The "Palestinian National Authority Official Website" now features a lengthy section about Jerusalem which is designed to minimize Jewish ties to Jerusalem. The PA also charges the Israeli government with making the Western Wall a religious site in order to undermine the foundations of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
1. Minimizing Ties
The chronology in the report notes a Jewish historical connection three times:
The construction of the Second Temple and its later destruction are not included in the chronology.
2. Denial of Jewish historical ties to the Western Wall
The section titled "The Most Distinctive Religious Sites in Jerusalem" mentions the "Al-Boraq wall (name of the creature on which Prophet Mohammad made his ascension to heaven), which is called by Jews the 'Wailing Wall'."
"5. Al-Boraq Wall: It is part of the exterior facade of the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque. "Al-Boraq" creature which carried Mohammad during his ascension to heaven was tied to this wall.
Some Orthodox religious Jews consider it as a holy place for them, and claim that the wall is part of their temple which all historic studies and archeological excavations have failed to find any proof for such a claim.
In order to undermine the foundations of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli government has convert it into a religious shrine for jews, prohibiting non Jews to enter it, except for a limited number of tourists."
3. Charges of Israeli government desecration of holy places
The report charges that "The Israeli government has desecrated the Islamic holy places, attached [sic] Muslim worshippers several times, and set on fire Al-Aqsa Mosque on 21 August 1968 [Australian Christian Dennis Rohan set the fire and was arrested and sentenced by Israeli authorities - IMRA].
"The burning of the Mosque and the Israeli attempt to blow it up in 1980 were not the last in its disgraceful acts, but it has also desecrated the holy tombs inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and looted many churches. "
Ehud Barak, Labor's New Hero
In English, Lt. General (Res) Ehud Barak's last name means lightning. As Israel's highest ranking officer, the retired Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff broke into politics less than two years ago in the footsteps of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. On Sunday, Barak marched into Tel Aviv's Labor Party headquarters to claim his new title as party chairman, easing into an office space once occupied by Rabin and most recently Shimon Peres.
With tens of the Israeli and Foreign media pressing his doorway, Barak held a round of meetings which seemed more like photo opportunities with his rivals, including MK Yossi Beilin, who won 29 percent of the votes in last week's Labor primary. Presenting a united Labor front, Barak assigned himself as interim party secretary-general. He made clear that his primary target now is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Barak is leading in public opinion polls.
"The days of the Rabin-Peres feud will not come back," he declared. "I think that feud was largely responsible for our failure to win back power."
True to his name, Barak has made a lightning impact on the Israeli electorate, making himself an heir apparent to the nation's highest office in his first term as a member o the Knesset. However, he remains largely an enigma to the Israeli public. Barak, with is perennial smile and friendly jowls that could soon become a cartoonist's delight, confuses the public as to where he stands on major issues. When Barak was about to complete his IDF service, the Israeli media was forced to speculate about which political party he would join.
Although new to politics, Barak has mastered the art of ducking direct questions. He answers specific questions with perfunctory answers, and avoids questions about what he would do as Israel's next prime minister - at times appearing indignant.
A case in point: At Barak's opening press conference for the foreign press last Fall, free lance writer Joyce Boim, whose son had been murdered on the way home from school, explained that the Arab killer had found refuge in the PA autonomy. Boim asked Barak what he would do in such an instance. Barak expressed little sensitivity when he said that he is not the prime minister, that he should not be asked such a question, and that "you cannot expect the Palestinians to be 100% perfect."
On June 9, Barak met with his predecessor, Peres, and flew to Jordan as King Hussein's personal guest. The new chairman expects to meet soon with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Both are courting the former commando who, in 1973, disguised himself as a woman during a Beirut raid against Palestinian guerillas. In 1988, then head of military intelligence, Barak reportedly commanded the successful operation to assassinate Abu Jihad, top military strategist for Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization.
"I perceive Arafat as the real partner, the only partner in the negotiation for peace," Barak told the Middle East News Service on Sunday at Labor Party headquarters, asked is he now trusts Arafat. "In the past, he headed a terrorist organization. Now with Oslo, we must be careful and not rush into his hands. At the same time, we have to negotiate with him and no one else."
Barak has met Arafat on three occasions, including when he was foreign minister. During a recent phone conversation, Barak says that he told Arafat that "I xpect the Palestinian leadership to make an effort to stop terrorism." Asked whether e will urge Arafat to condemn the PA order to murder Arab land dealers who sell propertyto Jews, Barak said: "If the problem is not solved by then, it will be raised."
Like Rabin, Barak's reputation as a war hero has helped pave his way to success in politics. After Rabin's assassination, Barak as foreign minister assumed Rabin's mantle of "Mr. Security" to compensate for Peres' perception as being too dovish. At times Barak has demonstrated skepticism towards the peace process. As foreign minister he abstained from voting in the cabinet to approve the second peace accord with the Palestinians in 1995.
Barak's quest for leadership was evident in his aggressive campaign to force Peres to relinquish even a symbolic role in Labor Party decision making. He is now enlisting Peres' help in guiding the party to victory at the next elections. Positioning himself in the political center, Barak says he is better qualified to deal with the Palestinians than Netanyahu, whom served in Barak's military unit. He points out that he has sat in on more cabinet meetings, as chief of staff, than the prime minister.
Barak, whose own core beliefs are in question, has criticized Netanyahu for inconsistency. "Netanyahu has been playing a dangerous game of verbal gymnastics but does not deliver anything real," he told Middle East News Service. "People expect leaders to have an agenda, to have issues and try to solve them and talk about them in an accurate, coherent and focused way. Netanyahu is emphasizing what the audience prefers to hear at the moment.
"Netanyahu's policy is destroying the mutual trust that was so carefully nurtured under Rabin and Peres" with the Palestinians, he continued. "In a way, it (Netanyahu's policy) is cracking the mutual trust we had with the Americans."
Interestingly, Netanyahu and Barak's bottom line in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is similar. Barak said in an interview last fall that he supports an expanded Allon plan, almost identical to the one Netanyahu announced last week in his "Allon-plus" plan: expand Jerusalem, annex specific settlement blocs, maintain security positions in the Jordan Valley, no foreign army west of the Jordan River, no right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Barak believes that paralysis on the Syrian and Lebanese fronts is liable to ignite a military confrontation. Opposing a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops from the security zone in Lebanon, Barak says, negotiations must resume on the principle of trading land for peace and security.
Born in 1942 in Kibbutz Mishmar Hasharon, Barak was kicked out of high school because he could not concentrate on his studies, according to a 1996 article in The New Yorker. Barak later finished his schooling and earned a masters degree in economic engineering systems from Stanford University in the mid-1970s. Barak is also a gifted classical pianist prone to showoff, skilled at picking locks and taking apart grandfather clocks (and putting them back together), The New Yorker reported.
At 17, Barak joined the IDF and was selected for the famed Sayeret Matkal within months, later becoming a commander of the elite commando unit.
During the 1967 Six Day War, Barak commanded a reconnaissance group, and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, headed a tank battalion in the Sinai. In April 1991, he became chief of staff and was promoted to Lt. General, the highest rank in the Israeli military.
In July 1995, Barak was appointed Rabin's interior minister. He became foreign minister under Peres after the assassination and, days after winning a seat on the Labor Party list, Barak pioneered his campaign for Prime Minister of Israel, the first "outsider" to the Israeli political system to do so since Yitzhak Rabin answered the call back in 1974.
U.S. Intelligence Training for the P.L.O.
Subject: Philadelphia's Finest and American intelligence Training for the Palestine Liberation Army Police Force
There are times when a most clandestine or discrete intelligence operation is revealed quite by accident.
This was the case of the PLO military training operation that is operated and supervised by the highest levels of American intelligence.
In the Spring of 1995, a young public relations consultant to the Philadelphia police department noted that a delegation of Palestinian police were participating in an intelligence training program at my home town's Police HQ, following a training seminar at the CIA HQ in Langley.
This, he assumed, would be an opportunity to show that Philadelphia's finest were contributing to the Middle East Peace Process.
Not only did he issue a press release. He called a press conference and organized a cocktail party with the PLO police participants, each of whom noted the irony that they had all spent time in Israeli prisons for terror activity before the dawn of the new era of peace.
These Fatah members were primarily from Force 17, and some were directly under the command of Col Jabril Rajoub. They remained in Philly for an undisclosed time, taking courses in every level of weapons training and intelligence research. The Palestinians readily stated that their trainers were coming back home with them to continue their training.
Since that time two years ago, American intelligence trainers accompany Palestine Liberation Army police in all of their efforts in the cities where they have established headquarters, as the PLA personnel have assumed executive powers in all matters as law enforcement, punishment of accused collaborators, execution of Palestine Authority opposition mmebers, kidnapping of Arabs from East Jerusalem to Jericho, arrest of narcotics dealers and supervision of the summary capital punishment of land dealers. All this under the watchful eyes of American intelligence trainers who help Arafat and the Palestine Authority on the road to stability.
The question of how the American government is funding this operation remains a matter for U.S. Congressional inquiry.
No Taxation Without Representation, Jerusalem Style:
Whenever we look into the matter of the voting of Arabs in Jerusalem municipal elections, I am always surprised anew and ask myself why most Arab residents of Jerusalem have refrained from exercising their electoral rights for the past thirty years.
The Arabs of Jerusalem unquestionably consider the city their own. They unquestionably avail themselves of municipal services in all aspects of daily life. They unquestionably represent the interests of more than one-fourth of the city's population. If so, why should they continue to boycott Jerusalem's municipal elections? Why not do the opposite - cast their votes and elect their delegates to represent "their" public on the municipal council?
I do know that some members of Arab society have attempted to influence things in this direction, only to be rewarded with death threats and the torching of their cars! However, the more willing voters there are, the fewer assaults will be aimed at them and the prospects of normalization will improve immeasurably.
If we may draw a comparison with another population group that has been undertreated - the haredi community - we see that their massive electoral participation has transformed their status in this city.
For thirty years, Arabs in Jerusalem have refrained from voting in elections for the municipal authority. Has this mattered to anyone? I believe it has not! They merely lost their influence, and their status was damaged!
It is of course noteworthy that, since the city was reunified thirty years ago, the Municipality of Jerusalem has done much for the eastern side of town. Some of its actions have been taken in the Old City - installation of sewage systems, paving of streets, and care of streetcorner parks and gardens.
There is no doubt, however, that not enough has been done and that the actions taken have not been in the proper proportion.
We should, of course, bear in mind that when Jerusalem was unified, the two sectors of the city were not in equal condition. From the time the state of Israel was established until 1967, western Jerusalem underwent an especially rapid development process: Neighborhoods, streets, universities, hospitals, and theaters were added, all on the basis of modern outline plans.
Although Jerusalem was a dead-end city until 1967, it was developed with special intensity. Its population tripled and its area quintupled. In contrast, the Arab Jerusalem of those years stagnated and was left undeveloped and backward in every technical, cultural, and social respect. When the city was reunited, it became urgently necessary to overcome an immense disparity that had developed over two decades.
Notably, international interest in Jerusalem has been mounting since 1967, forcing the city to spend vast sums for the development of tourism infrastructure, installation of employment infrastructure, overcoming of social disparities, and other matters. Such developments are meant for all residents of the city and not for any particular sector.
It is true that, in the past thirty years, the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Government of Israel have not eliminated the disparity between the two sectors of the city. However, much work has been done - foremost, as I noted, in infrastructures in the Old City and modern eastern Jerusalem. Unfortunately, these efforts have not sufficed to eliminate the disparity.
Jerusalem's relatively new mayor, Member of Knesset Ehud Olmert, has made indefatigable efforts that have resulted in the allocation, this year alone, of NIS 135 million for infrastructure development in the eastern areas of Jerusalem, not including 180 classrooms being built during the years since the new municipal regime took over.
I do not know if these resources will eliminate the gaps, but it is clear that if seven or eight Arab representatives sat on the town council, just as City Hall employs 1,500 Arabs, even more resources might have been available and would perhaps have been allotted for purposes the Arab public considers more important and better appreciated.
We just laid the cornerstone for a new school in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, and we have already heard that the notables of Beit Safafa boycotted the ceremony. We will continue to build for Arab children in Jerusalem because they are equally entitled residents, but the hostile attitude, dictated from on high, is not useful to say the least.
Today, the main representatives of the Arab public and society in City Hall come only from the Israeli far Left. Apart from the fact that the Israeli left people are, by their very nature and fiber, dissidents vis-a-vis the incumbent municipal government, I am convinced that they come no closer to understanding the Arab public's wishes than other members of the council, and may even be farther from such understanding. Their goal in representing the Arabs is not to solve real problems but rather to use the Arab problem to attack the incumbent municipal government.
Most of the Arab public in Jerusalem is traditional-minded. These residents share with the traditional Jewish public many behavioral, cultural, and social attitudes toward various problems, and cooperation between these population groups may lead to a different approach toward cultural, religious, and social affairs in which the two societies have common interests. The Israeli left's representation of Arabs' views is not always acceptable, and I am convinced that it has sometimes been to the acute displeasure of Arabs who adhere to their traditions. If this is so, one must ask again why the Arabs do not participate in municipal elections.
Arab society in Jerusalem has been incited to fear that voting in municipal elections would amount to recognition of Israel's dominion in the city. According to this logic, those not interested in Israeli control of the city should refrain from voting in municipal elections. On the other hand, every plan submitted to the Municipality and any revenue paid to the civic authority is in itself recognition.
Israel allows Jerusalem residents to vote for the Palestinian Authority council. Although the Government takes a dim view of this, it respected this agreement and thereby gave the Jerusalem Arab public a way to express its political affinities. Thus, this population group can permit itself to vote in municipal elections even if it rejects the Municipality's source of authority, and is well advised to do so. This public must also recognize that the procedure at issue is a democratic one. For this reason, it must accept the limitations and constraints of democracy although it holds a different political view, a minority view in the city.
The moment the Arab public votes in municipal elections, it has only one way to fight for its views and demands: the democratic way. In other words, by using the democratic tools available in Jerusalem - elections, the council, the administration, and the various municipal committees - the Arab public may of course avail itself of all the mass media, the press, and television to express its views in any matter, as long as it does not use media organs for purposes of incitement or to advocate the murder of persons who step out of line. Because the abuse of democratic tools is a breach of the trust that democracy invests in those who sustain it, it should be protested and resisted like any criminal phenomenon in our society.
The democratic regime and the democratic principle of freedom of speech must be protected from exploitation by undemocratic forces who would use them to deny freedom of occupation or gag those who fail to join in the general chorus.
Each passing day brings forth new ideas for municipal partitioning and neighborhood councils as ways to grant the Arab population limited self-rule.
These ideas may be taken up for consideration after the Arab public has begun to participate in municipal elections as electors and electees, at such time as it has acquired the ability to express itself on the municipal council and to attain a convergence of interests with other groups that demand solutions such as these.
Therefore, I consider it essentially pointless to boycott municipal elections in order to avoid recognizing Jerusalem as the political capital of the Jewish state.
Allow me to express several thoughts as a Jew who strictly observes his religious commandments. The Land of Israel and Jerusalem, as part of it, were given to the Jewish people in trust - to retain as long as we behave in accordance with the social, ethical, and civil norms that the Torah requires of us.
If we abandon these norms, we forfeit our right to the land and cede it to peoples who abide by loftier norms.
We read in the Torah: "But the land must not be sold beyond reclaim, for the land is Mine; you are but strangers resident with Me (Lev. 25:23).
What the Book of Books, in which we all believe, says, is that dominion over the land - the material object - belongs not to any human being but to the Creator. All of us are but "strangers" who reside there as long as He permits this.
We believe that the Land of Israel, and Jerusalem as part of it, are possessed only by those who are socially, ethically, and humanly worthy. Therefore, the test for all of us is whether we learn to dwell here as human beings who maintain lofty ethical norms. If we do not honor this imperative, we shall lose out on the country mutually, leaving behind a wasteland.
It is the quality of our behavior toward ourselves, and toward each other, that will assure the stability of all of us in this land and this city.
Let me then propose, as an outgrowth of this religiously and politically abstract thinking, that when the next municipal elections approach, we all prepare to vote in order to make this city a model of "multi-existence" among residents of different backgrounds, different religions, and different cultures. For this is the true meaning of Jerusalem.
The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by
the Israel Resource, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in
Jerusalem, and the Gaza Media Center under the juristdiction of the Palestine
Back to the home page.