|Israel Resource Review
||8th December, 2002
The Significance of the
Appointment of Elliott Abrams as the Senior Director for Near
East and North African Affairs on the National Security Council
staff at the White House
Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard
Sometimes the Washington press corps reports a story, but entirely misses its significance. This was the case with last week's naming of Elliott Abrams to the position of senior director for Near East and North African affairs on the National Security Council staff at the White House. The job makes Abrams a major player in setting policy on Israel and the Palestinians. And Abrams's view of the right policy is quite different--more pro-Israel, less solicitous of Palestinians--from that of Secretary of State Colin Powell and the permanent cast of characters at the State Department.
As early as this week, Abrams will be knee-deep in Middle East affairs. What must be worked out is the so-called road map for pursuing peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Abrams's job is to make certain that the conditions and guidelines laid down by President Bush in his speech last June 24 are not watered down or ignored by the Powell forces. This is easier said than done, particularly since Bush's attention has turned to the war on terror and regime change in Iraq.
The appointment of Abrams, 54, is an important statement by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice--and by Bush--that the White House will not cede control of Middle East policy to Powell. In the past, a foreign service bureaucrat has held the NSC post and more often than not echoed State's view. Until late 2001, a holdover from the Clinton White House, Bruce Reidel, had the post. Over the past year, a fight was waged over who would replace Reidel. One potential appointee after another was blocked. Rice was urged to name someone from inside the system, either from State or the CIA. But she insisted on Abrams, who comes from outside the system and whose pro-democracy, pro-Israel, and anti-peace process views on the Middle East are anathema to the State/CIA establishment.
Abrams's background is in Latin American affairs and human rights. But he expressed his opinions on the Middle East in his essay in a book, "Present Dangers," published in 2000. Most striking was the absence of enthusiasm for resuming the "peace process." He wrote: American interests "do not lie in strengthening Palestinians at the expense of Israelis, abandoning our overall policy of supporting the expansion of democracy and human rights, or subordinating all other political and security goals to the 'success' of the Arab-Israel 'peace process.'"
Such a view pits him against Powell's State Department. There, the key to all good things in the Middle East is thought to be a quick return to the peace process with full-blown negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Abrams's view--and Rice's and Bush's--is that since September 11, 2001, the war on terror is a higher priority. But September 11 has also reinforced Bush's view of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat not as a leader seeking independence for his people, but as someone more like the terrorists who attacked the United States.
At the moment, the White House plans to implement the Bush guidelines from his speech last June. Among these are the easing aside of Arafat, the end of Palestinian terrorism against Israel, and reform of the Palestinian Authority. The Bush speech indicated these steps must be taken first, before moving on to concessions the Israelis might make and, finally, to high-level negotiations. However, State's position is that the Palestinians don't have to complete their required steps, only begin them. Under State's plan, Arafat would merely have to start leaving office, not actually be gone, and reforms would only need to have begun, not be fully implemented. A final administration policy must be reached by December 20. That's when representatives of the "Quartet"--United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations--meet to discuss the Middle East.
It is Abrams's strong public views on the Middle East that make his appointment surprising. No doubt it has caused heartburn at State and among Palestinians and their sympathizers. In Israel, the choice of Abrams was seen favorably as further evidence of Bush's commitment to support both Israel and democracy in the Middle East.
Abrams joined the NSC staff in June 2001 as senior director for democracy, human rights, and international operations. After the Reagan administration, he worked with Latin American interests and then became head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington. But while out of government, he kept in touch with Dick Cheney, now Bush's vice president. He barely knew Rice at all when he was hired. But he had other contacts, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Rice's deputy Steve Hadley. Wolfowitz is said to have been instrumental in getting Abrams his initial job at NSC, where he helped draft a tough new policy toward Cuba.
Press stories about Abrams's elevation to the new job stressed a single point: Iran-contra. In 1991, Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress, for which he was pardoned by the first President Bush in December 1992. The Washington Post headlined a wire story on the Abrams appointment, "Iran-Contra Figure Named To Senior Post In White House." The lede of the story in Newsday said, "Iran-contra figure Elliott Abrams, who received a pardon from the first President Bush for his role in the scandal . . . has been promoted to a key post among the current President Bush's national security aides." Neither newspaper mentioned the policy significance of Abrams's appointment.
They missed the real story.
This piece ran in the Weekly Standard in Washington, DC on 12th December, 2002, Volume 008, Issue 14
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the Funding Funnel for the Shefa Fund's Support for IDF Deserters
Memo from August 13, 2002
Dear Ometz Lesarev supporters,
Last Tuesday we recieved the Military Attorney General's response to the appeal of David Zonsheine and 4 other friens of our group. The four who have joined David's appeal started to serve their time in jail, since the Military Attorney decided not to postpone it. Full details after the legal update.
Last Tuesday the Military Attorney General has given his verdict concerning the appeal of David Zonsheine, Rami Kaplan, Maor Parsai, Uri Phine and Shaham Ramah against the results of their disciplinary hearings. Here are the main points of his verdict:
We have no justification for disobeying orders during military service- If we thought that the service we were summoned to was illegal we should have claimed that our summoning to reserve service was illegal, instead of taking the law in our hands during the service itself.
The occupation is legal- it stands in all criteria of international law, laws of war. As proof for this claim he cited verdicts of the High Court of Justice concerning the legality of curfews, closures, etc.
Freedom of conscience isn't hurt- Conscience objectors have the right not to enlist ("total refusal" for pacifists), yet there is no right for selective refusal (namely, objecting service in certain areas or objecting certain orders) as the legal situation is in Austarlia, Britain and the U.S.
No change in the occupation- The differences that were underlined in our appeal between the occupation during the last two years and the occupation since 1967 do not exist. The present state of occupation is legal exactly as it was till two years ago.
The verdict was well-prepared (implying the IDF is quite frightened of the outcome of our appeal to the High Court), though I believe anyone can see that these claims can be refuted, as attorneys Feldman and Sfard will try to accomplish. In 30 days they shall petition to the High Court against the Military Attorney's verdict. Till the fianl ruling of the court David Zonsheine will stay free, as the court ruled formerly. Yet, four of our friends who have joined the appeal and petition were sent yesterday to serve their time in prison.
List of prisoners:
Uri Tocker Maimon
Itamar Shahar (Yesh-Gvul)
Last Friday we held a demonstration (which has become a tradition) at the Rakevet Junction. As usual many have argued with us, while some have hunked in support. I'm allways glad to see us at that juction instead of the Moledet transferist freeks who ussually are left there alone.
Our huge flag, which wasn't hang on Friday, has been hanged on Wednesday near the Ayalon Freeway. Please tell us if the location was effective.
This Saturday, 17.8 at 12:00, we will hold a solidarity demonstration infront of Military Prison 6 nera Atlit. Buses leave from Binyanei ha'uma at 09:45 and from Rakevet Tzafon at 10:30, Come with your families, the conscience objectors imprisoned need our support.
And to the amusing conclusion: We don't really know how. Yet,
David Zonsheine is candidate for "the Man of the year" event of
Yedioth Ahronot and Keshet. We decided to go for it and vote for
David. So go to this link and vote as well, help us to arrive to
the heart of the Israeli consensus:
Who would believe a refusenik would get close to such a consensual title half a year ago?
Each one of you can help us in our struggle against the
occupation in the following ways.
Our supporters in Israel:
- Participating in demonstrations and other protest activities
- Participation in activities such as distributing flyers, sticking up posters, manning our stalls
- "Adopt a refusenik" - adopt a jailed refusenik - send letters, keep in touch with his family
- Organize house meetings (of 10 to 20 participants with members of the group)
- Organizational and professional help (administration, foreign languages, advertising, fundraising, or any other kind of assistance you can think of)
- Sending letters to newspapers, participating in radio talk-shows that are open to the public
- Donation (account details at the end of this letter)
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org,
with your name, where you
live, telephone number, and how you would like to help. We
promise to keep you up to date on our activities, which are set
to increase in the near future. At the end of this letter you
find a list of our future activities.
Our overseas supporters:
- Organizing conferences on the subject of refusal amongst Jewish communities, in universities, and any other place that might be supportive of us
- Sending letters to those in prison (addresses below)
- Sending letters about us to the press
- Donations (details below)
To organize a speaking tour of one of our members, or with any other idea, please write to email@example.com.
To enable you to keep in touch with those in jail we have rented
a postal box in order to receive letters, books, limericks or
pictures. Whoever can devote some time to this important cause
is invited to write to Postal Box 16238, Tel Aviv, and we
promise that your letters will be passed as quickly as possible
to the prisoner (in our experience, the army does not rush to
pass on prisoners' post). Please write the name of the addressee
along with the Postal Box number (and not "Courage to Refuse",
and so on - this is for technical reasons).
Or, the address of Jail 6 is (note the name of the prisoner):
Army Post 01860
Branch:754 (Pinkas, Tel Aviv)
Account number: 105377
Holders of the account: Omets LeSarev
The Shefa Fund, which defines its mandate as Advancing Jewish Social Responsibility Through Grantmaking, Investing and Education, is more than happy to accept tax-deductible donations on our behalf, thus making the process of contributing to our campaign that much easier.
Funders should make checks payable to "The Shefa Fund", with a note on the memo line that indicates they learned of Shefa via "Courage to Refuse" (the English translation of the name of our group). Their contact information is as follows:
The Shefa Fund
8459 Ridge Avenue, 2nd floor
Philadelphia, PA 19128-2119
Phone: (215) 483-4004
Fax: (215) 483-4429
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Translation of Current "Yesh
Gvul" Leaflet for Distribution to Encourage IDF soldiers to
The Yesh Gvul Campaign:
This is a translation of the current Yesh Gvul leaflet for
distribution to IDF soldiers:
We all want to defend our country.
We're all sick and tired of terrorism.
We all want peace.
But do our actions permit of an end to the cycle of bloodshed ?
Since 1967, Israel has ruled over 3.5 million Palestinians, running their lives by means of a forcible occupation, with continual violations of human rights.
The occupation regime has merely exacerbated Israel's security problems; at this time, it endangers the life of each one of its citizens, yours included !
Soldier, it's in your hands !
Ask yourself whether your actions in the course of your military service enhance national security ? Or do those actions merely fuel the enmity and the acts of violence between us and our Palestinian neighbours ?
You can stop the violence
Soldier: the occupation breeds terrorism
When you take part in extrajudicial killings ("liquidation" in the army's terms);
When you take part in demolishing residential homes;
When you open fire at unarmed civilian population or residential homes;
When you uproot orchards
When you interdict food supplies or medical treatment -
You are taking part in actions defined in international conventions (such
as the Fourth Geneva Convention) and in Israeli law, as war crimes.
As far back as 40 years ago, an Israeli court ruled that a soldier is forbidden to obey a flagrantly illegal order.
Soldier - do you consider such war crimes justifiable ?
Don't acts of "liquidation" provoke suicide bombings ?
Is it justifiable to demolish the homes and vandalise the property of entire families ?
Can one justify the killing of children, women, old people - or, overall, of unarmed civilians ?
What are the "security" grounds to justify starving entire villages and depriving the sick of medical care ?
Soldier: don't these daily acts of repression, which are part of the routine of the occupation - curfew and blockade, land confiscation, preventing people from working or studying, the run-around and humiliation at the roadblocks and the violent searches in Palestinian homes - fuel hatred of us ?
End the occupation - End the cycle of bloodshed!
Soldier: the occupation causes loss of life
Even the heads of the defence establishment concede that there is no military solution to terrorism.
"All the preventative work we've done this past year is like trying to empty out the sea with a teaspoon," a senior security official admitted. ("Haaretz", 19.12.2001)
Ami Ayalon, former head of the Shabak security police, says: "An ideology can't be killed by killing leaders."
Soldier, is there a people anywhere in the world that will not resist an occupation regime ?
If you were in the Palestinians' shoes, would you be willing to bow your head to a foreign ruler ?
Two years ago, we were convinced that the occupation of southern Lebanon was vital for our security. Twenty years ago, we were certain that our occupation of the Sinai peninsula guaranteed our security.
But thanks to termination of our occupation of those areas, we have avoided shedding the blood of our soldiers.
Since the onset of the current intifada, over a thousand Israelis and Palestinians have been killed, most of them unarmed civilians taking no part in the fighting. As long as we hold on to the occupied Palestinian territories, we will continue to shed our own blood and that of the Palestinians.
End the occupation - End the bloodshed!
Soldier: the occupation undermines our country
We are all concerned for the wellbeing of the state of Israel. We all want the state to invest more in education, social services, health, and development of our infrastructure.
But to maintain the occupation, the state spends billions on upkeep of the army in the territories, on settlements, on laying bypass roads and all the rest.
The state is cutting back on civilian services to enlarge the military budget.
The occupation, and the violence that it prompts, drag the economy down into recession. Investors are in flight, tourists stay away, entire sections of the economy are in collapse.
Wouldn't it be preferable to use the money to reinforce our social structures ?
Wouldn't it be preferable to channel the funds to our crumbling health and education systems ?
Is it just to neglect the aged, the handicapped and the unemployed in favour of further settlements ?
End the occupation, public allotments to the disadvantaged,
not the settlements!
Soldier, the occupation undermines the army
The occupation is harmful to the army and its soldiers. Training is called off because soldiers spend so much time on routine duty in the territories -guarding settlements, protecting highways, and forays into Palestinian towns and villages.
Soldiers are required to serve under inhuman conditions - like the four soldiers of the armour corps who spent 234 uninterrupted hours in their tank. In order to sustain the occupation, they weren't even allowed out to relieve themselves.
Military sources admit the occupation routine subjects soldiers to exhaustion - and exhaustion leads to a decline in fitness and causes accidents.
Wouldn't it be better to dedicate the time to the country's real defence needs ?
Ending the occupation will restore the army's combat readiness.
Wouldn't it be better to reduce the burden borne by reservists and grant conscripts better conditions ?
End the occupation - Reduce military service to two years!!
Cut down the burden of reserve duty!!
Soldier: There are acts that decent people don't commit, even if they're given orders ! Decent people don't demolish homes; they don't kill children, women and babies; they don't starve the neighbouring people, and don't deny medical care to people just like you and me.
Such conduct weakens our country's moral fibre.
These acts are actually harmful, even if we're told they're for "security purposes". Every "liquidation" (killing) prompts a bombing. The child you wounded today is tomorrow's terrorist.
Anyone concerned for national security won't do things that fuel terrorism.
Soldier - It's in your hands
We don't have a surefire recipe. Make up your own mind, guided by your conscience, your feelings, your convictions. We can't take the decision for you. We can only tell you that many, very many soldiers, have said "NO !" to war crimes !
From the Lebanon war, right up to the present intifada, thousands of soldiers - conscripts and reservists - have plucked up the courage to say "NO !"
Anyone who decides to refuse, reaches that decision on his own. But when he does make up his mind, he will find us extending a helping hand, offering advice, support and help.
Contacting Yesh Gvul
PO Box 6953,
Jerusalem 91068, Israel
Telephone: (+972-2) 625-0271
Fax: (+972-2) 643-4171
Contributions can be sent to our address, or transferred to our bank account:
Yesh Gvul, Acct no. 366614. Bank Hapoalim, King George St. Branch (690), Jerusalem, Israel.
U.S. citizens: To contribute (tax deductible), funders should make a check out to "The Shefa Fund" and include the notation "Israeli Reservists Fund - Yesh Gvul" in the memo line. Checks should be sent to The Shefa Fund, 8459 Ridge Avenue, Second Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19128
To receive regular updates, send a blank email to:
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