Trump’s Dubai real estate partner strips his image, name from luxury golf project site

A Dubai real estate firm building a $6 billion golf complex with Donald Trump on Thursday stripped the property of his name and image amid a backlash over the U.S. presidential candidate's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. 

Trump triggered an international uproar when he made his comments in response to last week's deadly shootings in California by two Muslims who authorities said were radicalised.

DAMAC Properties had initially said it would stand by Trump, even as another of the billionaire's Middle East partners, the Lifestyle chain of department stores, halted sales of his “Trump Home” line on Wednesday in protest at his comments.

A spokesman for DAMAC Properties, Niall McLoughlin, declined to comment on whyTrump's image had been removed from a billboard outside the project construction site, along with that of his daughter, Ivanka Trump. 

The AKOYA by DAMAC project will include a Trump-branded golf course, gated island community and spa. Trump is also building a second golf course, the Tiger Woods-designed Trump World Golf Club, at another DAMAC property in Dubai, AKOYA Oxygen.

An advertising billboard outside the AKOYA by DAMAC development had shownTrump in a red hat swinging a golf club against a backdrop of a lush green golf course.

By Thursday, the image had gone, a Reuters photographer said.

An adjacent photo of Trump's daughter Ivanka, an executive vice president for hisTrump Organization firm, was also removed from the billboard.

Gold letters spelling out “Trump International Gold Club,” affixed to a landscaped stone wall at the entrance to the project site, were also removed later in the day, according to the Reuters photographer.

Trump on Thursday postponed a planned trip to Israel amid the global backlash over his proposal. Israeli politicians and more than 370,000 Britons urged their governments on Wednesday to bar Donald Trump from their countries.

Two journalists killed in Cairo violence

Two journalists were killed in Cairo on Wednesday as Egyptian forces crushed protests by thousands of supporters of the deposed president, shooting scores of people dead.

Television cameraman Mick Deane, 61, worked for Britain's Sky News. Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz, 26, reported for the Dubai-based news weekly Xpress.

Troops opened fire on demonstrators who had staged a sit-in for the past six weeks to demand the reinstatement of the Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi.

Deane was shot as he covered the operation. He had worked for the BSkyB-owned Sky News for 15 years, based in Washington and then Jerusalem. He was married with two sons.

“The loss of a much-loved colleague will be deeply felt across Sky News. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family,” John Ryley, head of Sky News, said in a statement.

Abd Elaziz, an Egyptian, had been on leave when she was shot dead, according to Xpress's sister publication Gulf News.

“It's hard to believe she's gone. She was passionate about her work and had a promising career ahead,” Xpress deputy editor Mazhar Farooqui was quoted as saying.

A Reuters photographer was shot in the foot while covering the violence. Asmaa Waguih was receiving treatment for the bullet wound.

“We have the utmost respect for all the journalists who put themselves in harm's way to bring us the news, video and pictures we see every day. At Reuters, safety is our highest priority and we take every precaution we can to ensure it,” said Stephen Adler, Reuters Editor in Chief.

Editing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Israeli soccer player on U.K. team barred from entering Dubai

An Israeli soccer player for a British team is sitting out a team visit to Dubai because of tensions between the emirate and Israel.

The 25-year-old striker, Itay Schechter, who plays for Swansea City, was prevented from attending the six-day group training session, The Jewish Chronicle reported on Wednesday.

The United Arab Emirates does not recognize the state of Israel and Israeli passport holders can be arrested and deported on entering without a special visa. Dubai is one of the UAE's severn emirates, or city-states.

Hamas and Dubai have accused Israel of assassinating Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel in Dubai in January 2010 in a plot involving a dozen assassins using forged passports from Britain, Ireland, Germany and France, among other countries.

Schechter, who was once a victim of anti-Semitic abuse when he was given a Nazi salute during a training session, has traveled to Israel to train with his former Hapoel Tel Aviv football club ahead of a Premier League match this Sunday, the newspaper reported.

In 2009, the Dubai Tennis Championships was levied a record fine over its country's refusal to award a visa to Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe'er. She received a visa and appeared in the 2010 tournament in Dubai.

Israeli cardiologists denied visas for Dubai confab

Jewish and Arab Israeli cardiologists were denied visas at the last minute to attend a professional conference in Dubai.

Only two of the more than one dozen Israeli doctors invited to present talks at or participate in the World Heart Federation conference in Dubai last week were able to attend, The Jerusalem Post reported. Some 12,000 cardiologists attended the conference.

Each of the Israelis denied visas had paid $3,000 to attend the conference, including hotel and airfare. The conference, which had pledged to try to ensure that Israelis would be given visas to enter Saudi Arabia, reportedly would not refund the doctors’ conference fees.

The Israelis who did attend the conference were confined to the hotel, The Jerusalem Post reported.

In January 2010, it was suspected that Israeli agents used foreign passports to travel undercover into Dubai in order to assassinate Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Report: Mossad continues to use foreign passports

Agents of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency reportedly are still using foreign passports to conduct undercover operations in other countries.

According to a report Sunday in The Times of London, new evidence shows that foreign nationals residing in Israel are willingly allowing the Mossad to use their passports.

Several Israelis interviewed by The Times revealed details of how they were approached by Mossad officials about the possibility of volunteering their passports for the Mossad.

In January 2010, it was suspected that Israeli agents used foreign passports to travel undercover into Dubai in order to assassinate Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Following the assassination, Dubai police officials revealed that British, French, German and Australian passports were used by the assassination team.

Ex-Mossad chief Dagan plays down Dubai flap

Former Mossad director Meir Dagan played down the controversy around Israel’s alleged assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai.

Dagan, a retired army general who stepped down as head of Israel’s foreign intelligence service in January after an eight-year tenure, gave a rare television interview Thursday.

Asked on Channel Two about the killing in early 2010 of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room, and the furor that ensued when the UAE published passport photos and security camera footage of the alleged assassins, blaming the Mossad, Dagan was unperturbed.

In keeping with Israeli policy, he neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the incident. But Dagan asked the interviewer, “Have you heard of anyone who was arrested as a result of the publication of these images that were released in Dubai?” She said no, and Dagan shrugged.

The Dubai suspects used cloned passports from Britain, France, Ireland and Australia in the operation, prompting outcry in those countries against Israel.

“The basic demand of Mossad activity, that it be conducted in a state of zero foul-ups, in a reality where you operate with conditions changing all of the time, I think this is justified,” he said, but added that “Everyone understands that it is not realistic.”

Hamas official targeted in Sudan attack, Palestinians say

The target of an airstrike on a car in Sudan blamed on Israel was a high-ranking Hamas official, Palestinian intelligence officials said.

One of the men killed in Tuesday’s attack was Abdul-Latif Ashkar, who coordinated weapons smuggling for Hamas and was the successor of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, the Hamas official assassinated in a Dubai hotel room in January 2010, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Thursday

“This is absolutely an Israeli attack,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti told reporters Wednesday in the capital of Khartoum, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, an unidentified plane reportedly flew into Sudanese airspace from the Red Sea and bombed the car, killing its two passengers, before flying back the way it came. The plane evaded several missiles fired by the Sudanese army.

Karti said one of the car’s dead passengers was a Sudanese citizen with no government or Islamist ties.

Israel was accused in 2009 of a deadly strike on a convoy of trucks in eastern Sudan suspected of being arms smugglers transporting weapons bound for the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Israel’s Shin Bet security service announced that it had nabbed five members of a Hamas terror cell that was planning attacks inside Israel. The men were captured last month in Jerusaelm, but their arrest had been kept under a gag order.

The men, all residents of an eastern Jerusalem village, reportedly was preparing a shooting attack similar to one in March 2008 at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, which killed eight yeshiva students.One of the arrested men admitted to preparing a pipe bomb that blew off the hand of a municipal Jerusalem worker in March.

Anti-Israel backlash from WikiLeaks release

WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of classified diplomatic cables has caused a backlash of anti-Israel conspiracy theories, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Anti-Israel conspiracy theorists are claiming that Israel and the Israel lobby played a secret role in the documents’ release, the ADL said in a statement Wednesday. The claims originated on Arab and Islamic websites, according to the organization.

“Once again, as we saw with the 9/11 attacks and the financial meltdown, we are seeing yet another manifestation of the Big Lie against Jews and Israel,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, in a statement. “The WikiLeaks affair has given new life to the old conspiracy theories of underhanded Jewish and Israeli involvement in an event with significant repercussions for the U.S. and many nations around the world. The news is being exploited by conspiracy theorists, some world leaders, and various websites across the ideological spectrum to spread false and malicious conspiracy theories against Israel.”

One claim alleges that WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, struck a deal with Israel to withhold any cables that were embarrassing to Israel. Another charges that Assange actually works for Israel as a spy and that Israel’s intelligence agencies orchestrated WikiLeaks as a public relations campaign, according to the ADL.

Hüseyin Celik, a deputy leader of AKP, Turkey’s ruling party, hinted in comments during a Dec. 1 press conference that Israel could be responsible for WikiLeaks. “Israel is very pleased [with the WikiLeaks controversy],” he said. “Israel has been making statements for days, even before the release of these documents.”

Similar claims have surfaced on anti-Zionist sites and on Al Manar, a Lebanon-based news service run by the terrorist group Hezbollah.

Israeli swimmers under heavy security at Dubai meet

Israel’s national swim team is competing under heavy security in a world competition in Dubai.

The team arrived in Dubai just in time for the Tuesday opening ceremony of the FINA World Swimming Championships after the United Arab Emirates agreed at the last minute to issue visas for the team. The team was subject to a thorough security check and their passports were not stamped, Haaretz reported.

The team was surprised during the opening ceremony when it was introduced as ISR, instead of announced by its name like the other 147 countries marching into the arena. More than 800 athletes are participating at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, a state-of-the-art facility built especially for the event, The Associated Press reported.

In February 2009, the UAE denied a visa to Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe’er to compete in the annual Dubai Tennis Championships. The tournament paid a record $300,000 fine to the World Tennis Association for the affront and lost corporate sponsors as a result. Pe’er was granted a visa to the 2010 event.

Alleged Mossad agent extradited to Germany

An alleged Israeli Mossad agent suspected of involvement in the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai was extradited from Poland to Germany.

Polish police said Uri Brodsky was turned over to German police at Warsaw’s international airport on Thursday afternoon, The Associated Press reported.

A hearing is set for Friday in Germany. Media reports have suggested that Germany will let Brodsky go with a fine since the Polish appeals court decided to extradite him on charges of forgery and not for spying. The German court can only try him on the charge for which he was extradited.

Brodsky, who was arrested at the Warsaw Airport in early June, is suspected of having helped another Mossad agent, reportedly named Michael Bodenheimer, to illegally obtain a German passport as part of the plot to kill senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room in January. Mabhouh co-founded the military wing of the Islamist Hamas movement and allegedly was in Dubai to conclude a weapons deal when he was killed.

Dubai police investigations reportedly pointed to the involvement of 33 people in the plot. They were placed on Interpol’s most wanted list, and Germany particularly sought Brodsky, according to reports.

The team allegedly used fake passports from England, Ireland, France, Australia and Germany.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that it was involved in the assassination.

British citizen identified as Dubai suspect

A British citizen who traveled on his own passport has been identified as a suspect in the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai, a British newspaper reported.

The Independent reported Sunday that the 62-year-old British citizen entered Dubai under his own name and carrying his genuine British passport. His father is believed to be a Jewish Palestinian who moved to Britain after World War II. The man is believed to be hiding in Western Europe, according to the report.

Dubai police have informed Interpol of the name and passport number of the suspect. The Independent decided not to publish the suspect’s name.

The new suspect brings to 33 the number of people accused by Dubai police of being part of the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in January. The Israeli Mossad intelligence agency has been blamed for the slaying, in which Mabhouh apparently was suffocated after being drugged.

In March, an investigation by Britain’s Serious and Organized Crime Squad found that the Mossad provided members of an assassination team with forged British passports.

The assassins used forged passports from Britain, Ireland, Australia and Germany to enter and leave Dubai. One of the newly identified assassins used a French passport.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in Mabhouh’s assassination.

New Dubai assassination suspects identified

Five more suspects have been identified in the investigation into the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai, The Wall Street Journal reported.

One of the suspects, identified as Zev Barkan, also is being sought in New Zealand in connection with passport fraud there, an unnamed source told the newspaper.

In 2004, two Israeli citizens were convicted of illegally attempting to obtain New Zealand passports; they were widely believed to be agents of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Their conviction led to the suspension of high-level diplomatic contacts for one year and the closure of Israel’s embassy. The embassy recently was reopened.

The new suspects bring to 32 the number of people accused by Dubai police of assassinating Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in January. The Mossad has been blamed for the slaying, in which Mabhouh apparently was suffocated after being drugged.

In March, an investigation by Britain’s Serious and Organized Crime Squad found that the Mossad provided members of an assassination team with forged British passports.

The assassins used forged passports from Britain, Ireland, Australia and Germany to enter and leave Dubai. One of the newly identified assassins used a French passport.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in Mabhouh’s assassination.

Meanwhile, Britain this week refused to allow the Mossad to send a new representative to Israel’s embassy in London since the Foreign Ministry has refused to sign a commitment not to forge British passports in future operations. Britain expelled an embassy official, believed to be a Mossad representative, in March, following the completion of its investigation into the affair.

A Tennis Lesson for the World

The news out of Dubai has been rife with speculation about who assassinated Hamas terrorist commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a local hotel. Israeli
agents and al-Mabhouh’s Palestinian rivals are high on the guess list.

But amid the who-did-it debate, a happier Dubai event was taking place. A few weeks ago, Shahar Peer became the first Israeli woman to compete in a professional sporting event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Peer, a superb tennis player, defeated several highly ranked competitors on her way to the semifinal round of the annual Dubai championships. The 22-year-old then lost to American star Venus Williams, who went on reclaim the title she had won the previous year. But no less significant was Peer’s stunning performance and how she got there in the first place.

Her appearance was a year overdue. Peer was part of the draw for the 2009 Dubai championships, and her name, like that of the other players, had been supplied to the Emirates authorities long in advance. Yet the day before the opening matches, Peer received word that the UAE had denied her a visa.

Tournament director Salah Tahlak said Peer’s presence “would have antagonized our fans” because of their opposition to Israeli policies.
In fact, 2009 was dotted with international insults to Israeli athletes. Weeks after the Dubai event, the Swedish Taekwondo Federation blocked Israeli participation in the annual championships at Trelleborg. On the eve of the tournament, 45 Israeli athletes had to cancel their flight plans.

In October, at the fencing world championships in Antalya, Turkey, the Iranian team dropped out without notice. The Iranian government forbade its fencers to compete after learning that they were in seeding brackets with Israeli athletes. Iran’s disruptive behavior drew barely a nod from the Turkish hosts.

Effrontery to Israeli delegations was not limited to athletic competitions. Two Israeli women, both research doctors, were abruptly disinvited to a conference in Egypt on breast cancer. The sponsoring organization, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, told the women that the Egyptian Health Ministry was barring them. The doctors were doubly shocked by subsequent Komen and Egyptian claims that the Israelis themselves had decided not to attend.

Neither the Swedish, Iranian, Turkish nor Egyptian authorities were seriously criticized for their misbegotten behavior. But sponsors of the Dubai tennis tournament reacted differently, and therein lies a huge lesson.

Peer responded indignantly when she was notified of her ban in 2009. Larry Scott, the chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour, echoed Peer’s assertion that politics should be kept separate from sports. After consultations among the players, and with Peer’s concurrence, the tournament was not canceled, but the Dubai authorities were hit with an avalanche of penalties.

Scott warned that if Peer were prevented from playing in Dubai in the future, “they would run the risk of losing their tournament.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal’s European edition dropped advertising for the 2009 event and cable television’s Tennis Channel canceled its planned coverage.

Soon after, the WTA levied a fine of $300,000 on the Dubai tournament organizers. The WTA board also demanded that the organizers post a $2 million guarantee that henceforth all players who qualified would be allowed to compete. The UAE would have to show proof of entry permission for any Israeli player at least eight weeks prior to the tournament.

Further, Williams said she would not play again in Dubai unless Peer was admitted to the 2010 contest.

The threat of losing the tournament and its accompanying money, attention and prestige evidently impressed the Dubai organizers. Peer’s participation in 2010 made that point even though none of her matches was on the center court. All were relegated to an outside court with limited seating, presumably as a safety measure.

Still, Peer’s iron determination to play, and play well, drew plaudits from commentators around the world. Above all, her presence signified the ability to rectify a wrong when good people are insistent.

The Iranian fencers in 2009 were permitted to let politics trump their commitment to compete. Their Turkish hosts and fellow competitors remained stone silent rather than call for penalties for the Iranians’ blatant discrimination. Nor were the Swedish and Egyptian authorities who disinvited Israeli participants even censured, let alone penalized.

If ignored, such injustices will be repeated. Dubai 2010 demonstrated how concerted efforts can help change errant behavior.

Overseers of all these events would do well to heed Scott’s words after the UAE agreed to the WTA’s stipulations: “Thanks to the courage of Shahar and all those individuals and organizations, including her fellow players that supported her, the UAE has changed their policy, and another barrier of discrimination has fallen.”

Leonard A. Cole is the co-chair of the Task Force on Anti-Semitism for the Jewish Agency and former chair of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs.

Proposed USC-Dubai journalism school concerns faculty and community

Faculty members at the USC Annenberg School for Communications are deep into a controversy that should be of interest to the Jewish community.

It concerns a proposal from USC for a $3 million contract for Annenberg to work with the American University in Dubai to create a journalism and communications school in the Middle Eastern nation.

Some on the USC faculty are concerned that Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will discriminate against student applicants and faculty who are not Muslim, including Jews. Critics also cite past United Arab Emirate opposition to Israel.

What makes this of interest to local Jews — even those not connected to the home of the Trojans — is the close connection USC has forged with the Jewish community over the years. The Jewish presence among students, faculty and the board of trustees is strong, USC’s Hillel is bustling and the university also has the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life, which works with the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, as well as the Shoah Visual History Foundation. In addition, Jews are among USC’s financial supporters.

The current university is far different than the old anti-Semitic USC. That era was recalled in a 1996 article by The Jewish Journal’s Tom Tugend, who described the school’s pre-World War II quota system that was “strikingly simple. One Jewish student was admitted to the medical school, one to the dental school and one to the law school.”

Today, Jewish faculty members are divided over the Dubai proposal. “So many of the people involved in this are Jewish,” said Ed Cray, a veteran journalism professor.

According to a proposed memorandum of understanding, Annenberg would receive $1 million a year for three years to provide the American University and its Mohammed bin Rashid School for Communication with curriculum advice and faculty assistance. Annenberg would also work with its Dubai partner to set up an international conference center and think tank there.

The memorandum states that neither USC nor the Rashid school would “discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, color, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, veteran status, marital status or any other category protected by law in employment or in any of its programs and/or activities.” But it’s unclear how this clause would be enforced.

Annenberg dean Ernest J. Wilson III told me that USC will be “providing training to a significant part of the journalists who will be distributing information all through the Middle East and into India.”

Annenberg professor Philip Seib, principal director of the project, said in an article on the Annenberg Web site, “The news business is much less mature in Arab countries…. We’re eager to contribute to the enhancement of journalistic fundamentals … by fostering appreciation of American journalism values — everything from ethics to professional production skills….”

Faculty critics with long memories recall a proposal in the 1970s for a USC Middle East Studies Center financed entirely, Tugend reported, “by Arab oil money.” The Jewish community, fearing creation of a nest of pro-Arab, anti-Israel academics, protested, and the proposal was killed.

A vocal opponent of the Dubai plan is professor Jonathan Kotler, who was joined by a half-dozen colleagues. He told me he was concerned about UAE support for the PLO and its “civil rights record … in its treatment of foreigners, women, children and gays….” And he noted that Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has been sued for forcing young boys into slavery to serve as jockeys in the popular sport of camel racing. The Dubai communications school was named for him.

“I don’t think we should get into bed with such a person,” he said, and he believes the proposal “besmirches the name of the university and the Annenberg school.” He was particularly concerned about past United Arab Emirate support for the Palestine Liberation Organization, which he considers a supporter of jihad and terrorism.

“As a Jewish American, I am offended,” he said.

Murray Fromson, an emeritus journalism professor and a longtime foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and CBS, sees it differently.

Fromson, who every year visits his daughter Aliza Ben-Tal, assistant to the president of Ben-Gurion University, in Israel, told me this is not a Jewish issue unless Dubai discriminates against Jews or academics who are involved in communications programs in Israel. “It’s a Jewish issue if we start a program in Israel and they [Dubai officials] say we can’t do it,” Fromson said.

He said his years as a reporter overseas taught him the value of such programs, a view that was reinforced when he headed a USC program in Mexico, in the days when the PRI political party clamped down on dissent in a brutal way, and the government bribed the press.

His students there learned about a free press. “Two of our students were among those who got the National Assembly to adopt a First Amendment [free press guarantee],” he said.

I’ve taught at Annenberg on and off for several years. As a part-time Trojan, here’s what I think:

Like Fromson, I believe a program such as this can do much good, even in a country with a poor human rights record. But USC should insist on ironclad anti-discrimination clauses in the contract to prevent the Arab rulers of Dubai from discriminating against Jews and other non-Muslims.