|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
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 ." 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
[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
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,
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,
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
* Pr. Yehuda Bauer, Editor, Present-Day Anti-Semitism, Vidal Sassoon
International Center for Anti-Semitism, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
** 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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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 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
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
This article ran on August 24, 2001 in Maariv
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Interview with Egyptian Acting Ambassador to Israel
by Jackie Hugi
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.israelbehindthenews.com/Sep-14-99.htm.
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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