|Israel Resource Review
||15th April, 2007
Renewed Negotiations with Syria: Currently Not in Israel's Interest
Former Director, Israel National Security Council
Source: Strategic Assessment Volume 9, No. 4 March 2007
I am among those who believe that a political settlement is a good thing.
Rafael (Raful) Eitan was once asked if he supported a peace settlement
between Israel and Syria based on the principle of land for peace, and he
said, "Certainly. If they give us more land, I will be happy to go toward
them in peace . . . "
A peace treaty is better than a situation without peace. It is certainly
better than war, but one must determine what kind of peace is offered versus
the alternatives. In fact, doesn't the peace agreement on the Syrian agenda
create a reality that is liable to lead to war more quickly than the absence
of an agreement?
One of the issues most commonly raised in Israeli public discourse is: is
Basher Asad serious? is he interested? is he willing? This is followed by:
is he capable? These are important questions, but not the most important
ones. The most important question is: what do we want? Answering this
question requires a brief look at Israel's interests in this situation
compared with other alternatives. My conclusion differs from the common
assumption that if Asad is serious we should initiate peace talks with
There are five reasons why Israel should not engage now in negotiations with
Syria over a peace treaty similar to the one discussed seven years ago, and
especially if there are chances that the negotiations might succeed.
What the Agreement Lacks
The first reason concerns what cannot be obtained through an Israeli-Syrian
peace settlement. First, a treaty with Syria will not remove the Iranian
threat, which is mainly a nuclear threat. Syria needs Iran but Iran does not
need Syria, and certainly not on the nuclear issue. Whether or not Iran
pursues its nuclear ambitions depends on matters in which Syria plays
practically no part or none at all. Thus, this threat is talked about - with
some justification - as a viable and growing threat, and it will continue
irrespective of a peace treaty with Syria or lack thereof.
A peace treaty with Syria does not solve the Palestinian problem. The
dispute between Israel and Syria is ultimately a territorial dispute between
two countries. There are dozens of such disputes around the world. Some have
been going on for decades and even centuries. There are conflicts that are
solved, some that are not solved, and some will never be settled.
Not only would a solution to the Israeli-Syrian conflict not help solve
Israel's problem with the Palestinians; it even exacerbates almost every
aspect of the problem. If Israel advances on one axis, it is unlikely to be
able to advance on another. Yet to the Palestinians, a resolution of the
Syrian dispute would be a kind of slap in the face and would likely prompt a
new and growing intifada. In addition, if there were any thoughts of
reaching a peace agreement at some time with the Palestinians based on
borders that are not identical to the June 4, 1967 borders, reaching an
agreement with the Syrians that validates the borders of June 4, 1967 will
make it very difficult to effect the changes needed in a resolution with the
A peace treaty with Syria will not solve the problem of Lebanon, and herein
lies the big difference from the past. Had Israel reached a peace settlement
with Syria six or seven years ago, it could have done so with Lebanon as
well. As such, the Lebanese would have been forced - together with
Hizbollah - to swallow the bitter pill and agree to a Syrian dictate,
including disarmament of Hizbollah. That was then, while Syria was in
control in Lebanon. Today the situation is different. Now Israel could reach
a peace agreement with Syria without its impacting in any way - and
certainly not decisively - on the situation in Lebanon. The Syrian
withdrawal from Lebanon bolstered Hizbollah and reinforced Iranian
intervention in Lebanon. Thus, if there is a peace treaty with Syria,
Hizbollah will remain unaffected, and the Lebanese problem will be
Peace with Syria will not lead to any comprehensive agreement vis-?-vis
Israel's relations with the Arab world, as the root of the hostility between
Israel and the Arab states that have not signed a peace treaty with Israel
is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thus if this problem is not solved,
another peace treaty with an additional country - Syria - will at best be
like the treaty with Jordan; in other words it will not impact measurably
and certainly not solve any significant problem.
Finally, an agreement would not solve the problem of Israel's standing in
the world, as in this area as well, a kind of myth has evolved, namely, the
real problem is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a treaty with one more
country will not enhance Israel's international standing at all.
These five interests will not be achieved or advanced through a peace
agreement with Syria. It remains to be seen, therefore, whether the give and
take of direct negotiations with Syria is in Israel's interest. In this
context, there are four more reasons why Israel does not currently have any
interest in peace talks with Syria.
The American Factor
Of lesser importance though not irrelevant is the fact that right now, the
United States has no interest in encouraging a peace treaty between Israel
and Syria. This is a secondary consideration, since if peace with Syria had
immediate value for Israel, Israel would try to persuade the US to change
its mind on the matter. But as of now, the clear American approach - both
the official approach and the behind-the-scenes one - is that the United
States has no interest in Israel arriving at a peace agreement with Syria.
Would it be right to "confront" America over this particular issue? And if
so, would an agreement with Syria earn us all the potential America rewards,
compared with the benefits bestowed by the United States following
agreements it was eager to promote?
The Agreement's Lifespan
At issue is the potential stability of such an agreement and what would
happen if it did not last. Syria is a minority-ruled country. The minority
is the Alawi sect, which comprises only 14 percent of the country's
population and is looked upon by the Sunni majority as inferior and not
genuinely Muslim. In a situation of this sort there is no certainty with
regard to the fate of such a treaty once the rule of the country is removed
from the Alawis.
Since Basher Asad assumed the presidency, two main factors have kept the
Alawi minority in power. The first is the support of Iran, though this could
be withdrawn at any point. This support is not only military and political,
but also of a religious nature in the sense that the Shiite establishment in
Iran recognizes the Alawis as legitimate Muslims and therefore does not
challenge the Islamic authenticity of the regime.
The second factor is that Syria is ruled by an emergency regime that enables
the government to intervene anywhere where there is commercial, financial,
or political activity. All this is based on the argument that an Israeli
attack is expected and that emergency laws are essential for defense of the
country. Once there is peace between Israel and Syria and thousands of
Israeli tourists begin swarming into Syria, this argument will no longer be
relevant. The Sunni majority, with a considerable degree of justification,
will demand its share of power and will ultimately assume control in Syria.
The Sunnis' strength will increase dramatically with the collapse of their
great enemy, the Alawi regime. There is no guarantee that a Sunni government
of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria would honor a peace treaty signed by "the
non-legitimate heretics of the Alawi minority." In other words, Israel may
sign a peace treaty whereby the chances of its longevity are highly
Even if it is possible to reach a security agreement between Israel and
Syria, I believe such an agreement would be unreasonable, and I would even
define it is as dangerous. There are two explanations for this: the
deterrence concept, and erosion of capabilities and deterrence.
What is deterrence? What is the model of the security agreement? The model
is based on the sufficient eastward withdrawal of the Syrian tanks. If Syria
decided to breach the peace treaty and move its tanks to the Golan Heights,
Israel would have sufficient time to dispatch its forces, which would be
stationed to the west of the Jordan River, and be able to repossess the
Golan Heights. This would mean that the battle between Israel and the
Syrians would once again take place on the Golan Heights. However, this
approach is based on four assumptions that are problematic at best, if not
The Syrians will adhere religiously to the agreement and the
demilitarization and will not undermine the treaty. This seems to me highly
unlikely, if not impossible.
If there is any Syrian movement or there is a Syrian decision to engage in
military action, Israel's intelligence will identify and interpret this
correctly. The world, including the Middle East, has witnessed dozens of
examples of intelligence errors in understanding the other side's
intentions. This is aggravated by an element of deceit, whereby the other
sides tries to "convince" you that the real story is otherwise. It is very
risky to formulate a security concept on faith in perfect intelligence
The Israeli government, as soon as it identifies any intention of war, will
make the right decisions, including mobilizing the reserve forces and
instructing the IDF to move into Syrian territory on the Golan Heights. The
"game" between us and the Syrians is not balanced. The Golan Heights can be
demilitarized on both sides, but it would be Syrian. Entry there by the
Syrian army would only be an infringement of a treaty; Israeli entry there
would a declaration of war. Thus, taking such a decision quickly and in real
time is problematic.
Israel can comfortably contend with a new military reality on the Golan
Heights. In fact, the relatively simple current reality (an area that is
mostly uninhabited, without irrigation channels and other "civilian
obstacles") would probably change and the military difficulties would
Any peace agreement will naturally impact on capabilities and deterrence.
Assume that the terms of the settlement in question are the same ones we
would have reached in 2000. This settlement offers a solution for one
security problem but does not solve two far more serious security problems.
The settlement provides a solution for the issue of Syrian tanks. Assume
that the Syrian tanks will move back to an adequate point, and that
deterrence - despite its four (problematic) assumptions - will be
maintained. Even this optimistic scenario does not solve the two more
The first is the arsenal of surface-to-surface missiles in Syria, including
missiles with chemical capabilities that can strike any location in Israel.
The second is that as soon as the Syrians control the whole of the Golan
Heights, a large number of towns like Bint Jbail will be established along
the Jordan River. This will enable them to maintain many "civilian" soldiers
with advanced anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons. No demilitarization will
be able to supervise such a development. Then, even if Israel succeeds in
maintaining deterrence and had enough time to take the Golan Heights (before
the Syrian tanks get there), it would have to break through a line of towns
like Bint Jbail built along the Jordan River. There is no appropriate
military answer to this situation, and again, a demilitarization settlement
does not provide a total solution.
In terms of security, agreeing to such a treaty would mean taking an
unreasonable risk unless Israel changes its security concept relating to
warfare on the Golan Heights. This means that from now on, Israel
understands that should war break out with Syria it will not be waged along
the Golan Heights ridge and eastward; rather, it would start from the Jordan
River and proceed towards Safed and Tiberias, "and we will somehow manage."
While it is true that Israel encountered this challenge in 1948 and 1967, I
would not advise revisiting this situation a third time.
Today Israel's security concept vis-a-vis Syria is based on the fact that as
long as the IDF is stationed on the Golan Heights, the military result will
be attained through Israel's ability to create an immediate threat to
governmental assets, including IDF forces reaching Damascus. As the Syrians
are aware of this, an effective deterrence has been maintained over the
Israel's solution to the Syrian threat, including the threat of
surface-to-surface missiles and non-conventional weapons, is the deterrence
capability, meaning that the Syrians are aware of the price its government
is liable to pay if its starts a war. When the military reality changes,
Syria's temptation to attack will increase.
A stable reality, with or without a treaty, is maintained (particularly in
the Middle East) only when the cost of breaching it is greater than the
expected benefit. It is not maintained only because there is an agreement or
because there is international supervision. I do not see how such a
mechanism can be generated if Israel withdraws from the Golan Heights.
Ethos is also a subject that should be addressed. The question is in what
sort of country we in Israel want to live. Israel may be able to reach a
peace agreement, and assume that solutions can be found on the Golan Heights
and elsewhere. The question is whether we want to live in a country that
within thirty or forty years will be full of concrete, with all that that
The Israeli people have a genuine need to live in an area with space, views,
water, and agriculture and, yes, rich in Jewish history.
In this respect the Golan Heights is more than a security requirement. It is
part of the ethos of the Israeli and there is no need to apologize for it. I
was asked about this in a radio interview: "Wait a minute, so what are you
saying?" the interviewer asked me, "are we doomed to stay on the Golan
Heights forever?" - as if we were talking about some form of punishment.
These five reasons indicate to me that even if there are seemingly positive
conditions, in the sense that Basher Asad is willing and possibly able, it
would not be right to reach a peace agreement based on such substantive,
tangible Israeli concessions for such poor returns.
At this point, the necessary question is: Will Israel be in this situation
forever? And does this eternity likely guarantee more wars? The answer goes
beyond the issue addressed here and touches on the general challenge of
settling the Israeli-Arab conflict - and whether it can be solved only in
accordance with the Arab dogma whereby Israel returns all the occupied
territories in return for peace. In other words, there can only be peace if
Israel gives up all the territories and returns to the 1967 borders. I think
this is the wrong narrative.
This incorrect version is not ours. Unlike others, I do not believe that
this is or has to be the only narrative.
Postscript: The Lebanon Issue
My last point concerns the issue of Lebanon. It seems that one of the
parameters that has changed in the last seven years, even if there is
disagreement over other aspects to the argument presented here, is Syria's
ability to compel Lebanon, all its
forces there notwithstanding, to honor an agreement between Syria and
About two and half to three years ago there was debate in Israel about
whether Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon was a positive development. The
decided position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was that it was good for
Israel that the Syrians leave Lebanon. This position was adopted by Prime
Minister Sharon and became official policy.
There were others who thought differently. It wasn't as if Israel was the
main factor and certainly other parties decided on Syria's withdrawal of its
forces from Lebanon, but Israel undoubtedly encouraged them as much as it
could. I believe that was a serious historic error. It would have been
better for Israel had Syria remained in Lebanon. The Syrian interest in
Lebanon was at least on a par with its interest in the Golan Heights. It
would have better for the Syrians to be engaged in maintaining their assets
in Lebanon. Now, having lost them, what remains is to fight for the next
asset - the Golan Heights.
There is another issue here, and I will inject a personal angle at this
point. I did not participate in any negotiations with Syria, but I was part
of the team that, as a secondary effort, prepared a possible treaty between
Israel and Lebanon. In other words, in 2000, talks were progressing with
Syria at the same time that a draft of a treaty with Lebanon was being
prepared. At the time I was head of the IDF's Operations Branch, which
addressed the security implications. The position was approved by the
political leadership. We believed that Syrian presence in Lebanon was
preferred, or at least, Israel had no interest in insisting on the opposite.
We said: as long as the status quo in Lebanon is maintained and the Syrians
stay there and move no further south and do not introduce their air force or
missiles, the situation is tolerable end even desirable.
Syria's withdrawal about two years ago started a process that is, of course,
bad for the Syrians. However, this does not necessarily mean it is good for
us. This shows that when it comes to interests, there are sometimes strange
convergences. The withdrawal of the Syrians from Lebanon did not match
Syria's interest or Israel's. The sum-zero thinking that if it is bad for
our enemies it is good for us is not necessarily correct. Israel's
enthusiasm two years ago in encouraging the Americans, the French, and the
UN to pressure the Syrians to withdraw from Lebanon was a mistake.
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Commentary: Our Fate and Faith At This Time
I offer here a link to a piece by Barry Rubin called "Goodbye to Western Civilization." I urge all of you to read it, but particularly those who are in N. America. There must be sufficient alarm about such events as those Rubin describes to arouse people from their complacency. During the Pesach holiday I had the misfortune to meet with someone from Los Angeles, here visiting family, who was entirely complacent and uncomprehending about the threat of radical Islam. Her opinion in and of itself is unimportant, but I was deeply distressed because I knew that she represents an entire stream of thought in the US -- a stream of thought that is appalling oblivious and thus deeply deeply dangerous. Those of you who know such persons might consider sending this link to them.
What Rubin describes is an article from a British newspaper that contains what "may be the scariest sentence" he has ever read.
"It's so frightening because the story reveals how the institution most entrusted with preserving democratic society and Western civilization--the school system--is betraying that trust. According to a report by the British government's Department for Education and Skills, schools in England are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils.
"And here's the really scary sentence in the press reports: 'Some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.' Get it? They are told at home or by Muslim preachers that the Holocaust never happened, and rather than challenge this misinformation, teachers are shutting up so as not to disturb a world view based on lies.
" . . . Moreover, teachers are dropping such material due to, as press reports put it, 'Fears Muslim pupils might express anti-Semitic and anti-Israel reactions in class.'"
Anyone not frightened by this is asleep.
Says Rubin, "Up until now, democratic, modern societies have successfully absorbed large numbers of immigrants because of the process of assimilation or . . . acculturation. The idea, so successful in the United States, has been that immigrants must accept the society's rules . . .
"But now, it is the successful society that must adapt to less democratic ones. Where does it end? Can schools teach democracy to those told this is heresy because laws can only be made by God? . . . And what about the value of tolerance itself, since it might upset those who have been taught intolerance toward others?
" . . . Rather than [students being confronted or challenged], they will be left safe in their prejudices. Aside from the broader implications, such behavior constitutes a reinforcement of racism, intolerance, and hatred in the name of a philosophy--political correctness--which is supposed to combat these things . . . "
"This new approach also condemns Muslim immigrants to be slaves of the radical Islamists among them. Rather than challenge extremism, the school would reinforce it. Students hungry for knowledge and freedom would be told to shut up and believe what their mullahs say . . . "
Rubin is deeply concerned about the fact that these policies have been adopted even though there have been no Muslim riots with regard to the matter. There has been an acquiescence offered up voluntarily: " . . . there is one more horrifying element--perhaps the worst of all--in what is happening in Europe [note: it is not only in Britain and Rubin also mentions France]: the passivity with which people are excusing or ignoring this revolution against freedom."
I urge each of you to be vigilant on behalf of freedom. It depends on all of us.
Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center University, Herzliya.
Ironically, on the eve of our time for remembering the Holocaust, our prime minister, Ehud Olmert, met in his residence with a Holocaust denier, Mahmoud Abbas. (His doctoral thesis in Moscow was Holocaust denying and he elaborated on the theme in the book in Arabic that followed.)
As was anticipated, nothing of significance came from the meeting. In fact, I was able to get a good laugh out of PA preparations before the meeting. (I look for humor where I can find it.) Abbas, it was reported, was planning to ask Olmert to turn over to the Palestinian Authority responsibility for security in certain Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria. Yea, right! (Abbas or his advisors must have thought twice about this idea, because he never asked.) These are the cities where the IDF enters regularly to catch terrorists, break up terrorist rings, etc. Remember those?
Ah, but never fear: the PA cabinet had voted on a security plan for stopping the anarchy (which until now they sure haven't stopped). Included in this plan was a joint operation room for rival security forces and an appeal to gunmen not to flaunt their weapons in public. That'll do it, for sure.
What did transpire at the meeting was an agreement to meet next time in Jericho. Abbas also put forward a plan -- which had been drafted by US Security Coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton -- that calls for PA security forces to deploy along the Philadelphi border with Egypt to help stop smuggling, and along the Gaza Strip corridor to stop the firing of Kassams. Forgive me if I'm just a tad dubious here. My motto: Show me, don't tell me.
Meanwhile Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO Negotiations Department, explained before the meeting that Shalit would not be discussed because this was being handled by Egypt, acting as a go-between before Israel and Shalit's captors:
"We don't have enough information about this case. We don't even have a copy of the list of names of Palestinian prisoners that the captors submitted to Israel."
Well, now . . . even if (a big if) Abbas were sincere about wanting to improve the situation with Israel, it is clear as clear can be that he is out of the loop and totally powerless. That's why the idea that he will now stop smuggling or the shooting of Kassams is a joke.
As concerns the deal for Shalit, Hamas has let it be known that more bombings and kidnappings will follow if Israel doesn't agree soon to release those prisoners. In my book, such threats qualify as sufficient reason to refuse to go along at all.
Olmert is making some not altogether explicit noises about being willing to meet with certain Arab states that have relations with Israel in the course working group meetings set up by the Arab League to advance the "peace process."
And Foreign Minister Livni is in Jordan discussing the "peace process" as well.
Heaven help us.
MK Azmi Bishara, still out of the country, has now let it be known that he'll quit the Knesset. In an interview with Al-Jazeera, he speaks about the "incitement" against him. Ah, poor thing. It has now been revealed that he is under investigation by an Israeli court. Said he: "We are the true natives of this land, and we refuse to accept the assumption that those who are the enemies of the state are also our enemies. They consider this an offense." How about that.
On March 12, Alan Johnston, a native of Scotland who worked as a BBC journalist, was kidnapped at gunpoint in Gaza City. Efforts to rescue him were unsuccessful, but on April 12, Abbas assured BBC that he had "credible evidence" that Johnston was "safe and well."
Today, Palestinian Jihad, an al-Qaida affiliated group in Gaza that allegedly abducted Johnston, declared that they have killed Johnston and promised to release a video of his murder; BBC has no confirmation of this announcement.
In its declaration, the group said:
"The whole world made so much noise about this foreign journalist, while it took no action over our thousands of prisoners.
"Our objective was to broadcast a clear message, and we were surprised by the position of the Palestinian Authority, which attempted to hide the case as much as it could and to present the case in an untruthful manner, leading us unfortunately to kill the journalist so that our message is understood."
I, also without confirmation, tend to believe this. Abbas gives people what they want to hear. We are likely looking at another example of the powerlessness of Abbas and the total anarchy that reigns in PA areas. Security sources say that al-Qaida-linked groups in Gaza and not Hamas present the greatest danger to Abbas.
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The Man Who Inspired Hitler
The 27th day of Nissan year marks the day when the Warsaw Ghetto uprising began against the Nazis in 1943.
The 27th of Nissan was therefore selected as Holocaust Remembrance and Heroism Day in Israel - the day on which Israel would remember the mass murder of Jews in World War II - not only as a day of mourning and remorse, but also as a day to remember those who fought back against the Nazis and their allies.
To paraphrase the questions asked on Passover two weeks ago, people often ask why this persecution of Jews in Christian countries was different than other persecutions?
After all, Jews had suffered persecution in Christian lands over the centuries.
This time, Nazis incorporated the Moslem idea of Jihad - which involved the impulse to total destruction and complete annihilation in the spirit of a Holy War.
The Moslem cleric who inspired Adolf Hitler with the idea of Jihad was none other than the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin El-Husseini, who did not want masses of exiled Jews to wind up in the land of Israel, which he claimed as a future Arab Palestine, devoid of Jews. Arafat used to call him "Uncle."
Indeed, in 1936, the Mufti welcomed Hitler's deputy, Adolf Eichmann, to his office at the Supreme Islamic Council, based at the Palace Hotel in the center of Jerusalem, where Eichmann kept meticulous records of his meetings with the Mufti , where the Palestinian Arab leader of that generation taught Eichmann about the philosophy of Jihad.
Journalist Maurice Pearlman, who reviewed the records of Eichmann's meetings with the Mufti at the trials for Nazi leader in Nuremberg, wrote a book entitled THE MUFTI OF JERUSALEM, published in 1947, in which Pearlman noted that the Mufti instructed Eichmann that the way in which the Nazis could best persecute the Jews was to do so slowly and in stages, so as to catch them unaware of the next stage of their persecution.
Eichmann offered reciprocal hospitality for the Mufti in Nazi Germany. In 1939, with the outbreak of World War II, the British government, then presiding over the mandatory government in Palestine, expelled the Mufti, who chose to travel to fascist Italy and then to Berlin, where he remained for the remainder of World War II. Hitler provided the Mufti with a radio station in Berlin from where he propagated the Nazi message in the Arabic language, and the Mufti was assigned the task of organizing a Moslem contingent of the Nazi murder machine that killed Jews and Gypsies throughout Yuogoslavia.
The Mufti obtained Hitler's assurance in November 1941 that after dealing with the Jews of Europe, Hitler would treat the Jews of the Middle East similarly. Husseini promised the support of the Arabs for the Nazi war effort. In Berlin, Husseini used money confiscated from Jewish victims, to finance pro-Nazi activities in the Middle East and to raise 20,000 Muslim troops in Bosnia, in the Hanjar S.S. Waffen, who murdered tens of thousands of Serbs and Jews in the Balkans and served as a police auxiliary in Hungary.
Heinreich Himmler, the administrator of the Nazi death machine, brought the Mufti on numerous tours of the death camps. Most recently, a book was written about the ZunderKommandos, Jewish prisoners whose task it was to remove the dead Jews from the crematoria.
One of those ZuderKommandos remarked in an interview with a researcher that he witnessed a man with a turban whom the Nazi camp commandant brought to witness the gassing of the Jews and the removal of the bodies from the gas chambers, as well as the stripping of their valuables and the burning of their remains. The Nazis told the ZunderKommando that this was the Mufti of Jerusalem. During the final months of the war, the Mufti actually lived in Hitler's bunker. Although arrested by the French army, the Mufti was somehow able to escape to Cairo. The Mufti was later sentenced to death in absentia in Yugoslavia.
After Adolf Eichmann was abducted and brought to Jerusalem for trial in 1961, Golda Meir, then the foreign minister of Israel, demanded that the Mufti also be brought to trial for the same crime of genocide against the Jewish people.
The Mufti's legacy did not stop when he escaped defeated Nazi Germany. Upon arrival in Cairo, he resumed the role that he had left, as the spiritual leader - in exile - of the Palestinian Arab community. The Mufti played a key role in the decision of the Arab League to reject the UN partition plan in 1947 to declare separate Jewish and Arab states in Palestine. Instead, the Mufti rallied Arabs throughout the Arab world to apply Hitler's concept of the final solution to wipe out the Jews in their nascent state of Israel.
The Mufti raised a new generation of young Palestinian Arabs to form a new Moslem brotherhood to take up the cause of a lifelong effort to eradicate the Jewish state. The Mufti also became a surrogate father to a young man who took the name Yassir Arafat, a name given to him by the Mufti in memory of Yasser bin Ammar, a celebrated Muslim warrior and companion of the prophet. The relationship between the Mufti and Arafat was related by Arafat's brother, Fatchi, to the Ha'Aretz newspaper in December, 1996.
The Mufti died in July 1974, one month after the PLO National Council met and ratified the Mufti's "strategy of stages" - to conquer Palestine in phases -the strategic methodology that the PLO uses to this day,
With the outbreak of the Palestinian Arab rebellion known as the second Intifada in October 2000, a theme that repeated itself over and over on the official Palestinian television station overseen by Arafat was the use of an academic lectures, broken up by martial music, to highlight the comparison between Yasser Arafat and the late Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini. Listeners were told how Husseini opposed the Jews (al-Yahoud) in Jerusalem and how he stood up to then-world power Great Britain, as a model for Arafat's struggle in the modern era.
THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM IN DC IGNORING THE MUFTI
Boston attorney Charles Morse has made an issue of the fact that The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum simply ignores any mention of the Arab or Muslim role in the Holocaust and by ignoring the link between Nazism and current Islamic extremism
While the museum has programs on the role of Christianity in promoting anti-Semitism - incredibly, it has nothing on Islam.
There is no mention of the mufti in the museum's permanent exhibit, nor is there any reference to the Mufti in the millions of files of the U.S.
In contrast, there are 33 large files on the Mufti in the Yad VaShem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
Walter Reich, who served as the director of the U.S. Holocaust Museum from 1995 to 1998, was quoted in the Washington Times on February 9th, 2006 as saying that "a focus on Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial at the Holocaust museum . . . would be, I believe, appropriately within the museum's mandate. Indeed, it would be strange if the museum did not focus on such anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, given the museum's devotion not only to the Holocaust but also to contemporary genocides, and given the prevalence in contemporary Arab rhetoric of not only the kind of anti-Semitism that helped lead to the Holocaust, but also the calls for genocide that are aimed at the Jews of Israel."
Reich lost his position at the US Holocaust museum when he objected to the overture of President Clinton's Middle East advisor, Dennis Ross, who suggested that Yassir Arafat, the protégé of the Mufti, be brought an honored guest to the US Holocaust Museum.
A historic footnote: Following the recent passing of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, one of the files discovered in Wisenthal's library contains a record of Wiesenthal's pursuit of the Mufti of Jerusalem in the late 1940's, after the Mufti escaped punishment for his war crimes. That file is now being translated and edited for publication.
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Abusing the Holocaust
Dr. Gerald Steinberg
Kenneth Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch, opened a recent response to critics of his statements on Israel (including the author of this column) by referring to his father's "escape" from Nazi Germany. Roth often uses this theme in addressing Jewish audiences.
In a November 2004 interview with The Jerusalem Post, Roth also began his defense by referring to his father's "stories of life in Nazi Germany until he fled in summer 1938." That interview took place after angry responses to a press conference at the American Colony Hotel, in which Roth publicized HRW's report ("Razing Rafah") attacking Israeli measures to stop Palestinian weapons smuggling into Gaza. The same phrases appear on Roth's personal home page and in articles by his friends.
Rosa Brooks, a former HRW employee, defended Roth in the Los Angeles Times during the fighting in Lebanon by noting that his father had "fled Nazi Germany." And Reed Brody, who works closely with Roth at
HRW and led the campaign to try Ariel Sharon in Belgium as a "war criminal," refers to his own father's status as a Holocaust survivor.
Roth's (and Brody's) frequent use of this issue suggest that their parents' relationship to the Holocaust gives them special standing and immunity to criticism. Roth states that "my personal existence is very much a product of human rights abuse," implying he has a moral duty to campaign against such abuse whenever and wherever it takes place, and that Israel should not receive special treatment.
Except that Israel does receive special treatment by Roth and HRW, in a negative and highly
discriminatory manner. Detailed analysis of HRW's activities by NGO Monitor, and verified independently, clearly demonstrate a highly disproportionate emphasis on allegations against Israel. During the 34-day war in Lebanon, HRW issued over 30 statements - most of which attacked Israel. Hizbullah's illegal aggression was never mentioned, and a few words were devoted to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Roth and HRW are clearly using their power to target Israel.
In this situation, the constant invocation of the Holocaust by Roth and his defenders is unconvincing and odious.
Nazi Germany's mass murder of the Jewish people in no way excuses or justifies HRW reports that accuse Israel of "indiscriminate strikes on civilians," "collective punishment" and "war crimes" - the same
offenses committed by the Nazis.
In the Kana incident of July 2006, HRW's report, which falsely accused Israel of killing 56 civilians in this Southern Lebanese village, was repeated around the world; by the time HRW issued a partial correction, the damage was irreversible.
The experiences of Roth's father also did not justify HRW's attacks on Israel in 2002, when it inaccurately labeled Israeli actions to end Palestinian suicide attacks from Jenin as "war crimes," paving the way for other NGOs, as well as in news reports and editorial cartoons, to use the same language to promote a pernicious analogy between Israel and the Nazis, particularly in Muslim countries and Europe.
If a Jew and son of a Nazi victim can use such terms, then others who follow are immune to accusations of anti-Semitism. (Norman Finkelstein also uses this strategy, linking the fact that his parents are survivors to his radical anti-Israel campaigns and repugnant references to "the Holocaust industry.")
Maintaining a calm and emotion-free demeanor to argue the case is difficult when the memory of the Six Million murdered by the Nazis is used to bash Israel. For the vast majority of Jews who escaped or survived the Nazis and either came to Israel after the war or strongly support Israel's right to defend itself, these comparisons are particularly offensive. One of the major lessons that others draw from the Holocaust is the need for Jews to be able to defend themselves and never again to be vulnerable to such murderous attacks.
In contrast, after again invoking his father, Roth declares "Among the lessons that I drew from his stories was that military force alone is not enough to combat the world's evils."
Beyond the triteness of this statement (no intelligent person believes in "military force alone"), the implication, once again, is that Israel is violating the "lessons" of the Holocaust by using force to defend itself.
This attempt to appropriate the "lessons of the Holocaust" has also destroyed the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written in response to German racism and mass murder. This document has been exploited for obsessive anti-Israel campaigns, such as the NGO Forum of the infamous Durban conference on Racism in 2001 (the HRW delegation was headed by Reed Brody), and the UN Human Rights
Council. Roth claims to oppose the excesses of the UNHRC, but last year he condemned Israel and the US for warning that this would be the outcome.
The impact goes far beyond the fringe views of a few individuals; Roth heads a very powerful organization with an annual budget of $50 million.In addition to demonizing Israel and undermining human rights, this power furthers efforts to rewrite and distort the Holocaust. For this, there is no atonement.
The writer directs the Program on Conflict Management at Bar Ilan University and is Executive Director of www.ngo-monitor.org
This piece ran on April 15th, 2007 in the Jerusalem Post
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PM Olmert's press advisor: Israel did not propose compliance benchmarks at
Dr. Aaron Lerner
IMRA interviewed, Miri Eisin - Foreign press adviser - Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert, in English, on April 15 after the meeting between Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas:
Question: When Prime Minister Olmert met with Mahmoud Abbas today did he present
any ideas for benchmarks for Palestinian compliance with security
Answer: I don't know if I would use that term. They certainly discussed the
issue that the Palestinians have not addressed the security issue to Israel's
satisfaction at all. They brought up the issue. The Palestinians are
working in coordination with Israel and also on a multilateral basis with
Egypt and the Americans with General Dayton.
Question: Back on March 27th, Secretary of State Rice specifically mentioned the
idea of coming up with benchmarks.
Does the Israeli side have any ideas of concrete benchmarks that might be
put up for the Palestinians to reach?
Answer: Well, I would say that a pretty obvious benchmark would be the stopping
of the Qassam rocket firing into Israel. This is something that comes up at
every meeting. And the bottom line is that Israel is not willing expand -
certainly not the "non-ceasefire" but also not . . .
Question: Does this mean that if the Palestinians were to stop shooting Qassams
but continued smuggling, continued building rockets, continued building
their armies that this would not be so problematic as long as they didn't
shoot anything for the time being?
Answer: Are you asking or asking?
Question: Well, I just notice that in the sound byte that they only thing that is
consistently mentioned is the firing of the Qassams.
A. And the smuggling of the weapons. They follow right after the other
Question: And also the weapons factories in Gaza? What is your position on that?
Answer: You are changing the subject? You first were asking me about the meeting
Question: Let me back into this. When Secretary of State Rice talked about
setting up benchmarks during her last visit here. Is the only benchmark
that the Israelis have come up with so far is that the Palestinians don't
Answer: I did not say that. I said "for example". Listen for what I say and not
just what you hear.
Question: Have the Israelis come up with a series of benchmarks for presentation to
Answer: You pose it as a statement and not as a question which makes it a little
difficult to answer.
Question: Let me ask you again. Is there a series of concrete benchmarks that the
Israelis have developed and have presented at the meeting?
Answer: They did not present at the meeting today specific benchmarks about this
Question: Is there a team in Israel that is developing concrete benchmarks that
could be put into some kind of timeline for achievement.
Question: And this has been before the prime minister or minister of defense or it
is still in the development stage?
Answer: I don't want to give any additional details.
Question: Fair enough. Thank you very much.
Answer: Have a good day.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Bill Clinton: Still Clueless After All these Years:
"Bill Clinton: Israel-Syria peace deal could be reached within 35 minutes"
Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz Correspondent
[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: Palestinian "compliance" wasn't part of Mr.
Clinton's vocabularly during the heady Oslo days. And it seems from his
remarks that he still doesn't realize that the absence of this critical
glue - not an assasin's bullet - is what doomed Oslo to failure. Sure the
photo ops were fun. And Mr. Clinton had a great time along with many of his
American Jewish campaign contributors who came along for the ride. These
folks were so proud of their photo op adventure that some American Jews in
the entourage could be seen in hotels in Jerusalem sporting their collection
of passes to various Oslo photo ops on strings dangling from their necks
(what other reason would they need to wear a pass to a White House Lawn
signing ceremony photo op when in Jerusalem?). And the ruling Israeli
Government was only more than happy to join in the photo-op festival.
Compliance? No problem. Since Congress linked funding at the time to
Palestinian compliance the Clinton Administration simply lied - and in
writting - to Congress on a regular basis.
Rabin and compliance? He apparently wasn't happy about the situation. But
Mr. Rabin set the tone that first time he met Arafat at the White House.
Arafat - in blatant violation of his promise - insisted on wearing a
military uniform instead of a blue suit. Both Clinton and Rabin caved in to
Arafat in order to avoid a last minute halt to the White House photo op.
Arafat was no fool. He sized up Clinton and Rabin and the rest was history.
So he had no problem explaining in Arabic that Oslo was just a trick -
knowing that his "peace partners" were, as Israelis like to put it, "friers"
About the bullet. Mr. Clinton is no stranger to polling. He knowns damn
well that the question isn't, given the trend in the polls before Prime
Minister Rabin was murdered, if the assasination stopped the "peace process"
but if the much larger Netanyahu victory that would have taken place in the
absence of the murder would have empowered Netayahu to ahve taken an even
more demanding position vis-a-vis compliance.]
A peace agreement between Israel and Syria could be reached within 35
minutes, former U.S. president Bill Clinton told the Lebanon-based Asharq
Al-Awsat newspaper in an interview published Sunday.
Clinton said Israel and Syria were very close to reaching an agreement in
1998, adding that an accord could be reached assuming Iran does not play a
role in the issue.
The former U.S. president also said that, in his opinion, the 1995
assassination of then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin led to the failure of the
"[Former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser] Arafat really trusted Rabin,
and the assassination of Rabin killed the peace process," he said.
Clinton told the newspaper that secret negotiations, like those conducted in
Oslo that led to the 1993 Declaration of Principles between Israel and the
Palestine Liberation Organization, are the only way through which to resolve
the conflict in the Middle East.
Russian official: Syria-Israel tensions might escalate into war
Russian National Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov warned during a
visit to Israel last week that the tense cease-fire between Jerusalem and
Damascus might escalate into war if the two parties mutually miscalculate
Ivanov raised the issue during his visit to Israel as part of a delegation
of Russian officials here to engage in strategic discussions with Israeli
Israeli National Security Council Head Ilan Mizrahi responded by saying that
the fact that Russia was supplying Syria with modern weapons and missiles
might encourage it to miscalculate its strength. Mizrahi added that
delivering weapons to Syria would also undermine regional stability.
Ivanov replied that Russia was supplying both Iran and Syria with defensive
weapon systems only. He went on to tell the Israeli delegation that Syrian
President Bashar Assad was genuinely interested in negotiating a peace
agreement with Israel.
"As I told you in November, you will find a partner in Assad," he said,
adding that Russia supported the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad
As for the Iranian nuclear program, Ivanov said Russia would not allow the
Islamic republic to arm itself with nuclear weapons. "A nuclear Iran would
threaten Russia, too," he said.
Ivanov reiterated this statement during his meeting with Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert. The danger attached to the Iranian nuclear program must not be
downplayed, "but it should not be exaggerated either," Ivanov said.
He added that diplomatic talks to resolve the crisis revolving the Iranian
nuclear effort have not been exhausted, and that there was "still much to be
done in that respect." Ivanov also relayed Russia's apprehensions regarding
a possible joint American-Israeli military strike against Iran.
Several members of the Israeli delegation disagreed with the assessments of
their Russian counterparts regarding the issue.
Regarding Moscow's connection with Hamas, Ivanov said Russia's balanced
stance on the Middle East enabled it to serve as an acceptable mediator for
all parties. Ivanov added that Russia was interested in assisting the
government of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The delegation included high-ranking officers. In addition to Ivanov and
other Russian Security Council members, the deputy chief of the Russian
intelligence service and his counterpart in the Russian internal security
intelligence organization were there. In addition, it included the Russian
foreign ministry's Middle East department head and a defense ministry
department head. The Russian delegation communicated with the Israeli hosts
through two interpreters from Russia who spoke fluent Hebrew.
The Russian delegation met with representatives of the Mossad, the Israel
Defense Forces Intelligence Corps and other defense establishment officials.
Among the other officials present were delegates from the defense and
foreign ministries and the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. The discussions
between the Israeli and Russian delegations lasted two days. The parties
have agreed to hold another session in the future, scheduled to take place
On Saturday, Syria distanced itself Saturday from comments by a
Syrian-American businessman who recently told Knesset members that President
Bashar Assad was ready to make peace with Israel.
Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal told state television that the
comments of the businessman, Ibrahim Suleiman, express his personal point of
view, and Syria has nothing to do with this visit or statements.
In an unprecedented appearance before an Israeli parliamentary panel on
Thursday, Suleiman said he had high-level contacts with officials in
Although he said he did not speak for the Syrian government, he predicted
that Israel and Syria could strike a peace deal within six months if they
were to resume talks.
"Syria right now is ready to speak peace. I challenged the Israeli
government to answer President Bashar's call for peace and sit down
together," Suleiman said.
Bilal said Syria was keen to reach a peace settlement, but in accordance
with UN Security Council resolutions and the Arab peace initiative - which
call for Israel to withdraw completely from territory occupied in the 1967
and 1973 wars.
This ran in Haaretz 15/04/2007
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Israel's Terror Release Policy Grabs Specter's Attention Again
By: David Bedein , Middle East Correspondet The Bulletin
When U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, heard the story in 2002 of Palestinian terrorist Nasser Abu Hamid, PLO Marwan Barghouti's right-hand man, he was stunned.
In December 2002, Abu Hamid, a high-ranking arch-terrorist for whom murdering Israelis was his life's mission, was sentenced by an Israeli court to seven life sentences and another 50 years imprisonment.
This was the second time he had been sentenced to such a heavy punishment. Abu Hamid, commander of the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, was sentenced in the early 1990s to nine life sentences for hair-raising and contemptible acts, but was released three years later in a gesture by the Israeli government to the Palestinian Authority, which was known at the time as a "confidence building measure."
Shocked by the Israeli pardons to terrorists, the Republican senator from Pennsylvania submitted an unusual request to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft: To demand that Israel immediately extradite Hassan Salame, the No. 2 man in the Iz a Din al-Kassam Brigades, Hamas' executive wing.
Salame was sentenced in 1996 to 50 life sentences for his responsibility for the massacre of several dozen Israelis, including three U.S. citizens. In this case too, some of the terror attacks planned and executed by Salame were unprecedented in their cruelty and results, and shocked U.S. public opinion.
In stating his reasons for the request, Specter wrote the following: "There is no reason in the world for this murderer not to be extradited to the US, in order to be punished for an offense that bears the death penalty. In other words, Specter was saying to Israel: What you do with your justice system is your own problem, but America cannot afford to be a partner to this. We have principles of our own."
Yesterday, after it was reported that Hassan Salame's name features on the list of 1,300 Palestinian prisoners designated for release, the Bulletin sent a letter to Sen. Specter to inquire as to whether that he will once again demand that Salame be extradited to the U.S., where he will not be released before he finishes serving the sentence for his heinous crimes.
This piece ran in the Philadelphia Bulletin on April 13th, 2007
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Anatomy of the Azmi Bishara Affair
By; David Bedein, Middle East Correspondent, Philadelphia Bulletin
A little more than two years ago, Jewish organizations throughout the United States made a decision to organize a fundraising campaign to help members of Israel's Arab community, which numbers more than one million Israeli citizens out of a total population of seven million.
While U.S. Jews indeed rendered assistance to Israeli Arabs in unprecedented projects over the past two years, most of those American citizens did not pay much attention to the democratically-elected leadership of Israeli Arabs who have turned on the state of Israel from within.
The most outspoken democratically-elected Arab member of Israel's Knesset parliament, Azmi Bishara, led delegations of Israeli Arab members of the Knesset last summer to Lebanon to express his full support for the Hezbollah at a time when Hezbollah attacked Israel with more than 4,000 missile attacks, which resulted in 52 Israeli civilians being killed - 24 of whom were Israeli Arabs.
Ever since, the Israeli law enforcement establishment has been conducting investigations of Bishara for allegations of treason.
Bishara announced on Thursday evening that he would resign from his Knesset post following what he branded "persecution" against him.
"Is it possible that a parliament member is subjected to such persecution?" he asked during an interview with reporters.
Yet during the autumn of 2000, when riots broke out in every Arab community in northern Israel except for one - the Israeli Arab city of Shefaram
Shefaram's Mayor Ursan Yassin reminded the media on Thursday that on the first night of the riots he saw a group of masked men that wanted to desecrate the ancient synagogue of Shefaram: "I told the hooligans that I recognized them, and that if they wanted to continue, they would have to get past me."
The mayor of Shefaram went against the recommendation of Israeli members of Knesset, led by Azmi Bishara, who encouraged the youth of the Arab sector to continue the riot against Israeli government, using all means, including violence.
A Unique Phenomenon
Azmi Bishara is a unique phenomenon. There isn't another country in the world in which Members of Parliament openly support terrorist organizations whose purpose is to destroy that very same country.
In Britain there is an MP, George Galloway, who at times praises radical Islamic organizations. But even he has not matched the Israeli record. He does not support the destruction of Great Britain.
The uniqueness of Azmi Bishara remains because the Israeli law is clear. It is illegal for any candidate for the Knesset to reject the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, either explicitly or implicitly so, and illegal to support a terror organization.
In 1999 and in 2003, Bishara was disqualified by the Knesset's Central Elections Committee. However, Israel's benevolent High Court of Justice, decided to interpret the law in a way that somehow allowed Bishara to run.
Here are some of the more potent remarks that Bishara made about the State of Israel from the Knesset rostrum:
* About Israel's future: "I am not opposed to all of Israel becoming Palestine. The Israelis immigrated to us, not we to them." (excerpted from an interview to an Austrian weekly, October 14, 2000).
* About Hezbollah: "Hezbollah is a courageous national force that has taught Israel a lesson. It became the vanguard of the Arab world with a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the goal." (June 27, 2000)
* About the SLA, the South Lebanese Army comprised of Christian Lebanese who fought alongside Israel: "It is inconceivable that mercenaries and traitors should live in our midst." (October 5, 1999).
* About the democratic state: "Israel is the greatest robbery of the 20th century. Give us back Palestine and take your democracy. We, the Arabs, aren't interested." (December 2005).
Likud Proposes 'Bishara Law'
The Azmi Bishara affair has elicited responses from the political establishment.
A Likud member of Knesset, Gilad Erdan, announced plans to initiate a bill that would prevent an member of the Knesset in the future from serving in the legislature as long as he does not recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
Erdan's bill would obligate all Arab members of the Knesset to state, once and for all, that they recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, otherwise they will not be able to serve as as an MK. "It is now clear why Bishara lost his wits when I proposed that he serve in the Syrian parliament," added MK Gilad Erdan.
Netanyahu:?Bishara's Departure Is Good For Everyone
"Bishara has contributed greatly to destabilizing relations between Arabs and Jews, and if he has decided to leave, it will only benefit us all," said the Israeli opposition chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu during a visit to northern Israel.
Former Israel education minister Limor Livnat, who accompanied him, added, "Bishara was disqualified by the Central Elections Committee and petitioned the High Court of Justice. They received the protection of democracy, and are now claiming to be persecuted. There are Arab MKs who abuse their immunity and endanger the state. We will have to ask ourselves many questions."
Another member of the Knesset, National Religious Party Chairman Zvulun Orlev submitted a bill yesterday according to which a person who visits an enemy country will not be able to run for a seat in the Knesset. In conjunction, he also intends to promote a bill stating that every MK will be required to swear allegiance to the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.
The Olmert administration, which comprises Israel's first Arab member of the government, Rayed Majadle, has remained silent on the Bishara affair.
The Bulletin asked Israel government minister Majadle to comment on the phenomenon of Israeli Arabs turning on their fellow citizens. Majadle responded by saying that he does not believe that any Israeli Arab leader would turn his back on the state of Israel. He would not comment on the Bishara affair, however.
This piece ran on April 12th, 2007 in the Philadelphia Bulletin
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