Monday, September 18, 2006

Norway synagogue target of shooting 

Shots fired at Oslo synagogue; no injuries reported

By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters
Mon., September 18, 2006 Elul 25, 5766

Norway's Jewish community yesterday clung to the hope that Saturday night's shooting at an Oslo synagogue would shake up Norwegian society and put an end to the wave of anti-Semitism in the country.

The Oslo police are pursuing the unknown individual who came to the building late Saturday night and fired at the synagogue and the attached Jewish community center. The synagogue itself was unoccupied at the time of the shooting, but there were people in the community's retirement home and guesthouse. Eleven bullets damaged the synagogue's exterior.

An Israeli man staying at the guesthouse told Haaretz he heard a volley of shots at 2:30 A.M. yesterday. Police officers who arrived on the scene told people to stay inside and cordoned off the street. Yesterday the police stepped up security around the Israeli Embassy in the capital and Jewish sites in the country.

Asked if the shooting was connected to religious intolerance, a police spokesman said, "We are keeping all options open and investigating this possibility."

The shooting was the latest in a series of incidents directed against Norwegian Jews, especially in Oslo, whose Jewish community has 150 to 200 active members. In July a Jewish man was assaulted on the street, while in August a man defecated on the steps of the Oslo synagogue and smashed two windows.

The publication last month in Aftenposten, a leading Norwegian newspaper, of an opinion piece by the bestselling author of "Sophie's World," Jostein Gaarder, ignited a firestorm.

In the piece called "God's Chosen People," Gaarder attacked Judaism and asserted that the state of Israel had forfeited its right to exist. At the height of the war in Lebanon, Gaarder wrote: "We call child murderers 'child murderers' and will never accept that people such as these have a divine or historic mandate excusing their outrages." He compared the Israeli government to the Afghan Taliban and South African apartheid regimes.

The paper's political editor justified the publication, saying, "Gaarder's voice is important in the Norwegian discourse."

Mona Levin, a music critic who belongs to Oslo's Jewish community, spoke out publicly against Gaarder's article. Yesterday she told Haaretz that his piece was being distributed, in Arabic translation, among Norway's Muslim community as well as being posted on the homepage of a neo-Nazi Web site.

"I think this time the police will take the incident seriously," Levin said. "What happened is very worrisome but maybe something good will come of it. I don't think the average Norwegian wants to see such things."


Police arrest four over shots fired at Oslo synagogue

By Reuters
Wed., September 20, 2006 Elul 27, 5766

OSLO - Norwegian police on Tuesday arrested four men suspected of firing shots at an Oslo synagogue last weekend, the national news agency NTB reported.

The four, aged between 20 and 30, were suspected of having fired at least 10 shots at the synagogue in central Oslo with an automatic weapon, or of having taken part in the incident.

"The four men have different ethnic backgrounds," police Inspector Iver Stensrud told NTB, but he declined to say where they were from.

Stensrud said there might be further arrests.

"We have intelligence information that it will not necessarily stop with this," he told NTB.

No one was injured in the shooting, which took place in the early hours of Sunday. It was the most serious of a series of attacks on the synagogue in recent months.

The Mosaic Religious Community, which owns the synagogue, had asked for better protection of its property following threats and after the site was vandalised last month.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Europe nixes landing rights for El Al planes with IDF cargo 

By Zohar Blumenkrantz, Haaretz Correspondent
Tue., September 05, 2006 Elul 12, 5766

A number of European states are refusing to allow El Al cargo planes carrying Israel Defense Forces equipment from stopover landings in their airports.

The refusal came from states considered friendly with Israel, including Britain, Germany and Italy, according to Captain Etai Regev, the chairman of El Al's pilots' union.

Regev sent a letter of complaint on the matter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and to the Defense Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and the Tourism Ministry.

According to Regev, El Al flights bearing heavy loads that arrive from U.S. bases "are not given approval by European states to make stopover landings for refueling, for political reasons.

"As a result, cargo planes are taking off from the U.S. with much lighter weight, and are reaching Israel with significantly fewer munitions than needed."

Regev called this "a substantial blow to state defense."

In his letter, Regev complained about the government's decision last month to allow Italy's flag carrier, Alitalia, to fly Israeli state employees abroad for the first time.

"Israel's response to this is the transfer of labor to Italian pilots at the cost of Israeli pilots," he wrote

Attacks on Jews in U.K. soared during 2006 Lebanon war 

Attacks on Jews in U.K. soared during war
By Assaf Uni
Tue., September 05, 2006 Elul 12, 5766

LONDON - The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Great Britain has risen sharply since the start of the Lebanon war, according to an organization dedicated to the safety of Britain's Jewish community.

According to Mark Gardner, spokesman of the Community Security Trust, there were over 90 incidents of anti-Semitism in Britain during July, including attacks on Jewish-owned stores, hate mail sent to representatives of the Jewish community and verbal and physical attacks on Jews in public. Over the past few years, the monthly average has been 10 to 30 such attacks.

The British report is merely the latest in a series of reports documenting an increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe in the past two months.

On Thursday, an all-party parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism in Britain will publish a report that is expected to declare anti-Semitism a serious problem and call on the government to fight it. Committee Chair Denis MacShane MP said in yesterday's London Times that the CST's figures "confirm the evidence given to us that anti-Semitic attacks are a very real problem."

Gardner told The Times that the July incidents "were more dispersed than usual," noting that "it is usually a small number [of people] responsible for a large number of attacks, but these were very widespread across the country and included graffiti attacks on synagogues in Edinburgh and Glasgow."

Hate mail sent to senior Jewish figures blamed them for the deaths of Lebanese children in Beirut, Gardner told The Times.

The public debate in Britain over the Israel Defense Forces' operations in Lebanon during the war was heated. It included mass antiwar demonstrations, political denunciations of Israel's "disproportionate use of force" and attempts to prevent the transfer of American weapons to Israel via Scottish airports.

Last week, Lord Janner was attacked in the House of Lords by fellow peer Lord Bramall during an argument over Israeli actions in Lebanon.

"The number of anti-Semitic attacks reflects the mood music around Jews and Israel," Gardner told The Times.

Monday, September 04, 2006

South African politician and anti-Zionist compares Israel with Nazism 

Kasrils - Minister of "Intelligence"?

From: HonestReporting: action@honestreporting.com
To: simshalom@att.net
Subject: Kasrils - Minister of "Intelligence"?
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2006


South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils is well-known for his anti-Zionist views, which he regularly promotes in the pages of South African newspapers and beyond. Kasrils' latest diatribe appears in the South African Mail & Guardian. Referring to the recent Lebanon conflict, Kasrils uses a clever sleight of hand to sum up his own feelings by quoting Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder:

We no longer recognize the state of Israel. We could not recognize the apartheid regime. We call child murderers 'child murderers'. We do not recognize the principle of a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye.

Kasrils allows himself the license to project his own distorted view of Israel without taking responsibility, while failing to mention that Gaarder actually sought to distance himself from his original article that aroused high-level condemnation in Norway, where it was published.

In keeping with Kasrils' non-recognition of Israel's right to exist, he questions Jewish rights to their homeland while ignoring the fact that Jews had lived uninterrupted for hundreds of years before the first waves of mass immigration at the end of the 19th century. Kasrils falsely claims that "from the onset, Zionism aimed at the dispossession of the indigenous population so that Israel could become a wholly Jewish state." This, despite all the evidence to the contrary, including Israel's 1 million Arab citizens currently living in the state with equal rights under the law to Israel's Jewish population.

Referring back to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Kasrils claims that "Israel acquired the power, aid and resources to expand to 78% of the former territory", conveniently forgetting that this territory was actually acquired in wars of self-defense as a direct result of Arab attacks from those very territories.

Bizarrely, Kasrils also claims that "Lebanon, too, has been a part of Zionist annexation plans. Israel long regarded the Litani river to its north as its natural border..." and that Israel "still holds on to strategic farmland" despite the fact that the UN verified that Israel no longer occupied Lebanese territory following her withdrawal in 2000. Indeed, the Sunday Telegraph, referring to the Shebaa Farms, states that "Syria - which has long insisted that the disputed land is mostly Lebanese - refuses to demarcate the border between the two countries, as demanded by UN Security Resolution 1559, making it more difficult for a settlement to be reached. Some diplomats suspect that Damascus does not want to deprive Hezbollah of its original justification for its struggle with Israel."

After accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing", Kasrils then employs a despicable moral equivalence:
We feel sorrow for those who died under rocket fire in Israel. But we do not blame Hizbullah or Palestinian resistance any more than we blamed South Africa liberation forces when civilians died. We blamed the racist policies of a corrupt government that cynically placed its own people in the line of danger.

Contending that Israel's leadership purposely placed its own citizens in danger to serve its own agenda, Kasrils claims that:

To them the terror of their own citizens, fleeing south or hiding in their bomb shelters, is an acceptable part of their cynical calculations.

Finally, employing the Nazi analogy as well as advocating for Israel to be treated in the same way as apartheid South Africa, Kasrils concludes:

Like Gaarder, we must call baby killers "baby killers" and declare that those using methods reminiscent of the Nazis be told that they are behaving like Nazis. May Israelis wake up and see reason, as happened in South Africa, and negotiate peace. And finally, yes, let us learn from what helped open white South African eyes: the combination of a just struggle reinforced by international solidarity utilising the weapons of boycott and sanctions.

See here for more on why Israel is not an "apartheid state".

Ronnie Kasrils' extreme views could be dismissed were it not for his position as a member of the South African government with the ability to disseminate his one-sided and distorted hatred for Israel through the mainstream media, including outside his home state. Unfortunately, the Mail & Guardian is his latest platform.

Letters to the Mail & Guardian - letters@mg.co.za

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