Israel Resource Review 28th November, 2002


The Question No Candidate in the Israeli Elections Wants to Answer:
Must Israel End its Dependence on the US?

This article was written by a veteran American correspondent based in Israel who asked that his name not be used.

Israeli politicians love to talk and the rhetoric during the current campaign for Knesset elections contains all the dirt and smoke you'd expect in a democratic elections.

But Israeli politicians have reached a consensus not to discuss the most important topic for the nation's future: Israel's nearly total dependence on the United States. It's a subject that silences the toughest politicians, who don't want to say anything that might upset their friends in Washington.

Today, there is little feeling of real friendship with the United States.

Instead, it is a relationship built on fear. The United States provides Israel with nearly US-$3 billion in economic and military aid, as well as the most advanced military aircraft. And now, Israel has asked for another $10 billion in loan guarantees.

Is such dependency dangerous to a sovereign state at war with countries that in some cases are allies of the United States? Does this reliance ensure that Israel will never launch the strategic steps necessary to end the more than two-year-old war with the Palestinians, and instead accept the kind of settlement that destroyed other U.S. allies such as South Vietnam?

Neither Israeli officials nor politicians want to answer that question. Instead the government plans to increase its dependency on Washington.

The new request for loan guarantees is very different from a similar request to Washington a decade ago. Then, the money was invested largely in infrastructure projects and help for the hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Today, any loan guarantees are simply meant to keep Israel alive amid the termination of tourism, foreign investments as well as rising security costs. Officials said the government needs the billions of dollars for its state budget. That means ensuring salaries of public sector employees and the continuation of basic social welfare programs.

The issue of the loan guarantees is purely bipartisan. Whoever wins the January 28 election wants to ensure that the government can keep running for the next few years. The result has been an election campaign in which candidates have intentionally neglected to focus on the issue of Israel's need for independence. At one point, former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, seeking to topple the incumbent Ariel Sharon, decided he would not talk about the Palestinian war to avoid angering the United States.

Quietly, Israeli officials are concerned over what could be the sharp increase in dependence on the United States. A Foreign Ministry report warned that the United States plans to pressure Israel into allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state within the next few months regardless of whether it supports terrorism. The report said that despite its promises, Washington, in cooperation with its international partners, have essentially ignored previous conditions to ensure that the Palestinians implement democratic reforms and end terrorism.

The U.S. demand for unconditional approval for a Palestinian state is part of the revision of the so-called roadmap drafted by Washington, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. The new draft of the roadmap, completed on November 14, calls for Israel's unconditional endorsement of a Palestinian state with interim borders in 2003. This would be followed by a Palestinian state with permanent borders in 2005.

The United States and its partners have asked that Palestinians end their war against Israel immediately and endorse a Jewish state. But officials said the demands relayed to Israel and the Palestinians were not linked.

In addition, officials said, the United States and its partners have demanded an immediate halt to all construction in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip and part of Jerusalem captured in the 1967 war. They said the construction freeze comprised the first stage of the roadmap and would include projects to help protect the city from terror attacks.

A previous version of the roadmap appeared to have linked a Palestinian state to a democratically elected leadership. But the official said such a link has disappeared amid the revisions in the document.

In early December, the quartet plans to convene to place the finishing touches on the roadmap. Israel has urged that the plan be delayed until after national elections scheduled for January 28. U.S. officials said the Bush administration has already pledged to Arab allies that it will achieve a construction freeze within the next few weeks. In addition, Washington has pledged to ensure that Israel transfer $425 million in revenue for the P.A. being held by Israel.

That's where the $10 billion in loan guarantees come in. It is a sweetener for a series of steps being demanded by the U.S. for the establishment of a terrorist PLO state. Bush might have called for the replacement of P.A. Chairman Yasser Arafat, but State Department officials said this is no longer a priority in the current planning.

For Israel, the roadmap is the ultimate of ironies. It represents a U.S. effort to enable, let alone tolerate, terrorist regimes inside and around Israel while Washington seeks to destroy Iraq and Al Qaida. Last week, the United States was rebuffed in a half-hearted effort to close the offices of terrorist organizations in Syria. Damascus rejected a U.S. request to expel Islamic Jihad. A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement said Islamic Jihad offices in Damascus are not involved in insurgency operations against Israel. The statement said the Jihad, which killed 12 Israelis in Hebron earlier this month, confines its activities in Syria to the disseminating of information.

The U.S. response was tepid. No condemnation of Syria or its support for terrorism. Instead, the State Department sought to help what it defined as Syrian interests.

"We will continue to make our point, as we have for some time, that there is no place for support for this type of organization," State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said. "It is in the Syrian's best interests to get with the mainstream of the international community and reject this type of organization that conducts this type of violence that does not produce anything except more pain and suffering for people on all sides of the Middle East peace process."

The question of Israel's dependence on the United States is not an issue of left versus right. It cuts to the survival of the Jewish state. Israel's strategic independence allowed the Jewish people to declare a state in 1948 in the face of U.S. warnings. Israel retained that independence to launch a preemptive strike and win the 1967 war in six days. This independence allowed Israel to destroy Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 and roll back Baghdad's nuclear weapons programs by nearly a decade.

Today, Israel's military is exhausted. Mobilization of the reserves is a must but this costs money and will further drain the economy. Government coffers are running on empty and Israeli defense contractors have not been pain in months. The military is being asked to cut 8 billion shekels, or 1.7 billion dollars, in fiscal 2003, which defense officials say is impossible.

The choice for Israel is clear:

Continue its dependence on the United States and accept a strategic nightmare of a PLO state in 2003 protected by the international community.

That PLO state will have a military that will launch missile attacks over even the highest wall promised by Israeli politicians.

The alternative is an Israeli decision to take a strategic risk. That risk is to inform the U.S. that Israel will defend its vital interests in a way that might not be in accordance with Washington's plans. This would mean the destruction of the Arafat regime and its terrorist allies. It also would mean the destruction of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, where the U.S. has urged Israel to end military overflights.

The Israeli decision might dash hopes for the U.S. loan guarantees and could even threaten the annual military aid. But the alternative is a slow death for a Jewish people brainwashed into believeing that only the United States can save them.

Think of a patient visiting two different doctors for an unidentified ailment. The first physician tells the patient that his situation is hopeless and prescribes intravenous feeding and pain killers to prolong his life. The second doctor urges the patient tp throw away the IV and the pills and instead diet, exercise and adopt a new and positive thinking toward life.

In the first case, the doctor assumes that the patient wants to be passive.

In the second case, the doctor urges the patient to take responsibility for his own survival and battle for his life.

No Israeli politician - let alone the candidates for prime minister - is discussing the nation's dependence on the United States. Because, like the patient who visits the second doctor, life requires faith. And faith requires courage. And our dependence on the United States is the exact opposite of these qualities.

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Fighting PLO Terror in Court
Israeli Lawyer Sues to Cut Off Funds to the Palestinian Authority
Dr. John Turley-Ewart
Correspondent, The National Post

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is breaking new ground in the legal fight against terrorism with lawsuits filed on behalf of Israeli and U.S. victims.

Can Palestinians sue the state of Israel?" Such a question is not often posed to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a 29-year-old, high-powered legal crusader for Israeli and U.S. victims of Palestinian terrorism. Without so much as a pause, the petite Israeli advocate told the assembled law students at the University of Toronto this month that Palestinians can sue the state of Israel and some do. She added when Israel has mistakenly injured or killed innocent Palestinians in its war against terrorism, it "takes responsibility and pays."

Darshan-Leitner is now trying to make the Palestinian Authority do the same and cut off the money she believes it uses to fund terrorism.

A pioneer in this legal war against terrorism who would be as comfortable posing for Glamour magazine as she is using the courts to stop terrorism, Darshan-Leitner gave the future lawyers a small dose of the drive and determination that has helped to shake up Israel's legal establishment and break new ground in international law.

Her latest legal triumph came recently when the international legal team she works with won a landmark decision in Rhode Island. For the first time in the United States, a federal district court declared the Palestinian Authority cannot claim sovereign immunity under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act of 1991. A US $250-million lawsuit against the PA by the U.S. family of Yaron and Efrat Ungar, who Darshan-Leitner says was killed in a Palestinian-sponsored terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas, can proceed.

Darshan-Leitner has three objectives in what seems to be her own war against terrorism: Win compensation for terror's casualties, bankrupt terrorist organizations in the process and expose what she describes as the European Union's reckless US$10-million monthly payment to the PA, which she says helps fund terrorism.

"Sixty years after the Holocaust," she alleges, "Europe has once again the blood of Jews on its hands."

Darshan-Leitner's pique at the EU was palpable as she explained the heart-wrenching case of Steven Bloomberg, a British citizen and physicist who lost his wife, Techiya, a mother of five and five-months pregnant, in a terrorist attack carried out, Darshan-Leitner said, by Palestinian policemen in August, 2001, in the West Bank settlement of Ginot Shomron.

Bloomberg and one of his daughters sustained severe spinal injuries in the attack and must now use wheelchairs. Darshan-Leitner has brought a US$20-million suit against the EU in an Israeli court and is arguing the salaries of the PA policemen involved were paid by the EU, the police car they were driving was bought with EU money and "the bullets that were shot into the [Bloomberg] car were purchased with the EU's money."

Darshan-Leitner believes the EU knows or should have known this and that the US$1.5-billion it has donated to the PA since 1994 has paid for terror attacks on Israel.

The Bloomberg case has been bolstered by evidence uncovered this year in Operation Defensive Shield by the Israeli army, which found what Israel says is very strong evidence showing Yasser Arafat and his government were using EU money to support terrorism.

In the past, the European Union has claimed there is no proof its funding has gone to support terror but in response to Bloom-berg's case, EU representatives refuse to defend that stand in court, claiming diplomatic immunity. This response has only strengthened Darshan-Leitner's resolve. She says the EU should "go to court if it has nothing to hide; it should go to court if it knows how its money is being spent and show us its hands are clean."

Among her many cases, Darshan-Leitner is representing the family of Vadim Nordizh, one of two Israeli military reservists who were beaten to death in a Ramallah police station in October, 2000, after they lost their way trying to reach their unit.

Those involved in the killing of the two reservists have been arrested by the Israelis and Darshan-Leitner wants compensation for Nordizh's family. It should come, she thinks, from the near US$400-million Israel has collected on behalf of the PA in the form of various taxes and which Israel stopped paying over to the PA when the intifada began in the fall of 2000.

Recently, Darshan-Leitner won another landmark decision, this time in an Israeli court, which granted a pre-emptive lien on Palestinian assets. This ensures that if the PA is found to share responsibility in the death of Nordizh, there will be PA assets available as compensation.

In an interview, Darshan-Leitner, stylishly dressed in a well-cut black suit, explained in greater detail the legal inspiration behind her use of the courts to try to root out terrorism. It comes from Morris Dee and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dee, a white lawyer from Alabama, founded the centre in 1967 and has used it to go after the wallets of racists. He eventually won the largest judgment awarded against a hate group, a US$37.9-million award, after successfully suing the Christian Knights of Ku Klux Klan for conspiracy to burn a black church.

This example, Darshan-Leitner said, showed how the courts could be used to preserve human rights.

Besides cases involving victims of terrorism, the lawyer, who operates out of her office in the Israeli city of Modi'in, has also represented clients in politically explosive cases. Her first case involved an Israeli belly dancer who accused the Egyptian ambassador to Israel of sexual assault. The case was dismissed when the ambassador allegedly claimed diplomatic immunity. She also represented Samuel Sheinbein, who fled to Israel after he murdered an acquaintance in Maryland. The U.S. government wanted Sheinbein extradited to face justice in Maryland, but Darshan-Leitner successfully argued against his extradition, although an Israeli court did find him guilty of the murder. That case prompted changes in Israeli laws allowing for the extradition of criminals.

These changes led to the extradition of Daniel Weiz to Canada from Israel in October, 2000. Weiz is charged along with two teens with second-degree murder in the 1999 beating death of Dmitri (Matti) Baranovski by a group of masked youths who approached him and his friends for cigarettes and money.

Darshan-Leitner fought for nearly a year to prevent the extradition of Weiz, who was in Canada visiting his father at the time of the murder and returned to Israel where he lived.

Darshan-Leitner condemned Canadian officials during the Israeli court proceedings that led to Weiz's extradition, saying police in Toronto withheld information. While she does not condemn the Canadian justice system, she stood by her client's claim of innocence and told the Post, "if he receives a fair trial in Canada, [Weiz] will be found not guilty."

When she has the time, Darshan-Leitner plays the piano and is enthralled by a particularly fitting sport given her work -- boxing.

Before leaving the lecture hall and the law students, the determined lawyer cited a passage from the Torah: "Don't stand idly by your brothers' blood." Darshan-Leitner has taken this to heart, and through the courts in Israel and the United States has launched her own war to stop terrorism against Israel.

The author can be reached at

This piece ran in the National Post in Canada on November 23, 2002

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