Sunday, January 25, 2015

25-Jan-15: Summing up the life of an absolute monarch in the mainstream media

Union Jack at half mast over Westminster Abbey
expresses British mourning at passing of
Saudi 'reformer' [Image Source]
This is not a blog post about Saudi Arabia or about its recently deceased absolute ruler. It's about how the people who own, operate and manage the news media sometimes deal with uncomfortable realities.

First, let's set the tone with some comments from VOX ['The obscenity of calling Saudi King Abdullah a “reformer”' | Zack Beauchamp | January 23, 2015]
  • Saudi Arabia's deceased King Abdullah, according to just about every obituary in major Western publications, was a reformer. The New York TimesWashington PostBBC, and NPR all describe Abdullah as a ruler committed to reforming Saudi Arabia's notoriously repressive practices. Sen. John McCain called Abdullah an advocate for peace; IMF head Christine Lagarde called him a "strong advocate for women"...
  • The Saudi political system, a blend of absolute monarchy and Islamic extremism, has one of the world's worst human rights records. There is no democracy and basic freedoms are limited… It punishes dissidents, including currently with multiple rounds of publicly lashing a blogger, amputates hands and legs for robbery, and enforces a system of gender restrictions that make women not just second-class citizens, but in many ways the property of men.
  • Abdullah did not, in fact, make any fundamental reforms to the Saudi state, which remains one of the most oppressive and inhumane on earth... Abdullah's reputation as a reformer comes from some relatively limited policy shifts he made.
  • Praising Abdullah as a reformer, in addition to being misleading, seems to imply that Saudi Arabia should be held to a lesser standard than the rest of humanity, and that its citizens should be somehow grateful for Abdullah's minor adjustments to a system that remains cruelly unjust… 
Now bearing in mind that the flags fluttering above London's Westminister Abbey, Buckingham Palace and Whitehall are all "flying at half mast as a mark of respect", let's survey how this man's life and achievements were summed up this week in the headlines of the major media outlets.
The king's personal net wealth was estimated [Wikipedia] at $21 billion. Most of the ministries of the Saudi government are headed by members of his family. And his replacement as head of state is rumored (according to an item in Friday's New York Times) "to be senile, but similar rumors swirled about Abdullah and he was still hailed as a heroic statesman around the world".  (And here's a link to a December 2013 article in the New York Post, "Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup".)

Friday, January 23, 2015

23-Jan-15: What's said in London stays in London: Jordan's now-you-see-it-now-you-don't war on terror

Jordan's foreign minister [Image Source]
How firmly does the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon oppose terrorism? Very, according to its foreign minister. At least, it does when he's speaking in foreign places to foreign audiences.

From the Jordan Times today:
Kingdom renews anti-terror stand in London meeting | Jan 22, 2015 | LONDON — Jordan on Thursday reiterated its position on the war against terrorist organisations as a defence of its own security and religious beliefs. In remarks at a London-hosted meeting of partners in the international coalition fighting terrorists in Iraq and Syria, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said that combating extremists and their ideologies is aimed at defending Islamic values of tolerance, moderation and rejection of violence... Judeh stressed that whoever supports extremist ideology or tries to justify it is an “enemy”.
From on the ground in Jordan, reality probably feels a little different from the lofty policy statements conveyed in those grand sentences delivered in the UK.

As we pointed out a few days ago, over at the Arab world's most important and promising graduate school for journalists, the Jordan Media Institute (founded and presided over by the king's sister-in-law, previously a reporter with CNN), the students very publicly declared a mass-murdering terrorist to be their "success model" in December. From what we have learned, it seems they really meant it.

As for the management of the JMI, which depends on foreign aid for its operations, they appear to be in full backside-covering mode. Our perceptions are they are far more interested in trivializing the danger, using slogans and empty words to imply positive action when there is none, and resorting to pathetic fig-leaf tactics to cover up the JMI’s moral nakedness and their tolerance of Islamist terror.

The real wonder is not that this is happening but that so many foreign governments and major NGOs, made aware by us of what has happened and what is not happening, are more interested in looking away than in tackling the pathology. If they are going to continue to provide the JMI with their patronage with or without their cash, their citizens and supporters need to know that. We intend to continue to aid that process. Here's additional background: 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

22-Jan-15: Sleeping lions, hidden vipers: Jewish anxieties are rising in London

Stamford Hill, London: Haredi men walk home from prayer
services last Shabbat [Image Source
Jewish life in Europe is going through its most testing phase since the end of the Nazi Holocaust in the Eastern and Central parts of the continent. As happens when people pass through periods of great historic significance, the implications are unclear and confusing now. Time will provide the perspective and context that are eluding people for now. But the signs are there if we only give them our attention.

Several immediate instances to share, all relating to the UK. The first is from a month ago, before the latest murderous outbursts of Islamist violence in Paris:
BBC chief: Anti-Semitism makes me question Jews’ future in UK Times of Israel | December 21, 2014 | The director of BBC Television said rising anti-Semitism has made him question the long-term future for Jews in the UK. Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, Danny Cohen said the past year had been the most difficult for him as a Jew living in the United Kingdom. “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually. Because you feel it. I’ve felt it in a way I’ve never felt before actually,”... “And you’ve seen the number of attacks rise. You've seen murders in France. You've seen murders in Belgium. It’s been pretty grim actually. And having lived all my life in the UK, I’ve never felt as I do now about anti-Semitism in Europe.”
Cohen, who grew up and went to school in London — including to a Jewish elementary school — is a TV whiz kid. Still only 40, he was previously the controller of BBC1 TV, the youngest appointee to that post, before taking over a director of BBC Television last year.
London: Armed police on the streets [Image Source]
Yesterday, we saw some quantitative evidence to back up the BBC man's gut feel:
Scotland Yard reveals huge rise in antisemitic crime in London | Rosa Doherty | The Jewish Chronicle | January 21, 2015 | Hate crimes against Jews in London have more than doubled, according to the latest figures from Scotland Yard. The statistics showed there were 299 hate crimes against Jewish people between the start of April and the end of December. That represented a rise of 128 per cent on the same period in 2013, when there were 131 hate crimes. The period in question included the months during the Gaza conflict last summer which led to a substantial increase in antisemitic incidents in Britain. Police said last week that they were increasing patrols in areas with large Jewish communities following the terror attacks in Paris. Scotland Yard said officers were continually liaising with the community. They said they were also reviewing overall security measures and looking at the safety of other minority communities including Muslims, as well as the force’s own officers. Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said: “The global picture of terrorist activity does give us heightened concern about the risk to the Jewish community in the UK. We are seeing continuing antisemitic rhetoric from extremists and attacks on this community in France and elsewhere.” The new data shows overall hate crime was up 22 per cent to 9,103 incidents between April and the end of December.
While there will always be parts of the mass media that put a sensational spin on the events of reality (for instance, "Britain on beheading alert: Security stepped up for police and Jewish schools", Daily Mail, January 16, 2015; "Could London suffer an attack like Paris? British Jews on alert" in Haaretz, January 15, 2015), it's plain that reality is going through some seriously impactful changes.

Here below, captured inside a London Jewish school (established by Holocaust survivors, it's worth noting) by the BBC, is how those statistics and anecdotes and the visceral anxiety all translate into reality for Jewish children in today's United Kingdom.

As you will hear, they are being taught to act like sleeping lions which may sound morale boosting and vaguely uplifting. It's the exact opposite, and you can hear that the children know it. Click below for the radio program audio, or click here to go to the BBC article page.

One more angle.

When a branch of the J. Sainsbury supermarket chain in London removed all its identifiably-kosher products from  shelves during this past summer, the branch manager of the store in Holborn, central London, justified the astonishing move because of "fears that anti-Israeli protesters would attack it".

A report at the time ["Sainsbury's removes kosher food from shelves amid fears over protesters", The Guardian, August 17, 2014] illustrated how perfectly normal such measures can seem if you are in the mood for them:
"...A staff member defended the decision, saying: "We support Free Gaza"...  A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said it was "an absolutely non-political organisation" and said the food was returned to the shelves "as soon as was practically possible". "It was an isolated decision made by in a very challenging situation," she said. "It was chilled food and he was simply trying to preserve it." ...There would be no investigation or action taken against the branch manager. "It was the manager's decision there and then – not company policy at all. We have had similar demonstrations at stores where people have gone in and removed goods, though no great damage was done. A decision was taken by a store manager faced with a challenging situation outside the store."
In London and the UK and probably Europe too, we fear Jews can expect business managers and public officials to pay very close attention to the preservation of chilled food, and possibly a little less to the rights of people in those societies to go about their lives free of hateful intimidation and life-threatening violence.

The Jewish future in Europe is not what it used to be, and probably never will be again.

22-Jan-15: "I Am Knife"

Israeli victim of the knife-man's frenzied terror attack yesterday
on a Tel Aviv bus [Image Source
From the Daily Mail UK, January 21, 2015:
A hashtag that states 'I am knife' has begun trending on Twitter as hardline users take to social media to heap praise a Palestinian man who stabbed 11 people on a bus in Tel Aviv. The messages are an attempt to reappropriate the hashtag of solidarity - #JeSuisCharlie - which swept the world in the wake of the terrorist massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices. However, the tweets - often accompanied by illustrations which depict the Palestinian flag and a bloody knife - are being posted in support of the stabber, who was shot by a prison officer after injuring 11 people in a brutal act of violence.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus, writing on The Jewish Press website today notes
The hatred of Israelis, of Jews, has become such a public experience, that people on social media appropriated the recent homage to those murdered at the French satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine, “#JeSuisCharlie, and created their own version: #JeSuisCouteau, which means “I Am Knife.” The people using this hashtag, frequently accompanied by grotesque cartoons of stabbed Jews or glorifying pictures of knives, are celebrating the vicious attack on Jews.
What follows are many examples of the tweets and Tumblr posts glorifying the weapon used to attack Israelis.
Please click through to see the sickening gallery of malevolence collected there. And then let's ask ourselves where the media outrage is.

Here's what we just tweeted:

Meanwhile a reminder of how none of this is mere polemics if you live in the area:
Police on Thursday arrested a Palestinian man who entered Israel illegally and attempted to stab officers dispatched to detain him. The officers apprehended the 22-year-old suspect in the central city of Ra’anana, and found a second knife on his person. No injuries were reported. [Times of Israel, this afternoon]
The foreign media will ignore this since the operating dictum for many of them is "If it bleeds, it leads" - but otherwise it's mere background noise. Or they will treat the terrorism aspect as if it were something subjective - not reality but mere claims. Like the editors at The Telegraph, UK did -

Those quote marks around 'terrorist' are the larger story.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

21-Jan-15: Knife-wielding attacker in central Tel Aviv

The bus and the emergency service
vehicles are on the right [Image Source: Via
Too soon to have all the details, but the reports on Israeli news bulletins during this morning's (Wednesday) rush hour are of a terrorist stabbing attack on a busy city bus traveling Tel Aviv's Route 5 [correction: it was probably Route 40 from Bat Yam to Tel Aviv's northern suburbs] right in the middle of the country's business center.

Times of Israel says a man, not yet identified,
pulled out a knife and started stabbing passengers... leaving at least 10 injured... Most of the victims were lightly injured, but there were reports of at least two in serious condition.
On radio, it's reported he stabbed the driver first, but this did not prevent him from opening the doors to allow passengers to get out.

Other numbers of victims are being reported, and the fact that the stabber ran, was shot but not killed, and is now bound and in the hands of interrogators. There are photos of him handcuffed and lying in mud.

Two of the terrorist's stabbing victims, according to Ynet, are critically injured.

The attacker, armed with a concealed knife and lunging at commuters on their way to work, is already the recipient of praise from an organization that cultivates such outrages: Hamas, while the victims are still bleeding in the street, calls it "a heroic and courageous act".

UPDATE 9:25 am Larger number of casualties, says Haaretz: 16 injured, of whom 6 "in serious condition". (Ynet at 10:30 this morning says "13 stabbed, four badly hurt".) If the injured were cartoonists, the editors of the world's major news outlets might be having an easier time referring to them as victims of terror and referring to the attacker, with no need for the use of doubt-sowing apostrophes, as a terrorist. It's nauseating to see how some of the most influential names in news are doing gymnastics to avoid those plain terms. Their agenda ought to be troubling us and their consumers/readers.

UPDATE Thursday January 22: From Times of Israel -
Hamza Matrouk, 23, of Tulkarem, told Shin Bet interrogators that he embarked on the stabbing spree in retaliation for Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer and the recent unrest on the Temple Mount. He admitted that he was motivated by watching radical Islamic television programs, and spoke of “reaching paradise.” Israeli security forces on Thursday raided three houses belonging to friends and relatives of Matrouk.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

20-Jan-15: Peering into the utter emotional turmoil

The Hebrew commentary of this revealing YouTube clip (hat tip to the 0404 news site for pointing it out) explains that the Arab woman sitting in front of the posse of photographers in Hebron and crying her eyes out on demand is the mother of the woman on the right who evidently can't stop giggling and laughing at the patent absurdity of the whole thing.

There's more background here, on the Israel National News site, and at the always informative Elder of Ziyon site, about the staging.

We're not suggesting all the video news coming out of the conflict between the Arabs and Israel fits the Pallywood paradigm, but it is surprisingly common. So too is the demonstrated willingness of news film crews and reporters to play along.

For an explanation of how Pallywood works, the blog site of Prof. Richard Landes, The Augean Stables, and its Pallywood section, gives a good intro. (Richard coined the term.)

20-Jan-15: From the warzone

Belgian armed troops guard a courthouse in Brussels [Image Source]
Berlin, todayAssociated Press: After two suspected members of an Islamic terror cell were taken into custody by German police this past Friday (see our post: "16-Jan-15: Scenes from a warzone"), thirteen homes, mostly in Berlin, were raided today by a force of some 200 police "looking for further evidence". Most are Turks, and members of a mosque in Berlin’s Moabit neighborhood, as are the two suspects already in the hands of the police. The group’s leader, identified only as Ismet D. because his privacy is a major pre-occupation of the German law, is accused of recruiting Turkish and Russian nationals to fight against “infidels” in Syria. Emin F. is accused of being in charge of finances. It appears the police think the group's plans did not include attacks within Germany and "were unrelated to the recent attacks in Paris or raids in Belgium". German citizens are doubtless hoping the security men and woman are right.

Paris: How confident ought we to be that sooner or later the authorities in Western Europe are going to get on top of the rapidly metastasizing spread of Islamist terror? CNN doesn't reach a conclusion but reports on a list of what it calls "mishaps" (intelligence failures might be a more useful term) that culminated in the January 7, 2015, Charlie Hebdo massacre.
  • French security ended its surveillance of one of the murdering brothers, Cherif Kouachi, in November 2013. They knew he had gotten into the business of selling counterfeit goods, but failed to realize this was how he was financing his purchase of the weapons arsenal discovered after he had been shot dead by police. So he was not on their radar for the year leading up to the execution of the lethal plan.
  • A French surveillance agency received an unspecified alert concerning one of the Kouachi brothers in February 2014. How long before this intelligence was passed on to the country's main domestic spy agency? A mere four months. By then, neither of the brothers was under surveillance. Presumably the intelligence was then trashed.
  • French surveillance on the other brother, Said Kouachi, ended in June 2014. Why? No one is volunteering an answer, at least not to CNN.
  • The authorities in France now say both Kouachis traveled from their homes in Paris to Yemen in 2011 via Oman. But note that Cherif Kouachi's passport had been officially confiscated in 2010. So how could he have gotten across the borders? And neither brother's name has been discovered in any of the relevant government databases of travelers. Which brings up the next point...
Europe: The Wall Street Journal noted yesterday that
"Borderless travel across most of the European Union makes it easy for suspects to cover their tracks. Terror suspects are exploiting the ease of travel across the Continent to stay one step ahead of authorities as they move militants, cash and weapons across the bloc without raising alarms, according to European officials. In some cases, suspects are evading tough antiterrorism laws in countries like France—where travel to Syria and Iraq has been banned—by moving through other EU countries en route to Syria or Iraq. The problem is compounded, officials say, by a lack of coordination between national law-enforcement and intelligence agencies from Brussels to Athens who are straining to pursue suspects across European borders."

Monday, January 19, 2015

19-Jan-15: The dilemmas of funding and enabling terror

This self-confessed murderer, honored as the "success model" of Jordan Media
Institute's journalism grad students, has her own weekly TV show on a Hamas
satellite channel. From studios in Amman, she incites and encourages terrorism
to a global audience. Here she demonstrates prison-friendly dinner recipes in
a video we found on YouTube.
For those following our efforts to expose the Jordan Media Institute, here's an update.

JMI is the 'center of excellence' school for aspiring journalists whose "best and brightest" graduate students published a homage to a confessed and convicted murderer in early December 2014. Under the headline Success Model, they paid tribute to a female journalism student who had planned and engineered a massacre in the center of Jerusalem in 2001 on behalf of Hamas.

The explosion inside the Sbarro pizzeria - augmented by the use of nails to make the bomb's devastating effect even more vicious - took the lives of our daughter and 14 other victims, most of them children. Easy to see why the upwardly-striving JMI cadre saw that particular woman with those specific achievements as their model for professional success, right? Their action speaks for itself.

The details of the JMI scandal are in several of our previous posts listed at the foot of this one.

We are pursuing the JMI because of what it and the scandal represent. For too long, and in too many cases, enthusiasm for terrorism is quietly excused or overlooked or ignored because it's perceived as being part of the landscape, something about which nothing can be done etc. There is never any excuse for that.

But the JMI case is different, special. It is happening at a proud, well-run, promising and potentially important pro-democracy, pro-human rights institution (according to its self-description) that encourages performance-monitoring and which exists because of generous encouragement, guidance, support and funding of well-intentioned Western governments and NGOs (we name them here) along with a number of businesses from the Arab world. Organizations with aspirations like these are not so easily found among Arab countries.

We have personally contacted nearly all those Western parties over the past three weeks and alerted them to what's dysfunctional there. We have told them in particular about the open adoration (in Arabic, not in English) expressed by JMI's students for a homicidal jihadist who keeps saying publicly how proud she is to have killed so many Jewish children. We have explained how the JMI has failed to condemn the obscene homage, preferring first to simply ignore it, then to hide it, and now, through euphemism and double-talk, to pretend that it has been adequately addressed and reversed.

In our letters, we suggested that the backers should express their protest by terminating further support for the JMI's work. We have requested, and several (though not all) have agreed, that they insist on their names and logos being removed from the JMI's Partners and Donors Page.

Yesterday, the Amman embassy of one of those governments replied to us via a courteous and comprehensive letter. Among the points it raised was an aspect we had not known about: the JMI management had invited its Western supporters in for a confidential discussion on January 13 and had used the opportunity to explain their version of events. (Note: Though we addressed our concerns and demands to the JMI itself via a polite letter, the only response was a one-line email from a senior figure there the tone of which was, to put it mildly, the opposite of helpful.)

We responded immediately to the ambassador's letter with one of our own on Monday. It is reproduced below. Because we have no wish to embarrass that ambassador's government or its strategies, the text is slightly doctored to conceal the specifics of the country whose embassy sent it.
January 18, 2015
Your excellency,

Thank you for your detailed response... As private citizens who have been educated through bitter personal experience about the workings of realpolitik, my wife and I have few illusions about our ability to change the policies of [your country], or any other government, on terrorism. We keep trying because it horrifies to us to see how easily the people who put a polite face on jihad are managing to fool those who fund and enable it. 

We suspect you now consider the scandal at Jordan Media Institute to be over. We have a different opinion and will keep pursuing a constructive response from the Western sponsors who make possible and defend the JMI’s work. Below, I offer some reactions to the points in your well-reasoned email (in the order in which they appear in your letter).
  1. As parents deeply devoted to their children, you and I share important values. I sincerely appreciate the personal sympathy you expressed. But you are not accurate when you describe me as "personally offended". My wife and I are infuriated by the dangerous games played by the JMI management in the past month. I remind you respectfully that the subject we are discussing is not some offensive cartoon or personal rudeness. It is support for terror and encouragement for the murder of Jewish children. It is possible you do not realize that the convicted and unrepentant murderer Tamimi is a household name in Jordan. The details of her crimes are well-known there and hugely admired. When the journalists of JMI declared her to be their "Success Model", it was not some minor slip. That they made it a showcase event and repeated it on every page of the important JMI Journalists website speaks for itself. It is an unambiguous warning of how those young people view the trajectory of their professional careers in journalism. Is there any doubt that they view themselves as fighting for what Tamimi represents? They say openly that she is their inspirationIgnoring the deeply malevolent reality at JMI is to guarantee that it keeps growing. And please bear in mind that their tribute to Tamimi was not meant to be seen by Western governments and NGOs – this is why it was published in Arabic only. My letters to several dozen of them during December (along with letters from others who learned the details via my published articles) are the reason it was taken down. Every other explanation is contradicted by the facts.
  2. You praise the JMI for creating a new generation of Arab journalists who “abide by the highest professional standards and moral values”. I am not so confident. I emailed the Director of Training at the JMI, Yasar Durra, at the suggestion of one of the Western ambassadors in Amman. I asked the questions that appear in my letter to you concerning the homage paid by his students to the sociopathic female jihadist. You will surely agree that those “highest professional standards” and “moral values” ought to have guided the actions of the very JMI person responsible for teaching them to young journalists. But Mr Durra’s reply to me in the name of JMI was nothing more than an insulting one-line note referring to junk mail. He did not refer to even one of the serious concerns I raised.
  3. “XXX and Human Rights” [not the actual name] is a great title for the JMI workshop in which your country took part. Now that I know about it, I propose this challenge to you. When even one journalism student of JMI writes an article in any language about the trampling of my 15 year-old daughter's human rights (no human right can ever surpass the right to remain alive) or those of any other victim of Tamimi, we can agree that the Embassy's money was well spent. At that moment, I will be happy to acknowledge that JMI is the "good, professional and adequate partner" that you describe.
  4. Once discovered, was the article removed from the webpage in question without further delay, as you write? Not exactly. The entire JMI Journalists website was taken down 3 days after my articles began to appear. In place of the incendiary tribute to my daughter’s murderer, those responsible placed a sign dishonestly claiming that the domain name had expired. This may seem trivial but the domain name was a year away from expiring. They used a silly lie to cover their red faces. They then restored the entire site a few days later, in mid December, minus the homage to Tamimi and without a single word of explanation. Had they wanted to clarify their policy, or apologize, or take a stand against jihad or terror or the murder of Jewish children, that would have been the perfect time to do it. They did not do any of those things. I imagine they hoped this fuss would just disappear. 
  5. It is true, as you write, that "JMI published a statement on the webpage stating that an article was removed from this webpage which did not meet JMI values and professional standards." In case they eventually realize how much damage it does, I have ensured it remains archived online here. You might not have noticed that their statement does not appear on the JMI website where funders might see it. It was posted exclusively on the JMI Journalists website. Furthermore, the language of the statement itself highlights the seriousness of their failure. Can you imagine a publication in [your country] using language like "values and professional standards" when they are dragged into the spotlight for praising murder and calling for acts of terror? It is incredible that the JMI people chose this way of demonstrating good faith and integrity.
  6. Until you mentioned it, I was not aware that an "explanation" was given to "donors and partners in a meeting on 13 January". It has not been reported anywhere, as far as I know. But what sort of explanation? To say that publishing a tribute to a celebrity terrorist amounts to "inadequate internal oversight procedures" is bizarre. Did they define what kind of "measures they intend to implement in order to avoid similar incidents in the future"? And when they refer to "similar events in the future" do they mean events like incitement to murder? Or do they really mean that they want to prevent their students from bringing more shame and dishonor to the JMI management and its fund-raisers?
  7. Some comments now about this paragraph of your letter. You write: At no moment in that process did I have the impression that JMI as an institution or its members took the issue lightly, were not aware of its implications or showed any complacency or complicity regarding the issue at hand. On the contrary, they showed willingness to acknowledge that something had gone wrong, to draw the appropriate conclusions from that experience and to redress the issue. They apparently took the matter as an opportunity for an internal discussion with their students on how to improve and learn further. If you are right about the mindset of the JMI management, we might have expected them to make a public statement on the JMI website where funders would see it but they did not. They might have addressed terrorism, jihad, Tamimi, incitement, intolerancebut they did not. They might have issued a press release or other truly-public statement but they did not. They might have published it in the English or other European languages but (as far as I am aware) they did not. They would have addressed the person who raised these matters (me) and answered what I wrote to them, which includes some specific demands, but they did not. Instead they discussed it internally, behind closed doors, using terms more appropriate to a boarding school coping with naughty children. 
  8. You are kind to write that “the memory” of my daughter Malki “has been a force for good in this context”. But on this, we have a profound and complete difference of opinion. 
When millions of people took to the streets of France last weekend, their actions said something precious about how terror is spreading everywhere and the determination of civilized society to fight and defeat the threat. In that spirit, the governments and NGOs whose names and logos are on the JMI's trophy page have a real opportunity to do something concrete to show they mean it. I am distressed to think that [your country]  – which has a proud record in fighting jihadism – has decided to ignore that opportunity and prefers to politely look the other way when encountering it at JMI.

Solidarity like that which brought political leaders and ordinary citizens out into the winter chill of Paris is deeply moving. But what is happening at JMI is the exact opposite. There, we are seeing the trivialization of the danger, the use of slogans and empty words to imply positive action when there is none, and the resort to pathetic fig-leaf tactics to cover up the JMI’s moral nakedness and their tolerance of Islamist terror.

As we continue our efforts to shine a bright light into that dark corner. my wife and I sincerely hope the government of [your country] chooses to publicly declare its rejection of the JMI’s actions, its failures and its lethal tolerance of Islamist terror.

Arnold Roth

The ambassador has not yet replied but we are hopeful of a thoughtful response. Meanwhile, to get familiar with the background events of the past month, have a look at our previous posts:

19-Jan-15: EU will appeal court decision to take Hamas off the terrorist list

Hamas front man, groper, smuggler of banknotes and promoter of
axe-murder attacks Abu Zuhri explains that Europeans are taking
immoral steps [Image Source]
The Council of the European Union decided today (Monday) 1that the EU is going to appeal a December 17 decision by the General Court of the European Union that said Hamas ought to be removed from the official EU blacklist for technical reasons only a lawyer or politician could love.

The short-term effect, according to this source, is that Hamas’s European assets, which had been in a state of temporary freeze for the past three weeks, are going to remain frozen till the judgement is handed down.

Hamas is not happy with being frozen:
"The European Union’s insistence on keeping Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations is an immoral step, and reflects the EU’s total bias in favor of the Israeli occupation,” 
says Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman and one-time mule, quoted by Aljazeera.

Meanwhile, nothing is certain and until that European court hears the appeal, the question of whether or not Hamas is a terrorist organization in the eyes of Official Europe remains (astonishingly) open.

It's quite something to hear a crude thug like Abu Zuhri mouth the words "immoral step" without having reporters laugh directly into his face. The man has some background which, in a civilized context, would have ensured he was given plenty of free time alone to entertain himself:
  • He was arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces in Gaza (before Hamas seized control by force) in 2007 for placing his hand on the thigh of a person sitting next to him in a car. He admitted the charges. The person was a woman, which in sociopathic societies of a certain kind means the consequences are mild.
  • A July 2014 video [here] captures him speaking to a Hamas-friendly TV presenter, arguing that the Hamas strategy of pushing its people to endanger their lives, their homes and their children by being human shields is "effective". This is one of the myriad reasons why Hamas is globally outlawed as a terrorist entity. 
  • He was investigated, and then suspended, by the Hamas leadership a month ago [source] for sexually harassing a foreign reporter. The reporter was again a female, so that the damage, if any, to his standing was liveable in the specific context of the society in which operates and whose sexual and moral values tend to the extremely flexible (depending natuirally on specifically who is doing what to whom).
  • And a month before that, in November 2014, Abu Zuhri publicly (as spokesperson for the thugs of Hamas) praised the terrorist killing of unarmed worshipers at prayer in a Har Nof, Jerusalem, synagogue. Hamas, said this especially loathsome man, called for more "operations" like it. 
Quite a piece of work.

19-Jan-15: Prosecutor who accused government officials of covering up terrorist massacre by Iran/Hezbollah is found dead

Families of victims of the 1994 Jewish community center
bombing mark anniversary in 2006 [Image Source]
An almost forgotten terrorist murder-by-bombing of innocent people in a Jewish community center building in the capital of Argentina is in the news again today 21 years later:
The AMIA bombing was an attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA; Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building. It occurred in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. It was Argentina's deadliest bombing ever. Argentina is home to a Jewish community of 200,000, the largest in Latin America and sixth in the world outside Israel. Over the years, the case has been marked by incompetence and accusations of cover-ups. [Wikipedia]
  • September 2004: All the local suspects, many of them officers of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police, were charged and then acquitted in September 2004. 
  • July 2005, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, better known today as Pope Francis, became a signatory on a petition calling for justice in the AMIA bombing case. 
  • August 2005: The judge in charge of the case, Juan José Galeano, was impeached and removed from his post on charges of "serious" irregularities due to mishandling of the investigation.
  • October 2006: The prosecutors appointed to the case, Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martínez Burgos, formally accused the government of Iran of directing the bombing, and Hezbollah of executing it. 
The Buenos Aires Jewish community center
after the explosion [Image Source]
This morning, it's reported in the Buenos Aires Herald that Alberto Nisman, one of those two prosecutors, was found dead in a pool of blood in his Buenos Aires apartment last night:
Nisman, who was expected to take part in a closed-door hearing in Congress on Monday to reveal the details of explosive allegations that involved President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, was found minutes before midnight... In January 2015, [he] filed a 300-page complaint accusing [Kirchner and Timerman] among other pro-government political figures of "covering up" Iranian citizens allegedly involved in the 1994 attack. Nisman said his accusations were based on phone taps on close political allies of Fernández, who he said conspired in a "sophisticated criminal plan" [in which] Iranian oil would be exchanged for Argentinian grain, while Argentina would cancel an international Interpol arrest warrant against... senior Iranian officials... He had revealed to some members of the opposition that he was ready to appear at the congressional hearing with more documents to back his allegations. Nisman had accused Fernández de Kirchner of ordering impunity for the Iranian suspects in the 1994 AMIA attack in order to boost trade with Tehran. According to Nisman, Argentina wanted to import oil and export grains Iran. Government allies had been pushing for today’s congressional hearing to be open to the public. [Buenos Aires Herald, January 19, 2015]
He was due to testify this morning. They are saying it was suicide, but we hear from Argentina that no one takes that seriously. Seven years ago here in Israel he gave a revealing interview to a local reporter:
"I have no doubt that the most senior Iranian leadership, with the help of Hezbollah, is responsible for the attacks in Buenos Aires against AMIA [the community center in 1994] and the Israeli Embassy [in 1992]," Nisman said Tuesday night at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. While investigating the two attacks, Nisman found the necessary legal evidence pointing directly to former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and his chief of intelligence, Ali Falahian, for their role in the decision to target the community center... Nisman was appointed to head the investigation after it emerged in an Argentine court that the previous investigating judge, Jose Galiano, had paid some $400,000 to a key witness in the case to incriminate former policemen, while diverting blame from Iran and Hezbollah..." [Haaretz, December 19, 2007]
The reporter who did the interview, Yossi Melman, tweeted this morning that "In my 2007 interview Nisman who committed "suicide" accused his country's top officials of corruption to shut him up ..."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

18-Jan-15: Meanwhile on Israel's Syria front

It's too soon to know what is actually happening in southern Syria tonight. The Hezbollah-affiliated media are busy spinning their own reality while Israel, as usually happens in such situations, remains officially non-committal, with the media doing plenty of speculating and un-named insiders connecting dots in creative ways.

Lebanon's Daily Star reported during the Sunday evening hours that a military strike by Israeli forces in the general area of Quneitra in the Golan Heights scored a hit on two Hezbollah vehicles, destroying one, damaging another. Using the Lebanese paper's language, "a number of mujahedeens were martyred"; only some of the names have been publicized, adding to the confusion of what happened.

Quneitra has been the site of heavy fighting between forces loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime on one side, and forces connected to Al-Qaeda on the other. The Daily Star article does not say it, but the battle raging in the vicinity is over control of  a border crossing nearby which connects Syria to Lebanon, and therefore has real strategic value. Lebanese sources, not named by Daily Star, say Hezbollah's "top commander" Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the late Imad Mughniyeh is one of the dead. The older Mughniyeh's name is invoked frequently whenever Hezbollah announces plans for a 'revenge attack' or acknowledges having just done one. Imad Mughniyeh died as he walked past an exploding car in Damascus, Syria, in 2008. A Reuters obituary ascribes a long list of blood-soaked atrocities to him.

The son, evidently killed today, was mentioned in news reports just four months ago that said he had become Hezbollah’s Golan District commander. The same source said Jihad Mughniyeh was "close to current Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, his father’s brother-in-law and successor Mustafa Badreddine and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps". AP estimates he was about 25 years old.

Another of the dead is Mohammad Issa, a senior field commander for Hezbollah, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Issa. He was the commander responsible for Hezbollah's Syrian and Iraqi operations, according to this report.

Then the startling revelation that another of the dead is "Iranian field commander Abu Ali Tabtabai", about whom we will probably be hearing soon. Other names: Mahdi Nasser al-Moussawi, Ali Fouad Hasan, Ghazi Ali Dawi, Hussein Hasan Hasan and Hussein Ismail al-Ashhab. What were those 'mujahedeen' doing there? Busy with "an inspection mission", says the Lebanese paper. 

Ynet quotes an unnamed Israeli official confirming today's attack which "targeted terrorists planning attacks against Israel." That's about the extent of Israeli comment tonight.

The Hezbollah media arm, Al-Manar, led its evening news bulletin with a item that calls the Israeli strike "a foolish venture" that reflects Israel's "madness" in light of Hezbollah's growing military might and that could lead to a costly adventure that puts the entire Middle Eat region in jeopardy."

The head of Hezbollah, Hasan Nasrallah, is said to be about to deliver a speech tonight threatening Israel with retaliation via "a painful strike". His last round of warnings to Israel came just a few days ago, when he said Hizbullah
"has had Iranian Fateh-110 missiles that can hit the whole of Israel since 2006, adding that it is always ready to fight Israel."
A different source quoted Nasrallah just two days ago:
"The axis is capable of responding. This can happen any time... [Hezbollah has] "all (the weapons) you can imagine... and in great quantities... We are now stronger than we ever were as a resistance movement."
Iran, the nuclear face-off with the Americans: Syria, Hezbollah: commentators are going to have plenty of scope for unraveling the complexities in the hours and days ahead.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

17-Jan-15: Scenes from the warzone - Saturday update

Belgium, this week [Image Source]
Athens, today: AFP reports this evening that four people ("at least") were arrested in Athens today "as part of a probe into a jihadist cell that was dismantled in Belgium this week before it could carry out any attacks" according to a Greek police source. The arrests occurred in the Pangrati district of Athens in the middle of Saturday. They think, though there seems to be some doubt, that the arrested include Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of the cell planning the foiled attacks from Greece. These arrests come on top of dozens of others across Europe, in raids targetting Islamists.

Brussels, today: The BBC says uniformed soldiers were seen guarding Jewish schools and government buildings in Belgium today. Belgium's interior minister said his country "had to make use of all the forces at its disposal". The report quotes defence ministry officials saying 150 police are already in place, a figure that could double in the coming days until the situation is reviewed next week. Associated Press says they are currently protecting synagogues in Antwerp, the Jewish Museum in Brussels and other sites and include paratroopers, "the first time in 30 years that authorities used troops to reinforce police in Belgium’s cities".  Belgium's terror warning level now stands at 3, the second-highest level. Justice Minister Koen Geens said Saturday that “we hope the worst has been avoided but we need to prepare for the most difficult to come.”

London, Friday: An 18-year-old woman was arrested by anti-terror officers at Stansted Airport Friday on suspicion of terrorism offences. One British report quotes a Scotland Yard source saying she was taken to a central London police station for questioning on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts and membership of a banned organisation. It said authorities were not revealing at this stage where she was travelling from. The Daily Mail UK covers the same incident, and names "A-level student Silhan Ozcelik" who was 17 when she "went missing in October", and describes her as "Kurdish teenager, from Highbury Corner, North London."

Sydney, Friday: The Daily Telegraph reports that Australian authorities deported a man described as "a former Australian factory worker... who had also breached his visa" on Wednesday, and that he was promptly arrested in Malaysia on arrival there, on suspicion of running an Australian IS terror cell. Malaysia's Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division officials were waiting for the man when he arrived at Kuala Lumpur's International Airport Friday morning.  "The terror cell was reported to consist of the man and a married Malaysian couple who were also deported, on January 7, and also arrested on arrival [back in Malaysia]. They had reportedly travelled to Australia with their 14-month-old daughter [and were] recruiting Malaysian militants and sending them to Turkey and eventually Syria via Australia."

Friday, January 16, 2015

16-Jan-15: They're incubating terror-minded journalists in Jordan but they have an answer to all the criticisms

CNN's Jim Clancy, internationally renowned journalist and news anchor,
speaks to Jordan Media Institute journalists during a
May 2013 visit [Image Source]. His personal track-record has
some interesting angles (see here)

We wrote here over the past five weeks about some outrageous developments at a graduate school for aspiring journalists in Jordan founded by a former CNN on-camera reporter with the very considerable help of a number of Western governments, NGOs and corporate donors. 
10-Dec-14: In the Arab world's most promising new journalism school, a passion for murder and hatred11-Dec-14: Is it newsworthy when journalists make a terror-addicted murdering colleague their role-model?11-Jan-15: Does the king need to fly to Paris to stand with terror victims? He can do it better back in Jordan
Without retelling the story in detail, it's about an attempt to graft Western journalistic values onto a cadre of Arab journalists most of whom live and work in a country that the respected human rights watchdog organization Freedom House (in its 2014 update) calls “Not Free” with a score of 6 on a scale of 7 for freedom of the press. (7 is the worst score.) 

And Jordan is not on the road to getting better just yet: Reporters Without Frontiers, which also tracks press freedom, says Jordan’s authorities further tightened their existing grip on its media in the past year. Not a happy place in which to live or work.

So all things considered, the students fortunate enough to be accepted into the Jordan Media Institute are the beneficiaries of considerable foreign largesse, goodwill, sponsorship, guidance and opportunity. This is sure to turn them into reporters that any great metropolitan newspaper would be proud of, right?

Not so right. As we wrote here last month:
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.
In the weeks since then, we have made efforts to reveal this to the providers of “in-kind, financial or technical assistance” whose names and symbols or logos appear on the JMI's trophy wall here. A partial list includes these names:
We have made contact with all of them. Some have responded with great understanding, and have told us what they plan to do. Others - well, we plan to write about them soon.

Meanwhile, the JMI carried out a bogus exercise in hiding the offensive article by taking the site itself down, and then removed it from the site. (You can still it here. We took the trouble to ensure it remains archived and accessible, realizing that it might get hidden at some point, as indeed it was.)

We learned a few days ago that there has now been an official response by the JMI to the charges we published about their incubation of a new generation of young, terrorism-loving media professionals: the JMI published a retraction of their Ahlam Tamimi "success model" article on January 7, 2015 (here). 

But it's not close to what their supporters expected it to be and what their advisers thought they ought to do. It is in Arabic only. It appears only on the JMI Journalists website. No reference to it appears on the JMI's main (English-language, sponsor-focused) site. It mentions nothing about murder, terror, jihad, anti-semitism, hatred, racist intolerance, or Tamimi. It says nothing about the corrosive effect of jihad on the societies which host it. It says nothing about the immorality of murderous attacks on unarmed innocents, and particularly children. 

In fact, it steps carefully around all the issues,speaking instead in grotesque circumlocutions and euphemism. It is 100% fig leaf and 0% substanceHere's the English translation of its key paragraph:
The Institute has received complaints that drew our attention to an article published by one of the students on the "journalists" site, which is run by the students directly and dedicated only to showcase their work. After reviewing this article, it was revealed that it did not abide by the Institute’s values and professional standards therefore it was removed from the site. Here Jordan Media Institute would like to stress that it will continue its efforts to ensure the preservation of professional values and standards and respect them at all times.
For all the JMI's public statements about "preservation of professional values and standards and respect", the only response we have gotten from them has been an offensive one-line email from their director of training referring to junk mail and ignoring the issues.

Jordan's king and queen went to Paris on Sunday. They marched there in the very front row of the huge crowd, among the assembled global VIPs, and stood in solidarity with the "Je suis Charlie" masses. What did they mean? Truly, that's anyone's guess, and we have no interest in being rude or offensive about it. But if marching against the Islamist thugs of Paris was meant to have anything to do with stopping Islamist terror in their own home kingdom, then - as we wrote on Sunday - they would have done better to stay in Amman and do some homework.

As for the political leaders of the countries listed above (as well as the executive managements of the corporates and the NGOs) who have not yet condemned what the Jordanian Media Institute has done, is doing and has attempted to conceal: you know who you are and you know what civilized people ought to be doing now.