Friday, May 28, 2010


[All notes by Tom Gross – May 25th]

In recent days, the international media, particularly in Europe and the Mid East, has been full of stories about “activist boats sailing to Gaza carrying desperately-needed humanitarian aid and building materials.”

The BBC World Service even led its world news broadcasts with this story at one point over the weekend. (The BBC yesterday boasted that its global news audience has now risen to 220 million persons a week, making it by far the biggest news broadcaster in the world.)

Yet the BBC and other media fail to report on the fancy new restaurants and swimming pools of Gaza, or about the wind surfing competitions on Gaza beaches, or the Strip’s crowded shops and markets.

No, this would spoil their agenda. Playing the manipulative game of the BBC is easy. If we had their vast taxpayer funded resources, we too could produce reports about parts of London, Manchester and Glasgow and make it look as though there is a humanitarian catastrophe throughout the UK. We could produce the same effect by selectively filming seedy parts of Paris and Rome and New York and Los Angeles too.

Of course there is poverty in Gaza. There is poverty in parts of Israel too. (When was the last time a foreign journalist based in Israel left the pampered lounge bars and restaurants of the King David and American Colony hotels in Jerusalem and went to check out the slum-like areas of southern Tel Aviv? Or the hard-hit Negev towns of Netivot or Rahat?)

But the way the BBC and other prominent Western news media are deliberately misleading global audiences and systematically creating the false impression that people are somehow starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel’s fault, can only serve to increase hatred for the Jewish state – which one suspects was the goal of many of the editors and reporters involved in the first place.


If you drop by the Roots Club in Gaza, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook for Gaza and the West Bank, you can “dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu”.

The restaurant’s website in Arabic gives a window into middle class dining and the lifestyle of Hamas officials in Gaza.

And here it is in English, for all the journalists, UN types and NGO staff who regularly frequent this and other nice Gaza restaurants (but don’t tell their readers about them).
Please take a look at the pictures on the above website. They are not the kind of things you see in The New York Times or CNN or in Newsweek, whose international edition last week had one of the most disgracefully misleading stories about Gaza I have ever seen, portraying it in terms which were virtually reminiscent of Hiroshima after a nuclear blast.

In case anyone doubts the authenticity of this information (which is up on the club’s own website), I just called the club in Gaza City and had a nice chat with the manager who proudly confirmed business is booming and many Palestinians and international guests are dining there.
In a piece for The Wall Street Journal last year, I documented the “after effects” of a previous “emergency Gaza boat flotilla,” when the arrivals were seen afterwards purchasing souvenirs in well-stocked shops.

And please see here for more pictures of Gaza’s “impoverished” shops.


While Western media, misled by corrupt and biased NGOs, continue to report on a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports on the Olympic-size swimming pool that opened in Gaza last week.

As reader Joy Wolfe of Manchester, England, a subscriber to this list, points out to me in an email: “How does an area that claims to be starved of water and building materials and depends on humanitarian aid build an Olympic size swimming pool and create a luxury lifestyle for some while others are forced to live in abject poverty as political pawn refugees?”

Another reader, Barry Shaw, writes from the Israeli town of Netanya:
“Gaza City recently opened an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Netanya does not have a municipal Olympic pool. Neither does Ashkelon, or Sderot. Gaza City is part of the Palestinian territory operated by the Islamic terror regime, Hamas. Netanya has been hit by repeated Palestinian suicide attacks, car bombings, and terrorist gunmen that have left over fifty of its citizens dead and more than three hundred injured. The Palestinians receive record amounts of international funding. The victims of Palestinian terror get nothing.”

Another subscriber, Michael Horesh, points out, “The Financial Times of London, a leading media beacon in international money matters and no friend of Israel, observes that ‘Branded products such as Coca-Cola, NescafĂ©, Snickers and Heinz ketchup are both cheap and widely available in Gaza… [as are] Korean refrigerators, German food mixers and Chinese air conditioning units.’”


While middle class Palestinians plead poverty and receive excessive amounts of international funding, elsewhere in the world (in places like Congo and Zimbabwe and Bangladesh) millions of children really are dying of starvation and disease, all but ignored by those very same governments and aid agencies that pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the Palestinian coffers.

Of course, there is a whole industry of people (UN and EU staff, NGO workers, journalists) who make their living and have a vested interest in continuing to propagate lies about Gaza and West Bank.

As the boats of “humanitarian aid activists” (including a number of European politicians and journalists) left Turkey on Saturday I wonder if they understood what the crowd was chanting.
The crowd shouted: “Intifada, intifada, intifada!” “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Mohammed will return!”


The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports (May 18, 2010):

“Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza’s first Olympic-standard swimming pool was inaugurated at the As-Sadaka club during a ceremony on Tuesday held by the Islamic Society.

“Gaza government ministers, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, leaders of Islamic and national governing bodies, as well as club members and athletes were among those at the opening ceremony, where Secretary-General of the Islamic Society Nasim Yaseen thanked the donors who helped realize the project.

“Yaseen praised the As-Sadaka club for a number of wins in international and regional football, volleyball and table tennis matches.

“As-Sadaka athletes performed a number of swimming exercises in the new pool to mark its opening.”


(No, it wasn’t a rampaging mob of American supporters of Israel on an AIPAC lobbying trip.)
A UN-run summer camp for Palestinian children was burned to the ground on Sunday and the UN staff threatened with murder. Tens of thousands of Gazan children were due to attend the camp this summer, as they have every summer in recent years.

This is a rare occasion when the international media did report on Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence, although most downplayed any criticism of Hamas or other Islamists in their reports.

The BBC reported online:

Masked gunmen have attacked a UN summer camp being set up for children in the Gaza Strip, UN officials say.

The attackers burned tents and destroyed other equipment after tying up a guard.
They also left a letter threatening the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), John Ging…

“The armed men torched the camp, which contained recreational equipment and swimming pools, and completely destroyed it,” UNRWA spokesman Abu Hasna told journalists.

The camp is one of dozens of beach facilities set up by the UN offering a summer programme of arts, sport and other activities for some quarter of a million children in the Gaza Strip…

CNN explained that the Islamists of Gaza object to the fact that boys and girls were due to participate in activities together at the camp:

CNN began its online report: “A U.N.-sponsored summer camp in Gaza was burned Sunday hours before it was due to open, witnesses said, blaming Muslim extremists who apparently object to boys and girls going to camp together.”

Reuters also reported:

“About 20 men, some carrying assault rifles, tore up large plastic tents and burned storage facilities at the site, where tens of thousands of children are due to attend camp sessions…

“Two days earlier, a previously unknown militant group, The Free of the Homeland, issued a statement criticizing the camp’s organizer, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), for, ‘teaching schoolgirls fitness, dancing and immorality.’”
The Al-Jazeera report online adds:

“Dozens of armed attackers also vandalized bathrooms… and assaulted a guard and tied him up… the men also left a letter with four bullets, threatening the agency’s Gaza director and sending a chilling message to the camp’s organizers.”


In an editorial, The Jerusalem Post reflects on the atrocious human rights situation in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and notes that “an iron curtain of a strict theocracy is slowly descending on Gaza, but many human rights proponents still prefer to depict it as the embattled bastion of freedom fighters…

“Both foreign governments and NGOs, in their inaction, are signaling to Hamas that domestic oppression by its tyrannical regime is tolerable so far as the international community is concerned,” said the paper.


Following a meeting between IDF OC Central Command and Palestinian security officials yesterday, Israel has announced the further dismantling of 60 roadblocks and the easing of travel throughout the West Bank. Most West Bank roadblocks have been dismantled since the government of Benjamin Netanyahu assumed power in Israel last year.

The Israelis explained that the success of the Palestinian security forces in fighting terror led to the decision to ease restrictions.

The IDF pointed out, however, that it will “continue to operate firmly against terrorism while sustaining liaison and coordination with Palestinian officials, in order to maintain the life routine and security of all residents” of the West Bank and Israel.


Israeli President Shimon Peres yesterday accused the British paper The Guardian of telling blatant lies about Israel in a front page story that slandered Israel in general, and Peres in particular.

It is quite something when the president of a country sees the need to criticize a foreign newspaper for failing to maintain elementary journalistic standards – failing to ask for his response before publishing a massive defamation of him, for example. But such are the depths to which The Guardian sunk yesterday. (As I noted on this email list, The Guardian recently had to apologize for running a notorious organ trafficking libel about Israel.)

Additional Israeli government sources added that “documents that Guardian journalist Chris McGreal – who has a long track record of writing anti-Israel pieces – used to run his story are completely fabricated.” (The alleged documents come from a new book by a publicity-seeking anti-Zionist American researcher.)

The story concerned an alleged offer to sell arms, including nuclear warheads, by Israel to South Africa in 1975. Quite why The Guardian decided this is now lead front-page breaking news 35 years later, is beyond me, given how much real current news there is in the world.
Of course, The Guardian has nothing to say about the arms sales by Britain and many other Western countries to Apartheid South Africa in the 1970s. Could its continuous singling out of Israel perhaps be because Israel is a Jewish state?

Monday, May 24, 2010

PA launches diplomatic intifada


A furious Jerusalem on Thursday denounced a declared Palestinian Authority effort to isolate Israel and eventually have it expelled from the UN as both outrageous and risible.

“Israel is not going to be kicked out of the UN,” said a senior Israeli official. “This is ridiculous.”

He was speaking after the PA announced that it was stepping up its diplomatic and economic “intifada” against Israel.

The idea of intensifying a campaign of delegitimization, leading ultimately to Israel’s UN expulsion, was unveiled on Wednesday night by Nabil Shaath, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and one of the chief architects of the Oslo Accords.

Speaking at a conference in Ramallah, Shaath said: “There is a need to create and endorse new struggling tools, such as the popular resistance, and to increase our efforts in the international arena to isolate and punish Israel, prevent it from deepening its relations with the European Union and attempt to expel it from the United Nations.”

The “nature of the Jews and the Holocaust in Germany helped Jewish communities establish strong strategic ties with countries that have influence in the international arena,” added Shaath, a former PA foreign minister who is closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Israeli official said such a campaign stood “in complete contrast to the peace process.”

He added: “You can’t on one hand say you want peace with Israel, and on the other hand act to delegitimize us. This is unacceptable and raises questions as to the Palestinian commitment to peace and reconciliation.”

The official said that Israel would raise these issues in the proximity talks, as it already did on Thursday during the talks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US envoy George Mitchell, when Netanyahu protested against the Palestinians failed effort to block Israel’s admittance into the OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

“We will put these issues front and center in our talks,” the official said. “This is totally contradictory to a successful peace process and demonstrates that parts of the Palestinian leadership are stuck in a conflict mindset and are incapable of moving toward peace and reconciliation.”

The official pointed to the PA’s OECD campaign as evidence that there was no chance of Israel losing its seat on the world body.

“At the OECD they only needed to win one vote out of 31 to block our entrance, and were unable to get it,” he said.

The problem was not that the Palestinians might succeed, he added. The problem was the negative mindset that these attempts represented.

Orchestrated by the PA government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the new Palestinian “uprising” also calls for “peaceful demonstrations” in the West Bank against settlements and the security barrier and waging a total boycott of all products manufactured in the settlements.

At the Ramallah conference, which was also broadcast to the Gaza Strip, Shaath called on Palestinians to intensify pressure on Israel through nonviolent means.

“We need to continue and step up the pressure on Israel, regardless of whether the peace talks are resumed or not,” he said. “We need to rally international support for our cause and impose sanctions on Israel. We must pursue Israel in all international bodies and institutions.”

Shaath said Fatah’s declared strategy was “to endorse a growing nonviolent popular struggle” against Israel, in light of the fact that the “armed struggle” had become impossible and undesirable at this phase.

He said that during a recent visit to Gaza he told Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh that “Arab, regional and international circumstances don’t allow us to launch an armed struggle against Israel.”

Therefore, he added, the Palestinians should mobilize their energies to wage a “peaceful resistance” against Israel by isolating it and stepping up the pressure on it.
The nonviolent struggle was “not less honorable than the armed struggle and does not mean surrender to Israeli conditions,” Shaath said.