Wednesday, September 06, 2006

6-Sep-06: An Unblinking Look at French - and Western - Values

The deeply-disturbing affair of Mohammad Al-Durah, a child who may or may not have been killed in Gaza six years ago, is at the heart of three court cases, the first of which is to be heard in France later this month.

Dr Richard Landes of Boston University writes about these legal proceedings on his blog The Augean Stables. The multi-faceted Landes is also the force behind the outstanding Second Draft, Al Durah: Birth of an Icon and Pallywood projects - all of them very well-made, provocative streaming-video views of the challenge posed to western society by manipulated and manipulative news and images emanating from the Islamic world. And all of them viewable on the web.

Commencing September 14, 2006, the trials in Paris will review the actions and words of three French citizens who used Internet sites to publish criticism of France2’s coverage of the Muhammad Al Durah affair and of Charles Enderlin, a television journalist. Dr Landes is going to be there, and will blog-report on them. Each trial invokes an 1881 law on press freedom that purports to protect individuals, groups, ethnicities and religions from defamation that strikes at the honor and consideration (reputation) of "the individual or institution in question".

In an analytical preview of the judicial proceedings, Augean Stables makes the case that the trials will throw a sharp light on the disturbing direction of events in Europe and the West since 2000. Among the issues:
1. The radical misreading of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a Palestinian struggle for national independence rather than a part of global Jihad, which has the Europeans siding with the forces of global jihad against themselves.

2. The ways in which this pro-Palestinian rhetoric has introduced an Arab street in Europe and strengthened the forces of Islamism and Jihad around the globe.

3. The roles played by the French and European media in this process, and the exceptional denial that permeates French public life on the issues of Eurabia and global Jihad. 

4. The fundamental significance of anti-Zionism in European perceptions of the Al Durah icon, and how Al Durah as a 21st century blood libel has opened the gates to both Islamic anti-Semitism and more overt European anti-Zionism.

5. The ways that French (and European) politicians have ignored the rise of antisemitism in their midst through repeated denial.

6. The relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism and the dimensions of France's "politics of resentment".

7. The close connections between the French media (especially AFP) and the French foreign policy elite.
8. The ways the French legal system has functioned both in encouraging anti-Jewish violence with its lenient sentencing of anti-Jewish comments and deeds, and is now being used to silence any criticism.

9. Overall, the way the Al Durah affair has played out in France over the last 6 years shows in painful detail the dysfunctions of French culture and politics, and illustrates the ways in which Eurabia operates. We can see clearly that Europe has become vulnerable to aggressive Islamism and Jihadism in the cause and effect of Pallywood's success among European media gatekeepers. The European media are astonishingly credulous when considering video footage that is transparently dishonest.
The Al Durah video has become an icon in the worst and most malignant sense of the word. Yet for all their influence and importance there are parts of it that have been seen only by a handful of people (explained on the Augean Stables blog). Dr Landes suggests that the reaction, if they were more widely available:
...would be astonishment — and indignation at the media. It would be obvious that there is a direct correlation between media manipulation of information and the broad public support for anti-Zionism. But, absent the complete video, the eagerness with which Europeans “learned” about Muhammad al Durah’s “death” at the hands of the Israelis, made the fake so much more acceptable. In like fashion, the shocking news from Kafr Kana has triggered a horrified call to cease fire immediately. The West is being victimized by its enemies’ manipulation of images, for those deceitful icons and faked reports are received uncritically, even when not enthusiastically, by the West’s own media. Given that synergy between Islamist malice and easily-duped news outlets, how can the Western public make intelligent decisions? ...If free and responsible (hence reasonably accurate) media are the eyes and ears of civil society, then we are flying blinded by this kind of information over very dangerous terrain. Much in our troubled world hangs in the balance. The more people know, the more the judges become self-conscious about making their decision, and the more we can hope that France will make a sane decision from the perspective of both the law and the media.
If you haven't viewed the streaming videos, please go and do it now, or tonight.

6-Sep-06: Lebanese Underground

Tom Gross provides an invaluable service by publishing the results of the monitoring of the BBC's Arabic service for this article.
On August 1, retired Egyptian Major General Hussam Suwailem, the main studio guest for the daily "Hadith al-Saa" program on the BBC Arabic World Service (the equivalent of the "Newshour" program on the English-language BBC World Service) said Israel's airstrikes were failing because Hizbullah was "invisible". Hizbullah's underground network where they were hiding, he said, was so extensive that it amounted to an underground city. He said the network had been built by North Korean companies in the six years since Israel left Lebanon. The tunnels, he added, were dug deeper than the penetration ability of the GBU-28 bomb used by Israel; they each linked to three small military cities, and in some places the network goes as far as to reach inside Syria. Inside this network, he continued, communications structures were built with the co-operation of German companies. Suwailem further stated that the central command center of Hizbullah is in the Harmal area (in the Northern Beka valley), in which the al-Manar TV transmitters were also placed.
Six years of preparation. A vast underground city. North Korean and German technology. A cross-border structure reaching all the way into Syria. Sort of suggests they had a fairly serious war in mind - perhaps a war that isn't over yet.

As Tom Gross points out:

Hizbullah fired 4,228 rockets at Israel during the 34 days of fighting, leading to 53 fatalities, 250 severely wounded, and over 2,000 less seriously wounded. There was extensive damage to hundreds of dwellings, several public utilities, and dozens of industrial plants. One million Israelis lived near or in shelters or security rooms, with over 250,000 civilians evacuating the north and relocating to other areas of the country.
And with all of this, we're treated to the spectacle of prominent politicial scientists speaking at an Islamic-sponsored conference in the US last week and blaming the entire catastrophe on Israeli premeditation and on its "influential Washington lobby". What's the world coming to if you can't form your political opinions on the basis of academic objectivity? Suggested answer: a fairly dangerous place. See CAMERA's research data for some disturbing indicators of how and why. And Benny Morris' powerful analysis "The Ignorance at the Heart of an Innuendo".

6-Sep-06: Reduction in Force 17

Nearly six years ago, on 30th October 2000, a young part-time security guard employed to protect the National Insurance Institute offices in East Jerusalem was gunned down in cold blood at almost point-blank range by Palestinian Arab terrorists. The office he guarded is the conduit for vast sums in monthly pension payments made to East Jerusalem Arabs under Israel's unemployment, single-parent and other social welfare programs.

The young man, Esh-Kodesh Gilmore, was the father of an eighteen-month-old daughter and the son of gentle American-born parents whom we subsequently came to know - when we lost our own daughter to an act of terrorist murder - and whom we are proud to call our friends. Some background about Esh-Kodesh's short life is here.

Three Palestinian Arabs were subsequently caught, charged and convicted of the terrorist murder. They are Talal Ghassan, 37, a senior Force 17 member from Ramallah; Marzouk Abu Naim, 43; and Na'man Nofel. The Jerusalem Post reported that, when arrested, the three were planning to execute additional attacks on the Ramallah bypass road and in and near Jerusalem. Abu Naim was good enough to lead his interrogators to two bombs which the cell had prepared for use.

The three terrorists in turn fingered Mahmoud Damra as the leader of their Ramallah-based terror cell. That cell, according to reports based on Israeli intelligence, was made up of members from all parts of the Palestinian terror constellation including Fatah and Hamas. It murdered seven Israelis in addition to Esh-Kodesh Gilmore, and managed to wound 20 more.

When Yasser Arafat was first holed up in his Ramallah headquarters in 2002 (see this report from The Guardian) during Operation Defensive Shield which was Israel's response to the string of massacres by Palestinians in Israel during Passover 2002, Damra was one of the fifty-plus terrorist fugitives who fled there to hide from the Israelis behind Arafat's skirts. This was an effective strategy, and enabled Damra to remain on the run. He has been on Israel's most-wanted list ever since.

On 31st May 2006, the "moderate" head of Fatah and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, appointed Damra (known also by the nom-de-guerre Abu Awad) to the leadership of Force-17, the so-called presidential guard, a thuggish, well-equipped gang formed to provide the Palestinian Arab despot Arafat with personal protection, and now doing the same for Arafat's successor. Force 17 has also become a key element in the internecine wars between Fatah and Hamas. In the interests of full disclosure, UPI quoted Palestinian sources saying that Damra is no terrorist, that he's committed to "the peace process" and that suggesting he's involved with terror is all just a big misunderstanding.

Denials notwithstanding, it's good to be able to see reports tonight that Mahmoud Damra's life on the run went through a fundamental re-alignment today. He was arrested trying to get through an Israel Defense Forces roadblock outside Nablus. We've mentioned numerous times how media critics of Israeli roadblocks denigrate their importance to the war against terrorists... but time and again, that's where the big and ugly fish get intercepted and taken out of the game. Yediot Aharonot reports tonight that
"...a senior Palestinian official, who is a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, defined Damra's arrest as a "despicable act." The official said that "while Abu Mazen (Abbas) is exerting supreme efforts to solve the Gilad Shalit affair and advance the process, Olmert and Peretz are attempting to move things backwards."
We admit to being somewhat unsure about the process they refer to.

Our satisfaction with the arrest of this barbarian is tempered only by the knowledge that there appears to be a deal underway today for the release of hundreds of Palestinian terror practitioners. It remains to be seen whether the names of cold-blooded murders like Damra are on the list.

UPDATE: Not a happy ending - see "5-Jan-12: What the blood-soaked career of an "adviser on local government matters" reveals about the 'moderate' PA leader's thinking"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

5-Sep-06: A Knifing and its Economic Context

When reading reports of economic hardship among Palestinian Arabs (like this major piece entitled "Palestinians Begin to Direct Blame Inward" in yesterday's LA Times), keep in mind the events reported here - and please read through to the end.

Shimon Ran, 63, a factory worker from Jerusalem was stabbed and seriously wounded early this morning in the Atarot Industrial Zone in Jerusalem's northern suburbs, about 10 minutes drive from where we live. The attacker is an Arab, and the police say terror was the motive. (Jerusalem Post report here.)

Despite an intensive search, he has not been apprehended.

Ran sustained moderate injures and is hospitalized in the Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in Jerusalem. Thankfully, there's a report that his condition stabilized after initial treatment.

The stabbing took place outside a cosmetics factory (pictured right) where Ran had parked his car. The terrorist attacked from behind, stabbing Ran in the back with a 20-cm knife. Numerous attacks by Palestinian Arabs on Jewish workers have taken place in the area in the past year. Hundreds of Palestinian Arabs are employed by Jewish-owned businesses in the Artarot area.

Two weeks ago, in an attempt to "improve the lot of Palestinians in the West Bank", the Israeli military said it was easing restrictions imposed in recent months as Israel battled Palestinian militants in Gaza and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. The Boston Globe says: "Before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict re-erupted six years ago, around 80,000 Palestinians worked in Israel." One source points out that Atarot used to be a booming industrial zone until the late 1980's when repeated Arab terror attacks drove out some of the major businesses, including the Mashbir department store's regional warehouse, the Pereg airconditioning and heating plant and a major lumber yard.

The IDF's statement, reported on 20th August, said 26,500 Palestinian workers and traders would be allowed to enter Israel and another 1,500 West Bank residents would be allowed to work in the Atarot industrial park on Jerusalem's north side. Long before Israel won its independence in 1948, Atarot was a center of Zionist settlement and enterprise -- and a constant target of nearby Arab villagers.

Stabbings and killings by Palestinians allowed into Israel as part of humanitarian programs are rarely reported in the mainstream media.

8th Sept UPDATE: The stabber is in custody.

Friday, September 01, 2006

1-Sep-06: When Does "Disproportionate" Lose All Proportion?

Hizbollah has recruited over 2,000 children aged between 10 and 15 to serve in its armed gangs. The Mahdi Scouts youth organization, affiliated with Hizbollah, is training them. (You can see them listed here in a global catalogue of scouting organizations. Someone should notify the editors.)

The influential independent Egyptian magazine Roz Al-Yusuf exposes this in its August 18, 2006 edition. An investigative article by Mirfat Al-Hakim titled "Hizbullah's Children's Militias" says the children are selected by Hizbullah recruiters based on a single criterion: "They must be willing to become martyrs."

The invaluable MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) published this on Thursday. (MEMRI may be the single most important window we non-Arabic speakers have into that world. More power to them.) Here's an excerpt:
"The children are educated from an early age to become martyrs in their youth, like their fathers, and their training is carried out by the Mahdi Scouts youth organization... [This organization], which is affiliated with Hizbullah, teaches the children the basic principles of Shi'ite ideology and of Hizbullah's ideology... The first lesson that the children are taught by Hizbullah is 'The Disappearance of Israel,' and it is always an important part of the [training] program... "The Mahdi Scouts organization was founded in Lebanon on May 5, 1985... According to the organization's website, the number of [scouts] who had undergone training by the end of 2004 was 1,491, and the number of scout groups which had joined [the organization] was 449, with a membership of 41,960. According to the organization's most recent statistics, since 2004, 120 of its members have been ready to become martyrs.
"The organization's goal is to train an exemplary generation of Muslims based on the [principle of] 'the rule of the jurisprudent' [a founding principle of the Islamic Revolution in Iran], and to prepare for the coming of the Imam Mahdi [the Shi'ite messiah]. Its members, including the children, undertake to obey their commanders, to bring honor to the [Muslim] nation, and to prepare themselves for helping the Mahdi [when he comes]."
"A Nation With Child-Martyrs Will Be Victorious"
According to the article, Na'im Qasim, deputy to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, said in an interview on Radio Canada: "A nation with child-martyrs will be victorious, no matter what difficulties lie in its path. Israel cannot conquer us or violate our territories, because we have martyr sons who will purge the land of the Zionist filth... This will be done through the blood of the martyrs, until we eventually achieve our goals."
More than anything else, this depressing revelation highlights the critical need for a total overhaul of the way education is managed and delivered in the Arab world.

But as threatening and upsetting as this is for us Israelis, if we were Lebanese we would be sickened, revolted - and determined to remove the individuals and institutions responsible for letting this malevolent, cancerous growth appear in the midst of our society. The silence from the Arab world on this and similar subjects is deafening.

On our side of the fence, we view the education of children as one of the highest responsibilities we have. That, along with keeping them safe and well, is a paramount obligation. In fact, almost everything else tends to be dwarfed by it. Perhaps this is what the disproportionality argument between Israel and our neighbours is really about.

1-Sep-06: Pipe-dreams and pipe-nightmares

We're still trying to absorb the import of Mahmoud Abbas referring yesterday to the rain of Qassam rockets onto Israeli communities and homes as being a matter of mere "pipes".

In the mean time, we're indebted to blog visitor Gharqad Tree for his valuable comment:

"I wouldn't claim that casualty figures are irrelevant, (every death from these rockets is terrible and unacceptable) but we should be careful when using them. You end up playing into the hands of the ignorant media, who decide the morality of the respective sides merely by assessing which side has suffered the heaviest losses. The one fact that remains, regardless of mathematics or statistics, is that elements of Palestinian society have no moral problem with using the 'liberated' Gaza Strip as a launching pad for rockets, the sole intention of which is to kill and maim Israeli civilians. That the rockets frequently fail in this aim tells us nothing about the people who launch them, or the fear that they engender in innocent Israelis..."
To reinforce the point, and to make plain the utter contempt we have for Mahmoud Abbas and his absurd characterization of deadly explosives as "pipes", here at right are several images we have collected. They show (to those interested in looking a little beyond the polemics of corrupt and tainted politicians) what pipes like those deployed by terrorists can do to the lives of civilized and peaceable people and communities.

31-Aug-06: Far from media attention, rockets keep crashing into Israel

For months, Qassam rockets have been directed into Israeli towns by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. By and large, these attacks have been ignored by the foreign media, but have continued, almost on a daily basis, to terrorise Israelis living in towns and cities within firing range of Gaza. (Until the Hezbollah War in July, we reported most of the Qassam attacks in our daily blogs of the past months.)

They have caused destruction of homes, schools, factories, businesses. Maimings, injuries and deaths - the 2004 Maariv map at right gives an overview of how bad things were two years ago; the faces signify people killed by Qassams. (We'll replace it with a more accurate, up-to-date image when we can locate or make one.)

This morning (Thursday), five Qassam rockets landed in various parts of the Israeli town of Sderot. Because the Palestinian rockets lack any serious directional guidance system, no one - least of all the thugs firing them - knows where they are going to impact, whom they're going to maim or kill, or what the consequences will be. This is part of what makes them terrorists. Today's attacks led to several people requiring hospitalization, mainly for shock. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.

Demonstrating his utter indifference to the moral and human dimensions of this while summoning the full moral authority of his high office, the head of the Palestinian Authority expressed himself in the media today. Mahmoud Abbas called the rockets being fired into Israel "pipes". The problem with these pipes, he said, is that they provide Israel with an excuse to carry out military operations in the Gaza Strip.

"Our people [the Palestinian Arabs] don't deserve these tragedies," he said, inventing an entirely new and twisted meaning for an otherwise straightforward word. "If these pipes provide an excuse, it's time to stop using them."

In the context of Palestinian Arab politics, shallow pronouncements of this sort are what qualify Abbas as a moderate.

UPDATE: Since several readers asked, the death toll from Qassam rocket pot-shots into the communities abutting the Gaza Strip stands at 13. Hundreds more have been injured and hospitalized. Refer to Wikipedia for some out-of-date but nonetheless useful and accurate details. Or search our blog, using the search term "Qassam". We've been reporting these attacks pretty consistently since the start of now-forgotten Hamas "ceasefire" (that was bogus from its inception) of February 2005.