Israel Resource Review 30th August, 2001


What is the Basis for the Legal Status of Israel and the Settlements
Professor Eliav Shochetman
Hebrew University, Jerusalem
from Makor Rishon, 27th August, 1999

Moshe Negbi, a well-known legal commentator for the Ma'ariv daily as well as for Kol Yisrael radio, was interviewed here last week. One of the subjects discussed was the legality or lack thereof of the Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The Arab claim concerning the illegality of the Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza could not have found a more eloquent spokesman than Moshe Negbi. He very fervently - stressing most firmly that he does not allow political considerations to influence his opinions, but rather speaks as a "jurist and nothing else" - tried to convince us that the settlements represent a violation of the laws of war and that they therefore are an international crime. He also claimed that all, or almost all, experts in international law universally accept the view that the settlements are illegal.

While I have no pretensions to even a fraction of the knowledge and understanding of law that Negbi possesses, I do believe that I have acquired certain reading comprehension skills. I have read the relevant material in the public international legal literature and my conclusions concerning the position of international law on the legality of the settlements - based on the opinions of world-class experts in international law - are diametrically opposed to those of Negbi.

1920 - The Historic Bond Becomes a Legal Right

In 1920, after World War I had ended, the Allied Supreme Council that assembled at San Remo, Italy, decided, in accordance with the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, to assign the mandate for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine to Great Britain. This turned the right of the Jewish people over Eretz Israel into a right recognized by international law.

The historic bond that the Jewish people had with Eretz Israel consequently became a right legally recognized by the 52 members of the League of Nations. The United States joined the League at a later time, not having been a member of the international organization at the time. [and held a separate forum with identical final documents in 1925, establishing a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. ~Shosh]

The significance of the recognition of the right of the Jewish people to Eretz Israel by international law was in its acknowledgment of the justice of the Jewish and Zionist claim to the land that had been stolen from the Jewish people by foreign occupiers and their right to have it restored to them. The recognition also voided the legal validity of the occupation of Eretz Israel by foreigners as well as the expulsion of Jews from it.

The Mandate over Palestine, which anchors the rights of the Jewish people to their country in international law, states that "No Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of, the Government of any foreign Power," and that "The Administration of Palestine . . . shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage . . . close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

The British government did not fulfill the aim of the Mandate where immigration and settlement were concerned (the decrees of the White Paper) in gross violation of its obligations under the Mandate. Additionally, it abused its role as the guardian of Eretz Israel for the purpose of the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. In September 1922, just months after the confirmation in writing of the Mandate, Britain decided to separate the eastern bank of the Jordan from the western part and transfer control of the eastern side to the Arabs (Transjordan).

Subsequently, only western Eretz Israel - from the Mediterranean to the Jordan - the "West Bank" - remained, in the eyes of international law, as the area designated for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. It was this separation on which the peace treaty with Jordan was based, whereby Jordan kept the land on the eastern bank of the Jordan River and became the 'palestinian homeland'. This separation specifically reserved the West Bank for Eretz Yisrael even as it gave the Eastern bank, which should ALSO have been part of Israel, away.

This legal status of this area - in the view of international law - has not changed to this day. Even the United Nations partition plan of 1947 was rejected by the Arab world, and on May 15, 1948, the day the British Mandate over Palestine ended, the Arabs attacked the newly born state with the express goal of annihilating it. It should be stressed that the partition plan was in fact no more than a recommendation, and had no power to bind the sides, and this too was, as stated, rejected by the entire Arab world and therefore became null and void in the eyes of international law. Judea and Samaria are part of the Jewish homeland

Did the Jewish People Lose its Rights to Those Areas of Eretz Israel Lost in the War of Independence, 1948?

The answer to this question is no. Egypt did not establish sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and the sovereignty of Jordan over Judea and Samaria was recognized by only two countries, Britain and Pakistan. In fact, Jordan never held legal sovereignty over the areas of Judea and Samaria, and has relinquished any claims to sovereignty there. The status and rights of Jordan over the parts of Eretz Israel it occupied for 19 years were at most the rights of an occupying force.

In consideration of the fact that Israel succeeded in restoring this territory in a war of defense that had been forced upon it, while Egypt and Jordan took the same territories by means of illegal aggression in the War of Independence, Israel's rights over the areas of Judea and Samaria take priority over the rights of the hostile Arab countries. These areas, therefore - from the point of view of international law - never ceased to be part of the western Eretz Israel designated in its entirety for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people, including of course, the right of Jews to settle in their land as established in the British Mandate.

Did the End of the British Mandate over Eretz Israel Generate Any Change in the Rights of the Jewish People Over its Land From the Point of View of International Law?

The answer to this question is also no. Article 80 of the UN charter was written to defend the validity of rights determined in the Mandate even after the mandate system no longer exited. After the areas of western Eretz Israel were liberated from the Arab occupier in the Six Day War (1967), returning them to the control of the Jewish people, all the obligations according to international law remained as they were. The purpose of these areas, after all, was that they serve as the basis for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.

It is in fact the duty of the Jewish state, which replaced the British Mandate, to fulfill these obligations. Israel's status in these territories, therefore, is in no way that of an occupying force, because in accordance with the outlook that has guided the State of Israel since its establishment, Israel does not annex territory that before 1948 was part of mandatory Eretz Israel. (i.e. Israel does not annex it's own land)

Israel does not consider itself to have the status of an occupying force because it never considered the Arab countries that invaded Eretz Israel in May 1948 as having any sovereign rights over the territory of Eretz Israel they occupied. They were merely military occupiers. After this territory was restored to the control of the State of Israel, it became the obligation of the Jewish state - both from a Jewish Zionist standpoint as well as from the point of view of international law - to realize the rights of the Jewish people over the Western part of Eretz Israel in its entirety, including the right of settlement.

UN Resolution 242 Does Not Require a Return to the 1967 Borders The media often refers to settlements and the presence of the IDF in the West Bank and Gaza as "illegal under international law." This is the Palestinian viewpoint, which is derived from their citation of UN Resolution 242, which states "the withdrawal of Israel's forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict [1967]." The authors of this resolution have stated publicly and repeatedly that they omitted the words "all territories occupied" and FURTHER, they added phraseology which called for "an accepted settlement" between the parties because "all States have the right to live within secure and recognized boundaries."

It is evident both from the paper reprinted today and UN Resolution 242 that Israel does INDEED have every right to sovereignty and settlement in the West Bank and/or Gaza.

The Geneva Convention Does Not Void the Mandate

This position, which views the right of Jewish settlement in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as anchored in the rules of international law, is supported by a once-highly placed figure in the American administration, one of the drafters of the celebrated UN Resolution 242, a Deputy Secretary of State and professor of international law, Eugene Rostow. He wrote,

The primary objective of the Palestine Mandate was different [from the mandate over Arab countries] . . . The Allies established the Palestine Mandate in order to support the national liberation of 'the Jewish people' because of 'their historic connection to the land.' The mandate encouraged the Jews to found a national home in Palestine, and gave them the right to establish a "National Home" in Palestine and granted them the right to make close settlements without prejudice to 'the civil rights and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.' The term 'civil rights' in this sentence is carefully distinguished from 'political rights.'

The right of the Jewish people to settle in Palestine has never been terminated for the West Bank . . . The only way which the mandate right of settlement in the West Bank can be brought to an end is through the annexation of the area by an existing state or by the creation of a new one." Rostow stresses that the right that arose by virtue of the Mandate is perpetual, as long as the territory of the Mandate is not turned into an independent state or does not become part of an existing one.

Therefore, from the point of view of international law, the recognized right of the Jewish people over all areas of western Eretz Israel is completely valid, including the right to settle throughout the territory.

Rostow also rejects the claim that the act of settlement violates article (49)6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which forbids an occupying power from deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. Professor Rostow writes that the settlers of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were not transferred to live there as a result of deportation or "transfer." "The Jewish settlers in the West Bank are most emphatically volunteers," he writes. "They have not been "deported" or "transferred" to the area by the Government of Israel and their movement involves none of the atrocious purposes or harmful effects on the existing population that is the goal of the Geneva Convention to prevent [deportations for the purpose of extermination, slave labor, etc.]." (This article was written to ENSURE that another Holocaust is prevented. ~Shosh)

Furthermore, writes Professor Rostow, the Geneva Convention applies only to acts by one signatory country "carried out in the territory of another. The West Bank is not the territory of signatory power, but an unallocated part of the British Mandate. Even if the Geneva Convention could be interpreted as to prohibit acts of settlement during the period of occupation, it can in no way bring to an end the rights granted by the Mandate. It is hard, therefore, to see how even the most narrow and literal-minded reading of the Convention could make it apply to the process of Jewish settlement in the territory of the British Mandate west of the Jordan River."

And he continues, "But how can the Convention be deemed to apply to Jews who do have a right to settle in the territories under international law? - a legal right assured by treaty and specifically protected by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter, generally known as the "Palestine Article." The Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing population to live there."

Regarding the Geneva Convention, it should be pointed out that the willingness of the Government of Israel to recognize the validity of the Geneva Convention over the areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza was merely and exclusively for humanitarian reasons, and not for any other purpose. Consequently, Moshe Negbi's claim that "If Israel can annex East Jerusalem, then by the same token, Egypt can declare tomorrow that New York is part of Egypt," is completely baseless. New York is part of a sovereign state - the United States of America - meaning that Egypt cannot declare sovereignty over it. Judea, Samaria and Gaza, on the other hand, are not part of any country and furthermore, from the point of view of international law, belong to the Jewish people.

Accordingly, the State of Israel - the state of the Jewish people - is entitled to declare sovereignty over the areas which according to international law belong to it. It certainly has the right to allow Jews to settle there, pursuant to international law.

A long list of supporters Moshe Negbi's attempts to undermine the rights of his own people to their homeland notwithstanding, Douglas Feith, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Middle East specialist on the White House National Security Council staff during the Reagan administration, holds a different view. He writes "[Although] the Mandate distinguished between Eastern and Western Palestine . . . it did not distinguish between the region of Judea and Samaria and the rest of Western Palestine. No event and no armistice or other international agreement has terminated the Mandate-recognized rights of the Jewish people, including settlement rights, in those portions of the Mandate territory that have yet to come under the sovereignty of any state. Those rights did not expire upon the demise of the League of Nations, the creation of the United Nations, or the UN General Assembly's adoption of the 1947 UN Special Committee on Palestine plan for Western Palestine."

Feith explains that if the Jews do not have recognized legal rights to their claim to Judea and Samaria as part of their state, then they lack such rights in any part of Eretz Israel because all the rights derive from "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine recognized in the Mandate."

[This is why so many peace supporters in Israel draw the line at giving away the Temple Mount. The Mount is our strongest historical connection to the land of Israel and if we give that away, we give away the BASIS by which ANY LAND in the region is allocated as a Jewish State. To give away the Mount gives away the right to a Jewish State at all and paves the way for a legal overturning of Israel's right to existence."]

He adds that the claim that the Jews do not have a legal claim to Judea and Samaria could be catastrophic concerning other claims the Jews have to sovereignty over Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

I have cited here only two experts in international law who hold this view, but the list of jurists and members of the administration who support the legality of Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel is very long and includes such names as Julius Stone, Professor Yehuda Bloom and others. It could at least be expected that Moshe Negbi, who undoubtedly is aware of these views, demonstrate some measure of integrity and acknowledge the existence of the legal positions with which he is not comfortable and which run counter his own political views.

In any case, before accusing Israeli governments of being instrumental in the commission of international crimes, he might do well to consider this question: Would not the deportation of Jews from their place of settlement - as the Arabs demand as part of their call for the dismantling of the "illegal" settlements - in fact be itself an international crime - as deportation is termed in international law? Would Mr. Negbi feel comfortable with the fact that the only place in the world (perhaps outside of Saudi Arabia) where the policy of "Judenrein" is implemented de jure and de facto is in the only homeland Jewish people have?

Not only is the right of settlement in the land of Israel an integral part of the Zionist vision - it is strongly anchored in the precepts of international law.

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The Five Ceasefires Since the Intifada Erupted
Roni Shaked
Yedioth Ahronoth

The "cease-fire" achieved in Gilo on August 29th is the fifth such agreement to be reached between Israel and the Palestinians since the eruption of the Intifada. Some of the agreements were bilateral, others were unilateral -- and they all held for a very short period of time.

October 17, 2000: The first cease-fire is achieved, just under three weeks after the Intifada erupted, between former prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat at the end of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit meeting. In the course of the Taba talks in January 2001 things were relatively calm, but a genuine cease-fire never reigned.

May 22, 2001: In the wake of the publication of the Mitchell Committee's recommendations (an international committee appointed to investigate the circumstances that led to the eruption of the riots), Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared a unilateral cease-fire. The Palestinians alleged this was done for public relations purposes, and the gunfire was renewed within a number of days.

June 2, 2001: In the aftermath of the suicide bombing attack in the Dolphinarium, Arafat declared a cease-fire. The reasons: international pressure that was applied on him and his fear of a very strong Israeli military reaction. This cease-fire was honored for two to three days only.

June 13, 2001: In the wake of the intervention of CIA Director George Tenet, Israel and the Palestinians announced that a cease-fire had been reached. One of the clauses of the cease-fire was that after seven days of quiet, Israel would be prepared to return to the negotiating table. This cease-fire too lasted only two or three days.

This aricle ran in Yedioth Ahronoth on August 30, 2001

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Racism, Genocide and Politicide in Syrian Textbooks
Dr. Yohanan Manor,
Director, Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace


To use the term "anti-Semitism" would be understating the degree of hostility displayed in Syrian school textbooks towards Jews and Israel. Professor Bernard Lewis defines anti-Semitism as an unprecedented degree of hatred which is "unique in its persistence, its universality, its profundity, and above all its theological and psychological origins. Unlike other forms of ethnic and racial prejudice, anti-Semitism goes beyond mere denigration or even persecution, and attributes to its adversary a quality of cosmic and eternal evil"*.

However enlightening this definition may be, it does not encompass all the dimensions of Syrian hatred towards Jews and Israel, as disclosed in a recent report released by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) on school textbooks in Syria. CMIP reviewed 68 schoolbooks which were in use during the school year 1999-2000, for grade 1 to grade 12, in the following disciplines: Language-Literature-Readers (26), Grammar (8), History (7), Geography (7), Civics (3), National-Socialist Education (6), Islamic Education (6) Christian Education (3). See CMIP internet site:

Syrian hostility towards Jews and Israel would be better defined as a singular combination of de-legitimization, de-humanization, racism, criminalization, and justification of genocide and "politicide"**.


According to the Syrian textbooks, contrary to the Zionist claim, the Jewish people and the State of Israel have no legitimacy whatsoever. They are "a false people", an "imaginary nation", an "artificial entity". The religious bond alone "cannot make them an independent nationality". They lack the characteristics of a nation, such as "territory, culture, language, mental composition, common history and economic unity" [Reader, Grade 12, pp129-130]. In other words they have no historic, religious, cultural, national, political rights whatsoever that could justify their existence as a people or a nation.

Discreditation and De-Humanization

Jews and Israelis are depicted as racist and arrogant. The Jews are "pushed by their racism to claim that they are the cream of creation and the favorites of God" [Islamic Education, Grade 11, p33]. They display "hostility and disdain towards the nations". The Israelis nurture "black malice" against the Arabs and against humanity, and they "are possessed by thirst for bloodshed". They are repugnant, look like devils and smell bad: "A permeating smell returned to my consciousness, It is [the wolf's] smell that my nose cannot miss . Suddenly I saw him among the bushes" ["Palestine is Arab" in Selected Stories, Grade 6, pp64-65]. The Israelis kill the flowers and the children: "The teacher said: the enemy is infatuated with killing children. .They kill the children so that they would not grow up and defend their nation" ["Hunting the Wolf Alive", Short Stories, Grade 5, pp78-79]


Although denied as a people or a nation, the Jews are singled out as having an evil and criminal nature: they are avaricious, they conspire and revolt, they are treacherous, they stir up quarrels among the Arabs, they are full of cunning, "deception and conspiracy", they are disloyal. All these evil traits are rooted in the personality of the Jews, in their "nature" and "soul". "Islam unveils their cunning and evil nature" [Islamic Education, Grade 11, p33], "the treacherous intention harbored in the Jews' soul" [Islamic Education, Grade 6, p127], " it points to the hostile [and] evil tendency that is rooted in Jewish personality" [Islamic Education, Grade 10, pp115-116].


In those textbooks, the Jews and Israel are depicted as having committed the greatest crimes. The Jews are racist and they are the enemies of God. Israel is the enemy of peace and of mankind. It displays contempt for the principles and ideals of humanity, and does not respect international law: " [you should be] showing that this state was established in war, and is based on the continuation of war. . that nothing will break its vigor and arrogance except the language it understands, because it does not respect [any] right, nor does not abide by [any] obligation, and it ignores all international agreements and conventions" [Homework, National-Socialist Education, Grade 8, p148].


Coexistence with the Jews is impossible because of the evil and criminal tendencies that are ingrained in their personalities. They endanger the very existence of Islam and of the Arabs and threaten them with destruction and extinction. "Therefore the logic of genuine justice decrees against them one verdict the carrying out of which is unavoidable. Their criminal intention should be turned against them by way of their elimination [isti'sal]" [Islamic education, grade 10, pp115-116].


The Syrian textbooks claim that Israel is a threat to the entire Arab world, an obstacle to its unity and a cause of its backwardness. The Arabs are threatened with extinction by Israel and should work to "liquidate the Zionist existence" on the Arab land and liberate the entire occupied Arab soil. "This is a great victory [the 1973 war]! But the greatest victory [will be] when the Zionist entity is driven out of Palestine and the entire Arab soil is recovered. Then we shall have our greatest joy". [Principles of Grammar, Diction and Script, Grade5, p21].


Motifs of racism, genocide and politicide against Jews and Israel are found again and again in Syrian school textbooks. These motives are in total contradiction with the terms and the spirit of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention for the elimination of Racism, the UN Convention for the Prevention and Repression of Genocide. Should the International Community remain silent and accept this kind of teaching?

* Pr. Yehuda Bauer, Editor, Present-Day Anti-Semitism, Vidal Sassoon International Center for Anti-Semitism, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1988, pp59-60.
** Pr. Yehoshafat Harkabi, "The Arab Position in their Conflict with Israel", Dvir, Tel-Aviv, 1968, pp46-48. (Hebrew).

Presented to the Symposium on "The Arab-Israeli Conflict and Anti-Semitism" organized by the CSS Intelligence Corps Information Center for Intelligence & Terrorism, CSS Auditorium, July 25, 2001.

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Perpetual Middle East Myths: A Critique of a Fox TV Interview
Nat Hentoff
Columnist, Washington Times

Although the Fox News Channel is often accused of being conservative, the most penetrating reporting and analysis I find on the evening news is the "Special Report" by Fox's Brit Hume. During an August 13 interview, he started by saying: "One of the striking features of the reporting that comes from the Mideast is that Western journalists nearly always end up with growing sympathy for the Palestinians. To find out why, we turn to Keith Graves, now the U.S. correspondent for our sister network in Britain, Sky News, who has spent many years covering the Mideast, not just for Sky, but for much of his 25-year career with the BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation)."

Sitting opposite Mr. Hume was the very model of a seasoned journalist with impressive credentials. Keith Graves began by saying that Israel has "a very, very good PR machine." But as for the Israelis themselves, "they are a very arrogant people, and (they are) to most journalists who go there."

Mr. Hume asked: "Is it the Israeli people, or is it the government officials that you deal with?"

"I've been accused of being a racist for saying this," Mr. Graves answered, "but it is the Israeli people."

What immediately came to my mind was the familiar statement made in this country years ago by certain Americans, who would generalize matter-of-factly: "Negroes are shiftless, and, well, intellectually not up to par. But don't get me wrong. Some of my best friends are Negroes."

And here is Mr. Graves saying to Mr. Hume, "I've got a lot of Israeli friends."

Mr. Hume did not ask Mr. Graves why these "arrogant" Israelis reacted recently throughout Israel with public revulsion and condemnation when Israeli settlers killed three Palestinians, including a 3-month-old baby boy. And in 1982, when Ariel Sharon invaded Lebanon, causing great carnage, including among children, he was also accused by Israeli investigators of involvement, however inadvertent, in the massacre of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps by Lebanese forces. Mr. Sharon was denounced by a great many ordinary Israelis. And Abba Eban attacked Mr. Sharon almost daily in the Knesset.

If I had been interviewing Mr. Graves, I would have agreed with him - as I have often written - that Israeli officials have indeed committed formidable abuses on Palestinians, including the torture of prisoners, destruction of homes and seizing of land.

But, as a longtime journalist in the Middle East, is Mr. Graves not aware that the most persistent, precise reporting and condemnation of these abuses have come from Israeli civil liberties groups - whose reports I've received for years, and continue to - along with statements from Israeli lawyers who have defended Palestinians in Israeli courts?

And what of the huge numbers of Israelis who generated the Peace Now movement - initiated by colonels who had fought in nearly all the Israeli wars? Were they "arrogant" Israelis?

When was there a comparable large-scale Palestinian peace movement?

In the Fox News interview, Mr. Graves did say, "No Western journalist, no journalist in his right mind, would condone what these Palestinian suicide bombers are doing." But he added, "You might well want to ask what drives them to that."

He can't condone those random killings, but he can understand their motivation. I would have asked him what drove the suicide bomber in Jerusalem on August 9 who carefully placed himself among children and infants when he set off his explosive pack of ball bearings and nails that killed 16 Israelis and mutilated more than 100 others in that pizzeria.

Ah, but Mr. Graves cites the "shooting by an Israeli settler in the mosque in Hebron. He killed 28 people." But that terrorist, Baruch Goldstein, was condemned by the great majority of Israelis in 1994.

By contrast, after the suicide bombing in Jerusalem on August 9, thousands of Palestinians, in the streets of Ramallah, celebrated that glorious act of revenge. And after the June 1 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, killing 20 Israelis, most of them teen-agers, there was dancing in the streets of Ramallah again. Moreover, 76 percent of the Palestinians polled supported more suicide bombings.

After the interview with Mr. Graves, Brit Hume told me he knows of other journalists who, after starting to cover Israel, find a "moral equivalency" in the violence between the two peoples, which then becomes their increasing criticism of the Israelis. And I see this often in purportedly dispassionate dispatches from the Middle East.

Mr. Graves is not alone among journalists in his clear prejudices against the Israelis. Mr. Hume, as he told me, should have been more challenging in that interview.

This column ran in the Washington Times on August 27, 2001

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Use of Children During the Intifada
Boaz Ganor
Special Feature, Maariv

In May this year, a few weeks before the terror attack at the Dolphinarium, Assi Sharabi, a student of social psychology at the London School of Economics arrived in Israel with a great idea for a thesis.

The last year of Sharabi's life was one of political upheavals that he viewed in shock through the BBC. (In August 2000 the prime minister, Ehud Barak, spoke of an "end to the conflict," in August 2001, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks of a "policy of assassinations," etc.)

Sharabi, a former officer in the counter-terrorism unit, did his army service, as he puts it, "with a knife between his teeth," teaching combat units to "make surgical operations." [. . .] A year after arriving in London, Sharabi removed his Zionist fighter's glasses, and replaced them with those of a European intellectual. What he found alarmed, angered and shook him.

To understand Sharabi's research, and his disturbing findings, we have to first understand the theoretical basis of his work. This is something known as "social tokens."

The idea is simple: Our social reality, the theory goes, is a function of our social activity. Every society creates for itself a system of values that allows it to comprehend the reality around it, no matter how crazy this reality is.

Take a prison, for example, a place that is illogical in terms of free people, where the most important commodity (if we are to believe American gangster movies) is cigarettes. The cigarette takes the place of money, of which there is none, and gives rise to a value system where people are judged more or less according to their access to cigarettes. The cigarettes are the "social token." They enable the prisoner to get by, to remain sane.

That is the idea Sharabi brought to Israel. His goal: to find out how Jewish children in Israel aged eight and nine years old, in three types of communities (city, kibbutz, settlement) grasp the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how they survive it on a daily basis.

Sharabi, in other words, went to see what kind of cigarettes our children deal in to survive the psychological prison of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The Israeli reality," Sharabi says, "is a tough one. I don't think anyone will disagree with that. How can a mother send her child on a bus thinking there is a chance they may blow up? When you live here, you know that something is wrong, but you live in this wrong way and you make sense of it by the social tokens you give your surroundings, until it appears logical to you. You lose your best friend in Lebanon and it makes sense - 'yes, people lose their friends in war.' That is what I studied.

"I went to Israeli children to see how they grow up completely normal in the eyes of their surroundings, which I see as abnormal. I wanted to see how they feel, how they explain, how they experience the reality of the conflict."

Sharabi spoke to 84 children a few days after the Dolphinarium terror attack. He submitted his findings last week to the University in London. His conclusions, simply put, are this: the social token that enables Israeli children to exist in the harsh reality around them is burning, blazing, sometimes monstrous hatred of the Palestinians. Children see eight-year-old Arab children as deformed, with sharp bristles and teeth, who should hopefully die of AIDs and who are sentenced to burn in the fires of hell to the very last man.

On the other hand, all the children want peace. This peace (to quote Sharabi) is a "hollow peace." For the children, the fact that there should be peace does not mean that shouldn't kill them, down to the last man. [. . .]

"Wherever I went, the kibbutz, the city and the settlement, I explained to the children that I'd come from London to ask them about the fighting with the Arabs, and asked them to write to a Palestinian their own age, and after that, on the other side of the paper, to draw him or her. The children immediately asked two questions. The first question was: 'draw a good Arab or a bad Arab?'"

Question: And the second question?

"If they could use curse words."

In contrast to what one might expect, the most hate-filled letters were not from the settlement children (a secular settlement not far from Rosh Haayin) but from the city (in central Israel). The settlement children were angry and used stereotypes. The city children genuinely hated. For them, at the young age of eight, a good Arab was a dead Arab.

Following are a few examples:

"Shalom," an Israeli girl wrote, "I hope you die and are sick. I'm waiting for you to die, I hope your whole family dies."

"Stinking Arab, shalom," wrote another girl. "I really really really don't like what you're doing to us and we will pay you back even if there is a cease-fire. I hope you die!"

"Shalom girl from a bad people," wrote another. "I want to ask you to tell your father that he should stop the bombs and then there will be peace. I also hope you die and that you get old quickly."

"Disgusting Mohammed," wrote a boy who drew an 8-year-old Palestinian with a beard and sharp teeth. "I wish you'd die and that you don't have a good life. I don't like you and I hate you because of all the attacks you do to us and I hope you burn. Sincerely."

"Ugly Yasser shalom," wrote a boy. "If you think you'll win, you're making a big mistake. Here's my advice: take an ugly knife and stick it in yourself and in your ugly mother and father and sister and blow yourself up with a grenade."

Another girl: "I hope you die and are sick. I am waiting for you to die and for your whole family to die."

Settlement children also wrote pointed letters, blind with rage. They wrote, as did the city and kibbutz children, what they picked up that week from their nearby environment: parents, teachers, the media. Settlement children, unlike city children, explained their blazing hatred in political terms, and some, unlike city children, expressed a sincere wish for a solution.

"There are no flowers here, only Intifada," one writes. "You really really really love wars, that means you hate your brothers. After all, we are all human beings, and you are not important to me. Barbarians, fools, retards, we will blow you up until you have no strength left, you like the terror attacks you make on us, you like our dead. Okay, no problem. We'll bomb you and you asked for it because we offered you a lot. So please, eat what you cooked."

"Palestinian boy," wrote another boy. "Why do you have to throw stones and make explosions if we can solve this without violence. When you throw stones you just look like retards and dopes, especially Arafat."

"I know," a sensitive boy wrote, "that it's hard to live without a state. The people who are closest to you could die, like your father, or your mother, or your brother or sister and you too could also die. I don't like it that your people fights my people and that we fight you and I want there to be peace."

Another boy: "The thing I hate most is you, Arabs, the men, the women, the children, each and every one, I hate all of you. You'll see, we'll beat you, we'll bomb you and kill you."

"Stinky Mohammed!!!," wrote his friend, "I hope you die by an Israeli who shoots you and that your whole family burns in hell (and you too). I hope you have AIDS and die. Live to 21 and then die. I hope all Arabs die, signed, someone who hates Arabs!!!"

Again and again the children's letters express their inability to comprehend the violent reality in which they live. [. . .] The ones filled with hate make you bite your lips in embarrassment. The ones filled with despair cause you to tear your hair.

"This is how I start my letter," a kibbutz girl wrote. "Why? Why? Why? Tell me, why? Why? Why can't you write to your government a letter and say things about peace. Why do they send you, the children, to war? That not how it's like with us, I feel sorry for you, the children, I see you selling band-aids in the streets and I want to know if they make you do that, but really -- why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?"

Another kibbutz girl: "I see what is going on, how we fight each other with violence and every time decide to try without violence, and then with violence, I think it's time to make a break."

Like children in the city and the settlement, some of the kibbutz children drew the Palestinian child throwing stones, as violent, wearing a keffiya. The contents, however, were more moderate.

One girl: "I hope you have a good life, without violence and without war. I hope this comes true."

Another: "We want peace and maybe you do too, at least I want peace, because people die. So maybe you will at least agree to make peace."

Sharabi: "However pessimistic my study is, and it is definitely pessimistic, there were also buds of something else, and that was among the kibbutz children. None of these children said they liked Arafat, not at all. But there was some approximation of understanding that there are different ways to understand the reality of the conflict and it was amazing to see the independent way they rose to the challenge to decipher the dramatic, sometimes horrific, articles they saw in the papers or what they heard from around them."

"Only in the kibbutz did I find an eight and a half boy who told me: 'You know, there are prejudices in Israel too and we think that all the Arabs want to kill us and that every Arab is a terrorist, but that's not true.' There is less hate and less fear there."

Sharabi: "All the children, wherever they lived, have become equal partners in the discourse that says that the Jews are good and the Arabs bad, that Jews want peace and Arabs want war, that the Jews are human beings and the Arabs not. Even before the children understand the factual aspect of the conflict, they are immersed in the ideological contents of the conflict, the 'us against them,' the 'we are the victims and they are the aggressor.'

"The difference between city children, who had very specific and clear wishes for death, and settler children, I explain by the fact that the settler children have some interaction with Arab population, even if they don't like them too much. They see the Arab, on their way to school, on the way home, and so are aware that the Arabs are people. In the city there is true dehumanization of the Arab, because there is no interaction with them."

One of the topics Sharabi addressed in his study was the seeming contradiction between the fact that all the children said they wanted peace, but still the overwhelming majority wanted to bomb the Arabs. [. . .]

Sharabi: "There is a yearning for peace. Let it not be understood that these children, or their parents, don't want peace. But in psychological terms, it's very easy to see this yearning for peace as some sort of tranquilizer pill, some sort of theoretical light at the end of the tunnel that helps them have a positive perception of themselves -- 'see, I want peace, that means I'm a moral person.' But as I see it, this is meaningless. When you ask these children what 'peace' is, they don't know what to say.

"One child told me: 'Peace is when we leave and they stay, or when they leave and we stay.' If that's the case, the yearning for peace is offset by the inability to see the Arabs as anything except as people who don't want us here."

This article ran on August 24, 2001 in Maariv

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Interview with Egyptian Acting Ambassador to Israel
by Jackie Hugi
Correspondent, Maariv

When they say that the war in our region is bad for tourism, they don't mean the Intifada's negative effect on India. And still, for over a year, there are some officials in the Prime Minister's Office in New Delhi who are waiting for a phone call from Tel Aviv, waiting for travel author Dr. Ihab el-Sharif to say that he has completed the introduction to his book on India. Thus he will complete his work, more than two years after the Indian government supplied him with a private plane to travel the length and breadth of the country and to document his impressions for the Arabic reader.

The problem is that the good doctor is also a full-time diplomat, today serving as Egypt's most senior representative in Israel. The eruption of the Intifada and his boss' recall have burdened him with tasks that delay his writing introductory chapters to travel books.

"Since Mohammed Bassiouny left, I haven't had a free minute," Ihab el-Sharif complains. "I can't just sit down and write. I need to be inspired and in the proper mood. Today I'm busy writing political reports."

El-Sharif, 47, who has been here over two years, is energetic and thirsty to learn about Israeli society as well as matters he does not need for his diplomatic work. In a first interview to an Israeli newspaper, the head of the Egyptian delegation has words of appreciation for Ariel Sharon, reveals some of the details about working with Bassiouny and speaks openly of the hostility toward Egypt in the Israeli street.

He elegantly sidesteps sensitive questions such as that of Azzam Azzam and the acerbic language of the Egyptian press, but on the other hand also provides a look at Israel as it appears from the closed Egyptian compound on Basel Street in Tel Aviv.

The interview with Dr. el-Sharif is a rare display of openness for Egyptian diplomats, who usually speak in repetitive slogans. After years of getting the cold shoulder from Cairo, a senior Egyptian comes along and speaks to the Israeli street in its own language.

His cooperation with the media can be explained mainly by his open personality, but also by the new strategy of his employers. After 18 years of chill winds from Bassiouny, Egypt apparently came to realize that it would be beneficial for the Egyptian administration if their senior delegate spoke directly to the people in Israel. Osama el-Baz epitomized this well. "There is a public opinion in Israel and we must open its eyes in several matters" he told the Arabic-language newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat, last week. El-Sharif is indeed full of statements and declarations, but no chance remark will escape his lips. He demands that if we quote him mentioning Syria and Israel, that Syria not be mentioned second, and if quoted using the sacred name "Mubarak," that we not forget to preface it with the title "President."

Question: What impressed you most about Israelis? "Israel has a reputation in Arab states of having great capabilities, but when you come here you see that a lot of it is for show. You speak a lot of your superiority as a condition for preserving your security.

That's a big mistake. The Mossad and GSS make three-four elite operations a year to impress the world, but that doesn't cover up for its mistakes. We are full of mistakes, you are full of mistakes. I find nothing to make me feel inferior to you. I'm not saying I'm better, but don't give me the impression that you are better."

Question: You thought we were superman before you came?

"I had a more perfect image of Israelis. Of people who did not have the privilege of making mistakes, so they invested more in perfection. After two years I must say that you are normal people, just like the Egyptians and Syrians. Along with that, I am very appreciative of the fact that your leaders do not stand on formality, like ties for examples. This says they are very practical people."

Question: We say that a lack of prudence leads to negligence. That is what apparently what led to Israel's biggest fiasco, that we were surprised in 1973.

"The same culture prevailed in 1967. I wonder if this is a Jewish legacy or American influence, I still don't know."

Question: Speaking of the 1973 war, many of us don't understand why Egypt claims victory. After all, Sinai remained in Israel's hands and you lost 10,000 soldiers.

"The results of war are not measured by what you gain in battle. The determining factor is ultimately what you obtained in the diplomacy that accompanied the battle. From '67 to '73 we tried vainly to get Sinai back and never received an affirmative answer. The end of the war was the return of Sinai and Taba. That was a victory. And don't say that you would have signed a peace agreement without a war."

Among Ihab el-Sharif's acquaintances are Likud members, left wing activists, secular people, Haredim, Christians and Moslems. He did not hesitate to go to Ghajar after a resident he did not know phoned and invited him; another time he took a trip to Halutza, after it was mentioned as possibly being swapped with the Palestinians ("a piece of desert I wouldn't take even if you paid me 10,000 dollars"). The Israelis he admires most are Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin, Ron Pundak and deputy foreign minister Michael Melchior, whom he recently met.

He says he recently enjoyed attending a Jewish wedding in Jerusalem and expressed an interest in watching a circumcision ceremony. "I don't believe there is any sector in Israel closed to me, except for the radical Right, which is of course not my fault. I even have good ties with army generals. They treat me very nicely."

Question: The average Israeli dislikes Egypt, sometimes to the point of hostility. Do you feel this?

"Rarely, but it's true. I don't expect to be welcomed with open arms. After all, we have a history of problems."

Question: Have you encountered any unpleasantness?

"I went to buy a radio on Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv. The salesman was a very nice guy. He gave me all the details I needed. In general, you Jews are good salesmen. At the end he asked me where I was from. I replied and in an instant, his attitude changed. As if he was facing a monster. He took two or three steps back, and it looked as if he couldn't understand how it was he was even talking to me. I think the press plays a destructive role and makes people like him recoil from me the way he did." Official Egypt has not yet calmed down from Avigdor Lieberman's election statements, who spoke of bombing the Aswan dam if Egypt advanced forces in Sinai. Many Egyptians have since said often that the "defeat of 1967 will not be repeated."

"A general has the right to speak of bombardments, but not a tourism or infrastructure minister,' el-Sharif says. "If I were Lieberman or Ze'evi, I would ask the Egyptian embassy for a visa, go to Sinai and find a few answers to do something for tourism. For 20 years the Egyptians made Sinai a peaceful area drawing millions of tourists. Why do you think you have nothing to learn from us? Again it's your sense of superiority. Instead of learning, you threaten us with bombing the dam."

Question: How did you perceive Israel as a child?

"It was the enemy, the reason for all our economic and social ills. I was raised on the dream of Arab unity, which is, incidentally, our right, just as is American or European unity. It was Israel who got in the way and was stuck in the middle of our territorial contiguity."

Question: Is it different today?

"Yes, because there is a reality that must be accepted. There is no reason to continue the state of war. But Arab unity has remained a dream."

Question: From here it sometimes looks like your ideas of peace are not different essentially than those of your childhood.

"You look at the Egyptian press and say to yourselves, look, they're raising their children to hate, but you don't hear remarks like those of Avigdor Lieberman and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. To a large degree, the Egyptian press is a reaction to your statements. I am sorry that you only see what it is written there and not the root of the matter on your part."

El-Sharif has a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, is an expert in political Islam, and a travel writer, who also did the photography for his four books. His pride is "Germany Today," a travel book that two years ago won him a prize from the German government.

Question: Why is there such frequent use of Nazi symbols against Israel?

"This is a very complicated issue. There are certain people in Egypt who don't understand exactly what happened there. They only know that it infuriates the Israelis. If people in Arab countries have no respect for the victims of the Holocaust, it's not because of denial, but because they have no idea of the dimensions. They wants to aggravate the Israelis and know that if they draw Peres in Nazi uniform, they'll achieve that."

Question: In other words, it's a matter of education.

"Correct. And it will take time. You can't ask a simple man in the street in Asyut or Aleppo or Akaba to understand history the way intellectuals understand it. Europeans know about the Holocaust because they were responsible for it, but for us, it was certainly not our responsibility."

Question: Why don't Egyptian intellectuals or leaders not go to their people and say, "leave out the Holocaust."

"We have a free press, it began back in Sadat's time, and every day there is some sort of exaggerated statement or another."

Question: You claim to have a free press, but in the last two years you've closed two newspapers because they crossed a political red line.

"Every regime has red lines, more or less. You outlawed the Kach movement and you would obviously not let neo-Nazis be active among Israeli Arabs. Don't forget the issue of MKs Azmi Bishara and Assam Mahoul."

Question: But your silence is encouragement.

"The government cannot take steps against a newspaper for anti-Israeli ads in such a difficult times. Everyday people see on television horrible acts against the Palestinians. If a journalist who attacked the Holocaust were arrested, he'd say: 'Look what goes on in the territories, am I to blame? Go take action against those who are killing Palestinians." [. . .]

Question: Is there any possibility that Azzam Azzam will be released in exchange for Egyptian security prisoners in Israeli prisons?

"Israel must be the one to raise this proposal, not us. So far it hasn't. If it does, I will relay it to Cairo. The impression in Israel, that we are not fair and that we fabricated the Azzam Azzam issue, is completely erroneous. I'm not at all certain that Azzam did not commit what he is accused of. After all, he is a regular person, not a senior public figure. Egypt has no reason to accuse a simple Israeli Druze citizen, unless he actually did what he is said to have done." [. . .]

Mohammed Bassiouny's recall in November was one of the lowest points in Israel's relations with Egypt. Symbolically, this was a blow to Israel, but the Egyptians too lost a precious asset. In his quiet way, Bassiouny, from his home in Herzliya Pituah and his office in Tel Aviv, developed a web of contacts built up in 18 years that made him an Egyptian expert on Israel.

Since his recall, Dr. el-Sharif heads the Egyptian delegation. He does the ambassador's work, just without the title. Most of his work is meeting with different Israelis, a lot of them Israeli Arabs. Every day he sends a report to Cairo on what he's learned. "The meetings are not just collecting information, but building trust and mutual appreciation," he says." [. . .]

Question: Do you believe there will be an ambassador here in the next few months?

"Am ambassador could arrive within two weeks. You must withdraw your army from the illegal positions it has seized, renew the peace process and violence between the two sides must stop."

Of life in Bassiouny's shadow, el-Sharif says: "I was number two to an ambassador who never had a number two. No one but him had any contact with Israelis, since the Israelis always said 'only Bassiouny.' No one knows that every day we had team meetings of three to five hours. Every day. He never hid a thing from the team. Every word he sent to Cairo, he showed me. After every important meeting we'd meet and he'd update us on the details. That is why, 24 hours after he left, I could take matters into my hands without feeling lost. For ten months I was with him every moment."

El-Sharif was born in Cairo to a family originally from the Asyut area. His father was a deputy minister and still writes and translates at age 87. He is married to Asma, who lives with him in Ramat Aviv. Their two daughters, one's who finished high school and the other, aged five, remain in Cairo.

He has a Masters degree from Paris University, where he specialized in the Iranian revolution. In addition to his doctorate, he has a French degree in public administration, a diploma in crisis management from Upsala University in Sweden and another diploma in diplomacy from Paris University. He was second secretary in Damascus in 1994.

"I am one of the few here who've had the chance to be here and there [Syria]," he says. "Among both sides I had the same feeling: great curiosity to know what's on the other side. Both sides find it mysterious.

It's important for you to know that the distance is not as great as you think. The gap between Syria and Israel is smaller than that between Israel and the Palestinians."

Question: So where is the problem?

"You have to understand the Syrian mentality. It's not a question of negotiations. Their land is conquered and they want back exactly what they lost. What do you prefer, to keep the Golan by force and continue with the policy of closed borders, or understand that Israel will be stronger without the Golan, thanks to its relations with Syria?"

Question: How would it benefit Israel to have peace with Syria?

"It is nine time larger than Israel so it has a lot to give you. Water, for example. Or the option of a land passage to Europe. Believe me, they don't want to destroy the State of Israel. That was a slogan for many in the past who are gone today. On the other hand, you won't have an instant love story. We have a problem with extremists on one side and dreamers on the other. I am not referring to Shimon Peres, who is a practical man." [. . .]

Question: If you had information that the Hamas agents who were killed at the Nablus headquarters were planning a terror attack, what would you have done in Sharon's place?

"The question is whether you are a civilized country or not. Are you an underground or a guerrilla, or a state of institutions and laws? The moment you are a state, and of course you are, the responsibility is on your shoulders. You must not be like those organizations. No judge in the world would find it acceptable that an army with a chief of staff and a defense minister and a government decides to kill people on the basis of secret GSS reports. For a country, that is not sufficient proof."

Question: What's the solution?

"First, to realize that killing these people may placate Sharon supporters, but is a bad recipe for shaping your image. In my opinion, the tactical answer is responsible restraint and true enforcement using security means. If someone gets through all the barriers with a bomb, that means the means are insufficient. If these people are guilty, you must arrest them, bring them to trial and furnish proof. They are still not a state yet. Your approach is that of a war of gangs. For that reason the international community does not support you."

Question: What should the Palestinians do?

"I'm not suggesting that they carry out terror attacks and I don't think Arafat is pushing for that. But these area acts by people who've lost hope."

Question: What should Arafat do?

"Return to negotiations. The problem is that the other side needs help.

He has no promises from your side. If you don't give him the tools, he cannot demand of anyone to lay down their arms. Sharon accedes to his extremists, and he is a head of state. Why should Arafat not have the same right? You're asking him for the impossible. He has to make a 100% effort, but he cannot ensure 100% results. And if you expect this of him, you will have a new Greek tragedy here."

Question: Is a solution within reach?

"Absolutely. It's not a dream. We are not lacking people of courage, people who made decisions like Begin and Sadat."

Question: What is Egypt's red line that it won't be able to ignore in the present conflict?

"I have no idea. That is the president's decision and I am here to follow his orders."

Question: Are you optimistic?

"Yes, certainly. I've met regular people from the most distant villages in various countries. I've seen coins from all sides, not by sitting in offices behind a guard. And I say there is good foundation for being optimistic. That is the spirit of the Sorbonne."

This interview ran in Maariv on August 24, 2001

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Rabbis for Human Rights Slam Israel in Durban and Raise Funds for the PLO
David Bedein

While more than twenty Jewish organizations organized a lobby to support Israel at the special UN Anti-Racism conference that had been convened in Durban, South Africa in Durban, the Ford Foundation financed one Jewish group, The Rabbis for Human Rights, to join forces with the PLO to support the idea that Israel, was indeed, an apartheid, racist regime. (The Rabbis for Human Rights is generally funded through the Shefa Fund in Philadelphia and the New Israel Fund in Washington.)

The Rabbis for Human Rights delegate to the Durban conference, Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, field director for the Rabbis for Human Rights, confirmed in a taped interview that he had participated in the preparatory conference to Durban in Geneva, together with an organization known as LAW, the Palestinian legal lobby which takes the position that the UN must have Israel declared as a racist State. LAW is also helping to prepare the legal case in Belgium for the indictment of Ariel Sharon as a war criminal.

According to the "LAW" charter, there is an "institutionalized system of racism" in Israel.

Yet Rabbi Milgrom stated in a taped interview prior to his departure for Durban that"if you ask any Israeli who has been here for a while,people will admit there is racism in the policies of the State of Israel".

Reached by telephone during the Durban conference, Rabbi Milgrom confirmed that he appeared on a panel discussion in Durban with LAW and that the Rabbi had he appeared before a throng of more than 1,000 Moslems in the main mosque of Durban. At the mosque, Milgrom appeared together with the well known Israeli anti-Zionist Dr. Uri Davis, the author of a new book "Israel An Apartheid State".

In Durban, the Rabbis for Human Rights provided therefore provided Jewish credibillity to the LAW organization and to Dr. Uri Davis.

Prior to the Rabbis for Human Rights participation in the Durban conference, these Rabbis raised more than $70,000 to distribute to Arab farmers , claiming that the Jewish communities have upooted 30,000 olive trees from Arab farming villages in the Samaria region, thereby depriving the Arab villagers of a way of to make a living.

The Rabbis for Human Rights have launched a campaign to replant new olive trees for Palestinians, to "support Palestinian Families who have been suffering income losses for the duration of up to 9 years till the young olive trees reach maturity", and "to market olive oil bought from Palestinians, who often cannot sell their oil due to closures".

To promote this "Olive Tree campaign" the Rabbis For Human Rights placed included a full page ad in April in the New York Times which was signed by more than 300 people from around the world.

In a taped interview, Rabbi Ascherman, said the costs of the ad were covered by the ECF, the Economic Cooperation Foundation that was founded by Dr. Yose Beilin. The Shefa Fund in Philadelphia,however, has contradicted Ascherman and instead reported that the cost of the ad in the Times was raised entirely by the Shefa Fund itself.

The Rabbis for Human Rights have been hard pressed to provide documentation for their claim that Jews in nearby towns have made it a policy to raid Arab villages to chop down thousands of their olive trees.

The Rabbis for Human Rights cannot provide even one eyewitness or even one police complaint, let alone 30,000 police complaints.

Interesting to note that the 30,000 figure is the identical figure of uprooted trees that is provided by the PLO.

Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the director of the Rabbis for Human Rights, says that he relies on Palestinian reports of mass olive tree uprooting.

In a taped interview, Ascherman mentioned that monies raised to plant trees will not go to plant trees at this time, since the planting season starts in December.

When Ascherman was asked about how the "Rabbis for Human Rights" determine which Palestinian families should get the money for the loss that they have incurred from the losses of their olive trees, Ascherman had a clear answer The Rabbis for Human Rights rely on "Palestinian partner" organizations to figure out which families should receive their support.

One of the Palestinian partner organizations stated on the record that monies that they receive from the Rabbis for Human Rights are allocated to families of "martyrs" who have been killed over the past ten months..

Ascherman also indicated that when PA representatives come to RHR and ask for money for families, that he doles it out to them because he trusts them.

Like any other non-profit organization, the Rabbis for Human Rights will be required to hand over detailed reports of its expenditure of funds to Israel's "registrar of non-profit organizations".

It will be instructive to review the list of Arab families who receive funding from these Rabbis to see which families are indeed peaceful farmers and which families are active combatants against Israel.

The Olive Tree Campaign is not the first time that the Rabbis for Human Rights have relied upon questionable Palestinian Arab sources to provide exacerbated figures of human rights abuse to the public.

In 1999, these same Rabbis convened a press conference to announce that Israel intended to demolish 6,000 homes.

When the Rabbis were asked to produce their source for such a claim, they mentioned Jerusalem city councilman Meir Margolit and the PLO-affiliated Land Defence Committee.

While Margolit claimed that he was referring to the number of illegal Arab homes in the Jerusalem region and NOT to the number of homes that Israel was going to demolish, the Land Defence Committee stuck by its story. The Rabbis for Human Rights reaffirmed that Israel had indeed intended to destroy 6,000 homes. The RHR reaffirming the 6,000 figure appears on the September 14, 1999 issue of Israel Resource Review, located at

Ascherman now claims that he reduced the figure to 2,000 home demolition orders. Yet the record shows Ascherman never reduced his claim and that Israel never issued 2,000 home demolition orders. Meanwhile the Washington Post and Amnesty International gave credence to the claim of the Rabbis for Human Rights that Israel indeed intended to destroy 6,000 homes.

By claiming that Israelis have destroyed 30,000 Arab owned olive trees and that Israel intends to demolish 6,000 homes, the Rabbis for Human Rights have knowingly borne false witness against the state, land and people of Israel.

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