Israel Resource Review 17th Febuary, 2003


British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Appeal to the Marchers Against a War With Iraq

[Israel Resource Review takes the unusual and unprecedented step of publishing the thoughts and words of a foreign statesman. This speech elevates the Prime Minister of Great Britain to a level of Winston Churchill, and will be viewed as a seminal message for years to come.]

Yes, there are consequences of war.

If we remove Saddam by force, people will die and some will be innocent.

And we must live with the consequences of our actions, even the unintended ones. But there are also consequences of "stop the war".

If I took that advice, and did not insist on disarmament, yes, there would be no war.

But there would still be Saddam. Many of the people marching will say they hate Saddam. But the consequences of taking their advice is that he stays in charge of Iraq, ruling the Iraqi people. A country that in 1978, the year before he seized power, was richer than Malaysia or Portugal. A country where today, 135 out of every 1000 Iraqi children die before the age of five - 70% of these deaths are from diarrhoea and respiratory infections that are easily preventable.

Where almost a third of children born in the centre and south of Iraq have chronic malnutrition.

Where 60% of the people depend on Food Aid.

Where half the population of rural areas have no safe water.

Where every year and now, as we speak, tens of thousands of political prisoners languish in appalling conditions in Saddam's jails and are routinely executed.

Where in the past 15 years over 150,000 Shia Moslems in Southern Iraq and Moslem Kurds in Northern Iraq have been butchered; with up to four million Iraqis in exile round the world, including 350,000 now in Britain.

There will be no march for the victims of Saddam, no protests about the thousands of children that die needlessly every year under his rule, no righteous anger over the torture chambers which if he is left in power, will be left in being.

I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part of our democratic process.

But I ask the marchers to understand this.

I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour.

But sometimes it is the price of leadership.

And the cost of conviction.

But as you watch your TV pictures of the march, ponder this:If there are 500,000 on that march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for. If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started.

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A Nation Enveloped in Fear and Trepidation

David Bedein

Israel is a land that is enveloped in fear, apprehension and bewilderment, not knowing what will be tomorrow with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The people of Israel know that Iraq is the only country that did not surrender after the 1948 war, when Iraq and four other Arab armies invaded the newly founded Jewish state.

This is not the first time that Israel sat and waited for an attack which could take many lives indeed. Back in May 1967, after Egyptian President Nassar closed the straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping to the south, the people of Israel nervously waited three weeks awaiting any fate that would befall them, when armies on all sides of Israel again threatened the small Jewish state. At that time, a generation of concentration camp survivors wondered if Israel would again face a threat of mass annihilation. Today, the children and grandchildren of concentration camp survivors quietly ask the same question.

There is no euphoria and no desire that one can perceive in Israel towards any conflict on the horizon with Iraq. The common press perception that the people or the government of Israel want this war is simply unfounded. While the Israeli government is using the Voice of Israel Radio and Israel Public Television to calm the Israeli public with a careful and sensitive manner, with precise instructions as to where to get gas masks and how to prepare the shelters in case of a gas or chemical attack, the call in programs on the five popular Israeli radio stations are overwhelmed with anxious people - parents, children, elderly people, all with one question on their mind: What is going to be?

Ad to the apprehension from Scud Missile attacks the confirmed presence of Iraqi units of the paramilitary Palestinian forces, armed with short range mortars that can reach any spot in Israel.

All of us who are trained in any aspect of mental health (My degree is in community organization social work practice ) have been drafted for emergency service. And that emergency service is now in full swing. Children who cannot sleep. Parents who cannot cope. Older people who cannot function. And the special telephones installed at community centers for crisis counselling are ringing off the hook. I sometimes wonder if the whole country is not one great basket case.

None of this goes by without some therapeutic humor on the airwaves. In between the newscasts about the UN debate on the Bush ultimatum to Iraqi to disarm itself from its weapons of mass destruction, Israel's most popular comic act got on the radio with a rendition of "Singing through the scuds". And for those of us who work in the media, I cannot but remember some of the funnier moments during the previous Gulf War, when I worked as the Special CNN Radio correspondent in Israel. After more than thirty live reports on CNN radio about Scud missiles falling all over the center of Israel, I slipped and broadcast that "We are now in the midst of yet another Mud Scissile attack (instead of Scud Missile Attack). My colleagues at CNN sent me the CNN Mud Scissle award at the time.

With more than seven hundred Israelis murdered in cold blood over the past couple years, and with the prospect of a combined PLO and Iraqi attack in every part of Israel, you might say that the people of Israel are nervous, to say the least.

As I sit down to Sabbath dinner with my family, the nervousness of my wife and children shows, as it must show in every home.

My eight year old daughter Meira does not want to be left alone at night.

Neither does anybody else in Israel at this time.

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When Massacres Are Not Noticed Because There is a National Unity Government in Israel
Uri Elitzur
Columnist, Yediot Aharonot

For those who don't understand the importance of a National Unity Government in Israel, the Belgium Supreme Court provided the explanation.

Belgium does not know that approximately 10 years after Sabra and Shatila a massacre took place at the Suchmor Village in Southern Lebanon. Dozens of men, women and children were murdered there by the Southern Lebanese army in retaliation for a horrendous terror attack that people of the village committed against them. Israel's responsibility for the massacre at the Suchmor village is much greater than its responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre, because as opposed to the Christian Phalanges,who committed the massacre in Sabra and Shatila, the SLA was an army force equipped and operated directly by Israel and was completely under its authority. Indeed Israel did relate to the massacre by dismissing a few of the SLA commanders and with that the case was closed.

Belguim does not know about the Suchmor massacre, Israel does not remember it, and also the Arabs have long forgotten it. The reason for this is simple: At the time of the Suchmor massacre, Israel's prime minister was the late Yitzhak Rabin, and Israel's Foreign Minister was Shimon Peres. Therefore no Israeli leftist took to the streets calling them "murderers" and demanding an Inquiry Committee. What made the Sabra and Shatila a huge international story, did not happen in the outskirts of Lebanon but at the "Kings of Israel Square" - Kikar Malchei Yisrael - which today is called: "Rabin's Square" - Kikar Rabin. Belgium also doesn't know that the Sabra and Shatila massacre was an act of revenge on the part of the Christian Lebanese for more than 10 years of terrible Palestinian abuse against them.

In the early 70's, the PLO took control over Southern Lebanon after they were expelled from Jordan, and ruled over the local Christian population; a reign of sickening cruelty, which included plundering, rape, murder and endless acts of humiliation. And why was the PLO expelled from Jordan? Because prior to that, the PLO abused the Jordanian Kingdom and its population in the same manner. At the last minute, right before the PLO would have taken control over Jordan, King Hussein took matters into his hands and by forceful and unmerciful military action, expelled the PLO from his kingdom.

Within peace-seeking and civil rights Western circles, King Hussein is considered an original "Tzadik" - a righteous person - but the massacre that his soldiers committed against the PLO that September (called "Black September by the PLO and another excuse for violent demonstrations)was a hundredfold bigger than the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Hussein's motives were similar to that of the SLA: to take revenge on the PLO savages, holders of the untraceable klatchnikovs, and to be rid of them before they turn the Jordanian Kingdom into mayhem. Luckily for us, Sharon was not prime minister at the time, otherwise somehow we would have been blamed for that massacre too.

In Belguim these facts are not known, and there is no way to explain it to them. But the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem is aware of two facts: We do not take revenge but we too are at our last minute, and it is time to remove the manudacturers of mayhem also from here, like they were kicked out of every other country that wished to survive. Secondly, at a time like this we need to keep the square empty. Those "good guys" - the ones who only wish to voice their protest and demonstrate the "beautiful Israeli", while turning us into war criminals in the eyes of the world - do not fill the square when the left is in power.

The writer was the director of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's office, 1996-1999. This article ran on February 14, 2003 in Yediot Aharonot.

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Arafat's Administrative Manipluations Examined
Hanan Shlein

Even if Arafat keeps the promise he made over the weekend and appoints a prime minister, all the central authority will remain in his hands and the role of prime minister will remain without real content in foreign and security policy.

Yesterday for the first time, sections of the Palestinian constitution approved by Arafat and which will be presented for approval by the Palestinian institutions were revealed."The head of state is the head of the republic, the supreme commander of the Palestinian national security forces, who represents it in foreign contacts directly and who is responsible for contracts and agreements by the state", reads the proposal.

Those who formulated the new constitution, led by Dr. Nabil Shaath, also related to the authorities of the prime minister. Although he will be the one who will form the government, will choose the ministers, and will be responsible for internal matters (whose dealings do not really interest the rais), he will chair the cabinet meetings, except for meetings summoned by the president. President Arafat, it turns out, will have the authority to convene cabinet meetings led by him.

Diplomatic sources in Israel and Europe expressed satisfaction at Arafat's announcement about his intention to appoint a prime minister. Some Officials in Jerusalem even believed that the PA had made several important moves in distancing Arafat from decision making circles. However the new constitution proves the opposite: Arafat continues to be relevant, and his place at the center of the diplomatic arena remains as stable as before.

Associates of the PA chairman said that Arafat has again succeeded in misleading, and not for the first time, the Americans, the Europeans and the Israelis. The latter will continue to await his removal, while he is expected to strengthen his position while relying on the new constitution approved by the PA's official institutions.

This article ran in the February 17th issue of Maariv.

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Birth After Terror:
A baby is born to a Woman Whose Husband, Mother and Daughter were Murdered by Arab Terrorists
Rivka Freilich
Special to Yediot Aharonot

"The baby who was born today is a reminder from my husband, Gal, and will fill me with a lot of joy and consolation. She looks like him. I can already see that she's going to be a pretty girl", said an emotional Ayelet Shilon just a short time after she gave birth. Only the bandage that covers the eye of the new mother served as testimony to the horror she lived through when she lost her husband, her mother and one of her daughters in the shooting attack at a public bus in Emmanuel.

The terror attack was carried out some seven months ago. Ayelet was riding with her mother, Zilpa Kashi, her son, Or-Haim (two-years-old), and her twin daughters, Galia-Esther and Sarah-Tiferet (eight-months-old) to her home in Emmanuel. Zilpa and Sarah-Tiferet were killed immediately by the gunfire. Gal, Ayelet's husband, rushed to the site of the terror attack and was killed by the terrorists' gunfire.

Ayelet sustained serious injuries and was taken to Rabin Medical Center. Her condition improved, but she lost vision in one of her eyes. Only when she was in the hospital did the family find out that she was in her first months of pregnancy.

"At the beginning of the pregnancy, Gal and I still hadn't told our families. Gal was very excited about the new child, and spoke about expanding our family. After the terror attack I knew that this pregnancy would be an extension of Gal, an expansion of the family that he wanted so very much. The children and my faith gave me the strength to continue", said Ayelet in the hospital yesterday.

Ayelet, 29, spent most of her pregnancy without a husband or a mother around, but with a lot of other family and friends who supported her while she recovered from the injuries she sustained in the horrific terror attack. She told everyone that their support and help was what got her through her the most difficult times. "In a single moment I turned into a widow, a bereaved mother and an orphan", she said then. "Everything has been chopped off. The children I have left and my faith are what give me the strength to go on living".

Some two hours after the delivery Ayelet was calm and overjoyed in her hospital bed. Her sister was sitting with her two children who survived the attack,the 34-month-old Or-Haim and the year and a half old Galia-Esther, in her Bnei Brak apartment that Ayelet has been living in since the terror attack . . .

Despite the difficult situations that Ayelet has had to live through and can expect to face in the future, it was important for her to end our interview on an optimistic note: "Now I am ready for the real task of raising the children and the new baby. It is coping of a different sort that I am sure will contribute a lot to my life and will bring me a lot of joy. I try to think, like a song that I know which goes, that if I am happy the entire world will be happy. I believe that that is really what will happen."

This appeared in Yediot Aharonot on February 17, 2003.

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