|Israel Resource Review
||26th May, 1998
Head of Fatah Youth, Hakim Awad,
on Weapons Training
by Aron Lerner
IMRA interviewed Hakim Awad, the head of Fatah Youth in the West
Bank and Gaza, in Hebrew and English, on May 24:
IMRA: It was reported that last Thursday a group of Fatah Youth
completed a two week course in weapons training and combat
technique. Was this a one time course or will there be more.
Awad: You have made a big thing out of this. This was one
It was normal. Nothing dangerous. Like you talk about summer camp
or youth camp. Normal exercises. Maybe there is a second or third
You have to understand that it is a normal thing. Its an ordinary
IMRA: Learning how to shoot guns.
Awad: It is an ordinary activity. There are exercises with
weapons but you can't call it a program. You have to know that all
the time there is talk for the Israeli side 'we want to go into
Gaza and the West Bank and if the Palestinians don't do what we
want.' All the time the Israelis are talking about attacking the
West Bank and Gaza.
You have to know that as the Palestinian youth we are defending the
peace. the just peace. And as the leader of Fatah youth in the
West Bank and Gaza I have attended hundreds of meetings with
Israel's you the organizations like Labor Youth, Peace Now,
Not only in Israel or Gaza or the West Bank. We organized for
several meeting in a Scandinavian country and Europe and other
places in the world.
We try to defend the peace all the time but at the same time, all
the time we are hearing what Netanyahu is saying. Both sides have
to respect the agreement. It wasn't just signed between the
It is an international agreement. All the sides have to respect
We are looking for just peace for both sides - the Palestinian side
and the Israeli side. We ask the Israeli Government to respect
the agreements but at the same time we are hearing the declarations
from Binyamin Netanyahu warning the Palestinian side that they have
plans to attack the West Bank and Gaza .
As a Palestinian we have to protect the Palestinian National
Authority, because it is the whole Palestinian people here.
IMRA: So that's why you have the training.
Awad: Its not the reason. As I told you, its ordinary
Its not military training. You can say that part of the training
is military training. For one time. Its not a program. I don't
think that there's is another course.
IMRA: I guess what puzzles me is that under the Oslo Agreement
there are only 7,000 guns in Gaza and 18,000 police. That mean
that you already have more than twice as many police as guns. What
value is there to teach other people how to use guns when there
aren't even enough guns to go around for the police?
Awad: If I have a summer camp and the young people have training
in sports and other activities like swimming and one of these
activities is guns and military activity this is like having a
group from the Israeli side - university or high school to go to
Israeli army camp to have some knowledge about that. its the same
Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645
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Minister of Defense Office
- No Specifics on Compliance
by Aaron Lerner
IMRA asked Minister of Defense Media Coordinator Avi Benayahu's
office the following question:
In today's Cabinet Communique, the Minister of Defense said
"Israeli society is now confident that there exist interim stations
in the [peace] process for inspection and examination, during which
we seek results -- whose sum total are that our national
is not affected." Can you identify a specific thing which is
inspected in a particular interim station?
Reply: The Minister means that there is a process which, unlike
in the past, has stations - breaks. We don't just run forward,.
IMRA: But you can't identify something specific?
Reply: No. There are these breaks. That's what he means.
IMRA: But the rest of the sentence in his statement is that there
Reply: Yes. We want there to be results.
IMRA: So I am trying to understand if there is a specific thing
that one can point to.
Reply: There isn't anything specific.
Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645
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Let Their People Go
by David S. Bedein, MSW,
Media Research Analyst
Bureau Chief: Israel Resource News Agency
Beit Agron International Press Center, Jerusalem
YC, a healthy yet distraught young man recently showed up at my
We all hear horror stories of the trials and tribulations of new
We have all experienced these stories in our own lives.
However, the story that YC recounted conveyed a new traumatic
YC is a skilled building tradesman.
He contacts companies and offers his services. He speaks with a foreign
accent, in broken Hebrew, and manages to get the job interviews
has the skills to do the job.
Yet on four occasions, when YC showed up for each interview,
described his skills and after he showed his Israeli identity
card to the
contractor, the potential employer told him, in no uncertain
contractors today would rather not hire him because he was...an
No Jew need apply? In Israel?
Yes, you heard me. Why?
A simple economic calculation.
Many Israeli contractors simply do not want to "pay social
These Employers prefer cheap foreign workers, to whom they can
pay a lower
wage and not have to cover any "social benefits".
Eliminating these "social benefits" often means that a worker
has no rights
at the work place whatsoever, and abuses of foreign workers
Such practices in Israeli industry began more than thirty years
Israeli contractors "discovered" the UNRWA Arab refugee camps,
United Nations covers the health, education, electricity, water,
housing needs of Arab refugees,leaving the contractor to hire
the UNRWA Arab
workers and offer them a low wage.
Such an UNRWA-Israeli contractor "arrangement" fostered a boom
Israeli economy for many years to come, but with a moral price
society pays to this day.
Over the coming month, each of the immigrant organizations in
hold their national conventions, beginning with the AACI, the
American and Canadian immigrants in Israel.
Perhaps this would be the opportune time for immigrant
discuss the implications of these hundreds of thousands of
to Israel. These workers take away jobs from Jews who live in Israel.
My elementary school arithmetic was never that great. However,
160,000 unemployed Israeli citizens and at least 150,000
now in the country.
You do not have to be a mathematical genius to figure out the connection
between the importation of foreign workers and the rising
Yet Israel's powerful private contractors are not alone in
non-Jewish workers to come to Israel.
Even Israeli politicians also encourage them.
A case in point: the Mayor of one regional municipal council
twenty three thriving agriculural communities, has made three
Thailand, to actively recruit hundreds of Siamese workers to
work in his
thriving farming communities. Other mayors have travelled to
Romania and to
the Balkans, while the cheap worker industry flourishes with labor
representatives working in Nigeria, the Phillipines and Korea.
When I asked the Mayor's spokesperson as to whether the Mayor
similar visits to immigrant absorption centers, she responded in
That simple: a new "affirmative action action policy for foreign
Perhaps the time has come for Israel's immigrant organizations
Israeli society and the decision-makers in Israeli society that Zionism
means preferential treatment for Jews.
After all, even the UN canceled the resolution that "Zionism is racism".
At this point in time, employers are actually encouraged by the Israel
Ministries of Finance and Labor to hire thousands of non-Jewish foreign
workers. Yes, the contractors pay a fine ... yet the fine becomes a
deductible "tax credit" for the contractors.
That of course nothing to do with the fact that the Israel State
warns that building contractors remain the greatest contributors
major political parties. The 1995 Israel State Controller report
alarm that many of these contractors give to competing political
Jewish immigrants to Israel often feel the brunt of competition
"Olim", defined as Jews who have chosen to live in Israel, are
the ones who
can combine self-interest with basic Zionist ideology to
immigrant organizations in Israel to make a stink about this
mess and to
launch a campaign that will stop the incentives for foreign
workers to come
In short, let their people go home.
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The Telltale Silence of
the Post-Oslo Palestinian Press
by Roni Ben Efrat
Editor of Challenge
(Lecture for the conference: "A 21st century Dialogue: Media's
Athens, 24th - 28th May 1998, organized by "Women for Mutual Security")
The Palestinian Authority oppresses its people and intimidates
In what follows I shall give examples of this intimidation, nine
picked out of a multitude. But let me say at the start that this
should not come as a surprise. Oppression may be said to be a
of the Oslo agreement. The logic is simple: The strong side,
advantage of its strength, cutting a deal that gave the weak
PLO, as little as possible. The designers of Oslo set up, in
words, a situation where people, a great many people, were bound
oppose the deal they had gotten. Although they lacked the
make real peace, they did foresee the opposition to the nasty,
thing that they did make, and they were careful, therefore, to
the new non-state with a huge police force and plenty of
Imprisonment without trial is the norm. Torture is carried out
Numerous security organisations vie with one another in
big brother is everywhere. The curbing of the press is merely a
this general picture. The most alarming aspect in the story has
speed with which the press agreed to lay down its weapon, the pen.
The first acts of oppression
The press was the first to be hit. Arafat arrived in Gaza on
1994. Twenty-seven days later, forces of the Palestinian Secret
invaded the offices of Al-Nahar, then the second largest daily
Territories. They forbade the distribution of Al-Nahar in the
Gaza and East Jerusalem. (According to the Oslo accords, in
had no jurisdiction at the time in the West Bank - except for
nor in Jerusalem, but when it comes to oppression, Israel gives
PA a free hand.) No explanation was given, but it was understood
closing of Al-Nahar had to do with the paper's pro-Jordanian
The rest of the Palestinian press hardly covered the event.
human rights activist Bassem Id, then of B'tselem, initiated a
demonstration, and eight journalists showed up. Perhaps all the
thought it wouldn't happen to them - They, after all, are not
"pro-Jordanian"! The epilogue: Al Nahar began publishing again
several weeks, but it soon collapsed financially. (For the full
Challenge # 27).
Four months later it was the turn of the biggest Palestinian
Al-Quds, also published in Jerusalem. On November 18, Authority
killed fourteen Palestinians during a demonstration at a mosque
The opposition party Hamas held a mass rally protesting the
Gaza's Chief of Police, General Ghazi Jibali, sent the press his
that 5000 people had attended. To his consternation, Al-Quds
the estimate of a foreign press agency, which had counted
Jibali's response was to keep Al-Quds from entering the Gaza
simply blocked the papers at the Erez checkpoint for a number of
claiming that heavy rain and floods were preventing their
interviewed the chief editor of Al-Quds, Maruan Abu Zuluf,
strange weather in Gaza. He firmly adherred to his right to
whatever he saw fit. (Challenge # 29: "Gaza Weatherman"). Ever
incident, however, Al-Quds has never dared to publish a word
contradicting the official Palestinian line. Not even a paid ad.
The third incident involved an independent Palestinian
called Al-Uma, which was also located in Jerusalem. In the
owners, members of the Khatib family, had put out a left- wing
Al-Mithaq, but Israel had closed it down. In January 1995,
Israel granted the Khatibs a license for Al-Uma. Four months
paper published an unflattering cartoon of Arafat. Thirty armed
Palestinians, members of Preventive Security, entered the print
confiscated the plates. The angry editors alerted human rights
organizations. Palestinian figures signed a petition. On May
offices of Al-Uma were burned. The Khatibs never went back to
(Challenge # 32).
Since these incidents, the Palestinian Authority has licensed
quite a few
new media projects. Some of these function as mouthpieces for
Authority - for example, Al Khayat al Jadida or the radio
Falastin. All, however, mouthpieces or not, practice strict
self-censorship. This may seem odd at first, because the
itself, with super-democratic panache, forgoes all official
censorship. On June 25, 1995, Arafat signed the Palestinian
which guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and a free
does contain, nonetheless, several vague and potentially
provisions. Article 37(3), for example, prohibits the
anything that "may cause harm to national unity".(Human Rights
Watch, op. cit.) In reality, censorship Arafat-style has proved to be more
and harsh than Israel's ever was. To quote the Authority's radio
director, Ali Khayan: "The opposition can express its own
some things are not allowed because we need time to explain what
to be democratic." (Challenge # 32.)
Under Israeli occupation Palestinian journalists did indeed
oppression. There are stories of chief editors, in house arrest,
edited major dailies from their homes. Numerous journalists were
Administrative Detention for renewable periods of six months at
But such measures did not intimidate them. When they got out,
back to their work. Today it is different. Why?
First, there are no rules.
During the period of direct Israeli occupation, every
had to send the entire paper to the censor. (The Israeli media,
contrast, only have to send articles that relate to security).
would send the Arab paper back, marking what had to go. The
decided what was fit to print. There was no guesswork, and there
Today Palestinian editors have to guess what might not be
if they guess wrong, they find themselves in trouble. According
data of Human Rights Watch /Middle East (Vol. 9, No. 10, Sept.
the first two years of self rule, 25 journalists and
"guessed wrong." One of them was Fayez Nur-A-Din, a photographer
Agence France Press. He photographed some boys washing a donkey
sea at Gaza. This was a bad guess. The Special Intelligence
detained him for ten hours on May 13, 1996. They beat him and
him, accusing him of being in the pay of French intelligence in
"harm the image of the Palestinians." The donkey, it seems,
been a Jaguar.
In the report cited above, Human Rights Watch / Middle East gave
examples of self censorship. Most of the journalists were afraid
the researchers their names. "The problem," said one, "is not
doesn't want this or that item to be published. The problem is,
journalists are afraid that maybe he won't like it - so they
"Frankly," said another, "we wish the Authority would tell us
what we can and cannot publish. That would be easier. It seems
that it is
impossible to talk about the security apparatus, or violations
relating to trials, prisons, and torture, or the president. The president
The latest story of this kind is that of Abbas Momani, a
working both for Reuters and Al-Quds. The Authority had
death of Hamas bomb-maker Muhi a-Din Sharif, "Engineer # 2," to
within Hamas. It claimed that Hamas leader Adel Awadalla had
Sharif. Shortly after the Authority made this accusation,
Momani received a phone call telling him to go to a flat in
Here he received a video cassette, in which a masked man
claiming to be
Adel Awadalla denied having killed Sharif. He brought the
cassette to his
manager, Paul Holms, and they discussed whether or not to air
took full responsibility, and the video was distributed and
April 8. The Authority found the video believable enough to
story, blaming Adel's brother instead. (See Challenge # 49.) But
closed the Reuters office in Gaza. On April 9, photographer
received an order to come for investigation to the office of
Security Chief, Jibril Rajoub. When Rajoub heard, however, that
Holms was going to accompany him, he cancelled the meeting.
Momani was arrested by another security branch the next day -
released. On May 5 he was arrested again, this time by Rajoub's
days later, at 3 a.m. he escaped by jumping from a third-floor
the interrogation building, breaking his leg, and in this
managed to reach the hospital. His brother came to help him, and
told him how they had hung him by his legs from the ceiling and
him with electric cables. (The report was later confirmed by
activist, Bassem Id.) They had wanted him to confess, said
he himself had made the video. His brother helped him leave the
for another flat, but here Rajoub's men caught up with him,
again. As to how they treated him after that, we do not yet know
- he was released on May 14, a day before this writing.
According to the Israeli weekly, Kol Ha-Ir, neither of
employers, Reuters or Al-Quds, reported his first arrest. Nor
did any of
the Palestinian media. After his escape, most continued to
issue. Journalists Michal Schwartz and Diana Mardi, from our
paper" in Arabic, Al-Sabar, contacted Paul Holms of Reuters. He
Schwartz that the agency was following his case, and that it had
out a statement on May 6 for "whoever wanted to publish it."
the editor of Al-Quds, Maher al-Sheikh, why his paper had failed
a word on the matter, seeing that Momani is one of their
answered: "Our paper doesn't publish news of that sort." Mardi
him: "Of what sort"? The editor answered: "News concerning
arrests on the
part of the PA." "Why not?" she asked him. He answered:
"Because we are
afraid. We are afraid of the authorities." (From an interview on
1998, published in Al-Sabar.)
The Momani story brings us to the second reason for self censorship.
Second, the journalist stands alone.
Momani stood alone.
Here is an earlier example. At midnight on December 24, 1995,
about to print an article on page eight about Arafat's meeting
Greek Orthodox Patriarch. A phone call came, in which editor
was instructed to move the piece up to page one. (How, by the
the Authority have known exactly what was to be printed on which
In a moment of exceptional courage and resolution, Alameh
refused. He was
arrested and imprisoned in Jericho for five days. Not a single
Palestinian newspaper, including Al-Quds, reported the case.
Rights Watch/Middle East, op. cit.). After Alameh's release, he
to talk about the matter.
In the post-Oslo situation, when you stick your neck out as
you're practically alone. Pre-Oslo you were a hero, part of a
people. Solidarity was widespread. The atmosphere was such that
hadn't served time in an Israeli prison, something was wrong
Since the entry of the Palestinian Authority, however, most
factions have been co-opted, or else they are looking for ways
co-opted. The atmosphere is one of fear and despair. No lawyer
protect you when you are taken in the middle of the night to be
interrogated, say, in Jericho. Nor does it help if you work for
news agency. The agencies want to keep their offices running.
(partially) explains why journalists, who were in the forefront
Intifada, have retired into the woodwork.
Other kinds of media
Does this mean that Palestinians don't know what is happening?
can get information from Israeli radio and television. Ever
Oslo process began, however, Israel's media have either avoided
down Arafat's violations of human rights. The Israeli
establishment measures him, after all, by the strength with which he curbs the
opposition. It is remarkable, for example, how quickly most of
the Israeli press adopted, one after another, the Authority's
changing versions of how Hamas Engineer #2 was killed, although no account
withstands the slightest examination. (Challenge #49.)
Despite the lack of an uncompromising press, alternative
channels have opened occasionally, but they too have encountered
The Palestinian National Council (PLC) is an elected Parliament.
member represents a constituency. One cannot simply arrest him
without, as it were, gagging a whole group of voters. This fact
PLC members with a measure of freedom to speak. It was the
example, which exposed the astonishing scope and depth of
the Authority. (Challenge # 43 # 45) The Palestinian papers did
publish what the elected representatives had revealed.
Abu Warda told People's Rights (a human-rights monthly of the
organization, Land and Water):"The print media avoided reporting
Council sessions right from the start. Editors consistently
reports about the sessions, especially when the members
or his associates." (March 1997.) But outside media could and
Stories appeared in Al-Sabar and Challenge, and later in the
Ha'aretz. The Ha'aretz article was translated into Arabic, and
in the Territories like an underground leaflet.
The Council legislators fought for the right to have their
broadcast directly. They finally won this at the beginning of
Viewers watched with interest. Too much, it appears. All through
April and May ,when corruption was on the agenda, all kinds of
broke out on the screen. The manager of the broadcasting
Kuttab, complained about this to the Washington Post. He found
jail for a week. The broadcasts have not resumed.
Another path that seemed relatively free was that of local cable
channels carry many open discussion programs, in which people
out. During the recent Gulf Crisis, these talk shows were very
and militant. They too were forced to close, however, after the
pressured Arafat to stop showing solidarity with Iraq.
The story of the Palestinian press is sad, if not demeaning. But
hardly expect to find a free and thriving press alongside a
is basically scared of its people. The press will stand on its
when Palestinians face the fact that their current leadership
reformed and that peace must be re-negotiated. Only then will it
possible for a democratic sovereign state to arise, one with
enough self-confidence to tolerate pictures of children washing donkeys in
the sea of
Roni Ben Efrat
Editor of Challenge
Ma'agalei Yavne 7/23
Jerusalem 93582 , Israel
Tel & Fax (+972-2) 679-2270
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