|Israel Resource Review
||7th July, 1998
Abbas: Klinghoffer Created Troubles
So I Killed Him
Charles M. Sennott
Boston Globe Staff
The Boston Globe
26th June, 1998
Gaza City . . .
Mohammed "Abul" Abbas - the most wanted man in the world 13 years
ago after masterminding the Achille Lauro hijacking now
holds court in the offices of the Palestine Liberation Front, the
small organization he leads here with the permission of Yasser
. . . Abbas now says the Achille Lauro was a "mistake." He says his
men had only intended to use the Italian luxury liner to slip into
Israel, not commandeer it. But, he adds, their cover was blown when
a crew member saw them cleaning their weapons.
When asked why Klinghoffer was killed, he replies: "He created
troubles. He was handicapped but he was inciting and provoking the
other passengers. So the decision was made to kill him."
. . . Despite his 30 years. . . bent on destroying the state of
Israel, Abbas was permitted by the government of Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu to return from exile to the
Palestinian-controlled area this spring.
And the United State has dropped its efforts to extradite Abbas for
his role in the murder of Klinghoffer.
How Abbas was allowed to enter Israel's borders, without objections
from the United States, offers a glimpse into the wrenching
compromises required to make peace in the Middle East. His high
profile in Gaza has infuriated the Klinghoffer family and prompted
a petition to Israel's high court for his extradition. Some critics
feel it renders hollow Netanyahu's podium-pounding tirades against
. . . He says he was 13 days old in 1948 when his family fled Haifa
for a refugee camp in Lebanon. When the Palestine Liberation
Organization launched its armed struggle in 1964, Abbas became one
of its youngest recruits. In 1968, he was in Vietnam fighting
alongside the Viet Cong against US forces and learning guerrilla
By 1970, he was putting those skills to work. He planned an attack
- the first of its kind - firing a Katyusha rocket into Israel from
Lebanon. It struck a school bus and killed 11 children.
. . . Despite angry protests from the United States, Italy allowed him
to flee before a US warrant for piracy and kidnapping could be
served. Abbas disappeared, despite worldwide manhunts and a
$250,000 price on his head.
. . . Abbas surfaced for the first time in April 1996. He claimed to
have embraced the peace process and was allowed to enter Israel for
a meeting of the Palestine National Council, where he voted in
favor of revoking those parts of the Palestine Liberation
Organization's charter that called for the destruction of Israel.
. . . the Netanyahu administration permitted Abbas to reenter Israel
again last month. Netanyahu's senior adviser, David Bar-Illan,
tries to evade criticism by pointing out that it was the . . .
government of Shimon Peres that approved Abbas's initial entry in
1996 for the Palestine National Council meeting.
. . . According to the Oslo accords, any Palestinian whose entry is
approved by Israel will not be prosecuted for crimes committed
prior to the signing of the agreement in 1993.
". . . I'm as puzzled by it as anybody. It's very difficult to
rationalize," concedes Bar-Illan. "But we have to live by it.
The political process sometimes overrides the theory on terrorism.
It is quite difficult, admittedly."
Ron Tarassian, who leads a right-wing group, Our Jerusalem, fumes
that Abbas is sitting in Gaza. "It's despicable that the Israeli
government let him in," he says.
Tarassian, Rabbi Avi Weiss, an American right-wing activist, and
Dov Hikind, a New York assemblyman, have petitioned the Israeli
High Court demanding Abbas's arrest and extradition. The court
referred the case to a panel of three judges, a move that indicates
the petition is being taken seriously.
But efforts to bring Abbas to justice have gone nowhere. Italy has
made no efforts to extradite him, and the US Justice Department
claims it has no grounds to seek his extradition because there is
no outstanding warrant against him. The American warrants were
dropped after his conviction in Italy.
Last August, the PLO settled a lawsuit with the Klinghoffer family
and the tour operator of the hijacked luxury liner for an
undisclosed sum. Abbas says he would like to go to America to
apologize to the family.
. . . The Klinghoffer family remains outraged that Abbas is free to
live in Gaza. Jay Fischer, a family lawyer, says: "My clients are
deeply upset. . . . Any force of law that can bring him to justice
should be carried out."
Return to Contents
The Case of the Stolen Children
Part Ten - "Swept Under the Magic Carpet"
by Yechiel A. Mann
On the 5th May, 1998, I attended a rally held by the "Mishkan
Ohalim" organization, at Gan HaAtzmaut (the Independence Gardens), in
Present at the rally were some members of 1,500 families who suffered
the kidnapping or "disappearance" of their children, each with a shocking
story of their own. An emphasis was placed at the rally on those of the
families that had arrived here during the "Magic Carpet" operation in the
early years of the state that saw Jewish families from Yemen brought to
Israel in the effort to increase the immigration of Diaspora Jews. Operation
"Magic Carpet" was initiated in 1949, and is said to have brought
approximately 50 thousand Yemenite Jews to Israel. In course of the
operation, about 380 flights took place, by British and American planes.
The flights left from Aden, the capital of Yemen. Most of the Yemenite
Jews lived in different locations in Yemen, and went through many
difficulties getting to Aden. There were families from Eastern European
countries as well as the U.S. and South America (and most other countries
where Jews immigrated to Israel from) who had also lost their sons and
daughters under similar circumstances.
Present at the rally were Members of Knesset Rabbi Arieh Gamliel, Rabbi
Benny Elon, Mudi Zandberg, David Tal, Hanan Porat, Prof. Avner Shaki,
Marina Solodkin as well as such prominent Rabbis as Shlomo Korach, Dr.
Nachum Rabinowitz, and Dr. Ratzon Arusi.
Rabbi Menachem Porush, who has publicly stated that he knows the
identities of organizers of the kidnapping operation and those who carried
it out, failed to appear at the rally.
Rabbi Yosef Ba-Gad showed up by surprise, as well as other important
figures such as Yigal Yosef, mayor of Rosh-HaAyin, and a number of
well-known Israeli singers,who came to show support.
Each of the speakers at the rally had their turn to speak at the rally.
Fascinating speeches were given by Knesset Member Rabbi Benny Elon,
Yitzhak Keren (the ex-policeman mentioned in part one of this series),
Eddie Mor (who gave a long, emotional speech that had the audience on
the edge of their seats ), as well as the mother of Shlomo Asulin. Shlomo
Asulin was a student of Rabbi Uzi Meshulam, who was gunned down by
Israeli security forces in the Yehud incident. Rabbi Meshulam's wife was
also present at the rally, although she didn't speak in front of the audience.
All speeches that were given spoke of the terrible crimes committed, and
how everything possible should be done to bring families back together,
and the guilty to justice.
It should be noted here that none of the prominent figures who made
these statements have done anything concrete to advance either of these
One interesting woman at the rally was Dora Vachnun, a 48 year old
woman who lives in Haifa and had her sister taken from her nearly 42
years ago. After having a short conversation with Dora, I decided to stay
in touch with her, pay her a visit, and set up an interview with her .
When I arrived at her house, I was surprised when she asked me if I'd like
her mother, Esther Meshulam (no relation to Rabbi Uzi Meshulam) present
as well. As a result, I first interviewed Dora, and then Esther, who arrived
The Meshulam family (who had their name changed to Emeshulam,
before they immigrated to Israel) immigrated from Istanbul, Turkey,
around the beginning of 1950. Both Dora and Esther recalled the
conditions they encountered upon their arrival in Israel. Although Dora's
father made a substantial income working on the Haifa docks, the
conditions of any immigrant in Israel's first years were not good. Esther
recalls their situation being better than most immigrants of the period.
Their family was the only one at the immigration camp to have a sink in
their shack. Esther worked hard to make their shack look as cheerful as
possible. She recalls how she cleaned the shack, how she painted it, put
flowers there, and made it a wonderful living environment. "Anyone that
would come into the shack would be surprised, and ask 'this is supposed to
be a shack? This looks like a villa!' ", says Esther. Their family was
financially secure and had no problem whatsoever providing for their
children. Dora has two brothers.
Esther (E) Meshulam, now 73 years old, gave birth to Mazal (I.D.
5391242) on the 5th of January, 1956. On the 20th of September, 1956,
Esther took Mazal outside for some fresh air, while going to buy meat and
after a while she noticed Mazal seemed to be feeling a little ill, so she took
her to a nearby doctor. The doctor wasn't home at the time, so she took
her daughter to another doctor, who also was not home. Esther then took
Mazal to the Rambam Hospital. When she arrived, a doctor examined
Mazal and said that she looked fine, and asked Esther why she had brought
Mazal. Esther said that Mazal was not feeling well, and was a little pale.
The doctor said that they would watch Mazal for a little while, and told
Esther not to worry.
When Esther entered the ward to stay with Mazal, a nurse yelled at her,
told her to leave, and said that the families aren't permitted to stay with
Esther returned to their shack later in the afternoon, disturbed that she
had left her baby alone. Her husband, Meir-Nissim, upon seeing her
distress, told her not to worry, that he would go see Mazal. He arrived at
Rambam Hospital around 4 in the afternoon. At the hospital, he was not
permitted to enter the ward, but they took him to a window, where he was
able to see the babies . He saw Mazal, who recognized him, and stretched
her arms towards him. They didn't let him take her at that point. But he
was content with the fact that he had seen she was healthy. He returned to
the shack and told Esther that Mazal was doing fine, and that she would
probably be released that day or the day after.
It was 2-3 hours later when two men, who claimed to be policemen,
appeared at the Emeshulam's shack. They announced to the family that
Mazal had died. The family was in shock. The parents cried all that night.
The next day, the family arrived at the cemetery to see a "body" that was
not identified by anyone and hurriedly buried. All that the family saw was a
white sheet with something inside it, tied on both ends, and completely
covered with blood. The family was petrified at the sight of the blood.
Upon telling this, Esther broke out in tears.
Dora recalls how they have always wondered about the entire case. Their
suspicions intensified after the entire issue of stolen children was raised.
No one ever had the chance to see a body. One month after the "death" of
Mazal, the family received a letter explaining that Mazal had died from a
In the past few years, Dora has been doing everything she can to try and
find her sister. She has turned to the "Mishkan Ohalim" organization. She
speaks highly of their efforts to bring this issue to light. She turned to the
Rambam Hospital, asking to see Mazal's files. She was at first denied
access to these files, but then her brother, Police Superintendent Yaakov
Meshulam, turned to the courts, asking for an order to be allowed to see
the files. After that, they got the permission to see the files.
The document that describes the disease states "For two days the girl has
been sick with diarrhea and has been throwing up. She coughs a little as
well. According to the mother, the girl became a little pale and cold. This
has happened a few times before, and has passed". Esther recalls that it
wasn't a serious condition, just a slight illness. Esther also mentioned that
Mazal was not throwing up at all. Dora mentioned she wonders what
possible connection there may be between a heart attack and diarrhea . The
part intended for "previous diseases" is blank.
What is probably the most interesting document in this case is the burial
certificate, numbered 12348. It states:
Name: Meshulam Mazal.
Address: Apartment 27 [of the immigration camp]
Age: 9 months. [to be accurate, it was 8 and a half]
Religious affiliation: Jewish.
Cause of death: Myocardio Infarction. [Heart attack]
Place of burial: Haifa.
The certifying Doctor: Garfel. [Signature]
Examiner of cause of death: [Blank]
Official signature: [Either a signature or just a tiny scribble]
Signature of the Health Ministry clerk: [Blank].
One interesting thing about this document is the fact that the certifying
Doctor was Dr. Garfel. Garfel is said to have been involved in other cases
where children have been stolen. Ora Shifris, spokeswoman for the
"Mishkan Ohalim" organization recalls the case of a man in Jerusalem who
had his brother stolen, and found it also involved Dr. Garfel, who worked
in the children's ward of Haifa's Rambam Hospital.
Another interesting fact about this document is that both spaces which
should contain the signatures of the examiner of cause of death, and the
signature of the Health Ministry clerk (and possibly the official signature)
were left blank. By law, both spaces should contain signatures.
Another interesting document I've found is the "Patient summary", which
contains details about Mazal, and the entry: "Diagnostic: Myocardiac".
The rest of the page, which is titled "Summary of disease" is surprisingly
Dora lives in Haifa with her husband and those of her children who
haven't yet married and left the house. Dora has seven children: Moshe
(13), David (16), Anna (17), Eli (25), Meir (26), Avigail (28) and Mazal (30).
Upon arriving at their house that morning, I was greeted warmly by Dora
and her daughter Avigail. It was then that Dora asked me if she should call
her mother over, and told me she lived a few houses away. Later on that
day, some of her other children arrived. Moshe, an active child who stayed
to hear the story again, despite the many times he'd heard it before (and
who made sure to get in a comment whenever he could). Anna and David,
who didn't spend much time at home, arrived later on.
As Dora recalled the story, she made sure not to leave out a single detail
about Mazal, the story of their immigration, and detailed explanations
about everything down to how their family name was changed from
Meshulam to Emeshulam before they came to Israel. She recalled how her
mother returned to the shack that day of September 20th, 1956, in tears
for having to leave her beloved Mazal at the hospital, away from her
watchful eye. She recalled how her Dad then made sure to go see how
Mazal was doing, and how he returned to the shack and reassured her
mother. She recalled how the two "policemen" arrived at the shack and
announced Mazal's death and how her parents stayed up all night crying in
the light of an oil-lamp, since they had no electricity in the immigration
camp. She recalled being taken in by her neighbours, so as not to see the
pain and anguish of her parents, how the "body" of her sister was buried
hurriedly by two men who never identified themselves, and the terrible
sight of the sheet completely covered with blood. Her trauma from this
terrifying experience is evident. Dora still searches for her sister. She
tries to get assistance from anyone that may be able to help. Dora comes from a
family with an excellent reputation which has done much for the city of
Haifa. Dora was given an "Outstanding Citizen" award by the Mayor of
Haifa, Amram Mitznah. Dora and her brothers are well known in Haifa,
and have received many honours, awards and commendations for all their
family has done, and is still doing.
She told a number of amazing stories of her family in the early days, and
all her parents sacrificed for the sake of the Zionist cause, to live in
How they came to build the country in it's first days,and accepted whatever
conditions they had to endure for this cause, even when that meant
accepting any job they could find without complaining. How they believed
it important for them to live in Israel. Dora told of the tough conditions in
the immigration camps, with no electricity and only basic necessities. They
lived in that shack in the immigration camp for nine years. The Meshulams
are a proud family of good standing. During all the years after Mazal was
taken from them, her father, Meir-Nissim, was terribly distressed, and
spoke to everyone of the way she was taken from them. He spoke of how
it was impossible that from such a common illness his baby could have
died. This has haunted their family for nearly 42 years. Meir-Nissim passed
away on September 11th, 1993, at the age of 73, without seeing his
daughter for almost 37 years.
Esther spoke of the depth of her family's pain and the devastation caused
by the lies and the terrible scandal that went on back then, which was only
discovered years later. How little children were torn from their families,
while the horror-struck parents were told that their child had died in some
terrible way. Esther and her family were never given a death-certificate for
Mazal. Esther hopes and prays that she will find Mazal soon, as thousands
of other families still do. She also recalled their immigration years, and
their Zionist family. She told of her life back in Istanbul, and their
the "Selniks-Sha'ar Aliyah" (immigration entrance) immigration camp.
Esther is worried since she hears stories of how some of the parents that
have adopted the stolen children were told the original parents had
forsaken their children, and so passed this on to the children. This concept
is too much for Esther to bear. "Maybe they told her that we ' threw her to
the dogs' ", says Esther. Dora finds it hard to cope with the fact that Mazal
was taken because Esther cared for her so much and was doing everything
she could to ensure her daughter's health.
Esther has lived with this trauma her entire life. It's impossible to imagine
how much this has affected her both emotionally and physically. Esther
lives with pills she takes every three hours. Esther recalls how much her
husband cried for their daughter, and how the pain was so intense. She
recalls the support the family received from friends. Friends that "feel their
loss, share their pain, cry their tears...Mazal should be with us now. She's
42 now, and should be sitting right here, beside me".
One of the most shocking moments of the interview was hearing Dora
and Esther speaking of the burial. They spoke of how they couldn't even
get close to the "body" being buried, that was covered with blood. They
began to speculate where all the blood came from, and what was buried.
"Maybe they slaughtered a chicken", Dora said. "Maybe they took a dead
dog, and buried that", Esther said. As much as one can "prepare" oneself
to hear these stories, these are the moments that are hardest to cope with.
At one point, Dora went to the home of a doctor Zeltzer, who she
remembers worked in the children's ward in the Rambam Hospital. She
thought that maybe he could give her some answers, since he was
one of the older doctors working there then. Zeltzer, although still alive, is
an ill man. Dora waited at his home until he returned. When he arrived, she
questioned him. Zeltzer then told her he'd been through a stroke, and due
to the damage caused by the stroke he can't recall many details from his
past, as well as anything connected to these cases.
Dora remembers a few doctors that worked in the ward then, including
Zeltzer and a doctor Bender-Lee, who she said is still alive, and living in
Haifa. Dora is sure that the doctors know of what happened and can give
details, but that there is a plot to keep everyone silent, and these horrible
crimes swept neatly under the carpet.
In many of the cases, swept under the "Magic Carpet".
This is one of the things that disturbs the families terribly, especially
since the mainstream press is, for all practical purposes, still ignoring the
Dora and Esther speak of how parents have gotten old and died without
seeing their children since they were taken. This is why everything should
be done immediately to bring the families together. All Esther, and many
other parents like her, would like to do before they pass away is to find
their child, to see them if only once, to hold their child, to tell her
"Mazal, we did not forsake you!", as her daughter may have been told. They turn
to people in the government for assistance. These people, who have done
nothing serious enough to bring results, have betrayed the trust these
families have placed in them, have forsaken the loving parents and families
of these children, and thousands of other parents and families. Mazal's
father has already passed away, but her mother would give anything just to
see her again.
I have them in piles beside me. Documents. Interviews with Dora and
Esther. Audio and video tapes. One case. One case out of thousands like
it. Thousands of tragic stories that won't go away. These crimes cannot be
"swept neatly under the carpet". There are too many families in terrible
pain to allow that to happen.
To make an understatement, this was not what the families were expecting
when they immigrated to Israel.
These families have not forsaken their children. Nor have they abandoned
hope of seeing them again.
No human being of conscience can abandon them . . . especially not Jews
Read the first nine parts of this series.
Return to Contents
Mothers of Palestinian Prisoners Subjected to Humiliating Treatment by
Palestinian Officials and Police
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses its outrage at
the behavior of a number of Palestinian officials and policemen towards
mothers of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. The women were
physically and verbally abused at the Ministry of Finance and at the
headquarters of Palestinian TV on June 15 and June 16, 1998.
Around 60 women, who are the mothers, wives and sisters of Palestinian
detainees in Israel, approached the Ministry of Finance on June 15 to
meet with Palestinian Minister of Finance, Zuhdi Nashashibi, and to
demand their monthly stipends which were ten days overdue. Although the
Ministry had issued their checks on June 5, the women were unable to
cash the checks at the post office due to a lack of funds in the
Mrs. Hamduma Wishah, the mother of Jabber Wishah, who is serving a life
sentence in the Israeli jail of Nafha, testified to PCHR that the women
were prevented from entering the building to meet with the Minister.
She added that she was beaten by a policeman and that she fell down and
was knocked unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she found
herself upstairs in the Ministry building where she was subsequently
beaten by another policeman who used his hands and feet. Shahira
Mustafa Abu al-Najar, mother of Haitham Abu al-Najar, who is serving a
15-year sentence at Nafha prison, testified to PCHR that her right arm
was broken after a Palestinian policeman beat her with his weapon in
front of the Ministry of Finance.
In another development, Hisham Macki, director of Palestinian TV,
arrived at the Ministry and promised the women that he would intervene
on their behalf, in order to secure their payments. He asked the women
to follow-up with him the next day at the headquarters of Palestinian
TV. Mrs. Wishah testified to PCHR that she arrived at the scheduled
time with 8 other women to meet with Mr. Macki. They were received by
an employee of Palestinian TV who prohibited them from entering the
building and verbally abused them. Despite this attack, they informed
him of their meeting with the director. In another testimony, Najat
al-Falouji, mother of Dia al-Falouji, who is serving a life sentence at
Nafha prison, informed the Centre that the employee abused her and
attempted to run her over with his car.
It should be noted that Palestinian prisoners at Nafha jail who were
informed about these developments expressed their anger and condemnation
in a letter sent to President Arafat asking him to hold accountable all
those responsible for abusing their mothers, wives and sisters. They
also called upon President Arafat to establish a new ministry or
directorate for prisoners' affairs.
PCHR expresses its outrage at the humiliation and ill-treatment of the
mothers, wives and sisters of Palestinian freedom fighters by the
Palestinian officials and policemen. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian
Authority (PA) to investigate the incident and to take punitive measures
against those responsible. PCHR also calls upon the PA to take the
necessary steps to prevent repetition of this incident and to improve
the relationship between Palestinian institutions and the families of
Palestinian prisoners in Israel who have sacrificed their lives for the
liberation of the Palestinian people.
Hebcom Middle East Bureau
Analysis, Commentary, Information
Insight into the Middle East by the People who live there
Return to Contents
Attack on Peace Movement, Sheikh Shaarawi Dead
The following are selections from articles which appeared in the
Egyptian English weekly, "Al-Ahram" of Al-Ahram Weekly, 25th June - 1st July, 1998
The Bureaucrats Behind the People
by Hani Shukrallah
Last Week the Israeli Peace Now Movement underlined both its Jewish
supremacist (i.e.racist) limitations and its political bankruptcy
by issuing in Cairo, with not one, but apparently three distinct
Egyptian groups, a "peace document". While of considerably less
authentic pedigree than their Israeli counterparts (after all,
Peace Now, self-importantly described in the Cairo document as "the
largest peace movement in Israel", can at least lay claim to one
great anti-war demonstration in 1982), the Egyptian groups offer a
rather complex arithmetic. The Egyptian signatories of the "Cairo
document" are presented somewhat confusingly as the "Egyptian Peace
Movement" -- a previously unknown entity -- and the "International
Alliance for Peace -- Cairo Peace Society".
...Now unlike many Egyptian and Arab critics of the 17 month-long
Copenhagen saga, I do not believe that there is anything
particularly threatening or even politically significant about the
various spectacles put on by the alleged "popular alliance"
established in the Danish capital with a lot of help from a host of
"non-popular" -- i.e. governmental -- European agencies. Whether in
Copenhagen, Jerusalem or Cairo, the "peace" divertissements have
been invariably forced, their rhetoric contrived, their language
insipid; the protagonists all "protest too much", but their
"passionate" appeals for peace ring hollow -- tired, trite and, if
anything, blatantly lacking in genuine feeling of any sort.
...All in all the [joint] document is even more skewed in Israel's
favor than its precursor, the so-called Copenhagen Declaration. In
this, the Copenhagen "initiative" continues to ape the Oslo
process, wherein each subsequent "agreement" is progressively worse
than the one before it. Suffice it here to say that it rings very
similar to the so-called Abu Mazen -Yossi Beilin final status
agreement, the existence of which was denied by the Palestinians.
...Last week in Cairo, the official lineages of the "popular"
participants were starkly revealed for all to see. The hidden
agenda is not very well hidden, the gold cufflinks of the diplomat
stick out a mile away from underneath the bush jackets of the
"popular" representatives. Ultimately, the whole affair is a
somewhat ridiculous attempt to "reawaken" the flagging fortunes of
the Israeli Labour Party.
Mourned by Millions
by Khaled Dawoud
[Heading:] Egypt mourned the death of Sheikh Shaarawi, a man who
devoted his life to the interpretation of the Qur'an.
Nearly a million people packed the streets of Daqadous on 17 June,
grieving for the man they considered something of a saint. Many ...
tried to get close enough to touch his coffin, believing that his
blessings would somehow be imparted to them.
...The 87-year-old Shaarawi, an Al-Azhar graduate, enjoyed
unprecedented popularity which earned him the title "preacher of
the century." He was highly effective in using television....
...Time and again Shaarawi would proudly proclaim that, for the
past 50 years, he had stopped reading all books save the Qur'an.
...Shaarawi...stunned many Egyptians a few years ago by confiding
that he had offered a special prayer of thanks to God for the June
1967 defeat at Israel's hands. "[The defeat] came about because we
threw ourselves into the arms of communist Russia ... so we were
hit on the head and defeated. The defeat was a correction sent from
heaven for mistakes made on earth," Shaarawi said.
...Shaarawi's views often clashed with those of proponents of
science and rationality. He opposed organ transplants, arguing that
the human body was a gift from God which should not just be used as
man sees fit. He said that donating human organs was tantamount to
opposing God's will by seeking to make a human being live longer
than he or she is destined to.
He was against women working, insisting that "home is the right
place for women to look after their children."
Once Shaarawi picked the wrong horse. He supported private
investors who, in the early 1980s claimed they were establishing
a new "Islamic economy" through so-called Islamic money investment
companies. But the saving schemes were dubious and later
collapsed. Thousands of Egyptians lost their life savings.
Return to Contents
The Process: 1,100 Days That
Changed the Middle East
by Uri Savir
Reviewed by David Bedein,
Media Research Analyst and Bureau Chief,
Israel Resource News Agency, Jerusalem, Israel.
The 1993 Middle East negotiations came to be known as the Oslo process,
because of secret talks held in the Norwegian capital between the Israeli
government and its rival, the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Oslo process afforded unprecedented recognition, status and arms for
Yassir Arafat and the PLO Organization, so as to irrevocably alter the
history and direction of the Middle East.
Israeli career diplomat Uri Savir, who served as the director of Israel's
foreign ministry from May 1993 until May 1996, played a crucial role in the
Oslo process, until Benyamin Netanyahu, the head of Israel's Likud
opposition party defeated Uri Savir's boss, Prime Minister Shimon Peres,
Israel's Labor Party leader in a close race for the office of Israeli head
of state, after which Savir tendered his resignation from Israel's foreign
Savir says that he has authored this title while the Oslo process is still
fresh in his memory, and. presumably, while the diskettes from Savir's
computer are still warm. Since Savir continues to advocate for the Oslo
process as the head of the new Peres Center for Peace in the Middle East,
this book should be read and carefully analyzed by those who pay close
attention to the the Middle East.
In this book, Savir walks us through the sweat of the hours, days and weeks
of meticulous negotiations that he led with the PLO. taking the reader from
airports to hotel rooms to the hidden places of secret rendezvous from
Norwegian woods and Israeli resorts. Savir is a man to chronicle every
detail of negotiation, down to the last cigarette butt and empty cup of
Turkish coffee left in smoke-filled negotiating rooms.
Savir writes how he developed almost a blind respect for leading members
of the PLO, especially for one PLO operative in particular - his
negotiating partner, Abu Alla, the head of Arafat's PLC, the Palestine
Legislative Council. In Savir's view, the Oslo process was a diplomatic
initiative that had little or no downside for the state of Israel, let
alone for the cause of peace.
What Savir does not offer is any perspective of how these agreements came
unraveled so quickly, and while he was still in office.
Savir states firmly and clearly that his first accomplishment in the
negotiations with the PLO was that Jerusalem would be kept out of the
Palestine Authority and the PLO. In this book, Savir does confirm, for the
first time, that Peres had given official sanction to Palestinian
institutions in Jerusalem, in a secret document that has never been
disclosed. Yet what Savir does not mention is that during August, 1993,
that the PLO did exactly the opposite, and formally established official
institutions of the Palestine Authority and the PLO in Jerusalem, all of
which continue to function in Jerusalem, in violation of the accord reached
with Peres and Savir.
Savir proudly reports the agreement that he achieved to get the new
Palestine Authority to arrest and try any Arab who escapes to the area
under their control after committing a terrorist attack, except that he
neglects to mention that Arafat and the Palestine Authority have refused to
arrest the thirty two killers who have found refuge inside the Palestine
Authority, with the exception of Imjad HaNawi, one of the two gunmen who
machine gunned to death an American boy, David Boim, at a bus stop north of
Jerusalem in May, 1996 whom the Palestine Authority only arrested after
President Clinton's personal intervention in February, 1998.
Throughout the book, Savir mentions the underlying assumption that the
Palestine Authority will crush the Hamas without providing any mention or
analysis of the May 1995 Palestine Authority decision to arm the Hamas or
the December 1995 Palestine Authority decision to incorporate the Hamas
within the Palestine Authority.
Yet Savir expresses full confidence in Arafat as an advocate of peace.
Surprisingly, nowhere in this book will you find Savir ever mentioning the
constant stream of speeches given by Arafat in Arabic since the genesis of
the Oslo accords that call for total holy war against the people and state
Savir writes as if Arafat's speeches against peace never took place do not
In February, 1995, following one of Savir's briefings at the Israeli
Foreign Ministry, I asked Savir for his comment about Arafat's incitement
in Arabic. Savir gave me a blank stare, which perhaps meant that he was
not capable of dealing with any fault ascribed to his negotiating partners.
Savir chooses to overlook Arafat's shortcomings because of what he views as
the greatest accomplishment of the Oslo process - the cancellation of the
PLO covenant that calls for continued war against the state and people of
Savir reports that on April 24, 1996, at "the highest point of the peace
process", that Arafat had fulfilled his pledge to convene the Palestine
National Council, the PNC, to cancel the PLO covenant. Savir even notes
that the Israeli foreign ministry's special American legal consultant Yoel
Singer had confirmed that this was the case.
Yet when Singer read the proofs of this book, he publicly reveal for the
first time that the PNC never voted on the carefully worded proposal to
cancel the PLO covenant that Singer had negotiated with Arafat's director
of planning, Nabil Sha'at.
Instead, Sha'at informed Singer that the PLO was incapable of passing any
such resolution. All the PNC did was to form a committee to consider a new
Singer reports that Savir knows this full well. The question remains: Why
in May, 1998 does Savir convey the notion that the PLO has canceled its
covenant, when he knows this not to be the case?
Savir could have used this chronicle of the Oslo accords to analyze why all
Palestine Authority media, including the news coverage of the official PBC,
the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation, reported that the PNC had not
canceled the PLO covenant as requested.
Yet a more serious question emerges: Did Savir's warm and intense
relationship with Abu Alla and with Arafat distract his judgment from
seeing that they acted in a charming and convincing manner with him,
while carrying out yet another policy in Arabic with their own people.
Uri Savir negotiated an agreement as a patriot of Israel, and as an
advocate of peace. It would seem that he cannot bear to see that the people
whom he has negotiated with in good faith may have betrayed him.
The sequel to Savir's book should analyze whether the trust and faith that
Savir placed in Arafat, Abu Allah and the Palestine Liberation Organization
ultimately advanced the cause of peace in the Middle East.
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