|Israel Resource Review
||13th January, 2008
NCYI [National Council of Young Israel ] Denounces Israeli Suppression of Free Speech
Demands Apology in Wake of Arrests; Calls for Investigation
Rabbi Pesach Lerner
Executive Vice President
National Council of Young Israel
111 John Street Suite 450
New York, NY 10038
212-929-1525 ext 100
January 13, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On Wednesday night, January 9th, the police arrested the three volunteers outside the Dan Panorama Hotel in Jerusalem claiming that they had distributed seditious material. The three volunteers were part of an effort coordinated by the National Council of Young Israel to present the journalists covering President George Bush's visit to Israel, many of whom were staying at the Dan Panorama, with a balanced perspective on the activities of Fatah.
The National Council of Young Israel reacted to the arrest of three American-born volunteers who were handing out educational material to foreign journalists in Jerusalem by demanding an apology from the Israeli government and calling for an investigation into the arrest.
In anticipation of President Bush's first visit to Israel since he took office, the National Council of Young Israel decided to use the visit and the accompanying press coverage to communicate with the journalists about the myth that Fatah is a moderate alternative to Hamas. The National Council of Young Israel organized a briefing for volunteers, who were asked to stand at several locations throughout Jerusalem and to engage the journalists in a conversation about Fatah in English. The volunteers provided the journalists with a report entitled "Fatah as 'Moderate': A Hard Look Post-Annapolis," which is published by the Center for Near East Policy Research at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem.
The three individuals arrested were Jeff Daube, an American Israeli who made Aliyah just two weeks ago and who serves as the Israel Director of the Zionist Organization of America; Susie Dym, an American Israeli who is a Patent Attorney; and Yehudit Dassberg.
The three were standing peacefully outside the Dan Panorama when the police directed them to move from the front of the hotel to the corners. They obliged immediately, yet a short time later the police again approached the three volunteers and ordered them to get into a police car. The three volunteers were taken to the police station and told that they were being arrested for creating a public nuisance and distributing seditious material. After spending some time in police custody, the three volunteers were ultimately released.
"It appears that the police acted inappropriately and unnecessarily,"
said Shlomo Mostofsky, the President of the National Council of Young Israel. "The choice to disagree with a particular point of view is not a crime and the expression of that disagreement in a polite and respectful manner should not result in heavy handed tactics by the police. I call upon the Israeli government and law enforcement officials to apologize to the three individuals who were inexplicably arrested and subjected to needless humiliation and anguish. In light of the circumstances, I urge the Attorney General of Israel and the Justice Minister to launch an investigation into the conduct of the police officers involved in this troubling incident. The suppression of ideas and opinions that we witnessed has no place in a democratic society. With the fate of their nation at stake, the Israelis should be given every opportunity to express their views and voice their beliefs."
"With Fatah being touted as a possible partner in peace with Israel, it is important to examine its track record and determine if Fatah is in fact a group that can be trusted," said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel. "An examination of the facts reveals that Fatah still advocates violence against Israel and is anything but a moderate group. Our volunteers attempted to distribute a scholarly report that sets forth the truth about Fatah in an organized and intelligent fashion, yet their efforts were suppressed by the authorities. The fact that the police found it necessary to deem the report seditious raises questions about the integrity of the peace process and the ability of Israelis to voice their opposition to what many consider to be a troubling and frightening sequence of events."
"I was shocked to receive the call from Jeff Daube that he had been arrested," said Rabbi Aaron S. Tirschwell, the Director of Israel Operations for the National Council of Young Israel and the organizer of the vigils. "It is unconscionable that in this day in age, in what is touted as the only democracy in the Middle East, and as our own country, that such behavior would take place. I never wanted to believe the countless stories I have heard about the police acting inappropriately towards those wanting to express an alternate view to that of the government. Now, unfortunately, I know first hand that it's true."
As part of its campaign to maintain the unification of Jerusalem, the National Council of Young Israel organized the briefing and training session for volunteers in its Israel office. The objective was to enable volunteers to become more educated about the relevant issues and to establish a mechanism which would allow them to make contact with the media and communicate their message to those reporters who cover Israeli current events.
In advance of President Bush's visit, the National Council of Young Israel held a training session during which time volunteers were taught about the issues and received training in the art of media relations. The National Council of Young Israel placed advertisements in the Israeli media prior to the date of the session, and dozens of volunteers ended up attending the media training session at the National Council of Young Israel's office. The session was taught by David Bedein, the Director of the Center for Middle East Policy, and a veteran reporter, who briefed the volunteers on the various techniques and strategy.
On January 9th, the volunteers were split into several groups in order to meet as many members of the media as possible and to give them multiple opportunities to present the journalists with the facts about Fatah. The groups disbursed to two strategic locations in Jerusalem where the press was expected to be assembled. Some of the volunteers went to Kikar Safra, which is where the Israeli government had established an international press center to accommodate the journalists who were covering President Bush's visit, while others went to the Dan Panorama Hotel, where most of the reporters were staying during their visit. The Dan Panorama was also housing a full working center for the White House press corps and other foreign journalists. The volunteer groups were comprised of olim vatikim (people who moved to Israel many years ago), olim chadashim (people who just recently moved to Israel), tourists, and students.
The volunteers enjoyed a good measure of success, having had the
opportunity to speak with reporters from major American news outlets.
Many of the journalists were cordial and reviewed the material that the volunteers gave them. Some even engaged the volunteers in conversation and discussed with them the information contained in the materials.
There were volunteers stationed outside the Dan Panorama from 3:00 in the afternoon until 8:00 in the evening without incident, and none of the police officers in the area interacted with the volunteers in any fashion. The first interaction with the police occurred when a police officer confiscated the material that had been given by one of the volunteers to a reporter from Fox News. It was shortly thereafter that the three volunteers were arrested.
The materials handed out by the volunteers set forth a number of facts which clearly demonstrate that Fatah is not the moderate partner that the United States considers them to be. For example:
- The United States and Israel signed the Declaration of Principles (for recognition of Israel and rejection of terrorism) of the Oslo accords in September of 1993 on the condition that the PLO would ultimately ratify these principles and cancel the PLO covenant to destroy Israel. To date, the PLO Covenant calling for the destruction of Israel has never been rescinded.
- The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has established financial awards which are given to families of suicide bombers.
- The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which the United States Justice Department has deemed a terrorist organization, remains an essential part of Fatah. The members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades consider President Abbas to be their leader. In addition, to date, President Abbas has refused to disband this terrorist group.
- According to the Israeli military, the Palestinian Authority has released a large number of Hamas terrorists in Judea and Samaria who were being held for planning to kill Israelis.
- Israel's Ministry of Defense has discovered that the Palestinian Authority's school system, which is under the direct control of President Abbas, is designed to instill in young Palestinian children a sense of hatred against Israel.
The National Council of Young Israel, which represents over 150 synagogues throughout the United States and 25,000 family members, has been instrumental in the effort to keep Jerusalem united as the Jewish capital.
To speak with Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, or to comment about the NCYI's efforts to keep Jerusalem united as the Jewish capital, or for more information, please contact Rabbi Lerner at email@example.com or call 212-929-1525 x 100.
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The Bush Visit in Context
Senior Policy Research Analyst, Center For Near East Policy Research Ltd.
Glad to see him go, won't be eager to have him come back. But there are a few observations to be made regarding his final statements once he left Ramallah and returned here to Jerusalem:
Bush called for "an end to the occupation that began in 1967."
For me, that means he is calling for us, essentially. to move back to the Green Line (which is pretty much the 1949 armistice line).
There is much press here that saw it differently . Because he also said that, "I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities . . . "
See, goes the argument, he is saying we should keep some settlement blocs. I will argue differently. For his full statements was: "I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous." Don't be under the impression that I'm condoning retention of settlements, the second part of that sentence is saying.
Besides which, he speaks about "ending the 1967 occupation" -- code at minimum for surrender of settlements.
This is my take on what "adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949" means to George Bush here: It means he would argue that we can keep the Jewish neighborhoods of Gilo, and French Hill and Ramat Eshkol and Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaakov and Ramot -- all beyond the armistice line of 1949. And, we should perhaps be allowed to control the Kotel and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. That would be about it.
Do not be fooled , my friends.
Bush made yet one other statement that reflects for me his essential confusion and failure to be in touch with reality. He said Israel has to have "secure and defensible borders."
Well . . . we cannot move back to the Green Line (even with the retention of Gilo, French Hill, etc.) and have secure and defensible borders. That is a significant point everyone should be aware of. Abba Eban called the '49 armistice lines the Auschwitz Lines.
In order to be secure we must retain the Jordan Valley, high points in the Jordanian hills and Samaria, settlements guarding entrance roads into Jerusalem (the Gush Etzion bloc protects Jerusalem from the south, for example, and Maaleh Adumim from the east).
Can't have it both ways: Secure and defensible borders for us and a Palestinian state that is contiguous.
So what's he doing? Using the code words for what's important to each side without attempting to reconcile the contradictions?
Or, is he flying so high in the clouds that he imagines that with that flourishing, moderate, democratic state he envisions Palestine will be at our border, we will be safe within the Green Line?
(It's probably this latter, because he also said: "The establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve itů," which is just one more indication of his failure to grapple with reality.)
In either case, George Bush is not to be taken seriously . And yet, because of his political power and his ability to do damage, we must take him seriously -- or contend with him -- at some level.
Bush did something else reprehensible: He meddled in internal Israeli politics. At a dinner at which government ministers were present, he praised Olmert as "a strong political leader" and then, speaking directly with Eli Yishai (Shas) and Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu), who are threatening to leave the coalition, told them, "Take care of Olmert, so he will stay in power."
Satellite photos indicate that Syria is rebuilding the site -- presumed, on the basis of the evidence, to have been a nuclear facility -- that was bombed by Israel in September. Except for the roof, the structure appears similar to the one that was destroyed, and it is being watched; there is no way to know at this point if it is intended to house a reactor.
Palestinian groups in opposition to Abbas are planning a conference in Damascus at the end of the month. The Palestinian Authority is angry at Damascus for supporting this.
This is an anti-negotiations conference that was originally supposed to take place at the same time as Annapolis. But when Syria received an invitation to Annapolis and decided to attend, it was postponed. Gee, it's good Syria attended in Annapolis; we can see how it's moderated since then.
A correction: If you were scratching your head when you read in my last posting: "The greatest misrepresentation in this regard has to do with statements of Bush's implying that Olmert is working to better the lot of the common man in the PA," I don't blame you. It was Abbas I was referring to, not Olmert. Hope in context most of you got it, and I apologize.
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