Israel Resource Review 5th May, 2004


HU Armenian Studies Department Holds Armenian Genocide Memorial Event

JERUSALEM: Professor Michael E. Stone, head of the Hebrew University Armenian Studies Program, chaired a somber event at The Hebrew University to mark 89 years since the genocide of the Armenian people in Turkey. The event, held 28 April (four days after the official Armenian Genocide Memorial Day) featured His Beatitude Torkom II, the leading Armenian cleric in Jerusalem, His Excellency Mr. Tsolag Momjian, the honorary Armenian consul in Jerusalem, Professor Gabriel Motzkin, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, and Dr. Sergio La Porta, lecturer in Armenian Studies at the Hebrew University. Dr. La Porta presided over the memorial's symposium.

An intriguing lecture by Hebrew University Professor Dalia Ofer addressed the notion that the Armenian genocide played a great role in the mind of Jewish community in the "yishuv," in pre-state Israel. During World War I, when Palestine was a backwater province of the Moslem dominated Ottoman Empire, the Jews of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Safed, and the like were well aware of the mass murder of the Armenians, and they feared they would be slaughtered next.

Professor Robert Hewen, visiting Lady Davis Professor of Armenian Studies, offered the crowd a note of optimism, belief and trust. Hewen's family is of Turkish-Armenian descent, and was hidden by a righteous Turkish family for the duration of the war, lending to their survival.

"The altruism of a few righteous people meant everything," he said, wide grin on his face.

Other engaging aspects of the evening were the performance by Fr. Kousan Aljanian, of two songs from West Armenian popular tradition, and powerful biblical readings in Hebrew and Armenian.

Asked why he organizes such an event each year to mark the mass murder of 1.6 Armenian people (out of a total population of less than five million in the world at the time), Prof. Stone remarked, "Because no one has a license to deny the genocide of the Armenians." Stone noted the unofficial policy of the State of Israel to downplay the Armenian Genocide.

Professor Stone has a passion to bring the genocide of the Armenian people to the attention of the people of Israel, a passion that he compares to Jewish Studies professors one generation ago. These professors struggled on campuses in non-Jewish nations to bring the knowledge of the mass murder of Jews to the attention of the public, and certainly to the attention of academia as a legitimate subject of historical discourse. Professor Stone sadly noted that virtually no country has recognized the Armenian genocide as a tragedy that should be learned about and understood.

Professor Stone and the Hebrew University Armenian Studies Program make great efforts year round to develop ties with the renewed independent nation state of Armenia. Professor Stone leads delegations to Armenia, creating a special bond between the people of Israel and Armenia.

About the H.U. Armenian Studies Program

The Hebrew University Armenian Studies Program was founded in 1967. In recent years, under the leadership of Professor Michael Stone, it has grown into a thriving program, attracting many students from Israel and abroad. The program currently offers degrees at the Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral levels.

To encourage greater attendance, the program provides a number of fellowships: The Sam and May Rudin Foundation Fellowships allow Armenian priests to study at HU; four priests are currently learning under this fellowship. The Krikor Momjian Fellowships are granted to graduates of St. Tarkmanchats High School; the first recipient will begin studying at HU this year.

The Armenian Studies Program cooperates with community and academic establishments in both Jerusalem and Armenia. The program has close ties with the Armenian Patriarchate, Yerevan State University and the Institute of Archeology of the Armenian Academy.

For further details contact:
The Armenian Studies Program
Phone: +972-2-588-3651
Fax: +972-2-588-3658

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"Voice of Palestine" of the Palestinian Authority Praises Murder of a Pregant Woman and her Four Young Daughters
David Bedein

The PA radio, known as the PBC "Voice of Palestine", remains the most influential media tool in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, which now observes ten years since the genesis of Palestinian Authority self-rule.

Voice of Palestine, founded by Yassir Arafat and overseen by the highest echelons of the nascent Palestinian Authority, provides radio feeds that are played in every Arab marketplace and every home in areas ruled by the Palestinian Authority. The radio airwaves for the Voice of Palestine were provided for the PA from the Israel Ministry of Communications, with the idea that the Palestinians would be able to broadcast messages of peace on their own radio and in their own language.

Throughout the past ten years, The Voice of Palestine has consistently praised Arab terror attacks.

Last week was no exception, when all of Israel stood in shock at the Arab terror drive by murder of a pregnant woman and her four little girls. Two Arab terrorists executed each little girl at point blank range with a shot to each of their heads, after they first blew their mother to bits. The murders were witnessed by a CNN crew who watched with horror only 30 meters away. Mike Swartz, the CNN producer, had the good sense to use his vehicle to block any further traffic from driving into the terror trap on the highway. Israeli soldiers who arrived on the scene were able to kill the Arab terrorists, but not before they had finished off the four little girls.

Dr. Michael Widlanski, an Arabic media expert at the Hebrew University, formerly a reporter for the New York Times and the Cox Syndicate in Jerusalem, an academic who recently completed his PHD on the subject of the Palestinian Authority media, listened carefully to The Voice of Palestine in the hours which followed the attack.

The Voice of Palestine described the men who carried out the attack today that left a pregnant mother and her four children dead "an act of heroic martyrdom". The Voice of Palestine radio station repeatedly used the term "is tish-had" (heroic martyrdom) and "mustash-hidin" (heroic martyrs) to describe the act committed by "two youths". After reporting the attackers names the radio repeated that they were heroic martyrs. Widlanski recorded the V.O.P. constantly referring to the victims of the shooting attack only as "five settlers" without mentioning that the attack claimed that they were a pregnant women and her four children

The Monday morning broadcast of the Voice of Palestine added that that the five "settlers" who were killed , were "mukharibun" - terrorists. The reference to the settlers as "terrorists" was in a Voice of Palestine report that the settlers were preparing to build a new neighborhood in a settlement near Gaza. Once again , Voice of Palestine did not condemn the attack that killed a pregnant mother and her four children but did vigorously condemned the "cowardly act" by Israel in attacking a Hamas radio station which had exhorted Palestinians to carry out further attacks against Israel. There were no reported Arab casualties in that Israeli attack

Meanwhile, Palestinian Media Watch reported that the Palestinian Authority official daily newspaper glorified yet another murderer - a man who was responsible for a cold blooded murder of a father and his 2 daughters, labeling him "a beacon of light for generations to come" PMW noted that "According to the daily , 'Al-Hayat Al-Jadida', Samir Quntar, murderer of Dani Haran and his two daughters in Nahariya in 1979, is a Palestinian hero and 'authentic role model' . . . "?.

PMW quoted the following statement which appeared in the PA official daily newspaper ; "Samir Quntar, a name of pride in the history of the prisoners of the [Palestinian] national movement. A name that he created, during the resistance in Lebanon and the hours of heroism in Nahariya [terrrorist attack in which Dani Haran and his daughters were murdered] a name that is written in the blood that dripped in the interrogation dungeons. [Quntar] wrote the noble history of this name in letters of fire and light during the battles of the struggle? [Quntar] was and will continue to be a beacon of light for us and for the generations to come and an authentic role model. Every day that passes Samir's pride grows, and our pride in him grows greater and greater." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May, 6, 2004]

So there you have it

The official media outlet of the Palestinian Authority, an entity with diplomatic relations with 138 nations around the world, endorses the cold blooded murder of parents and their children

That is the same Palestinian Authority which receives direct aid from all of the western democracies, including the USA to the tune of more than 10 billion dollars in its ten years of existence.

For the past week, The US State Department was asked if it would condemn the PA's official media outlet, THE Voice of Palestine for endorsing the cold blooded murder of a pregnant mother and her four children.

No answer was received.

Meanwhile, the US State Department did issue a statement in which it states that the it "expects" the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism.

The US Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv was asked as to what basis the US had for the "expectation" that the PA would fight terrorism.

The answer from the US State Department spokesman: "Because they committed themselves to doing so".

The US government does not feel under much pressure to condemn the PA for directing its official .media outlet to praise, justify and glorify those who would murder a pregnant mother and her four little girls.

Why no pressure? Simple. Not one US news outlet reported that the PA praised, justified and glorified this week's cold blooded murder of a pregnant woman and her four children.

There are times when all the news that fits a future peace process will get printed

Now that the reader of this article knows what the Voice of Palestine and the official Palestinian Authority newspaper indeed communicates to their people, perhaps the reader will be motivated to contact the US Ambassador to Israel Dr Daniel Kurtzer, one of the architects of the Oslo Process, to ask why the US cannot condemn the PA for inciting their own people in their own language.

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Poland and Beyond:
A Perspective
Danny Ehrlich

It's been two weeks since I returned home from leading my first "March of the Living" group to Poland and I am still sorting out my thoughts and feelings. Like many, I have my doubts of whether or not Jews should travel to Poland at all.

Poland - The country, the landscape, the horizon - all seem to have forgotten the Jews. Has it really only been 60 years? Driving past the fertile farmland through the small towns and shtetlach which were once heavily Jewish it's hard to imagine Jews in this tableau. I can't picture Hasidim walking here, and I can't imagine Yiddish being spoken here.

I think that I expected to sense large gaps of space and presence where the Jews used to be - to be able to feel where they are missing today. But there are no empty places where one feels the absence of the Jews. It's as if the memory of the thousand years of Jewish life in Poland has been erased and that the over 3,300,000 Jews who were here before the Nazis murdered them never existed at all.

The memory of the Jews of Poland lingers only within the boundaries of the old cemeteries and the walls of the old synagogues - totally separate and distinct from the reality of Poland of today.

But the Polish people seem to remember. Oh, how they remember - with sneers and snickers, rude gestures and words. They seem to like their Poland without her Jews and don't understand why we have come back. (I did have the privilege of meeting some Poles who want Poland to confront it's past and it's shameful record of anti-Semitism, past and present. But as they themselves sadly note - they are a tiny minority and are the exceptions which prove the rule.)

We visited sites of the former Jewish communities of Warsaw, Tykochin, Cracow, Tarnow, Lyszansk, Lodz, Rayshe and Lancut as well as the Nazi death camps Treblinka, Auschwitz/Birkenau and Maidanek. In Warsaw, Lodz and Cracow we encountered Jewish communities which are still functioning (barely) - but mostly we celebrated the Jewish life that was and is no longer, in the mostly overgrown cemeteries and in the empty synagogues. We sang and danced in each of these places in an attempt to bring sparks of Jewish life and memory to these empty and dead spaces. We needed to do that - in their memory certainly - but perhaps more urgently in order to comfort ourselves and to reassure ourselves that we - the Jewish people- live on.

One of the more moving places that we visited was the ruin of the synagogue in Tarnow. All that remains is the gate to the synagogue courtyard with it's "magen david" and the bimah that was at the center of the synagogue. The bimah, from where the Torah would have been read stands today all alone in the synagogue courtyard , like a silent sentinel or witness on "Jew Street" where thousands of Jews were murdered by the Nazis in 1942.

I have my doubts whether the Nazi death camps are appropriate places for Jewish memory. These were death factories which were created by the Germans for the sole purpose of wiping out the Jewish people - places of torture, horror and mass murder. Shouldn't we remember the last 3,000,000 Jews of Poland - who were murdered by the Nazis and their allies - for how they and their ancestors lived rather than for how they were murdered? The grave of Reb Elimelech of Lizsansk (founder of Hassidism in Poland) or the synagogue of the great Rabbi Moshe Isserless in Cracow seem to me more worthy of our attention and energy than Birkenau or Treblinka. Were it not for the ever successful efforts of our enemies to transform Holocaust denial into a legitimate point of view, I would advocate destroying the camps , in a reflection of the old Jewish principal of "Yemach Shemam VeZichram" -May the memory (of our enemies) be blotted out and erased.

Thanks for letting me share some of my thoughts and feelings with you, as I did with the participants in the Toronto March of the Living delegation. We shared a powerful experience together - the high school students, parents, teachers, chaperones, community leaders and Holocaust survivors. Despite my strong doubts and questions I think on balance, that it is important for young Jews to visit Poland, if only to begin asking themselves whether we are any better prepared today to meet the challenges of Jew hatred than we were in 1930s and 1940s Europe.

Danny Ehrlich is a Tour Guide in Israel

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Jeff Halper and the Committee Against House Demolitions . . . Reconsidered
Jonah Brotman

Many things have changed since Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) founder and executive coordinator Jeff Halper made aliyah nearly 30 years ago: LP's and Beta Max have become CD's and VCR's only to become MP3 players and DVD's. However, unlike the immense technological change, one aspect of Minnesota-born Jeff Halper's life has remained a constant: his views towards Israel. Proclaiming himself to be "a proud lefty for peace" and a "child of the 1960's," Halper has become well known for his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While throughout his entire life he considered himself to be politically active, Halper began activism as a profession when he founded ICAHD almost seven years ago. "The organization started in 1997 out of a collective worry that the recently elected Benyamin Netanyahu's anti-Oslo platform would effectively end the peace process." ICAHD, which is a recognized Israeli NGO, claims to be a "non-violent, direct-action group [that] opposes and resists Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories." House demolitions were chosen as the main thrust of the organization because demolitions "expose the reality of how the occupation works," Halper said. "The occupation, whether it is military or administrative in the case of demolitions, is a proactive Israeli policy that has seemingly eliminated any potential for peace."

European Union funding and some generous benefactors heavily support the daily operations of ICAHD. Without giving numbers, Halper admits that ICAHD can only use EU money for literature and the main office in Jerusalem and not on house rebuilding. When asked why, Halper admitted, "house reconstruction is illegal, therefore, the EU cannot support it."

Currently, Halper is touring through various cities in the United States, speaking to church groups, universities, activist groups and even, some congressmen. Cities on his tour include: Washington; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Des Moines, Iowa; and Kansas City. While Halper is a convincing and gifted speaker, he has often been accused of misquoting statistics and distorting views of the situation in Israel.

For example, Halper argued that 75 per cent of the Palestinian houses that have been demolished during the past four years of intifada, have actually had people living in the houses at the time of demolition. However, government reports and even UN reports have continually indicated that almost 90 per cent of the demolished houses are not even completed by the time of demolition. The foundations are destroyed after Israeli courts rule the structure to be illegal.

Also, Halper stated that "Israel does not grant building permits to Palestinians." This statement is simply untrue. As noted academic Justus Weiner discovered in is research for his book about the status of Jerusalem, roughly 95 per cent of Palestinians, who actually apply for building permits, receive them. Weiner also discovered that most Palestinians simply do not bother with the lengthy process of acquiring a permit and would rather pay the general fine and hope their house is not demolished.

Halper continued by saying that over half of the land in Jerusalem, mostly on the Palestinian side, is slated as "open green space to be used in the future and thus, building is illegal." While the Jerusalem municipal government has set aside green space to be used in the future which is similar to every major urban centre in the world, there is no proof that a greater percentage of the open green space is on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem.

Finally, Halper argued that the Israeli policy of occupation and expansion is minimizing the potential for a viable Palestinian state in the future. He asserted that Israel is "attempting to take over everything up to the Jordan River and eventually Palestinians will realize that an autonomous state is not plausible." Halper continued by saying, "once the Palestinians realize this, they will push for inclusion in Israel and the option of voting. This would create a huge problem because Israel could not remain an ethnically pure Jewish state with such a strong Palestinian segment of the population. However, if it did not allow Palestinians to vote, that would create a Zionist apartheid."

As you can see, his surprising views attract a lot of attention but Halper seems to enjoy this. "I don't mind if you think I'm crazy as long as you listen to me," he said. Crazy is one thing. Fine. What about integrity? Does spreading wild and tendentious allegations about Israel really serve the cause of peace and justice?

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Disengagement from Reality
Moshe Saperstein
Resident, Neve Dekalim

As a former New Yorker living in Israel for the past thirty-seven years I am delighted that the internet allows me to read my favorite hometown paper every day. Permit me, then, to express my disappointment at "Sharon's Setback" by Eric Fettmann, (New York Post, May 5th, 2004) a columnist I usually admire.

I live in Neve Dekalim, the largest of the 21 communities that make up the Gush Katif bloc of Jewish habitation in the Gaza Strip. Not one inch of the land on which our homes, farms and factories are built was taken from Arab residents. They were built on sand dunes which we, as foretold in the Bible, have transformed from desert into a small paradise. It would be bitter enough if our reward for steadfastness in the face of three and one-half years of unceasing and unrelenting Arab warfare would be expulsion for some greater benefit to the people and State of Israel. With heavy hearts we would accept the need for our sacrifice. But to be expelled in exchange for nothing? That is unbearable. Not one single benefit claimed by Mr. Sharon stands up to examination.

The plan is called a Disengagement Plan. Disengagement means separation. But according to the plan Israel continues to provide Gazan Arabs with food, water, electricity and fuel, and Gazan Arabs can continue to work within the Green Line and to ship their products for sale in Israel or transshipment abroad through Israeli ports. Clearly the only thing being separated are Jews from their land.

Mr. Sharon claims that leaving Gaza will increase Israel?s security. The late Yitzhak Rabin, no friend of "settlers", stated that "If Gush Katif didn't exist we would have to invent it". He explained that the existence of Jewish communities in Gaza provided the reason for an Israel Defense Forces presence in the area, a presence that would keep Gazan Arabs from organizing large scale attacks on Jews within the Green Line.

If the Israel Navy radar base opposite my home is dismantled how will we know of arms smuggling by small ships? Unless we have developed a method of examining planes in flight, how will we prevent arms being flown in to the Dahaniya airport in Gaza? As to troops in the so-called Philadelphia Corridor separating Gaza and Egyptian Sinai, Mr. Sharon has already agreed to American requests that the IDF stay be of limited duration.

Mr. Sharon has stated that chaos will reign in Gaza, and that various Arab factions will be busy killing each other. Even if this doubtful proposition is accurate, for how long will such a situation continue? Two days, two weeks, two months? Following which they will return to their favorite activity of killing Jews.

Is our expulsion worth a short period of relative quiet?

Mr. Sharon states that the absence of Jews in Gaza will deprive Arabs of an excuse to attack. Since when have Arabs needed an excuse to attack Jews? Excuses aplenty are provided to the Western media hungry to justify Arab atrocities. But in the Arab media it is clear that the simple existence of Jews is justification for their extermination.

Perhaps Mr. Sharon's greatest success has been in convincing people that he has won President Bush's approval for his plan that will strengthen Israel's hold over settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. Certainly his supplicants were arriving in Washington with greater frequency than the F train arrives at the East Broadway station. [When I lived there it was the D train.] But even a cursory examination of the Bush letter indicates that other than a photo-op Mr. Sharon received nothing. The much-touted comment about no going back to the 1967 borders because of demographic facts on the ground covers the Jerusalem neighborhoods built since the Six-Day War. And nothing else. As Secretary of State Powell stated the day after publication of President Bush's letter, "America's Middle East policy has not changed".?

As to the so-called "security wall that Sharon is building", the wall may be solid but the security is a mirage. Though politicians view it as the Holy Grail, military people who haven't metamorphosed into politicians view it as the Maginot Line. The large wall separating Gush Katif from Khan Yunis hasn't prevented over 4000 mortars, missiles and rockets from being fired at us since Rosh Hashanah 2000. And just yesterday tunnels were discovered under the wall leading in to our community.

"Yet the plan", Mr. Fettmann writes, " surely has the support of a large majority of Israelis". Might I remind him that a week before the Likud referendum polls gave Mr. Sharon a double-digit majority, yet he lost by 60%-40%. Israelis bought the Brooklyn Bridge when we agreed to the Oslo Accords. We're not going to be suckered again. The average Israeli has twice the common sense of the politicians that lead us, and four times the common sense of our intellectual elite.

One last example of the absurdity of Mr. Sharon's plan. Clause Five mandates that Israel will once again provide military training and arms for the "Palestinian Security Services" at a time when Sharon declares that there is no reliable Palestinian peace partner. Don't Mr. Fettmann and his colleagues see the logical disconnect?

It is unfortunate that Mr. Fettmann and his colleagues have suspended their critical faculties and put their trust in Mr. Sharon. We prefer to put our trust in the Almighty.

Mr. Sharon's so-called disengagement plan represents Jewish despair. The Israeli citizens of Judea, Samaria and Gaza represent Jewish optimism. And in Israel it is the dreamers, not the pragmatists, who are the realists.

(Moshe Saperstein lost an arm in the Yom Kippur War in defense of his country. In February 2002, despite being wounded in his other hand, he attempted to run down the terrorist who had just shot and killed a young mother driving in the car in front of him).

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