Saturday, December 20, 2014

20-Dec-14: BBC, unable to call him "terrorist", says French police killed an "Allahu Akbar attacker"

The police station in Joue-les-Tours today [Image Source]
Via Reuters tonight:
French police on Saturday shot dead a male terrorism suspect after he stabbed and seriously wounded two officers in a police station, authorities said. A spokeswoman for the Indre-et-Loire prefecture in central France said the man was killed after he attacked the policemen with a knife in a station in Joue-les-Tours, a suburb of the city of Tours. The counter-terrorism section of the Public Prosecutor's office has opened a probe for "attempted murder and criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist organization", the Paris Prosecutor's office said, without giving further details. According to the website of the French daily Le Figaro, the man could be "an Islamist known by the French DGSI intelligence service for his radical positions".
The BBC, chronically unable to deploy the word "terrorist", has a uniquely-BBC approach to reporting this attack, under the headline "'Allahu Akbar' attacker shot by French police". The only mention of "terror" comes when they write "Anti-terrorism investigators were now working at the scene..."  

The BBC has a formal policy document [here] that explains their rules. Extract:
Use of Language | 11.4.5 We must report acts of terror quickly, accurately, fully and responsibly. Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements.  We try to avoid the use of the term "terrorist" without attribution. When we do use the term we should strive to do so with consistency in the stories we report across all our services and in a way that does not undermine our reputation for objectivity and accuracy. The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding... We should not adopt other people's language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom." [BBC Editorial Guideline: Language when Reporting Terrorism]
And so on. Most of the time, they stick to it, except when they don't.

A quick glance at the French news media shows they, for the most part, have less difficulty in saying bluntly who and what the news is about (example: Joué-lès-Tours : un islamiste abattu dans un commissariat après avoir agressé deux policiers).

20-Dec-14: Rebuilding Gaza and its terror-war capabilities

A rocket, fired from the rocket-rich environs of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, was fired into southern Israel on Friday morning. It landed in the Eshkol region which covers part of Israel's Western Negev desert and is home to 15 kibbutzim, 13 moshavim, and a handful of non-collective communities, with a total population of roughly 6,000 people. The attack received little coverage by news media outside Israel. It was the third such rocket attack on Israel since a ceasefire temporarily ended the last intensive round of fighting, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, in August.

During the early hours of this morning (Saturday), the IDF launched an airborne mission into Gaza:
The Israeli Air Force struck a Hamas training facility in the area of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday night in retaliation for a rocket fired at southern Israel earlier in the day. The attack marks the first time Israel carried out an air strike in the Gaza Strip since Operation Protective Edge ended in August. No injuries were reported. [Ynet, today]
A later report clarified that it was not a Hamas training facility but rather "a cement factory intended to rehabilitate the [Hamaa] group's terror tunnels".

The Israeli measure, consistent with how these things go in the news media, was reported. So was a serious-sounding call by the arch-terrorist Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas (the one who has hypocritically sent multiple members of his family into Israeli hospitals when they needed serious and professional medical care, as recently as a few weeks ago). He is quoted saying Israel's actions, coming hours after the explosive landing of the Gazan rocket, amount to
"a grave violation of the ceasefire agreement... We will protect and guard the resistance’s victory in the last conflict... We call on Egypt as the guarantor of the agreement to act and stop the violations by the enemy." [Hamas threatens retaliation following Israeli airstrikes | Times of Israel, today]
This was noted over at the excellent BBCwatch website ["Missile from Gaza not news for the BBC but Israeli response gets headlines"]
Jerusalem bureau correspondent Quentin Sommerville did inform his 24 thousand followers that the Israeli action came in response to missile fire, whilst taking the opportunity to revive the well-trodden BBC theme of “home-made rockets”. There is no evidence to suggest that Sommerville was at the scene of the impact and hence his ‘diagnosis’ of the missile’s nature is apparently based on guess-work. Equally questionable is Sommerville’s geography: there is no city called Eshkol: that name refers to a regional council. Nevertheless, that inaccurate information was retweeted by the BBC World Twitter account... More context-free ‘last-first’ reporting was seen on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of December 20th where visitors were informed that “Israel launches an air strike on an alleged Hamas site in Gaza, in the first such action since the declaration of a truce in August”, but with no mention in the headline or sub-heading of the missile attack several hours beforehand.
BBC's Somerville: How accurate can you be when you're far from the scene, and rely
on Arab locals for factual reporting?
Factual inaccuracy is not so odd considering that Somerville was retweeting a Tweet from Rushdi Abualouf. He's employed by the BBC's Gazan office, working there since 2009 as a producer. He too appears to have known nothing about Friday's Gazan rocket attack on Israel. In fact, as far as we can tell from reviewing his Tweet stream, the thousands of Gazan rocket attacks fired on Israel appear to be outside his reporting responsibilities.

Israel's strike on a Gazan facility this morning was
the first air strike by Israel on the Palestinian enclave since the northern summer truce that ended the deadly 50-day war between the sides." [SBS, today]
As for the Gazan target being a cement factory, it's worth recalling just how much deliberate disinformation the terrorist regime in Gaza has managed to plant in the media in the past couple of years as a cover for its massive cement-lined attack-tunnel industry.

A report from months before the summer 2014 fighting ["Cement shortage in Gaza leaves thousands jobless", Al-Monitor, March 3, 2014] is a classic of its kind, detailing the heart-tugging misery that Hamas media spinners managed to communicate to the outside world while cheating their own people of a building industry.

Less detailed, but somewhat more accurate, is this disclosure ["Gaza's Next Disaster: No Cement for Rebuilding", July 31, 2014 | Bloomberg/BusinessWeek]
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) estimate that each of the three dozen underground passages that troops have found so far required 350 truckloads of building supplies.
That article appeared before the full extent was known of Hamas tunnel construction and the lethal plans that lay behind it.

The illicit diversion of cement to equip its terrorist forces has been a known component of the Hamas strategic doctrine since it seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2006. Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas supremo, was not shy to disclose this at a conference in Damascus in November 2009:
"Outwardly the visible picture is talks about reconciliation...and construction; however, the hidden picture is that most of the money and effort is invested in the resistance and military preparations..." [Source]
For Arab audiences, revelations of this kind are considered heroic. So too are claims by Hamas that the massive destruction suffered by their people during the summer are a 'victory' worth protecting and guarding. There is zero prospect of getting to a state of peace with people who hold to views like these, no matter how much our side wants to.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

17-Dec-14: Has Hamas just been whitewashed by Europe?

Terrorists? Who, little us? [Image Source: AP/Hatem Moussa,
Gaza February 3, 2006)
Hamas, whose constitution commits it legally to the belief that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it" is designated for good and extremely painful reasons as a terrorist organization by the following countries:
  • AustraliaNew Zealand and the United Kingdom all designate the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades division of Hamas a terrorist organization.
  • Canadian law terms Hamas a terrorist group.
  • Egypt bans Hamas, calling it a terrorist organization.
  • Japan froze the assets of  nearly five hundred terrorist organizations in 2005, one of them being Hamas.
  • Legally, Jordan banned Hamas in 1999, but is extremely flexible in the way it carries out the ban.
  • The United States has Hamas on its Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
  • Saudi Arabia "banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014 and branded it a terrorist organization. While Hamas is not specifically listed, a non-official Saudi source stated that the decision also encompasses its branches in other countries, including Hamas." [source]
The European Union was on this list until this morning. The news today is filled with reports about a change of European heart on Hamas. But the dry and technical reality is more nuanced than that. Under the headline "Hamas removed from EU's terrorism blacklist", a German news source explains:
An EU court has struck off the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas from the bloc's list of terrorist organizations. It said the 2001 listing was influenced by the media and the internet. In removing Hamas from the list, the General Court of the European Union said the group's listing in 2001 was not based on hard evidence confirmed by authorities. "In today's judgment, the General Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet," the court said. The court decided to keep in place an asset freeze against Hamas for three months, "in order to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds." It said the decision was based on procedure and did not address the "question of the classification of Hamas as a terror group." A spokeswoman for the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, said the bloc still considered Hamas to be a "terrorist" group. "The EU continues to consider Hamas a terrorist organization," Maja Kocijancic said. She added that the EU would consider its response to the ruling, including whether to appeal.
Our first reaction on reading this was similar to that of Elder of Ziyon who wrote this earlier today:
This means that ever since the EU was founded in 1993, despite spending tens of thousands of man-hours and untold millions of euros on Middle East topics and on the ground in Israel and the territories, no effort has been made to document Arab terrorism. Think about it. The EU wants to be a part of the peace process - it is part of the Quartet - and it has given lots of money to anti-Israel NGOs. It has no problem criticizing Israeli actions and parsing the statements of Israeli ministers to find evidence of anything offensive. Yet in all that time, no EU official has felt it was important to research and report on Arab terrorism! Not one bothered to visit the site of suicide bombings and read official Hamas statements taking credit for them. Not one bothered to follow up on Hamas incitement, on Hamas antisemitism, or on Hamas' public statements declaring all of Israel "occupied" and all Israelis to be targets for attack. Not one.
It's almost enough to make a person lose a measure of respect for the fine ethical, political and legal values that the EU and its EC executive arm stand for.

Ah, but we're not dismissing the Europeans that quickly because, despite the clear-enough-sounding headlines, neither the Europeans nor their General Court of the European Union, the bloc's second highest tribunal have made what they term
"any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group within the meaning of the Common Position.”
Why not? A good question, but as with most European juggling, there are a multitude of considerations that they are bringing to bear on the question. Naturally, this being Europe, neither clarity nor moral decisiveness come into the matter, as those who follow European acrobatics know too well.

Bottom line: this is a political move, and will be followed by more. A work in progress, demonstrating (depressingly) again what can be expected from Europe's best and brightest.

17-Dec-14: A request to gentle readers: please comment!

We get a lot of you here every day, but not so many comments.

So this is a request: please do comment. Not just today, but whenever you see something here that's comment-worthy.

It's a bit of a puzzle to us that, with gratifyingly high numbers on both our Twitter stream and here on the blog, so few readers atually express themselves. Are we offending you? We assume not, otherwise you would leave. Are we saying what you think? Maybe, but that can't be true all the time. You think it's a waste of your time? Maybe, but many of the issues we discuss here affect you and your communities, and we surely feel they affect us and our lives which is of course why we blog.

So please go to it, folks. We respect comments. We appreciate comments. We love comments. And we really do want to know what you're thinking. (And if ever you want to comment without having your thoughts appear in public, send them to us at this email address.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

16-Dec-14: Anti-semites, lone-wolves, killers of school-children, and the people who appreciate and understand them

A timeless question
Over at the Gatestone Institute's website, Dexter Van Zile from CAMERA takes a penetrating look at a high-profile Christian magazine that "caters to liberal (mainline) Protestants in the United States" (his words) while helping to advance a notoriously anti-semitic website. 

Oh, and a major search engine is involved too. 

His essay is called "The Stubborn Antisemitism of Yahoo and The Christian Century", and one of its central characters is James M. Wall. Unlike most Christian theological writers and their thinking, this Wall is someone about whom we have actual views. Strongly negative views, naturally, based on articles he has published and positions he has advocated. A sense of what we think can be gotten from a post we published here a year and a half ago: "18-Jul-13: When he lionizes child killers, is James M. Wall speaking for mainstream Christians".  In honor of Dexter's new piece, following, is an excerpt.
...James M. Wall, an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.... exemplifies, to us, a deeply disturbing trend in the world of ultra-liberal religious thought: the willingness to really, really, really understand and theologically empathize with the people who hate Jews and who do awful things to them... Anyone not already familiar with what we said about this troubling individual earlier is invited to see
In the earliest of those posts, we noted that he was editor of a prominent American journal of thought and ideas called The Christian Century for the 27 years between 1972 and 1999... Our interest in Wall was aroused when we saw a rambling article on his blog entitled “Ahlam and Nezar, A Palestinian Couple Released in The Prisoner Exchange”. In it, Wall makes the argument that Ahlam Tamimi, who proudly takes credit for a terrorist atrocity in 2001 which targeted Jewish school-children and extinguished the lives of 15 people including our daughter Malki, did what anyone would do if they saw themselves at war. What she did was merely logistic. It was therefore perfectly understandable. Murder? Hatred? Deeply visceral antisemitism? Terrorism? Not, it seems, in Wall's lexicon... How Christian is it to embrace the unrepentant murderer of children who says she prays for the chance to do it again?
The original post is longer of course. And the three other posts listed above may cause the blood of some of our readers to warm up, if not boil. But please do read them if you haven't already.

Wall is far from alone in advocating the deeply offensive line he does. Lionizing the murderers of innocent people, including school children, has almost become a commonplace thing as we saw in the past few hours in Peshawar. And diminishing the seriousness of the threat posed by so-called isolated, lone-wolf jihadists like the man behind yesterday's Sydney siege (see "Sydney siege: Don't call Man Haron Monis a 'terrorist' - it only helps Isis", The Guardian, December 16, 2014] is a trend that's growing almost as fast as the number of so-called isolated, lone-wolf jihadist attacks. 

And as we are seeing right now over the river in Jordan, appreciating the heroic and the inspirational in the actions of a convicted and unrepentant killer (who prays for the day when she can kill again) is something even world-class journalists and Western governments have little problem supporting [see ["11-Dec-14: Is it newsworthy when journalists make a terror-addicted murdering colleague their role-model?"]  Still, the case of James M. Wall and those who acquiesce in his hatefulness with their silence and passivity continues to cause damage because of how little attention and criticism it has attracted.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

14-Dec-14: The mostly-unreported ongoing terror war: Israeli family targeted by Palestinian Arab's acid attack

Armed security man, evidently from Betar Illit, an Orthodox community
near Gush Etzion, at the scene of Friday's vicious acid attack
[Image Source: Ronen Zvulun, Reuters]
Reported in The Guardian (!) on Friday, under the headline "Israeli family suffer burns after West Bank acid attack":
Five members of an Israeli family have suffered chemical burns after a substance believed to be acid was thrown over them reportedly by a Palestinian man in the West Bank. Police said the victims included four girls who were sprayed with a corrosive substance by a man who was then shot in the leg by a bystander. The incident took place close to a checkpoint near Beitar Illit, in the southern West Bank. Paramedics who treated the family – including three children aged between about eight and 10 – said the wounds appeared to be acid burns affecting their limbs. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said the family had stopped to pick up the man, who was hitchhiking. He got into their car and began throwing liquid on the family before attempting to attack the father with a small screwdriver. As he fled the scene he reportedly attempted to attack other people with the screwdriver while being chased by an armed civilian before he was shot. Police said the attacker had “poured an unknown substance suspected to be acid on a Jewish family”. Media reports later identified the man as a Palestinian from the village of Nahalin, near Bethlehem.
Times of Israel ["Palestinian attacks family of 6, including young children, with acid"] adds that Friday's attack occurred near a checkpoint between Beitar Illit in the Gush Etzion area, where the family lives, and the Palestinian village of Husan, southwest of Jerusalem.

It says the attacker evidently posed as a hitchhiking Israeli and when the family stopped their vehicle at Al-Hader Junction to pick up a legitimate hitchhiker, Moshe Claude Kamon, an ultra-Orthodox driver, who had just gotten off a bus and was looking for a way to his home in Beitar Illit, they came under acid attack.

It quotes the Palestinian Arab Ma’an news agency which identifies the attacker as Jamal Abd al-Majid Ghayatha, 45, from Nahalin, and says he is "a former Palestinian prisoner" of Israel. It also quotes an IDF source saying that the attacker was “known to have been previously involved in illegal and hostile riots and activities.” An armed civilian who was driving by shot the attacker twice "in the lower extremities", seriously injuring him.

The driver of the car, a father in his 50s, suffered burns to his eyes and was rushed Hadassah Medical Center, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem for emergency treatment. His wife and her three daughters aged 8 to 10, as well as a niece, were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment.

And the man who flung the acid on them? He is in Hadassah as well, being treated by its world-class doctors for the injuries he suffered when being stopped by by-standers from doing more harm to innocents than he managed to inflict. In most other terror wars, the shots directed at an attacker in circumstances like these would very likely have been on a shoot-to-kill basis, but that is done rarely in Israel's ongoing war where a serious commitment to ethical practices influences the military as well as civil defence practices.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

11-Dec-14: Is it newsworthy when journalists make a terror-addicted murdering colleague their role-model?

CNN's Jim Clancy, internationally renowned
journalist and news anchor, speaks to Jordan Media Institute
journalists during a May 2013 visit [Image Source]
The funders, backers and administrators of Jordan Media Institute now know about its open admiration of a murdering, terrorist colleague: see "By their role models shall ye know them" in Times of Israel yesterday.

So what are they going to do? What have they already done? (JMI's website remains unchanged. No mention in their Twitter stream.)

What will it take for them to see the damage that incitement to murder produces?

Why do they not themselves see how their actions contradict their own professed values, without being yelled at by a bereaved couple from Jerusalem?

The funders, strategic partners, and providers of “in-kind, financial or technical assistance” to Jordan Media Institute that we know about include
and others. We, and some other people we know, have made or are today making contact with all of them, and waiting for them to act decisively.

In case you missed it, the background is here: "10-Dec-14: In the Arab world's most promising new journalism school, a passion for murder and hatred".

Also this: 

Where is the coverage of this outrageous affair by the mainstream reporters and their editors? Not report-worthy? 

Is this another one of those toxic and embarrassing developments in the Arab world that (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) somehow fails - yet again - to rise to the level of importance that justifies sober exposure in the news?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

10-Dec-14: In the Arab world's most promising new journalism school, a passion for murder and hatred

The Jordan Media Institute campus, Amman [Image: Sahar.Ahmed - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
How did a promising initiative, funded and supported by Western governments and NGOs and designed to produce world-class journalism in the Arabic world, end up creating a pedestal for one of Hamas' ugliest achievements, the 2001 massacre at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria?

A major Arab media conference  took place this past weekend in the Jordanian capital, Amman. A published opinion piece authored by a senior member of the organizing team opens with these words:
"The lights of free speech are being steadily extinguished across the Arab world, heralding a new era of ignorance, intolerance and repression..."
As bad as this is, aspects of the news reporting industry in the Arab world are even more profoundly disturbing than she and her professional colleagues seem to realize. Allow us to explain.

Jordan, like the rest of the Arab world, lacks a free press. The respected human rights watchdog organization Freedom House in its 2014 update calls the Hashemite Kingdom “Not Free” and gives it a score of 6 on a scale of 7 for freedom of the press. (7 is the worst score.) It notes “a marked increase in the number of incidents of intimidation and physical attacks” on members of the media during 2013. Reporters Without Frontiers, which also tracks press freedom, says Jordan’s authorities further tightened their existing grip on its media in the past year.

Princess Rym Ali is a former CNN reporter who married King Abdullah II's half-brother and became part of Jordan's royal family. She is the prime mover behind the establishment of an Arabic language graduate school of journalism, Jordan Media Institute, which opened its doors in Amman in 2010. The plan was to “raise professional standards and become a regional beacon” on the model of the princess' alma mater, Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Sitting on the JMI board of directors are prominent individuals from journalism, law, publishing, the royal family of Jordan and the long-time head of the Agence France Press bureau in Amman.

To judge from the JMI website, its arrival heralds something uplifting and positive. Its professed values and mission statement echo those of the best global journalism schools: “media freedom and human rights”, an “unparalleled centre of excellence in the Middle East”, “innovative curricula”, “world-class facilities”, “highest international standards”, “emphasizing accuracy and ethical journalistic procedures” in order to “provide the public with increased access to fair and balanced news”. All of this, while acknowledging "the distinctiveness of Arab culture and philosophy".

An impressive list of funders and strategic partners are providing “in-kind, financial or technical assistance” to make it happen: Anna Lindh Foundation, Sweden; Australia via its International Development Aid agency; Canada via its International Development Aid agency; EU via the European Commission Delegation in JordanGerman governmentJournalists for Human RightsNetherlands governmentNorwegian Institute of JournalismReporters Without BordersSaatchi and Saatchi, the global ad agency; The Swedish Institute; the UK governmentUNESCO, and others.

The button links to the site
Visit the homepage of the JMI website and you see a button that links to a related website hosting the work-product of JMI’s own cadre of young journalists. It's in Arabic only, naturally enough; these contents are not meant for the Western sponsors and international partners. But intentionally or not, it is these pages – along with the invaluable help of Google Translate’s Arabic-to-English service - that shine a revealing light for non-Arabic speakers like us on what all that NGO and government money, inspiration and support is enabling for this “unparalleled centre of excellence in the Middle East”.  

On every page of the site, under the headline “Success Models”, a journalist called Tamimi is profiled. She is the murderer of our daughter, Malki.

They provide a large photograph of Tamimi and certain biographical details concerning her journalistic background. But important things about the “success model” offered up by this new centre of journalistic “excellence” are omitted:
  • Tamimi brought a human bomb to the center of Jerusalem on August 9, 2001 to destroy the busy Sbarro pizzeria. She was instrumental in planning this major terrorist attack.
  • Fifteen people were blown to pieces that day and 130 injured, many of them children and infants.   
  • The sixteenth victim – a young mother with her two year-old daughter – has never regained consciousness.
  • The people traveling on the bus with Tamimi from Jerusalem to Ramallah in the hour after the explosion beamed with delight as the scale of the carnage was reported on the radio.
  • Tamimi was barely able to contain her own happiness [video], the joy that came from secretly being the one responsible for the massacre and no one on the bus knew.
We first published this image four years ago
Tamimi is a convicted killer, a psychopath who boasts on YouTube that she selected the site of her massacre so that the dead would include as many young religious Jews as possible. She famously smiled broadly with perverse pleasure [video] when informed of how many children’s lives were extinguished in the attack she masterminded.

JMI tells its English-speaking sponsors what it wants them to hear – that JMI embraces the “highest international standards” and “ethical journalistic procedures” – and the financial support flows. Yet in Arabic, the language of its Jordanian audience, JMI embraces a much darker narrative, one in which it glorifies a mass murderer. Do the Western funders understand this?

If we are wrong about JMI’s embrace of Tamimi, we would expect an urgent outburst of Arab rage at the affront to the honor of their society. But bitter experience tells us not to hold our breaths.
The JMI outrage does not exist in isolation. Consider the distinctive way Jordan’s legal system views terror. It might not be what most people think:
The Lower House [of Jordan’s parliament] on Wednesday endorsed draft amendments to the State Security Court (SSC) Law following extensive discussions over its provisions. The deputies excluded “resistance actions” against Israel from the court’s jurisdiction, following a proposal to do so by Deputy Tareq Khoury (Zarqa, 1st District). The deputies agreed that any actions against Israel cannot be “terrorism” at all; hence, they approved a provision that excludes actions against Israel from terrorism crimes. [Jordan Times, December 11, 2013]
The repugnant manner in which they have adjusted their laws is something to keep in mind when the Jordanians next stand shoulder to shoulder with Europe and the US in the battle against the jihadists. The State Department still calls them “a strong ally in combating terrorism and violent extremist ideology”.

Princess Rym, interviewed before JMI opened its doors, said Everybody talks about the media explosion in the Middle East“. She probably was not thinking of Tamimi, the budding young media student in the final year of journalism studies at Birzeit University who moonlighted as a news-reader at a West Bank television station. When Tamimi joined Hamas in 2001 as its first female jihadist, an explosion was what Tamimi had in mind. And on August 9, 2001, she made it happen.

The transcript of her subsequent trial on multiple murder charges shows Tamimi confessed it all to the court, and with no remorse.  She told the judges:
"The smile on my face will not be erased. I will not ask forgiveness... I will be smiling always because I won."
The impact her bloodless words had on the court can be gauged from the way the presiding judge handed down the sentence:
“It is our responsibility to distance the defendant from society forever… Let the normal pleasures of life therefore be denied the accused until the time of her death behind bars. We sentence the guilty party, unanimously, to fifteen life sentences and add to them one further life sentence for her other crimes… [and] recommend that the guilty party not be eligible for pardon by the military commander, nor to early parole by any other means.”
Justice unfortunately was not done. Less than eight years later, to our horror, Tamimi walked out of her Israeli prison cell to freedom. She was one of 1,027 undeserving beneficiaries of a successful act of terrorist extortion, the Gilad Shalit transaction that subsequently cost so many innocent Israeli lives and did so much irreversible harm to fundamental principles of justice.

On the day she was freed, Tamimi was transported immediately to Cairo for a photo op with the arch-terrorist who heads Hamas. Then, right after that, a flight to Jordan, her homeland, for a triumphant reception in her honour on the premises of her country’s Family Law Court. Numerous additional gala events followed in Jordan and abroad. Soon she was given a weekly television program of her own on one of the Hamas satellite channels. Via television, cable,the social media and rallies in public places, she leveraged her status as an icon, as the incendiary unchained voice of the murder-minded terrorists still behind Israeli bars.

During Operation Protective Edge this past summer, as hundreds of rockets were being fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel’s towns and homes, Tamimi was the anchor for a series of blood-curdling, morale-boosting prime-time television programs produced by Hamas and beamed far, wide and via YouTube. She has become central to their jihadist war against the hated Jews.

But it’s her status as the poster girl, literally, for JMI, one of the Arab world’s most promising, well-resourced initiatives that ought to be causing deep dismay in the West.

Actually, it goes well beyond dismay. There’s a screaming contradiction at work here. On one hand, a politically-correct pledge to lofty journalistic values; all the right words. On the other, the marketing of Tamimi, a psychopath whose public appearances are replete with the language of religious zealotry, as the embodiment of Arab journalism’s courageous new wave. Lethal journalism personified.

This echoes aspects of the cultural encounter between Western democracies and Arab Muslim societies in which both use the same terminology but mean different things. The scandalous exploitation of video footage claiming to show a Gazan boy, Muhammad al Durah, being shot dead by Israeli soldiers in 2000 illustrates what we mean. 

(The Al Durah affair centers on a shocking video clip that went phenomenally viral 14 years ago. The Arab boy is terrified; his father is powerless; the Israeli bullets keep coming, until finally they strike home; the boy is dead. The part not screened at the time, right after the point where he is declared dead by the voice-over, shows the boy peeking out at the camera from under a raised elbow, plainly not dead. The consequences continue to exact innocent lives and are still being litigated in France’s courts.)

Jerusalem, August 9. 2001: The aftermath of the attack on a Jerusalem pizzeria,
proudly engineered by JMI's "success model"
A sound-bite [here] from a longer video interview shows a PA official who doctored the Al Durah video footage explaining that the tampering was done to fulfill the journalists’ duty “of relating the truth and nothing but the truth.” He looks satisfied as he says it, convinced he did the right thing. For audiences with a Western outlook, it exemplifies how blood libels, updated from their medieval origins, work in today’s world.

Mass murderers like Tamimi, honored by her peers for putting journalism to effective use for the benefit of their cause, evoke a similar sense of horror. Do these people seriously not understand what she did? Where did we lose each other? If Jordan’s best-educated cohort of emerging influence-builders thinks and does this when they believe no one outside the Arabic-speaking world is looking, what hope is there of a better future?

One answer is: there is hope. There is always hope. The beautiful, tragically short life of my daughter shows that. Malki loved life, loved making people smile, loved doing good. Her devotion to children with severe disabilities, starting with her own youngest sister, was inspirational. The work of the foundation we created in her memory   The Malki Foundation – with families from every part of Israeli society (Christians, Druze, Moslems, the unaffiliated, Jews) who care for a child with severe disabilities is our way of creating a success model.

The 13 years since Malki was killed have been replete with reminders of how differently the people on the other side view things. For us, remembering our tragedy and honoring our child’s stolen life has involved bettering the lives of strangers, trying to affirm what we share. It’s the polar opposite of what the JMI journalists’ success model stands for. Finding a common language with them will take far more than political correctness and mission statements.

[A version of this post appears on Times of Israel today under the headline "By their role models shall ye know them"]

10-Dec-14: What else do Palestinian Arabs want, beyond the 80% who say killing of ordinary Israelis is a good thing?

Fatal attack on a bus by a Palestinian Arab-driven excavator,
Jerusalem, August 2014: Four-fifths of Palestinian Arabs
say they want more killings and attacks like this one.
Yes, four-fifths [Image Source]
With all the wishing and hoping and thinking and praying that's gone on over the years about how there's a secret desire burning in the collective breast of the Palestinian Arabs for peace and good relations, the evidence keeps pointing in the opposite direction, and wishful thinking is not about to change that.

We have mentioned the work of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research here a couple of dozen times over the years. They conduct public opinion polls of the Palestinian Arabs, among other aspects of their research work. And when they issue reports, as unpalatable as their findings often are, they reflect a reality that cannot be ignored.

Yesterday (Tuesday), they issued "Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. 54" based on face-to-face interviews with a sample of more than a thousand Palestinian Arab adults between December 3 and 6. The headlines are not going to surprise anyone who follows events in this part of the world:
  • Optimism is down.
  • Hamas popularity is up.
  • Violence gets a growing amount of support.
  • And they suffer from "extreme worry" about "Israel’s agenda for al Haram al Sharif", the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Some details, quoting the actual language of the PSR document:
  • Support for a return to an armed intifada remains high. Indeed support for armed struggle has increased compared to our previous findings three months ago... 
  • An overwhelming majority of Palestinians continues to support launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip if the blockade is not lifted.
  • 80% support and 20% oppose attempts by individual Palestinians to stab or run over Israelis in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.
  • Hamas can easily win a new presidential election if one is held today. 
  • Hamas can also do better than Fatah in a new parliamentary election. 
  • Most Palestinians continue to believe that Hamas won the war [meaning the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas during July and August 2014]
  • Satisfaction with the performance of the reconciliation government and the performance of President Abbas continues to drop. 
That last point is surely known to analysts and advisers in those governments and media outlet that continue to perceive Mahmoud Abbas as some kind of "moderate". There are two obvious consequences:
  1. As a lifelong politician, the man would have to have rocks in his head to adopt the language of peace and reconciliation, at least in Arabic, given what we know about the opinions held by his voters. And the fact is his public statements, again in Arabic (what he says in English is close to meaningless in every practical sense) express an increasingly peace-averse viewpoint. This from November 29, 2014 illustrates the point: "Palestinians will never recognize Israel as Jewish state, Abbas says".
  2. Palestinian Arab elections are not going to happen anytime soon, at least not on the PA's turf. (And less likely still in Hamas-controlled Gaza.) Two-thirds of Palestinian Arabs support having legislative and presidential elections soon [a different December poll says] but they are almost certain to be disappointed.
Some additional points to absorb:
  • Associated Press, quoting PSR's head, says what these numbers show is "loss of hope" over "the collapse of U.S.-brokered peace talks", over "Israeli statements about the Jerusalem holy site" and over "Israel's recent war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip". Clearly, given the direction of change in Palestinian Arab sentiment, the process of eliminating hope works to the advantage of Hamas which is obvious to anyone paying attention.
  • PSR's head also says "There is an environment in which violence is becoming a dominant issue... This seems to be one of the most important driving forces." That too is a kind of self-fulfilling insight: for people interested in more violence, violence is its own reward. The daily rock-hurling, fire-bombing, running-people-down-with-cars-and-bulldozers and knifing attacks in and around Jerusalem these past two months testify to that.
  • When Shikaki says violence is becoming dominant, his numbers show it's effective in moving public opinion on the Arab side: "80 percent supported individual attacks by Palestinians who have stabbed Israelis or rammed cars into crowded train stations." Massive support on that scale is, in our view, a function of the incomprehensible 'understanding' and (to a non-trivial extent) sympathy that such acts of murder and attempted murder of innocent Israeli civilians get in large swathes of the Western media and among influential outsiders.
  • The constant drum-beat to which Palestinian Arabs are subjected about Israeli "occupation", "settlement", "dispossession" and similar loaded code-words makes it top of the list of the most serious problem confronting their society today. But almost as many say the spread of corruption in their public institutions is the top concern. Only slightly fewer say their poverty and unemployment head the list. When they worry about the failures in their own lives as much as they obsess about destroying ours, that has to be a good thing.  
  • Political support for the imprisoned murderer Marwan Barghouti has fallen significantly.
  • And for those who see Abbas as part of a better future: 55% of those polled say the PA has become a burden on the Palestinian people. They want something else and Abbas will not be part of that. Can we expect him, or anyone from his circle, to make the kind of painful decisions that peace is going to require?
And if anyone out there is thinking that progressive, intelligent segments of the Palestinian Arab world actually, privately, want to see their society abandon violence, hatred, killing and destruction but can't say it openly, you might want to take a look at an article published today by Arnold Roth ["By their role models shall ye know them", December 10, 2014] in Times of Israel. We will be cross-posting it here soon.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

07-Dec-14: World's richest country again reminds us what that means in practice

A year ago, Times of Israel reported that swimming’s governing body, FINA, gave a formal warning to Qatari officials for "disrespecting Israeli swimmers at World Cup events". FINA's executive director Cornel Marculescu said at the time to Associated Press that the Qatar organizing committee had apologized for a "stupid" incident that had prompted Israel’s team, competing in the swimming competition, to protest at the deliberate removal by the Qatari hosts of Israel's flag and name in the television coverage.

FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation), the governing body of international swimming events, bars discrimination based on "political opinion," according to its website (says Huffington Post).

Marculescu said the problem was resolved with the Qataris. "Next year we have the World Championships and these things will not happen anymore", he stated with admirable confidence.

Qatar, October 2013: Flags for all competitors except for the one from
the un-named Zionist entity [Image Source]
The reference to "next year" was to the 2014 World Short-Course Swimming Championships in Qatar.

Well, next year is here, and those championships are underway right now. And guess what happened when Israeli champion and former Olympian Guy Barnea won his heat of the 200-meters butterfly in respectful, non-discriminatory Qatar? As the image and report in an Haaretz article today show:

Qatar, December 2014: Guy Barnea of "ISR" wins
the winning swimmer's national flag somehow lost its central feature, the Star of David:

Last year's "disrespect" of Israeli competitors and national sensitivities produced a sharp response from, as far as we can tell, only Israeli and Jewish quarters like the ADL. Virtually nothing came from other participating countries.

The Qatari "apology" touted by the man from FINA turns out to have been meaningless, with the benefit of hindsight. In view of the same puerile stunt from the same puerile organizers, it's to be expected that the same apathy will be on show this time round. It's lose-lose for all concerned.

Recall that Qatar is the designated host of football's 2022 FIFA World Cup, probably the most-watched sporting event there is, and this despite a long list of complaints, controversies and problems that accompanied its campaign to be selected for the honour. Those problems continue to cast a certain cloud over the process but no one in Qatar appears overly worried as far as we can tell.

Which is strange when you think about it. What is it that makes the Qataris so sure of themselves and immune from criticism and review apart from their being, per capita, by far the richest country on earth [see "30-Jul-14: Is Qatar's stupendous wealth connected with Hamas' ongoing terrorism?"]. A bit of a puzzle, no?

Friday, December 05, 2014

05-Dec-14: The 'real and substantial progress' of Iran, the US and the rest of us

Trust these people: they want what's best for all of us, we're certain of it.
Vienna, November 24, 2014, the day the world's ultimatum to the Iranians ran out...
and was extended by 7 months [Image Source]
Part of the inescapable reality of living in an era where terrorist organizations function, for most purposes, as sovereign rulers is that they can do some seriously deadly things, over a long period of time, and with impunity (at least within the borders they control). For people unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end of their malevolence, this can pose some ethical and strategic challenges. Here's a true-life example - unfortunately drawn from the true lives of us, our neighbours and everyone else living in our part of the world.

Ahead of the deadline some two weeks ago (November 24, 2014, to be exact) for agreement between the world's major countries and the Iranian regime on the so-called Joint Plan of Action, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (the IRGC) began making new and quite concrete threats: its missile unit has the capability to strike and destroy Israel, or any other target within Israel. The analysts at MEMRI, one of the few agencies that systematically translates and interprets what the Arabic and Persian-speaking parts of the world say to their own people, have just published a report about it here.

In it, they highlight the fact that Fars, an Iranian news agency closely tied to IRGC, is touting the capability of Hizbullah's Iranian missiles to damage Israel's natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as Israeli naval vessels. When Fars speaks, this is because the mullah-managed regime in Teheran wants us to know it. As Wikipedia says, Fars calls itself "Iran's leading independent news agency", but both CNN (here) and Reuters (here) - who know a thing or two about how news agencies work - describe it as "semi-official" and tied to Iran's government. The Wall Street Journal has said that Fars is in reality affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The head of the IRGC, Ali Jafari said this at a conference at an Iranian university on November 24, 2014: 
"Today, the entire area of the occupied territories [Israel] is within range of the missiles of the resistance – meaning the fall of the Zionist regime. Of course, the matter does not end here, and certainly the final liberation [of Palestine] will come about." [Source: via MEMRI]
His references to "the resistance" mean Hezbollah, Iran's captive Lebanese client.

The Iranian chart that graphs the coverage claimed by their long-range missiles.
Plainly no longer, if it ever was, a problem confronting Israel alone
[Image Source]
Fars at about the same time quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC "Aerospace Force", and his deputy Majid Mousavi, saying Hezbollah now has Iranian missiles with a range of 300 km, This gives them the ability to hit anything they desire. Hajizadeh took the opportunity to clarify that Iran's IRGC and lebanon's Hezbollah are (in MEMRI's translation) "a single apparatus".
Is Israel the only target on the Iranian radar screens? Not by a very long shot. On November 17, 2014, another IRGC-affiliated news outlet, posted a chart (here), that MEMRI has included in its report. This depicts graphically how those long-range Iranian missiles can - according to the Iranian boasts - hit targets 2,000 km away. This gives them access to anything they care to destory in 
Greece, southern Italy, [all of] southeast Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf states... Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. [MEMRI]
MEMRI's report goes on to provide a detailed assessment of the Iranian missile capability, including its Sejil ballistic missiles (range: 2,000 km); Shahab 3, Qadr F and Qadr H missiles (1,350 km range), and the Hormuz, Zelzal "Raad 307" and Zelzal missile families (all 300 km range). It notes that elements of the Palestinian Arab terror infrastructure are already armed with Iranian missile technology

In Hajizadeh's words (thanks to MEMRI):
Today, our situation is good, and even the countries that once helped us, such as Syria, later purchased our missiles. Today, the missile workshops in Syria are Iran-built and manufacture missiles of Iranian design. In fact, we learned from them how to use [missiles], but [later] taught them how to make them. Syria's missile manufacturers have copied Iran. The resistance front has learned from Iran how to manufacture its missiles. [Both] Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Palestinian resistance have excellent missile capabilities, and [Iranian] missiles are widely found and have special status.
And last week (via another Fars interview), he added some poison icing to the Iranian cake 
Knowing Hizbullah's missile and drone capability as I do, I say that this capability today is so advanced that it is not comparable to Hizbullah's capability in the 2006 Lebanon war. The capability that the Palestinian resistance demonstrated in the most recent war that lasted 51 days [i.e. the July 2014 Gaza war] reflects only part of Hizbullah's capability... In the past, Hizbullah was dependent on us [i.e. Iran], but today it has progressed so much that sometimes we use its capabilities. If they [still] need our support, we will help them. In effect, the IRGC and Hizbullah are a single apparatus joined together, and according to what I know, they have no shortage of missiles and drones.
In the full text, he switches easily among three words that mean the same for him and for us: Jews, Zionists, Israelis. We ought to keep that in mind as we recall that the stand-off between the rest of the world's 5+1 group, and the Iranians reached a crisis on November 24, 2014... and then immediately slid into post-crisis phase:
On November 24 the nuclear talks with Iran were extended for an additional seven months, as Iran and six world powers failed for the second time to agree on the fate of that country’s nuclear effort.  The talks were first announced a year ago, and were extended for four months after their first deadline expired in July. During a press conference after the extension was announced, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “we would be fools to walk away” from the talks, which he said “have made real and substantial progress.”  However, Secretary Kerry declined to describe that progress... Secretary Kerry also hailed this joint agreement, which Iran “has lived up to,” saying it “has worked” to make the world safer by extending rather than narrowing Iran’s breakout time. [IranWatch]
We're sure our leaders and those of the huge swathes of Asia and Europe covered by Iran's missile umbrella will be keeping Kerry's comforting words in mind in the coming weeks.