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WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

Volume XI, No. 2,681 • October 19, 2011

ISRAEL | More About: Gilad Shalit, Iran, Saudi Arabia

Media-o-crity of the Week

 

We have concerns regarding reports that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank may be released to the Gaza Strip or abroad.… This may constitute forced transfer or deportation under international law.”—Rupert Colville, spokesman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights NaviPillay, voicing the UN’s concern that as part of the Giald Shalit prisoner-swap deal Israel may be releasing Palestinian criminals to foreign locations “without their free and informed consent.” (Reuters, October 18.)

Weekly Quotes

 

I am happy to see Gilad Shalit begining to return to [his] routine.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, praising the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit, who was released from Hamas captivity yesterday, has started his recovery after having slept in his home in Mitzpe Hila for the first time in more than five years. Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, said that his son was feeling well and that the family was working on getting back to normal. (Jerusalem Post, October 19.)

 

We thank God for your return and your safety. You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland. We hope soon to see…every prisoner freed.”—Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, at a rally in Ramallah, welcoming home the hundreds of Palestinian “martyrs” released from Israeli jails in the first phase of the Gilad Shalit prisoner-swap deal. Amidst the thousands of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank to celebrate the deal, chants of “The people want a new Schalit” could be heard. (Haaretz & Jerusalem Post, October 18.)

 

Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas] was negotiating a million years and has not achieved such a deal.… We invite Abu Mazen to enter into elections to see the extent of his popularity in the Palestinian street.”—Senior Hamas official, Mahmoud Zahar, claiming that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas would not have been able to bring about the release of Palestinian prisoners, and challenging Abbas to test his popularity in elections. Zahar’s comments underline the widely held perception that the Shalit deal was a political victory for Hamas. (Jerusalem Post, October 19.)

 

Bassam Nasser’s op-ed in yesterday’s paper is a must read for every citizen of the world. Nothing could better illustrate the truth about the Palestinian society.… Nasser argues that it’s just not fair that we Israelis view the prisoners released in exchange for Gilad Schalit as terrorist murderers.… We should understand that they are heroes, a source of pride and honor to their parents and families, the most eligible bachelors desired by every young Palestinian woman.… They are not deviants of society, but rather society itself.…”—Marc Belzberg, in “Words Of Truth Amidst A World Of Lies,” describing Palestinian society as “one of the most despicable and detestable societies in the history of man,” and condemning Bassam Nasser’s recent Jerusalem Post op-ed, in which Nasser asserted that Palestinian “prisoners are seen as heroes in all sectors of Palestinian society.” The Jerusalem Post reported today that Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh has awarded $2,000 to the families of all prisoners released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal.(Jerusalem Post, October 19.)

 

The children of Kafar Qaddum commenced the trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—the symbolic trial which convicted him of carrying out war crimes against humanity in the Palestinian territories, confiscation and theft of land and building settlements on it.… Thus the people and children of Kafar Qaddum…sentence[d] him to death by hanging.…”—Excerpts from a news report broadcast on Palestinian Authority TV, describing the mock trial and hanging of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, which took place during an event organized by Fatah for the youth of the village Kafar Qaddum in the West Bank. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 9.)

 

The experience that we amassed in the kidnapping of soldiers leads us to talk about continuing with kidnappings. There are another 7,000 prisoners in prison and they also have to be freed.”—Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, in an interview with Yediot Ahronot, confirming that Hamas will continue to target Israeli soldiers for abduction. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 16.)

 

Sooner or later, Israel will learn the name of its next Gilad Shalit. Sooner or later, too, it will learn that the better course is to give its enemies reasons to think twice before taking hostages in the first place.”—Wall Street Journal editorial board, in “Israel’s Unequal Exchange,” proclaiming strong deterrence as Israel’s most effective measure to ensure the security of its soldiers against future kidnapping attempts by Hamas. (Wall Street Journal, October 17.)

 

The United Nations has been calling for (an end to) the unacceptable detention of Gilad Shalit and also the release of all Palestinians whose human rights have been abused all the time.”—United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in an interview with Reuters, drawing a moral equivalence between the illegal captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the lawful imprisonment of Palestinian terrorists. In response, executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, called on “Mr. Ban to recognize that those who masterminded and carried out terrorist attacks against women and children are despicable criminals, not innocent victims, and that their detention is a moral and security obligation rather than a so-called violation of human rights.” (UN Watch, October 18.)

 

Throughout the five years of Shalit’s captivity in Gaza, during which every human rights obligation was blatantly violated, organizations such as the UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), Gisha, and the International Red Cross demonstrated very little interest. Similarly, the report of the UN Fact-Finding Commission on the Gaza War, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, downplayed Shalit’s captivity in blatant violation of international law. This moral stain will never be erased.”—Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, president of human rights watchdog NGO Monitor,arguing that the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal highlights the continued erosion of international legal principles, and further exposes the moral bankruptcy of international human rights mechanisms. (NGO Monitor, October 12.)

 

To be Jewish is not just to be part of a religion or a nation, it’s to be part of a family. The Book of Genesis tells a story of a family, the family of Abraham and Sara, the family that ultimately gave birth to the Jewish people.… Genesis goes on at length about this family’s dynamics, telling all about feuds and competition and love and forgiveness. It does so, because Genesis isn’t merely the prologue to Jewish history, it is the foundation of Jewish History. The lesson of Genesis is that even when the family evolves into being a nation, the nation never stops being a family.… And that’s why I had tears in my eyes upon hearing of Gilad’s release. Even though we don’t know each other, Gilad is still part of our family; and even though we haven’t met, Gilad is still my brother.… So, welcome home Gilad. Your thirteen million brothers and sisters have been waiting for you.”—Rabbi and CIJR Board Member, Chaim Steinmetz, welcoming home Gilad Shalit on behalf of the Jewish people. (Chaim Steinmetz Blog, October 11.)

 

Sinai is our land, and we do not need permission to increase our forces on our land.”—Egypt’s Air Force chief, General Reda Hafiz, confirming that Egyptian warplanes have been patrolling the Sinai without Israel’s consent, despite the 1979 peace treaty limiting Egypt’s military presence in the peninsula. (Ynet News, October 13.)

 

Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former president Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture.… A failure by Canada to take action during his visit would violate the UN Convention Against Torture and demonstrate contempt for fundamental human rights.”—Amnesty International representative, Susan Lee, accusing former US president George W. Bush of authorizing “torture” when he directed the U.S.-led war on terror, and calling on Canadian authorities to arrest and prosecute Bush during his upcoming October 20 visit to British Columbia. In response, Canada’s Immigration and Citizenship Minister,Jason Kenney, criticized Amnesty International, saying the organization “cherry picks cases to publicize based on ideology. This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International.” (National Post, October 12.)

 

Short Takes

 

SAUDI ARABIA TAKES ASSASSINATION PLOT TO THE UN—(Jerusalem) Saudi Arabia’s permanent mission to the United Nations has formally requested that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon notify the Security Council of Iran’s “heinous plot” to assassinate Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. Saudi officials released a statement expressing Riyadh’s “deep concern and anger,” and describing the plot as a violation of international laws and UN resolutions, adding that those involved must be brought to justice. The United States also submitted a letter to Ki-Moon, insisting that elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were directly involved in the assassination attempt. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 16.)

 

IRAN, SAUDI ARABIA TENSIONS SPUR FEARS OF A PROXY WAR—(New York) Rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are raising concerns that a renewed proxy war between the two countries could break out in Iraq, where the withdrawal U.S. military troops at the end of the year is expected to leave a power vacuum. One of the side effects of the Arab Spring has been the upending of a regional equilibrium between Saudi- and Iranian-backed governments and political actors. Riyadh blames Tehran for much of the political instability on its borders in Bahrain and Yemen, while Iranian officials have watched its popular support in the region falter due to Iran’s involvement in Syria’s crackdown on anti-regime protesters. Iraq, a border state for both Saudi Arabia and Iran, is likely to become a new battleground for such a confrontation given the two powers’ current drive to shore up political and military might. (Wall Street Journal, October 17.)

 

TO ISOLATE IRAN, U.S. PRESSES INSPECTORS ON NUCLEAR DATA—(Washington) In response to an Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, President Obama is pressing United Nations nuclear inspectors to release classified intelligence information showing that Iran is designing and experimenting with nuclear weapons technology. In an effort to further isolate and increase pressure on the Islamic Republic, administration officials are also mulling a ban on financial transactions with Iran’s central bank as well as an expansion of the sanctions on the purchase of petroleum products sold by companies controlled by the Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. In September, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, publicly discussed for the first time the possibility of publishing delicate data suggesting Iran is developing nuclear triggers and warheads. (NY Times, October 15.)

 

FREED PALESTINIAN TELLS KIDS TO BE LIKE HER—(Gaza) A would-be Palestinian suicide bomber freed by Israel in the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit has told schoolchildren in the Gaza Strip she hopes they will follow her example. “I hope you will walk the same path we took and G-d willing, we will see some of you as martyrs,” Wafa al-Biss told dozens of children who came to welcome her home. Biss was traveling to Beersheba’s Soroka hospital for medical treatment in 2005 when Israeli soldiers at the Erez border crossing noticed she was walking strangely. They found 10 kilograms (22 lbs) of explosives sewn into her underwear; Biss said she had planned to blow herself up at the checkpoint but her detonator malfunctioned. After she spoke, the children cheered and waved Palestinian flags and chanted: “We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine.” (Reuters, October 19.)

 

TURKEY SEEKS ISRAELI ARRESTS OVER FLOTILLA RAID—(Jerusalem) According to CNN Turk, a Turkish prosecutor is seeking the arrest of 174 Israelis allegedly involved in the last year’s Mavi Marmara flotilla incident. The news organization has confirmed that Istanbul state prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci has written to the Justice Ministry calling for the arrest of those who carried out the raid and those who ordered it. Turkish-Israeli tensions continue to escalate, with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan saying last month that Turkish warships could be sent to the Eastern Mediterranean at any time and that Israel could not do whatever it wants there. Turkey has already downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and halted defense trade after the Jewish state reiterated it would not apologize for the Mavi Marmara raid. (Ynet News, October 13.)

 

VIOLENCE SHARPENS SYRIAN CONFLICT—(New York) The uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is increasingly breaking into armed clashes that activists and diplomats worry could escalate beyond a point of no return. Roadside bombings, assassinations and other attacks have risen to new levels despite efforts by Syria’s opposition leaders to keep protests nonviolent. Last week, the Arab League held an emergency meeting on Syria, which resulted in the 22-member body calling on Assad to hold talks with the opposition in Cairo and come to a cease-fire agreement within 15 days. Syria’s government rejected the initiative. According to the UN, the death toll in Syria now exceeds 3,000. (Wall Street Journal, October 19.)

 

GILAD SHALIT’S EGYPTIAN TV INTERVIEW COMES UNDER FIRE IN ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) Israeli officials have harshly criticized an Egyptian television interview with Gilad Shalit minutes after Hamas militants freed him in a prisoner swap, saying the questioning was inappropriate and insensitive. In the interview aired on Egyptian state television, a pale, uncomfortable looking Shalit appeared to struggle to speak at times, and his breathing was noticeably labored as he awkwardly answered questions. Armed Hamas militants appeared during the interview, with one standing behind Shalit’s chair, wearing a black face mask and a green headband of the Qassam brigades, Hamas’ military wing. Only after the interview was Shalit handed over to Israeli officials and given a medical examination. (Haaretz, October 18.)

 

EGYPT COURT BARS OPPOSITION HOPEFUL—(Cairo) An Egyptian court has ruled that Ayman Nour, a leader of Egypt’s revolution, is not eligible to participate in presidential elections because of a prior conviction on trumped-up charges that he forged the signatures required to form his political party. The exclusion of a prominent pro-democracy activist like Mr. Nour, while politicians from the former ruling National Democratic Party register unimpeded for parliamentary elections, strikes many activists as a blow to secular-minded politicians and another signal of a failing revolution. In recent weeks, Egyptian politicians have sharply criticized the interim military council for not doing enough to accelerate the transition to democracy, sparking concerns that the military leadership is hoping to extend its authority. (Wall Street Journal, October 17.)

 

EGYPT INTERCEPTS LIBYAN SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILES IN SINAI—(Jerusalem) Egyptian security officers have confirmed the interception of Gaza-bound surface-to-air missiles smuggled from Libya through the Sinai Peninsula. Weapons smuggling from Libya has increased since the fall of former Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi, who held weapons caches throughout the country. “Weapons are available in Libya as a result of the unstable situation there, and Hamas has exploited it to buy weapons from Libyan smugglers,” Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon affirmed. Both Israel and the US have put pressure on Egypt to beef up security in the Sinai, used by terrorists this past August to launch a terrorist attack on Southern Israel, and where militants have blown up the natural gas pipeline running from Egypt to Israel six times since the ousting of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. (Jerusalem Post, October 14.)

 

ARAB RALLY: REDEEM AL-AQSA WITH BLOOD—(Jerusalem) Approximately 30,000 Arab Israelis have taken part in a rally titled “Al-Aqsa Mosque in Danger,” vowing to “redeem” the holy Muslim site in Jerusalem “with blood.” The event was organized by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in the town of Umm al-Fahem. Participants chanted “Allahu Akbar” and “we shall redeem you with blood and spirit, oh al-Aqsa.’“ Referring to the Shalit prisoner swap, the Islamic Movement’s deputy chief, Sheikh Kamel Khatib, said: “The Shalit deal is a historic revolution that comprises the entire Palestinian people—from Jerusalem and from Gaza.” During the rally, thousands of participants called for the release of more Arab Israelis in the framework of the Shalit deal. (Ynet News, October 14.)

 

PALESTINIAN OFFICIAL IN CANADA SENDS OUT OFFENSIVE “TWEET”—(Toronto) A Palestinian envoy in Canada, Linda Sobeh Ali, has received an official rebuke for disseminating a video which shows a tearful Palestinian girl reciting a poem that calls on millions to join “a war that raze[s] the injustice and oppression and destroy[s] the Jews.” In response, Ottawa has lodged a formal complaint with the Palestinian Authority, with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird saying “Canada expects the Palestinian Authority to appropriately deal with this serious transgression. We have taken the decision to limit communication with this official until a replacement is selected.” (JTA, October 19.)

 

ANTI-SEMITISM TAINTING “OCCUPY WALL STREET” PROTESTS—(Jerusalem) Several anti-Semitic incidents have been reported during the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations in New York, with Jews being blamed for the turmoil in America’s financial markets. The “Emergency Committee for Israel” has published a video clip depicting the attack on Jews and the Jewish state [Please see “On Topics” below to view the video—Ed.]. Signs that have been seen at the protests include, “Gaza supports the occupation of Wall Street,” “ Jews Control the Banks,” and “Hitler’s Bankers”. In response, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement urging “organizers, participants and supporters of these rallies to condemn such bigoted statements clearly and forcefully.”(Ynet News, October 16 & Contentions, October 18.)

 

ISRAEL LAW CENTER HOTLINE TO MONITOR CAMPUS ANTI-SEMITISM—(Jerusalem) The Israel Law Center (Shurat Hadin) has launched a hotline which will allow Jewish students to report incidents of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on US college campuses. According to attorney Kenneth A. Leitner, the Law Center’s director of American affairs, the Law Center will use the information collected to take legal action against colleges believed to be breaching Jewish students’ legal rights. “It is time for us to go on the legal offensive,” said Leitner, who noted that the trend of campus anti-Semitism is growing. US colleges will also receive a “report card” grading them according to their commitment to providing Jewish students with a safe and welcoming learning environment. Students in the US can call the Israel Law Center Campus Hotline at (718) 907-9258.(Jerusalem Post, October 16.)

On Topic

Anti-Semitism tainting Occupy Wall Street protests  - Israel News, Ynetnews Ynet News, October 16, 2011
VIDEO
Anti-Semitism tainting Occupy Wall Street protests - Israel News, Ynetnews
Saving ‘Private’ Schalit and the ... JPost - Opinion - Columnists Jerusalem Post, October 18, 2011
Gil Troy
Saving ‘Private’ Schalit and the ... JPost - Opinion - Columnists
Roya Hakakian: How Iran Kills Abroad - WSJ.com Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2011
Roya Hakakian
Roya Hakakian: How Iran Kills Abroad - WSJ.com
Schalit story an intelligence failure -  JPost - Opinion - Op-Eds Jerusalem Post, October 18, 2011
Ben Caspit
Schalit story an intelligence failure - JPost - Opinion - Op-Eds

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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