Israel Resource Review 28th March, 2001


Does the New PLO Entity Recognize Israel?
A hands-on journalism experience . . .
David Bedein, Media Research Analyst

At a staff meeting in September 1993, our news agency, whose purpose it is to provide continuing factuql coverage for the foreign media, made a policy decision: to find out firsthand how the new Palestinian Arab entity would view Israel, and to determine if their recognition of Israel would indeed be real. We raised funds to hire Palestinian journalists and Arabic-speaking Israelis.

Over the past seven years:

We covered all of Arafat's speeches, some of which we filmed;
We monitored public statements of the PA;
We watched their new TV station and listened to their new radio station;
We bought their new (revised) maps and their new school textbooks;
We attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in ('94?)
We made it our business to make timely visits to the UNRWA refugee camps;
We followed the PA''s new religious leaders and participated in Islamic-Jewish dialogue;
We visited PA military bases and interviewed PA security officials;
We covered the PNC meeting in . . . . . . , which met in special session to cancel the PLO Covenant.

Seven and-a-half years later, we can now answer the question of whether or not the new PLO entity recognizes Israel, based on our hands-on coverage in each of the foregoing areas.

1. Arafat's Speeches: The theme that Arafat has consistently preached throughout the past seven years revolves around the liberation of "all of Palestine". When Arafat mentions his commitment to "the peace of the brave", it is in terms of "the right of return" for five million Palestinian Arab refugees to flood Israel and to take over all of Jerusalem. He never mentions "East Jerusalem".

Arafat has never made a statement to his people in the Arabic language which even h ints at recognition of the State of Israel, nor has he ever asked for a cessation of terror. In November 1996, I asked Arafat when he would ever speak in Arabic about recognizing Israel or denouncing terror. He replied that he does so all the time, to which I responded that we have no record of such. I asked Arafat the same question in November 1998 at a U.S. State Department briefing as I held a thick booklet of his words in praise of terror, following the Wye Conference in 1998. His unfazed (unblinking, immediate) reply was that he "loved the Jews".

2. Public Statements of the Palestinian Authority: We have subscribed to the position papers of the Palestinian Authority since its inception in 1993, and followed the Fatah website since it was inaugurated in 1998. Seeing these reports, one prominent Israeli peace leader observed that what bothered him was not the themes of war that one might expect in the intermediate stages of a rock peace process, but rather that they were so entirely devoid of peaceful sentiments.

3. Palestinian Authority Radio and TV: Since its inception in the Fall of 1995, we have followed PA radio and PA TV. Indeed, a laboratory that monitors the PA radio and TV - not connected with our office - now operates full time. Although the air waves for both PA radio and TV were provided by the IDF and the initial funds for the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation came through the U.S. government and visiting UJA groups, the official Palestinian Authority electronic media regularly calls for Israel's destruction, the liberation of Palestine, and praises terror. In 1997, I arranged for a colleague in the peace movement to meet with Radwan Abu Ayash, the head of PBC, to ask him why the official media of the PA was devoid of any program for peace. Ayash responded that the Palestinian people were not ready for any such program.

4. Maps: On the maps of the new Palestinian state sold at the PLO headquarters at Orient House in Jerusalem, the name "Israel" does not appear. The new Palestine replaces the State of Israel. All 531 Arab villages that were abandoned in 1948 are returned to their locations within Israel proper while hundreds of Jewish communities have been obliterated. The current tourism map of the P.A. Ministry of Tourism, financed by the United Nations Development Program for Palestine, simply wipes Israel off the map and shows all of the Old City of Jerusalem under PLO control, with no mention of Israel whatsoever. On May 15, 2000, our agency brought Arafat spokesman Dr. Walid Anad (sp?) To speak. Anad said in his defense, "Well, your Israeli maps make no mention of Palestine," at which I whipped out the new Israel Ministry of Tourism map, which clearly delineates the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

5. School Books: In September 2000, our agency bought copies of the new school books of the Palestinian Authority, and submitted them for translation and evaluation by professional agencies in Jerusalem. These new school books were supposed to recognize Israel. No such luck. The maps and the curriculum portray all of Palestine as one great Islamic state while the old school books that specifically instruct school children in the art of "jihad" and holy war remain in the school curriculum.

6. Nobel Peace Prize: At the much-celebrated Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in December 1994, I asked Yassir Arafat if this prize meant that he would indeed crush the Hamas and cancel the PLO covenant. He responded very matter-of-factly that he made no such commitment.

7. UNRWA Refugee Camps: One of the great hopes of the peace process was that the new Palestinian entity would absorb the Arab refugees who have been held in the UNRWA camps for more than 50 years under the premise and promise of the right of return to the l948 homes that no longer exist. Our hands-on reporting for the past seven years has conveyed the opposite reality: the PA has disenfranchised the UNRWA camps, depriving the Arab refugees of millions of dollars of health, education, welfare and construction assistance, since the PA with its ideology of the right of return does not subscribe to the notion that Palestinian Arab refugees should be repatriated to the West Bank or to Gaza. Imagine the shock that one of my staffers experienced when she witnessed a Palestinian doctor in an UNRWA clinic refusing medical service to Arab refugee patients on the grounds that they can go back to where they came from - which is now the city of Ashkelon.

8. Islam: When Arafat appointed new clerics to man the mosques under his control, the initial press reaction was hopeful -perhaps this would provide a balance to the preaching of terror by Hamas clerics. Little did we know that the Arafat-appointed clerics would launch calls to JIHAD against the Jews with greater ferocity. As a participant in Islamic-Jewish dialogue, I was struck by the dissonance between the genuine grass-roots Palestinian Moslem interest in reconciliation and the incendiary messages they were receiving from the Palestinian Authority.

9. Palestinian Security Services: The reason why Israel, the U.S., Canada and the E.U. provided weapons and weapons training for Arafat's security services was based on the assumption that Arafat would use his forces against the Hamas. It was therefore surprising for us to report the PBC news item in May, 1995 that the PA was going to supply Hamas with weapons; and the Al Aharam December, 1995 news item that reported a PA-Hamas military and tactical agreement. Any visit or interview with Palestinian Authority security officials reveals that their goal is to liberate all of Palestine, despite any interim security co-operation with Israel

10. The PNC Council: We dispatched a TV crew to cover the historic meeting of the Palestinian National Council in April, 1996, a meeting which was reported to have cancelled the PLO covenant calling for Israel's destruction. The United States Congress had mandated that Arafat would not be allowed into the U.S. unless that covenant was cancelled. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk misinformed President Clinton when he reported that Arafat had cancelled the covenant. Our video, which we sent to Indyk and later screened in the Knesset and the U.S. Congress, told quite another story when it revealed that the PNC had, in fact, merely voted to establish a committee to CONSIDER amendments to the PLO covenant.

In short, although the Israeli government has used the past seven years of a peace process to prepare the Israeli people for peace, the PLO and its nascent Palestinian Authority have oriented the Palestinian Arab people to the continued non-recognition of Israel while preparing their people for war.

The logical question would be whether Israel has made any significant changes in its academic currriculum during this negotiation process. Senior Hebrew University Education Professor, Amos Yovel, a founder of Peace Now, was commissioned by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace to conduct an exhaustive survey of Israeli school books, to see if peace is being taught, and to determine if Arabs are being demonized in the Israeli school curriculum.

On January 8, 2001, Professor Yovel presented his study of 200 Israeli school books which he had culled from both religious and secular Israeli schools. He declared that he had found no evidence of racism or demonization of Arabs in the curriculum that is being taught in the Israeli school system, and he expressed satisfaction that the Israel educational system was preparing a new generation of Israeli Jewish students for peace and reconciliation.

(Studies of the portrayal of Israelis in PA school books, and of Arabs in Israeli school books both appear on the same website:

It takes two to dance the tango of mutual recognition and reconciliation. Only one of the parties is dancing.

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Canada's role in the 'right of return'
David Bedein, Media Research Analyst

Jerusalem - A cardinal principle of the Arab information campaign against Israel since the inception of the Jewish state 53 years ago has focused on the plight of Palestinian Arabs who left their homes and villages while seven Arab armies invaded the new Jewish state.

Following the 1948 war, United Nations Resolution 194 was enacted to assure Palestinian Arab refugees that they have the "inalienable right of return" to the homes and villages they left in 1948. Under the premise and promise of the inalienable right of return, the United Nations and neighbouring Arab countries have confined Palestinian Arab refugees to the squalor of UN refugee camps to this very day.

Indeed, a UN refugee aid agency, UNRWA, was created, whose purpose is not to rehabilitate and resettle refugees, but instead to prepare them for the return to their homes of 1948, whether they still exist or not.

This principle has even been adapted by the Palestinian Authority, which has forbidden Arab refugees from moving into homes and villages in the West Bank or Gaza because that would violate their right to return to Jaffa, Haifa and more than 500 villages inside pre-1967 Israel.

In December, 2000, the Palestinian Authority issued a new 56-page illustrated brochure, Witness to History: The Plight and Promise of Palestinian Refugees, with an introduction by PLO spokeswoman Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, promoting the right of Palestinian Arab refugees to repossess the 531 villages they lost in 1948, even if those villages have been absorbed by Israeli cities, collective farms or woodlands.

That the PA would issue such a brochure calling for the implementation of UN "right of return" Resolution 194 is not surprising.

What is surprising is that the brochure was funded and distributed by the Canadian government, through its Canadian Representative Office in Ramallah. This office, which I have had the opportunity to visit, acts as a de facto Canadian embassy to the Palestinian Authority. Last May, when I met with Tim Martin, the chief representative and his assistant John Laine, they both indicated they understood the Palestinian commitment to the idea of the "right of return," and they handed me the April 2000, booklet printed by the PA on the subject.

Mr. Laine went on to describe in great detail (and with great pride) how the Canadian government was actively trying to help with job training programs in these refugee camps.

A year later, it would seem Canada's mandate has been expanded from helping reduce Palestinian refugee unemployment to helping fan the flames of a Palestinian refugee war to conquer all of Palestine.

The brochure, replete with pictures of suffering Palestinian Arab refugees over the years, calls Israel's "denial of the right of return" a continuing breach of international law, while defining the entire history of the Middle East conflict in terms of the "Palestinian dispossession and will to survive." The 1948 war is defined as if Israel's purpose was to kick out Arabs, without mentioning that seven Arab armies invaded the new Jewish state with the support of local Palestinian Arab villagers.

UN refugee education is described in innocuous terms, "their lifeline to the future," without any mention of the schoolbooks published by UNRWA that encourage a new generation to liberate all of Palestine.

Canada is the gavel holder for the refugee working group that was established to negotiate the future of Palestinian Arab refugees under the Oslo process in 1993.

By publishing "Witness to History: The Plight and Promise of Palestinian Refugees", Canada appears to have taken a partisan PLO position that will compromise any constructive role the country may play in solving the tempestuous refugee issue of the Middle East peace process.

David Bedein is Media Research Analyst and Bureau Chief, Israel Resource News Agency, Beit Agron International Press Center, Jerusalem.

This article ran in the National Post of Canada on march 23, 2001

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Canadian Officials Confirm:
Their Government Financed "Right of Return" Brochure
JTA wire story

Montreal, March 25 (JTA) Canadian officials have confirmed that their government financed a brochure calling for Palestinians to realize the "Right of Return" by taking back homes and property lost inside Israel during Israel's 1948 War of Independence.

An official with Canada's Foreign Affairs department, however, denied charges that the Canadian government took a leading role in producing "Witness to History: The Plight and Promise of Palestinian Refugees."

The brochures were printed by an nongovernmental organization run by prominent Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, which receives funding from the Canada Fund for Local Institutions, the official said.

The 56 page, illustrated brochure calls for Palestinians to repossess the homes they lost in 1948. The Palestinian insistence that refugees and their descendants of some 3 million to 4 million people in all have the right to return to homes lost in the fighting that surrounded the birth of the State of Israel helped sink peace talks under the last Israeli government.

Israel sees acceptance of the Right of Return as demographic suicide, and the Palestinian insistence on the Right of Return as a veiled call to eliminate the Jewish state.

An article by that ran over the weekend in Canada's conservative National Post newspaper, claimed that the brochure was "published and distributed by the Canadian government."

According to Bedein, the inside page of the brochure states that the Canadian government was responsible for publishing and distributing the document through its Canadian Representative Office in Ramallah. The brochure features an introduction by Ashrawi calling for the Palestinian return to 531 villages lost during Israel's War of Independence, many of which no longer exist.

Carl Schwenger, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Ottawa, stressed that "our take is different" than Bedein's.

Schwenger noted that Canada has been a consistent backer of U.N. Security Council Resolution 194 which recognizes the Palestinians' "inalienable right of return" yet supports attempts to solve the Palestinian refugee problem by settling them elsewhere in the world.

Canada remains the gavel-holder for the working group established under the Oslo process in 1993 to negotiate the future of Palestinian refugees, Bedein notes.

"To imply that this office" in Ramallah "handed the brochure out is incorrect," Schwenger said. "And they also did not advocate the positions in the brochure. In fact, the Foreign Affairs Minister" John Manley "was burned in effigy by pro-Palestinian protesters for suggesting that some refugees might wish to come to Canada."

The brochure was published by Ashrawi's Palestinian Institute for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, Schwenger said, which received "between $1,000 and $10,000" toward publishing costs from the Canadian fund.

Ashrawi's stated proposal was to promote UNRWA, a U.N. agency established after the 1948 war to care for Palestinian refugees - as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, Schwenger said.

Canadian legislator Irwin Cotler, a noted human rights advocate, said he had recently returned from a visit to the Canadian Representative Office in Ramallah, which acts as a de facto Canadian Embassy to the Palestinian Authority.

Cotler met there with the office's chief representative, Tim Martin, and an assistant, John Laine. In his article, Bedein accuses the pair of "helping fan the flames of a refugee war to conquer all of Palestine" through their backing of the Palestinian cause.

During his March 9 meeting with Martin and Laine, Cotler said, he saw a book on IsraeliPalestinian peace negotiations.

"There was but one copy and I asked them if I could borrow it," Cotler recalled. "They gave it to me, but were concerned that they might be seen as distributing it."

In addition, Cotler said, "they referred as well to another booklet - the one in question, I assume, which they also stressed they did not publish or distribute."

According to a source close to the issue, however, Martin and Laine's Palestinian sympathies are so pronounced that they likely will be replaced by the summer.

This story ran on the March 26, 2001 wire of the JTA, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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Excerpts From Jordan Times, March 27, 2001
Palestinians Deny Killing Jewish Infant in Hebron

Excerpts From Jordan Times:
Palestinians deny killing Jewish infant * Israel Journalists ejected from Arab summit * Arab League ineffective and bankrupt.

"Israel blockades Hebron to punish Palestinians after death of baby."

Quote from Text:
"Palestinian cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, in Amman for the Arab summit, told Reuters there was `no evidence' the baby was killed by Palestinians."

Israel blamed the Palestinian National Authority for the death of a Jewish settler infant in Hebron and decided to impose a blockade on the city to punish the Palestinian population of the city.

The PNA said there was no evidence the child was killed by Palestinians and blamed the violence on Israel's ocupation of Palestinian territories.

The occupation army also ordered the evacuation of the Abu Sneinah Arab district in the city [IMRA: Which overlooks the Jewish area.] ahead of a possible military response to the death of the baby, a radio report said.

After the baby's death the Israeli army opened fire on the Abu Sneinah district injuring at least on Palestinian, according to Palestinian sources.

Palestinian cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, in Amman for the Arab summit, told Reuters there was "no evidence" the baby was killed by Palestinians, and blamed the violence on Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, blaming the Palestinian Authority for the killing, decided to impose a blockade on the city. Colonel Noam Tivon, brigade commander in Hebron, said a Palestinian sniper had opened fire on the baby and her father who were standing in front of their home in the illegal Jewish settlement of Avraham Avinu in the divided city.

[IMRA: Tivon did not say the settlement is "illegal".]

This piece was researched, located and distributed by Dr. Joseph Lerner, Co-Director IMRA

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