Weekend long read

Our weekly round-up of Middle East related background reading.

1) At the ‘Point of No Return’ blog Lyn Julius marks the 77th anniversary of the Farhud.

“The Farhud (meaning “violent dispossession”) marked an irrevocable break between Jews and Arabs in Iraq and paved the way for the dissolution of the 2,600-year-old Jewish community barely 10 years later. Loyal and productive citizens comprising a fifth of Baghdad, the Jews had not known anything like the Farhud in living memory. Before the victims’ blood was dry, army and police warned the Jews not to testify against the murderers and looters. Even the official report on the massacre was not published until 1958.

Despite their deep roots, the Jews understood that they would never, along with other minorities, be an integral part of an independent Iraq. Fear of a second Farhud was a major reason why 90 per cent of Iraq’s Jewish community fled to Israel after 1948.”

2) As noted here recently, the BBC produced at least two reports downplaying Hamas’ role in the recent violence along the Gaza Strip-Israel border. The ITIC – which has conducted an extensive study of the Palestinians killed during the ‘Great Return March’ events – has published a special report on one sixteen-year-old, who would of course be described as a ‘child’ in BBC reports.

“On the evening of May 16, 2018, Hamas held a memorial service for the “heroic shaheed” Saadi Abu Salah. The ceremony was held near his parents’ house in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. The general public was invited to attend. During the ceremony a professionally-produced, 14-minute Hamas video was shown. Its objective was to show Saadi Abu Salah’s courage, glorify him and turn him into a role model. His father and uncle, both released prisoners, wore green Hamas scarves.

The video, with a sound track of martial music, shows Saadi Abu Salah burning tires, throwing stones, sabotaging the border security fence and clashing with IDF soldiers (see pictures below). A masked operative from the so-called “tire and fence-cutting unit” reads a death notice for Saadi Abu Salah, saying he excelled at burning tires and cutting through the border fence. His father says his son always talked about his desire to be a shaheed and even prayed to Allah to grant his wish. Behind the father is a picture Saadi Abu Salah with senior Hamas figure Fathi Hamad.”

3) At the Weekly Standard, Matthew R.J. Brodsky discusses media coverage of the ‘Great Return March’.

“The growing chasm between reality and reporting regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was in stark relief during the recent events in Gaza. The prevailing narrative was that strong-armed Israelis were shooting and killing unarmed peaceful Palestinian protesters, when in fact there were a series of violent riots planned by Hamas as cover while they attempted to breach the security fence, pour into Israel, and kidnap or kill Israelis. The majority of those killed were terrorists or affiliated with Gaza-based terrorist movements, which is information provided by the terrorist groups themselves.

Regardless of how one feels about Israel or the Palestinian quest for statehood, establishing what happened should have been a straightforward task given the abundance of verifiable evidence as the events unfolded. Unfortunately, this grotesque failure to report facts accurately or put them in context reached this point after several decades during which news outlets cemented the conflict narrative as a story focused on Israeli actions alone.”

4) Following Morocco’s cutting of diplomatic relations with Tehran, at the JCPA Amb Freddy Eytan looks at neighbouring Mauritania’s ties with Iran.

“The relationship between Iran and Mauritania is deteriorating every day due to heavy pressure from Saudi Arabia on Mauritania to cut off diplomatic relations with Iran. The president of Mauritania is still debating how to explain cutting off connections with Tehran, which had been growing in recent years.

At the beginning of May 2018, Morocco severed ties with Iran, and under Saudi Arabian pressure, Mauritania cut off relations with Qatar in May 2017.

On May 25, 2018, Mohamed al-Amrani Iran’s ambassador in Nouakchott, Mauritania’s capital city, was summoned by the Mauritanian foreign minister to explain increased Shiite activity at the al-Mujina mosque in Nouakchott. This mosque is close to the Iranian embassy, and it is essentially run by Iranian “diplomats.””

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