Welcome To The Weird News From The Middle East

UPDATE 9:45 am: It turns out that most of the 8:00 update–which was the report issued by the IDF this morning is bizarrely untrue. The event took place at dusk last night, the community member killed was a Rabbi, the IDF had not set up a checkpoint, and a truck driven by a Palestinian ran over the soldier (of course the truck driver escaped). More on this in tomorrow’s blog.

UPDATE 8:00 am: Jewish community member of Otniel tragically and accidentally shot and killed early this morning at IDF checkpoint near Hevron when he apparently went to sleep at the wheel of his car and ran over a soldier. Other passengers in the car moderately wounded as was soldier.  


Today your humble servant presents a brief and darkly humorous compendium of weird news from the Middle East yesterday.

Libyan revolutionaries or mercenaries? You make the call.

1. The Libyan “revolutionaries” who fought to overthrow Gaddafi are now demanding to get paid for their efforts by the new Libyan government. They say they got rid of Gaddafi, and now they want to be paid for having done so.

One fighter, Mohammed Othman Saleh Shaaban, said this at the new Prime Minister’s Office yesterday: “Our demands are for fairness and equality in the distribution of benefits to the revolutionaries and for all martyrs to be given their rights. There is no difference between east and west, we are all brothers and all the revolutionaries have one goal and we are united and we call on those responsible to treat the revolutionaries in a fair manner.”

Roughly translated: Pay up or we’ll come after you next.

2. Russia announced that in light of the IAEA report that Iran is building nuclear plants in order to produce nuclear weapons, that it would help Iran build “many more” such plants in the near future so that Iran will become “more transparent” about what it plans to do with its nuclear facilities.

Announcing these plans yesterday in Russia at a visit of the deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme Security Council, Ali Baqeri, the head of Russia’s Nuclear Energy Corporation, Sergei Kiriyenko, said this:  “We are working on it, we have a corresponding assignment. As the construction of atomic energy reactors does not provoke doubts among the international community and is not in any way related to sensitive questions, it is fully possible.”

Roughly translated: The IAEA and Western community be damned; Russia is proceeding full speed ahead to arm Iran.

3. It turns out that the Christian (numbering about 30,000) and Jewish (around 2000) minorities are optimistic that the Islamic party Ennahda that won 41% of the seats in the new Tunisian Assembly will be truly democratic. The Jewish Tunisians are particularly optimistic despite the events of this past February when Islamists set the synagogue in Ghabes on fire and Islamists surrounded the Tunis Grand Synagogue chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “The Army of Mohammad is returning!”

Now police are continually posted behind the barbed wire perimeter of the Tunis synagogue and at a Jewish nursing home in the Tunis suburbs. But here’s what Khelifa Attoun, vice president of the local Jewish community had to say yesterday: “Ennahda will have to follow the moderate Tunisian tradition. Jews have no problem with Ennahda, only with the salafists. But Ennahda won’t let them do what they want.”

Roughly translated: We hope and pray that Ennahda doesn’t kill us.

By the way, newsflash to Attoun and the Tunisian Jewish community: most of the Salafists in Tunisia are members of the Ennahda party.

4. But now, in what has to be the weirdest of the weird, is this story from Israel yesterday. Never mind that southern Israel is under daily attack from Palestinian terrorist rockets from Gaza, and never mind that the Gazans now have an open border crossing with Egypt through which they can transact business, here is the announcement from yesterday:

“Israel will allow Palestinians to begin exporting furniture from the Gaza Strip next month, as part of new Israeli policies to allow goods out of Gaza. On Wednesday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories held a workshop for Palestinian farmers who will begin exporting their goods from the Gaza Strip next week. During the workshop, IDF officers explained the export process to the farmers.” (as appeared in the Jerusalem Post)

Well at least now we know why IDF officers are not doing anything to defend Israeli citizens. They are busily involved in preparing export workshops for Gazan ‘farmers’–the same farmers whose properties are used as launching sites for Qassam and Grad missiles. 

We truly do live in a weird, weird world.


On November 11, 1936 a British Royal Commission arrived in British mandated Palestine in order to determine the fundamental causes of unrest between the Arabs and Jews and to make recommendations for the future.

The Commission was headed by Earl Peel–and the report issued by that Commission in July of 1937 became known as the Peel Commission Report–the first serious report that recommended that Palestine be divided into Jewish and Arab areas. 

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