellers sell amulets for protection and are sometimes called on to solve personal or family problems.

Another campaign targets boutiques displaying lingerie on mannequins. Police officials told Ma'an that security forces inspected clothes shops across the Gaza Strip and warned owners not to display naked mannequins, lingerie or "indecent advertisements."
The question is - if I place pictures like this on my site, is it more likely repel Hamas readers - or attract them??

Unknown terror group claims responsibility for murder of scientist in Tel Aviv (updated)

From JPost last Wednesday:

The man murdered in his Tel Aviv apartment on Wednesday has been named as 70-year-old French chemistry expert Dr. Eli Laluz.

Laluz was found with stab wounds in a burned out home on Dizengofff Street by emergency responders. He stated in the apartment during periodic visits to Israel.

Laluz earned his doctorate from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. The murder investigation continues under a gag order.
A group called "the Brigades of the Martyr General Hassan Tahrani Moqqadam" said that it killed Laluz last Monday, December 26th . "One of our operatives entered the home of a Professor in Dizengoff street in Tel Aviv, and killed him with a knife, then he burnt the house in a complex way. The mujahideen returned to their bases in peace...The operation comes as a first response to the assassination of Marty Hassan Tahrani Moqaddam, who is an Iranian brigadier general killed in a Mossad bombing in Tehran".

Moqqadam was an architect of the Iranian Missile program who was killed in a massive explosion in November at a missile site.

Lolav had French nationality; he stayed in that Tel Aviv apartment when he visited Israel but it is unclear if he had Israeli citizenship.

The group that claimed responsibility styles itself as an Iranian group, but its logo shows a map of British Mandate Palestine with two rifles. Here is their letter claiming responsibility:



I'm skeptical, but the Tel Aviv police would know if the detail in the letter that they killed him at 3:40 AM on Monday is realistic.

I haven't noticed any coverage of this in the French press.

(h/t CHA)

UPDATE: The murder has been solved and it had nothing to do with any Arab terror group.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Museum of Palestinian Propaganda

In 2008, there was a stone-laying ceremony in Bethlehem for a new museum called the Palestinian Riwaya Museum.

Riwaya means "narrative."

It is funded and supported by Norway and UNESCO.

The curator of the museum, Samar Martha, was interviewed recently, and her words make it appear that this cultural institution is really more interested in propaganda than in truth.

Are their specific historical aspects that you wish to emphasize?

We have only just begun work on the concept. But one important topic will certainly be that of the Palestinian refugees since 1948, because that has very much characterized our self-image. One idea is to ask people who fled from the territory of modern Israel in 1948 and today live in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip or overseas to tell their stories in video interviews. Yet I also wish to illuminate more recent historical events, such as the Intifada and the conflict between Fatah and Hamas in recent years.

Aren’t these topics quite disputed among Palestinians?

They are. And that is why all decision-making politicians must be involved in the concept from the very beginning. It is, of course, an important issue who decides about the stories that will be told. We set up a number of discussion groups to deal with these questions. Also, UNESCO, which supports the project, must be convinced of our concept as well as the Peace Center, whose building we are using.

Why did you come up with the idea of this museum?

For a simple reason: because we’ve never had such a museum. Internationally, the perspective of Palestinian culture and history is very marked by the Israeli perspective. We would like to counter that with a museum that takes up a Palestinian perspective. ...

Do you plan to also involve Israeli artists or academics in the conception of the museum?

If they deal with Israeli history is a self-critical way, then yes.

In the conflict between Palestinians and Israel, violence has not only come from the Israeli side. Will the issue of Palestinian violence also be broached?

We will make an effort to show many sides. But every national museum has a specific, limited perspective. That is the case all over the world, perhaps with the exception of Germany, where the museums deal very critically with their own history. But for us, the main priority is to portray something like a Palestinian identity.

A museum where politicians must approve the exhibits?

And notice it isn't called the Palestinian Cultural Museum, or History Museum, or even the Palestinian National Museum - but the Palestinian Narrative Museum. The entire point, as the curator shows, is not to portray the truth but to portray a story - and avoid other viewpoints.

Granted, national museums do tend to give the official perspective, but this is not called a national museum. It is specifically located next to the Church of the Nativity to attract tourists to swim in the propaganda it provides.

Interestingly, the Arabic word Riwaya also means "novel" or "fiction."

(h/t Silke)

Unity! Hamas continues to arrest Fatah members in Gaza

As we've been reporting every day this week, Hamas continues to harass Fatah members in Gaza.

Today, they arrested 16 more prominent Fatah members.

According to Palestine Press Agency, the urgency of the recent arrests is to stop Fatah members from putting on any demonstration to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the PLO on Sunday. Hamas has also been ripping down signs and posters that show support for Fatah.

MB holds rallies all over Jordan

Heads up....

Thousands of Islamist opposition supporters demonstrated Friday in Amman to demand reform, a week after the movement's offices in a northern city were torched during clashes with loyalists.

Chanting "enough is enough," around 7,000 people, including Islamists, youths and tribesmen, marched from Al-Husseini mosque in central Amman to the nearby city hall, an AFP correspondent said.

Carrying a large national flag, they called for "reforming the regime" and fighting corruption, rejecting "intimidation and bullying."

"The Muslim Brotherhood will not give up demands for reforms. We will not give in to the corrupt and those who are against reform," Rheil Gharaibeh, the movement's spokesman, told the crowds.

Last Friday, opposition Islamist demonstrators and government loyalists clashed in the northern city of Mafraq, where dozens, including police, were wounded and shops were destroyed.

The government has said it was investigating the clashes, during which the offices of the Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, were torched.

The Islamists have called for arresting the attackers, accusing security services of backing them.

Pro-reform demonstrations were also held in other Jordanian cities, including Irbid and Salt in the north as well as Karak in the south.

Islamists, youth groups and other parties have been protesting since January, demanding political and economic change and an end to corruption.
Today's protests are getting lots of attention in Jordanian media.

Top 18 EoZ posts of the year

Well, I gave it a shot anyway. I wrote 3000 posts in 2011 and don't have time to go through them all, and even with skimming them I only made it to August.

But here are some good and representative posts from 2011:

And there are plenty of fiskings, historical research, original graphics, and journalistic scoops where those came from.

If you like what you see - please consider a donation.

Nice shooting

Two communiques from  the IDF this morning:
A short while ago, IAF aircraft targeted a terrorist squad that was identified moments before firing rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. A hit was confirmed, thwarting the rocket fire attempt.

The aforementioned squad is responsible for the firing of rockets at Israel in the past number of days.

The terrorist who was targeted is Muaman Abu-daf, a senior operative in the Global Jihad terror movement. He orchestrated and executed numerous and varied terror attacks against Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers including laying explosive devices in the area adjacent to the security fence and was involved in different firing incidents. Furthermore, Abu-daf was actively involved in the preparations of the attempted terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border that was thwarted this week.
Ma'an confirms the story and adds:

That appeared to refer to Israel's killing on Tuesday of another Salafi fighter, Abdallah Telbani, who the military said had been plotting strikes in which gunmen would circumvent the fortified Gaza border by attacking south Israel from the Sinai.

"We shoot when we're being shot at," one Israeli security official said after Friday's air strike in Gaza. "It's clear that Hamas does not have an interest in fanning the flames at this time, but it's not dousing them either."

Once again, a terrorist killed - and no one else.

(h/t Silke)

Israel, better than ever (Yaacov Lozowick)

Yaacov writes one of his now-rare posts, and as always, it is a good one:

Economics: While the European economy enters recession if not worse, and the American economy is in a protracted funk, the Israeli economy continutes to boom. Here, check it out at the Economist website, which tells that GDP is growing higher in Israel than in any European country, the US, and lots of other places too. Unemployment, you might be interested to hear, at 5.6%, is not only lower than in most countries, it's at its lowest in Israel for decades and by some estiamtes, the lowest ever. If things stay this way until the next elections there will be no need to speculate on how crazy the Israeli voters have become to re-elect that supposedly universally hated government: any government running for re-election with an economy like this would stand a fine chance of re-election.

The BDS campaign to destroy Israel is not obviously working, apparently.

Culture: is Jewish culture thriving, stagnating or declining in Israel? This is a rhetorical question. There's no measure I can think of by which to claim there's any stagnation or decline. It has been thousands of years since the Jews have had such a broad-based cultural creativity, which isn't surprising if you remind yourself that fo rthe first time in millennia there are millions of Jews living in their language in their own society (and their own land).

How does cultural creativity fit into disappearing freedom of thought, you ask? It doesn't. The disappearing freedom and democracy exist only in the minds of a certain section of Israeli society and the multitudes of ignorant foreign reporters and politicians who avidly agree with them whenever they criticise Israel. Apart from them, it's not happening. There's a racuous debate about all sorts of things, of course, but in other countries that would be called democracy, not facism.

Demography: here the question is simple: are the more Jews in Israel today than a year ago. Of course there are. In an aside, the are growing indications that the demographic pendulum has peaked and is swinging back in favor of the Jews over Palestinians, whose birthrate is either declining or tumbling, depending on the data-sets one uses. (Here, for example).

Terrorism is mostly dormant, by Israeli standards. 2011 was one of the most peaceful years Israel has had since 1947. (The Palestinians had a rather peaceful year, too, since there's some correlation between the two).
...

Yes, there are lots of folks out there who dislike us, bt that's always been so. These days we don't have to give them too much attention. Seen historically, 2011 was probably one of the best years in millennia of Jewish history.
Read the whole thing.

Weirdest fatwas of 2011

I'm glad that Al Arabiya published these, because if anyone else did it would be considered Islamophobic (and might get one's website taken down.)

One of the weirdest and most controversial fatwas in 2011 was one issued by an Islamist preacher who lives in Europe. According to this preacher, women are prohibited from eating phallic-shaped fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, bananas, and carrots. Touching or consuming those, he argued, are bound to turn women on and make them engage in sinful fantasies.

In Morocco, the head of the Moroccan Association for Jurisprudence Research stirred both outrage and controversy when he issued a fatwa allowing Muslim men to have sex with their just-deceased wives under the pretext that nothing in Islam prohibits sex with corpses. This fatwa followed a series of sex-related ones issued by the same cleric.

In Somalia, the ultraconservative al-Shabaab al-Mujahedin Movement issued a fatwa during the holy month of Ramadan prohibiting the consumption of sambousak, a triangular pastry stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables. The popular snack, they explained, is a symbol of the Trinity in Christianity and is therefore not to be consumed by Muslims.

In Egypt, religious edicts were in most cases mixed with politics. Sheikh Amr Sotouhi, head of the Islamic Preaching Committee at al-Azhar, issued in November a fatwa prohibiting fathers from marrying their daughters to members of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party owing to their “corruption.”

A similar fatwa was issued by the late Sheikh Emad Effat, shot this month during recent clashes between Egyptian protestors and the army. Effat’s fatwa prohibited Muslims from voting for members of the same disbanded party and cited the same reason: corruption.

Mohamed Abdel Hadi, deputy chairman of the Salafi al-Nour Party in the governorate of Dakahliya went as far as saying that the results of the parliamentary elections, in which the party scored an unexpected victory, were mentioned in the holy Quran.

The most outrageous fatwa in Egypt was one that came out last June and in which Egyptian preacher Mohamed al-Zoghbi said eating the meat of the jinn is permissible in Islam and left everyone wondering how anyone can get hold of them in the first place, let alone eat their meat.

Why, you can buy jinn meat at your neighborhood grocery store!


Latest Latma

Israel to demand compensation from Arab countries

From Arutz-7:
The government has decided to tackle head-on the alleged “Arab refugees” issue by renewing efforts for compensation for Jewish victims of Arab pogroms.

Estimates of property losses range from $16 billion to $300 billion in Arab countries where Arab leaders seized their property or took it over after Jews were expelled or forced to flee because of anti-Jewish violence and harassment.

Dr. Avi Bitzur, director-general of the Pensioners' Affairs Ministry, told Voice of Israel government radio it has created a new department to try to collect claims for more than 850,000 Jews from Iran and Arab countries. Approximately 80 percent of them moved to Israel.

Most of the refugees fled or were expelled after the violent Arab reaction to the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, six months after it was recognized by the United Nations under the Partition Plan that the Arab world rejected.

"Israel has talked about this on and off for 60 years. Now we're going to deal with it as we should have all along," said Bitzur.

He added that the Cabinet is scheduled to decide in the next two weeks to raise the issue of Jewish refugees whenever the Palestinian Authority brings up the “right of return.”

Bitzur added, “We should know the history of the pogrom in Baghdad in 1941, of the Libyan Jews who ended up in Bergen Belsen. It's time for people to know that there was this part of the Jewish people and its history was brought to an end."

"The UN has dealt at least 700 times with Arab refugees and their property, but not once with the issue of Jewish property.”
This all makes sense.

This story has been picked up in the Arabic press, but with a bizarre addition.

There is a second part of the law where the Israeli Foreign Ministry demands Saudi Arabia pay compensation of more than a hundred billion dollars for Jewish property in the kingdom since the time of the Prophet peace be upon him, a project which is currently being analyzed by top experts in international law, history and geography in the Bar-Ilan, Beer Sheva, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa universities , with special funding set at U.S. $ 100 million carved from the budget of the Israeli Foreign Ministry in 2012.

Israel is spending $100 million to make a claim against Saudi Arabia for the actions of Mohammed? Ummmm...I don't think so.

Sounds like an Israeli official made a joke that they took seriously.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Max Blumenthal is not a journalist by any definition

Max Blumenthal is a self-described journalist who has written op-ed pieces in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian and elsewhere. He is considered respectable.

And a single tweet by him shows how he is anything but respectable, and anything but a journalist.

He first retweeted a link to an article from the pro-Hamas Middle East Monitor, quoting (but not linking to) a PLO document that claims that Israel killed 180 Palestinian Arabs in 2011.

But then he tweeted a "correction":

Update/correction via : 239 Palestinians killed by Israelis/Israeli forces in 2011

He didn't check the link for accuracy. He was sent a message that the real number of dead Arabs is much higher, and based only on that information he issued a "correction."

A quick look at the Occupied Palestine webpage shows that they list all people they consider "martyrs," but they are not claiming that Israel killed them all. This distinction is lost on Max, of course, who stated flatly that Israelis killed "239 Palestinians" in 2011. He didn't simply retweet - he added his own "facts."

So the ersatz journalist Blumenthal believes that the following people were killed by Israel:




Blumenthal didn't check this out - even though the links to most of the "martyrs" are right there on the website. No, he reflexively believes that whatever number is higher must be the true one. If a random person would have tweeted that the real number was 372, he would have believed it without hesitation.

By the way, the Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights counts 91 people killed by Israel in 2011. OCHA counts 115 up until December 20th.

The IDF number is somewhere in between, saying that about 100 were killed in military operations this year. And that only nine of them were civilians.

Which one is true? That would require research and skepticism. Only a journalist would bother to do all that work. And Blumenthal is no journalist.

He's a hack who will repeat whatever comes his way, as long as it conforms to his pre-existing hate of Israel.

Here come the (unofficial) religious police of Egypt

From Al Masry al Youm:

Saudi religious police
The ultra-conservative Salafi Nour Party is funding a sort of religious police, known as the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Authority, according to the authority’s founders. The party has denied involvement in its formation.

The authority takes after the Saudi model of “mutaween,” a sort of religious police composed of volunteers that enforce Islamic Sharia law. Armed with thin wooden canes, the groups roam the streets enforcing dress codes, separation between the sexes, prayer, and other behavior believed to be commanded by Islam. The Taliban in Afghanistan are also known to have used the system.

The authority was launched on Facebook by Nour Party members. According to the founders, the Salafi party gave them check of LE2600 as a preliminary installment to help them launch the initiative and mobilize Salafi volunteers.

In a statement on Wednesday, the authority said it was formed upon directives from the party’s leadership, and that the party’s members unanimously approved the idea.

The founders threatened to resign from the party and manage the authority on their own if the party continued to deny its affiliation with it.

In a separate statement, the authority said it held its first meeting on Tuesday to determine the tasks and geographical jurisdictions of the first volunteers, who would monitor people’s behavior in the street and assess whether it contradicted the God’s laws.

The statement also said that the volunteers would wear white cloaks and hold bamboo canes to beat violators. Later, they would be provided with electric taser guns.
Why don't they just go straight to scimitars? I mean, if you are going to chop someone's hands off, a taser isn't going to do the trick.

(h/t Arthur)

The Sting (updated)

I don't usually spend much time on the anti-Israel blogosphere, but most readers here are probably familiar with  wrong-headed, thin-skinned, and notoriously unreliable blogger Richard Silverstein.

Since last year the Seattle-based blogger has made a career of publishing news items that were censored by the Israeli military. He has made a name of himself more recently by taking unsourced allegations from people who email him and publishing them as scoops from highly-placed sources in the Mossad.Yet no matter how bizarre his claims, he was getting coverage from lazy newspaper reporters for his increasingly fantastical "scoops" (for example, that Israel sent a booby-trapped drone into Lebanon with the sure knowledge that Hezbollah would carry the drone to a highly sensitive indoor spot where the IDF could blow it up.)

Aussie Dave of Israellycool performed a classic sting on Dickie. In one fell swoop, he proved that:
  • Silverstein will publish anything that he hopes to be true, with no fact checking whatsoever.
  • Silverstein has no moral compunctions about revealing private details of people he hates.
  • Silverstein knows nothing about Israeli culture, even though he claims to.
  • Silverstein will come up with fanciful conjectures out of thin air - and post them.
  • Silverstein is a liar.
Read Aussie Dave's post explaining the sting.  It is a thing of beauty.

And given that it is many hours later and Silverstein still hasn't deleted his post (his usual method when he's been made into a fool) nor admitted he was scammed, so we have also learned that he cannot bring himself to admit  he was wrong.

In my experience, those who cannot admit mistakes are the ones who are the least reliable of all. Hubris and truth do not intersect.

Maybe he thinks it is Purim.

UPDATE: Silverstein finally admitted he was scammed, and is showing righteous indignation - because Aussie Dave used a fake Facebook account. Richard the Moral reported him. After all, it is a violation of Facebook rules! It's OK to defend Hamas, but creating a fake FB account to prove an idiot blogger has no clothes - well, that's going over the line!

You can't make this stuff up. 

The Salafists who stole Christmas

From AP:
An ultraconservative Egyptian Islamist group says sending Christmas greetings to Christians is “against our beliefs.”

Nadar Bakar, spokesman of the hard-line Al-Nour party, told The Associated Press Wednesday that Muslims should only give greetings to Christians on “personal occasions,” not religious ones.

Al-Nour represents the ultraconservative Salafi movement, which wants to strictly impose Islamic law in Egypt. Al-Nour has won a surprisingly strong 20 percent of the vote so far in Egypt’s staggered parliamentary elections.

The remarks prompted Egypt’s Al Azhar, the most eminent religious institution, to issue a religious edict approving Christmas greetings. The country’s most influential Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, responded by sending “its best Christmas wishes to our brotherly Christians and Muslims as well.”
An estimated 100,000 Christians fled Egypt between March and September.

In case you think the Muslim Brotherhood comes out looking positively liberal in this AP article, keep this in mind:

We'll prohibit alcohol,” said Sobhi Saleh, a leading figure of the Muslim Brotherhood at a Tuesday rally in New Valley, an area west of Cairo.

“Tourism does not mean nudity and drunkenness,” he added. “We Egyptians are the greatest religious people, and we don’t need that.”

Saleh also said the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will apply Islamic Sharia law. “It was planned since 1928,” he said. “But Islam is the solution.”
He is wearing a suit and has no beard, so you can't call him a fanatic.

UK professor under investigation for bias against Israeli

From TheJC last week:

An Israeli postgraduate student has succeeded in having her dissertation re-marked to a distinction after it was originally supervised and given a poor mark by a professor who campaigns for an academic boycott of Israel.

Smadar Bakovic
Smadar Bakovic repeatedly told Warwick University she was uncomfortable with Nicola Pratt overseeing her master's dissertation on Israeli Arab identity.

Professor Pratt is a vocal anti-Israel campaigner who was refused entry to the West Bank by Israeli authorities in 2009. Following Operation Cast Lead she was one of more than 100 academics who wrote to the Guardian saying "Israel must lose" and calling for the UK to implement a programme of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

Ms Bakovic, 35, from Harei Yehuda, near Jerusalem, spent a year challenging Warwick's original rejection of her appeal against the decision to allow Professor Pratt to supervise her.
She was told last week that her re-marked dissertation had obtained a distinction, with a score 11 points higher than when it was first marked by Prof Pratt.
Ms Bakovic said: "I knew my work was better than the mark I'd been given. After a year of battling, I'm absolutely delighted. I feel vindicated. I did it for Israel."

A university spokesman said the higher mark could be attributed to the fact the dissertation was "substantially different" when it was re-submitted. But the JC has seen emails between Ms Bakovic and another professor who later supervised her, showing that the work was only "tweaked" with "no major changes".

Ms Bakovic said: "I knew Prof Pratt because whenever there was an anti-Israel event at the university I went along and she was often there. She moderated a Jews for Justice for Palestinians event, so I knew her stance. As soon as I saw her name a red light came on." But Warwick told Ms Bakovic she could not change supervisor.

Ms Bakovic said: "Professor Pratt said that I had taken an Israeli and Zionist perspective without investigating the issue. She said I had taken an Israeli government position, but I did not. I included the views of a number of Israeli Arab writers."

The university's complaints committee investigated Ms Bakovic's subsequent challenge. She convinced the panel to allow her dissertation to be re-marked. After being marked by two other professors at Warwick and an external marker, she was awarded the higher classification.
CiFWatch interviewed Bakovic:
It took me exactly 2 seconds to see exactly what [Pratt] was about – one of the largest supporters of the academic (and other) boycotts of Israel, who signs petitions accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and being an “Apartheid state.” Even she (on her site on the Warwick page) calls herself an activist.

I then knew that I was dealing with a self-defined anti-Israel academic, who really calls to boycott Israeli academia, meaning Jewish Israeli academia, which makes her also an anti-Semite.

If I were Muhammed Jaber but with an Israeli passport, then I am sure Nicola Pratt would not at all object to having me in the university, even if I were to apply from an Israeli institution which she calls to boycott. Additionally, Pratt, in her feedback of my dissertation said that I was pursuing Israeli and Zionist lines and perspectives.

What is a Zionist perspective, or an Israeli one?

Obviously, she doesn’t acknowledge that Israel is a pluralistic, democratic state, so there are MANY different opinions about everything. She also put down anything I wrote which was even slightly from the Israeli perspective and said “surely this is the perspective of the Israeli government.” (And she reduced points for this).

...Her obsession, as is the obsession of many others, is ONLY the “evil” coming out of Israel, the ONLY democracy in the Middle East, where woman and minorities have rights, and where they can vote and participate in all walks of life. The only place in the Middle East where human shields are not used, and where the army has strict guidelines about when they can fire.

This to her and to her like is the only point – Israel represents to her everything that is evil, the cause of everything that is bad in the region.

On my dissertation, she also claimed that my claim that minorities in the Arab Middle East don’t have equal rights is incorrect – that the only aspect in which they are discriminated against is religiously. And she is an “expert” on women in the Middle East. So you see? Nothing is as evil as Israel. And when something is evil…..well, you know what should happen to it.
Now, Professor Pratt is under investigation for her conduct:

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) will consider whether Warwick University's Nicola Pratt breached guidelines on impartiality when marking Israeli student Smadar Bakovic's dissertation.

QAA chief executive Anthony McClaran received a complaint about Professor Pratt last week and confirmed an agency officer would conduct a preliminary investigation.

Smadar is hardly a right-wing fanatic. In fact, she is classically liberal, a person who wants to work with Arabs to bring real peace to the Middle East. Here is a profile of her written at Bates University in the midst of the terror campaign in 2003:

Smadar Bakovic '03, an Israeli army veteran, knows the Middle East conflicts well. After the events of Sept. 11, she and a fellow student, Jordanian native Jamil Zraikat '05, visited a local high school to share their distinct perspectives. But Bakovic's view is not simplistic: She believes mutual understanding is key to a resolution.

An English major, Bakovic will explore Israeli-Arab poetry in her senior thesis. Aspiring to be a journalist, she has produced a newsletter for a Turkish organization that educates poor women migrating to urban areas. This summer she returns to the Israeli Arab coastal village of Arara to continue research for an independent study about Israeli-Arab relations. Bakovic will complete the project at Bates under Israeli native Mishael Caspi, visiting professor of religion.

Bakovic first visited Arara in 2001 to learn more about Israel's non-Jewish cultures with the support of a Phillips Student Fellowship that funds cross-cultural projects. Armed only with video cameras and intensive language training, she sought an Arab perspective on the historic mistrust between Arabs and Jews. She "went into places where Jews do not go and talked with hardworking people who experience everyday life," Bakovic says, -- villagers who told her, "not a lot of people want to hear what we have to say."

Lots of Qassams exploding - in Gaza. UNRWA school hit.

The Gaza NGO Safety Office keeps track of rockets fired from Gaza in their SMS messages - and also the rockets that fall short, since they are concerned with keeping their NGO members safe.

So over the past couple of days they have sent out:
12/28 9:00 Pal. ops. fired 4 HMRs ["home-made rockets" - EoZ] from Gaza Strip, 3 of them exploded prematurely.

12/29 9:00 Pal. ops. fired 5 HMRs from Gaza Strip, 1 of them dropped short and fell on a Pal. house causing 1 injury.
In their report on incidents for the first half of December, they note that
Over the course of three evenings, Pal. ops fired 8 HMRs (1 of which dropped short) towards Israeli territory. Most of the HMRs were fired from around the Al Bureij area.

During the same reporting period, Palestinian operatives fired 1 Grad, 4 HMRs, and 3 mortars [from Gaza City.] Of the HMRs, 1 exploded prematurely and 1 dropped short, striking and severely damaging a Palestinian home in Zaitoun area.

[In North Gaza] a total of 18 HMRs, and significantly, 4 Grad-style rockets were fired towards Israeli territory. Of these, one third of the HMRs (8) either dropped short or exploded prematurely before leaving Palestinian territory. While no damage was recorded in Israeli territory as a result of the rocket fire, Palestinian property was damaged one three separate occasions: on the first, an UNRWA girls school was struck with a rocket, piercing the roof (it is also worthwhile noting that that the rocket was launched at 1420hrs in the afternoon, though on a Friday); in the second, the boundary wall of a property in Beit Hanoun was struck causing minor damage; in the final case, a building in Beit Lahiya was hit, injuring 2 Palestinian civilians.

You mean you didn't hear about the UNRWA school being hit by a Palestinian Arab rocket? Or the injuries that Gazans have had, or about their property damage? You missed the angry condemnations by UNRWA officials? Or by Palestinian Arab "human rights" groups?  You missed the story this morning about a Gazan being injured by a Qassam rocket?

By the way, we missed the third anniversary of the first people killed in Operation Oil Stain - two Gazan girls, killed by a Qassam rocket, December 26, 2008.

The rift in Hamas between Meshal and Haniyeh widens (updated)

Right now, Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is going on what was intended to be a mini-Muslim-world tour, the first time he has left Gaza since Israel's closure.

He is supposed to visit Egypt, Sudan, Turkey, Qatar, Tunisia and Bahrain. 

According to the virulently anti-Hamas but usually reliable Palestine Press Agency website, Haniyeh is running into problems.

Apparently, the Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshal is not happy that, after he has been talking about unity with Fatah, Haniyeh is acting like the Palestinian prime minister. 

Apparently because of pressure from Meshal, Haniyeh is meeting much lower level officials than he had hoped to. Both Qatar and Turkey asked him to postpone the trip and are not planning to receive him in any official capacity. Similarly, he has not met with political leaders in Khartoum or in Cairo. And Tunisia has informed him that he can meet with Islamic party officials but not with government officials. 

As far as I know, I am the only person who has been talking about a rift within Hamas between the Gaza leadership and Damascus-based Khaled Meshal.  This story makes it sound like Meshal is winning - politically.

But Haniyeh and Zahar are the leaders in Gaza, and based on the increase in anti-Fatah actions being done lately in there, they seem to be roundly ignoring - or actively undermining - Haniyeh in Gaza itself.

Gazan supporters of Hamas don't get to see Meshal except on TV. Haniyeh and the other local leaders, meanwhile, organize rallies with hundreds of thousands of supporters. 

There's one other thing to notice that indicates a serious split within Hamas. Isn't it odd that while Haniyeh is traveling all over, he is not meeting with Meshal himself? Nor has Meshal shown any interest in going to Gaza, something Egypt would certainly allow.

One other detail from the article: its source mentioned that Haniyeh flew from Cairo to Khartoum on a private jet that cost $48,000 to rent, which raised eyebrows for a group supposedly against corruption and that supports austerity. That source seems to be from the Meshal camp, which makes it sound like there's an active whispering campaign against Haniyeh being organized by his opponents in Damascus.

UPDATE: This seems to be a case where Palestine Press Agency got it wrong. And to an extent, so did I.

Haniyeh just met Sudan's president - along with Meshal.

(h/t CHA)






Unity! Hamas raids Fatah homes, tears down posters of Arafat and Abbas

Palestine Press Agency reports that Hamas' attacks on Fatah members in Gaza has continued to intensify this week, immediately after the Cairo meeting between the two sides meant to solidify their unity.

According to the report, Hamas security forces raided dozens of homes in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City and forced the residents to remove Fatah posters and banners from their walls.

A number of residents were beaten and arrested.

In one home the forces ripped down pictures of Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.

This comes on the heels of dozens of arrests earlier this week. Hamas also denied Fatah requests to hold celebrations on the 47th anniversary of the start of the PLO on January 1.

PCHR has confirmed the details of the earlier articles published by PalPress on arrests and detentions of Fatah members.

Meanwhile, Hamas security forces attacked students at Al Aqsa Universiity because they were dressed indecently. Al Aqsa is a conservative university where women are expected to wear veils.

In another PalPress story, Hamas barred journalist Sami Ajrami from traveling to Egypt. Must be that siege we hear so much about.

(h/t CHA)

US giving/selling $11 billion in weapons to shaky Iraqi regime

From the NYT:
The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale of nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi military despite concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government.

The military aid, including advanced fighter jets and battle tanks, is meant to help the Iraqi government protect its borders and rebuild a military that before the 1991 Persian Gulf war was one of the largest in the world; it was disbanded in 2003 after the United States invasion.

But the sales of the weapons — some of which have already been delivered — are moving ahead even though Mr. Maliki has failed to carry out an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize the Sunnis and turn the military into a sectarian force. While the United States is eager to beef up Iraq’s military, at least in part as a hedge against Iranian influence, there are also fears that the move could backfire if the Baghdad government ultimately aligns more closely with the Shiite theocracy in Tehran than with Washington.

United States diplomats, including Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, have expressed concern about the military relationship with Iraq. Some have even said it could have political ramifications for the Obama administration if not properly managed. There is also growing concern that Mr. Maliki’s apparent efforts to marginalize the country’s Sunni minority could set off a civil war.

“The optics of this are terrible,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, an expert on national security issues at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a critic of the administration’s Iraq policy.

The program to arm the military is being led by the United States Embassy here, which through its Office of Security Cooperation serves as a broker between the Iraqi government and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Among the big-ticket items being sold to Iraq are F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, cannons and armored personnel carriers. The Iraqis have also received body armor, helmets, ammunition trailers and sport utility vehicles, which critics say can be used by domestic security services to help Mr. Maliki consolidate power.
So not only might this aid be used to repress dissent in Iraq, but it very possibly will end up going to Iran!

Brilliant!

It is unclear if this is a sale (as the headline states) or aid (as the article mentions.) If it is aid, notice that $11 billion is about four times the amount Israel receives annually from the US. Yet the people who protest US aid to Israel invariably defend themselves saying that it is their tax dollars being spent.

If it is indeed aid, how many protests will they hold against this very problematic US military aid to Iraq?

(updated to relfect the ambiguity on aid/sales.)

Questions about the mosque arson at Tuba Zangaria

Israeli blog "Brilliant Disguise" has an intriguing article about the burning of the mosque in Tuba Zangaria in October.

The author, Gal Chen, is not a settler or even a rightist. She is against the settlements. But when this "price tag" attack was reported in October, a number of things bothered her - so she started researching it.

The first thing she noticed is that the village has a history of violence, corruption, intra-clan feuds and smuggling. Two years ago the office of the Jewish head of the town council appointed by Israel's Interior Ministry was hit with a hail of bullets.

Chen went to Tuba Zangaria to see it for herself.

It is not an easy village to travel to, especially for any settlers. It is really two villages - Tuba on the bottom of the mountain and Zangaria on top. The only way to get to Zangaria is to go through Tuba.

The village itself is in the Galilee, not very close to Judea and Samaria.

In Tuba itself, the mosque is easily visible and accessible - but it was untouched. The arsonists apparently spent the extra ten minutes to go up the mountain to find a  much less prominent mosque to burn.

There are houses surrounding the mosque. Chen wondered how outsiders could have made it to this inaccessible mosque in a small village without residents noticing, as well as how no one smelled the smoke or heard the fire before it became so large.

Here is the graffiti that seemed to prove this was a "price tag" attack:


The words say "[Price] tag" "Palmer" "Revenge", referring to the murder of Asher Palmer and his son in September.

But Chen noticed that the words were not written with spray paint, as is usual with this sort of vandalism - but with charred wood from the fire itself. She wonders how the arsonists could have forgotten a can of spray paint.

Not only that, but the diagonal pattern of the graffiti indicates that it was written after the fire had already blackened the wall.

Chen asked the villagers how anyone could have driven to the village without being noticed. They admitted that they are vigilant to see strange vehicles, especially at night, and conjectured that the arsonists walked there from the fields.

Which would mean that they decided to carry gallons of gasoline up a mountain, filled with thorns and stones, to get to an inaccessible mosque, in a crime-ridden Galilee village, surrounded by houses, miles from Judea and Samaria. Residents who live next door did not notice the fire until about half of the mosque was burned and destroyed, and yet the criminals managed to wait there long enough for the fire to cool down so they could write "Price tag/Palmer/Revenge" afterwards.

A few days later, village youths set fire to the local council building - led by a retired IDF general - and he fled, fearing for his life.

Chen ends her post without any accusations, but wondering about how the Israeli media at the scene jumped to conclusions without asking any of these questions.


(h/t Ruchie)

(correction - I had initially assumed Chen was male.)

Israel saving the world, again

From Israel 21C:
Every patient, nurse, doctor and visitor to a hospital knows the drill: hands get a splash of antibacterial fluid found at every bedside, entrance and exit. Keeping hands clean can prevent some infections, but superbugs -- those sometimes deadly bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics -- can outwit the best hygiene practices.

Hospital-acquired infections are one of the leading causes of preventable death in the developed world today, with 100,000 people in the United States alone dying every year from bugs they catch as patients in the hospital, according to the World Health Organization. The old and very young are at an especially high risk of infection from resistant bacteria that can spread like wildfire.

But now superbugs may have met their match, thanks to a genetically engineered cleaning solution developed in Israeli laboratories.

Costing only a few dollars a quart, the solution is non-toxic to patients and can be spread on hospital surfaces to kill what conventional soaps and antibiotics can't, report researchers Rotem Edgar from the Tel Aviv Sourasky (Ichilov) Medical Center and Udi Qimron from Tel Aviv University. They detailed their technology recently in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The solution uses a laboratory-grown virus called a bacteriophage, which disrupts the DNA of resistant bacteria and renders them susceptible to antibiotics.

"We have genetically engineered the bacteriophages so that once they infect the bacteria, they transfer a dominant gene that confers renewed sensitivity to certain antibiotics," says Qimron, who believes his solution will one day be part of every hospital's anti-germ arsenal.

The researchers say that the new spray could be applied on any surface where there is a high concentration of germs, such as door handles, faucets, bedrails and handrails.

"Our novel approach relies on an effective delivery process and selection procedure, put on the same platform for the first time," says Qimron, suggesting that it will knock out all kinds of bacteria, reducing the infection rate from even non-resistant bacteria.

This solution, the researchers note, should be part of a two-step process to neutralize bacteria in the hospital effectively. The second part of the process is a compound called Tullurite. This would be spread over the surfaces to kill any remaining bacteria not sensitized by the new advance. The two-step cleaning combination would first disarm the bacteria and then go on to kill those that are still dangerous, they say.

Like all medical products, the new spray needs to be tested in a clinical setting before being approved for sale.
This is huge, as hospitals are breeding grounds for the most dangerous strains of bacteria. Tens of thousands of lives could be saved.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year from the IDF (video)



I'll admit it - the main reason I am posting this video is because I like to imagine how enraged the anti-Israel crowd would be when they watch it.

People who cannot stand seeing IDF soldiers as anything but bloodthirsty genocidal monsters will go crazy when they see this. The thing they hate the most in the entire world is seeing that IDF soldiers depicted as human beings.

If this goes viral, I'm predicting an epidemic of aneurysms.

(h/t Silke)

"The only remaining people under military occupation in the world"

Even though I fisked Maen Areikat's op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday, there were too many lies for one  post. In fact, one can make an entire post from each of his lies.

One of my readers, who would like to remain anonymous, did exactly that.

Areikat said that the Palestinian Arabs were "the only remaining people under military occupation in the world."

Certainly.

Except for the Kurds, of course, the Turkish military rides the Kurds pretty hard, and they use live ammunition. But except for the Kurds the Palestinians really are the only remaining people under military occupation in the world.

And the people of the Western Sahara, of course. But the Moroccan Army makes sure that the world doesn't hear much about them. Still, they're occupied and not happy about it, so except for the Kurds and the Western Sahara, the Palestinians are the only remaining people under military occupation in the world.

And the Uyghur of Eastern Turkistan. And the Tibetans of Tibet. The Chinese pretty much bash the Uyghurs and the Tibetans if they say peep. Still, except tor the Uyghur, the Tibetans, the Western Saharans, and the Kurds, the Palestinians are the only remaining people under military occupation in the world.

And the people of Darfur, of course. It's pretty ugly what goes on in Darfur. Rape, murder, pillage, and wholesale ethnic cleansing for the sake of land theft all committed by a militia backed by the Arab government of Sudan. Better not to talk about it. Still, it's happening, so we kind of do have to at least mention it. So, except for the people of Darfur, the Uyghur, the Tibetans, the Western Saharans, and the Kurds, the Palestinians are the only remaining people under military occupation in the world.

And the people of Western Papua where they are really, really not happy about living under Indonesian military occupation. Neither are the people of Aceh, come th that, just ask them. So Except for Aceh, Western Papua, Darfur, the Uyghur, the Tibetans, the Western Saharans, and the Kurds, the Palestinians are the only remaining people under military occupation in the world.

And the Tamils of Sri Lanka. But the Sri lankan government pretty much snuffed them, in fact, maybe they don't count any more since that was the nearest thing a deliberate, calculated genocide that the world has seen this millenia. Even the omniscient Wikipedia lists them as "no longer active." Shissh, talk about mealy-mouthed. Dead! They're dead. The Sri Lankans killed them and nobody except John Lee Anderson writing in the New Yorker even cared. A few of them did survive and manage to stay in Sri Lanka, so I suppose we should count them. So except for the Tamil of Sri Lanka, Aceh, Western Papua, Darfur, the Uyghur, the Tibetans, the Western Saharans, and the Kurds, the Palestinians are the only remaining people under military occupation in the world.

And Baluchistan, and Wazirstan, you really do have to mention Baluchistan and Wazirstan because not only are they really, really pissed off by the Pakistani military occupation, lots of people die from it. And when a military occupation is killing that many people, we at least have to add them to this list. So, except for Baluchistan, Waziristan, the Tamil of Sri Lanka, Aceh, Western Papua, Darfur, the Uyghur, the Tibetans, the Western Saharans, and the Kurds, the Palestinians are the only remaining people under military occupation in the world.

And the oppressed Assyrians of Syria, and the Patani in southern Thailand, the Kurds of Syria, the Syrian Druse, the Coptic Christians of Egypt, the....

Oh, why bother?


Unity! Hamas continues to harass Fatah members

From PCHR:

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, on 26 and 27 December 2011, 50 activists of Fatah Movement throughout the Gaza Strip were summoned to ISS centers, each of them according to his area of residence. When they went there, they were held for several hours, during which they were questioned about their participation in celebration and honor ceremonies of Palestinian prisoners who had been released from Israeli jails.

On 19 December 2011, ISS officers raided and searched 3 houses belonging to 3 members of former security services in al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. They confiscated computer sets and summoned the three persons to the ISS center in Deir al-Balah on the following day. When those summoned went to the center, they were held for several hours, during which they were questioned. They were then ordered to refer to the center again on 04 January 2012.

On 13 December 2011, two members of former security services in the central Gaza Strip were summoned to the ISS center in Deir al-Balah for the following day. When they went to the center, they were held for several hours, during which they were questioned. They were then ordered to refer to the center again.

Additionally, a number of members of former security services were arrested by the ISS in the Gaza Strip. Some of the released detainees reported that were subjected to methods of torture during interrogation.

It should be noted that the ISS has recently waged a campaign of arrests that targeted persons who used to work in the Palestinian General Intelligence throughout the Gaza Strip. Some of the detainees were released, while others have remained in custody. The detainees were interrogated by ISS officers and were accused of having contacts with Ramallah. A released detainee reported that he was subjected to method of torture while being interrogated in Gaza City for accusations of having contacts with Ramallah. He stated that they placed a plastic bag over his head and that he was subjected to Shabeh* in a 20-square-meter room for 15 days, including 12 consecutive days. He added that he was placed in a cell for another 15 days together with another 6 persons. They were interrogated and subjected to methods of torture, including forcing them to hear extremely loud sounds.

* Regular shabeh entails shackling the detainee's hands and legs to a small chair, angled to slant forward so that the detainee cannot sit in a stable position. The detainee's head is covered with an often-filthy sack and loud music is played non-stop through loudspeakers. Detainees in shabeh are not allowed to sleep.

In other "unity" news, Hamas informed Fatah in Gaza that they will not allow any celebrations on the 47th anniversary of Fatah's founding January 1.


15 years of restrictions on construction in Lebanese PalArab camps

On January 1, 1997, the Lebanese government put into effect regulations that severely restrict bringing construction materials into Palestinian Arab camps in southern Lebanon.

For fifteen years, these camp residents who live in already dilapidated houses have had almost no recourse to repair it.

And for fifteen years, as the population in the camps grew, no new housing has been built.

The restrictions were lifted in 2004 but then reinstated in 2006, adding a new camp to the regulation.In theory there is a lengthy bureaucratic process through which building in the camps could be authorized, but in fact it hardly ever gets approved. People building without a permit are subject to arrest.

UNRWA downplays the issue:
There are no legal restrictions in place regarding the transportation of construction materials into Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Restrictions, when they exist, function on an administrative basis and only apply to camps in the south of the country and to Nahr el-Bared. Camp dwellers have to apply for a permit, to be granted by the Army. However, in some camps, it seems that smuggling of construction material is rife.

Not only that, but in 2001 Lebanon passed a law outlawing Palestinian Arabs from purchasing land or for transferring land they already owned to their children, so the little amount of land  that Palestinian Arabs do own  in Lebanon is disappearing as the owners die.

You will be hard-pressed to find anyone calling to boycott Lebanon, a country that discriminates so egregiously against its Palestinian population. You will not find UNRWA reports condemning Lebanon for its planned policy of discrimination and marginalization of its Palestinian population.

The 15th anniversary of these regulations is coming up. Good luck reading about this anniversary in any English-language media besides here.

UNRWA says Israel has responsibility to rebuild Gaza

UNRWA spokesperson Abu Adnan Hasna said today that Israel bears the legal and moral responsibility for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, according to Palestine Today.

I wonder if Hasna considers PLO and Hamas as responsible  for damage to southern communities from rockets, for paying for the Iron Dome system, for the construction of hundreds of rocket shelters and indeed for the entire Gaza war that was only fought to stop Gaza rocket attacks?

Or does UNRWA only consider responsibility a one-way street?


Arabs upset that Palestinian Olympic Committee cooperates with Israel

Recently, the Israel Olympic Committee signed an agreement with the Palestine Olympic Committee to help facilitate travel of Palestinian Arab athletes through Israel and to help ensure that sports equipment gets delivered to the Arab athletes in a timely manner.

This is causing an uproar in the Arab world, both within the territories and from outside.

Besides the scandal of Palestinian Arabs actually speaking to Israeli Jews, which is bad enough, it looks like this cooperation is going to help both Israel and a Palestinian Arab team to compete in the Mediterranean Games.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Arabs have been barred from participating in the Mediterranean Games, and this cooperation seems to make it easier for both to join in.  The IOC, which had once been against allowing Israel to participate, is now supporting allowing both teams to compete.

Even though adding a Palestine team would help legitimize the Palestinian Arab cause, the price to be paid - allowing Israel to compete in the games - is considered way too high by the Arab world. Arabs would prefer that both teams be barred than to allow Israel to join.

Which is just one more piece of evidence that no one in the Arab world is really "pro-Palestinian." People who want to penalize Palestinian Arab legitimacy in international sports are not in any way "pro-Palestinian."

They are simply anti-Israel.


And it is further proof that while Israelis try to find "win-win" solutions, Arabs will not. They would rather have "lose-lose" if one of the potential winners would be Israel. They base their most basic decisions on  irrational hatred of Israel. Their mentality remains zero-sum.




By the way, this 1996 article from the New York Times shows that fact checking was not a priority for that newspaper even then:
Although Atlanta will mark the first Palestinian participation in the Olympics, Palestinians have a long association with sports -- they were once among the Arab world's best boxers. And, according to Nahil Mabrouk, president of the Palestinian Track and Field Federation, the Palestine Olympic Committee was founded in 1931 and remained a member of the Olympic family until 1967, the year of the Six-Day War and the beginning of Israel's 26-year occupation.

In fact, the Palestine Olympic Committee that was formed in 1933 changed its name in 1951 - to the Israel Olympic Committee. It was recognized by the IOC in 1952.

(h/t E. ben Abuya for correct dates.)

Tunisia sends 4 tons of aid to Gaza. No one notices.

In recent days, Ma'an has started writing a boilerplate description of Gaza in a number of articles:


The Gaza Strip has been under a sea, land and air blockade imposed by Israel since 2007.
Really?

There has been a steady stream of land convoys that have been going to Gaza through Egypt's Rafah crossing over the past year, and no one is doing anything to stop them.

The latest came from Tunisia, which sent activists with 15 vehicles carrying four tons of what they say are medicines and medical equipment.


There have been others - Viva Palestina, Miles of Smiles, and more - that successfully and pretty quietly send whatever they want to Gaza through Rafah without any Israeli intervention.

Essentially, anyone can send whatever aid they want to Gaza.

Not that you would know it from reading the news.



Israeli pencils in Saudi Arabia?

From YNet:
How Youm7 illustrated the story
Saudi authorities are investigating how Israeli pencils reached one of the kingdom's biggest retail chains. The Kravitz chain, which markets the pencils in Israel, was surprised to hear about the affair stirring up the Gulf kingdom.

It turns out that Abu Rialin, a Saudi chain which offers all of its items for two riyals, is selling one of Kravitz's most popular products – a set of 12 pencils with an eraser.

The pencils are sold with the Kravitz logo in Hebrew and without any attempt to conceal the fact that they are made in Israel.

Kravitz learned about the incident following a report published by Saudi website Jazan. The reporter noted that Kravitz was the biggest manufacturer of office supplies in Israel and asked how the Saudi Ministry of Commerce could overlook such a thing.

"Where are the Saudi kingdom's supervision authorities?" the reporter asks, calling for an investigation into the apparent marketing of an Israeli product in Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the original Saudi story. Plenty of Arabic sites are talking about this but every one I can find is referring to an article about it in Ma'ariv.

I found "Jazan News" and "Jazan Press" websites, but no newspaper simply called "Jazan." I found a story on both sites complaining about the prices of school supplies at the Abu Rialin chain, but nothing about Israeli pencils.

So while it is a fun story, it might be just a rumor.

SA CEO responds to critics for selling Israeli products, Muslims seethe

From IOL News (South Africa):

Ivan Saltzman, the chief executive of pharmacy giant Dis-Chem, is embroiled in an ugly spat with a Durban woman over the retailer’s decision to sell Israeli-made skin care products.

The spat began when Fathima Moosa visited the Westwood Mall branch of Dischem and noticed that they were selling Dead Sea products made in Israel.

She later submitted an online letter of complaint, asking them to remove the products on the basis that Israel’s “human rights violations replicate Hitler’s Nazism”.

After Dis-Chem’s initial response that the products were not going to be removed, Moosa demanded that her e-mail be forwarded to top management.

Twenty days later, Saltzman responded to her personally, telling her that likening Israel’s supposed human rights violations was a “a scurrilous slur that you have clearly chosen to employ in order to give maximum offence”.

The spat which has since seen the Islamic Media Review Network get involved with an open letter to Saltzman now threatens to turn into boycott of Dis-Chem by pro-Palestinian groups in SA.

Moosa's original email to the website stated:
i visited your store in westwood mall, durban, and noticed that you stock products from Israel. as a south african who lived under oppression, i was very upset to see that your store imports products from a country whose human rights violations replicate hitler's nazism. please consider removing israeli products from your shelves.
Dear Fathima

Thank you for contacting us. I have brought this matter to the attention of one of our Directors who has advised that we will not consider removing the Israeli products from Dis-Chem stores.

Kind regards

Dawn de Klerk
Moosa responded:
Hi

I am very disappointed by your response.

Please forward this mail to your director, whom I believe is a caring individual. ( I am formerly from Pretoria, and I know that he does a lot of charity).

It is very easy for us to rise to the defense of those who are from our brethren, but the nobler response is to do what's right, even if its the unpopular choice.

The jews of many organisations nationally and internationally have nobly and amazingly distanced themselves from the israeli regime, and have been at the forefront of the call for sanctions against Israel, because of their racist and inhumane policies.

Please google, "nkusa", "young jewish and proud", "rabbis against Israel", Ronnie Kasrils: "not in my name".

Among all these voices, are Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and many Israeli MPs who urge the world to end the madness.

I hope and trust that your good judgement and commitment to the values enshrined in the Torah, allow you to make the right decision.

Happy is the man who renounces everything that puts a strain on his conscience.

After all, we are all the children of Abraham.

Thank you

Fathima Moosa

And here is CEO Ivan Saltzman's unapolgetic response:

Dear Fatima Moosa

I will begin by answering your likening Israel’s supposed human rights violations to Hitler’s Nazism, a scurrilous slur that you have clear chosen to employ in order to give maximum offense. I think you well know that the crimes of the Nazi regime involved the deliberate mass murder of millions of civilians, largely Jews, as a matter of planned policy. Is this really what Israel is doing. Obviously not – in fact it does completely the opposite. Israel goes to extraordinary lengths to minimize civilian casualties and has been extremely successful in this regard. Palestinian (or for that matter Lebanese) casualties have been a tiny fraction of what they would have been if Israel had truly adopted a Nazi-like extermination policy, given the massive military capability it has at its disposal.

In fact, it is very easy to identify the true modern-day Nazis in the Middle East. They are found in the ranks of such murderous extremist groupings as Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestine Islamic Jihad (amongst others), all of which regard the mass murder of Israeli Jews as the noblest goal their followers can aspire to. Have you ever thought what the consequences would be if Israel were to adopt the same kind of tactics against the Palestinian population? Mass slaughter would indeed ensue, but fortunately Israel, no matter what the provocation, has not nor will not ever stoop to such depths.

So far as your stated intention of boycotting Dis-Chem goes, that is obviously your decision. After all, we do live in a free country. However, if it is your intention to boycott Israeli products, you need to be consistent If your gesture is to have any meaning. I hope you don’t use an intel chip in your computer with which you probably wrote your e-mail because it was invented in Israel. I hope that you stay in good health because if you need preventative surgery against a heart attack, you will have to boycott the procedure because guess what? The stent was invented in Israel! Likewise, I hope you are never prescribed any patch for diabetes, to deliver medication and other drugs. If you are an asthmatic you may have to use a new type of inhaler (Spin) invented in Israel. So please check! Israel has given the world the system of drip irrigation which is being widely adopted in South Africa with water shortages like many countries. Should you boycott all fruit and vegetables grown by this method. The list that Israel has given the world is very lengthy. Check very carefully what you boycott.

You may not have noticed the crisis in the Arab world, “Arab Spring” which now is in Winter with no end in sight. To the best of my knowledge this over human rights but then I have an HD TV which you are probably boycotting. The cheapness of life in Somalia and Sudan is perpetrated by people who you are strongly affiliated to. You obviously don’t know what the racism of Hitler differs very little to Israel’s enemies. Both want the destruction of the Jewish people.

I believe I had to answer your “complaint”. I will continue to sell Dead Sea products from Israel. You know the Dead Sea has two shores. I wonder why the Jordanians or Palestinians (most come from Jordan) do not want to share this wonderful natural resource of the Dead Sea.

I will not respond to any further correspondence on your subject.

Yours faithfully

IVAN SALTZMAN | CHIEF EXCECUTIVE OFFICER
23 Stag Rd, Allandale, Midrand, South Africa
(011) 589-2208
ivan@dischem.co.za

A Muslim organization in South Africa, Media Review Network, responds with a lengthy letter that actually defends Moosa's characterization of Israel as engaging in Nazi-like behavior.

Unsurprisingly, MRN explicitly supports Hamas and terrorism against Israelis (saying the Shalit prisoner swap "vindicates any and all resistance options to oppression must be employed against the brutal Zionist occupation of their lands.")


(h/t Gidon)