Israel Resource Review 2nd August, 2005


Sanur Residents
Their Profiles:

Putting a Human Face on People About to be Evacuated from their Homes
David Bedein

Only a few weeks before the government of Israel proposes to evict the residents of the Jewish community of Sanur from their homes, Israel Resource News Agency dispatched a Russian speaking correspondent to meet with some of their residents who were born in the former Soviet Union.

The profiles that follow put a human face on people who would be affected, if the program of the government comes to fruition.

Arcady Livshitz was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1939. He graduated from the Geodesical Engineering Institute of Moscow in 1968. Oil painting of nature scenes and still life is his passion. He immigrated to Israel in 1974 and is one of the original members of the Sanur artists' colony formed in 1987. He currently lives just outside of Jerusalem and visits his studio in Sanur occasionally. He is a bachelor and an extremely private person. He is now comfortably retired. He has been commissioned for certain architectural works in Israel, he was the main architect for a project in Karen Kayemi.

Vladimir Breitman was born in Minsk, Belorussia in 1922. He served as a pilot during World War II. He is a renowned photographer and has international exhibitions in Germany, Japan, Bulgaria, Canada and England. His early pictures are black and white nature shots of Belorussia. He immigrated to Israel in 1990. He came to Israel after hearing about how it was a land of freedom and hope for the Jewish people. He lives with his wife in Sa-nur. He has a son and daughter and several grandchildren. He enjoys his garden in Sa-nur and loves to cook and chat with the other artists. Sa-nur inspires him for new photography endeavors on a daily basis. In his photolab are several recent photographs of events in Sa-nur, including a touching close up shot of a baby in the village going through the brit milah, or circumcision ceremony. Even his earliest works, from the early 40s and on in Belorussia, can be seen hanging on his studio walls. He is one of the original members of the Sa-nur artists' colony.

Haim Kapchitz was born in Belorussia in 1937. His father was a physicist. His family always had a mezuzah on the door. His mother tongue is Yiddish. They had no books but a strong intuitive sense of their own Judaism. He graduated as a painting teacher from the Kirgizhizia Art College in Frunze. He is renowned for his architectural works, specifically involving stained glass windows, murals, and mosaics. He immigrated to Israel in 1981. He joined the artist's colony in Sanur in 1987 when Anna and Victor Boguslavsky invited him to see the budding artist's colony. "It's not a physical quality that Sanur has, it's a spiritual quality. Therefore for no amount of money, could I ever sell it." Haim teaches private drawing classes in Jerusalem and has done mosaics and frescoes that can be seen in various public locations in Israel. He lives with his wife in Sa-nur and Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he has a small studio that he visits as a sanctuary that has been dear to him since he first came to Israel. About the new religious settlers: "I have a kind of double feeling . . . on the one hand I feel an extraordinary pity for the village of Sa-nur, the artists' colony of Sanur, in some ways these wonderful people have destroyed it. It became completely different. I like these people, I really like them, but they've destroyed the world that existed here before. I'm not against them, they're more rightist than I, but they've destroyed that world that we had here before. There were these fairytale-like trees, it was a different world. And they destroyed it all. It's hard to imagine what was here before. I was happy all day, from morning 'til night. I had always enjoyed my artistic work before, but never before had I experienced such a spiritual paradise. There was this atmosphere of brotherhood, we were all more than brothers to each other, it was something unbelievable. So for me it's nostalgia . . . But these people, I love these people, what they started here, it's a completely different story. At the time of the first intifada, I was the communicator with the army, and I was driving through these burning walls, my car was blasted to pieces, I could have died many times."

"It was a completely different government here before, at the time that Sa-nur was founded. It was a government that wanted peace." He doesn't even want to think about disengagement day in August. He hasn't signed a compensation contract, but thinks he will get it anyway. "At least it's something," he sighs. "In the end everyone loses something, and the compensation can cover some of the physical, material loss."

Julia Segul was born in 1938 in Charkov . She is a sculptor who came to Sa-Nur in 1994, immediately after arriving in Israel. She had heard about an artists' colony while still in Russia, and it had been her aim to come here. She has been married thrice and has two grown children, one in Russia and one in the United States. She also has some close relatives who live near her in Shomron. She has many heartbreaking childhood tales of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. From her early childhood, she was aware of how brutal the soviet children could be to Jewish children like herself.

She felt that the only way to prevent the children from killing her was to fight back. One day, at about age 12, she saw two boys walking down the road, the kind of boys she knew would hurt her if they saw her. All of a sudden, a self-defensive anger came over her, and she thought to herself, "I'll kill them first." She started choosing which rock would serve best as her weapon and by the time she had chosen one, the boys had come upon her. She raised the rock over her head, ready to throw it at the boys, and she had such a look in her eyes that the boys ran away, frightened. "When a person is ready to kill, (even if it's a little girl) you see it in their eyes." She says, chuckling to herself.

From the first time she had heard of such a thing as the creation of art she was amazed by it. One day in class there was a boy sitting in front of her with a two-colored drawing pencil. She attempted to steal it, her family was very poor at the time, and the only thing she regrets was that she failed. She was not ashamed of stealing it. "Luck was not on my side," she laughs.

Some of her sculptural works are very political, others are personal, many are involved with the question of her Jewish identity, some are works documenting her childhood memory, and all of her pieces (displayed in the upstairs gallery of the main artists' building,) are extremely symbolic. There is a pair of large broken sunglasses symbolizing the blindness of many as to the real situation in Israel. The inner frames show a pretty countryside view and the outer frames show violence and pain. There are many digital art pieces with black humour political messages as their theme, such as a depiction of the Little Red Riding Hood in bed with the Big Bad Wolf. The Little Red Riding Hood has the face of Perez and the Big Bad Wolf has the face of Arafat. She is not afraid of disengagement day, she feels protected by the religious family settlers in Sa-nur. She doesn't have any grandchildren of her own yet but says proudly about the children of the settlers' families: "These are my grandchildren." She doesn't really know about what kind of atmosphere the artists' colony had in earlier days since she joined the colony much later. She refuses to sign any compensation contract. "Compensation, what compensation?"

Julia Segul has no home except her home in Sa-nur but she doesn't even wish to think about what could happen to her in August.

Mark Salman was born in 1938 in Essentuky, Caucasus. He has a son who lives in the States, a daughter who lives in Israel, and another daughter who lives in Russia. His son has two daughters, his two granddaughters. He came to Israel in 1991, he had been wanting to come to Israel since the Six-Day war in 1967. In 1979, immigration to Israel was blocked and Mark Salman's journey couldn't occur until 1991. In 1991 he came to Tel Aviv with his younger daughter and the older daughter stayed in Moscow with his wife. His wife was supposed to come the following year but she died before that could happen. Salman hadn't dreamt of Israel at first: "What was important was not the place I was going to, but the place that I was leaving. I wanted to go to any country…but with the empowerment of anti-Semitism, a protest was awakened within me and it has been expressed in this way, to go to Israel and only Israel. The stronger anti-Semitism became in Russia, the stronger was my conviction that my place is in Israel and only Israel. This went on just after I finished my University studies in 1967, when I was already ready to leave and specifically to Israel.

When I came I lived in Tel Aviv for three weeks. And then when I heard about an artists' village I realized that it's for me, as being an artist is my favorite profession. I ended up here by accident, I got lucky at the time. I was commissioned to work as a sculptor for a project at Yad Vashem, I was to create a Wallenberg memorial tablet. And when I was figuring out how to work on my piece, they told me about Sa-nur, an artists' village that has a bronze workshop. When I saw Sa-nur, I understood that I need look no further. I had never seen a biblical paysage, well maybe in paintings such as Kromskoy's Christ in the Desert, and some others, but I didn't associate in my brain this paysage with actual Israel. When I arrived I suddenly felt that this was the place where my ancestors came from, there is a certain mysticism to this earth and it drew me in. It's fourteen years now that I've been here in Sa-nur. There are many places in Israel that I love, (Mark also has a workshop in Natanya) but I love Sa-nur the most." Mark is very comfortable in Sa-nur because he can pour bronze, live among his fellow artists, and he lives in the beautiful "biblical" nature that he has come to adore. There are not many bronze-pouring workshops in the world, it is a very rare and special art form and takes a true master. Mark studied in Stroganov Art Academy in Moscow.

He has many intricate medals and small statues which are stacked and piled in every nook and cranny of his nigurun, as his small Sa-nur apartment is called. He has worked as a medal and coin designer on behalf of government corporations in Jerusalem and Paris. Mark has won various international medal designing competitions, and his work is indeed extremely impressive, every detail is perfectly sculpted and clearly the work of a master. "In the best case scenario, if you work really intensively, a two sided coin can be completed in a little over a week."

Mark gave me one of the pins he designed on behalf of an organization fighting against disengagement. "But this isn't 'disengagement,'" says Mark, "it is capitulation after victory. After such difficult victories, when they promised to bury us alive on the seashore, to not pollute the sacred sea, so when all the wars have been won, in a couple decades we start to give them settlements, I'm sure that here one can believe Golda Meir who said that 'it's enough to dip into the ground with a tablespoon in these places to understand that the earth is soaked with Jewish history.' It's the depiction of a wounded lion roaring, mounted onto a slim Star of David. This piece is a symbolic reward for settlers of Samaria such as the settlers of Sa-nur.

Yet Mark doesn't know what he's going to do with all of his pieces; he's worried they might get destroyed on August 17th. He doesn't know and can't think about what will happen on disengagement day but for him it is a matter of losing his true home.

"First of all, who are these soldiers? I can't fight with my children, with my grandchildren. I can't physically throw rocks at them, I don't want to do that… They're promising us that they'll (the soldiers and police), behave appropriately. But how is it possible, with this kind of mutual politeness, to solve the problem of evacuation? In what times was this, that a person willingly left his home? Well the truth is in our case, for compensation. But what if compensation doesn't interest us?"

Sygal Azaria is 23 years old, and grew up in Ramnat Gan. Her parents immigrated from Strasbourg, France, 30 years ago. "They were zionists, they came for the people of Israel. They came even though they had great jobs in France, a big house, all their friends. Her parents came with 3 children and Sygal, one of the youngest, was later born in Israel." Her parents now live in Cravir, a little village not far from Sa-nur. Her five siblings are scattered all over Israel and one of her sisters does social work for troubled children en lieu of army service, an option for young religious women. "At first my family was scared of me coming here, because the place is completely surrounded by Arabs. But now they understand that it's important. And it's truly pretty here. " She has a baby son, Elisha, he is about a year and a half. She has been living in Sa-nur for 6 months, before that she lived in Ternion with her family. When her family first heard about what was happening, she says they couldn't just stay home and do nothing, so they came to Sa-nur. Sygal and her husband Amos commute weekly to Haifa, where they both study at the university. Sygal is studying to be a nurse and Amos is studying computer science at the Israel Institute of Technology. She believes that Sharon is corrupt, she calls him a "dictator." She is convinced that if they can get enough supporters to move into Sa-nur, then disengagement in Sa-nur will be cancelled. She's hoping that 10,000 people will come. (She breastfeeds her baby as she talks to me.) She is not afraid of disengagement, "I have fear of God," she proclaims. About the demonstration against the army, that day (July 6th): "Now I see that this is the best place for us. Because of the way people think here, it's the way we think. Like today, when the army had its work to do, there are people in Gushkatif who would have said, 'No don't go there, it's the army, we must do what the army wants. Things like that, 'we must not disturb the army.' In Sanur they say, 'No, it's important, we're going there, we're stopping the army's work.' Here they say what they think and they do what they think. Today the army said that they need to build a building for security, but we know that it's not for security, that it's to help them block the road later on." She tells me she didn't do anything at the demonstration, she was just present, but then she brings out her digital camera and proudly shows me photos from that morning. There's a picture of her with her child next to her sitting in the shovel of a bulldozer. She states that she's not at all afraid of bringing her baby to such demonstrations: "These people are gendarmes and police, not people who want to do bad things to me, these are people who want to protect me."

Even if there's a chance of violence from them, she says her cause is so important that she's willing to take her chances. She admits to having little experience with political demonstrations. She doesn't believe that what she's doing is dangerous or holds too many risks. "Living here, it's not that much but it's something, it's my contribution," says Sygal. "When my child grows up I don't want him to say, 'just because of me, my mother did nothing.'" Sygal is happy that her baby is a part of this and isn't concerned that anything serious could happen.

Amos Azaria was born in England because his family was there on shlihut (a diplomatic mission) for an Akiva (which recruits young people for Aliyah) for about three years and when they returned to Israel Amos was a year and half old. They lived in Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Mikre-israel by Holon, and his parents have been living in Betgoniel for the past 15 years. Over a year ago Amos and Sygal decided to come to Sa-nur but they had to wait half a year until a caravan was ready.

"We heard about Sharon's terrible eviction plan, he said, before that we were active in Haifa but we felt it wasn't enough we had to move here and make a bigger step and also because it's our land and we're not going to give it to Arabs for receiving terror. For security reasons, we understand that this place is very important for Israel to hold, if Israel won't be here and there will be terror land over here, then Natanya, Hadera, Pula, Betam and all these places will have katanim(bombs) all the time. And also in this are they catch all the time terrorists and bombers."

"We just, God, God is with us. Riding in the roads sometimes can be a little scary. " Says riding in car which isn't bulletproof can be a little scary, if you go in the buses it's ok. "But I think it's also a risk driving a car anywhere in Israel, you could have an accident. And accidents happen. There were 3 people from Sa-nur who were injured in car accidents. There are car accidents you don't here about because it's all the time. So if people can risk themselves going in a car somewhere inside Israel, just for that, this is a good enough reason. We don't care, we don't surrender to the Arabs. And even if they're going to try to shoot us it doesn't prevent us from living here, on the contrary, just from them all the trouble that comes to Israel just makes us stronger." He says Sa-nur has grown phenomenally from what it was before. Amos writes and distributes Sa-nur's community events newspaper, and now that he has more time after finishing his studies and teaching at the Technion, he helps out with construction work in Sa-nur such the building of tents for newly arriving Sa-nur supporters. "I don't think anyone really knows what's going to happen but we expect about 10,000 people coming from all over, from anywhere to here just to be with us. And the army will see the place packed with people and won't be able to do anything." He says there are other groups helping to organize the arrival of more Sa-nur supporters. He explains that there are demonstrations that have been up to 200,000 people. He is very optimistic and confident. He believes that most people aren't scared to risk coming by car, those who can will come armed. Those who are scared can participate in other ways, Amos tells me, such as roadblocking inside Israel and contacting people. He says there are organizations who have been working on this for months already. There are many organizations that group up to something called Hamatei ha meshutaf The Common Organization, United Group, which branches out into 15 or more organizations. Nashim beyerok (Women in Green) Homad megan (Shield Wall, name of the 2003 operation). "We want to make sure that all the Jews in all Israel will have security. And by having our children here we protect all the children in Israel. And I'm sure my child when he grows up will be very happy that he was part of giving help to prevent the eviction plan. And I'm sorry my parents didn't take me to Yemit, Haveyemit when it was evacuated." (His baby is a year and a half.)

David Fadida, 25 years old, made aliyah from Paris, France when he was 17 as soon as he passed his baccalaureate exam. From a young age his parents had placed him in a Jewish private school and David was deeply fascinated and touched by his Jewish education. He was immediately extremely receptive to Jewish teachings. "Around age 13 I had decided that I was going to make aliyah. I had already been to Israel several times with my parents for vacation and I really liked it. I realized afterwards that France is not a nice place for me, because of anti-Semitism and because when I was a teenager, after age 13, I became more religious and mature and at the same time I was learning to think for myself. When he first came to France he studied in a Yeshiva in Jerusalem, then he served in the army, then he worked in France for a year in a community organization which encourages Zionism in young people called Binai Akiva. When he came back to Israel he studied psychology for 3 years at Barilen,

David got married around this time and him and his spouse lived in Bethel for 2 years, and 2 years ago he and his family moved to Sa-nur. When David's family came to Sa-nur they had already been looking for a nice place to settle down for some time. "We were looking to fall in love with a place, and that finally happened when we saw Sa-nur."

He is now studying to become a Rabbi. He has already studied for 2 months in a Yeshiva in another village. "And now for the past 2 months to be more involved in the fight for Sa-nur, I study in Sa-nur itself. Besides, the rabbi who teaches at the Yeshiva I was at lives here. So I can ask questions right here, there's no problem." His wife is a teacher, she teaches math at Karbur, a village 20 minutes away from Sa-nur. She also works in the Sa-nur kindergarten.

He says the bus system in Sa-nur is a pain, as there are not many buses and they don't come very often. But he says, "life is not easy for everybody, even those who work at home have problems, here we have transportation problems."

David is optimistic that the disengagement will be cancelled in Sa-nur.

He says that most of the people in Sa-nur don't want to think about disengagement day not because they're afraid, but because they don't want to accept it. "Thinking about it is already a form of acceptance. It's important to think in a positive manner." States David matter-of-factly. "It's not just hope, it's possible that there are bad things that could happen, but it's more in the sense to have the means, to concentrate oneself on the means and not on the ends. That means we're doing what has to be done, and afterwards then we'll see.

What will happen in the end is not what's important. Will we have Sa-nur? Will we not have Sa-nur? There is no 100% guarantee. But the ends are less important. It's most important to do things in a moral way."

David believes in the military defensive strategy: "I'd rather be at my enemy's house, than have my enemy at mine. If the enemy is at my house and I have to defend myself then it's all lost from the beginning…When there are people living here, it gives more security to the big cities."

"It's bad that the buses have to be bulletproof normally it's better for the soldiers to kill the terrorists before they have a chance to fire on the buses. The army knows very well how to enforce security. In general it's the politicians who tell the army where to go and where not to go, who prevent the army from enforcing security." David is one of the members of Sa-nur's directive committee. "It's not just the soldiers who have to take risks. We are all soldiers." One of his children is almost 3, one is one and half, and his wife is pregnant. "If there are people who would like to believe that we don't care or that we aren't scared for and aren't worried about our children. It's false, because it's clear that those who sacrifice the most for their children are people like us." The orange rubber bracelet on his child's wrist says "Let the people decide." The children play on an old playground set. Because of Sharon's plan, David says they haven't had funding for the past year so they can't do things such are renovate their old playground.

Miriam Adler is 28 years old and was born in Moscow, in the former Soviet Union. She is the spokeswoman for Sa-nur and is the "frontpage" face representing Sa-nur settlers. She is very passionate about her cause and calls herself a soldier. She is confident and certain of success.

From an early age, she was taught how to revolt against the perceived tyrannical government body. Her parents were refuseniks and her father, a scholar in Judaic studies, homeschooled her in Hebrew and Talmudic teachings. They refused to send her off to the regular soviet school and they refused to not practice Judaism. "Of course I could feel that we were not like everybody else; that we were doing things that were not considered "legal," the militia would come to our house… But they were things that we had to do . . . Our parents showed us with their behavior that this was important." Miriam's parents always wanted to come to Israel, and were planning on it since about 1979.

When Miriam was 12 her family immigrated to Israel in 1989. First they lived in Jerusalem for a year and a half, then Nitzion, then Kiryat Arba. Her father found work translating texts. She says she has many interests, but has no time to realize them right now.

There was a time when she worked with silver, she is interested in art and in fact one of the reasons Miriam had in mind for coming to Sa-nur was the artist's colony. She hopes to study art with the Sa-nur artists.

She has also worked as a kindergarten teacher in the past.

"I hope that in 2 months this will all be over, and I can forget about all this, and study in peace. We have a lot of plans but we have to survive these 2 months."

Miriam sends they ended up in Sa-nur by accident. "My husband found, at his workplace, a flyer that told about Sa-nur. And to our shame, we had to open up a map to see where it was. Sa-nur was in a very difficult state, and nobody knew about it. There were only a few heroic artists that would drive through all of these hostile villages to get there. From what I remember, we drove through this one village by bus and all the Arabs came out of their shops to see all these crazy Jews coming to this place from whence they had long ago expelled us. We decided to prove to them that no one was going to expel or move us out of here. Sadly, it's now Jews who are planning to expel us from here."

Miriam and her family moved to Sa-nur in 2003. "There was no talk of the plan yet, we came to support the place and to give it more of a Jewish presence. We came here to live, we left our work, our house, and came here."

"Soldiers may also get scared when they go into battle, but they have a goal. We are in a state of war, our insane government doesn't defend us so we have to be the soldiers. Of course we have to drive through this road, we have to live here in absolutely impossible conditions, under bombs, like in Gushkativ, there are constantly bombs falling there. They government doesn't get it, probably doesn't even want to; so what happens is the civilian population turns into soldiers. And you know, there is no place or time for fear in a situation like this."

Miriam met her husband when she was about 17 years old and they were both demonstrating on the streets of Israel. They have six children.

Miriam points out that where there is a yeshuv (settlement), there must be soldiers. Lately the number of soldiers in Sa-nur has significantly risen. Miriam believes it is some kind of government conspiracy in preparation for disengagement.

Miriam is concerned about police officer brutality to political demonstrators and how the police officers may end up conducting themselves towards Sa-nur settlers. She herself has been beat up and abused by police officers at past demonstrations.

"They're hooligans and we must fight against them." She declares.

"Scary? Everything is scary," she says sighing, "everything in our life is like a horrible dream lately. My country instead of defending me, turns into some kind of opponent who wants to throw me out of my house. The government which should have been my government and which should behave honestly in the very least, is bargaining with government seats and votes. And it's not defending its own citizens. Everything is scary, but what is there to do, run? There are people who don't have the strength, they are not to be judged, they decided to take the compensation and leave, well, those are their personal beliefs. But doesn't someone have to fight, for morals, for Jewish morals, for our life, for our country…"

Her husband helps with the construction and gardens and whatever handiwork needs to be done in Sa-nur. Before, her husband used to drive the settlement car and also help with whatever was needed in Sa-nur.

From the time Miriam was 16 and her husband was 17 they have been participating in various political demonstrations and have not had time to study or to acquire a specific profession. She has been compelled to participate in demonstrations against certain government actions ever since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, around the time Arafat was invited to Israel for negotiations, when Miriam Adler was 16 years old. She calls it a "process of suicide" that she must do what she can to stop. She remembers when everyone in Israel had to have gas masks in 1990 during the Persian Gulf War when people were expecting chemical attacks.

She says that people who think Israel's problem's can be solved in a democratic way are naive. "This is a country which only understands the language of brute strength. Whoever's stronger, whoever screams the loudest is the one who wins."

"The first demonstration I was at had about half a million people, people demonstrated and spent the night there. The people were kicked out of there in a hideous, animal-like manner. The police beat them, kicked them out."

"I remember that my parents were impossible to break. For ten years everything was attempted on them, they were taken to court, the government tried to scare them, I don't know everything because they didn't tell me everything, I was a child." But the impression of it remains . . .

As for her ideology? "Take the Tanach, the Bible, and start reading," she says simply.

She blushes, laughs and admits to having met her husband at demonstrations. "There are very few ideological arguments in our home! They would arrest us together, one time in the Arab Quarter, another time in the city, another time in Yerihod before they gave away the synagogue in Yerihod, people walked all night until they reached Yerihod and there they were all arrested! And a couple other times… That's how it happened, we were canned together!"

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1995 eulogy for Northern Samaria terror victim Ofrah Felix
(Knesset Member) Ariel Sharon

"I remember her as a little girl in the Shomron horizons, one of the followers of this beautiful and difficult land. How can we eulogize a 19-year-old girl? A girl who is a sacrifice to concessions and surrender to terrorism, to Jewish weakness, to the loss of the sense of our right to the land, to our inability? I know that these are harsh words, but no words are too harsh when these murderous acts have become a daily fare, and when a government in Jerusalem transfers responsibility for Jewish lives to a Palestinian terrorist organization . . . . And the situation is getting worse, because despite the fact that the [Oslo] agreement has failed, as could have been predicted, the government continues its efforts to give over the authorities and pieces of our homeland to the war criminal Arafat . . .

The government is hoping that the settler's spirit will fall, that their faith will break, that they will want to leave. I look around me and I see the first of tho! se who settled this mountain [area]. I know them for more than 20 years, and I know: Their spirit will not fall, and their faith will not break. Governments will fall and will arise, but the settlers will remain here forever, and will continue to build beautiful communities . . . . I see the next generation, the generation of Ofrah, and I see that they are no less [strong] than their parents. There is a continuance. They lead in the settlement enterprise; they lead in the army; they lead in Love of the land and in self-sacrifice. For them, Zionism is not yet over, and they still have a long way to go. For them, the Shomron hills, the mountains of Judea and the sands of Katif and Netzarim are not just a historic right but also a true home"

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Statement of the Foreign Press Association in Israel Against Press Restrictions of the Government of Israel . . .
Followed by Reporter's Protests Against Press Restricions of the Palestinian Authority

{Well, there seems to be one clear area of coordinated policy between Israel and the Palestinian Authority remains severe restrictions on press coverage of the events that are about to unfold in the "disengagement" process - db)

From the web site of The Foreign Press Association in Israel


An expanded board attended a meeting this afternoon hosted by the IDF, GPO and the Foreign Ministry. At the meeting, significant reductions in access and stringent new controls were issued. Here is a summary:

Contrary to earlier indications, the Israeli authorities have told us that they are willing to permit far fewer members the right to stay inside settlements than we had earlier been led to expect.

They have also clarified the strict conditions under which members would be allowed to stay. These are:

Once inside after August 15, those few journalists will not be allowed to leave the settlement where they are staying until it is evacuated.

There will be absolutely no movement between settlements, which will be encircled by troops, For example a journalist staying in Neve Dekalim will not be allowed to go to Gadid nearby.

Journalists will not be allowed to keep any vehicles - including satellite trucks.

Equipment they cannot carry themselves will be brought out by the army in a single container for all journalists

The army wants members to submit detailed lists of journalists who would like to stay -- together with job functions, addresses, passport details and GPO card numbers. These updated are to be submitted through the FPA.

The army will then decide how many will be allowed to stay in each settlement. This could depend on the number of settlers who remain. A decision would be expected between August 10 and 14.

The army suggested that five to seven journalists in total might be allowed for each settlement - with the exception of Neve Dekalim, where more might be permitted.

Journalists would have to provide their own accommodation in agreement with the settlers.

All those members found to be living in settlements after midnight of August 14 without permission, they said, would face prosecution and unspecified other sanctions which could affect the future operations of news organizations in Israel.

We have demanded that the authorities publish a document specifying these rules and the sanctions that anyone might face for disobeying them.

The authorities also outlined a reduced shuttle service of only one bus a day to each settlement being evacuated. This would leave pre-dawn with evacuating forces as part of a convoy including two satellite trucks for AP and Reuters. There would only be between 10 and 15 places for members aboard each bus. Israeli journalists would get up to 30 places aboard the same bus.

This shuttle will remain at the site for as long as it takes to evacuate the settlement and this could be overnight. Members should consider taking provisions with them. The only other shuttles now being mentioned might include two others each day - not to the settlements being evacuated, but only to those awaiting evacuation or already evacuated.

The question of access within the Eshkol region and especially to the Kissufim live position remains unsolved. Again, the IDF have asked for detailed lists for access to the "live" positions.

The FPA strongly protested this limited and controlled access. We have asked both the IDF and the GPO for a commitment that there will be no additional private deals with media organizations, making a mockery of the above requirements for those of us submitting to these draconian demands. We have already learnt that some such deals are in the works.

"PA coverage restriction ires journalists"
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST July 31, 2005

In a move condemned by Palestinian journalists as a threat to the free media, the Palestinian Authority on Saturday issued a ban on the publication of any news related to its security forces.

The PA Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the security forces, said the ban applied to local, Arab and international news organizations working in Palestinian territories.

It said the decision was taken "out of concern for the public interest and in line with national and professional responsibilities." According to the ministry, journalists who want to cover stories related to the PA security forces will be required to fill out a special form and seek prior permission from the ministry officials.

The ban follows complaints by some Palestinians that the PA security forces are partly responsible for the growing state of lawlessness and anarchy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Tawfik Abu Khoussa, spokesman for the ministry, said the decision came after some newspapers and TV stations published "inaccurate and incorrect" details about the Palestinian security forces.

"This has happened many times recently and the information was not based on official sources," he argued. "Some of the reports have caused damage to the security services and the police and almost resulted in confrontations with the people."

Abu Khoussa, who previously served as deputy chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the Gaza Strip, dismissed allegations that the new instructions were a breach of the freedom of the press.

"We don't want to impose censorship on the media or restrict the work of journalists," he said.

"We only want to make sure that the reports about our security forces are true and accurate. We want to put an end to rumors and attempts to defame the security forces."

The PA's Ministry of Information expressed "astonishment" at the ban and said it was opposed to the decision. Deputy Minister of Information Ahmed Suboh said the ministry was against such restrictions and would inform the Interior Ministry of its position.

Palestinian journalists expressed deep concern at the latest decision, saying it was yet another sign of the PA's attempts to tighten its grip on the local media.

"This decision contradicts [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas's promise to work toward a free and independent media," a prominent Palestinian journalist in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post.

"Every day we hear about a new measure restricting the work of journalists.

The Palestinian Authority wants to turn us into its official spokesmen."

Another journalist from Ramallah said he and many of his colleagues are under increased pressure from the PA to stop reporting on stories that "reflect negatively" on the Palestinian leadership.

"There is a feeling here that there is no difference between Yasser Arafat and Abu Mazen [Abbas]," he said. "Abu Mazen is imposing severe restriction on the media just like Arafat."

Last week the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, which is controlled by Abbas loyalists, issued a warning to all journalists to refrain from reporting on clashes between Hamas gunmen and PA security forces in Gaza City. It warned that any journalist who violated the ban would be punished for harming the Palestinians' national interests.

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Is "Disengagement" The Answer?
by Dr. Alex Grobman

That Jews need to be "disengaged" from the Arabs is not a new idea. In July 1937 the British issued the Palestine Royal Peel Commission that concluded: "An irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country. There is no common ground between them. Their national aspirations are incompatible. The Arabs desire to revive the traditions of the Arab golden age. The Jews desire to show what they can achieve when restored to the land in which the Jewish nation was born. Neither of the two national ideals permits of combination in the service of a single State."

Expelling Jews from their homes in any part of Israel or in the disputed territories will not solve the Arab/Israeli conflict. How do we know? The Arabs have been quite explicit in explaining why the conflict persists. PLO spokesman Bassam-Abu-Sharif and other leaders claim, "The struggle with the Zionist enemy is not a matter of borders, but touches on the very existence of the Zionist entity." In other words, it does not matter whether Israel retreats to her 1967 borders, those mandated by the UN in 1948 or the 1949 cease fire lines. As long as the Jewish State exists, the Arabs are determined to bring about her demise.

Deporting Jews from their homes is also illegal. Writing in The New Republic on October 21, 1991, Professor Eugene V. Rostow made this clear when he declared, "[UN] Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until 'a just and lasting peace in the Middle East' is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces 'from territories' it occupied during the Six-Day War--not from 'the' territories nor from 'all' the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip."

In another essay in which he investigates the Arab claim for self-determination based on law, Professor Rostow concludes, "the [British] mandate implicitly denies Arab claims to national political rights in the area in favor of the Jews; the mandated territory was in effect reserved to the Jewish people for their self- determination and political development, in acknowledgment of the historic connection of the Jewish people to the land. Lord Curzon, who was then the British Foreign Minister, made this reading of the mandate explicit. There remains simply the theory that the Arab inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have an inherent 'natural law' claim to the area."

"Neither customary international law nor the United Nations Charter acknowledges that every group of people claiming to be a nation has the right to a state of its own. International law rests on the altogether different principle."

In the absence of a peace agreement, how can one legally or morally justify forcing Jews to leave their homes? What did the Jews do to warrant this treatment? They were encouraged by Israeli administrations to establish residences and business in the area. Isn't expulsion penalizing the victim, while rewarding the aggressor? And when peace negotiations do begin, wouldn't it be better to have a presence in the area as a bargaining chip?

Another concern must be that expulsion clearly demonstrates that the Arab Intifada was not fought in vain. If the Israelis retreat under fire as they did in south Lebanon, the Arabs will once again see that terrorism is the most effective means to ensure acknowledgment for themselves, their goals, and to achieve their objectives. According to a joint Israeli-Palestinian Public Opinion Poll in June 2005 conducted by The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 45% of the Israelis and 72% of the Palestinians believe that Ariel Sharon's decision to remove Israeli settlements from Gaza is a triumph for the Palestinian armed struggle against Israel, compared to 52% among Israelis and 26% among Palestinians.

Furthermore, 51% of the Israelis and 66% of the Palestinians believe that the Intifada and armed confrontation has helped Palestinians achieve national and political objectives that negotiations could not have achieved. Israeli settlers share these perceptions with the Palestinians. 72% of the settlers think the disengagement is a victory for the Palestinians and 77% believe the Intifada has helped them achieve political goals.

As to the long term possibility for a political solution to the Israel/ Palestinian conflict, 46% of the Palestinians and 36% of the Israelis believe that there never will be a political settlement, 29% of the Palestinians and 31% of the Israelis think that this goal can only be realized either in future generations or in the next generation, 19% of the Palestinians and 27% of the Israelis expect it will be achieved in the next decade or within the next few years.

In a recent interview, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who presided over the retreat from south Lebanon and the failed Camp David 2000 Summit, said that Sharon surrendered to terror after realizing that his attempts to curb the violence had failed. Barak believes that the disengagement policy is flawed because even after the Israelis evacuate their armed forces and civilians from Gaza, international law dictates that Israel will be held accountable for everything that occurs there.

Barak further claims that president George Bush did not promise Sharon that Israelis will be allowed to remain in Gush Etzion, Givat Zev, Ariel, and Maaleh Adumim. Israel will not be allowed to remain in this as a reward for leaving Gaza. Behind closed doors, Barak says, Americans will tell you that this in not true. "The public is being deceived," he asserts. Why? Because "Sharon is not strong enough to tell the Israeli public the truth." Sharon and Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz have replaced the former Mossad chief, the head of the security service, IDF Chief of Staff, and the National Security Advisor, and appointed people who support disengagement.

Sharon is not being honest about the security fence either, according to Barak. The communities behind the fence will be abandoned. Several areas of the fence have been left open allowing terrorists access to Hadera, Afula, Be'er Sheva and Tel Aviv. Sharon has also lost the city of Ariel, and soon Maaleh Adumim.

Equally disturbing is the admission by Moshe Ya'alon, former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff that the IDF did not participate in most of the discussions that formulated the expulsion plan. Only after the Americans and Egyptians were informed of the arrangement did he learn about it.

After his recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Sharon once again called upon the Arabs to adhere to their agreement to stop the terrorism, violence and provocation, dismantle the terrorist organizations, collect their weapons and carry out organizational changes as a prerequisite to resuming the diplomatic process. Unless the threats are backed up with action, the Arabs will be even more encouraged to continue flaunting their agreements, if there are no consequences.

Another problem not openly discussed is that once Jews have been transferred out of the area, other Jewish communities will be exposed to Qassam rocket fire and terrorist infiltration. In January of this year, Colonel Uzi Buchbinder, head of the Home Front Command's civil defense department, warned that 46 western Negev communities would be within range of enemy rockets and terrorist attacks after the retreat.

That the Arabs will not be swayed in any way by Israeli withdrawal should not come as a surprise. As political scientist Shlomo Avineri observes, the Arabs see themselves as the only "legitimate repository of national self-determination" in the region. They do not accept that national groups in the Middle East have the same right to self-determination that they have properly demanded for themselves. This exclusivity "borders on political racism," and should not be tolerated in the Middle East any more than it is Europe."

A few examples he points out will illustrate the problems Arabs have with minorities. The Kurds have a different language, culture and customs than the Arabs, and the Iraqi and Syrian governments (and the non-Arab Muslims in Turkey and the Persians in Iran) have oppressed them for decades. Yet no Arabs have ever asked that the Kurds be given the right to self-determination. In 2005, when the international community supports the establishment of a state for the Palestinian people, no Arab moderate or academic has requested comparable rights for the Kurds.

The Berbers in Algeria and the Christian Maronites in Lebanon are similar situations, he continues. The Darfur region of Sudan can be added to this group. Arab militias, with the support of the Arab dominated government in Khartoum, have committed what UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called "ethnic cleansing" against the indigenous black population.

The refusal by the Sharon government to explain adequately the reasons for giving up land and transferring Jews in response to repeated terror attacks against its citizens, the failure to engage the Israeli public and politicians in an open dialogue about the implications of this policy, and its unfortunate success at fomenting distrust, alienation and hatred among various segments of the population does immeasurable damage to the Jewish people and weakens the Israeli and the American war on terrorism.

Before Israel "disengages," there should be legal and moral justifications for uprooting Jews who have not violated any Israeli or international statue. When the Arabs are willing to accept the existence of the Jewish State and live in peace with her, then negotiations about future borders should be discussed. As long the Arabs want to destroy Israel, concessions only convince them that terrorism, rather than negotiation, is the best method to achieve their goal.

It appears that we have not progressed much since 1994, when Aharon Megged, the respected writer and supporter of the Labor Party, complained: "Since the Six Day War, and at an increasing pace, we have witnessed a phenomenon which probably has no parallel in history: an emotional and moral identification by the majority of Israel's intelligentsia with people openly committed to our annihilation." He also saw a trend by them "to regard religious, cultural, and emotional affinity to the land . . . with sheer contempt." "You make peace with your enemies," they incessantly proclaim, yet as Professor Edward Alexander observed, "it is clear that they can far sooner make peace with enemies wearing keffiyehs than with enemies wearing yarmulkes and tefillin."

Dr. Grobman's most recent book is Battling for Souls: The Vaad Hatzala Rescue Committee in Post War Europe [KTAV]. He is also co-author of Denying History: Who Says The Holocaust Never Happened? (University of California Press, 2000) His next book Zionism=Racism: The New War Against The Jews will be published in 2005.

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