Israel Resource Review 16th August, 2001


Liberating Jerusalem Again . . . And Doing it Right
Nadav Shragai
Senior Correspondent, HaAretz

A number of years ago during the early months of the first Intifada, David Krause, who was then police commissioner, briefed the commanders of police units deployed throughout Jerusalem. He ended the briefing with a sentence that has remained engraved in the memories of all who were there - "We are now going to liberate Jerusalem once again."

In the decade since that assertion was issued, Israel did not liberate Jerusalem "once again." In fact the Palestinians succeeded in creating in the city's Arab districts their own special reality - a reality seen by many as trappings of sovereignty. Orient House, which was shut down over the weekend, was only the flagship of this reality. Alongside Orient House, there were security agencies and various civilian institutions covering a wide range of fields - education, housing, culture, transport, mortgage banking, propaganda, and media. All of these agencies and institutions were directly or indirectly linked to the Palestinian Authority, which openly declined to acknowledge the commitments it had made, under the terms of the Oslo accords, to avoid any activities in Jerusalem.

All Israeli governments from 1967 onward have allowed the continued existence of this "black market" of sovereignty - a form that Ehud Barak's government was prepared to "launder." This conveyed a clear message to the residents of East Jerusalem - "Israeli sovereignty and rule in East Jerusalem are temporary. Israel's presence in the eastern part of the city is nearing its end and will soon be replaced by a new regime."

The measures that the Israeli government adopted last Thursday are intended, for the first time in 12 years, to send an entirely different message. The measures were meant to teach PA Chairman Yasser Arafat a lesson and to demonstrate graphically to the Palestinians that they might end up losing a great deal.

Furthermore, the actions of the government caught the Palestinians completely off guard and they were implemented without any clashes or injuries. The measures were widely supported by the Israeli public and drew only token protests from the international community.

However, the chief significance of these actions is that they have the potential to initiate a major change in Jerusalem and establish the groundwork that will ensure, to the satisfaction of both the State of Israel and the Jewish people, that Jerusalem will remain a united city under Israeli sovereignty. For the first time in years, instead of asking whether Jerusalem will be divided, and if so by whom, one can now turn that question inside out and ask something that sounds far more sensible: "Will Jerusalem be reunited, and if so when and by whom?" However, the golden opportunity now on Israel's doorstep could be missed if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon satisfies himself with merely closing down Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem. If he probes the Jerusalem issue deeply, Sharon will discover that for years, many government ministries have treated the eastern section of the city as if it were truly foreign territory.

One can cite, for example, the routine monitoring activities of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (in its efforts to protect consumers) or of the Israel Police's traffic department. These two agencies operate these activities throughout Israel, but not in East Jerusalem. One could also cite the horrendous shortages in East Jerusalem in the fields of health care, education, transport and other services, and especially infrastructure. Granted, the independent Palestinian institutions established in East Jerusalem were created against the backdrop of Palestinian aspirations for sovereignty in Jerusalem too.

Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that the emergence of these institutions must also be attributed to the vacuum produced in the wake of the withdrawal of parallel Israeli services - services that should be restored to East Jerusalem now. There are a number of individuals who will very quickly discover that the independent Palestinian institutions will return to East Jerusalem through the back door. There are those, for example, who think it sufficient to distance the personnel of Jibril Rajoub, the PA's head of preventive security on the West Bank, from Jerusalem, without seeing to it that the Israeli police step up their efforts to serve the citizens of the city better.

There are those who think it enough to shut off the cash faucets of Palestinian housing foundations without seeing to it that housing projects are built for the Arabs of East Jerusalem. There are those who think it sufficient to shut down the social services department in Orient House without seeing to it that mother and infant care clinics, health maintenance organization clinics, centres for the care of the elderly, youth clubs and schools in the Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem are set up.

There is a two-fold justification for extensive investment in East Jerusalem. First, every Israeli government has been committed to the principle of such investment although it has avoided implementing it as a principle. Those who want to exercise sovereignty over Jerusalem cannot settle for a limited demonstration of muscle-flexing in front of Orient House and for an exclusive concern with only one segment of Jerusalem's population. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot argue that Israel's sovereignty and responsibility extend to all of East Jerusalem and at the same time refuse to recognize - and refusing to do anything about - the enormous gap between East and West Jerusalem in terms of services and investment in those services. Investment in East Jerusalem is first and foremost a moral commitment.

Yet there is another side to the coin. In the past decade, Israel's governments have failed to acknowledge their obligation to remove every trace of the PA and its branches from East Jerusalem. Those who are sincerely bent on attaining this goal must provide an alternative to the various services that the PA and its institutions have been delivering over the last few years to East Jerusalemites.

The negotiations that the Barak government conducted over a final status arrangement for Jerusalem fell through - however, those negotiations did establish the starting point for all future negotiations with the Palestinians. There can be no doubt in anyone's mind that the Palestinians would definitely prefer to use the partition plan that was proposed by former American president Bill Clinton, and which was accepted by the Barak government as the basis for future talks with Israel over Jerusalem. Sharon's recent actions are an attempt to establish a new starting point for the negotiations over Jerusalem. This is a step in the right direction but it must be accompanied by other measures as well.

This article ran on August 16, 2001 in HaAretz

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Zionist Patriotism Revived
Guy Bichor
Yediot Aharonot

The recent Palestinian violence has produced at least one positive result: the reawakening of Jewish patriotism, namely, Zionism. Whereas until recently people gave voice here to post-Zionist and global village ideas and said that Zionism had become obsolete, the recent incidents in the territories and among the Israeli Arabs have revived Zionism, rendering it once again relevant to our day and age as well. Zionism has been taken out of the civics classroom and has returned to being a relevant political position. It is difficult not to discern this in our daily lives: the overwhelming support for the national unity government and of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a dramatic cooling of the religious, ethnic and social rifts, the impressive fortitude displayed in the face of the frequent suicide bombing attacks, the top TV ratings that the broadcasts of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Maccabiah games commanded, citizens demanding to perform reserve military duty, and even an attack by the pillars of the establishment, such as Professor Shlomo Avineri, against Ha'aretz for being post-Zionist

This is classic Zionism, a Zionism of tenacity, a long-term self-perception based on a sense of having no other choice and a willingness for self-sacrifice.

In light of the circumstances, Zionism has come once again to be a means of self-definition for Israelis and Jews who, until a year ago, considered themselves to be citizens of the world.

The attacks from without, particularly from the direction of Europe, have also contributed to the reawakening of Zionism. The intention to revive the equation of Zionism with racism and the nefarious attacks against Israel have produced the opposite effect from the one desired by Europe: pushed into the corner, an increased spirit of davka ["in your face," despite everything - INT], and the bolstering of Jewish patriotism have arisen. Just as in the past the hatred of Jews was a major catalyst for Zionism, the same has happened now when Palestinian patriotism is legitimate in Europe while Jewish patriotism is perceived as colonialism, condescension and an absurdity.

Patriotism, as opposed to nationalism, is immensely important for strengthening the solidarity of any society. But in the last decade in Israel there has been the feeling that Jewish patriotism is something that had become obsolete, a dark and even embarrassing phenomenon. The result was the collapse of the solidarity of the collective in our society, and a prevailing sense of "what do I care." Now, when Islamic suicide bombers reach everywhere and the threat is the same to everyone, the sense that we are all in the same boat is bolstered, hence the weakening of individualistic motifs in social discourse and a return to collective patterns.

This sociological process is deeper than we may think. Even a return to negotiations will not change it, since it is now clear to us that neither the return of territories nor any other magical solution will be sufficient to reach a peaceful arrangement.

This is an interesting paradox: Jewish patriotism is what created and fired Palestinian patriotism throughout the entire 20th century, it challenged it and forced it to respond. Now the picture is inverted: it is actually the Palestinian patriotism that is fueling and rebuilding Jewish patriotism. Ahmed Yassin and Yasser Arafat may not like it, but they have indirectly made a significant contribution to the fortitude of the State of Israel's society in the future, which should be of more interest to us than security considerations.

An awakening of this sort is liable to bear with it some disadvantages, such as a single opinion and an aversion to the other, but it is reasonable to believe that the democratic Israeli consciousness will not allow that to happen. In any event, being aware of this sociological change taking place before our very eyes could help produce a new and original cohesive to heal the rifts that were created in our society in the last number of years. These bitter times may ultimately come to produce a positive result.

This article ran on Friday, August 10 in Yediot Aharonot

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Why Did Israel Close the Orient House: The Inside Story
David Bedein

News reports concerning the Israeli takeover of the PLO Orient House in Jerusalem focused on the Orient House as little more than a symbol of PLO presence in Jerusalem, and as a place where the PLO welcomed foreign dignitaries.

However, having covered the Orient House for the past seven years, and having conducted extensive interviews with the Orient House staff over the past year, an insider's view of the Orient House would not underestimate the operational significance of the Orient House to the PLO.

Each department of the Orient House carried tremendous security implications for Israel.

The Orient House was a hub of PLO activity throughout the past seven years of the Oslo process and especially over the past ten months, when various armed forces of the PLO made it their venue for meeting. Reporters visiting the Orient House witnessed daylight meetings of the Tanzim, the Fatah hawks, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. It was not unusual to witness them brandishing their weapons. These varying security services were not only involved in war with Israel. They were all involved in "law enforcement" in East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods, which often meant abductions of Arabs from their homes for questioning and detention in Ramallah.

Last August, 2000, I interviewed with Khalil Tafakji, the Director of the Arab Studies Society, the director of a project based at the Orient House whose task it was to computerize the land records of Jerusalem and its environs, cross-referencing property records with the ownership claims of the refugees. By the time that the project was completed in January, 2001, the PA had computerized records that show the present owner or user of each parcel of land in Jerusalem and the Arab owner of each parcel prior to 1948. Tafakji explained that the purpose of the project was to prepare a legal claims for return of the properties or claims for damages for the value of the properties. In February, 2001, Tafakji pioneered similar projects on the computer at Orient House that traced land ownership in all other parts of Israel, with regard to properties to which Arab refugees can now make claims.

The Orient House computer was not only emphasizing the technical legal property claims for Arabs to receive compensation for their loss. The Orient House computer became a most efficient vehicle for Arab refugees to prepare for their actual return, even if the property that they had left had since been developed as an Israeli neighborhood, kibbutz, moshav or woodland since 1948.

This became very real to me when Tafakji casually pointed out familiar streets in Jerusalem on the computer screen, and then clicked to the names of the residents on those same streets from 1947, and then clicked to the whereabouts of those same residents and their descendents in the UNRWA Arab refugee camps today, where they have wallowed since 1949.

Since Arab refugee families in the UNRWA-run Palestinian Arab refugee camps live in areas that are marked according to the precise neighborhoods and villages that they lived in 1948, the Orient House mega-computer, working with UNRWA, efficiently distributed computer print outs to UNRWA refugee camp residents, so that they can realize their "right of return" to the neighborhoods and villages from before 1948.

In September, 2000, I accompanied a BBC TV crew that reported the daily bus trips for UNRWA camp residents to see the homes and neighborhoods that they will soon be claiming for themselves, in places such as Canada Park, the Tel Aviv University campus, and Ben Gurion International Airport.

The officials at the PA legal services department at the Orient house explained that this was similar to that of the Jewish claims against Germany, Austria and countries to which Jewish assets were sold or transferred by the Germans and their allies. It was also similar to the claims against Switzerland and other countries that benefited from the deaths of Jewish property owners whose assets were confiscated after their deaths at the hands of the Nazis.

The Arab Refugee Affairs Department at the Orient House, run PLO official Daoud Barakat, made it quite clear that that the "our task at the Orient House is to mobilize Palestinians from around the world to return to their homes".

Barakat did not mince words about the Jews who had moved into areas that had been Arab before 1948: "They will simply have to leave", Barakat explained in a taped interview. "Then the rightful owners of their homes would force them to leave", he said, referring to areas taken by Israel in 1948, not in 1967.

The most cooperative and media-conscious PLO official at the Orient House was Mr. Nabeh Aweidah, the Orient House press office manager. One of Aweidah's most important tasks was to print up and to distribute thousands of maps which conveyed the PLO vision of a Palestinian state in the future, in which all Israeli settlements that were established since 1948 were eliminated, and in which Palestine comprises all of the land of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

A few months ago, our agency dispatched a TV crew to film the Orient House in action - the security services, their mega computer, their lawyers and their map department. The raw footage will be available for the press and public to judge for itself as to whether the Orient House was only an innocuous welcome mat for the PLO cause.

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How the Official Palestinian VOICE OF PALESTINE Radio Covered the August Bombings
Michael Widlanski

On the day of the massive bombing in Jerusalem--August 10, 2001--The Voice of Palestine opened its morning broadcasts at 7 a.m. with a 15-minute spotlight on Ali Joulani, the man who, 2 days earlier died while committing a terror attack in Tel Aviv. Joulani, 23, was lionized as a "shaheed," or "martyr" in the cause against Zionists.

The V.O.P.--in a most unusual 15 segment--featured Joulani as the apotheosis of "istish-had"--an Arabic term that means both "martyrdom" and "heroic death against infidels."

His drive-by shooting attack on everyone in sight near the Qirya military base in Tel Aviv (he drove off the main Ayalon Freeway near the main shopping mall) and began sooting up Kaplan Street, wounding several men and women, mostly unarmed soldiers.

The Voice of Palestine condemned Israel for not immediately turning over "the martyr's body" to Palestinian control for a hero's burial.

Seven hours later, the huge suicide bombing occurred (at 2 p.m. Jerusalem time), and at the first opportunity, The V.O.P. announced (3 p.m.) that "it is not clear if the explosion is a heroic martyr operation or an accident.", in language putting blame on Israel and demanding that Israel seek a ceasefire.

Yet the "denunciation" or "condemnation" was very very circumspect and not (repeat NOT) offered in Arafat's voice.

In fact, during its first full news round-up at 9 p.m., the headlines did not even mention the "istinkar" (condemnation) but only in the body of the ninth news item.

The next day's main news show (7 a.m.) opened with a stirring Palestinian condemnation ("the Palestinian Authority strongly condemns [Arabic: adanat b'shidda] only the Israeli aggression at Orient House") regarding Israel's closure of the illegal Palestinian operations in Jerusalem's Orient House.

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"Sending Our Son Off to War"
David and Sara Bedein

This week we accompanied our first born son, Noam, to the IDF army recruitment center in Jerusalem, where he was inducted into an IDF combat unit, with three months of basic training lying ahead of him.

On the evenings before a young man goes in the IDF, neither he nor his parents get much sleep.

The soon-to-be IDF inductee parties with his friends. The parents also do not sleep - out of worry, fear and apprehension.

Our Noam, 19, was named after a soldier, Noam Yehuda, who was born in Philadelphia and who grew up in Safed, and killed by a PLO missile at the age of nineteen, on the fourth day of the Lebanon War in 1982.

The enemy was the same: Arafat and his terrorists who had set up a world-wide terrorist organization from his base in Lebanon and was held responsible for the murders and massacres of hundreds of Jews and Israelis throughout the world. The irony is that our own Noam, nineteen years later, is going to be forced to fight the same enemy - this time on our own land.

An enemy who had duped the world to such an extent that he received the Nobel Peace Prize! An enemy who was invited by the Israeli government to return from Tunis, given arms by the IDF and who turned the tables to set up cities of refuge for his "troops" to again launch attacks against Israelis.

Unlike many other Israelis, Noam holds a US passport. He could easily skip the country without too much difficulty and attend university in the US. However, he chooses to stay and serve.

When you take your son on that proverbial ride to the draft induction point, your son's entire life flashes in front of you. All those special moments are quashed into those twenty five minutes of negotiating Jerusalem rush hour traffic. His moment of birth. His Brit. His first step. His first day in nursery school. His first day in first grade. His performance in the local singing group and how he "cut" his first cassette. His bar mitzvah. His going off to yeshiva. His summer of work with down syndrome youngsters. And his resounding Shabbat meal send-off with his friends, when they sang sweet Shabbat melodies along with varying sounds, varying from Psalms to Punk Rock.

A few nights ago, we watched the evening news with Noam. Thousands of Arab rioters shooting guns wildly in the air, as they ran through the streets precariously toting the teetering body of yet another "shahid" - "holy martyr" (a title given to terrorists who blow themselves up with innocent Israeli civilians for the "Glory of Palestine") - Noam's comment: "Well, Wish me luck! I'm going to be in a war".

Noam's mood on the day of his induction was enthusiastic and adventurous, joined by two friends from his yeshiva who were being recruited together with him as well as three other friends who had come to part with him and wish him luck.

Watching our son joke with his friends while waiting to be called to get on the bus, our heart swelled with pride at this wholesome, fine son of ours who was eager to serve his country despite the gruesome predicament the country is in right now

This past year has been a year of reflection for Noam. He was glad to have made the decision not to go straight into the army following graduation from high school. Instead he chose a Yeshiva preparation program with a curriculum readies the yeshiva students for the army service through deep philosophical discussions and basic physical education to prepare him for rigorous army training.

It has also been a year of funerals. Too many funerals. Noam told us after returning from the funeral of our daughter's 20 year old youth counselor who had been shot dead in a drive by shooting, that "Now I know what I am going into the army for. Going to all these funerals has made me aware of what I must do: to protect the people of Israel".

At the induction center, only about twenty after we got there, Noam's name was called out. The time had come to part. We hand over to the IDF a wholesome, happy, wonderful son. Noam stretched out his arms and held each of us in a tight embrace. The lump in each of our throats choked back the words we had each planned to say. All we manage to say is: "Good luck. Stay safe, May God be with you" .

Please God, we pray, return him to us unharmed, safe and sound - in body and mind.

Insert: From a reporter's desk on the day of my son's induction
David Bedein
Israel Resource News Agency
Beit Agron Int'l Press Center
Jerusalem, Israel

Returning to my desk at the press center in Jerusalem, on the day of my son's induction into the IDF, I look at several things that bring to mind the wars of the past. My grandfather's diary from when he was an American soldier in World War I. A postcard that my father, an American soldier, sent his mother in World War II.

And my favorite book from childhood: the chronicle of the Civil War by Bruce Catton. As I send my son off to war, I cannot help but thinking of my visit to the Antitiem battlefield only 18 months ago, when I was covering the Israel-Syria negotiations in nearby Shepherdstown, West Virginia. I stood on that preserved pristine battleground, and thought of a generation in America when both two sides fought in battle who believed in what they were fighting for, with each side ready to pay the supreme sacrifice for what they believed.

Walking down that eery bloody lane, I could hear the drum roll from Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage and the poetry of Steven Vincent Benet, knowing full well that I would soon return to Israel to send my son into battle, dedicated to fight for a country that we choose to fight for.

Since I cover the Palestinian Authority and since I interview the officials of the PA, I know full well that they are equally dedicated to the fight for.

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