Israel Resource Review 1st April, 2005


Contents:

Sharon's Folly:
A Strategic Assessment
Dr. Daniel Pipes
Director, Middle East Forum


This piece assesses the implications of the Sharon government's success last week in pushing through its Gaza withdrawal plan, in terms of historically unprecedented nature of this step and its legally dubious nature, then note how Sharon betrayed the voters who supported him, thinking he would reject his opponent's plan for a unilateral retreat program, and the many malign consequences of this change on Sharon's part.

With the passage last week of a budget bill in Israel, the government of Ariel Sharon appears to be ready to remove over 8,000 Israelis living in Gaza, if necessary with force.

In addition to the legal dubiousness of this step and its historical unprecedented nature (challenge to the reader: name another democracy that has forcibly removed thousands its own citizens from their lawful homes), the planned withdrawal of all Israeli installations from Gaza amounts to an act of monumental political folly.

It also comes as an astounding surprise. After the Oslo round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (1993-2001) ended in disaster, many Israelis looked back on Oslo's faulty assumptions, their own na´vetÚ, and resolved not to repeat that bitter experience. Israelis awoke from the delusion that giving the Palestinians land, money, and arms in return for airy-fairy and fraudulent promises would lessen Palestinian hostility. They realized that, to the contrary, this imbalance enhanced Palestinian rejection of the very existence of the Jewish state.

By early 2001, a riven Israeli electorate had largely re-unified. When Ariel Sharon became prime minister in February 2001, a wiser leadership had apparently taken over in Jerusalem, one that recognized the need for Israel to return to toughness and deterrence.

These optimistic expectations were indeed fulfilled for nearly three years, 2001-03. Sharon engaged in a quite masterful double diplomacy in which he simultaneously showed a cheery face (toward the American government and his leftist coalition partners) and a tough one (toward his Likud constituents and the Palestinians). The purposefulness and underlying consistency of his premiership from the start impressed many observers, including this one; I assessed Sharon's record to be "a virtuoso performance of quietly tough actions mixed with voluble concessions."

Sharon decisively won re-election in January 2003 over Amram Mitzna, a Labor opponent who advocated an Oslo-style unilateral retreat from Gaza. Sharon unambiguously condemned this idea back then: "A unilateral withdrawal is not a recipe for peace. It is a recipe for war." After winning the election, his talks in February 2003 about forming a coalition government with Mitzna failed because Sharon so heavily emphasized the "strategic importance" of Israelis living in Gaza.

By December 2003, however, Sharon himself endorsed Mitzna's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. While he did so in a spirit very different from the prior Oslo diplomacy, his decision has the same two main characteristics.

First, because the decision to retreat from Gaza took place in the context of heightened violence against Israelis, it vindicates those Palestinian voices arguing for terrorism. The Gaza retreat is, in plain words, a military defeat. It follows on the ignominious Israeli abandonment of its positions and its allies in Lebanon in May 2000, a move which much eroded Arab respect for Israeli strength, with dire consequences. The Gaza withdrawal will almost certainly increase Palestinian reliance on terrorism.

Second, the retreat is heating up the political climate within Israel, bringing back the dangerous mood of exaggeration, incivility, hostility, and even lawlessness. The prospect of thousands of Israelis evicted from their homes under threat of force is rudely interrupting what had been a trend toward a more healthy atmosphere during the relative calm of 2001-03.

Sharon's plans at least have a disillusioned quality to them, sparing Israel the wooly notions of a "new Middle East" that so harmed the country a decade ago. But in another way, Sharon's plans are worse than Oslo; at least that disaster was carried out by the clueless Left. A Right - led by Ariel Sharon - valiantly and staunchly opposed it. This time, it is the Right's hero who, allied with the far-Left, is himself leading the charge, reducing the opposition to marginality.

There are many theories for what reversed Sharon's views on the matter of a unilateral Gaza withdrawal in the ten months between February and December 2003 - I have my own ideas about the hubris of elected Israeli prime ministers - but whatever the reason, its consequences are clear.

Sharon betrayed the voters who supported him, wounding Israeli democracy. He divided Israeli society in ways that may poison the body politic for decades hence. He aborted his own successful policies vis-Ó-vis the Palestinians. He delivered Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim rejectionists their greatest boost ever. And he failed his American ally by delivering a major victory to the forces of terrorism.

Daniel Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Contact Information:
Dr.Daniel Pipes
Director
Middle East Forum
1500 Walnut Street, Suite 1050
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102, U.S.A.
Tel: 1-215-546-5406, ext. 15
Fax: 1-815-425-2139
E-mail: Pipes@MEForum.org

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Lack of a U.S. Response to the Planned Executions of "Collaborators" at the Order of the Palestinian Authority
Arlene Kushner


This much seems clear: Palestinian Authority executions of "collaborators" are scheduled to take place shortly. The full particulars are difficult to verify.

On February 17, 2005, news broke in Israel that Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) had ratified the execution of three "collaborators" who had been charged with treason. According to the reports, the information came from one Sakher Bseiss, governor of the Northern Gaza Strip - who, it would seem, was providing a service to the P.A. by going public with this.

The full story, as provided by Bseiss, was that there were 51 people on death row who had been convicted of various crimes and sentenced to death within Palestinian Authority courts during Arafat's regime. Abbas, in accordance with Islamic law, which requires that all death sentences be approved by a religious authority, turned the cases over to Sheikh Akrima Sabri, the mufti of Jerusalem, who approved the sentences as religiously valid. Abbas then put his signature on some or all of the death warrants.

Why it was said that there were three "collaborators" to be executed is not clear. Perhaps these three were simply those being scheduled to go first. For by the second week of March the news carried stories of 15 "collaborators" due to be executed before the month was out.

According to Avi Leitner of the Israel Law Center, Shurat HaDin, there have not been 15 "collaborators" who have been tried and sentenced to death; the Center, which monitors these matters, is aware only of some seven or eight. Many more are inside the prisons, but have not been put on trial. In any event, the trials that have proceeded have been precipitous and have conformed only dubiously to any coherent system of law: from place to place within the P.A., the rules vary.

Those who were convicted and sentenced had been sitting for some time on death row. They might have sat there indefinitely. The reason why Abbas decided at this particular juncture to move on the executions is of more than passing interest, and has precious little to do with genuine due process.

"Collaborators" are Palestinians who have cooperated with Israeli authorities to locate wanted arch-terrorists, who then are usually executed. That this cooperation constitutes treason within the P.A. courts is a matter of considerable significance. The Palestinian Authority itself is supposed to be locating and imprisoning and presumably trying terrorists with blood on their hands. In fact, as the death penalty is a common sentence for murders within the P.A., it would not be outrageous to suggest that such terrorists, if tried, might have received such sentences in due course.

Yet so great is the influence of terrorist groups such as Hamas within the Palestinian society that their extreme displeasure with he "collaborators" has to be taken very seriously. Abbas himself has made it clear that the members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are brothers who will be incorporated into the society, and not outsiders to it.

The terrorist groups, however, were creating a problem for Abbas, who has been working mightily to generate the impression that he is heading a nation-in-the-making that conforms to democratic principles and functions with law and order. In point of fact, the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of anarchy and control of renegade forces is close to nil.

Particularly embarrassing for Abbas are extra-judicial executions, in which members of Hamas and others drag individuals accused of collaboration out of their homes and summarily shoot them or hang them.

This is not a situation that could be tolerated. But Abbas had neither the desire nor the ability to come after those who carry out such executions. His solution was to co-opt the situation and demonstrate to those inclined take part in extra-judicial executions that the system viewed the matter of "collaborators" seriously and would be dealing with them within the bounds of the legal processes of the P.A. "Don't worry, guys," he was telling them: "we'll handle this."

This may have moved Abbas one very small step towards creating greater order within the society, but it most certainly has not moved him closer to principles of democracy. There is first, the significant matter of his seeking the approval of a Muslim religious authority, even after the P.A. courts had handed down their rulings. With this Abbas has tipped his hand: The Palestinian state will be ruled by Islamic law.

Then too there is the critical fact that the human rights of those "collaborators" scheduled for execution have been abrogated.

U.S. policy with regard to issues of human rights in the international arena has been vastly complex. Where, it is appropriate to ask, does the United States stand in this instance?

Recent U.S. history is replete with instances in which "Real Politik" prevailed and human rights issues went out the window. When it has suited the national interest, totalitarian regimes have been uncritically supported.

And yet, we wouldn't be totally wrong to have favorable expectations with regard to U.S. support of human rights. Thirty years ago Congress passed the Jackson-Vanick Amendment, which denied most favored nation trade status to nations that did not grant its citizens the right to emigrate. That was a stunning success. The U.S. rose to the occasion when called to do so, and Jews trapped in the Soviet Union were able to find their way out.

From Jerusalem, where I work, I decided to clarify the United States position on this matter. On March 8th I called the U.S. Embassy Spokesman Paul Patin in Tel Aviv. When I put the question to him about the U.S. position, he alluded to extra-judicial executions and made it clear that the U.S. was opposed to them. I in turn then clarified that I was not speaking of anything extra-judicial, but something that had gone through legal process in the P.A.

"Was the U.S. going to do anything about this?" I asked.

"Well," he intoned, "we're not going to send in the army."

I was not certain if he was being flippant or if this was a poor and inappropriate attempt at humor, but I decided to play it straight.

"I know you're not sending in the army," I replied.

"There is no official position on this," Patin said.

"Ah," I answered, "but maybe unofficially the U.S. might do something - like, you know, tell Abu Mazen that if he wants full support from the U.S. this cannot be permitted."

At this, Patin stonewalled: It was not in his jurisdiction, he explained. The Embassy deals only with relations with Israel. It is the Consulate in Jerusalem, which takes its orders not from the Embassy but directly from the State Department, that deals with U.S. relations with the P.A.

"Call Chuck Hunter," he advised. I did, and found Mr. Hunter, the Consulate Spokesman, to be totally without flippancy or humor as he spoke about the subject.

"This is an important question," he said. He wanted to check locally and with Washington in order to get more information, and would then get back to me. Late in the day, March 9th, he did call me.

"I've checked with my people locally," he told me, "and there haven't been any executions."

"But," I protested, "Abu Mazen has signed off on the executions and the people are sitting on death row."

"You know how it is with death row," he demurred. "They can sit there forever."

"Then the U.S. doesn't intend to do anything about this situation?" I asked.

"No," he answered, in closing.

Was Mr. Hunter giving me something with his comment about sitting on death row indefinitely? Was this indeed an instance of very low key, informal, back-door protection of rights? There is no way for me to be certain. But if he was, it is insufficient.

President Bush has been adamant about the need to cultivate democracy in the Muslim states in the Middle East. He has indicated repeatedly that peace between the Palestinians and Israel will not be possible until the Palestinians achieve a democratic state. This has been a cornerstone of his policy. Is he now going to sell that policy short and cut Mahmoud Abbas far more slack than he should?

A true democracy is about more than elections and a legislative body. It is concerned with the value of human life, and protection of civil liberties and genuine due process of law. Mr. Bush knows how to speak out forcefully with regard to what he expects, in accordance with his vision of what is required for peace. He even says Israel has some responsibility to ensuring Palestinian economic viability. Is he going to accept a mere semblance of democracy within Palestinian society - an empty shell without the soul of democracy - without an effort to help develop more?

The ostensibly moderate leader of the Palestinians is moving, without genuine due process of law, to execute individuals whose crime was to aid and abet the capture of murderers and to likely prevent the loss of additional human life at the hands of these same murderers. In the face of this, can the American government afford to remain silent?

Arlene Kushner lives and writes in Jerusalem. Her book, Disclosed: Inside the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, has just been released and is available at www.IsraelBehindtheNews.com.

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"Generic" Complaint that Can be Filed Against the U.S. State Department for Coercing Jews out of their homes.


(This "generic letter" can be used as the basis for anyone who would like to make claim against the U.S. State Department in the matter of American support for the policies of Ariel Sharon and Mahmud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen. This was prepared by Atty. Barbara Newman, tel. 0523-444241. From outside of Israel: 011 972 523 444 241.)

April 5, 2005

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

By E-mail: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

By fax: (202) 307-6777

Re: Class Action Civil Rights Suit v. State Department

Jewish American Citizens threatened with eviction from Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza and Targets of Palestinian Authority Terrorism


Dear Hon. Attorney General Gonzales:

It is only the Attorney General that has the power to define terrorism and to compel the State Department to name a terrorist group. It is only the Attorney General that can keep Congress from funding a terrorist group. As such I am turning to you to initiate an investigation and to act upon your findings. The United States is prohibited by law to give aid to any country, and certainly to any non-country like the Palestinian Authority, that confiscates or nationalizes property of United States citizens. The United States is certainly barred from aiding a terrorist organization, especially when the terrorist acts are against Untied States citizens.

AId to Terrorism

Currently the United States Department of State has arranged for the CIA to train at least 500 new Palestinian police. Of these, 150 are members of Hamas. Of the Palestinian police that the State Department had previously trained and armed, the overwhelming majority have carried out terrorist attacks against Israel. Furthermore, part of their police force has become a post facto intelligence bureau that has shared intelligence with various terrorist groups and has directly orchestrated and implemented terrorist actions against both Israeli and American citizens.

The documents that the Israeli Army found in the main offices of the Palestinian Authority in the Mukata show that the Palestinian Authority directly committed terrorist acts and funded the terrorist acts of various terrorist organizations. In fact, they issued the order for various attacks and coordinated them. In some instances, they transported the terrorists of bombs in Palestinian Authority ambulances. These documents can be viewed in www.intelligence.org.il . The terrorism research institute, being privy to additional documents that remain classified, maintain that at least 75% of the police force and at least 75% of the employees of all agencies of the Palestinian Authority either were directly involved in terrorist acts or were members of terrorist organizations.

Examples of terrorist activity of the Palestinian police was the Ramallah lynch in which two Jewish young men made a wrong turn and found themselves at the outskirts of Ramallah. The Palestinian police brought them to the Ramallah police station. The chief of police instigated the other police to attack these two men. They were beaten, stabbed countless times; their eyes were gouged from their sockets and literally disemboweled and dismembered with the attackers' bare hands in the Ramallah police station. Then the Palestinian policeman threw one down to the waiting mob down below where his face was further crushed with stones, feet, fists and even a heavy metal window frame. One man was set on fire and dragged along the street as the others danced and cheered in a frenzied, hideous ecstasy. Pictures of this can be found on http://www.yesha.homestead.com/ramallahlynch.html .

Palestinian law issues the death warrant.to Arabs that sell land to Jews and to Jews who reside in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Palestinian police kill these individuals as an exercise of their official duties. In addition, anyone providing information about terrorist attacks are brutally killed.

For example, Friday, January 21, 2005, Mohammad Mansur, 23, accused of cooperating with Israel was slowly dismembered in the main square of the Balata camp south of Nablus. Knives and axes were used to chop off his fingers and toes first, then his limbs. No ambulance was permitted to collect his remains, which were thrown into a dumpster. Nablus governor and Palestinian Authority leaders issued dire warning against revelation of this horror. The brutality of the Authority is a matter of public record. There are numerous Palestinian atrocities, for example two teenage boys, one of them an American citizen, were tortured to death near their home in Tekoa, Judea. The modus operandi of the Palestinian Authority is not limited to torture killings; a number of the suicide bombers were Palestinian police.

The Palestinian Authority's game of splintering to commit terrorist acts under some other name and then reintegrating is wearing thin. Currently, the Palestinian Authority has members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups declared as terrorist organizations, on their payroll. Those that weren't on the Palestinian Authority payroll were permitted to run the last elections.

These groups are being courted to rejoin the Palestinian Authority. If these groups join the Palestinian Authority, then the Palestinian Authority must be declared a terrorist organization. Currently, the Palestinian Authority, rather than arresting known terrorists, is offering them jobs in the Palestinian Authority. (see www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=79584)

Defining which group is terrorist, is a task performed by the Secretary of State. The only one that can compel the Secretary of State to name an unnamed individual or group is the Attorney General. As such, I turn to you as the only person in the United States with the power and authority to challenge the State Department's actions. The Palestinian Authority must be declared a terrorist organization and funding barred. Furthermore, the State Department must cease coercing Israel into forcibly evicting Jews, including American Jews from their homes for the benefit of the Palestinian Authority.

There are one million Arabs, regarded by the Palestinian Authority as Palestinians, living in Israel, enjoying all the benefits of Israeli citizenship. There is no reason that 200,000 Jews cannot live in Palestine. For the Untied States to reinforce the Palestinian Authority's demand that all Jews must be removed, regardless of nationality, while all Muslims and Christians, including Israeli and American citizens may remain, violates everything that the United States stands for. To do so with no due process or civil rights is downright criminal. Constitutional rights are extra-territorial.

By international law, Jews have a specific right to settle in all of Judea and Samaria. (see http://www.yesha.homestead.com/politics97.html ). By the laws of the United States, there is no prohibition for American Jews to have a second home in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, or Gaza. It is a violation of international law for the United States to coerce the removal of United States citizens.

The claims of the migrant workers who emigrated to this region when Jews hired them to work this abandoned area are lame, as they are not the indigenous population.


Land Confiscation by Racial and Religious Criteria

The State Department originated a document called the Roadmap which prohibits individual Jews, including non-Israeli American citizens, from exercising their property rights. They are prohibited from the use and occupancy of their property. As Palestinian law prohibits any Jew from owning property, by coercing the transfer of control to the Palestinian Authority, Jewish owners have lost their property with no compensation paid thereof. I have sent the attached letter, to Dr. Rice in an attempt to resolve these complaints amicably and to request the waiver of the State Department employees' qualified immunity in the event a federal judge finds wrongdoing. Immunity should be waived in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety with officials hiding behind immunity to avoid accountability.

I am fully aware that the State Department has absolute immunity and the employees have qualified immunity for damages. However, actions for declaratory and injunctive relief could be brought. The Attorney General, however, has the right and obligation to bring suits after an investigation finds wrongdoing. I ask both for an investigation into these issues and for you to bring suit to compel the State Department to cease their illegal actions.

The State Department is not just issuing policy statements, but imposes sanctions. The United States Department of State punished Israel for settlement by withholding a portion of the guarantee authorized by Congress proportionate to Israel's expenditures for settlement expenses. Worse they aid an organization that killed and plans to kill United States citizens.

I also ask you to request Congress to suspend, pending the results of your investigation, any funding to the Palestinian Authority. I also ask that you prohibit funding assistance to Israel which will finance the disengagement.

They have asked for a grant of 500 million dollars. The particular areas that Jews are being forcibly removed from are those regions hardest hit by terrorist attacks. In Samaria, a large number of fatal attacks occurred in or around Sa Nur, Homesh, Gadid and Kadim, such that a significant number of residents moved temporarily from their home to safer areas. The attacks in Gaza are almost daily for the past four years. As the terrorist statute covers loss of property, not just loss of life and limb from terrorist attacks, we believe that the terrorists should not obtain property as a result of terrorism. It is your moral, as well as your legal obligation to stop this.

I would appreciate being informed of the results of your investigation. Thank you for your prompt attention to this critical matter.

Respectfully,

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PLO Invites Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join on the Basis of "The Phased Strategy for Destroying Israel"
Dr. Michael Widlanski


Official Palestinian media declared on March 29th, 2005 that Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the HAMAS and Islamic Jihad organizations have agreed in principle to full unification, with all sides recognizing the PLO's "Strategy of Stages," a document that sets out a phased program for Israel's destruction.

"Representatives of the HAMAS movement and Islamic Jihad will formally attend a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization today, and the two movements [HAMAS and Jihad] have agreed in principle to join the PLO [Arabic: al-munadhama]," declared the opening headlines on Voice of Palestine radio.

At Mid-day, however, a spokesman for HAMAS, Hassan Youssef, said HAMAS would not participate in the meeting today of the 13-member PLO Executive Committee, the PLO's highest body, but he and Jihad members reiterated they were joining the PLO.

"We have made a strategic choice," asserted Mushir al-Masri of HAMAS, citing the PLO's Strategy of Stages as an underlying point of agreement between the PLO, HAMAS and Jihad.

Even his use of the words "strategic choice" [Arabic: khayar istrateeji] was an echo of the term as used by the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat and his successor Dr. Mahmoud Abbas.

"The HAMAS movement has decided to join the Palestinian Liberation Organization," declared Masri, the HAMAS spokesman, in an interview with Nizar al-Ghul, the top anchor-man of Sawt Felasteen, Voice of Palestine, the official PA radio outlet.

"The HAMAS movement has made a strategic choice for continuing jihad (holy war) and resistance (Arabic: muqawama) until we achieve liberation, and the middle name of the Palestinian Liberation Organization is 'liberation,' and it has not stopped moving to liberation" he said.

"We must move together to our goals, even if they goals achieved by stages," said al-Masri.

The dramatic announcement of PLO-HAMAS-Jihad unification comes amid the flow of sophisticated weapons to PLO and Islamic agents, and it represents both a major success for Abbas along with a serious potential threat for Israel for several reasons:

  • For Abbas, who succeeded Arafat as the leader of both the PLO and the PA, it is a major Palestinian domestic success, perhaps beginning to take him out of Arafat's shadow;
  • For Israel, it is worrisome that the Islamic extremists, who have continued to amass weapons and stage intermittent terror attacks, are now officially part of the Palestinian establishment;
  • And perhaps most problematic is the re-statement by both the PLO and HAMAS that they are bound to the PLO's 1974 action-plan entitled the "Strategy of Stages" (Arabic: barnamaj al-marahil) which seeks Israel's destruction through a combination of diplomacy and violence.

The announcement of unification was featured in detail on all the morning news shows of Voice of Palestine radio (Sawt Felasteen) from Ramallah and on Palestinian television from Gaza, showing lengthy shots of Abbas meeting with the HAMAS leadership, while demonstrably fingering Islamic prayer beads (Arabic: sibha or masbah) in his left hand.

HAMAS officials declined to give detailed responses to questions about whether the unification meant a change in HAMAS's ideology or its official covenant (Arabic: mithaq), but it appeared that neither HAMAS nor Jihad-nor even the PLO-was willing to offer an official renunciation of the use of violence against Israel.

Instead, both PLO and HAMAS officials have, in recent days, confirmed that they have accepted the strategy of "staged goals" (Arabic: ahdaf marhalliyya) as it appears in "Strategy of Stages" set forth at a PLO conference in 1974.

"The goals of the present stage are that by the end of 2005 our people will arrive at the borders of September 2000 [when Arafat launched the present war know as the "Aqsa Intifada"]," asserted Palestinian leader Abbas in an interview with Egyptian news agency two weeks ago.

When Abbas was asked specifically about the Bush Administration's demand for disarming Palestinian terrorists, he said, "I will not embark on an operation that will lead to a civil war."

The Abbas interview was featured on the front page of his own Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda newspaper, run by his Fatah organization, on March 15 and March 17. Fatah is the largest constituent member of the PLO, and it includes the Tanzeem militia and the "Aqsa Martyrs Brigades" suicide bombers.

In recent weeks, Palestinian leader Abbas has steadfastly refused to condemn HAMAS or Jihad by name for recent acts of terror, including the bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub on February 25, saying only that such acts "gave Israel excuses" not to meet Palestinian demands and were, therefore, "against Palestinian interests."

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in a cabinet meeting this Sunday that PLO and Islamic agents had successfully smuggled sophisticated Soviet-made SAM-7 "Strella" anti-aircraft missiles into Palestinian-ruled areas.

Such missiles could shoot down Israeli civilian planes, and they are also the reason that Israel has cut back on the use of military helicopters.

Official Palestinian spokesmen denied the Israeli comments (which have been made very quietly), asserting that there were no missiles in Gaza. Meanwhile, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Ariqat [sometimes spelled Erikat] made fun of the Israeli comments in a radio interview yesterday.

"That's what the Israelis say," asserted Ariqat, the PA Negoitions Minister, referring to the Israeli allegations.

"They have the whole West Bank under lock and key. There are road blocks everywhere and they're saying there are missiles in the West Bank," he declared laughingly.

"It's all part of an Israeli strategy to delay carrying out their commitments," he said.

Israeli forces yesterday arrested several members of a joint Islamic Jihad-Fatah terror cell in the northern West Bank town of Jenin which was preparing explosives and motorized projectiles for the production of a new generation of "Qassam" rocket-the kind only used until now in the Gaza Strip. Several members of the cell were among the 500 Palestinian convicts whose release PLO leader Abbas had recently won in talks with Israel.

© 2005 Michael Widlanski [By Permission to IMRA]

Dr. Michael Widlanski teaches political communication and comparative politics at the Rothberg School of Hebrew University. His doctorate, "Palestinian Broadcast Media In the Palestinian State-Building Process: Patterns of Influence and Control," was based on eight years of research involving more than 7,000 hours of monitoring Palestinian radio in Arabic as well as television and newspaper surveys. Widlanski was a reporter-researcher in the NYTimes Jerusalem bureau, 1980-82, Middle East Correspondent for The Cox Newspapers/Atlanta Constitution/Boston Globe, 1982-89.

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PLO Revs Up Themes of "Resistance" and "Anti-Judaization" in Land Day Demos
Dr. Michael Widlanski


The Palestinian National Authority (PA) used the "Land Day" Commemoration[1] last week, on March 30th, 2005 to increase the anti-Semitic aroma of its "anti-Judaization" campaign against Israelis and Jews.

Official Palestinian media and top officials of the PA and the PLO, both headed by Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, used the occasion to warn that "Jerusalem is in danger" from "extremist Jews" and "infidels" engaged in high-level Israeli plots, including:

  • Conspiracies to destroy Islamic holy places;
  • Programs to flood Jerusalem with Jews;
  • Plans to buy Arab property secretly and to erase the Arab presence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and "inside the Green Line" (the official term used for real estate inside the 1949 frontiers of Israel).

    "Jerusalem is danger, I tell you," asserted PA Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia, waving his hands energetically, repeatedly and almost frantically during an interview.

    The remarks of Qreia (known also as Abu-'Ala) were shown, at least four times, yesterday as part of a special four-minute film report on PA official television.[2]

    The film clip depicted Jerusalem-including the Western side of the city-as a peaceful green oasis that has been assaulted by invasions of "non-believers" and "infidels," chiefly the Israelis, in 1948 and 1967.

    The Israeli "occupations" in 1948 and 1967 inside Jerusalem were depicted as a spreading black stain overwhelming the pastoral green of Arab-Islamic control.[3]

    Qreia and other PA and PLO officials stressed that the Palestinian public had to "confront" and to "resist" the dangerous Jewish plots.

    "We have to concentrate on the main thing," stated Yasser Abd-Rabbo, a member of the 13-man PLO Executive Committee, its highest organ.

    "The main thing is how to confront the sad fate that awaits Jerusalem," added Abd-Rabbo, a former "information minister," explaining that "without Jerusalem, there is no Palestinian state."

    "The main subject today is settlements, Jerusalem and the fence," stressing that he and the Abbas-Qreia regime was eager to have HAMAS-Jihad support.

    "That subject requires joint resistance of all varied Palestinian forces," proclaimed Abd-Rabbo.[4]

    "We agreed to a ceasefire, but that does not mean we will not resist the fence and the settlements with popular and diplomatic means, with peaceful means.[5] We have to defend Jerusalem and confront the settlements and the fence."

    His remarks, during a long interview on Voice of Palestine radio, called for HAMAS and Islamic Jihad, which are joining the PLO, to take part in the "confronting" and the "resistance."[6]

    The remarks by Qreia and Abd-Rabbo were also echoed by PA Negotiations Minister Saeb Ariqat in several radio interviews. But the point man was the PA prime minister.

    "Yes, I tell you, Jerusalem is in very real danger, very real. The Israeli government is taking all means to Judaize Jerusalem in a final way."

    "Jerusalem is being exposed to very real dangers, very real dangers. Jerusalem is in danger," continued Qreia, the second-ranking PA official behind Chairman Abbas (who is also known by his nickname Abu-Mazen).

    Prime Minister Qreia and other Palestinian officials have been fuming about the sale to Jews of two hotels just inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. The two hotels were owned by the Greek Orthodox Church.

    Since the reported sale, the lives of Greek Orthodox clerics have been threatened, and Palestinian officials such as Qreia, Abd-Rabbo and Ariqat have called the action a "crime" and a "betrayal" of Palestinian interests.

    Palestinian media have, for at least ten days, been highlighting the reported sale, calling for pressure on the church. But the campaign against Jewish purchase of property has even included comments about Jewish ownership inside the Galilee.

    The "Land Day" campaign of the Palestinian leadership and media also included calls to "resist Judaization" even "inside the Green Line," meaning not to sell to Jews or to oppose Jewish construction inside Israel.

    But the heart of the PLO anti-Judaization drive is still Jerusalem and its holy places-and the strong insinuation that sinister Israeli forces are plotting its destruction.

    The feature film montage, in which Qreia appeared, also highlights the fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969, which has often been characterized in the PA media as an Israeli-Jewish plot, even though the man who set the fire was a deranged man from Australia who was not Jewish.

    Nevertheless, Qreia and the PA's official mosque speakers, even mentioning plots by "the Jewish government," have been harping on this theme in recent days.


    © 2005 Michael Widlanski [By permission to IMRA]

    Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times ,The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.

    [1] "Land Day" or "Eternal Land Day" (as the PA has begun to call it) marks the death of several Israeli Arabs in the course of violent demonstrations over land disputes with the Israeli government in 1976. [2] The film clip was shown on PA television on March 29 several times in addition to the four times on March 30, as part of the regular news broadcasts. [3] Green is the official color of Islam, known as "Lawn al-Nabi," the "color of the prophet." [4] Abd-Rabbo interview on Sawt Felasteen (Voice of Palestine, 90.7 FM), March 29, 8:15 a.m. [5] "Peaceful means" and "the peaceful Intifada" are terms that have been regularly used by Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, Abd-Rabbo and other Palestinian leaders. The terms connote the use of violent demonstrations and "popular means" but generally frown on demonstrably violent attacks-such as human bomb attacks-- on Israeli civilians inside 1949 Israel. [6] The term resistance in the Palestinian glossary (muqawwama in Arabic) is often used for violent acts, not just demonstrations. Suicide bombings and military attacks are also called "resistance" in the Palestinian media.

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    Farewell to the Pope:
    A tribute from a Jewish Reporter in Jerusalem
    David Bedein


    The visit of Pope John Paul II in Israel will not be forgotten.

    Yet not everything went smoothly.

    Shortly after Pope John Paul II announced that he was coming to Israel with the genesis of the new millennium in Spring 2000, our news agency received a memo from the PLO that the Pope was going to come to the United Nations Refugee camp of Deheishe and endorse the "inalienable right of return" for Palestinian Arab refugees to exercise their "inalienable right" to repossess the homes and villages that they had lost in 1948, an act which would essentially dismember the modern state of Israel.

    Our agency called the Vatican ambassador in Jerusalem, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, also known as the Papal Nuncio, to verify if it was the intention of the Pope to convey any such message.

    The Archbishop was clear in his response that this was not the message that the Pope intended to convey in Deheishe, and asked to see what the PLO was communicating.

    I then went to see the Papal Nuncio at his suite on the Mount of Olives, overlooking all of the Old City of Jerusalem, and brought a selection of memos, press statements and posters which the PLO had issued to herald the arrival of the Pope.

    The Papal Nuncio said that the Pope appreciated being warned in advance that the PLO was trying to put words in the mouth of the Pontiff, and handed our agency the precise text of what the Pope would say when he would arrive in Deheishe - a generalized call for all sides to honor the spirit of UN resolutions.

    Following the Pope's visit to Jerusalem, the Papal Nuncio said that the Pontiff had expressed much interest in knowing more about the PLO operation in Israel, and asked for material about PLO education and PLO media.

    The intense interest of the Vatican in PLO intentions surpassed the involvement of the Israeli government and some of the better known Jewish organizations.

    In late August 2000, following the breakdown of Israel-PLO talks in Camp David, our agency acquired the new school books of the Palestinian National Authority, which were the first school books issued by Palestinians, designated to replace the school books that had been issued by Jordan and Egypt. These new Palestinian school books were financed by Italy, Belgium, Holland and Finland, while the Palestinian schools themselves were built with funds from the US, Canada, the European Union and the Scandanavian countries. While the Palestinian Ministry of Education had always assured Israel that when the Palestinians would have their own school books, they would be harbingers of peace, the translations of the new school books* showed that the new books were filled with themes of Anti-Semitism , non-recognition of Israel and the inculcation of the struggle to liberate all of Palestine.

    Our news agency issued a news story about the new Palestinian school books which was picked up by the major media, and we offered copies of the Palestinian school books to the Israeli government ministries and to all the diplomatic missions in Israel to examine them. Yet when we brought the Palestinian school books to the Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs, he indicated no interest in taking a look at the books.

    As I turned to leave the ministry, rather discouraged that highest officials of the Israeli government did not want to see the reality of Palestinian education, I received a call on my cell phone from Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Papal Nuncio, saying that he was en route to Rome the next day, with a clear message: "The Pope would like to see the new Palestinian school books. Could you bring the books to the Vatican office in Jerusalem". Well, with the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs showing no interest in the books, I brought the box of books intended for the perusal of the Israeli government to the Vatican, for the Pope to peruse. En route on the taxi to the Vatican in the Mount of Olives, the Papal Nuncio told me on the cell phone to reassure my children that he was not really who he said he was. Since the Papal Nuncio was calling after hours, he had called my home and asked for me and for my cell phone number from my children, introducing himself as the Pope's ambassador. My children thought that he was putting them on with a fake accent. Indeed, how many Orthodox Jewish children take telephone messages from the Vatican?

    The Papal Nuncio did take the new Palestinian school books to Rome, and the Vatican issued its own recommendations on the Palestinian school books, determining that they were virulently anti-semitic and asked the Italian government to not provide any further funds for the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Italy has not invested any money ever since in these school books.

    The spin of the Israeli government at the time was that there had been an improvement in the Palestinian school books, and the Anti Defamation League followed suit and dispatched a letter to Arafat to thank the PLO leader for the reported "improvements" in the Palestinian school books. Only problem was that the government of Israel and the ADL did not bother to do what the Pope did - to read the new Palestinian school books for what they were.

    So there you have it: Pope John Paul II showed greater sensitivity to emerging Anti-Semitism in the nascent Palestinian Authority than the government of Israel or the ADL.

    This was not the only time in the last years of the Pope's life that the Pontiff showed warned of emerging Anti-Semitism in the nascent Palestinian National Authority.

    In March 2003, the Papal Nuncio in Jerusalem addressed a visiting US Congressional delegation and shared a warning from the Vatican that the new constitution prepared by the Palestinian National Authority for the emerging Palestinian State was based on the most fundamentalist Islamic interpretation of the Sharia Law which now rules Teheran and Mecca, and that the constitution for the emerging Palestinian state allowed for no recognition for the juridical status for Judaism or for Christianity - only a vague call for "tolerance" of monotheistic religions. I covered that presentation and asked for a copy of the new Palestinian constitution which had reached the Vatican, especially since its preparation was funded, in part by grants from US AID.

    The Papal Nuncio provided a copy of the constitution in Arabic and the chairman of the Palestinian Constitutional Committee, Nabil Sha'ath, confirmed its authenticity.

    We had the constitution translated and analyzed by Arabic-speaking journalists, and posted it on our website.

    To this day, no Israeli nor American government spokesman will comment on the warnings issued by the Vatican about the fact that the constitution for a future Palestinian state would create an Anti-Semitic and Anti-Christian entity.

    Meanwhile, Pope John Paul II allowed the Vatican in Jerusalem to provide a listening ear to delegations of Christians and others who were persecuted by the new Palestinian National Authority, and went so far as to intervene with Arafat to forestall the executions of Arafat's opponents.

    On Friday, April 1st, 2005, while the Pope was lying in a terminal state in Rome, our news agency had a prescheduled meeting with the Papal Nuncio, to introduce a human rights lawyer to him and to discuss the fate of 51 Palestinian dissidents who had been placed on Death Row by the new Palestinian leader, Mahmud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen.

    I hesitated to bother the Vatican at this time.

    However, the Papal Nuncio made it clear that the meeting should take place. Human lives were at stake. And the scheduled 15 minute meeting lasted for an hour, so that the Pope's ambassador in Jerusalem could learn as much as possible about the fate of Abbas's sentenced opponents. That is what Pope John Paul II would have wanted: to not stand idly by the suffering of his fellow man.


    Epilogue

    What are the roots of the special sensitivity that Pope John Paul II demonstrated to the subject of Anti-Semitism and to the suffering of people around the globe?

    One theory may hold true. Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, a renowned professor of Jewish history, gave a speech at the time of Pope John Paul II's visit in Jerusalem. Hertzberg asked about a gap that existed in the biography of Pope John Paul in Poland, from 1939 to 1944, while three million Polish Jews were being systematically murdered, in death camps and ghettoes that were nearby the home and church of the young cleric who would become the first Polish Pontiff.

    Yes, the future Pope John Paul II saved some Jewish families.

    Yet it is not clear if he was involved in any systematic rescue effort to save Polish Jewry.

    Perhaps this is why Pope John Paul II approached the Western Wall of what was the Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem and asked forgiveness from God and from the Jewish people for the suffering that the Jews had endured at the hands of other Christians.

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