Israel Resource Review 17th April, 2002


US AID Sponsor of PLO Propaganda Agencies to be Exposed in Washington

The US House of Representatives International Relations Committee has received an unpublished report of US foreign aid allocations to organizations that operate inside the Palestinian National Authority and in Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

A member of that committee, Congressman Eliot Engel, has made that unclassified report available to the Center for Near East Policy Research in Boston and to its affiliate agency, the Israel Resource News Agency in Jerusalem.

US AID funded organizations include the propaganda training programs of the PLO, including PASSIA, whose web site is located at

PASSIA receives 1.045 million dollars per annum from US AID, which it openly uses to runs no less than sixteen courses for PLO spokesmen to learn the art of how to lobby the media and foreign elected officials.

According to US AID records, the total amount that the US spends on PLO propaganda runs at least $10 million per annum.

Medical organizations that receive funds from US AID to publish falsified medical reports include the Union of Palestine Medical Relief Committees, and the Red Crescent, run by Mustapha Bargouti and Fatchi Arafat - the brothers of PLO leaders Marwan Bargouti and Yassir Arafat respectively.

David Bedein, bureau chief of Israel Resource News Agency, will be in the US next week to present the facts of how US-funded agencies work together with UNRWA and the PLO lobby in Washington, directed by former US consul in Jerusalem, Edward Abington, to falsify data for media consumption.

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Friends of the CIA? - The Palestinian Militias
Jim Hoagland
Special to The Washington Post

On a visit to Washington a year ago, Palestinian security chief Jibril Rajoub proudly showed off an armor-plated limousine that he said the Central Intelligence Agency "always provides me when I am here." Last week on the West Bank, Rajoub was running for his life from Israeli troops seeking to eliminate the territory's "terrorist infrastructure."

The CIA helped Rajoub make his way out of his fire-gutted compound in Beitunia and arrange the surrender of dozens of his operatives as Ariel Sharon's siege intensified. The American agents were doing what comes naturally in their profession -- protecting assets, however troublesome those assets may become for others.

Rajoub's plight points up the exposed position into which U.S. intelligence officers -- and U.S. policy -- have been dragged in the new Israeli-Palestinian war. The Palestinian militias that the CIA has been building up under presidential order are the primary recipients of Sharon's wrath and firepower. Sharon intends to conquer, or destroy, what the CIA hath wrought on the West Bank.

The Bush administration now faces an acute dilemma in unraveling the confusion and complexities created by U.S. intelligence taking on responsibilities that are deeply operational and political. Operating under an intelligence "finding" signed by President Clinton, the CIA has helped train and equip Yasser Arafat's security forces.

And the CIA in one form or another became publicly involved in the grooming of Rajoub and other security commanders as potential leaders in the post-Arafat era. Instead of objectively sorting through and analyzing the looming succession struggle for Washington, agents on the ground have horses in the race.

Mixing espionage and political duties is always dangerous. It tends to produce short-term successes (providing intelligence to Saddam Hussein, obtaining funding for the contras) and long-term liabilities for U.S. foreign policy (ditto). CIA Director George Tenet presumably recognized the dangers when he initially resisted this role for his agency. Sharon's assault on the militias shows why Tenet should have stood his ground.

The Israeli prime minister twists the knife in the corpse of a failed U.S. policy that began in late 1998, worked well in 1999 and then died in 2001 when the Palestinian Preventive Security force abandoned meaningful cooperation with the Israelis. When Sharon, or President Bush, speaks of Arafat's failure to "control terrorism," it is this default of the security services and police that they have in mind.

Sharon's message to Rajoub, Mohammed Dahlan, Marwan Barghouti and Arafat's other lieutenants is clear: Take on the suicide bombers and leaders of Hamas or face destruction for being useless, complicit or both. You are the "infrastructure" that must be uprooted.

So far the Palestinians continue to hesitate, presumably out of the same fear or ambition that caused them, as Arafat's intifada intensified, to stop halting would-be suicide bombers and other terrorists or tipping off the Israelis. When Rajoub agreed on Tuesday through the CIA to give up his compound at Beitunia after running out of food and ammunition, he immediately came under attack from Hamas for allowing a half-dozen of its "warriors" to fall into Israeli hands and for being "an American agent."

There is a giant Catch-22 at the heart of the Faustian bargain that Israel, the United States and the Palestinian Authority struck as part of the Wye Plantation accords of 1998. While CIA support brings resources and power to the recipient, the agency's visible embrace can also be used to discredit both a person and a cause in the eyes of many Arabs, not just the killers of Hamas.

U.S. interests can also be compromised by arrangements dominated by the agency's covert skills of finding "assets" that can be bought, manipulated or coerced into doing the agency's bidding. This is hardly the definition of reliable allies who are likely to promote American democratic principles in the political arena.

Ironically, it was Binyamin Netanyahu, then Israel's prime minister, who insisted at the Wye meeting that the CIA deepen its engagement with the Palestinian security forces, which became more heavily armed through the deal. This was to ensure that they carried out the unspoken responsibility Arafat accepted in the 1993 Oslo accords: The Palestinians would eliminate the terrorist threat in the areas the Israelis agreed to leave, without much concern by Washington or Jerusalem over methods.

But means do influence ends. The security arrangements were contaminated by the corruption, authoritarianism and weakness that Arafat and his lieutenants practiced on their own people -- who end up paying a terrible price for the failures of the CIA's friends in their midst.

This piece ran in the Washington Post on April 7, 2002

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Behind the rumor of a "Jenin Massacre"
How Reporters were Forced to Downgrade the Report of a "Massacre."
Sara Bedein

After two weeks of screaming headlines that proclaimed "Massacre in Jenin!", the news story from Jenin is slowly emerging. This follows the decision of the IDF to allow representatives of the Israeli and foreign press to enter Jenin on Sunday April 14th, for the first time since the fierce battle between the IDF and terrorist cells in Jenin began.

Among the first reporters allowed into Jenin were Serge Schmemann and Joel Greenberg from The New York Times, who reported: "With rumors swirling of massacres and mass burials in the UNRWA refugee camp in Jenin, the Israeli Army estimated that the number of Palestinian dead was not in the hundreds but in the dozens, and it agreed to allow the Red Cross to monitor the collecting of 26 bodies that the army said were still lying about . . . What today's visit to the camp showed was more destruction than death, since deaths that can be verified right away."

In a press briefing last week, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said: "There wasn't a house that wasn't booby-trapped and there was no way to neutralize the danger without demolishing the structure.

"We also encountered booby-trapped men, Palestinians who raised their hands to surrender while wearing explosive vests, in an attempt to detonate themselves among our soldiers. It was a very bitter combat. We lost 23 soldiers, which indicates that this was a difficult operation, in which the Palestinians did their maximum to inflict as many casualties as they could."

"The Israel Defense forces received clear instructions to avoid harming civilians, and that is exactly what they did," Peres stated.

Yet the fact that for almost two weeks no reporter - Israeli or foreign -was allowed into the refuge camp to give a first hand account of what was really going on only served to fuel the tales of horror, which spread like wildfire. According to Israeli officials, the reason for the refusal to allow the media into Jenin until the fighting ended was fear for their safety since booby trapped explosives were scattered everywhere.

Col. Gal Hirsh, Head of Operations in the IDF Central Command, explained that Jenin was a maintained as a closed military zone even after the the fighting was over. "We are trying to find all these bodies and trying to remove the booby traps from them", he said. "It is very complicated, very dangerous, and we are doing our best in order not to cause much more damage after the fighting. We are trying to take all the explosives, all the hand grenades, all the booby traps from the bodies and the houses where there are bodies."

The PLO's WAFA press service took advantage of Israel's refusal to allow the media in to Jenin, declaring that the number of killed Palestinians was 500; they said that bodies were piling up in the streets and spread the word that Israel was refusing to bury them.

Organizations such as Physicians for Human Rights and Amnesty International took the PLO at its word and joined the chorus of groups that alleged that Israel had conducted some kind of mass execution - without verifying facts from any objective source. The allegation of "massacre" was reported as FACT by the foreign media.

For two weeks, media outlets throughout the world devoted huge amounts of ink to unverified tales of conspiracies, rapes, executions, mass murders, and mutilations. The credibility of Palestinian "eyewitness testimony" was barely questioned -despite the PLO track record of fabricating claims. In Lebanon, back in June 1982, the Red Crescent made the fallacious claim that the IDF had killed 10,000 people and made 600,000 homeless. Apparently the media has forgotten this, as well as the fact that the Red Crescent - which continues to be the source of most of the allegations of IDF "war crimes"- is directed by Dr. Fatchi Arafat, the brother of the PLO leader.

Tens of European media outlets and Arab foreign ministries described the fighting in Jenin in terms of "genocide," "unprecedented humanitarian disaster," "Sabra and Shatilla #2," "a campaign of revenge and murder," and "Nazi ethnical cleansing."

European media focused on the physical damage to buildings due to Israeli tanks moving through the camp, and failed to mention the fact that many of the buildings and streets were rigged with explosives which were set off by the many terrorist cells operating in the refuge camp.

Since the media moralizes about the ethics of the IDF operating in a heavily populated UNRWA refugee camp, why do they not question the morality of armed members of the PLO, who are wanted by the IDF, using residential dwellings in the camp as places of refuge in the first place? No reporter even raises the issue of whether it is appropriate for a United Nations organization to allow armed personnel to use their facilities. When we called UNRWA, their public affairs spokesman acknowledged that the PLO's army is indeed based in the UNRWA refugee camps, something which he had little problem with.

The British Press in particular printed unsubstantiated and unverified reports of what took place in Jenin. The British newspaper, The Independent, called what was happening in Jenin, "the Jenin Slaughter House". The Independent, The Telegraph, and The Times of London all quoted the same lone individual, 28-year-old Kamal Anis, who said that "he saw the Israeli soldiers pile 30 bodies beneath a half-wrecked house. When the pile was complete, they bulldozed the building, bringing its ruins down on the corpses. Then they flattened the area with a tank." (The Independent)

By contrast, the American press was generally more balanced in reporting from Jenin, though there were some reports like the one from James Bennet, writing for The New York Times, who reported: "Palestinians here describe bodies cut in pieces, bodies scooped up by bulldozers and buried in mass graves, bodies deliberately concealed under collapsed buildings. They describe people drinking out of sewers and people used by Israeli soldiers as human shields." Although Bennet did say that these were Palestinian sources, his reporting did very little to challenge the tendentiousness and questionable nature of such "eyewitness" testimony.

In contrast, T. Christian Miller of the LA Times writes that Palestinian "accounts, which could not be independently confirmed, painted a picture of a vicious house-to-house battle in which Israeli soldiers faced Palestinian gunmen intermixed with the camp's civilian population."

And Washington Post correspondent Molly Moore wrote: "Interviews with residents inside the camp and international aid workers who were allowed here for the first time today indicated that no evidence has yet surfaced to support allegations by Palestinian groups and aid organizations of large-scale massacres or executions by Israeli troops."

Yet Israel's comments on what was actually happening at the UNWRA Jenin refuge camp were for the most part ignored by world media.

In a press briefing on April 12th, 2002, Mr. Danny Ayalon, the foreign policy advisor to the Israeli prime minister, dismissed Palestinian reports of putting Palestinian dead bodies into mass graves as part of the Palestinian propaganda and advised the press to again check Palestinian credibility. "Most of the people who were killed in the Jenin camp," said Ayalon, "are Palestinian terrorists and Palestinian gunmen, including major terrorists on Israel's wanted list who are directly responsible for the murders of many Israelis."

A statement from Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said: "Alongside the defense activities, we have to undertake an explanatory effort regarding Jenin to stop the flow of rumors. We check the figures well, and the number of those killed in Jenin stands at dozens and not hundreds, and the great majority of them were armed men who shot at our forces. We did not bury a single body, certainly not in a mass grave."

In a briefing held on April 12,th 2002, Col. Gal Hirsh- Head of Operations in the Central Command said: "When you think of the term refugee camp, you think of poor and helpless people. This is not the case! Jenin Refugee Camp was a strong combat zone. Do not think of Jenin Refugee Camp as the model of a refugee camp but as a real military and terrorist infrastructure. These people decided to fight, and we had to fight back.

"I've heard the rumors of 500-600 Palestinians dead. These are lies. We had no choice but to destroy the terrorist infrastructure- everyday there were terrorist acts dispatched from Jenin Refugee Camp. The operation in Jenin cost us the lives of 23 soldiers and many were injured. I regret that some Palestinian civilians were injured and some were killed. We were fighting against armed terrorists. We asked the Palestinian civilians to evacuate their homes so they would not get hurt, some chose not to. Most of the Palestinians that were killed were armed terrorists; many had explosive devices strapped to their bodies. We found a lot of evidence of terrorist activity, for example, labs for explosive devices. We are talking about an organized terrorist infrastructure throughout Judea and Samaria."

The first eyewitnesses from outside of the Jenin refuge camp were able to see for themselves the destruction and devastation that came from the fierce fighting that took place in the camp and the grim results of the terrorists' booby trapping their own houses, bodies, cars, and streets with vast amounts of explosives which reduced the refuge camp into rubble.

No mass graves were uncovered; the number of Palestinians killed in the battle has been reduced by all the media to dozens as opposed to the reported hundreds.

So there you have it. The media was forced to cope with the fact that an alleged massacre was turned into a few dozen casualties. Some reporters just could not bring themselves to "adjust" their story to the facts on the ground.

Better luck next "massacre."

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The Powell Visit: Israeli Press Reportage of a Disaster

The Failure

Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 2) by Shimon Shiffer [news analysis] -- To the question of what repercussions the failure of Secretary of State Colin Powell's mediation mission will have, the Palestinians respond with a single word: a "catastrophe"

Officials close to Sharon said: "True, it is a catastrophe, but the disaster is the Palestinians', who did not accede even to Powell's entreaties that they issue a statement about their willingness to stop the fire".

In any event, the nightmares of the Bush administration, which refrained from dirtying its hands in the Israeli-Palestinian dunghill for its first 15 months in power, came true all at once.

Bush was made aware of the limits of the American President's power, even when it comes to Israel -- a country that is supposed to act according to his expectations. Sharon did not accept Bush's demand that he withdraw the troops from the West Bank cities "without delay"

Yesterday a high-ranking official from the Clinton administration was quoted by the Washington Post saying that Bush had erred when he pointed his finger at Sharon. The official said that Bush should have coordinated his ultimatum with Sharon before threatening him.

Bush also failed to take into account the fact that his supporters in the American Right are not prepared to pressure Sharon. As far as they are concerned, the bad guy in this story is Arafat and not Sharon. Sharon maintained more than just eye-contact with his allies in the White House and the Pentagon the entire time Powell was here.

Powell also received a tough lesson in the behavior of the Arab heads of state in the area. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refused to meet him yesterday as scheduled, claiming to be "sick".

Mubarak expected Powell to pressure Sharon and to force him to bend. When he saw that Powell was unable to cow Sharon he preferred not to be seen in his company. Powell learned that Mubarak is not prepared to share responsibility for his failure.

The only achievement Powell succeeded in chalking up for the time being was a cooling of the tensions along the northern border and the reduction of the immediate danger of a war breaking out between Israel and Lebanon and Syria. The talks he held with Bashar Assad and leading Lebanese officials in Beirut bore fruit and Hizbullah withdrew from the areas that allowed it to heat up the border along the northern Golan Heights and southern Lebanon. The Lebanese army also began to take action to prevent Palestinians armed with Katyusha rockets from firing them at Israeli communities in the north.

"You Had an Excellent Interview"

On Monday evening the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem was turned into a satellite media center. A CNN team, headed by the network's top interviewer, Wolf Blitzer, set itself up on the ground floor patio; another team from the British Sky network set itself up in the library on the first floor. Between the one interview and the other a phone call was received from President Bush. "I watched you, you had an excellent interview on CNN", Bush said in a complimentary opening remark.

The two refrained from mentioning the mutual exchanges of blows between them after Sharon rejected the demand that Bush made a week ago to order the withdrawal of IDF troops from the territories occupied. One official closely affiliated with Sharon said that the phone call was geared to "clear the air" of any ill feelings.

Sharon, for the first time since the beginning of Operation Protective Wall, gave Bush a clear timetable for an IDF withdrawal from the Palestinian cities in the West Bank. "We will leave Jenin within three days, the IDF will withdraw from Nablus within six days, and within a week we won't be in the West Bank, except for Ramallah and Bethlehem."

Sharon told Bush that Israel was going to insist that the assassins of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, who are hiding out in Arafat's office in the mukataa in Ramallah, be turned over to Israel and that the wanted men who are holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem be deported.

Bush demanded that Sharon commit again not to harm Arafat personally, since this was liable to undermine vital American interests in the region. Sharon pledged that Arafat would not be hurt. He did not promise that the IDF would not find a way of removing Ze'evi's assassins and Fuad Shubaki, who is responsible for the PA's military procurement, and bringing them to trial in Israel. Sharon also did not promise Bush that he would not expel Arafat from the territories in the event of a future large-scale terror attack. Sharon's promised only not to physically do away with Arafat.

In the course of the conversation Sharon reiterated that as long as he was the prime minister of Israel, there would be no negotiations with Arafat. He said he would be prepared for Arafat to attend the international conference, should it be held, but warned: "We won't talk to him".

Bush said he was particularly concerned by the turn of events in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Sharon said that Israel was prepared to accept a number of proposals that had been made to resolve the problem, on one condition: that the Palestinians who are holed up in the church agree to leave the territories permanently for a third country that is prepared to accept them.

"School for Diplomacy"

Tuesday afternoon, on his way to a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers, Sharon received a report about the arrest of Marwan Barghouti, the commander of the Tanzim in the West Bank.

The news immediately spread around the world. One senior White House official quickly called his counterpart in the Prime Minister's Bureau and said a single word: "Congratulations"

The question of Barghouti's arrest did not come up even a single time in the conversations with Powell.

Powell's aides tried for two days to get the Palestinians to make some sort of public statement about their willingness to embrace a cease-fire. Arafat and the other members of the Palestinian leadership refused. They demanded a complete Israeli withdrawal from all territories seized as an initial condition for a public statement.

Sharon refused all attempts to get him to co-sign an American document that he believed rendered the work plan set out by CIA Director George Tenet sterile. Sharon said to Powell that Arafat can talk to his people and demand that there be an end to terrorism, that his security forces are capable of acting, and other such familiar arguments.

Then Powell went to the Palestinians and hoped to leave the region with a joint American-Palestinian document, at least. But he failed to achieve that either. At the press conference he convened yesterday to wrap up his visit, Powell said that he had not failed. The term "cease-fire" was simply irrelevant for now. He said that a cease-fire could have been declared, but with the military operation still underway in the backdrop that would have been meaningless. He said that his goal was to achieve a genuine cease-fire and not only a declaration of a cease-fire.

In the meantime, Powell said, Arafat has to take action to end terror, and the Israeli people and leadership have to ask themselves if the time has not come to put an end to the settlements and the occupation, which have a destructive impact.

Powell then left the region, acting on the first advice that diplomats receive in their training: In the event of failure declare a partial success and issue a statement that you are leaving your deputy or staffers behind for continued negotiations over the details. Powell announced that he was leaving here Bill Barnes, the undersecretary for Middle Eastern affairs, and that Tenet would be coming in later on. Powell also intends to return to the region shortly. Don't hold your breath.

The Moment of Failure

Ma'ariv (p. 1) by Oded Granot [news analysis] -- People who took part in yesterday's meeting in Ramallah reported that Arafat could barely control himself. Secretary of State Powell demanded that he hand over the murderers of Minister Ze'evi, arrest suicide bombers and announce an end to the violence in his own voice, while at the same time Powell gave Sharon the green light to continue the military operation.

And as if that were not enough, when Arafat asked Powell to guarantee that Israel would not forcefully break into the mukataa in order to remove Ze'evi's killers along with Fuad Shubaki (of the Karine-A affair), Powell told him, according to one participant, that he could not promise that that would not happen.

The conversation with Powell, which in essence signaled the failure of Powell's mission to bring about a cease-fire, angered Arafat so much that it extracted from him for the first time a public statement that revealed the depth of the distress caused by his prolonged isolation. "Is it conceivable that I not be allowed to leave through this door?" he asked, adding a warning that the continuation of his house arrest in Ramallah could "undermine stability in the Middle East", as he explicitly put it.

The fate of Powell's mission was sealed as a failure the moment Arafat rejected all of his demands and the moment Sharon announced that he needed a little more time before pulling the IDF out of Nablus and Jenin. In a press conference in Jerusalem yesterday, the Secretary of State made clear that under these circumstances there is still no room to discuss a cease-fire.

Sharon's associates are convinced that the US well understands that there is no chance of an agreement with Arafat even if he were to sign one, and that there is no chance that a cease-fire would hold, even if he were to declare one in his own voice. America, according to the prime minister, is facing a serious problem as its embassies throughout the Arab world are attacked by masses of protesters and the US's Arab friends call on it to increase pressure on Israel. Mubarak canceled his planned meeting with Powell yesterday as an expression of protest that Powell had not pressured Israel enough and had not forced Sharon to pull out of the territories immediately.

Washington understands that the failure of Powell's mission could herald the escalation of the violence on the ground. The US solution is to create the appearance of activity, or in other words, to create the impression that despite the failure there is still some movement. This, they hope, might help calm things down.

This appearance of activity made up of two parts: Tenet's return to the region in ten days time, despite the fact that he does not really want to come, and the creation of a flurry of media coverage surrounding the idea of a regional or international summit that was born between Sharon and Powell.

Palestinians Furious: "Bush and Powell Can Go to Hell"

Ma'ariv (p. 2) by Menahem Rahat et al. -- There is one thing that Israel and the Palestinians agree about -- American Secretary of State Colin Powell's mission to the region ended in failure. Yesterday at the end of an extended mission and after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak canceled a scheduled meeting with him, Powell left the Middle East and returned to the United States.

Powell failed to achieve either a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians or a Palestinian commitment to act against terror. Powell's final meeting with Arafat was described by Yasser Abed Rabbo as a "catastrophe" who added: "We say to Bush and Powell -- Go to hell!"

In a press conference yesterday, Powell called on Arafat to take action against terrorism and to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. He accused Arafat of having misled the US and the entire world when he spoke about acting against terrorism.

The Palestinians said that the meeting yesterday in Ramallah was difficult and full of deep disagreements between Arafat and Powell. "At a certain stage Arafat was so angry that he left the room and, only after being persuaded by his friends, did he return to the meeting. The Palestinians say that Powell adopted clearly pro-Israel positions, served as an "emissary of the Israelis more than an emissary of the US" and overstepped his role as a mediator.

The Palestinians say that Powell demanded that Arafat turn over to Israel the assassins of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi and the armed activists in the Church of the Nativity. Arafat rejected this demand outright and said that there would be no talk of a cease-fire or of any other arrangement before the Israeli troops withdrew from PA territory. Arafat was also furious about the continued siege that was clamped on him in Ramallah. He later asked journalists: Does it seem reasonable to you that I can't walk out this door. He added that that would have repercussions for the situation in the Middle East.

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