Israel Resource Review 12th May, 1998


Background Analysis to the Current Crisis in Israeli-American Relations
When the Perceived Security Interests of Israel and the US Clash
by David S. Bedein, MSW,
Media Research Analyst
Bureau Chief: Israel Resource News Agency
Beit Agron International Press Center, Jerusalem

There are times when the perceived security interests of the US and Israel clash. Yet every time that American and Israeli security interests do not coincide, people seem surprised.

In 1984, former New York Times middle east bureau chief and retired head of the New York-based Council of Foreign Relations, Peter Grose, wrote in his award-winning book, ISRAEL IN THE MIND OF AMERICA, that crises in Israel-US elections often occur during the second term of an American president who will not stand for another term.

Truman, in 1949, enforced an arms boycott of Israel, Eisenhower in 1957 forced a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, Nixon in 1973 delayed vital arms to Israel during the Yom Kippur War, and Reagan in 1988 provided official recognition to the PLO, overriding strong objections from then-Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres.

In 1989, I asked a retired official of Reagan's state department how he could understand the decision of an extremely pro-Israel Reagan administration to cozy up to Arafat and the PLO...As recently as May, 1987, I had covered Reagan's secretary of State George Schultz declare "HELL NO, PLO" to a cheering convention of AIPAC, the lobby for Israel on capitol hill.

What Reagan's former senior state department appointee told me was that US policy towards Arafat was based on the premise that Palestinian Arabs in the gulf states must be moved far from the "oil spigot" of the oil-rich Persian gulf, where Palestinians represented a permanent threat to the flow of Arab oil to nations around the globe.

The US "offer" to Arafat to place thousands of Palestinian Arabs on the west bank and Gaza seemed like a perfect solution, Reagan's aide told me. Indeed, almost a year later, Iraq invaded Kuwait, an event which displaced almost 400,000 Palestinian Arabs and sparked the Madrid peace process that lead to an autonomous Palestinian Arab entity on the west bank and Gaza.

Today, the Clinton Administration goes through the final stages of stabilizing a Palestinian Arab entity on the west bank and Gaza into something that will resemble a Palestinian Arab nation state.Arafat has openly stated that he remains ready and willing to continue to serve American interests throughout the Arab world, thereby driving a wedge between American and Israeli interests. There is no question about it - Israel is interfering with that process.

That is not because Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs do not want peace. It is not because the Israeli Knesset does not favor the concept of "territories for peace". The Palestine Authority does not offer "peace for territories ".

In violation of the Oslo accords, Yassir Arafat instead promotes daily official Arabic-language broadcasts on Arafat's official Palestine Broadcasting Corporation that call for full scale war to liberate all of Israel. In violation of the Oslo accords, the PA issue weapons to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, which await for the imminent return of Sheikh Achmed Yassin from Iran. In violation of the Oslo accords, Yassin promises to work within the Palestine Authority to conduct new mass suicide attacks throughout the state of Israel. In violation of the Oslo accords, Arafat and the Palestine Authority have instead adopted the policies of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, the agency that runs the Arab refugee camps. Instead of advocating a Palestinian state in the west bank and Gaza, Arafat and the PA assure the "right of return" for UNRWA's three million Palestinian Arab refugees to stake claim to the villages that they left in 1948, all of which have been transformed into Israeli cities and collective farms.

Surprisingly, the US government votes each year for renewal of the UNRWA #194 mandate of the "right of return" for all Palestinian Arab refugees to displace the state of Israel.

You might state that the new Palestine Liberation Army represents no real threat to Israel's overall security.

Yet in violation of the Oslo accords, the PLA has quadrupled its strength to 50,000 troops. In violation of the accords, the PLA has made a formal alliance with Iraq. The question facing Israel remains: What if the PLA were to invite well equipped troops from Iraq, Iran and other nations to help them liberate lands taken in 1948 or to help liberate Jerusalem?

This is where American and Israeli security interests may part. If the PLA organizes terror threats against Israel, the White House does not perceive this as an attack on direct American interests. From the American point of view, Israel can take care of itself.

There's the rub. Israel and the US maintain different security interests.

The American government wants to tame a potential virulent Palestinian Arab entity, only to ensure that the Palestinian Arabs will not attack American interests.

Israelis maintains its own security interests, and that is why there will be a crisis in American-Israeli relations.

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What Message Does Israel Convey by Dispatching a Publicly Funded Transvestite to Win the Eurovision Contest?
by David S. Bedein, MSW,
Media Research Analyst
Bureau Chief: Israel Resource News Agency
Beit Agron International Press Center, Jerusalem

Does the victory of Dana International as Israel's entry in the Eurovision contest on Saturday nite, May 9, 1998 in Birmingham, England represents a slap in the face of the people of Israel and of Europe?

Dana Interational's appearance was funded by the Israeli taxpayer, not by a private concern nor by any lobby group.

The people of Israel remain by and large committed to family values.

That commitment to family values overwhelmingly includes the 20% of Israel's population of non-Jews who share a family value vision that is commonly held by Jews, Christians and Moslems.

Clearly stated, family values mean that sexual relations belong to a context of heterosexual family relations.

A common theme to all three religions in Israel holds that if a person is born with traits as a man and a woman, or with any other handicap, that person deserves all the compassion and understanding in the world for his/her infirmity. As a social work professional, I see a crying need for appropriate treatment of people who suffer such incapacities, and no one should be judgmental or angry with a person who has been born with such problems.

Yet to hold up a transvestite as a publicly funded model for Israel and all of the world to glorify can carry a skewed message from the government and people of Israel.

It is as if a people who have promoted family values throughout the centuries are now proclaiming that "we didn't mean it after all".

It would have been one thing for Dana International to have performed on behalf of a gay rights club or any other group that would have advocated regonition of transvesticism as a legitimate form of sexual expression.

In a free world of expression, that would be their right.

No one should interfere with such a right of assembly or freedom of speech.

It is quite another thing to place such a person in a representational capacity of the state of Israel.

Perhaps we should privatize the arts in Israel so that such a problem of representation does not surface again?

After all, Israel remains a place of diverse religious, ethnic, and, yes, sexual cultures, for which no one can claim a representational monopoly.

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Tikkun's Rabbi Michael Lerner

The complete, unedited text of the message broadly distributed by Tikkun's Rabbi Michael Lerner

Date: Friday, May 08, 1998 10:29:27
From: Rabbi Michael Lerner
To: [distribution list]

In the days when the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal were calling me "the guru of the White House" (because Hillary Clinton had adopted my call for "the politics of meaning" with its goal of "changing the bottom line" in American society from an ethos of materialism and selfishness to an ethos of love, caring, and ethical/spiritual/ecological sensitivity), Hillary made it clear to me that she and Bill both had been reading TIKKUN Magazine since 1988, and that she and Bill both agreed with its call for a Palestinian state that would agree to live in peace with Israel. Then, as now, there was only one question in their minds: what would be the domestic political cost for such support?

The continuing resistance of Netanyahu to implementing the Oslo Accord ahs particularly vexed the Clintons, because they put their own esteem on the line to make it happen. Hillary was so ecstatic the day of the signing that she told me that it was the most significant day in the Clinton's presidency. To see it unravel under Netanyahu's mean-spiritedness has been increasingly upsetting.

So Hillary decided to give Netanyahu a signal, by letting him know that the Clintons might be willing to talk about a Palestinian state unless he makes some immediate forward motion on the Oslo process. Likely result: there will be lots of fanfare next week as the two sides enter "final status" negotiations. But you can also be sure that not much is going to happen during those negotiations--because Netanyahu is totally unwilling even to consider giving anything more, and he will use the issue of Jerusalem as his trump card to prevent forward movement.

The only thing that might change that is the possibility of the Clintons' being willing to recognize a Palestinian state when it is declared by Arafat in 1999 (as he says he will if Oslo is never implemented--and it won't be). Part of the reason Arafat cares so much about this second stage is that he believes that whatever the Palestinians get at this point is all they ever will get, at least until a new government comes to power in Israel.

The only thing that could change that is if Israel fears that unless it implements Oslo it will face a Palestinian state recognized by most states in the world, including the U.S.

But that will never happen if Bill is made to suffer serious political costs for Hillary's current statement. If the media bombards her with negativity for her courage, Bill is unlikely to want to pursue this path of putting any more significant pressure on Netanyahu during the final status negotiations.

And the bombarding has already started. Typical is a NY Times story May 8 by James Bennet that says "American Jewish groups reacted with alarm to Mrs. Clinton's remarks." Bennet quotes the American Jewish Committee, but as is normal with the media, fails to contact Peace Now, TIKKUN, The International Rabbinical Committee, the Israel Peace Lobby, or anyone else who might give the position of the (majority( of younger American Jews who support the peace process and believe that Israel's best security interests lie with a peace accord that creates a Palestinian state.

And you can count on more of the same from most American Jewish newspapers--reflecting the position of the UJA/Federation crowd and the AIPAC activists. These people refuse to acknowledge publicly what they know privately: that most American Jews have already figured out that the best way to stop terrorism is to give the Palestinian people a stake in some existing reality in which their needs for land and for dignity are taken seriously. Israel's security is always in doubt when it intentionally and provocatively denies the legitimate human needs of the Palestinian people.

Yet untless these voices are countered, and Hillary is given lots of support in the public arena, she and Bill are unlikely to be willing to use their "bully pulpit" to put pressure on Israel to reach a final status accord. The reaction NOW on THIS issue of a Palestinian state will have a big impact on whether she or he is willing to out on a limb again.

That's why I'm writing to you to ask if you might consider doing one of three things that could make a big difference:

1. Contribute money to an advertisement in the NY Times and (money permitting) other newspapers, that would say: "Yes, Hillary, we support your call for a Palestinian state. We, too, believe that the Palestinian people have the same rights as other peoples to national self-determination. Peace will only come when the Palestinian people feel that their dignity is recognized--and that will take not only concessions of land and the active dismantling of settlements created in the West Bank to make Israeli withdrawal impossible, but a spirit of reconciliation in which Israel recognizes and acts in ways that show a basic respect for the rights of the Palestinian people, and Palestinians do all that they can to undermine those terrorists and other forces in their community who are unwilling to ever accept a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Israel." If you wish to help us raise the $50,000 that it costs to place such an ad, make your check (or send us your credit card info and amount to charge it) to TIKKUN, and mail to TIKKUN Israel ad, 26 Fell St, S.F., Ca. 94102.

2. Write a letter to your local newspaper and to the NY Times, supporting Hillary Clinton's call for a Palestinian state, objecting to media coverage that only quotes the establishment and ignores TIKKUN and Peace Now, and urging others to let the Clintons know that they will not be politically isolated if they put pressure on Netanyahu. Send such letters also to the White House and to your elected representatives in the House and Senate.

3. Let us know what kind of support you might be willing to give were we to try to create an organization of progressive Jews who articulated a peace politics on Israel, a social justice agenda on domestic issues, an anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic perspective, and did all this in the context of affirming a non-denominational but pro-Jewish observance kind of Judaism (rooting all this in the language of Torah, along the lines I follow in my book Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation, published by Harper/Collins, 1996). Even if you did not personally join, would you financially or politically support it?

If you have other ideas on how to publicly support Hillary, please let me know. What I am sure of is this: this is a critical moment, and if the negotiations begin in Washington in a climate in which the Clintons have been made to feel that they were taking too big a political risk, it won't much matter what they believe privately, because they have not always been known for their poltiical courage when faced with political risk.

Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor, Tikkun Magazine

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Palestinian State, Fighting Terror

The following are selections from articles which appeared in the Egyptian English weekly, "Al-Ahram" of Al-Ahram Weekly 30th April - 6th May, 1998

"The Criterion: a Palestinian State"
by Salama A. Salama

[Heading:] As Israel celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, Mohamed Sid-Ahmed argues that the establishment of a Palestinian state is the real criterion by which progress in the Middle East peace process should be gauged.

Actually, the establishment of a Palestinian state is not only a qualitative issue that involves combining certain ingredients to justify the claim that a Palestinian state exists, but also a quantitative issue, related to the dimensions of that state and the configuration of its frontiers, and not only what sovereign prerogatives and security safeguards it will enjoy.

It is worth noting in this respect that a number of prominent Israelis, such as Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin, are now calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state. provided it remain demilitarised and without real sovereign prerogatives. They are joined in their call by leading Jewish figures outside Israel, notably in the United States. The problem is that a state is a state only if it enjoys full and unrestricted sovereignty and calling an entity which does not enjoy such sovereignty is a sham.

... The rationale here is to satisfy the Palestinians formally with a passport and a flag, while denying them real power and political parity with the state of Israel, as required under the provisions of the UN General Assembly's 1947 resolution.

... Some Arab parties are also interested, for reasons of their own, in foiling the Palestinians' ambition to establish an independent state. One reason is that it will be difficult to reconcile sovereignty for the Palestinian state with its subordination to pan-Arabism. According to the tenets of pan-Arab ideology, the Palestinian issue concerns all the Arabs and not only the Palestinians. Accordingly, the latter are not entitled to have the final word on key decisions related to the Palestinian issue. Another reason is the difficulty of drawing a line of demarcation between the Kingdom of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority on a number of particularly touchy issues, not only in the West Bank, but more particularly concerning Arab and/or holy rights in East Jerusalem. True, Jordan has given up much of the previous prerogatives it enjoyed in the West Bank, but issues are much less clear when it comes to Jerusalem, all the more so with Israel's open practice of playing off the two Arab parties against one another.

"A Question of Implementation"
by Amira Ibrahim

[Heading:] Arab interior and justice ministers have signed their first anti-terrorism treaty but, as Amira Ibrahim writes, much will depend on the parties' commitment to implementation.

After five years of studies and debates, Arab interior and justice ministers gave their stamp of approval last week to the first Arab Treaty for Combating Terrorism. The treaty was signed on 22 April at the Arab League headquarters.

... The League's Council of Interior Ministers issued a statement lambasting Israel as one of the main sources of terrorism in the region. "Israel pretends that it embraces democracy and combats terrorism only to achieve its colonisation schemes, on the one hand, and distorts the image of Arabs and Muslims on the other," the statement said.

... While Arab human rights groups were studying the legal consequences of the accord, a statement by an Egyptian militant group condemned the treaty as hostile to the Islamist movement.

The statement signed by Abdallah Al-Mansour, secretary of the Islamic Jihad -- Vanguards of Conquest group -- said the treaty aimed at "encircling " youths of the Muslim nation.

"Arab governments should reconsider their positions and refrain from implementing the treaty," said the statement, which was faxed to the London-based, Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayar.

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