|Israel Resource Review
||19th October, 1999
the Israel Resource
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Palestinian Authority Confirms Jewish Advocate Report,
Says UJC Will Still Give Award to PLO Leader
by Steven Rosenberg
Editor, The Jewish Advocate of Boston, Mass.
BOSTON, Oct. 14 -- By early October, the plan by United Jewish
Communities (UJC) officials to award Yasir Arafat its Isaiah peace prize
was set. The award had already been purchased, Arafat's office had been
notified, and the presentation ceremony was scheduled for Oct. 13 at the
Palestinian Authority's office in Ramallah.
The ceremony would take place before 120 members of the UJC's
Prime Minister's Mission, 78 of whom had contributed at least
$100,000 to be on the trip. A draft of the presentation
statement was prepared for Joel Tauber, a Detroit businessman
and chairman of the UJC's executive committee.
On Oct. 5, just two days before the mission would leave for an eight day
trip to France and Israel, senior UJC staffers were making final
arrangements for the tour, which would include participants meeting with
Arafat after the award ceremony. The award to Arafat would signal a new
policy direction for the six-month-old UJC, and
would have marked the first major award to Arafat by a mainstream American
Arafat would have joined such past Isaiah recipients as President Bill
Clinton, the late
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and former President Nelson Mandela.
But in the early afternoon of Oct. 5, the dreams of UJC executives to
present Arafat with the award slowly began to unravel. The plans changed
slightly when the UJC was informed that Arafat would be in Tokyo and could
not accept the award in person. However, senior Palestinian Authority (PA)
officials would be on hand to accept the award for Arafat.
As detailed in last week's Advocate, a high ranking Jewish Agency
official in Israel provided written documentation to the Advocate -- an
internal memo from the UJC to the Jewish Agency in Israel in early October --
that the award had already been purchased and that Arafat knew about the
On Oct. 5, newly appointed UJC President Stephen Solender was asked to
comment on the report. He replied, "Let me check on it, and I'll call you
back. I may be out of the loop."
Shortly afterwards, a UJC communications assistant contacted the Advocate and
confirmed that Arafat, indeed, would receive the award during the Prime
Minister's Mission. "It's in recognition of his participation in the peace
process," said the UJC worker. "We are concerned about peace and the
welfare of the
Jews in the world and Mr. Arafat is a partner with Israel in the peace
Later in the day, however, the same communications assistant called the
Advocate and said that the UJC had decided not to give Arafat the award
"because he will be in Tokyo" and would not be able to receive it.
Solender and UJC spokeswoman Gail Hyman then went one step further and denied
that Arafat was ever to be the recipient.
Despite the denial by the UJC, the Advocate received further
confirmation on Wednesday that Arafat was slated to receive the award this
week. In an interview, Dr. Anis Al-Qaq, the head of the PA's department of
international cooperation stated that he had been informed by a United Israel
Office (UIO) staff member in Jerusalem, Ronit Dotan, that press reports of
the cancellation of the award to Arafat were wrong and that the UJC
still planned to give Arafat the award at a later date.
According to Al-Qaq, Dotan said the only reason UJC did not give the award
to Arafat was because he was in Tokyo, and they wanted to present it to him
When reached for comment in Jerusalem, Dotan referred all questions to
Menachem Ravivi, the head of Israel's UIO office (which serves as UJC's
internal department). Ravivi then referred all comments to UJC's New
Norman Eisenberg, a spokesman for UJC in New York confirmed that Ronit
Dotan is, in fact, a staff worker in the UIO Jerusalem office. "I don't
have the letter in front of me so I can't respond to it," Eisenberg said on
Wednesday. "I can only tell you that what the facts are as we are stating
it. That is, the award is not going to be
presented this year, period. Yasir Arafat's name was floated; it was decided
not to give the award this year to any individual. And that's where the
situation stands as of now."
Despite the continued denial, the Advocate has received additional
documentation this week about the award from a high-level Jewish Agency
official -- a draft of the planned presentation statement to be presented by
Joel Tauber. The document reads: "My name is Joel Tauber. Ladies and
gentlemen, in the few short years since the Oslo agreements of 1993, Yasser
Arafat has become a partner for peace. He is president of the Palestinian
Authority, centered here in Ramallah. He is accompanied at this luncheon by
senior Palestinian officials. President Arafat, this is an historic moment
in terms of the relations between the American Jewish community and the
Palestinian National Authority. Please join me at the podium. (Pause) Today,
the Prime Minister's Mission will present Yasser Arafat with the Isaiah
Award, 'For Efforts To Hasten The Prophet Isaiah's Vision For All People.'
Prior winners of the Isaiah Award include President Bill Clinton and former
President Nelson Mandela of South Africa."
When reached in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Tauber denied that he wrote the
document. He also said he was unaware of plans to give the award to Arafat.
On Wednesday, Tauber and the Prime Minister's Mission traveled to
Ramallah and met with PA officials.
Also on Tuesday, a cabinet minister closely aligned with Prime Minister
Barak told the Advocate that he was aware of the planned award but
applauded the decision by the UJC not to go through with it. "It is too
give the award now -- perhaps in two years when reality is different," he
In America and in Israel, news of the planned UJC award has been met
with nearly unanimous condemnation.
In Boston, Consul General of Israel to New England Itzhak Levanon said
Arafat is not yet eligible for awards. "Prizes and awards go to those who
speak the language of peace and follow through in their acts and deeds.
Peace is about education and respect. The sponsorship of anti-Israel
resolutions in the United Nations and the use of dual language, at home and
abroad, is incompatible with current peace process efforts," he stated.
Larry Lowenthal, the director of the American Jewish Committee in New
England was also critical of Arafat, specifically questioning his true
desire to make peace. Said Lowenthal, "I would find it surprising that the
UJC would consider a peace award to Arafat at this particular time. Quite
Simply, the truly arduous 'final status' negotiations have not even begun.
Jews should be aware that Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have taken
incredibly inflexible positions on the most sensitive issues: final borders,
return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, Jerusalem, settlements, and
water, to name the most obvious."
Combined Jewish Philanthropies President Barry Shrage was traveling in
Israel, and could not be reached for comment.
In New York, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation
League, said of Arafat "he hasn't earned it yet. We haven't made peace
yet. The Arabs and the Palestinian Authority threaten boycotts. Where is
the spirit of Isaiah?" Added Foxman, "Certainly, his last speech at the
U.N. is testament that he has a way to earn
the title of an Isaiah prophet."
On Saturday, Likud leader Ariel Sharon denounced the planned award
during an interview in New York with Kol Yisrael Radio. "[Sharon] gave
that as an example of the confusion and the lack of coherence in the stand
taken by the Jewish community," added Sharon's spokesman Dr. Rannan Gissin
from Jerusalem. Gissin said that the award may have been conceived because
of the perceived policy toward the Palestinians by the present Israeli
government. "When the leaders offered this prize to Arafat they probably
thought that they would be in line with certain positions by some members
of the Israeli government. I think the minute it was publicized
and they realized there might be an outcry, they withdrew."
Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of
America called the award out of step with American public
opinion. He referred to recent polls by Mideast Quarterly and
the American Jewish Committee which have found that by a 3 to 1
margin, American Jews believe that Arafat still seeks to destroy
Israel. "For a Jewish organization to give an award to Arafat is
wrong," said Klein.
When asked about the policy of selecting the Isaiah Award
winner, the UJC's Hyman said that protocols were being reviewed,
and that a new policy for selecting a winner may be created in
the future. "New protocols need to be established for UJC. We're
working on developing those now," said Hyman.
The UJC was formed in April after the merger of the United Jewish
Appeal, the Council of Jewish Federations and the United Israel Appeal. The
UJC represents 189 Jewish federations across North America and allocates
$313.8 million overseas. Its prime overseas beneficiaries are the Jewish
Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee. Currently, the UJC
has an annual budget of $37 million.
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the Isaiah Award to Arafat
by David Bedein
Our news agency, which covers the Palestinian Authority and the peace
process, has been informed by the Palestinian Authority that the United
Jewish Communities UJC Prime Minister's Mission will indeed provide the
Isaiah Award to Yassir Arafat, in honor of his efforts on behalf of peace.
The PA spokesman said that the award was not presented to Arafat today when
the UJC mission visited the PLO leader because of Arafat's visit to Tokyo.
Our news agency has also perused correspondence from the UJC
which confim that it had designated the award for Arafat, and
notified Arafat of the award.
It would seem that the UJC may not be aware of the fact that . . .
- Arafat's official Arabic language media continues to call for Jihad
against the Jews and destruction of Israel.
- Arafat's Palestinian Authority supplies funds and weapons to the Hamas
and the Islamic Jihad terror operations.
- Arafat continues to adheres not to the "two-state solution" but to the
"two-stage plan" -- a "Palestinian state" for a start, the total
destruction of Israel for the goal.
- Arafat maintains a school system that indoctrinates children in the
ideals of war against the Jews and the destruction of Israel.
- Arafat forces Palestinian-Arab refugees to remain confined in the
squalor of the U.N. camps, rather than be resettled in decent homes,
promising them the "right of return" -- that is, massive influx into the
Israel for the purpose of wrecking it.
- Arafat grants welcome as well as safe haven to terrorist-murderers
within its territories -- the man who murdered Leon Klinghoffer in his
wheelchair struts freely in Gaza.
- Arafat's Palestinian Authority is run by corruption, theft and bribery,
while little of the funds available to the PA is ever used for the welfare
of the people.
- Arafat has dictated that "civil liberties" and "human rights" do not
exist for the people now under its rule.
- Arafat has vast hidden financial resources, which the US Administration
conceals from the U.S. Congress while it demands U.S. taxpayer funding for
the murderers of U.S. citizens.
- Arafat has always been and still is in alliance with Saddam Hussein's
Iraq, and otherwise hostile to U.S. interests.
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