|Israel Resource Review
||22nd March, 2004
A Critique of
the Annual US Human Rights Report on Israel
Ever since the days when the Carter administration required that the U.S. oversee human rights policies and practices that remain an integral part of the policies of all nations abroad, the U.S. State Department has issued an annual country-by-country report to evalute the human rights practices of nations throughout the world. By law, that annual report is submitted by the U.S. State Department to the U.S. Congress during the third week of the month of February.
Our news agency has commented on the State Department's annual reports concerning Israeli human rights policies and practices since February 1989. What has consistently characterized these reports has been the tendency of State to rely without question on the reports of left-wing Israeli political organizations. This year's report was no exception.
Why is the State Department unable to find the names of murdered Israeli children in their analysis titled "Country Report on Human Rights Practices, 2003-Israel," released on February 25, 2004? The report, put out to the U.S. and worldwide media, shows a significant bias against Israel and openly is in favor of Palestinians throughout its entire 50 pages.
Consider this, from the introduction, which sets the tone for the entire report:
"Since 1991, the Israelis and the Palestinians made repeated attempts at negotiating peace. Despite meetings between high-level Israeli and Palestinian officials, efforts to resolve the conflict yielded few results…"
Such a statement gives the distinct impression that both sides made equal effort. The reality, which is glossed over, is that during the course of the Oslo process, from 1993 to 2000, Israel met its obligations and turned over significant areas to the control of the Palestinian Authority, while the PA failed to meet its obligations. No less a participant than former President Clinton laid the blame for failure of the process squarely on PA President Arafat. Yet the State Department chooses not even to suggest that this might have been the case.
Repeatedly, the report fails to consider facts in context, thereby obscuring reasons for certain Israeli positions or actions. In times of war, some abrogation of human rights is necessary - and this necessity is universally recognized.
Yet for whatever reason, the report does not adequately reflect the position - a state of war - that Israel finds itself in.
The report states that in 2003 terrorist attacks resulted in the deaths of about 213 Israelis, and in the injury of about 900 Israelis. It alludes to the state of alert with which Israel functions.
But the enormity of what Israel contends with is downplayed by the lack of details enumerated.
Only five specific attacks are listed even though there were at least 17 suicide bombings alone and hundreds of other attacks - knifings, shootings, etc. - that were perpetrated against Israel in the course of 2003.
Nor is there is a single mention by name or circumstances of the victims of those attacks: There is no specific mention, for example, of the fact that children were bombed into non-existence when returning from prayers at the Western Wall, or of the fact that a recently released PLO prisoner had murdered Dr. David Applebaum - much loved and much mourned head of emergency services at Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital - and daughter, the evening before her wedding.
What is missing from the U.S. Human Rights Report about Israel is any mention of the need for Israel to pursue terrorists where they hide in the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority, to dismantle weapons factories, to confiscate weapons caches and to secure information that will prevent attacks. There is no greater loss of human rights than when one's life is destroyed: in taking the actions it does, Israel is seeking to secure this essential right to life for its citizens. There are days on which Israeli Intelligence has received as many as 50 warnings of attacks, and the first priority is to prevent them from happening. Yet it is without this context that the report states:
"Members of the security forces committed serious human rights abuses in the occupied territories and against Palestinian detainees."
The report deals in considerable detail with these alleged human rights abuses, down to cataloguing such matters as the destruction of three hospital beds by Israeli soldiers in Nablus. (Can we call the "destruction of three hospital beds" a human rights abuse??)
In the course of this catalogue of abuses, names of specific Palestinians who were aggrieved are mentioned. The fact that Palestinian names are included, while no Israeli casualties are mentioned by name, indicates a tendency to give precedence to the significance of the Palestinian suffering . It is that suffering and that suffering only that is given a human face.
A call was placed to the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Daniel Kurtzer, asking why the policy of putting a human face on Palestinian Arabs who were killed in the line of fire was not applied to Jews, whose murders have been praised via the official media of the Palestinian Authority. No one called back with an explanation. Meanwhile, the Israel Ministry of Education has confirmed that it had provided the U.S. Embassy with a multicolored booklet with the names, pictures and short biographies of each Israeli child who had been murdered in cold blood. How instructive that such "details" did not make it into the report released by the Department of State.
Shouldn't Ambassador Kurtzer have known better? Is the omission with his sanction?
In addition to these omissions of details regarding Jewish victims, it would seem that no effort was made to secure the IDF perspective on what occurred.
This is particularly the case regarding the need for context where there are allegations that Israel has killed or wounded innocent civilians in the course of pursuing terrorists or gunmen.
What is lacking is the information - well documented - that PLO gunmen frequently opt to position themselves behind civilians when there is a gun battle so as to put the civilians at risk. It is not the PLO, which sanctions this conduct, that is abusing the human rights of the Palestinian Arab population?
A basic flaw in the report is its reliance on "human rights organizations" or NGOs for its information. The organizations cited - which include B'tselem, Adalah, and Physicians for Human Rights - are notoriously biased against Israel. B'tselem and Physicians for Human Rights are both chaired by active members of the Israeli Communist Party. At a recent gathering of human rights organizations which was held at a PLO venue, the head of B'tselem openly stated that they "use human rights groups for political purposes."
The watchdog organization NGO Monitor has documented this. As NGO Monitor has reported, "…B'tselem's agenda is …blatantly political …and, unlike many other non-governmental organizations, makes no attempt to hide this."
Yet we find statements such as these in the report:
"B'tselem estimated that at least 10,000 dunams of land has been taken over for construction of the separation barrier.
"According to Israeli human rights organization B'tselem,
Israeli forces demolished 219 homes"
We don't know that 10,000 dunams of land have been taken over or
that 219 homes have been destroyed, we only know that B'tselem
says so. That the State Department uses the information and
allegations of such an admittedly political organization,
without doing independent confirmation, speaks volumes regarding
the position of the State Department itself.
Finally, there is the issue of information factually in error. The report states:
"The Law of Return does not apply to those not officially recognized by the Orthodox establishment as Jews."
However, this is simply not the case. Anyone converted by any stream of Judaism may come to Israel under the "law of return." If such readily verifiable information is presented incorrectly, it gives serious pause as to which more sensitive and less readily verifiable information that is provided may be also in error.
When will the American public learn about what the State Department is really doing in Israel?
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friends are Disappointed with us
Dr. Uzi Landau, Israel Cabinet Minister
The heads of a delegation from the Republican Jewish Coalition who visited
here last week appeared very upset when we met early Wednesday morning.
"Explain why your government is surrendering to terror," one of them
demanded of me, adding "there has never been such sympathy for Israel on
Capitol Hill and understanding of its needs. There has not been any pressure
by the administration on Israel. On the contrary. During Bush's years in
office it was possible to win American support for a determined fight
against terror, for preventive action. Someone on your side failed big when
it comes to understanding the administration and Congress in Washington . . .
You missed a rare opportunity to leverage the centers of support in
"And what is particularly strange is that we need to persuade you that your
are making a mistake," said another member of the delegation, reporting on
an Israeli minister, one of the most senior in the government, who lately
met with leaders of the pro-Israel Christian camp and tried to persuade them
of the logic so well-hidden behind the plan to unilaterally withdraw. "You
are barking up the wrong tree," they told him, politely explaining that his
position was simply unacceptable.
Israel's sworn friends are embarrassed, confused and find it difficult to
deal with what they understand to be the country's feebleness. For years I
have maintained close contact with senators, congressmen, administration
officials and leading journalists (some of whom were student colleagues of
mine at MIT in Boston), and with Jewish community leaders and leaders from
the Christian camp - all Israel supporters and sympathizers. We discuss
problems, the past and the future.
In recent months, I have been hearing a single, worrisome message: For
decades, Israel was for them the Six Day War, the Entebbe rescue, and the
attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor - examples of the war on terror and
standing up to pressure. Now it has become a paradigm of surrender to terror
and pressure. The erosion in its credibility is deep and continuous,
especially among our sworn allies. It is impossible to understand you, they
tell me. After three years of blood-soaked terror to declare concessions
without anything tangible in return? To give in to the megalomaniacal
demands of Nasrallah, freeing masses of terrorists for one Elhanan
Tennenbaum and the corpses of three soldiers? To promote a unilateral
withdrawal, which really means rewarding the terror groups, without any
political or security compensation?
Up until recently, those senators and representatives would have laid down
on the fence for us, fought for whatever we defined as a red line. "We
fought," they say "and you surrendered. You don't have any more red lines."
Now they doubt our determination, our commitment to the war on terror, and
they doubt the strategic judgment of the country's leaders.
They don't understand Washington in Israel. They hear Congressmen and think
MKs. The truth is that the power of a senator, a representative, is much
greater than any MK's. A Senate committee is not the same as a Knesset
committee. Their authority has teeth. They can approve or disapprove a
budget and legislation that would prevent the administration from executing
a policy. In times of need, when administrations in Washington wanted to
apply pressure on us, they struggled on our behalf. Often they succeeded.
And now they are disappointed with us.
Our friends in America add that the officials conducting contacts with the
American administration are novices who do not understand the system. They
neglected the power bases friendly to Israel. They go to an America where
the slogan is undying war against terror and speak of the fatigue of the
Israeli public; the need to concede. Instead of forcefully demanding what
Israel deserves, they knuckle under to Palestinian demands. Instead of
speaking of Israeli justice, they present Israel as inferior - morally,
politically and strategically. They want to be liked and win the opposite
result. They speak good English, but don't understand American language.
"Never," say these friends, "has an Israeli government been so efficient at
pulling the rug out from under the feet of its sworn supporters and
strengthening its opponents in the U.S.
The writer is a minister in the Prime Minister's Office and responsible for
the preparation of a strategic dialogue with the U.S.
This piece appeared in Ha'aretz 21 March 2004
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OCCUPATION Vs GENOCIDE
An Israeli journalist, a friend of mine, was recently invited on an American radio program to debate the Middle East situation with a colleague, an Arab-American. Like many such debates, this one was a lost cause for the Jewish side. All the facts on terrorism, on the monstrous hate-the-Jew propaganda in Palestinian schools, media, and mosques, all the numbers and stats and quotes were reduced to rubble with one word from his opponent:
"occupation". And the audience agreed: terror is horrible, but it is caused by this nasty occupation.
Thousands of anti-Israel propaganda makers have learned well the recipe developed by the KGB and picked on by the European and American PR firms with PLO for clients: for the West, the word "occupation" is an absolute negative, and can be used (with accompanying phrases like "right to self-determination" and "struggle for independence") to trump any facts.
Can defenders of Israel find a magical word that would trump "occupation"? It would have to be one word -- a word of truth to defeat legions of lies.
There is such a word. It is "genocide".
In 1948, five Arab armies tried to choke Israel state in embryo. Days before invasion, Azzam Pasha, the General Secretary of the Arab League, announced, "This will be a war of extermination, a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades".
In 1967, Nasser declared a few days before the war, "Our main task is to destroy Israel." Syria's Assad echoed, "It is time to embark on a war of annyhilation." The same sentiments were voiced in 1973.
Only the fear of yet another resounding defeat or being snuffed out by Israel's nuclear weapons have since held back Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and Syria from new attempts.
Yet the Satanic obsession with "destroying the name of Israel" in Islam keeps growing. Arab maps still do not have Israel, and after the 55 years of de-humanization and demonization of the Jews in Arab propaganda and education system, the psychological grounds are laid for the new genocide.
The clear and present danger of a new Jewish Holocaust -- not just the teethless condemnation of terrorism -- should be the subject of Israeli delegation's presentation at the all the world's Genocide Conferences.
Only due to Israel's military deterrent capability this new genocide has not come to pass. The key to this capability is maintaining full military control over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, minimal territorial depth to mobilize the reserves in the case of an attack and to prevent the Palestinians from striking straight into the heart of Israel.
Back in 1967, the American Chiefs of Staff have concluded: the moment the Islam world believes that Israel's containment capability is gone, they will launch an attack.
Thus Israel must have permanent military control over the tiny land of Israel (0.12% of the total Middle East land mass) in order to prevent a new Holocaust.
Any person with any vestiges of Western Judeo-Christian morality has to admit that Jewish military presence in Judea and Samaria is an acceptable cost of preventing a Holocaust.
If you choose to call it occupation, feel free to do so. Occupation is an acceptable cost of preventing a Holocaust.
Occupation saves the lives of 5 million Jews. Moreover, it saves the lives of 4 million Arabs living on the Land of Israel who will perish, too, if Islamic hordes again try to destroy Israel. (The Arab world doesn't care: as Anwar Sadat, the late Nobel Prize winner, used to say, Any Islamic leader can sacrifice a few million of his subjects to erase Israel off the face of the planet.)
Moreover, occupation serves to save the entire mankind from a nuclear Armageddon, because this is what will happen, should Islamic leaders armed with WMDs attempt to destroy the Jewish state.
From the Pharaoh to Hitler, the Jews have been through Holocausts. And we will not let Arafat, Mubarak, or the ayatollahs, the pleasure of continuing that line.
Only the occupation of Germany stopped Hitler's genocide. The whole world accepted it as the only way to salvation. Few anti-Semites would be so shameless as to claim that a genocide should always precede an occupation.
So let us remember: genocide is the word.
Checkpoints prevent genocide.
Israeli soldiers in Arab villages prevent genocide.
"Racist separation wall" prevents genocide.
If Europeans whose parents participated or abetted in the Holocaust are so concerned with the Palestinians' welfare, here's another truth: occupation is their only hope for a normal life. Until Arafat's return from Tunis, all the vital statistics of the Palestinians languishing under Israeli occupation -- lifespan, infant mortality, education, income, free press -- were incomparably higher than they are now after 10 years under the Palestinian Authority.
Moreover, the occupation is the Islamic world's only chance to rid itself of the occupation by the unholy forces that took over the Islam theology and its everyday life. If Palestinians become enlightened by Israel, they will become agents of change in the Islamic world; if they don't, they will remain the strike force of jihad, leading to destroy the civilization and themselves.
But it is us the Israelis -- not the Europeans -- who must do the main reckoning. We have to admit we are standing in the gate of Auschwitz and we're refusing to be pushed inside. They call our will to live "occupation". Let them. Never again shall we concede to their will to kill. Nor shall we concede to the will of our own masochists to have the peace of a grave, or to the Europeans' will to be a concubine in an Islamic harem. We shall counter-attack and we shall prevail, because our God is the God of the living who will spread the "occupation" of his light throughout the world. The crucial upturn in this war will take place here in the heart of Israel. It will start with the change in our hearts -- when we no longer ask for
"peace" for which we have to pay with our land; when we take responsibility for this land and for the people whom God allowed to stay here -- the Palestinians -- from the real occupation whose diabolical mission is the destruction of the Jews.
The writer, former correspondent for Moscow Radio,
is now the head of the JERUSALEM SUMMIT
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Text of Bizarre Israel Foreign
Ministry Item On Murder of Khoury By Fatah
[IMRA: Israel's Foreign Ministry writes that "The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigade, which claimed responsibility for the attack, later published an
apology." without noting that the apology wasn't for mudering an Israeli
jogging in French Hill but instead an apology for murdering an Arab instead
of a Jew.]
March 19, 2004 - George Khoury, 20, a Christian Arab and the son of well-known
veteran attorney Elias Khoury of Beit Hanina, was shot to death from a
vehicle while jogging in the north Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill.
The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which claimed responsibility for the
attack, later published an apology.
George Khoury, a second year student at the nearby Hebrew University, had
taken his mother's car and driven two kilometers from his family home for
his weekly Friday night jog in French Hill. At about 7:20 p.m., as he ran on
Rehov Hahayil, he was gunned down by terrorists who opened fire from their
passing car. The attackers then sped away via the adjacent Arab neighborhood
of Isawiya, in the direction of Ramallah.
George, the middle son in the Khoury family, was a graduate of the Anglican
International School in Jerusalem. He was active in sports and played the
piano, representing his school in international music competitions. Like his
father and grandfather, George tried to promote Jewish-Arab co-existence,
participating in interfaith dialogues in Germany and England. He was
studying economics and international relations at the Hebrew University and
planned to follow in his father's footsteps and become a lawyer. His cousin
described him as both athletic and an intellectual, who loved books and
Khoury's father, Elias, is a prominent east Jerusalem lawyer who has
represented Palestinian political figures and Israeli Arabs in court. His
grandfather, Daoud Khoury, was killed in a terrorist bombing at Zion Square
in Jerusalem in July 1975.
George Khoury will be buried in the Christian cemetery on Mount Zion. He is
survived by his parents and two brothers.
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Against the Fence:
A Call to my
Neighbors in Efrat and the rest of Israel
Member, Efrat City Council
Let's call their bluff.
The fence is a future border. Whatever, whoever is in will be residents of the State of Israel, whatever, whoever is out will lose their homes and land.
It's that simple. And anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves or letting them selves be fooled. If it was about security the world wouldn't be fighting us via the Hague. If it was about security it would exclude the Arabs of Wadi Ara. If it was about security it would not be running through peoples' homes in Abu Dis.
Western Gush Etzion is in the national consensus. Even Barak, who was willing to give up the Temple Mount, wanted to hang on to the Gush. And those of us living here have a major role to play. Breathing a sigh of relief that we're in, we're safe, is betraying our responsibility, our position, our strength, our privilege in having the opportunity to do something for our nation. To hark back to the book of Esther that we read on Purim- Esther was safe in the palace, she could have saved herself. But she risked her life and everything she had in order to save the Jewish people. She took her position and used it for the good of her nation, taking a chance that by the whims of an unstable king she herself would die. She and Mordechai understood that it was all or nothing when it comes to being part of the chosen people, and that we must act. Pray- always- but do what we as simple human beings can do until we can do no more and then, and only then, leave it to G-d.
We the residents of Efrat and Gush Etzion are in the same position now. We are now Esther. We must refuse to be in the fence, fight the establishment of it, for if we are in the consensus but out of the fence then it will prove that the fence is not the future border. But if it is, then we all, every Israeli, need to be told that now. Establishing borders without a national agreement, or even a debate, is sneaky at best, chilling at worst. It's certainly not what I learned in 11th grade democracy class. And we have the power now to call the bluff, to force the Prime Minister to explain that Efrat is in but Tekoa, Nokdim and other Jewish communities are out because it is his intention to ethnically cleanse eastern Gush Etzion from its' Jews in the near future. Does it put us more at risk? Perhaps, though a fence provides little more than an illusion of security. The just arrested terror gang that was responsible for blowing up the last 2 buses in Jerusalem was planning on hijacking a bus from Efrat and taking it to Bethlehem, to strap the passenger/hostages with bombs and demand the release of terrorist murderers from prison-or else. The PLO/PA plans and implements bloody attacks everywhere in the country in singular pursuit of their oft-stated goal to replace all of Israel with â€˜Palestine'. The lesson from Gaza is that no fence will stop mortars, missiles and as we now know, even infiltrations into the highly secured port of Ashdod, either.
As Jews in general and Israelis in particular we have a responsibility to think not only of what's good for us personally, but what is good for our people even if it entails personal sacrifice and risk. We have it in us, everyone who sends a son or daughter to the army is making that choice. It's no different now.
Next week I go to Poland, to see the remnants of the Warsaw ghetto, Jews forced behind walls, only a brave few standing up to the enemy. We may be better groomed sheep now, but the result will be the same if we don't wake up to the fact that this is a war for our very existence, and wars need to be fought to win. Appeasement? Been there, done that. This week I'll weep at some of the six million graves that attest to the price that is paid for going that way.
Israelis deserve to be told straight out what this government intends to do and then decide if we collectively agree or not, for we will pay the collective price. We in Efrat can help uncover the bluff and demand to be told the truth. The Jewish people must worry not just about each other now but about debts we owe to the past and the necessity of protecting the rights and patrimony of future generations whom we represent as well. So much must be taken into account. Is this the way?
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