BICOM Daily Briefing November 25 2003
Last updated: 2003-11-25
The Guardian runs a series of articles today on the issue of renewed antisemitism in
Quotes of the Day:
Prime Minister Blair and French President Chirac in Joint Press Conference:
Tony Blair, Prime Minister (24/11): Obviously the issue of
Jacques Chirac, French President (24/11): As far as the peace process in the
Views on the diplomatic process
Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister (Haaretz, 25/11): The best way is to make the Palestinians advance in the negotiations according to the road map But only if they act to dismantle the terror infrastructures and to bring about a cease-fire will they also get to a Palestinian state.
Chris Patten, EU Commissioner on External Affairs (Financial Times, 25/11): I do not pretend that it is possible to buy stability in the Palestinian territories. But we cannot expect peace to take root unless ordinary people see the benefits of change and gain confidence that improved conditions are here to stay.
Sheikh Yassin, Hamas Leader (Haaretz, 25/11): Without an Israeli withdrawal there can be no talk of stopping the fight There can be no talk of a cease-fire at this point in time. As long as Palestinian civilians are victims of Israeli attacks, Israeli civilians will be victims.
Behind the News:
PM Sharon yesterday repeated his statement in support of unilateral steps, not as concessions, but for the good of the State of Israel. The statements have led to wide discussion in the Israeli and world media, but have been greeted with scepticism by both Palestinians and Israeli opposition figures, and angry rejection by right wing Israelis (see below).
Yasser Arafat yesterday denounced such measures as a plan to escape the implementation of the road map. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) yesterday urged PM Sharon to take serious and significant steps to renew the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians, adding that unilateral measures will have significance only if they constitute part of the implementation of the road map and UN resolutions.
Heated exchanges at Likud faction meeting:
PM Sharon was fiercely criticised at yesterdays Likud faction meeting over his statements regarding unilateral steps. In particular, the question of unilateral withdrawal from settlements was the subject of harsh exchanges. MK Yehiel Hazan, head of the lobby for the settlements in the
In response to Sharons promise that he will bring all measures to a Likud faction debate before bringing them to the Cabinet, MK Gilad Erdan, who has been the most vociferous in his opposition to Sharon, responded If you decide in a year to divide Jerusalem, will you bring that to the faction's approval too?" Erdan added, This is an essential change in the Likud's policy, not a formality. Perhaps our place is not here, or perhaps someone else's place is not here.
Israel agrees to labelling of exports to the European Union
Industry and Trade Minister Ehud Olmert announced yesterday during a meeting with with EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy in
In talks, Olmert also suggested the establishment of mixed Israeli-Palestinian free trade zones, and Lamy responded that he would consider granting customs breaks to such zones and to all joint Israeli-Palestinian economic and commercial activity. Progress was also made on agreement to allow joint manufacture of goods by Israeli and European companies, which would be marketed as European produced within the EU area.
Comment and Opinion:
Mark Steyn (Daily Telegraph 25/11): The other day, a producer called me up and asked if I wanted to take part in a discussion about an American cartoon strip - to whit, B.C. by Johnny Hart, which has been running in a gazillion newspapers around the world for as long as I can remember.
It's set in a modified caveman era, which is to say that, like The Flintstones, its characters enjoy certain accoutrements not necessarily consistent with the time period. On this particular day's strip, Johnny Hart shows us the caveman walking up a hill at night - there is a crescent moon in the sky - and heading for a wooden outhouse, with a crescent moon on the door, as outhouses traditionally have, at least in
A reader in the Washington Post had noticed the six crescent moons in the strip, and suggested this indicated the real target of the gag. Cair drew attention to the fact that the sound effect of the alleged door slamming was stacked vertically, in a pillar-like shape, and thus could reasonably be read as "SLAM" contained within the overall shape of the letter "I" - or "ISLAM".
Meanwhile, while Islamic lobby groups and the most distinguished semiotics professors in
Bret Stephens (Jerusalem Post 25/11): Italian Deputy Premier Gianfranco Fini heads the National Alliance, his country's post-Fascist party. What should we care about more: his pro-Fascist past or his pro-Israel present? First, a sharp distinction should be made between politicians and parties that are adopting fascist sympathies for political gain, and those who are moving away from an appeal to racism, anti-Semitism, or extreme nationalism.
But Fini seems to be an example of the opposite: a political leader who is determinedly transforming a neo-Fascist party into a democratic one. In a 1994 interview with La Stampa, Fini called Mussolini "the greatest statesman of the century." Since then, however, he has withdrawn this statement and argued that Italians must take responsibility for Mussolini's crimes, including the deportation of Jews to concentration camps. While visiting Yad Vashem yesterday, Fini continued on this path of repentance. "We have to condemn the shameful chapters in the history of our people and to try to understand why complacency, collaboration, and fear caused no reaction from many Italians in 1938 to the disgraceful, fascist race laws," he said.
The question, then, is whether Fini is sincere.
We should be encouraging extremists on both ends of the spectrum, in light of the new post-9/11 world, to rethink, repent, and to join the fight against the Islamic variant of fascism that threatens us all.
- Is Europe gripped by anti-semitism? (The Guardian);
- Arab youths blamed in France (The Guardian);
- Special report: Europe's far right (The Guardian);
- David Bar-Ilan (The Guardian);
- After the bombs (The Guardian);
- Sharon attacks European leaders over 'anti-Semitism' (The Times);
- More than half back two-state Israel plan (The Independent);
- MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Israel signals shift over settlements produce (Financial Times);
- OBSERVER: Special relationship (Financial Times);
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Bomb attacks in Turkey reinforce Bush's argument (Financial Times);
- MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Italian deputy PM condemns fascist past (Financial Times);
- UN agency defends its 'politicised' role (Financial Times);
- Palestinians suffer from donor fatigue (Financial Times);
- A road map paid for in euros (Financial Times);
- Editorial comment: Virtual peace (Financial Times);
- Arafat Rejects Israeli Hints as Sign of Bad Faith (Reuters);
- Sharon peace nod amid expulsions (BBC Online);
- Qureia urges PM to renew talks; Arafat: Sharon escaping road map (Haaretz);
- ELN releases 2 hostages, promises to free four Israelis before Christmas (Haaretz);
- Exports to EU will indicate whether from territories (Haaretz);
- Likud faction MKs attack Sharon over unilateral steps' (Haaretz);
- Qureia hopes PM takes serious steps' (Haaretz);
- Fini condemns Italy's past (Haaretz);
- Olmert lets EU label territories exports (Jerusalem Post);
- Likud MKs blast PM on unilateral withdrawal (Jerusalem Post);
- Sharon: No more concessions until peace talks (Jerusalem Post);
- Dichter: Quiet is deceptive (Jerusalem Post);
- Shaath: Palestinians should agree to cease-fire in two weeks (Jerusalem Post);
- Sharon, Qurei meeting delayed until at least next week (Jerusalem Post);
- Likud MKs protest settlement evacuation (Jerusalem Post);
- PA arrests would-be suicide bombers (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Briefing supplied by BICOM