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Monday, 29 May 2017

French Jewish Anger Grows Over Savage Antisemitic Murder of Pensioner at Hands of Muslim in Paris Suburb

Dr. Sarah Halimi was the victim of a savage antisemitic murder in a Paris suburb in April. Photo: CRIF.

As further details emerge of the brutal murder of an Orthodox Jewish woman in a Paris suburb at the hands of a Muslim assailant last month, French Jews are increasingly worried and angered by what one prominent member of the community called an “organized silence” surrounding the case.

Dr. Sarah Halimi — a 66-year-old pensioner living in the Paris suburb of Belleville — was murdered in the early hours of April 4 by Kada Traore, a 27-year-old immigrant from Mali.  After breaking into the neighboring apartment of another Malian family at 4:25 a.m. — whose terrified inhabitants locked themselves away as they heard him recite verses from the Quran — Traore jumped over the balcony and forced his way into Halimi’s apartment. As he beat the elderly lady savagely, her screams prompted neighbors to call the police.

Three officers arrived at 4:45 a.m. But on hearing Traore yelling “Allahu Akhbar!” and “Shaitan!” (Arabic for ‘Satan’), they feared a terrorist attack was taking place, and called for backup. Anti-terror officers did not arrive until 5:00 a.m., by which time Halimi had been thrown by her attacker from the window of her third-floor apartment to the ground below. Traore, reported to be a drug dealer and addict with a criminal record, then returned to the apartment of the Malian family where he resumed his prayers, and was not taken into police custody until almost 6:00 a.m.

Shock over the barbaric nature of the murder has been compounded by the reluctance of both the media and French authorities to recognize it as an antisemitic hate crime — even after a silent march of remembrance on the Sunday after the murder was met by local youths chanting “Death to the Jews” and “We Own Kalashnikovs.”

In an open letter to new French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine — a French journalist and expert on antisemitism — charged that “in the advanced decadence that reigns today in the country of (antisemitic comedian) Dieudonné, for whom ‘the Jews are dogs’ (and people laugh hysterically), it seems that a run-over dog deserves more attention than a murdered Jewish woman.”

Laignel-Lavastine also quoted William Attal, Halimi’s brother, who stated, “I have waited seven weeks before I said anything. The absolute silence about my sister’s murder has become intolerable.”

Since the murder, official and media accounts of what transpired have played up claims that Traore was suffering from mental illness, while virtually ignoring the antisemitic element of the crime.

A common theory is that the recent French election encouraged — in the phrase of Michel Gurfinkiel, a leading French political analyst and president of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute in Paris — an “organized silence” around the Halimi murder.

“Such a story would benefit the Right and the National Front,” Gurfinkiel said. “Everyone is convinced this is why there has been such an organized silence around the story.”

A few days after the murder, Marine Le Pen — the leader of the far-right, anti-immigrant National Front — tweeted that Halimi’s fate made her want to “speak about Islamist antisemitism.” Le Pen was defeated by centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the presidential election on May 7.

“The Jewish community was very careful not to be suspected of siding with Marine Le Pen,” Gurfinkiel said. He also noted that state provision of security to religious buildings and institutions means that Jewish organizations are “reluctant to raise certain questions.”

But as more time passes in the wake of Halimi’s murder, the calls to recognize its antisemitic nature are growing. Interviewed by the Le Parisien newspaper last week, the lawyers for the Halimi family, Jean-Alex Buchinger and David Kaminsky, said in no uncertain terms that Sarah Halimi had been “targeted, tortured and killed by her assailant because she was Jewish.”

Halimi’s murder robbed the Jewish community in Paris of one of its most loved figures, known for her work as a doctor and as a kindergarten teacher. “She was very well known and respected, a great person,” Gurfinkiel said. “The tragedy is that she was living in that part of Paris where Jews are gradually leaving, since the security doesn’t exist anymore.”

It also brought forth reminders of the 2006 kidnapping and murder of a young French Jew, Ilan Halimi — no relation to Ruth Halimi — whose body was left for dead by a mostly-Muslim gang who seized him out of the belief that Jews were wealthy and willing to pay ransom money.

“The French police were of no help during the whole (Ilan Halimi) episode, rejecting any idea that antisemitism could have played a role in the affair and preferring to believe the absurd notion that this was the result of some war between rival gangs,” Laignel-Lavastine noted in her letter about Ruth Halimi to French Interior Minister Collomb. “Ten years later, we have reached the same point.”

Traore is currently undergoing psychiatric tests and Jewish communal leaders are impatient for more information from authorities. “The more time passes, the more the community feels that there is something you do not want to tell us,” commented Joel Mergui, head of the Consistoire — the governing body of French Jewish communities.

Seeds Of Hope: Israelis Fight Hunger In Ethiopia By Helping Farmers Quintuple Crop Yields

Environment News 
Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels | May, 29 2017

Over 7 million people suffer from malnutrition in Ethiopia, and one of the ways to increase food security in the poor African country is to increase crop yields.

Israeli nonprofit organization Fair Planet is helping Ethiopia fight hunger by providing farmers with high-quality seeds that can better withstand harsh climate conditions, and are more resistant to pests. Partly developed in Israel, these seeds have shown to increase crop yields fivefold.

For Ethiopian family farmers, whose daily income averages around $1.5, climate change and occasional outbreaks of pests can threaten their very survival.

According to Fair Planet, some of the main problems these Ethiopian farmers face are that the local seed varieties are highly susceptible to pests and diseases. Many crops also have very short shelf lives.

The Israeli NGO provides high-quality seed varieties that are resistant to many pests and diseases, minimizing post-harvest losses. Founded in 2012 by Israeli Dr. Shoshan Haran, Fair Planet seeks to provide famine-stricken Ethiopia with food security and economic opportunities, “by making high-quality vegetable seeds, suitable to local conditions, accessible and affordable to local farmers.”

Haran, who specializes in plant protection after having worked for Israeli seed company Hazera (which means “the seed” in Hebrew), says: “I realized that the best way to help poor farmers in developing countries is to give them access to quality seeds.”

These companies breed, develop, and produce mass quantities of different seed varieties that allow farmers to grow a wide range of vegetable crops around the world.

Bringing super-seeds to famine-stricken parts of the world

Aiming to solve the problems of hunger and poverty for the poorest farmers in the world, Haran “wanted to bring what seed companies had developed to the hungry world.” And that’s why she founded Fair Planet, which currently connects companies that develop quality seed varieties to small-scale farmers in several famine-stricken Ethiopian communities.

Manny Dahari: How I rescued my family from Yemen

Long feature in which Manny Dahari tells how he escaped Yemen for the US, and then engineered the flight of the rest of his family last year. Rhona Lewis reports in the Jewish Press (with thanks: Malca):

When I speak to Dhahari, who visited Israel in January this year as a participant in Yeshiva University’s Israel Winter Mission, he takes me into a world where anti-Semitism is the stuff that life is made of.

Old Sana'a as it used to be. It is not known how much of the city has survived the civil war 

“As a Jew in Yemen, you live in your own little bubble and don’t associate with the world around you. You’re always seen as a stranger – even though you’ve been there for thousands of years,” he says. “Every morning, on our way to school, we faced an attack from the kids who were waiting for us with a pile of stones,” he recalls. When Manny was hit by a stone launched into their backyard, his father confronted the father of the attacker. “Maybe you should consider converting to Islam,” said the father. “Then nothing would have happened.”

Although there were a few friendly neighbors, you could never be too sure. “When I was about ten years old, my Arab neighbor, who was also my friend, tried to set me on fire on Shabbat morning as I was walking to shul and chatting with him. He stuffed a lit firecracker in the pocket of my jacket,” recalls Manny. Shortly afterwards, Manny was the first to run to his best friend, who had been shot. Years later, the pain of the horrific loss of a young life still resounds in Manny’s voice.
In 2006, after two years of negotiations and red tape, and thanks to a frequent traveler to Yemen who was involved in the Jewish school, Manny’s older brother, Tzemach, left Yemen for the US. “I was devastated when I realized that my father lacked the financial means to allow me to follow my brother,” says Manny. Barely thirteen years old, Manny understood that any future lay only in America. But now the door had slammed shut.

Read article in full 

More about Manny Dahari

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Norway condemns use of UN Women Funds to glorify Palestinian terrorist

"Norway on Friday condemned the Palestinian Authority's naming of a woman's center in the West Bank after a female terrorist who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that killed 37 people. Oslo also asked the PA to repay money it provided for the center...

Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende issued a sharp statement noting that the center, named after Dalal Mughrabi, received funding from Norway via the Palestinian Election Commission and UN Women to promote participation of women in elections. The center is in Burka, northwest of Nablus.

'The glorification of terrorist attacks is completely unacceptable, and I deplore this decision in the strongest possible terms. Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way. We will not accept the use of Norwegian aid funding for such purposes,' he said.

According to Brende, Norway asked that its logo be immediately removed from the building, and that 'funding that has been allocated to the center be repaid.'

'We will not enter into any new agreements with either the Palestinian Election Commission or UN Women in Palestinian areas until satisfactory procedures are in place to ensure that nothing of this nature happens again,' he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon praised the Norwegian move as the 'right step... We recommend that the international community investigate very well where the money it invests in the Palestinian Authority is going, and expect that all the partners in this project act as Norway did.'"
May 27, 2017
Norway Slams PA for Glorifying Terrorists With its MoneyThe Jerusalem Post
Herb Keinon


Israel remains the only free country in the Middle East, scoring 80 on a scale of 100. That compares favorably with partly free countries in the region such as Turkey (38), Jordan (37) and Kuwait (36), and with countries deemed “not free” by the nonprofit: Iraq (27), Iran (17), Saudi Arabia (10) and Syria (-1), among all other Mideast nations., Freedom House declared on Wednesday in its annual report.

While there is no comparison with its neighbors, Israel does score lower than most other nations in the free world, by the measures of this report: European and North American nations all scored between 89 and 100, with the exception of the Balkan nations and Greece, which scored between 80 and 84.

Freedom House calculates its scores based on a complex methodology of political rights indicators and 15 civil liberties indicators – such as electoral process, political pluralism and participation and functioning of government – as well as freedom of belief, rule of law, and several other absolute principles of liberal democracies outlined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Within its report on Israel, Freedom House classifies the nation’s media as “partly free.” Its full report on Israel will be published at a later date.

The overall findings of the report are stark, warning of “populist and nationalist forces making significant gains in democratic states.” This report marks the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom, it reads.

“There were setbacks in political rights, civil liberties, or both, in a number of countries rated ‘free’ by the report,” Freedom House noted, “including Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia and the United States.”

Friday, 26 May 2017

Iraqi lawyer Hamadani demands justice for Jews

Every so often a voice may be heard in the Arab world arguing that their state cannot be democratic unless the rights of all minorities are respected. The latest such voice belongs to Ammar al-Hamadani, an Iraq lawyer. He is calling for justice for  Iraqi Jews, who were stripped of their citizenship and denied compensation for their property.  In spite of receiving death threats, Hamadani is determined to speak out. Rachel Avraham reports  in Israel Hayom (with thanks: Michelle, Lily):

When people think of Iraq, they think of a country plagued by war, on the verge of collapsing. They think of a failed state that ethnically cleanses minorities and blows up holy sites as well as ancient archaeological treasures. Most Iraqi Jews see nothing but a bleak picture when they look at Iraq today. However, within this war-torn country, there is a Muslim voice of hope, calling out for his country to become a true democratic state and to give Iraqi Jews the justice that they deserve. He does this under the threat of death but remains determined to speak out for all of the minorities in his country, including the Jews.
Ammar al-Hamadani, a Muslim Iraqi lawyer, is working to ensure that Iraqi Jews receive the compensation they deserve in a new democratic Iraq after they were expelled from the country following Israel's 1948 War of Independence. Referring to the expulsion of Iraq's Jews and the seizure of their property as "unconstitutional and inhumane," he stated with sadness that the laws that prompted the Iraqi Jewish community into exile remain in force today "despite the political change that took place in Iraq in 2003 and the enactment of a new Iraqi constitution in 2005 in which we had some hope for change for Iraqi Jews in a democratic, federal and multicultural Iraq."
Al-Hamadani emphasized that it is unlawful to strip any Iraqi of their citizenship for any reason and it is the right of "any Iraqi who has lost his citizenship for either political, racist or sectarian reasons to request the restoration of citizenship." However, al-Hamadani noted that while the Iraqi Constitution permitted the restoration of Iraqi citizenship for those who lost it for the above reasons, Iraqi Jews were excluded: "Iraqi Jews remain deprived of justice under the new Iraq in such a crude violation of the constitution."

 Iraqi Jews escaping to Israel on Operation Michaelberg in 1947

"What is most puzzling is the very constitution that speaks of the freedom of belief and religious practice of Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Sabian Mandaeans does not address the Jews of Iraq as a basic religion," al-Hamadani proclaimed. He noted that in theory, the Iraqi Jewish community has the right to bring their case for restoring their rights before the Administrative Court in Iraq, which is linked to the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council -- technically independent of the executive authority and the government. However, he asserted that in reality, the Administrative Court is politicized, works to defend the actions of the Iraqi government and thus won't give them the justice that they deserve.

"Any lawyer who tries to defend the Jews of Iraq before these two government-controlled courts is being threatened with blackmail and intimidation because your opponent is the judge himself, so that the lawyer cannot take the liberty to defend his clients and therefore, issues remain floating in the court because lawyers fear to follow up," he explained.
"Based on all the above, I am hereby demanding that the case of Iraqi Jews' rights become a universal matter that is adopted by international courts and organizations," al-Hamadani stressed. "This should secure an international stance in the face of the Iraqi government, which could force it into providing justice to the honorable Iraqi Jewish sect and to restore all their rights just like all sects of the Iraqi people. Also, I would like to confirm my willingness to provide all kinds of support in defense of the rights of my Jewish brothers. And allow me to note here, I am doing all this pro-bono and out of commitment to my national duties towards my country."
In response to al-Hamadani's call for Iraqi Jews to receive the compensation that they deserve, Aryeh Shemesh, the leader of the Babylonian Jewish community in Israel, praised him: "We have to praise this person who dared to talk clearly and to tell the truth. This is a major thing. I just hope that more people will get the same idea to help us fight to get compensated."
Levana Zamir, the head of the Central Organization of Jews from Arab and Islamic countries, added: "Sometimes very important things begin with just normal people, simple people, a lawyer like him. Then another can do the same and then the others. It can lead to all of the Arab countries recognizing their mistakes. But he is not the first. In Egypt 10 years ago, Amin al-Mahdi, an Egyptian journalist, wrote a book titled 'The Other Opinion.' He said exactly the same thing. The book was translated into Hebrew.

Read article in full 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

50 years on, bitter-sweet memories from Arab countries

 Tonight is the start of Yom Yerushalayim, the day that recalls the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. This year marks 50 years since the momentous counter-attack by the Israeli army which ended with the words, broadcast across the nation: 'Jerusalem is in our hands.' But conditions became very difficult for  Jews still in Arab countries. Eta Kushner interviewed several for the site (with thanks: Malca)

 This year Jerusalem celebrates its 50th anniversary since re-unification

Tania Shichtman is from Lebanon, the country that lies just north of Israel. Her family lived in Beirut, though outside the Jewish quarter. “It was a beautiful city and a beautiful life,” she says, “until the war.” The Jews knew that if Israel won, they would be saved, and if not, they were in great danger. Tania was a teenager at the time and remembers sitting by the radio day and night worrying. It was not only their Moslem neighbors whom they had to worry about. “The Lebanese Christian neighbors hated us almost as much as the Moslems. We understood that our lives depended on the success of Israel, and we were petrified. If Israel lost, angry mobs would come to our house. It was pretty frightening. The first three days, before the true facts came out, it was very scary. That was the first time I realized the importance of having Israel.” Tania describes the tremendous relief when the war ended with Israel victorious: “It was like going back to life. I can remember those days like they were yesterday.”

After the Six Day War, Tania’s family realized that they could no longer stay in Lebanon. Until the war, they had lived together and were friends, but after the war, attitudes changed. “It wasn’t our country. We were not wanted.” There was a lot of resentment that Israel had won. “We didn’t have a very hard time but it was emotionally wrenching,” explains Tania. She had grown up thinking she was part of the country, and “all of the sudden you are a stranger.” They left Lebanon in 1970 and went to Panama, where her brothers had already settled. There she met her American husband who was working for the Defense Department. The new couple were not particularly religious and moved to Aberdeen, Maryland, where her husband Mel got a job. “My husband, my son, and I began to return to Judaism together, but then our son took off, and we had to play catch-up,” says Tania.

Their son Max felt drawn to Judaism even as a very young boy. The Shichtmans realized that they had to move to a Jewish area for his sake. But it was not enough for Max. By the time he was bar mitzva, he decided to wear a kippa and expressed a desire to attend Beth Tfiloh school. Tania and Mel were happy with this and encouraged him, because they wanted to get closer to their roots as well. Eventually Max became a rabbi and now lives in New York.

Jonathan Attar was a teenager living in Iran. He recalls the first days of the war when the only news they heard was the Arab propaganda declaring their victories. All the Jews were crying, and fast days were proclaimed. The Moslem population, meanwhile, was rejoicing in the streets, shouting “Death to Israel! Death to America” and giving out candies.

Even for a few weeks after the war, the synagogues were closed because the Jews were afraid the Moslems would come and try to kill them. Fortunately, no one was hurt. A few weeks later, everything was back to normal, and they resumed the relationship they had with their Moslem neighbors as it was before the war.

Margalit Tiede was only nine years old and living with her family in Moshav Yish’i, a small agricultural village comprised of Yemenite immigrants. While growing up, Margalit lived a very sheltered and somewhat secluded life. There was no real transportation, and they rarely left the yishuv to go further than nearby Beit Shemesh by horse and wagon.

Before the war, moshav members made a trip to Beit Shemesh to stock up on dried goods and necessities for the “shelters” (actually, just trenches they had dug themselves). Families were instructed to prepare food and water ahead of time. Twice a day, Margalit’s father, who was a paramedic in the reserves, and her brother would leave the shelter and milk the cows while “hoping that nothing would happen.” The chickens also had to be cared for. “Life doesn’t stop on the farm, so we had to keep doing these things during the war,” says Margalit.
The moshavniks usually went to Beit Shemesh every Tuesday and Thursday to sell their produce. During the war, however, they had to wait for a cease-fire in order to travel. Whenever they heard a siren, day or night, they all had to run to the trenches. When it seemed quiet, her mother would quickly run home and cook them food. On some of the days, they heard the sirens constantly and saw the airplanes flying overhead, never knowing whether they were friend or foe. Most of the men were in the army or in the reserves. The remaining men patrolled the moshav.

“We could hear explosions and knew when something was happening, but no one told us what was going on for many days.” She doesn’t think people were afraid. As children, they used to run out and play when there were no sirens. Also, they did receive news of the Israeli successes, although not every day.

“I remember that after Jerusalem was liberated someone came to our village with a loudspeaker and announced, ‘Yerushalayim beyadeinu.’” Everyone ran out of their trenches onto the streets of the moshav, shouting to each other, “Yerushalayaim beyadeinu” and dancing in the street.

Gila Davis was 12 years old and living in Cairo with her well-to-do family. The Six Day War was when she realized that it was a big deal to be a Jew living in a Moslem land. Before the war, they had friendly Arab neighbors, and “everything was fine.” As the war drums began beating, the Jews felt something ominous in the air. Those wealthy enough, sent money out of the country for safekeeping.
The day the war started, a fast day was proclaimed in the community. As soon as the fighting began, Gila’s father and all Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 60 were arrested. They were taken to a type of concentration camp three hours away, in the desert, where conditions were terrible. In the beginning, while the war was going on, the men suffered terrible torture, and for nine months there was no communication at all. No one knew the men’s fate. Gila’s family feared their father was dead.
The day before the police took Gila’s father away, her mother had gone into the hospital for emergency surgery. When they came to arrest him the next afternoon, her father gave Gila the keys to his business. ”Take care of your siblings and don’t let anyone in,” he told her.

“I was in a trance. I didn’t know what was going on.” Gila says. There was no parent in the house as her mother was still in the hospital. Gila heard a commotion and went to the balcony overlooking the building’s courtyard. She saw masses of Arabs rallying against the Jews and promising to kill them. A young man, the son of their Italian Jewish neighbor, was being dragged away by the police. His young wife, with a new baby in one arm, was holding on to him with her other, pleading, “Please don’t take him away!” The policeman threw the woman to the ground. Gila started crying, believing they would never see their father again. Then all her siblings joined in with her tears.

The Italian neighbors, an elderly couple, came into the apartment and arranged for the children to go to their grandparents’ apartment in a different neighborhood, not in the Jewish area. (At the end of the war, when Nasser resigned and the truth came out, the Moslem neighbors there wanted to kill them all. Only their grandparents’ Christian landlord managed save them.)

Before the war, Gila had lived a very sheltered life, and her father was quite overprotective. The children didn’t go anywhere other than the expensive French school they attended and straight home. Her mother never left the house, and when her father was gone it was especially hard for her. “My mother didn’t even know how to go to the store and buy a loaf of bread. My father did all the outside things,” she recalls.

As previously sheltered as she was, when the war ended and they were still at her grandparents’ house, Gila decided to run away to find her mother. She wanted to go home. Conditions in the grandparents’ apartment were difficult, and they were always hungry. She had never been allowed out alone but figured out that her mother must be in the only hospital in Cairo that allowed Jews; it was run by nuns. She managed to find her mother, who asked upon seeing her, “They took him away, didn’t they?” Her mother immediately left the hospital, against medical advice, so that she could bring all of the children back home with her.

When the war broke out, all the Jewish businesses were forced to close. Her father was accused of being a spy. “Later on,” says Gila, “My mother was forced to sell my father’s business for next to nothing. We had no source of income. No one was allowed to work, and money became very scarce. We had to sell all the furniture in order to buy food.” Their relationship with their neighbors also changed. Things were never the same, and Jews felt the great animosity and resentment of their non-Jewish neighbors, especially the Moslems.

After a year of writing letters pleading for help, they were able to get some aid from the Red Cross, which met them quietly in the shul. But Gila remembers that “we were always hungry.” For two years, until they were able to leave Egypt, her mother fasted every Monday and Thursday.

Nine months after the men had been arrested, the families learned the fate of their loved ones and were allowed to visit the men in the camps. Each month they had to register the names of those who would be visiting, and only two family members were officially allowed to go for a monthly visit. Somehow, her mother managed to scrape together enough money for the crowded, hot, three-hour taxi trip through the desert. Usually the guards allowed the children to visit, too, although it was against the law.

It was two years before her father was allowed out of the camp. HIAS whisked him away straight to France. About six months later, HIAS aided the rest of the family to reach France as well. After a seven-day boat ride to Marseille and a train ride to Paris, the family was finally reunited. “The first words my mother said to my father when she saw him were, ‘Is there food? Is there food? The kids are starving.’”

Read article in full 

BBC Bowen still misleads about Jewish refugees

Over at the BBC, its longstanding Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen has been broadcasting 'Our Man in the Middle East', a series of mini-programmes, most of which so far reflect his personal view of the 'Israeli-Palestinian' conflict.

Jerusalem-based Jeremy Bowen has long been criticised by supporters of Israel for his bias in favour of the Palestinians.  In the light of persistent complaints that he never mentions Jewish refugees in his reports,  I was interested to hear if  this segment, Crossing the Divide,  was going to be any different.

At 5.22 into the programme, Bowen says he has learned about North African, Iraqi and Yemeni Jews by 'eating their food' in his visits to Mahane Yehuda market. But food is all he seems to have learned about, for we hear nothing about the circumstances in which these Jews 'emigrated' to Israel.

At 6.20 Bowen again mentions 'Mizrahi' Jews, but it is only in the context of the 'ethnic divide': 'brown-skinned Mizrahim excluded by pale-faced Ashkenazim ...who created the state and behaved as if they owned it.' I would challenge Bowen to identify these pale-skinned creatures.

Referring to Ein Kerem, where Bowen made his home, he launches into the familiar narrative that it was a Palestinian village inexplicably emptied of its Arab residents. (He omits to mention that the Israelis were defending themselves in an Arab-instigated war. There is the obligatory mention of the de-contextualised 'Deir Yassin massacre', but no attempt to mention any of the numerous massacres of Jews by Arabs ). Israel passed laws seizing abandoned (Arab) property, we are told.  

At 8.10 we learn that hundreds of thousands of Jews 'from North Africa' were absorbed by Israel. 'They no longer wanted or were permitted to live in Arab countries,' according to Bowen.

So yes, Bowen does mention Jews from Arab countries, but nowhere does he use the word 'refugee'; he does not refer to Jewish property seized, nor does he mention the vindictive pogroms or state-sanctioned persecution which caused most to flee. That would confuse the simplistic 'good guys-bad guys' narrative that the BBC has been feeding its listeners for years. 

In contrast to the forceful language used about the Palestinian nakba, Bowen uses obfuscation and euphemism. We can expect that the average listener will not come away any the wiser about Jewish refugees. 

 'Our Man in the Middle East' may be heard online for about one month after its first broadcast. 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Saudi Journalist To Palestinian Leaders: You Have Missed Too Many Opportunities To Resolve The Conflict With Israel; It Is Time For Palestinian Unity, Peace With Israel

n his May 21, 2017 column in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, Saudi journalist Mash'al Al-Sudairi criticized the Palestinian leaders and stated that for many years they had missed numerous diplomatic opportunities to resolve the conflict with Israel, and that they had at the same time lost Palestinian lands on the West Bank and wreaked destruction on Gaza.

Appealing to newly appointed Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya, Al-Sudairi wrote that Hamas's agreement to a Palestinian state in the June 4, 1967 boundaries implied recognition of Israel. Therefore, he said, Hamas should cease its violence against Israel, drop the slogan "Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," and launch an initiative for achieving Palestinian unity. He added that a country's size was not necessarily an indication of its capacity for economic prosperity and success, and that it was high time for young Palestinians to live normal lives like other young people worldwide. The entire Palestinian people, he added, deserved to "enjoy life under peaceful conditions."

Mash'al Al-Sudairi (Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, May 21, 2017)

Below are translated excerpts from the article:[1]

"Some Palestinian leaders, while in power, excelled in two things: rhetoric and missing opportunities. They have done this from the 1940s to the early 21st century. In 1947, they opposed the [UN] partition decision, although it awarded them 49% of the lands of Palestine; they accused [Egyptian president] Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser of treason because he agreed to the Rogers Plan,[2] and later they also accused [Egyptian president] Anwar Al-Sadat of treason because he signed the peace agreement with Israel at Camp David. These two [presidents] at least recognized reality, and the Sinai [peninsula] was returned in its entirety to Egypt.

"One of the unforgivable opportunities missed by the Palestinian leaders was their refusal to sit in the seat earmarked for them by Sadat at the negotiating table, behind their own flag, at the Cairo Mena House hotel.[3] Let it be noted that at that time not a single settlement existed in the West Bank, and not a single destroyed house [existed] in Gaza.

"After a few decades, after half the area of the West Bank was filled with settlements, they [the Palestinians] signed the Oslo Accords, which later proved worthless to them. Was [arriving at the current situation] the reason for Black September?[4] And was it the reason that the civil war in Lebanon erupted and the reason that Gaza was thrice destroyed?

"With all the respect that I have for the leader [Isma'il] Haniya, I say to him: 'When you determined [in the new Hamas policy document that the borders of Palestine are the borders] that existed prior to June 5, 1967, you implicitly and indirectly recognized Israel.[5] Therefore, from now on you cannot throw a single stone at it, not to mention fire a single rocket against it.

"I therefore wonder about the value of the flowery and futile expression 'Palestine from the river to the sea,' as long as Gaza is detached from the West Bank. Will valor and sacrifice bring the leader Haniya to launch a historic initiative and consolidate unity in the Palestinian state that will be supported by the Arab brothers and the entire world?

"Young Palestinians deserve to live, aspire, and act like the young people of other nations. We have had our fill of sorrow, oppression, idiocy, and the spouting of extremist slogans, that have eliminated wisdom and at the same time [forfeited] much land. If the Palestinian people were to enjoy life under conditions of peace, you would discover that they are a creative people, as demonstrated by the fact that the recipient of the award for the world's best teacher is the Palestinian teacher Hanan Al-Hroub.[6]

"And, if we are talking about the [Palestinian state's] territorial aspect, [it should be remembered that] Singapore occupies an area of only 710 km² – that is, one-ninth of the [combined] area of the West Bank and Gaza. Additionally, the population of the two [i.e. Singapore and the Palestinian territories] is similar – yet this Singapore's annual income exceeds $400 billion – more than the income of every petro state... even though it has no natural resources [of its own]."


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 21. 2017.

[2] The Rogers Plan comprised the three Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace plans presented by U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers between 1969 and 1971.

[3] Following Sadat's visit to Israel, a peace conference at the Mena House hotel, Cairo, opened, on December 14, 1977; conferees included representatives of Israel, Egypt, the U.S., and a UN observer.

[4] The September 1970 struggle between the Jordanian army and the PLO-affiliated armed Palestinian organizations that were at that time situated in Jordan.

[5] It should be noted that the new Hamas policy document's passage concerning a Palestinian state in the 1967 boundaries, which ostensibly attests to the organization's pragmatic evolution, is written in such a way that it is not possible to understand clearly whether Hamas accepts the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders; it notes only that Hamas "regards [this]... as a national, agreed-upon, and joint formula" by Hamas, Fatah and the PLO. It states: "There is no compromise on any part of Palestine under any conditions, any circumstances, or any pressure, no matter how long the occupation continues. Hamas rejects any alternative to the complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea." It continues: "At the same time – and this does not mean recognition of the Zionist entity or compromise on any of the Palestinians' rights – Hamas regards the establishment of a fully sovereign independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital in the June 4, 1967 lines, and the return of the refugees and the uprooted individuals to the homes from which they were expelled, as a national, agreed-upon, and joint formula."See:, May 1, 2017 and MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1313, Hamas Policy Document: Palestinian State In 1967 Borders Is 'National, Agreed-upon and Joint Formula' By Hamas, PLO – Yet Armed Struggle Will Continue, And Palestine Extends From River To Sea, May 5, 2017. Additionally, it should be noted that the position on the establishment of a state in the 1967 borders as an "agreed-upon joint formula" is not a new Hamas position. Mash'al had declared it several times in the past, and the late Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin spoke about it as well. This position has also appeared in the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreements. The only thing that is new about it is that this time it is in an official document expressing the position of the entire Hamas leadership that was approved by the movement's highest body, the Shura Council.

[6] A teacher from the Dheheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem, who developed a method to reduce violence amongst her students. In March 2016, she took first place in an international competition for outstanding teachers.

Is Meghan Markle Going To Be Prince Harry’s Jewish Princess?

Jewish and black girls have been mocked for their hair, their bodies and their other-ness. But they might be about to get a heroine at Buckingham Palace.
It’s a real-life fairy tale for everyone who has been feeling like a pre-ball Cinderella in the Trump era: Prince Harry, the international playboy and longtime sex-symbol who is fifth in line for the British throne, is on the brink of marriage with Meghan Markle, an American actress.
Markle is known for her work in the American TV show “Suits”. Her mother is black and her father is white. And though many publications have reported that Markle’s father is Jewish, a publicist denied that she herself is a member of the tribe.
“Just to clarify…she is not Jewish,” said Chantal Artur, the publicist, in an April email, without elaborating.
Markle, who told Elle that she answers the question “What are you” every single week of her life, has not spoken to the media about her religious background or that of her father.
But she has given some serious Queen Esther vibes. Here are 4 kind of, sort of Jewish things about her:
  • Her real name is Rachel. While have all met 90-100 wonderful Megans, Meagans, and Meghans at Jewish summer camp, ‘Rachel’ is straight out of Genesis and totally the kind of name your dad would give you if he was trying to subtly imbue your identity with your religious heritage. Plus, changing your name (or in this case, taking your middle name as a stage name) is a classic rite of passage for Jewish performers. Just ask Natalie Hershlag and Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz.
  • Markle’s first marriage was to film producer Trevor Engelson, a Jewish man from Great Neck, New York. Their wedding involved what The Sun tersely referred to as a “traditional Jewish chair dance”.
  • She has said that she is sometimes labeled “Sephardic” at auditions. Think about it—35-year old actresses and lifestyle gurus don’t throw around the word Sephardic unless they are Sephardic. She might as well change her name to “Kitniyot Markle”.
  • Disney has had a frog prince, a Lion king, and a royal mermaid, and all we’ve had is the Crusades followed by the Inquisition. A Jewish princess just seems fair.
If it were only the name Rachel, dayeinu. If it were just the “Jewish chair dance”, dayeinu. But the greatest evidence in this biur chametz-like hunt for crumbs of Markle’s Jewish identity is that a spokesman for Westminster Abbey confirmed on behalf of the Church of England that, if they choose, Markle and Prince Harry will be able to marry within the church in an “interfaith” marriage, regardless of Markle’s “Jewish background”.
This brings us to the next booshah-turned-equality-milestone, which is that Markle has been married and divorced. And according to the Church of England, if that’s good enough for Henry the 8th it should be good enough for his fellow ginger ladykiller (so to speak,) Prince Harry.
So if our hypothesis is correct and Markle and Harry marry, Markle will be the first black, Jewish, divorcee, American princess in English history. It’s worth noting that Markle is also two years older than the Prince, making their marriage a triumph for several pie slices in the chart of disadvantaged identity groups.
This may also be the first time an actress famous for a movie called “Horrible Bosses” gets to meet the Queen of England.
It’s a shehechianu moment to beat all shehechianu moments.
The cherry on top of the sufganiyot-Kwanzaa-cake hybrid? Markle is a noted feminist. She serves as a UN Women advocate and an ambassador for World Vision.
As they say in another story of unlikely royalty, “The Prince of Egypt”, “There can be miracles when you believe”.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Manchester terror attack: King David students who went to concert not at school today

Armed police after a suspected terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 19 dead.   Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Armed police after a terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 22 dead. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Jewish leaders pay respects to victims of a deadly terror attack in Manchester, in which 22 have been killed and 59 injured

Students at King David High School in Manchester who attended last night’s concert at which there was a deadly terror attack, did not attend school on Tuesday morning.

A suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, at an Ariana Grande pop concert on Monday, after detonating an improvised explosive device at the end of the show.

Victims described being thrown by the blast that scattered nuts and bolts across the floor, with 59 people reportedly injured in addition to more than 20 casualties.

A spokeswoman for King David High School in the City said several students were at the concert. They are believed to by Year 9 children, aged 14, and they did not come into school on Tuesday. “They have access to a student welfare officer should they choose to come in,” she said. “The attack was senseless and shocking, and affects people from all over, not just Manchester.”

Following the incident, Jewish community chiefs condemned the deadly attack and paid tribute to the victims, whilst the CST urged “calm and vigilance” within the community.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “Today will be a day of immense grief and pain as we mourn for those who have lost their lives in the city of Manchester. This now looks to be the worst terror attack we have suffered in nearly twelve years and first and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.”

“This attack, intended to inflict maximum carnage on innocent young lives, is the purest evil. But our reaction defines who we are as a country. When we are attacked by hate, we respond with love. Nothing and no one can divide us.”

The Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those caught up at the Ariana Grande concert last night. This savage attack on young people will require a response, but we will not hand victory to the attacker by allowing ourselves to become divided. The response by people of all communities in Manchester, offering shelter and transport to each other shows our society’s resilience, and that terrorism will not win”.

Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism Jonathan Wittenberg said is: ” Horrified by attack in Manchester. My thoughts are with the victims and the emergency services. Most cruel & vile of all crimes- to murder children. Poor parents & all who grieve: our hearts are with you”.

Senior Rabbi of The Movement For Reform Judaism, Laura Janner-Klausner said: “Together we mourn the innocent people, so many of them children, who have died. We send prayers of healing and consolation to those injured. Manchester is a vibrant, creative, diverse and resilient city. I have always been touched by the warmth, sincerity and spirit of solidarity of our three Reform communities there. This spirit which has been so apparent in how the people of the city and wider region have responded is more important than ever.”

Senior Rabbi and Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism Danny Rich sent his thoughts and prayers before adding: “We thank the emergency and security services and are emboldened by simple acts of kindness by so many peoples of all faiths and races. It is these people, not a murderous individual, who represent the decency of humanity. We shall overcome those who try to terrorise us.”

Jewish politicians also paid tribute, with Labour’s Ivan Lewis, who is running to be MP for Bury South tweeted: “As we think about the victims and their loved ones we salute the courage and professionalism of Greater Manchester Police, Manchester Fire Brigade and North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Thank you”.

Luciana Berger, candidate for Liverpool Wavertree wrote: “My thoughts are with everyone affected by the terrible events in Manchester tonight”.

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Twitter: “The Government of Israel strongly condemns last night’s awful terrorist attack in Manchester”.

Israel’s defence minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted: “I share in the grief of the people of Britain. The people of Israel stand with you during this painful hour.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump, who is currently on a visit toIsrael, is being kept updated on the situation.


Israel’s envoy to the UK Mark Regev wrote on Twitter, “We have lowered the Israeli Embassy’s flag to half mast in solidarity with the people of Manchester. Israel stands with you at this difficult time.” Similarly, Britain’s ambassador to the Jewish state David Quarrey said: “Terribly sad news from Manchester, but a moving, resilient response from the people of the city. Thoughts with all victims & their families.”

The European Jewish Congress condemned the attack: “This horrific attack demonstrates once again that the enemies of civilization have no boundaries,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said. “This was a concert attended by mostly youth and children and is a ghastly reminder that terrorism sees all of us as potential targets, regardless of age, religion, nationality or background.”

“Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased, our prayers with those injured for a speedy and full recovery and our solidarity with the British people and government.”

Bill Clinton: “I Killed Myself to Give the Palestinians a State,” but They Rejected It

Former President Bill Clinton said that he went to great lengths to secure a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians while he was in office, but that the Palestinians rejected the offer.

“I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state. I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza, … between 96 and 97 percent of the West Bank, compensating land in Israel, you name it,” Clinton said at a campaign event for his wife, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, in New Jersey on Friday. His comments came in response to heckling by an audience member over his wife’s position on Israel.

Clinton added that civilian fatalities in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas resulted from the terror group’s practice of embedding its weapons and fighters in residential areas.

“[Hamas] is really smart. When they decide to rocket Israel, they insinuate themselves in the hospitals, in the schools, in the highly populous areas, and they are smart,” Clinton said to applause.

The former president also acknowledged that Hamas had been engaged in the tactic of forcing Israel to choose between “defending themselves or killing innocents” for “a long time.” He further emphasized that there will not be peace in the Middle East unless Israel knows that the United States will continue to support it. “[We] can’t get anything done unless [Israel believes], when the chips are down, if somebody comes for them we will not let them be wiped out and become part of the dustbin of history,” he said.

Shortly after the conclusion of his presidency, Clinton assigned the blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit squarely on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. When Arafat called Clinton a great man, Clinton responded, “The hell I am.”

“I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one,” he added, explaining that Arafat rejected “the best peace deal he was ever going to get” by then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Palestinian leaders have consistently struck down offers for peace with Israel over the ensuing 16 years. Current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected an American initiative offered by Vice President Joe Biden in March after previously scuttling American-sponsored negotiations two years ago.