Weekend long read

1) Fatah vice-president Mahmoud al Aloul is profiled in a report by Yoni Ben Menachem at the JCPA.

“Mahmoud al-Aloul considers himself the heir to Mahmoud Abbas’ position of chairman of the Palestinian Authority. He is not in favor of dismantling the Palestinian Authority, and he sees its establishment as a national achievement. However, he supports adopting a tough stance against Israel. “The Palestinian Authority must deepen its opposition to the Israeli occupation,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, despite al-Aloul’s rivalry with Jibril Rajoub, who was appointed secretary-general of the Fatah movement and is essentially the organization’s “number three,” both men are working together against Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, a protégé of Mahmoud Abbas.

And both of them are working against Muhammad Dahlan, who is a shared political rival and is also claiming the crown of the Palestinian Authority.

Although Mahmoud al-Aloul is not considered as a threat to Mahmoud Abbas, he is a man with lots of experience with terrorist activities and assassinations.

According to senior Fatah officials, two years ago al-Aloul tried to assassinate Ghassan al-Shakaa, a member of the PLO executive committee and former mayor of Shechem, who died at the end of January 2018 from a malignant disease.”

2) Also at the JCPA, Pinhas Inbari explains why “The “After Abbas” Issue Intensifies Tensions among Fatah Top Brass“.

“The leaders of the Tanzim are each arming themselves and mustering within their individual areas. Jibril Rajoub is mobilizing the Hebron region, Mahmoud al-Aloul, Abbas’ official deputy, is organizing the Nablus region, and the Tanzim in Jenin have lost interest in the leadership in Ramallah and are effectively creating their own autonomy.

One of the names mentioned as a possible successor is senior security official Majid Faraj, who is responsible for security cooperation with Israel. His candidacy has aroused international support, but internally he is seen as a collaborator. While the internal balance system does not enable any decision to be made, Faraj can still get involved and stage a kind of coup. Standing against him, in all probability, will be Mohammed Dahlan and the residents of the refugee camps. Dahlan has invested a lot in the camps, and previous skirmishes between the official security forces and Dahlan’s “troops” concluded without a clear winner.”

3) A report by NGO Monitor addresses “The Exploitation of Palestinian Women’s Rights NGOs“.

The European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and various European governments provide funding and legitimacy to a plethora of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated specifically to women’s issues such as political, civic, and economic rights, gender-based discrimination and violence, education, support, and women’s healthcare. The number of women’s organizations has steadily risen since the 1960s (see Appendix 1), and today, there are dozens of local Palestinian NGOs meant to serve the needs of women from various sectors of society. […]

However, NGO Monitor research and analysis reveals that many of these organizations utilize their platform on women’s issues to promote politicized narratives that, in contravention to EU policy, are often rejectionist and violent, many times to the detriment of gender equality within Palestinian society. This trend can be largely attributed to a subordination of gender equality and/or female empowerment to Palestinian political agendas. This problematic phenomenon frequently leads to a disproportionate focus on Israel as the cause of gender inequality, while not paying adequate attention to internal, systemic practices within Palestinian society that are discriminatory against women. These include, but are not limited to, a biased legal system, inaccessible political hierarchy, and restrictive cultural traditions.”

4) At the Algemeiner Ben Cohen reports on a story that has not received any BBC coverage to date.

“Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is facing a potential double trial, as the latest twist in the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires left the legal immunity that she is now entitled to as a member of the Senate looking more vulnerable.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio ruled on Monday [March 5th] that Kirchner, ex-foreign minister Héctor Timerman, and ten other close aides will face trial over a 2013 pact with Iran that whitewashed Tehran’s responsibility for the AMIA bombing — one of the worst-ever terrorist atrocities in Latin America, in which 85 people died and hundreds more were wounded.”

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Weekend long read

1) At the Middle East Quarterly, Wolfgang G. Schwanitz discusses ‘The “Ottoman Balfour Declaration”‘.

“In October 1917, as British forces knocked at Jerusalem’s gates, the Ottoman authorities declared a string of draconian steps aimed at destroying the Jewish community in Palestine (the Yishuv). Should the Turks be driven from Palestine, threatened Djemal Pasha, governor of the Levant and one of the triumvirs who ran the Ottoman Empire during World War I, no Jews would live to welcome the British forces.

Less than a year later, on August 12, 1918, Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha, Djemal’s co-triumvir, issued an official declaration in the name of the Ottoman government abolishing these restrictions and expressing sympathy “for the establishment of a religious and national Jewish center in Palestine by well-organized immigration and colonization.”

Though issued far too late to have any concrete effect—nearly half a year after the British conquest of Palestine and some eighty days before the Ottoman surrender—the significance of the declaration cannot be overstated. Here was the world’s foremost Muslim power mirroring the British government’s recognition (in the November 1917 Balfour Declaration) of the Jewish right to national revival in Palestine, something that many Muslim states refuse to acknowledge to date.”

2) At the Algemeiner, Ben Cohen writes about a statement concerning the AMIA bombing case made by one of the political NGOs most frequently quoted and promoted by the BBC.

“The influential NGO Human Rights Watch rose to the defense of the previous Argentine government on Wednesday — two weeks after a federal judge indicted former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and several of her senior colleagues for allegedly colluding with Iran in the cover-up of Tehran’s responsibility for the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

In a statement, HRW claimed that there was “no evidence that would seem to substantiate those charges.”

“Relatives of victims of the AMIA terrorist attack deserve justice for this heinous crime,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at HRW. “But, instead of promoting accountability, this far-fetched indictment further tarnishes the credibility of the Argentine judiciary over the AMIA attack investigations.””

3) At the Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh reports on a new law in Iraq discriminating against Palestinians.

“Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Iraqi government has approved a new law that effectively abolishes the rights given to Palestinians living there. The new law changes the status of Palestinians from nationals to foreigners.

Under Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator, the Palestinians enjoyed many privileges. Until 2003, there were about 40,000 Palestinians living in Iraq. Since the overthrow of the Saddam regime, the Palestinian population has dwindled to 7,000.

Thousands of Palestinians have fled Iraq after being targeted by various warring militias in that country because of their support for Saddam Hussein. Palestinians say that what they are facing in Iraq is “ethnic cleansing.”

The conditions of the Palestinians in Iraq are about to go from bad to worse. The new law, which was ratified by Iraqi President Fuad Masum, deprives Palestinians living in Iraq of their right to free education, healthcare and to travel documents, and denies them work in state institutions. The new law, which is called No. 76 of 2017, revokes the rights and privileges granted to Palestinians under Saddam Hussein. The law went into effect recently after it was published in the Iraqi Official Gazette No. 4466.”

4) At Mosaic Magazine Professor Martin Kramer discusses “The Fantasy of an International Jerusalem“.

“In the uproar over President Trump’s announcement of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, one constant refrain has been the insistence that, by longstanding international consensus, the city’s status has yet to be decided. In the portentous words of the recent UN General Assembly resolution protesting the American action, “Jerusalem is a final-status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.”

The most “relevant” of those prior resolutions was the November 1947 resolution proposing partition of Palestine and envisaging, in addition to two independent states, one Arab and one Jewish, an entirely separate status for Jerusalem as a city belonging to no state but instead administered by a “special international regime.”

One might have thought that the wholesale Arab rejection of the entire partition plan, in all of its parts, would also have put paid to the idea of an internationalized Jerusalem. Evidently, however, this fantasy is too convenient to lie dormant forever.

That is why it’s useful to know that, almost exactly three decades before the 1947 UN plan, internationalization of Jerusalem was killed—and killed decisively. Who killed it? Thereby hangs a tale, but here is a hint: it was neither the Arabs, nor the Jews.” 

Weekend long read

1) Writing at the Independent, our colleague Adam Levick lays out “Five reasons why Trump recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel won’t destroy peace in the Middle East”.

“Amid the cacophony of reports, comments and tweets by Middle East analysts and world leaders on the US President’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and plans to relocate the embassy to the holy city, one broad conclusion seems to be shared by most: that it will serve as a “death knell” for the peace process. The decision, so the thinking goes, not only sends a signal to the Palestinians that the US is no longer “an honest broker”, but also prevents the possibility of a compromise over Jerusalem, one of the more contentious issues within negotiations for a final peace agreement.

However, as with so much thinking within the echo chamber of the elite about “root causes” of the impasse between the two parties, the alarmist reaction to the announcement from Washington regarding the injurious impact on peace seems divorced from reality, and ignores facts which run counter to the conclusion.”

2) At the Atlantic, former MK Einat Wilf explains how the approach to Israel’s capital city was for years influenced by a notion to which the BBC still clings.

“The United States recognized the State of Israel upon its independence, so it should have been straightforward for the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to establish its embassy there. If anything, it is the Jordanian annexation of the Old City and the way Jews were denied access that should have led to international consternation (it didn’t).

Why didn’t the U.S. and all other countries recognize residential, non-holy, west-of-the-armistice-line Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? At the time the U.S. was still attached to an idea, proposed in the United Nations partition resolution of 1947, that the vast area of greater Jerusalem (including residential neighborhoods) as well as Bethlehem should be a “Corpus Separatum,” a separate area that would be governed by the international community.

This fiction never existed anywhere but on paper. It never existed because the Arabs rejected the partition proposal and started a war to prevent it from being realized. When they lost that war, Jerusalem west of the armistice line became Israel’s, and Jerusalem east of the line came under Jordanian occupation and entered an extended period of disputed claims. So the U.S., while recognizing Israel within the armistice lines, chose a policy that held the status of Israel’s capital hostage to a fiction that never had a chance of existing.”

3) Matthew Levitt discusses the much neglected topic of Hizballah’s activities in Latin America.

“On July 19, 1994, the day after Hezbollah operatives blew up the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the group sent a suicide bomber to take down a flight on Alas Chiricanas Airlines, a Panamanian commuter airliner carrying mostly Jewish passengers, including several Americans. The case languished for years, but the FBI appears to have recently collected new information which, together with evidence gleaned from other current investigations, is likely to serve as the basis for a variety of actions aimed at Hezbollah, the lynchpin of the ITN and Iran’s most powerful proxy group.

But Hezbollah’s more recent moves in Latin America are very much a matter of interest for investigators, too. In October, a joint FBI-NYPD investigation led to the arrest of two individuals who were allegedly acting on behalf of Hezbollah’s terrorist wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO). At the direction of their Hezbollah handlers, one person allegedly “conducted missions in Panama to locate the U.S. and Israeli Embassies and to assess the vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships in the Canal,” according to a Justice Department press release. The other allegedly “conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City.”” 

4) At the Tablet, Paul Berman writes about Bernard-Henri Levi’s documentary Peshmerga.

“Realism, the doctrine, affirms that, in matters of international affairs, the strong count, and the weak do not. That is because realism entertains a utopia, which is that of stability. And stability can be achieved only by a concert of the big and the powerful. It cannot be achieved by the small and the weak. Therefore realism is hostile to rebellions for freedom, hostile to small nations, hostile to invocations of morality or principle—hostile with a good conscience, on the grounds that, in the long run, the stability of the strong is better for everyone than the rebellions of the weak. Realism is, in short, an anti-Kurdish doctrine.

What good are the Kurds, anyway? From a realist standpoint, I mean. They are good for short-term interests, and not for long-term interests. Kissinger used them in the 1970s, and then tossed them away. The Reagan Administration in the next decade was content to see them gassed by Saddam Hussein. And in our own time? We needed the Kurds to fight the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and they did fight. They are the heroes of the anti-Islamic State war. They ought to be parading in triumph along the boulevards of Manhattan and Paris.” 

AMIA bombing related Iran story gets no BBC coverage

The commemoration this week of the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA centre in Buenos Aires went unreported by the BBC’s English and Spanish language services.

That, however, is hardly surprising when one considers that since mid-2015 (when it produced a series of multi platform reports about the murder of prosecutor Alberto Nisman) there has been little if any BBC coverage of that ongoing story. That means that BBC audiences remain unaware of a development earlier this month.

“Official Iranian news outlets reported on Wednesday that the Tehran regime has agreed to work with Interpol, the global law enforcement agency, to “resolve” the “dispute” arising from the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were murdered and hundreds more wounded. […]

A report from ISNA – one of the regime’s several news agencies – said that Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi, met with Interpol’s Director-General Jurgen Stock in Tehran on Tuesday where they discussed the AMIA case. Stock was visiting the Iranian capital for a meeting of Project Kalkan, an Interpol initiative focused on counter-terrorism and narcotics smuggling in several countries in central Asia.

Araghchi stated Iran’s “readiness to cooperate with Interpol and Argentina for the proper settlement of the case, ‘AMIA,’” the ISNA report said.

But Araghchi also made clear to Stock his government’s displeasure with Interpol’s handling of the case, complaining about the outstanding “red notices” – effectively international arrest warrants – issued in 2007 for six Iranian officials in connection with the bombing. One of those named at the time was the Hezbollah terrorist leader Imad Fayez Mughniyeh, who also planned the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut, in which more than 200 American military personnel lost their lives. Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing incident in Damascus in 2008.

Araghchi also told Stock that the AMIA case had not been resolved because of the influence of “overt” and “covert” outside “vested interests” – a veiled reference to the State of Israel and international Jewish groups.”

The Long War Journal adds:

“Five Interpol red notices, which call for international cooperation to arrest and extradite the suspects for aggravated homicide in connection with the bombing of the AMIA, are in force against Iranian suspects in the bombing. At the time of the bombing, Mohsen Rezai was commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohsen Rabbani was Iran’s Cultural Attaché in Buenos Aires, Ahmad Vahidi was Iran’s Defense Minister, Amhad Asghari was third secretary in Iran’s Embassy in Argentina and Ali Fallahian, was Iran’s Minister of Intelligence. […]

Today’s AMIA leadership understands Iran’s move for what it is: yet another Iranian maneuver aimed at lifting the red notices from those who have been wanted by Interpol since 2007.

A statement from the AMIA rejects any negotiation with Iran: “The only formal cooperation [with Iran] that Argentina can accept is the appearance of those wanted by Interpol, and of the rest of the accused, before the [Argentine] judiciary.” […]

Interpol reviews red notices every 10 years and the AMIA red notices are up for review in Sept. 2017 at Interpol’s annual meeting in Beijing.”

On the day that families of the victims of the AMIA bombing gathered to commemorate their loved ones the BBC News website did, however, publish an article informing audiences that:

“The US has announced fresh sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile programme and what it says is Iran’s support for terror organisations.” [emphasis added]

Related Articles:

The AMIA Attack: Terrorism, Cover-Up and the Implications for Iran (CAMERA)

Superficial BBC reporting on Iranian involvement in AMIA attack

New AMIA bombing revelation not news for the BBC

An Iranian story the BBC chose not to translate

 

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) Israeli journalist and author RonenBergman writes about the ongoing investigation into the 1994 AMIA centre bombing.Weekend Read

“Investigating Judge Rodolfo Canicoba was appointed to handle the case in Nisman’s place, and he embarked on a world-wide journey in the wake of Ali Velayati, the former Iranian foreign minister, who was one of the suspects on the Interpol arrest warrant that had been issued at Nisman’s request. Each time over the past year when Canicoba heard that Velayati was about to visit another country outside Iran, he asked its government to extradite the Iranian. The most recent of these was Iraq, to which he submitted a demand on October 21, 2016.

Extradition has not yet been executed, and it is doubtful that any country, especially Iraq, will ever risk getting into trouble with Iran by arresting and extraditing so senior a figure as Velayati. But the fact that Argentina has made it clear that it will not drop the matter — together with the warrants dangling over the heads of senior Iranian officials — has a symbolic significance. The case remains one of the most intriguing and dramatic clashes between terrorism and international law in history.”

2) At the Middle East Quarterly, Professor Richard Landes discusses Edward Said’s impact on Western understanding of the Middle East.

“Whether one views the impact of Edward Said (1935-2003) on academia as a brilliant triumph or a catastrophic tragedy, few can question the astonishing scope and penetration of his magnum opus, Orientalism. In one generation, a radical transformation overcame Middle Eastern studies: A new breed of “post-colonial” academics, boasting a liberating, anti-imperialist perspective, replaced a generation of scholars disparaged by Said as “Orientalists.” Nor was this transformation limited to Middle Eastern studies: Said and his post-colonial paradigm assembled a wide range of acolytes in many fields in the social sciences and humanities.”

3) At the NYT, Kenan Malik takes an interesting look at the topic of ‘fake news’.

“In the past, governments, mainstream institutions and newspapers manipulated news and information. Today, anyone with a Facebook account can do it. Instead of the carefully organized fake news of old, there is now an anarchic outflow of lies. What has changed is not that news is faked, but that the old gatekeepers of news have lost their power. Just as elite institutions have lost their grip over the electorate, so their ability to define what is and is not news has also eroded.”

 

 

New AMIA bombing revelation not news for the BBC

For at least a decade and a half BBC News articles relating to the 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA centre in Buenos Aires have informed audiences that Iran denies any involvement in the case. For example:AMIA bombing

“Tehran rejects the accusations.” (23/12/2000)

“…Iran has rejected claims that it was in any way involved in the attack.” (24/09/2001)

“Iran has denied that any of its officials were involved in a deadly bomb attack on a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994.” (09/03/2003)

“Iran denies any involvement in the bombing…” (25/08/2003)

“Argentine, US and Israeli officials have all said that Iran is to blame – a charge Tehran denies.” (10/11/2005)

“The Iranian government, which denies any involvement, has said it is ready to help solve the case.” (19/07/2011)

“Tehran has always denied any involvement.” (29/01/2013)

“Iran has always denied any involvement.” (28/02/2013)

“Iran dismissed the allegations as “baseless”.” (19/01/2015)

“Iran has denied any involvement in either of the attacks.” (28/01/2015)

Such statements are of course accurate: Iran has indeed denied involvement in the 1994 AMIA bombing and there is no reason why the BBC should not make audiences aware of that fact. However, it should also inform them of the wealth of evidence available which indicates that Iran’s denial of involvement is to be viewed with a considerable amount of scepticism. One might therefore have assumed that the following news would have sparked the interest of the “standard-setter for international journalism”.

“Former Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman knew that Iran was responsible for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires even as he negotiated with the regime in Tehran, secretly-recorded telephone conversations released on Friday reveal.

The previously unknown recordings of conversations between Timerman and leaders of the Argentine Jewish community confirm what has long been suspected. While negotiating the infamous “Memorandum of Understanding” in 2013 aimed at setting up a joint commission with Iran to supposedly investigate the bombing, Timerman had no doubt that Tehran was behind the atrocity that claimed the lives of 85 people and injured hundreds more.”

To date, however, that story has not been reported by the BBC.

Related Articles:

Superficial BBC reporting on Iranian involvement in AMIA attack

Superficial BBC reporting on Iranian involvement in AMIA attack

Readers of an article titled “Dead prosecutor Nisman ‘planned president’s arrest’” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Latin America & Caribbean page on February 4th found the statement highlighted below at the end of its seventh paragraph.AMIA art

“Mr Nisman had been investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires which killed 85 people.

He died hours before he was due to testify in Congress against President Fernandez, whom he had accused of covering up alleged Iranian involvement in the 1994 attack.

President Fernandez has denied the allegation. Iran has also denied involvement in the attack.” [emphasis added]

Of course that statement is accurate: Iran has indeed denied involvement in the 1994 AMIA bombing and there is no reason why the BBC should not make audiences aware of that fact. However, it should also inform them of the wealth of evidence available which indicates that Iran’s denial of involvement is to be viewed with a considerable amount of scepticism and this article does not go on to do that.

But perhaps, one might assume, that information – crucial to understanding the story as a whole – is available to BBC audiences in the related stories appended to this report. The one titled “What lies behind Alberto Nisman’s death?” would obviously be a good candidate so let’s take a look at what readers of that backgrounder are told about Iranian involvement in the terror attack which killed 85 people.

Under the sub-heading ‘Why was the Amia community centre targeted?’ readers are informed that:

“The attack on the Amia community centre came two years after 29 people died in an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires.

A group calling itself Islamic Jihad Organisation said it was responsible for the 1992 attack.

The group alleged the bombing was in revenge for the killing by Israel of Hezbollah leader Abbas al-Mussawi that same year.

Jewish and Israeli institutions abroad were seen as “soft targets”, easier to attack than similar buildings in Israel.

Theories therefore soon surfaced pointing the finger for the Amia bombing at Hezbollah, a mainly Shia group backed by Iran.

Iran has denied any involvement in either of the attacks.” [emphasis added]

The section titled ‘Who was behind the Amia attack?’ provides no answers to that question whilst the section headed ‘Who were the suspects?’ merely states:

“From the beginning, investigators suspected Iranian officials may have been behind the bombing.”

Readers have to reach the sixth section titled ‘What did Mr Nisman uncover?’ in order to find out that:AMIA 2

“In 2006, Mr Nisman formally charged Iranian officials with directing the Amia attack, which he alleged was carried out by Hezbollah militants.

In his most recent report, published just days before his death, he furthermore accused President Fernandez and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman of covering up the Iran’s purported role in the bombing.

He alleged that the government wanted to whitewash Iran in order to secure lucrative trade deals with Iran, exchanging Argentine grain for Iranian oil.

President Fernandez dismissed the allegations as “absurd”.”

Another of the ‘related stories’ promoted to BBC audiences under the title “Alberto Nisman death: Key players” tells readers that:

“He [Mr Nisman] was seen as a reinvigorating force and in 2006, he officially accused the Iranian government of directing the bombing. But Iran refused to hand over a number of suspects.

In 2013, the Argentine government reached an agreement with Iran – they would jointly investigate the attack. Some critics felt this was a way of undermining Mr Nisman’s investigation.”

In other words, even those readers who bothered to click on the links to the ‘related stories’ are not provided with any insight into what caused those involved in investigating the AMIA bombings for more than 20 years – including Alberto Nisman – to reach the conclusion that Iran was involved.  

That information can be found in the backgrounder prepared by our CAMERA colleagues Ricki Hollander and Marcelo Wio: “The AMIA Attack: Terrorism, Cover-Up and the Implications for Iran“. Additional information – including a link to a translation of Alberto Nisman’s report – is available in testimony submitted to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs by Dr Matthew Levitt in 2013.