|Israel Resource Review
||18th March, 2001
Fourth Graders enact suicide bombers in Palestinian Authority school
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - In a rally by Islamic militants, fourth-graders acted out a suicide bombing yesterday as adults threatened Israel with new attacks and Israeli troops killed another Palestinian teenager.
Boys waving assault rifles rode on their fathers' shoulders in a West Bank march.
And in another "Day of Rage" against Israel, Palestinian children took centre stage, prompting warnings by psychologists about lasting damage, but no public outcry.
The role of Palestinian children in six months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting has been hotly debated. Israel says Palestinians send them to the front lines of protest to win the world's sympathy. The Palestinians say Israeli troops have used excessive force against demonstrators, regardless of their age.
Of 352 Palestinians killed since late September, 66 were under age 18; 57 Israeli Jews and 19 others have also died in the fighting. Of the more than 10,000 Palestinians injured, nearly 2,000 were minors.
Yesterday, a 17-year-old was killed by Israeli fire in stone-throwing clashes at the Karni crossing between Gaza and Israel. The army said he had broken away from a group of stone throwers and approached an army post in a way that "appeared dangerous" to soldiers.
The militant Islamic Jihad group yesterday staged a memorial rally for three children of families linked to the movement who have been killed in clashes in recent months. One of the victims was a 13-year-old boy, Mohammed Hales.
In the highlight of the rally, 15 children - all younger than 10 - staged a play about a suicide bombing in Israel, with the coaching of the adults.
A boy was dressed as a suicide bomber. He wore a black face mask and a green robe and had a little package wrapped in tinfoil strapped to his belt, meant to symbolize explosives. His voice muffled by the mask, he led the children in chanting, "We die for the sake of God."
Another boy slipped into a cardboard box with an Israeli flag on it and lay on the ground symbolizing the aftermath of a suicide bombing.
In another part of the program, a young girl listened to fiery speeches, her light brown curls brushing against a pistol. And a girl whose narrow face was overwhelmed by a white head scarf shouted into a microphone: "Raise the flag of Holy War."
Islamic Jihad leader Abdullah Shami defended putting children on the stage. "The Islamic nation and the Palestinian nation, from the small children to the old men, are ready to sacrifice for this land," he said.
In the West Bank town of Nablus, during a rally attended by 2,500 people, assault rifles were pressed into the hands of several children who were then hoisted onto their fathers' shoulders.
Fadel Abu Hein, a child psychologist in Gaza, said participation in such demonstrations can rob children of hope. "It instills fear," Abu Hein said. "It makes them more aggressive."
The Israeli government, meanwhile, announced a slight easing of its ban on Palestinians traveling to Israel. Israel said it would grant entry permits to 500 Palestinian business people, and that it had opened the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan to Palestinian travellers.
This ran on the AP wire on March 17, 2001
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Even Palestinian crossword puzzles reject Israel
Question: What is the well-known port city of Palestine?
If you answered "Gaza," you'd be wrong - it's Haifa, according to crossword puzzles that appear in Palestinian media sources routinely enjoyed by Palestinians of all ages, including children. In fact, going by the clues these puzzles offer, there is no Israel at all - from Metulla to Eilat, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, with the eternal united capital of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), it's all Palestine.
The normally innocuous medium of crossword puzzles seems to have become just one more battleground in the long struggle between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a report released yesterday by Palestinian Media Watch. The puzzles which appear, notes the report, are full of rejectionist and antisemitic "clues" - and not only since the outbreak of the "Aksa intifada."
"It is important to note that these problematic 'messages' are not published in the Palestinian Authority newspapers in the aftermath of violence or during times of particular tension in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship," reads the report. "Rather, these have appeared over the past number of years as a routine part of Palestinian culture and amusement, reflecting normative Palestinian thinking and expectations."
The report cites numerous clues with a deeply antagonistic message against Jews and Israel, including identifying Yad Vashem as "commemorating the Holocaust and the lies," the Jewish trait as "treachery," and Jerusalem as "the Palestinian capital from the dawn of history until eternity."
Moreover, with the exception of Tel Aviv and its immediate environs, every major city and geographical feature in Israel is identified as Palestinian. This includes numerous references to Lod, Safed, and Jerusalem as "occupied" by the Israelis, as well as including Ashkelon, Jaffa, Acre, Caesarea, Haifa, and geographical features such as Lake Kinneret, Mount Meron, and the Negev desert in the same category.
"We have observed this taking place since we started following the Palestinian media some five years ago," said Itamar Marcus, director of the organization. "This cultural expression is in many ways more significant than the statements of Palestinian leaders, since it makes us aware of the deep beliefs of the Palestinians. In all the crossword puzzles we've seen, we've never found reference to any place in Israel as Israeli. Every place is called Palestine.
"This isn't incitement . . it is an honest expression of beliefs."
Marcus, who intends to extend the Watch's study to all aspects of cultural expression reflected in the media, criticized Israel's leaders for ignoring a growing process of radicalization of Palestinian opinion. "I think all the Israeli governments have made a tremendous mistake in ignoring what has been called incitement for all these years," said Marcus. "By now, it's no longer incitement - it has been absorbed and adopted, and it now forms a large part of the Palestinian national consciousness. In many respects, we are much further from peace between the people than we were before the signing of the Oslo accords."
This ran in the Jerusalem Post on March 15, 2001
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Where has All of Israel Gone?
New UN Map Obliterates Israel
Israel Correspondent, The Jewish Week
At one or two shops in the Old City of Jerusalem and tourist sites in areas ruled by the Palestinian Authority, people can pick up a map entitled "Palestine, the Holy Land Tourist Map".
Published by the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the large glossy map provides a detailed look at Palestinian cities, towns, villages, as well as holy places and refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
While the map is no doubt a valuable tool for those wishing to explore the deeper recesses of the Palestinian territories, it won?t help tourists wishing to explore Israel.
That?s because, according this map, there is no Israel.
Whereas the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem are brimming with detail where to find museums, zoos, gas stations, recreation sites,
the land recognized as Israel by the international community appears as mostly blank space criss-crossed by highways.
A handful of Israeli cities (Netanya, Tel Aviv/Jaffa, Ashdod, Ramla), which were built on or near pre-1948 Arab villages, are shown, but without any references to museums and so forth. The word "Israel" is conspicuously absent.
This despite the fact that the map was financed by the United Nations Development Program/Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People.
Rabbi David Rosen, director of the Israel office of the Anti-Defamation League, first learned of the map and its funding in early February, when David Bedein, a Jerusalem journalist who specializes in the actions of the Palestinian Authority, brought it to his attention.
"I think it's deplorable that a UN organization should be supporting such a partisan political propaganda", Rabbi Rosen says. "In portraying the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River as only 'Palestine' and eliminating all reference to Israel is thus implicitly advocating an anti-Israel policy".
Emanuel Nachshon, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, says that his office began receiving complaints about the map four or five months ago.
"Individuals saw it at tourist sites and let us know about it", Nachshon says. "We think it's extremely inappropriate that such a map should be published. We see it as part of the wider Palestinian efforts to negate Israel, just like the recent decree by the Mufti of Jerusalem saying that the Jews have nothing to do with the Western Wall".
Despite the government's disgust over the map, Nachshon does not believe that it has, or will, take any action to squelch it.
"Look", he says, "given the depth of the Palestinian violence that we have witnessed during the past months, the issue of the map is just a small aspect of the wider spectrum of problems we have to deal with. Before we establish a dialogue over a map, there are burning issues of terrorism and violence we need to deal with".
Nachshon refuses to say whether Israel intends to take up the matter with the UNDP, which funds a variety of humanitarian and development programs in the Palestinian Authority.
"I don't wish to comment on that. It's a map issued by the Palestinians,? he said.
Bedein, the director of a media center that specializes in uncovering Palestinian corruption and anti-Israel propaganda, is incensed by the Israeli government's laissez-faire attitude.
"This map and the maps in Palestinian textbooks are a rally point for the Palestinians",he asserts. "I know how they affect the Palestinian people and their view of things. By printing the tourist map in English, the Palestinians are telling tourists, It's all ours. It's part of a terror culture, a culture that says that none of Palestine belongs to Israel".
Officials in the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism deny any implicit or explicit political agenda.
"We printed a tourist map, not a political map", insists Palestinian Tourism Minister Mitri Abu Aita. "We don't show official borders and we don?t mention our official neighbors. We just show places in Palestine, a destination for tourism".
Aita's voice becomes strained when it is pointed out that the map does indeed mention Egypt and Jordan, as well as the international boundary,? and the armistice line of 1949. He does not reply when asked why a smaller map of the Old City of Jerusalem shows mosques and churches but no synagogues or the Western Wall.
"We must leave politics to the politicians", he says finally.
Bajis Ismail, the Palestinian tourism ministry's director general, asks this reporter to ask Israel whether they mention Palestinian areas on their maps. "They don't identify the line between Israel and the Palestinian areas".
David Bedein disputes this.
In February 2000, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism published a map clearly showing areas A and B of the Palestinian Authority. Reading the text in a corner of the map, he says, "In area A, the Palestinians have responsibility for civil affairs, internal security and public order.
This area is marked in gray, and area B is in yellow".
Ismail insists that the UNDP only funded the Palestinian map but had no input in its production.
"They are not responsible for the text. They are responsible only for supporting the project financial. It's not a crime", he says.
Perhaps not a crime, but most certainly an embarrassment.
In response to the question of how a map of the "Holy Land" funded by the UN could fail to include Israel, Willi Scholl, deputy director the UNDP?s office in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, says, "this was obviously a very unfortunate oversight. It's obviously a mistake that it was not put in.?
He stresses that his agency didn't prepare the map. "We didn't edit it. Our contribution was financial, not intellectual".
Scholl insists time and again that the UN always puts a disclaimer on its projects stating that the contents do not imply an endorsement in the political sense. "Given the nature of our development program",he says,
"we don't have any stance on any political issues, especially regarding the Palestinian territories and Israel".
"The tourism map does not carry this disclaimer", he acknowledges.
Scholl could not say whether the UNDP would demand the map's removal from travel kiosks and shops, or whether his own office would stop stocking it.
We will have to sit down with the [Palestinian tourism] minister and
tell him we have our misgivings because Israel is not on the map,he
says. He adds, however, that "I really can't see what we can do unless they opt us into the map's editing team".
To this Bedein responds, "no dice. They took credit for publishing that map, put up the money to make it and they distribute it".
He hopes that the incoming foreign minister will do more to hold the Palestinians responsible for their actions. Until that happens, the journalist says, "people should start raising the question of why the UN is publishing maps obliterating Israel?"
This ran on March 3, 2001 in the "jewish week", the newspaper of the Jewish Federation of New York
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Arafat's Corruption: the Source of Palestinian Suffering?
According to surveys by the research center of the Israeli Yad Tabenkin, the West Bank per capita gross domestic product (GDP) before the Oslo accord in 1993 was approximately $3,500, and in Gaza, about $2,800. Now, the per capita GDP for both territories is around $1,300. And U.N. Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen says that 30 percent of the Palestinian people live on less than $2.10 a day.
Before Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) entered the territories in May of 1994, the Palestinian per capita GDP in
the West Bank was about 40 percent of the $8,000 Israeli per capita GDP for the same period, and in the 1990s, the economic development of the West Bank exceeded that of Israel. If that trend would have been allowed to continue, the West Bank's GDP would have reached at least $7,000 by now, similar to Saudi Arabia, and 700 percent higher than the average in other oil-devoid Arab states such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Morocco.
In 1990, the CIA estimated that the PLO had between $8 billion to $14
billion worth of assets generated from 5 percent tax on every Palestinian
working in Arab countries. However, according to a 1993 British National
Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) report published on the eve of the
famous "hand shake" on the White House lawn, most of the PLO's assets
originated from "donations, extortion, payoffs, illegal arms dealing, drug
trafficking, money laundering, fraud, etc." A General Accounting Office
(GAO) investigation of Mr. Arafat in November 1995 was kept secret, due to
"national security interest."
Subsequent to the "hand shake" on the White House lawn on September 1993, Mr.
Arafat received at least $3 billion more from the United States and the
international donor community, again, without any serious demand for
accountability. The present condition of the Palestinians in the territories is a grim affirmation that becoming the official leader of the Palestinian people did nothing to change Mr. Arafat's old habits.
Shortly after the current Intifada began, Arab donor countries pledged to
give $1 billion to the Palestinian Authority to ease the economic hardship
of the Palestinian people. However, the Arab donors' past experience with
money given to Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority prompted them to
demand, according to reports in Ha'aretz, the Israeli daily, that "Chairman
Arafat show complete transparency in the funds" and a detailed report on how it was spent. Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority declined to comply,and the Arab donors suspended the transfer of the money "for fear that the money will end up in the wrong pockets."
The rapidly growing, very visible social disparity in the territories rows
of ostentatious villas and late model Mercedes-Benz automobiles for Mr.
Arafat's cronies while most Palestinians live in dismal conditions began to threaten Mr. Arafat's leadership. Igniting another Intifada enabled Mr.
Arafat to redefine the economic decline in the territories as "sacrifices"
to mobilize against the "zionist enemy," while blaming the victim of the
In 1994, British National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) sources
asserted that following Oslo, the PLO's illegal activities actually
increased. No Robin Hood, Mr. Arafat kept the loot for himself and his
cronies, hiding large amounts of money in Swiss and other secret bank
accounts, and making large investments in real estate and industry all over
the world. At the same time he has done nothing to improve the living
conditions of the Palestinians he allegedly collected the money for. Never
having to account for the billions he had stolen, he continues to claim
Now the cat is out of the bag: The Palestinian Authority has admitted that
the current Intifada was planned in detail last July following the failed
Camp David Summit. Imad Faluji, the Palestinian Authority's communications
minister, told a PLO rally in the Ein Hilwe refugee camp in South Lebanon
last Friday that, as part of that plan, all the PLO "military action groups
of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s are returning to work to escalate the
fighting against Israel."
Mr. Arafat has successfully claimed that Israel causes the economic
hardship suffered by the Palestinian people. These claims are based on two
fundamentally false assumptions: One, that Israel, rather than Mr. Arafat's
misgovernance and corruption, is responsible for the economic collapse; and, two, that on some level, there is still some hope or belief that the
disingenuous behavior Mr. Arafat and the PLO's leadership is a result of
pressure from the street resulting from lack of tangible gains to the
average Palestinian rather than Mr. Arafat's intentions and a reflection of his bad faith in entering the Oslo process in 1993, that led to the
establishment of the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Arafat's past is a good indication that he will continue to use terror
and corruption to stay in power. He does not want to give peace a chance
because in peacetime the Palestinians working in Israel will earn many times over those working under Mr. Arafat's corrupt leadership in the West Bank,and especially in Gaza, where they will continue to earn a pittance.
This will lead, as it already has, to demands to end corruption, thus,
threatening Mr. Arafat's regime.
That, more than anything else, explains the failure of "the peace process"
wherein the Barak government made unprecedented concessions that Mr. Arafat
failed to accept as a compromise to end the conflict. And it is why any
attempt by the Bush administration to pick up the pieces of the failed
effort appear, at best, extremely difficult.
This article appeared on March 15, 2001 in the Washington Times. The author directs the New York-based Center for the study of corruption and rule of law.
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