Two recent incidents gave me a serious attack of schadenfreude, which I thought to share with you in order to lighten the beginning of the New Year.
40-year-old Bulent Alniak was killed in a US airstrike in Idlib, northwestern Syria, on a target identified as belonging to the “Islamic State” terrorist group (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL), according to the Turkish World Bulletin website.
According to that report, Alniak was carrying out “aid work” ahead of the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
But other sources have suggested a somewhat less peaceful motive. Another Turkish outlet, T24, claimed Alniak was in Syria fighting alongside the Nusra Front – Al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. It said he had arrived in Syria over the past summer, on the second day of Ramadan, and also claimed he was killed in Idlib.
Significantly, the Turkish Islamist group behind the Mavi Marmara flotilla which Alniak was an active member of – the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) – is suspected of having close ties to Al Qaeda.
What ought to happen now is that Netanyahu should call President Obama and demand that he apologize to President Erdogan for his “operational errors” in killing this “humanitarian activist”. Turnabout is fair play after all.
The second, more important incident was the ejection of Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, known for her extreme anti-Israel opinions and biased reports, from Bir Zeit University in Ramallah for the simple reason … that she is Jewish!
Hass attempted to attend the “Alternatives to Neo-Liberal Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – Critical Perspectives” conference at the university, which is located near Ramallah where she lives.
But she was ejected from the hall by the organizers, Hass claimed, after students at the admission desk noted she worked for the Israeli publication and alerted security authorities to intervene.
Birzeit University has had a policy of barring Israeli Jews from the campus for over 20 years, administrators said, and ejected her for fear that she would be attacked by an unruly mob of students.
Her colleagues and professors told her that she was being ejected on the one hand “for her own protection” and also to give the students “a safe space” free of Jews.
Meanwhile, the University has officially denied that there was a problem.
“The administration has no objection to the presence of the journalist [Amira] Hass,” it insisted, in an official statement. “The University distinguishes between friends of the Palestinian people and its enemies … and works with every person and institution who opposes the occupation.”
But Hass – who is well-known in Arab and leftist circles for her aggressive anti-Zionism, and provoked outrage last year for justifying rock-throwing attacks against Jews – angrily noted that she was “not told” about the policy and that “Palestinian citizens of Israel [i.e. Israeli Arabs – ed.] who teach at Israeli universities are not subject to the same policy.”
Even the conference’s organizers were offended, Hass added, noting that keynote speaker Katja Herrmann – the regional head of the pro-Palestinian NGO the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation – stated after the incident that she would not have agreed to attend the event had she known about the discrimination policy.
The incident surfaces amid growing tension between parts of the Israeli Left and the Palestinian Authority. Several left-wing parties, including Labor and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s HaTnua party, openly supported Israel’s self-defense operation in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge. More recently, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s anti-Israel tirade at the UN General Assembly offended even Meretz Chairman Zehava Gal-On, who branded the remarks as “serious and grave.”
I wonder if this incident will induce Amira Hass to change her anti-Israel viewpoint. Hard to believe but Israel is the land of miracles after all.