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Dubai Port Firm Enforces Israeli Boycott
The storm surrounding the proposed Arab takeover of several US ports just got stormier. The Jerusalem Post reports that the Dubai-based firm at the center of it all helps enforce the Arab boycott of Israel:
The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over six major US ports, including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), which consists of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.
"Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced," Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department's Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview.
"If a product contained even some components that were made in Israel, and you wanted to import it to Dubai, it would be a problem," he said.
A-Din noted that while the head office for the anti-Israel boycott sits in Damascus, he and his fellow staff members are paid employees of the Dubai Customs Department, which is a division of the PCZC, the same Dubai government-owned entity that runs Dubai Ports World.
UPDATE 3/1: The Globes business magazine reports that Dubai Ports World has a contract with Israel's Zim shipping line. Do these two reports contradict each other?
Business As Usual
It’s business as usual for the Palestinian media. The mother of would-be suicide bomber Wafa Al-Bas (pictured) told Palestinian TV that she regrets her 21-year-old daughter failed to martyr herself. Click here to see Palestinian Media Watch’s video of the interview. Al-Bas planned to blow herself up at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba last June.
‘Do They Really Mean All That?’
Writing in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette op-ed section, AP reporter Mark Lavie offers an eye-opening take on Hamas, having witnessed up close the organization’s founding:
And there I was in a small room in a Hamas stronghold with two of the group’s main movers. Did they know that besides being an American radio reporter, I was an Israeli and a Jew?
But it didn’t matter. To Adwan and Zahar, anti-Semitism was institutional, not personal. I was in no danger….
Now, nearly two decades later, Hamas has surprised itself and won a parliamentary election, putting itself in the position of official power in the West Bank and Gaza. And now the world is wondering – do they really mean all that?
The charter is not an old, dusty document written by an idealistic founding generation to be memorized in classrooms but forgotten in practice, like the Declaration of Independence. Most of the people who wrote it are still around (some have been assassinated by Israel). The charter guides them because it sums up their core beliefs.
(Hat tip: Daily Alert)
A Different Divestment
At Northwestern U., Henry Bowles III writes in the Daily Northwestern that American Jews can fight anti-semitism by divesting their ethnic identity with Israel:
Jewish youths, particularly in the U.S., are so well-propagandized that they can hardly think critically on the issue. They have been sold a dishonest historical narrative that, among other fictions, posits Israel as a David, versus an Arab Goliath. They have been told that Israel is their “homeland” and are offered free trips to Israel, disturbingly titled “Birthright.” The obvious and quite tribal aim is to promote a sense of ethnic identity….
Ending the new anti-Semitism and combating tribalism requires a restoration of Jewish self-criticism. It is up to Jewish youth to divest their ethnic identity from Israel.
Memo to Bowles: Anti-Semitism pre-dates the 1948 founding of the state of Israel.
A commentary in today’s Jerusalem Post highlights a number of ironic points about the controversy surrounding the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance under construction in Jerusalem. Islamic leaders protest that the museum is being built over Muslim graves.
UPDATE 3/1: See IsraelMatzav's extensive critique of the media response to the controversy. (Hat tip: Soccer Dad)
Pondering the French Media
Is French media coverage of Israel improving? A standing-room-only Tel Aviv University conference including panelists from AFP, Le Monde, Arte Television, Tribune Juive (Jewish Tribune) as well as French-Jewish media activist Marc Tobias thought so. Haaretz reports:
The speakers unanimously agreed that the image of Israel had changed for the better since 2000, mainly because of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the recent election victory of Hamas, which makes the Palestinians appear more extremist. Nonetheless, some fine distinctions were mentioned, which illustrated that while France may be seen to be a monolithic nation and culture, its media do not necessarily have a uniform image of Israel.
Still to be resolved however is perhaps the biggest stain on French coverage of Israel: Mohammed Dura. French coverage of the recent brutal murder of Ilan Halimi (pictured) also had many shortcomings, as detailed by Tom Gross and Nidra Poller.
A Matter of Accountability
The Guardian reports that the BBC is considering overhauling its system for appealing complaints. But is the Beeb trying to head off greater scrutiny from Ofcom?
Many readers who chose the BBC as 2005's Dishonest Reporter of the Year noted accountability issues. With the network's royal charter expiring at the end of 2006, officials must explain how the BBC spends income from the TV License Fee.
Hamas -- Know the Facts
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Israel Makes the Pitch
The Observer notes that Israel signed a £350,000 sponsorship deal with Arsenal, a London-based Premiere League club. Ironically, the team is moving this summer to a state-of-the-art venue called Emirates Stadium, as the rights to name the facility were purchased by UAE’s Emirates Airlines:
Under the deal, Israel will become Arsenal's "official and exclusive travel destination".
The UAE and Israel don’t have official diplomatic relations, but the Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli and UAE tourism ministers discussed cooperation at last year’s World Economic Forum.
UPDATE 2/28: See AFP's bah-humbug description of the sponsorship:
Israel has won an exclusive deal with English football club Arsenal to promote a country infamous for suicide bombings as a "sun and fun" holiday destination.
Life With a Nuclear Iran
A professor from MIT argues in the NY Times that "we can live with a nuclear Iran." But why would anyone want to?
Rewarding 'Good Behavior'
In a staff-ed, the Salt Lake Tribune writes:
Hamas has observed a cease-fire with Israel for more than a year. If it agrees to extend that truce, and goes about the business of turning the Palestinian Authority into an honest government, maybe the United States should continue its aid....
We realize that there may be little chance that Hamas will ever change its stripes and agree to an accommodation with Israel....
But so long as Hamas behaves, the United States should reward good behavior.
Good behavior? According to Israeli figures, the IDF foiled 29 potential suicide bombers sent by Hamas in 2005, during a period of time a cease-fire was in place. Furthermore, Haaretz recently reported that Hamas is actually helping other terror groups fire Qassam rockets at Israel.
Jewish Propaganda Exposed
MEMRI reports the latest Iranian assault on what's wrong with the world. According to Hasan Bolkhari, a cultural advisor to the Iranian Education Ministry, Tom and Jerry cartoons are Jewish propaganda:
"Watch Schindler's List. Every Jew was forced to wear yellow star on his clothing. The Jews were degraded and termed 'dirty mice.' Tom and Jerry was made in order to change the Europeans' perception of mice. One of terms used was 'dirty mice.'…
"No ethnic group or people operates in such a clandestine manner as the Jews."…
"Tom and Jerry was made in order to display the exact opposite image. If you happen to watch this cartoon tomorrow, bear in mind the points I have just raised, and watch it from this perspective. The mouse is very clever and smart. Everything he does is so cute.
See Bolkhari on video.
A Lebanese Admission
Lebanon’s government admits it permitted a convoy of weapons from Syria to reach Hezbollah. According to Haaretz, the arms shipment originally came from Iran and arrived in southern Lebanon in January:
However, this is the first time that the Lebanese have publicly admitted the existence of these convoys, much less that it has been authorizing arms deliveries to Hezbollah. The convoy's passage was apparently approved by the office of Defense Minister Elias Murr, in coordination with the office of Lebanon's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud.
Meanwhile, in a somber Miami Herald commentary, Ike Seamans writes that security concerns forced the International Ice Hockey Federation to move a tournament from the northern Israeli town of Metulla to Romania.
UN Security Council Resolution 1559 specifically calls for the disarming of all Lebanese militias. Will Western news services pick up on the Lebanese admission?
The Ambassador Calls on the UK
After a week of speaking at UK universities, Eytan Schwartz, Israel’s “Ambassador” (pictured) shares his thoughts in YNetNews:
I was standing on a street in the city of Manchester in England. It’s cold in Manchester, and rainy, and I was taking a photo of the front of the synagogue in which I was about to speak to a group of students.
Suddenly, three guys in dark suits burst out of the darkness and asked in a typical stern but polite British tone: "What are you doing here?"
"I am tonight's speaker," I answered.
"Oh," he said, "for a moment we were afraid. You know how it is - when there is an Israeli speaker, and somebody shows up taking photos of the synagogue, we get a little suspicious."
"Sure," I answered, though until that day there's never been a need for security at an event in which I spoke.
We shook hands and said goodbye, and I went in to get ready. They – three Jewish student volunteers who serve as security guards for Jewish community events – disappeared into the freezing cold, and stayed there until the last person left.
This story, if you’d like, is the essence of my visit to England.
Blogging At the MFA
The Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs started blogging. Based out of the Israeli consulate in New York City, IsraelVideoBlog’s self-description is “A place for Israelis to showcase their creations, tell their stories and engage in a conversation with like-minded people all over the world.” YNet News reports:
Foreign Ministry officials are inviting anyone in possession of a camcorder – and some creativity – to send in videos.
The Sinn Fein Model
See BICOM for an in-depth response to claims that Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein is a model for Hamas legitimacy. Written by three members of Ireland’s Freedom Institute:
The lesson of the Northern Ireland conflict is that before formal negotiations towards a settlement can be possible, terrorists must come to accept a realistic analysis of possible end results, tailor their ideology accordingly, embrace democratic norms in principle and in practice, and undertake concrete verifiable measures to build trust. In Northern Ireland, political office has been a reward for successfully embarking on this transition. For Hamas, it has been a reward for flouting the peace process and leading the terror campaign against Israeli civilians over the last decade.
'It Unequivocally Merits U.S. Sanctions'
A Dallas Morning News staff-ed gives Hamas unqualified credit for observing the cease-fire:
Although top Hamas figures continue to call for Israel's destruction and reject calls for direct negotiations, Hamas has for a year observed the cease-fire forged by the previous Palestinian government and says it will continue to do so. The day Hamas breaks the cease-fire is the day it unequivocally merits U.S. sanctions.
However, the Morning News errs in its unqualified claim that Hamas has “for a year observed the cease-fire.” According to Israeli figures, of the 160 potential suicide attacks Israel foiled in 2005, Hamas was directly responsible for 29. The fact that those 29 attacks didn’t succeed doesn’t mean Hamas abided by the cease-fire.
Hamas also had unfortunate “successes” in 2005 such as an August suicide bombing at the Beersheba bus station. (Although Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed joint responsibility, Hamas helped plan the attack.) Hamas was also responsible for the abduction and murder of Jerusalem businessman Sasson Nuriel.
No when exactly did Hamas unequivocally merit US sanctions?
Israel Destroys Iraqi Shrine?
The golden dome of the Al Askari Mosque -- a Shiite shrine in Samarra, Iraq -- was completely destroyed in an explosion, sparking sectarian violence that has so far killed 50 people and left dozens of mosques targeted in reprisals. Want to guess who blames Israel?
Talking Turkey With Israel
Seeking to boost a sagging reputation, Turkey is turning to Israel for advice on public relations. YNet News reports:
The Turks are apparently interested in learning from Israel's experience in deal with image problems, especially in light of the intifada, for the purpose of marketing Turkey as a modern, Western state who represents enlightened Islam.
Syndicated columnist Georgie Geyer believes Egypt will succeed in taming Hamas:
Many of Egypt's leading diplomats -- and it must be remembered that this country has played a major ameliorative role in Gaza, training Palestinian police and assuring the border -- are convinced that Hamas can patiently and definitively be won over. Indeed, they are strangely optimistic….
Despite its lurid suicide bomber past, Hamas has abided largely by a "Hudna," or traditional Arab ceasefire, for the last year. The most hopeful idea for this wildly uncertain Israeli-Palestinian future would be for both sides to drop their emotional demands for recognition, for immediate quid pro quo, and for all the paraphernalia of dignity and respect, and simply establish a bigger Hudna and start living alongside one another. With confidence building, new relationships could slowly develop.
Geyer’s belief appears to be based on naivete. A closer look at the Hamas charter shows that Hamas defines itself as part of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization founded in Egypt in the 1920s that has branches around the world, including Syria, Iraq, Europe, even the United States.
In Egypt, the Brotherhood holds 20 percent of parliament's seats. President Hosni Mubarak, who fears Hamas will embolden the Islamist group to seize control of Egypt, recently postponed local elections. And the Brotherhood's ties with Hamas run deep. WorldNetDaily recently reported:
Palestinian security sources close to Hamas told WND Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Mahdi Akif has been serving as a replacement Hamas spiritual leader ever since Israel assassinated former spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin in March 2004.
"Whenever there is an organizational spiritual issue, Hamas takes it to Akif," said the Palestinian source. "He gave them the blessing to run in the elections and was instrumental in using Islamic tradition to deduce it was OK to join the government. The Brotherhood in essence is helping run Hamas.
So what’s the likelihood that Hamas will jettison it’s ideology like Geyer believes?
UPDATE 2/22: The Jerusalem Post reports that a senior IDF officer’s comments about Islamic in-roads in Jordan have stirred controversy between Jerusalem and Amman. See also Haaretz, which questions the fuss.
Inquirer to Israel: Roll the Dice
It’s rather impudent of newspapers to tell governments to gamble on the lives of their citizens. Yet that’s exactly what a Philadelphia Inquirer staff editorial calls on Israel to do:
More broadly, the only sliver of hope these days for peace in the Middle East is that Hamas' new responsibilities will force it to become more moderate….
The chance - no matter how small it is - that Hamas could jettison its destructive ways and act responsibly, is worth Israel giving the Palestinian Authority a few more months. Let Hamas get used to a couple of those $50 million payments. Let it realize that it must deal with Israel if it wants to be an effective leader and not throw the West Bank and Gaza into chaos.
If, after those few months, Hamas does not shed its support for terrorism or its goal of eliminating Israel, then Israel and the world will have more credibility when it imposes serious consequences.
Given Hamas’ history of suicide bombings, it's charter explicitly calling for Israel’s destruction and a "peace proposal" that merely postpones the Jewish state's demise, are the odds really worth such a gamble?
Comments to Inquirer.Letters@phillynews.com
Probably a Freudian Slip
LGF found a Hamas web site whose home page features a Flash animation of a Jewish star destroyed in a mushroom cloud. This link goes to a Google cached version of the page to avoid directly visiting the site. Probably a Freudian slip by one of the moderates running the site.
Meet the New Ambassador
Inspired by the Israeli reality show The Ambassador, London’s Jewish Free School sponsored its own Israel-ambassador contest. The winner: 17-year-old Gabrielle Nejad, who won an internship at the Israeli embassy in London and one-week visit to Israel. The European Jewish Press wrote:
The youngster said she plans to spend a year in Israel when she finishes school next year. And she said she wholeheartedly supports the aims of the Ambassador program: "In today’s world, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have never been so apparent and acceptable, so campus preparation is especially important."
'It Has Done Nothing'
Criticizing Israel’s decision to withhold tax transfers to the PA, this Chicago Tribune staff-ed blindly ignores Hamas’ years of terror:
The Palestinian government hasn't even been formed yet. Leaders just picked a new prime minister on Monday. The new government has said, essentially, nothing. It has done nothing.
The Palestinians voted for an organization well-known for suicide bombings and a charter overtly calling for Israel’s destruction. Yasser Arafat’s administration benefitted from media coverage blurring the triangular relationship between Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades and the PA. Will Hamas now benefit from the Trib's obfuscation?
Should Israel Join NATO?
In the Washington Post, Ronald Asmus urges Israeli membership in NATO to help contain Iran.
NATO has been reluctant to move too far too fast with Israel, preferring to wait for more progress in the peace process and wanting to move forward in cooperation with other Arab Mediterranean countries in parallel. But this is no longer the time for political correctness. It is time to break that link and not hold future Israeli-NATO ties hostage to Hamas or the broader vagaries of NATO's overall Mediterranean dialogue. While continuing to expand ties with these other Arab countries, we must recognize that the threat Israel faces is qualitatively different, as is our security commitment to that country.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer recently said Israeli membership “isn’t on the table," but today's Jerusalem Post reported one sign of closer ties.
Should Israel join NATO? Post your comments below.
Synod Skirmish Simmers
Friction between Anglicans and British Jews continues to simmer. After Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks sharply criticized an Anglican synod vote supporting divestment of holdings in businesses profiting from Israel’s “illegal occupation” of the West Bank, synod member Paul Oestreicher defended the vote. Oestreicher fled Nazi Germany with his Jewish father.
I cannot listen calmly when an Iranian president talks of wiping out Israel. Jewish fears go deep. They are not irrational. But I cannot listen calmly either when a great many citizens of Israel think and speak of Palestinians in the way a great many Germans thought and spoke about Jews when I was one of them and had to flee.
See Melanie Phillips' fisking of Oestreicher:
Now let’s get this right. He’s comparing Israeli Jews to German supporters of the Nazi party. German Nazis believed the Jews were a global virus which had to be exterminated. Israelis have been under existential attack by Palestinian Arabs for fifty years. Israelis don’t want to wipe out Palestinians; Palestinians want to wipe out Israelis. The comparison beggars belief – and Oestreicher wraps himself in the mantle of the Holocaust to make it.
We were struck by Michael Ramirez's take on trends in media coverage.
A Question of Qualifying Adjectives
The Times of London joins the media chorus calling Ismail Haniya “pragmatic" with this curious headline:
Prime ministerial nominee is seen as radical but pragmatic
Considering the contradictory nature of these two adjectives, we have to wonder which one Times editors intended to be the qualifier.
Israeli security services uncovered a 60 mm rocket launcher and eight mortar shells in Bethlehem. According to the Jerusalem Post, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told a Knesset committee that terrorists planned to fire them at the nearby Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.
Will Western news services pick up on this development?
Respect (Just A Little Bit)
This Wall St. Journal staff-ed eloquently responds to criticism of Israel’s decision to withhold tax revenue from the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority:
We agree that the results of those elections must be "respected," in the narrow sense that they reflect the outcome of a lawful democratic process. But just because something is respected does not make it respectable: Recall the diplomatic quarantine the European Union slapped on Austria in 2000 when elections there put the proto-fascist Freedom Party in government….
Neither President Bush nor acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made any secret of his intention to isolate Hamas and deprive the Palestinian Authority of funds once Hamas assumes the reins of government.
Nor is there any shame in doing so: Donors have the right to impose conditions on their beneficiaries, and so far Hamas has rejected international calls that it disarm, forswear terrorism and accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state. As Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al wrote in Britain's Guardian immediately after the election, "We shall never recognize the legitimacy of a Zionist state. . . . We shall not seek friendships at the expense of our legitimate rights."
Bird Flu Hits Gaza
YNet News reports that the avian bird flu has hit the Gaza Strip. Blame Israel.
The "Pragmatist" of Hamas
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Linda McQuaig thinks Canadian demands for Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements are “lopsided.” The Toronto Star columnist was responding to a recent commentary published in the Globe&Mail by Canada's former ambassador to Israel, Michael Bell. McQuaig wrote:
Ottawa also made clear last week that Canada would withdraw financial support — unless Hamas renounced violence, recognized Israel and accepted previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.
At first glance, this seems reasonable. But why are these demands placed only on Palestinians? Shouldn't Israel also have to renounce violence?....
As for recognizing Israel, Hamas has implicitly indicated a willingness do this — if Israel ends its occupation. Hamas official Khaled Mishaal told a Russian journal last week that Hamas would halt its armed struggle if Israel withdrew from Palestinian land it has occupied since 1967.
The lopsided nature of Ottawa's demands is striking, particularly since Israel already exists as a country, with secure borders and the unwavering support of the most powerful nation on Earth. Meanwhile, Palestinians, after 40 years living under military occupation, are essentially powerless.
McQuaig’s premature faith in Hamas “overtures” probably stems from skewed AP coverage.
UPDATE 2/20: The Star gave Rondi Adamson op-ed space to counter McQuaig.
NGOs Under Scrutiny
Israeli sanctions against the new PA will put non-governmental organizations in an uncomfortable spotlight. A Knesset committee is surveying all the active NGOs to ensure foreign aid doesn’t reach Hamas. According to the Jerusalem Post:
A Defense Ministry committee will present Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday with preliminary recommendations regarding which non-governmental organizations should be considered as conduits for the funding of Palestinian humanitarian causes, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The committee is conducting a survey of NGOs and quasi-NGOs to assess their effectiveness, the focus of their work, and whether they have any ties to Hamas or other terror organizations.
See NGO-Monitor for more on the sometimes questionable role of NGOs in Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Churches Pressed to Divest
As the World Council of Churches meets in Porto Allegre, Brazil, AP reports that Palestinian supporters are pressing Christian leaders to divest church holdings in companies "aiding or profiting from Israeli control of Palestinian territories." According to AP:
Supporters of pro-Palestinian divestment are now seeking more momentum at the biggest and most diverse Christian gathering in nearly a decade: the World Council of Churches assembly of mainline Protestants, Anglicans and Orthodox churches that together represent more than 500 million followers — and billions of dollars in stock holdings.
The amount the churches hold in companies targeted by the divestment campaign is just a fraction, so any possible action would be mostly symbolic. But organizers hope to raise the movement's profile by carrying it from college campuses to mainstream churches — nearly all Protestant — as a way to pressure Israel into concessions.
A related AP sidebar also updates the status of other church divestment efforts, including the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, and the Presbyterian Church (USA).
According to Reuters, the Dalai Lama -- who just arrived in Israel -- has joined Russia, Turkey, Jordan and Venezuela in expressing interest in meeting with Hamas:
But the Dalai Lama said he personally would be willing to meet with Hamas members when he holds talks with Palestinians this week. "If some Hamas people may join, then I'm happy to see them," he said.
Dollars and Sense
Ever since NY Times correspondent Steve Erlanger reported alleged American-Israeli plans to actively destabilize the PA in order to force new elections, (both governments deny this) we’ve noticed a spillover effect in the op-ed pages. Issues of meddling vs. reasonable reservations over the wisdom of providing money have become simply blurred.
Withholding money from the PA in and of itself doesn’t indicate an intention to meddle in Palestinian affairs. Yet a NY Times editorial criticizing the withholding of aid argued:
If the new government fails to deliver because it puts continued terrorism over the well-being of the Palestinian people, it may indeed be booted out of office. But a Hamas that could explain continued Palestinian misery by a deliberate American-Israeli plan to reverse the democratic verdict of the polls would be likely to become only stronger….
Washington publicly asserts that no such plan is being discussed. A far wiser course for the United States to pursue would be to step back and desist from deliberately provoking the Palestinians, and give Hamas a chance to reconsider its own options.
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer recently slammed this line of thinking, noting two significant reasons for cutting off support to a Hamas-led PA:
First, because money is fungible. Every dollar we spend for Palestinian social services is a dollar freed up for a Hamas government to purchase rockets, guns and suicide belts for the "Palestinian army" that Meshal has already declared he intends to build.
Second, because it sends the Palestinians precisely the wrong message. If they were under a dictatorship that imposed rejectionism on them, there would be a case for helping a disenfranchised Palestinian people. But they just held the most open and honest exercise of democracy in Palestinian history. The Palestinian people chose. However much they love victimhood, they are not victims here. They are actors. And historical actors have to take responsibility.
Can’t the Times (or the Boston Globe, or the Sydney Morning Herald for that matter) judge the issue of Palestinian aid on it’s own merits?
Cartoon Contest Counters Iran
The World Union of Jewish Students is teaming up with cartoonists Edward Margolis and Noah Crissey to strike back at the Iranian cartoon contest ridiculing the Holocaust with a counter cartoon competition called “Fight Hate With Humor.” Prizes will be awarded and best cartoons will be used in a WUJS campaign against hate. Deadline for submissions is May 1. Aspiring cartoonists can write to email@example.com for more info.
PA Media Turf War
The Jerusalem Post reports that official PA media has been placed under the authority of Mahmoud Abbas:
The decree means that Abbas and his office, not the Information Ministry, will now be directly in charge of the electronic media. The decision also affects the PLO's official news agency, Wafa, which will now report directly to Abbas's office.
"Hamas is about to form a new cabinet and we don't want to give them control over the radio and television stations," a top PA official explained. "This means that a Hamas information minister would have no power over the media."
Palestinian journalists and editors who met lately with Abbas warned that they would not agree to serve under a Hamas administration.
Hamas criticizes the development.
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen blasts the decision by Russian president Vladimir Putin (pictured) to hold talks with Hamas leaders in Moscow:
But in the real world, Putin ought to bear in mind the example he is setting. If he can talk with Hamas, why can't others talk to the Chechens? He himself takes umbrage whenever anyone meets with Chechen political leaders -- not, mind you, terrorists -- because he makes no distinction between the two. But when it comes to Hamas, Putin is willing to embrace it all -- political wing, terrorist wing: It makes no difference to him. At least until he shows differently, the only distinction he makes is between the killers of innocent Russians and the killers of innocent Israelis.
Third Intifada: 'It's Just About Timing'
Leaders from Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Brigades and PFLP openly boasted to WorldNetDaily’s Aaron Klein that a third intifada is already on the way:
Some terror leaders, particularly from the Al Aqsa Brigades, whose associated Fatah party scored poorly in last month's parliamentary elections, say they are planning massive violence against Israeli civilians mostly to revolt against the new Hamas-controlled Palestinian government.
"The new intifada is only a question of time and this will be the hardest and the most dangerous one. It's just about timing until the order to blow up a new wave of attacks will be given," Abu Nasser, a senior Al Aqsa Brigades leader from the Balata refugee camp in northern Samaria told WorldNetDaily in an interview….
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal over the weekend said his group might sign a long-term cease fire with Israel, but told reporters he will not ask other Palestinian group to stop attacks.
Abu Nasser told WND the Brigades will not respect any cease fire agreed to by Hamas and will not halt attacks at Hamas' request.
Cartoon Fallout Down Under
At The Age of Melbourne, cartoonist Michael Leunig and editors are up in arms after a hoaxer submitted one of Leunig's drawings to Hamshahri, the Iranian newspaper holding a contest of Holocaust-related cartoons. The Age's editors rejected Leunig's cartoon in 2002. Leunig contacted Hamshahri, which removed the cartoon from its web site. The Age is considering legal action.
UPDATE 2/16: Free-lance writer Richard Cooke has apologized for submitting Leunig’s work to Hamshahri.
South African writer Jon Qwelane is on a roll. Last week, the Sunday Sun columnist argued that Israel and the US have unfairly intervened in the Palestinian political process by trying to prevent Hamas from taking over. This week, Qwelane responded to critics by revising history to "prove" that Israel provoked the Six-Day War.
I also had the impertinence to criticise Israel. It is a bit rich for one self-proclaimed and thoroughly mendacious "history major" to tell me rather imperiously to "go and check your facts; Israel was surrounded by hostile Arab countries" blah blah and tired bloody blah which, apart from being so predictable and untruthful old hat, is completely dishonest and a cock-and-bull story - the Arabs did not fire the first shot, period!
It’s Almost Supernatural fisks Qwelane here, here, and here.
Blame Israel for Avian Flu
It was only a matter of time before Israel was blamed for spreading the avian flu virus. See YNet News for more on the Syrian accusations.
Criticizing Caricatures, Peddling Protocols
Looks like the BBC was struck by the hypocrisy of Muslim protests, reporting on the easy availability of anti-semitic literature in Cairo:
Shop manager Mustapha Said insists that he is respectful of all religions including Judaism.
While he insists he believes in freedom of speech, he is furious about the cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad.
He argues that slandering any religion should be punishable.
But when it comes to selling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, he says: "The book is about politics not about religion. I don't have a problem with books criticising politics."
At the American University of Cairo, many students agree with Mr Said's comments.
Truce or Consequences
According to AP, Hamas is offering Israel a long-term truce in exchange for reciprocity:
Hamas, while adhering to its violent ideology, has voiced willingness to agree to a long-term truce if Israel reciprocates.
Not exactly. Hamas continues to make it’s long-term truce offer contingent on Israel recognizing a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, a position AP recently labeled “pragmatic.”
AP reports that Hamas is mooting Jamal al-Khudairi (pictured), the chairman of the board of Gaza’s Islamic University, for the post of PA prime minister. This is may be part of an effort by Hamas to indirectly run the PA while avoiding the necessity of moderating it’s views, a strategy which was highlighted in the LA Times.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Sun visited Islamic University to see what’s taught at the institution, which was opened by Hamas founders Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz-Rantisi:
At the Islamic University of Gaza, it was time for American literature class.
Professor Akram Habeeb informed his students that he was dropping Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter from the reading list. Hawthorne's novel about an adulteress in a Puritan village punished for her sins by being forced to wear the letter A on her dress would be too painful to read, he said, in light of the Palestinians' own troubles.
"We Palestinians are branded by the black letter T," he said, scrawling the letter on the blackboard.
"And what is the black T ?"
His students - all women, dressed modestly in headscarves and long robes - appeared puzzled.
"Give us a hint," one student said.
"Come on," Habeeb urged.
"Terrorists?" one student asked.
"Yeah, terrorists!" Habeeb said excitedly, before jettisoning the day's lesson for a lively discussion about the justifications for violence against Israel.
UPDATE 2/13: See also this visit to the campus by Knight-Ridder.
The Guardian Promotes Apartheid Slur
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A poll of 500 UK Muslims found some attitudes of concern to the country’s Jewish community. According to the Times of London:
Nearly two fifths (37 per cent) believe that the Jewish community in Britain is a legitimate target “as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East”.
Muslim paper republished Danish cartoons
The Brussels Journal reports that the Egyptian paper, Al-Fagr, published the controversial Mohammed cartoons in October, during the holy month of Ramadan, noting the curious absence of protests against the paper or the Egyptian government.
Apparently Muslim papers are allowed to do what Western papers are not: republish the Muhammad cartoons.
Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey has copies online.
(Hat tip: Daily Alert)