“Bad taste” & “Wrong on so many levels” – Guardian Comment is Free

July 30th, 2012 by Mark Gardner

Few things are guaranteed to upset the Guardian like a US Republican presidential candidate’s visit to Jerusalem: on a fund-rasier no less! 

If bookies took bets on such things, you could put your house on the paper writing a poorly worded article that risks sounding like a modern version of old antisemitic conspiracy myths. Remember this Guardian editorial from 2008?

When a presumptive US presidential candidate arrives in Jerusalem, he willingly dons a jacket designed by Israeli tailors.

And that was for Barack Obama, a black Democrat! 

Indeed, right on cue, here comes Comment is Free with an article by Juan Cole concerning Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel, entitled:

Ten reasons Mitt Romney’s Israel visit is in bad taste

The “bad taste” begins in the article’s sub-title:

The Republican presidential hopeful is holding a fundraiser and playing war enabler in Israel – it’s wrong on so many levels

Did you catch that? “Presidential hopeful…fundraiser…playing war enabler in Israel”.

The article is reasonably straightforward, consisting of ten points against Romney’s visit. Unlike many other articles on this risk-strewn subject, it at least stresses (in its very 1st point) that Romney is reaching out to Christian Zionists “and the minority of American Jews who would be willing to vote Republican”. So, this is no crass antisemitic slur, but it still risks hitting those nerves, particularly with its 7th point, which states:

7. Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran. When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, destabilised the Gulf for some time, cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and damaged American power and credibility and the economy. As Nancy Reagan said of drugs, so US politicians must say to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf: “Just say no.” Instead, Romney is playing war enabler, and that abroad.

Of the 10 points in the article, this was the “war enabler” one that made the sub-title, obviously having caught the attention of the Comment is Free sub-editor. Consider, however, exactly what this 7th point actually states. It says “Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran”. Nothing more and nothing less. A war that could make Iraq look like a picnic, promised by a Presidential candidate to “his donors in Jerusalem”

If the Guardian has proof of such a conspiracy and such a dangerous promise, then surely it should be on the front page, not buried on the CiF website with all the other dross. If the Guardian has no such proof, then this allegation should be removed immediately. The author does, however, provide a link. It is here and goes to an Associated Press report that shows differing nuanced statements made by Romney and on his behalf concerning whether or not America would back an Israeli strike upon Iran. It ends with:

He [Romney] later clarified his comments in a written statement, saying that the candidate “believes we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course and it is his fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”

This hardly meets the burden of proof that “promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran” should require from the Guardian: even upon its journalistically subnormal CiF site.

But there’s worse than this. Double it, in fact, because the promised Iran war is immediately followed by:

When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed…cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives…US politicians must say [no] to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf

So, the Iraq war was all Israel’s fault. Well, not exactly…it was the fault of President Bush’s “pro-Israel supporters” to whom he had “promised…a war on Iraq”. No link is provided for this colossal claim, nor for the even bigger succeeding one, that American wars for Israel is standard operating procedure.

Perhaps the author feels that no proof is required, perhaps this is what simply passes for received wisdom at the Guardian these days. It certainly feels that way: an impression that is not helped by senior figure, Brian Whitaker, recommending the article under the title “best blogs and analysis from the Middle East”.   


One Minute for Munich

July 27th, 2012 by CST

CST Antisemitic Incident Report January – June 2012

July 26th, 2012 by CST

Today sees the publication of CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report covering the first six months of 2012, which can be downloaded here.

The report shows that antisemitic incidents remained at a similar level in the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

CST recorded 299 antisemitic incidents across the country in the first half of 2012, compared to 294 during the first six months of 2011. A further 214 reports of potential incidents were received by CST, but were not deemed to be antisemitic and are not included in this total. CST has recorded antisemitic incidents in the UK since 1984.

Greater London saw a 48% rise in recorded antisemitic incidents, from 100 during the first half of 2011 to 148 this year. This rise occurred due to increased reporting to CST via a new incident exchange programme between CST and the Metropolitan Police Service, whereby the two agencies swap incident data that has been fully anonymised to comply with data protection requirements.

In Greater Manchester, where CST and Greater Manchester Police have successfully operated an incident exchange programme since the beginning of 2011, the number of antisemitic incidents recorded by CST fell by 38%, from 125 in the first six months of 2011 to 78 in the first half of 2012. This may reflect a genuine fall in the number of incidents, as there has been no apparent change to incident recording patterns or services during that period.

The breakdown of the incident types shows that there were 33 violent antisemitic assaults in the first six months of 2012, including one classified as ‘Extreme Violence’; 28 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property; 217 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, including verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti and one-off cases of hate mail; 18 direct antisemitic threats; and 3 cases of mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said:

The increase in recorded incidents in London, following the successful model of CST- Police incident exchange in Manchester, demonstrates the value of CST’s partnership with the Police.

Although it is too soon to draw firm conclusions about the fall in reported incidents in Manchester, we hope that it may reflect the good work done by Greater Manchester Police in prosecuting and convicting offenders.

Both situations show the importance of reporting antisemitic incidents and the determination of the Police and CST to tackle hate crime and support the Jewish community against bigotry and hatred.

Manchester terror plot couple sentenced

July 20th, 2012 by CST

Mohammed Sajid Khan and Shasta Khan, the Oldham couple convicted of planning a terrorist attack against Manchester’s Jewish community, have today been sentenced to prison terms for their plot:

Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, who pleaded guilty before the trial at Manchester Crown Court of his wife, Shasta, was given an indeterminate sentence of 15 years, to serve a minimum of seven years before being considered for parole. Mr Justice Wilkie, sentencing Khan, described him as a “dangerous” man whose prison sentence was being imposed in order to protect the public. The judge said Khan was the dominant force in the couple’s relationship who was capable of putting into action his violent wishes.

Shasta Khan, his 38-year-old wife, was sentenced to eight years and is likely to serve a minimum of four years. Both the sentences will be minus the 350 days in custody which the couple have already served while awaiting trial.

CST’s Mark Gardner said:

The sentences clearly reflect the fact Mohammed Sajid Khan was the dominant person in this plot, and we hope he spends a long time in prison. We will never know if Shasta Khan would have turned to terrorism had she not married her husband, but she played her role in the plot and has been sentenced accordingly.

Manchester couple found guilty of anti-Jewish terror plot

July 19th, 2012 by CST

Today, a husband and wife from Oldham, Mohammed Sajid Khan and Shasta Khan, have been convicted of plotting terrorism against Manchester’s Jewish community. Their plan was uncovered after police were called to a domestic incident.

The Khans are believed to have been intended to target Jewish communities in Greater Manchester with improvised explosive devices. The jury saw evidence of antisemitic incitement, antisemitic rhetoric; and the couple researched Jewish neighbourhoods and had driven to these areas in order to engage in hostile reconnaissance against them.

Mohammed Sajid Khan pleaded guilty to the charges. Shasta Khan pleaded innocent and stood trial. She has now been found guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism and two of three counts of possessing a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said:

This trial has shown the reality of anti-Jewish terrorism in Britain today. It explains why Jewish communities take security and antitsemitism seriously.

CST thanks Greater Manchester Police and the North West Counter Terrorism Unit for their cooperation with both CST and our Jewish community at this difficult time. We urge the Jewish community to lead its life to the full; and ask that it keeps supporting communal security efforts. In particular, suspicious activities in Jewish areas should be reported to CST and Police.

Antisemitism is central to extreme Islamist ideology. In Britain, this February, nine British men were convicted of plotting to send letter bombs to various targets, including two synagogues. In March, three children and a teacher were murdered by a gunman at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. In June 2011, an al-Qaeda leader in East Africa was found with plans to attack targets in London, including the Jewish neighbourhoods of Golders Green and Stamford Hill. Furthermore, Iran and its Hizbollah surrogates continue to target Jews and also Israelis.

Possible al-Qaeda targeting of London’s Jews

July 11th, 2012 by CST

The Toronto Star has revealed previously confidential information relating to possible terrorist targeting of the well known North London Jewish neighbourhoods, Golders Green and Stamford Hill, perhaps during the festival of  Chanukah.

The two articles relate to documentation found on the body (and in the car) of a senior Al Qaeda leader, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who was killed at a checkpoint by Somali troops in June 2011. Golders Green and Stamford Hill are both mentioned, as are the Ritz and Dorchester hotels and Eton College.

The full article may be read here. It includes:

NAIROBI—A cache of intelligence found on the body of Al Qaeda’s African leader, and inside the bullet-ridden Toyota truck he tried to ram through a Somali government checkpoint, provides a chilling look at the global aspirations of Somalia’s al Shabab.


the meticulously prepared documents that detail plots for a kidnapping and attacks on the prestigious Eton College, Jewish neighbourhoods and the posh Ritz and Dorchester hotels in London, were uncovered last year when senior Al Qaeda leader Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, 38, was shot dead by Somali forces.

Fazul was indicted in the United States for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224. He was a close ally of Osama bin Laden


The documents are chilling, both in the level of terror they describe and in their tone. They were written with a business-case formality that analyzes the pros and cons of proposed attacks. It is not clear who authored the reports.

“Our objectives are to strike London with low-cost operations that would cause a heavy blow amongst the hierarchy and Jewish communities,” begins the document labelled “International Operations.”


The next two pages show specific plans for the hotels, for Eton school on opening day and for London’s Stamford Hill and Golders Green neighbourhoods, which are populated with “tens of thousands of Jews crammed in a small area.”


Although time periods are specified, such as striking the Jewish community during Hanukkah, there is no mention of London’s Olympics — which starts this month and has security agencies worldwide on high alert.

CST’s public comment on this story is as follows:

CST was briefed on a confidential basis by the police about this information suggesting the potential terrorist targeting of London’s Jewish communities when it was discovered last year. Whilst the specific nature of the information is of course worrying, it does not fundamentally change the general threat that we have faced for some years now, and which guides all our security procedures and our work with the police.

We urge the Jewish community to remain alert, but not to be alarmed and to ensure that it continues leading its communal life to the full. We ask the community to fully co-operate with existing security measures and to report any suspicious activity to the police and to CST.

Another Iranian Terrorist Plot

July 11th, 2012 by Mark Gardner

Another Iranian terrorist plot against Jews appears to have been uncovered. This time, the alleged target was the Nairobi Hebrew Congregation synagogue in Nairobi, Kenya (shown in the below photograph).


 Associated Press and the Times of Israel report:

Two Iranian agents arrested in Kenya with explosives planned on targeting a Nairobi synagogue and the Israeli embassy, a Kenyan detective familiar with the case told The Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday.

“They were driving around Nairobi, they went past the British High Commission, they went past the [Nairobi Hebrew Congregation] synagogue in town, they went to the Israeli embassy,” the detective said.

“It is very clear that they were casing these places, that they were up to no good. From what we saw, their intention was clear to plan and execute terrorism attacks.”

Kenyan security forces arrested Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi in June with 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of explosives. They were charged Monday with possession of explosives “with the intent to commit a felony, namely, acts intended to cause grievous harm.”

Kenyan officials said Monday that the plot appears to fit into a global pattern of attacks or attempted attacks by Iranian agents, mostly against Israeli interests.

One official said the two are members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, an elite and secretive unit. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing security issues.

This alleged plot adds to other Iranian terrorist activities in recent months, including against staff at a Jewish school in Baku, Azerbaijan; the arrests of three bungling terrorists in Bangkok, Thaliand; and the bombing of an Israeli dilpomat’s car in New Delhi, India, and a similar, but failed, attempt in Tbilisi, Georgia.   

Then, there is the dreadful murder of 85 people in the 1994 suicide truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina.






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