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DELEGITIMATING ISRAEL, III: WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

Volume XI, No. 2,689 • November 2, 2011

ISRAEL | More About: Iran Nuclear, UNESCO

Media-ocrities of the Week

 

This is about peace, identity, culture, heritage and freedom of expression.”—EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, commending UNESCO’s admission of “Palestine” as its 195th member, and urging nations to maintain their support for the UN cultural organization. (Gazette, November 1.)

 

Avigdor Lieberman, who is the main coalition partner of Prime Minister Netanyahu, declared that President Abbas was the ‘greatest obstacle’ to peace. We unequivocally reject and object to such incitement, which we consider to be a clear threat against the life of President Mahmoud Abbas, whose commitment to peace is absolutely unquestionable.”—Excerpts from a letter of complaint submitted by the Palestinian Authority to the United Nations Security Council, expressing “grave concern” over Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent assertion that PA president Mahmoud Abbas is not a credible peace partner. (Ynet News, October 27.)

 

Apologizing to the Iranian nation for fabricating the recent scenarios is Obama’s duty and the US president should offer an official and formal apology.”—Member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Seyed Ali Aqazadeh, condemning US President Barack Obama’s recent publicizing of an Iranian murder-for-hire plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and claiming the US’ aim was to foster “Iranophobia” and feed the Zionist-dominated media with new materials against Iran. (Fars News Agency, October 31.)

Weekly Quotes

 

A huge cheer of joy erupted Monday in the General Assembly room of the Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after ‘Palestine’ was voted in as the organization’s 195th member. However, the event was, in reality, not a cause for celebration but another lamentable example of the moral bankruptcy of the UN and its organizations.… In its rush to aid the Palestinians in their unilateral bid for internationally recognized statehood status, UNESCO completely disregarded its own declared educational and cultural standards based on equality and mutual respect. Instead, UNESCO effectively endorsed the warped, hate-mongering Palestinian national ‘narrative’ as reflected in the Palestinian Authority’s official school textbooks, cultural policies and popular media. Impact-SE, a research organization that monitors and analyzes schoolbooks and curricula across the Middle East…found shameful examples of anti-Semitism being taught in the Palestinian educational system. Indeed, textbooks used in PA schools conveyed rabidly anti-Semitic messages (Jews are described as violators of treaties, deceivers, murderers of children, disembowelers of women and impersonators of snakes) erased Jewish peoples’ ties to the land of Israel (Rachel’s Tomb is presented as the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, and the Kotel is described simply as Al-Buraq Wall) and supported jihad, while completing ignoring the option of a negotiated peace settlement with Israel. The study quotes the following paragraph from an eighth-grade book: ‘Today the Muslim countries need urgently jihad and jihad fighters in order to liberate the robbed lands and to get rid of the robbing Jews from the robbed lands in Palestine and in the Levant..…’ By accepting ‘Palestine’ as a member, UNESCO has effectively given its stamp of approval to the sort of vicious indoctrination undergone by Palestinian schoolchildren at a young, impressionable age.…”—Jerusalem Post editorial board, condemning the admission of “Palestine” into UNESCO, the UN cultural agency which purportedly “works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.” (Jerusalem Post & UNESCO Website, November 1.)

 

They started talking to me about the ‘Jewish state’ only two years ago, discussing it with me at every opportunity, every forum I went to—Jewish or non-Jewish—asking: ‘What do you think about the “Jewish state”?’ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state.’“—Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, in an October 23 interview on the Egyptian television channel Dream 2. In response to a question about the Gilad Shalit deal, Abbas responded, “Hamas kidnapped—or rather, captured—a soldier, and managed to keep him for five years, and that is a good thing. We don’t deny it. On the contrary, it’s a good thing that on a small strip of land, 40-by-7 kilometers, they were able to keep him and hide him.” (JTA, November 1.)

 

I know, I know. It was our mistake. It was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole.”—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in an interview with Israel’s top-rated Channel Two television, admitting that the Arabs erred by rejecting the 1947 UN proposal that would have created a Palestinian state alongside nascent Israel. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 29.)

 

“The Authority is not an authority. People and Palestinian institutions are asking me about the benefits of the continuation of the Authority.”—Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, in comments to his Fatah party published by WAFA news agency, conveying the possibility of dismantling the PA. In an interview with Egyptian TV, Abbas made an additional allusion to this prospect, saying that he was about to announce “something surprising and dangerous to the Palestinian people.” (Jerusalem Post & Ynet News, October 27.)

 

It was a calculated act, performed with conviction and faith in Allah. Jihad warriors are always ready to die as martyrs, to be arrested—or to succeed. I managed to overcome the barrier of prison and was released. Why should I repent?”—Ahlam Tamimi, a Palestinian prisoner released into Jordan as a part of the Gilad Shalit deal, in an interview posted on Hamas’ website, stressing she would again attempt to martyr herself if given the opportunity. Tamimi, who was serving 16 life sentences for her involvement in the Sbarro pizzeria suicide bombing on August 9, 2001 in Jerusalem, added “resistance is the only way to liberate Palestine.” (Arutz Sheva, October 26.)

 

For generations, the Arab World has failed miserably to address the needs of its own people. Arab donors provided just 20% of the international funds for the Palestinian Authority’s regular budget last year. Arab donations to the regular PA budget accounted for a little more than half of what Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal spent on his newest personal luxury jet. And with their world in flames, Arab Leaders continue to blame Israel and the West for all their problems. For years, it’s the only explanation that they have been able to offer to their own people. Everything wrong in the Middle East, according to many Arab leaders, is simply Israel’s fault.”—Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, at a debate titled “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question,” exposing the Arab world’s hypocrisy in relation to the Palestinian cause, and asserting that the Arab states continue to systematically blame Israel for all their woes. (Ynet News, October 24.)

 

For the first time since Hamas seized control from Fatah in June 2007, representatives of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood visited the Gaza Strip. This was yet another clear signal of a shift in Cairo’s posture toward the Islamist movement since the ouster in February of Hosni Mubarak.… Cairo’s willingness to strengthen ties with an anti-Semitic terrorist organization bent on destroying the Jewish state is testimony to a change for the worse in the new Egypt.…”—Jerusalem Post editorial board, in “Gaza and Egypt,” describing the first visit in nearly five years of Muslim brotherhood representatives to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, evidencing the growing ties between post-Mubarak Egypt and the Islamic terror organization. (Jerusalem Post, October 30.)

 

Israel, that plundering, crude, cruel, and criminal entity, which wants to devour the remainder of our lands, but will not succeed in this new era, as massacres can only take place in silence, but the Arab peoples have learned to talk, and will never be silent again.… Allah willing, we will deprive them of the lives they are living. One after the other, the rockets of truth will reach them, until we cleanse our Arab land of these criminal murderers.”—Egyptian cleric Muhammad Abdu, on the Muslim “educational” channel Al-Hekma TV, calling on “millions [to] respond to the call…[to]destroy Israel and wipe it out of existence.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 29.)

 

Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake. Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans? Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region.…”—Embattled Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, warning Western powers that any foreign intervention in Syria risks causing an “earthquake” that would burn the Middle East. Assad’s comments came as the Arab League conveyed an “urgent message…to the Syrian government expressing its severe discontent for the continued killing of Syrian civilians.” (Reuters, October 29.)

 

Short Takes

 

UNESCO VOTES TO GRANT PALESTINIANS FULL MEMBERSHIP—(Paris) The United Nations’ cultural agency, UNESCO, has voted to give the Palestinians full membership of the body. UNESCO is the first UN agency the Palestinians have sought to join since President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on Sept. 23. The United States, Canada and Germany voted against Palestinian membership in UNESCO; Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor. Britain abstained. (Reuters, October 31.)

 

PM CALLS FOR INCREASED SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION AFTER UNESCO VOTE—(Jerusalem) Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Office has announced plans to accelerate the construction of 1,650 units in east Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods and 320 units in two West Bank settlements close to the pre-1967 lines. The housing approvals, decided upon by the inner cabinet, is viewed as a direct response to the Palestinians’ continued pursuit of unilateral statehood in favor of a negotiated agreement with Israel. Defending the move, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu emphasized Israel’s right to expand an undivided Jerusalem, saying “We must protect [Jerusalem’s] unity, stop those who try to rewrite its history, and remind the world over and over again that Jerusalem was never the capital of any other nation.” The inner cabinet also agreed to put a “temporary hold” on the transfer of tax funds to the Palestinian Authority. (Jerusalem Post, November 1 & 2.)

 

US CUTS OFF UNESCO FUNDING AFTER PALESTINIAN VOTE—(Jerusalem) The United States has cut funding to UNESCO following a vote to grant the Palestinians full membership. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated the US had no choice because of longstanding US law stipulating that “No funds…shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.” Nuland condemned UNESCO’s move as “creating tensions when all of us should be concerting our efforts to get the parties back to the [negotiating] table,” and confirmed Washington would not make a planned $60 million transfer that was due in November. The US previously provided $70 million, or 22 percent, of UNESCO’s annul budget. (Jerusalem Post, October 31 & FrontPage, November 1.)

 

ISRAEL TEST FIRES MISSILE THAT CAN HIT IRAN—(Jerusalem) Israel has successfully test-fired a “rocket propulsion system” capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking Iran, fanning a public debate over whether the country’s leaders are preparing for a military attack on Tehran’s atomic facilities. While Israeli leaders have long warned that a military strike was an option, the most intensive round of public discourse on the subject was ignited last weekend by a report in Yediot Ahronot claiming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak favor an attack. That was followed by a report in Haaretz alleging that Netanyahu is currently lobbying Cabinet members to authorize an assault. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Netanyahu does not yet have a majority. (Associated Press, November 2.)

 

LIBERMAN: BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA WON’T SUPPORT PA’S UN BID—(Jerusalem) With two weeks to go until the UN Security Council resumes its deliberations over the Palestinian statehood bid, Israeli Foreign Ministry sources have confirmed that Bosnia-Herzegovina, currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, will not vote in favor of the PA’s request. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently on a state visit to Sarajevo, met with the prime minister of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS), who assured him that “Srpska’s position on the matter is definite and will not change. We will oppose the move.” Lieberman has since asserted that he “found support and understanding in Srpska.” (Ynet News, October 28.)

 

FLOTILLA AIMING TO BREAK GAZA BLOCKADE LEAVES FROM TURKEY—(Jerusalem) A two-boat flotilla carrying 27 “activists” from five countries including the US has set sail from Turkey “with the aim of ending the siege and isolation of Gaza,” according to flotilla organizers. The “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla is currently in international waters after embarking from Fethiye, Turkey, with the vessels expected to arrive in Gaza on Friday afternoon. Passengers said that the boats are carrying “symbolic cargo,” consisting of $30,000 in medicines as well as activists “committed to nonviolent defense of the flotilla and Palestinian human rights.” A flotilla organized by the Free Gaza movement was cancelled in July after Greece refused to allow the ships to leave its ports for the Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post, November 2.)

 

NETANYAHU MEETS GRAPEL: “IT’S GOOD THAT YOU’RE HOME”—(Jerusalem) Dual US-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel has met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem after being freed from an Egyptian prison. Grapel, who was held in Egypt for five months on spying charges, travelled with his mother to meet the prime minister who told him: “It’s good that you’re home.” The 25 prisoners released in exchange for Grapel have returned to Egypt. According to the Israel Prison Service, none of the released prisoners were serving time for terrorist-related offenses. (Jerusalem Post, October 27.)

 

FORMER IDF SOLDIER SENTENCED TO 4.5 YEARS FOR LEAKING DOCUMENTS TO HAARETZ—(Jerusalem) The Tel Aviv District Court has sentenced former Israel Defense Forces soldier Anat Kamm to 54 months in jail and another year-and-a-half suspended sentence, after she was convicted in February of collecting, holding and passing on classified information without authorization. Kamm stole some 2,000 documents from the office of then-GOC Central Command Yair Naveh, where she worked during her army service. Among the documents were 700 marked classified or top secret, which Kamm passed to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau. In Israel, passing on classified material without authorization carries a sentence of up to 15 years in jail. (Haaretz, October 30.)

 

STRONG SUPPORT FOR SHARIAH IN CANADA—(Ottawa) A newly released survey conducted by the MacDonald Laurier Institute found that 35% of Muslims living in Canada would not disown Al-Qaida. “From a security perspective, it is difficult to know if a 65% rate of repudiation (of Al-Qaida) is re-assuring or a 35% failure to repudiate troubling,” wrote the study authors. The survey, which was released this week, also found that 62% of Canadian Muslims wanted some form of Shariah law in Canada, 15% of them saying it should be mandatory for all Muslims. The report concluded that support for Islamic extremism is just as high among Muslims born in Canada as it is among those hailing from oppressive dictatorships. (Toronto Sun, November 1.)

 

‘GUARDIAN’ COLUMNIST APOLOGIZES FOR ‘ANTI-SEMITIC SLUR’—(London) A Guardian journalist has apologized after being accused of anti-Semitism following an article in which she maintained that Israel’s eagerness to bring home Gilad Schalit was based on a “Zionist” belief that the lives “of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.” Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Deborah Orr said she was sorry for the words she used: “I’m certainly not anti-Semitic…so I’m sorry if the form of words I used gave that impression,” she said. Jerusalem-based media watchdog, Honest Reporting, said that the Guardian’s willingness “to publish such an obscene commentary confirms the publication’s vicious anti-Israel bent.” (Jerusalem Post, October 27.)

OBAMA’S UNESCO FIASCO

Robert M. Goldberg
American Spectator, November 2, 2011

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) claims it “works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.” In fact, as Monday’s vote to make the Palestinian Authority a UNESCO member suggests, UNESCO views its primary mission as a cultural change agent to be consistent with its half-century campaign to marginalize Israel.

The Obama administration voted against the Palestinian application because it was another effort to create a Palestinian state using the land, borders, resources and capital city of another country without asking for it. Instead of proudly defending Israel against UNESCO’s power grab, however, the administration was nearly apologetic. David Killon, the U.S. representative to UNESCO, pledged to “find ways to support and strengthen the important work of this vital organization.” State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated, “Not paying our dues into these organizations could severely restrict and reduce our ability to influence them, our ability to act within them, and we think this affects U.S. interests.”

There is concern the Palestinians will go through the UN Directory and apply for membership to every other agency the UN operates, including the World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the International Atomic Energy Agency and B’nai B’rith. (OK, I made the last one up.) The law requiring that we not fund the UN organization that grants the Palestinians membership applies to all of the above agencies. So the goal is to pressure and isolate America so that it will support or not oppose Palestinian membership in the UN General Assembly.

But the claim that standing up to such tactics undermines American interests has to be weighed against two other considerations. First, the only thing that gets UNESCO’s or the UN’s attention is cutting of its allowance. Second, it’s the only tool short of resigning membership that seems to stop UNESCO from pursuing anti-American and anti-Israel activities. The only way to avoid a UNESCO fiasco is to stop underwriting such activities no matter what the agency.

In 1974 UNESCO voted to exclude Israel from its European regional group for engaging in archeological exploration and construction. This anti-Jewish ostracism was not abandoned until 1978, after the United States withheld $40 million in payments from the organization in protest.

In 1984, the Reagan administration (along with Britain and France) stopped funding UNESCO because the agency was sponsoring programs, proposals and materials that were hostile to the idea of freedom (and enthusiastic about Soviet-style government) and was particularly critical of Israel. It worked for a while. But as soon as the U.S. resumed making contributions to UNESCO in 2002, efforts to isolate Israel increased.

Since 1967, Arab states have tried to portray Israel as the usurper of Arab lands. Denying historical Jewish ties to Israel is part of that campaign, one that UNESCO has financed and participated in. UNESCO has called for financial sanctions against Israel and passed hundreds of resolutions criticizing Israel’s efforts to restore historic and holy sites in Jerusalem. When the UN celebrated its 50th anniversary, UNESCO refused to mention the Holocaust in its World War II resolution, intentionally ignoring Israel’s request to include a specific reference to the destruction of European Jewry.

In 1989 UNESCO stated, “Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem” was destroying the holy city by “acts of interference, destruction and transformation.” UNESCO claimed in 1974 that Israel’s control over a united Jerusalem was a “cultural crime against humanity.” In 1996, UNESCO organized a symposium on Jerusalem at the body’s Paris headquarters. But no Jewish or Israeli groups were invited. Maybe the invitation got lost.

Over the past decade UNESCO has worked with Arab organizations to deny Jewish claims to religiously important historical sites in Israel. In 2010 UNESCO declared that Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem is a mosque and claimed the Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs were Palestinian sites and “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories.”

In 2009, UNESCO designated Jerusalem as a “capital of Arab culture,” working with Palestinian Authority officials and key Arab figures to protest against what they described as “the Israeli occupation of Holy Jerusalem.”

These actions helped UNESCO with its other major responsibility: the development of curriculum and textbooks in Palestinian and Arab communities. As UNESCO eliminates Jewish historical ties to Jerusalem and holy sites, Palestinian textbooks have been revised accordingly. Textbooks have erased Jewish claims to the Western Wall and Rachel’s Tomb. For example, National Education, a textbook for seventh-graders published in 2010, refers to the Western Wall as the “Al-Buraq Wall,” and to Rachel’s Tomb as “Al-Bilal Mosque.”

The Obama administration voted against UNESCO’s latest effort to isolate Israel and then nearly apologized for it. That’s less than enough, since it must do what is necessary to stop the madness from spreading. It has to take a stand, in other words. Leading from behind won’t cut it.

On Topic

Analysts Believe Israel is Moving Closer to Iran Strike - Jeffrey Goldberg - International - The Atlantic Atlantic, November 1, 2011
Jeffrey Goldberg
Analysts Believe Israel is Moving Closer to Iran Strike - Jeffrey Goldberg - International - The Atlantic
PM Netanyahu's Speech at Opening of the Knesset's Winter Session Office of Israel’s Prime Minister , October 31, 2011
Benjamin Netanyahu
PM Netanyahu's Speech at Opening of the Knesset's Winter Session
Iran's mystery banker in Canada -  JPost - Opinion - Op-Eds Jerusalem Post, October 31, 2011
Avi Jorisch
Iran's mystery banker in Canada - JPost - Opinion - Op-Eds
‪Mahmoud Abbas's Empty Threats‬ :: Hudson New York Hudson Institute, November 1, 2011
Khaled Abu Toameh
‪Mahmoud Abbas's Empty Threats‬ :: Hudson New York

EDITORIAL BOARD

Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

Prof. Harold Waller Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University)

Prof. Ira Robinson, Associate Chairman Prof. Ira Robinson, Associate Chairman (Department of Religion, Concordia University)

Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research) Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

Ber Lazarus Ber Lazarus (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

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