Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Al-Ahram: Netanyahu, Negotiations, and More

The following are selections from articles which appeared in the Egyptian English weekly, “Al-Ahram” of Al-Ahram Weekly, during July, 1998

Why is Netanyahu So Popular
by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed


A nagging question that refuses to go away is whether Arab political forces can continue to maintain a total boycott of their Israeli counterparts at a time official Arab parties are engaged in a peace process with Israel. The question has become even more urgent since Netanyahu came to power, not least because the main argument he uses to justify not pulling out of the Occupied Territories is that the Arab states are not democratic, that they do not have solid institutions, that they have no scruples about resorting to military coups d’Žtat and that if Israel were to implement the ‘land for peace’ trade-off it could well end up with neither land nor peace. The indiscriminate boycott of all Israeli political forces consolidates Netanyahu’s argument. An effective way of countering it would be to develop relations with forces inside Israel which accept the restoration of occupied Arab territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Surprisingly, however, all attempts made so far to establish contacts with the ‘peace camp’ in Israel have had only a limited impact. Moreover, it is a fact that Netanyahu enjoys wide popularity in Israel despite his blunders, mistakes and scandals. In his article entitled Netanyahu’s Safety Belt published in this month’s issue of Foreign Affairs, Ehud Sprinzak, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, calls the Israeli prime minister’s continued popularity “the great paradox of Israeli politics today”….

The most salient development in Israel in the recent period has been the shift in the political balance of power in favour of the Jewish religious forces at the expense of the traditional Zionist forces. Today, the newly powerful ultra-Orthodox forces are more concerned with their Jewish identity than with the Zionist solution of the Jewish problem. Sprinzak is sceptical about the possibility of any solution of the conflict under Netanyahu. He does not believe, however, that Netanyahu will always enjoy the support he now gets. He writes that “unlike the Israeli right’s hard core, which is ready to fight for the land of Israel and to accept the concomitant sacrifices, most Israelis are opposed to spilling blood to keep the West Bank or maintain Gush Emunim’s settlements”. Still, Sprinzak believes that the alternative to Netanyahu need not be a Labour-led government, but could be a government led by “a less tainted Likud figure like Olmert, Jerusalem’s ambitious mayor,” who could pre-empt upcoming disasters by accepting a territorial compromise. In such a context, the soft right could become a bridge between the moderate wing of the Likud and supporters of peace on the left.

This, of course, is a rather optimistic scenario, presupposing a dialogue between religious forces on either side of the confrontation line taking precedence over the traditional confrontation between pan-Arabism and Zionism. For a long time, hopes of a breakthrough towards peace were pinned on leftist forces on both sides of the barricades. Then came talk of the secular forces being the best equipped to achieve that objective. Now the task has been assigned to the conservative religious forces, who are totally out of touch with the requirements of the present so-called ‘globalistic’ world. Actually, it is important for the Arabs to prove themselves capable of becoming part of that world: the question is whether they can reach that objective better through communication with Israel or by remaining totally aloof from it. It will probably prove necessary to explore both courses concomitantly. How this can be achieved will need much creative thinking.

Writing on the Wall
Editorial, Al-Ahram Weekly, 23th – 29th July, 1998


A foiled car bombing attempt in West Jerusalem last Sunday should be seen as a warning of the mayhem expected to erupt in the event of the total collapse of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks…. While the Palestinians have accepted a US proposal for Israeli withdrawal from 13 per cent of the West Bank, Binyamin Netanyahu remains adamant in his rejection of the plan. He is simply turning a deaf ear to serious warnings by American, Egyptian and other leaders about the dire consequences of a complete breakdown in negotiations. President Hosni Mubarak has voiced strong fears of an uncontrollable outbreak of violence and acts of terror, not only in the Middle East but also in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. American officials have also sounded the alarm. Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk did not mince his words, describing the situation as “very serious” and warning that “we’re in the end-game.” In fact, Washington appears to be in a quandary: slighted by its ally’s rejection of its peace plan, but unable or unwilling to act against Netanyahu because of the strong pro-Israel lobby in the United States. Casting about for a way out, Washington proposed direct Palestinian-Israeli talks without US participation…. Washington is distancing itself from Israel without upsetting the Israeli lobby with outright action to pressure Netanyahu, such as a full official disclosure of the US peace plan. All indications are that Netanyahu is not budging and that the renewed Palestinian-Israeli talks will get nowhere. Netanyahu will have only himself to blame if a new Intifada, more violent than the 1987 movement, breaks out in the Occupied Territories, with fallout elsewhere.

FGM [female circumcision] Claims Another Victim
by Mariz Tadros

Early on Saturday morning, Mona’s mother heard that her sister-in-law was going to have her two girls, aged 11 and 12, circumcised. “When Mona found out, she told me that she, too, wanted to be circumcised like her cousins. She was so happy when I told her that I’d take her to be circumcised along with them.” Female circumcision, which is the excision of the clitoris and part or all of the labia minora, is rarely referred to as anything but as tahara, or “purification”. Mona Abdel-Hafez died Saturday night in a private hospital in the northern suburb of Madinet El-Salam.

Mona’s mother, who lives in a shanty Ain Shams neighbourhood, recounts the incidents that took place that night. At 7:30 p.m., doctors administered anaesthetics to the first of the three girls, but when they began operating on her, her screams were so loud that they gave her another dose to relieve the pain. She consequently remained unconscious until the next morning.

Doctors were in a rush to finish, so when it was Mona’s turn, they gave her two injections right away, one after the other. That was when the complications began. When her uncle insisted on knowing what was wrong, he was told plainly by the doctors — there were three of them — that she was dead. “Then they told us to take the body home and not to give them any hassle. When we objected, they tried to convince us that she was unconscious and that we should take her out of the hospital, but my brother informed the police,” said Mona’s mother, in tears. She is a widow and Mona was her only child. “She was going into fifth grade next year; you should have seen her, she was such a brilliant student,” she cried.

The mother was surprised to learn that the operation is banned in both public and private hospitals. “This is the first time we hear this today. We are poor and uneducated women; we have never heard that it is banned. If it does harm to a woman’s body, why did the doctors not tell us so?” she lashed out. The doctors charged LE80 for each circumcision.

One woman, a neighbour, interrupted: “We have been circumcising our girls from the dawn of time at the hands of midwives and barbers, and this has never happened except at the hands of doctors.” Many of the women agreed.

To them, the idea that some women may not be “purified” seems not only unimaginable, but also absurd. “Girls have to be circumcised, otherwise their sexuality will be uncontrolled,” explained one of the mourning women. “If they are not circumcised, no man will agree to marry them.” “Even if a man is sure of his bride’s chastity, he will be outraged when he finds out that she has not been circumcised. He probably will take her to a doctor himself to make sure she is circumcised,” another woman added. “To circumcise a girl is to obliterate the faintest possibility that she will grow up to be unchaste.”

A man who arrived to convey condolences said that since the days of Adam and Eve, all men and women have been circumcised, “and now they tell us that the government has prohibited the practice; you must be joking.” He added that he was aware that Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) that the practice is not obligatory under Islam. But the man said he was a devoted follower of the late Sheikh Mohamed Metwalli El-Shaarawi, who stressed several times that girls must be circumcised. Among the mourning men, the judgement was unanimous: it was the doctors’ fault; they should have been more careful with the anaesthetics.

Officers at Madinet El-Salam police station appear to be in agreement. The police report charged the doctors with negligence of duty while performing the operation. Nobody at the police station was aware that an order by the State Council, the highest administrative court, had banned the performance of the operation in public and private hospitals and clinics. A medical examiner’s report stated that Mona died of cardiac arrest that resulted from circulatory failure. The doctors were released on a bail of LE100 each.

Next morning, visitors to the private hospital where Mona died were confused when they found it totally deserted, except for one nursing attendant who said that all the doctors were away and that “there are no patients right now.”

The prosecution has ordered an investigation and Minister of Health Ismail Sallam has announced that the necessary legal action will be taken against the doctors. They will also be held accountable before the Doctors’ Association which will conduct its own investigation. If found guilty, the doctors may face up to three years in prison.

Dr Seham Abdel-Salam, from the FGM Task Force (a coalition of NGOs and individuals researching and lobbying against the practice) said that she hopes that Mona’s death, though a tragedy in itself, will provide additional proof that female genital mutilation (FGM) is not safe. Since 1994, the FGM Task Force has recorded more than 17 cases of FGM-related deaths that were published in newspapers, “in addition to the many, many who have died at the hands of midwives, barbers or doctors that we never heard of.”

The majority of circumcision operations are performed by the local midwife or barber, but some mothers believe that if the girl is taken to the doctor, it will be safer and less painful.

In Abdel-Salam’s opinion, this is an illusion, because research has shown that having a doctor perform the operation is by no means safer. If the doctor administers anaesthetics to the patient, it is only to make his job easier and not to relieve the patient’s pain. “After all, it is easier for him to cut an unresisting, unconscious girl than one who is crying, screaming and trying to escape. But from our research, it has been shown that once the effects of the anaesthetics wear off, the pain that these girls feel is tremendous,” she said.

“It is sad that the level of awareness about the harm caused by this ritual is still so low, but it is so difficult to change a tradition that has been upheld for thousands of years,” she added.

Arrogance and Amnesia
by Edward Said

[Heading:] US Foreign Policy Depends Purely on the Above [title]. And it will continue to do so as long as we all concur, writes Edward Said.

When it comes to Israel (leaving aside Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Bosnia, Chile, Iran, Grenada, Panama, and many other places where the US bears responsibility for international terrorism) there is a sublime sense constantly projected that the US is on the side of the right, justice, morality and peace. All challenges to that view are considered terrorism, unless Israel does it.

… The trouble is that as Arabs we never seem willing to engage the US intellectually and morally in ways that highlight the crimes committed against us. I have long said that the dismal ignorance of the US that exists in the Arab world — an ignorance blithely disconnected to the system of US exploitation and its organised cruelties against the non-white peoples of the world — makes us prey to the illusion that America is the only arbiter, the last superpower, the power with the greatest chance of giving us our due. At the core of our difficulty is the lamentable disunity of the Arab world, where rulers think in terms of the narrowest interest and no concern is given to the way in which Arab states are used against each other, traduced, robbed, punished and endlessly manipulated. To the official US we remain only “the Arabs”, an undifferentiated mass of turban-wearing nomads much given to fanaticism and violence.

… America cannot be confronted by brave slogans and the purchase of more new weapons from it. Like everything else in this secular world of ours the US has to be faced in detail, its policies exposed, its positions disallowed and unaccepted. What else is the unseemly begging directed at the US to continue its putrefying “peace process” now, after Netanyahu and the US have made (as they always intended to) a shambles of the whole thing, what else is this indecent appeal to revive the process but a shabby admission of impotence and acquiescence? Why don’t the Arab states in their greater wisdom declare their own peace plan — in which the whole world concurs — and prove to the whole world that no amount of American chicanery or cruelty will deflect us from our resolve?

I suppose that to wait for such determination is like waiting for Arab leaders with policy intellectuals and makers in tow, to come to the conclusion that if we need anything now it is a complete reevaluation of our policies vis-a-vis the United States, led by a critical evaluation of such arch-villains as Henry Kissinger.

Hebron Situation Report

The last months of PA administration in Hebron have witnessed the continued conflict between the Jewish and Arab communities of that troubled city. This Belfast of the Middle East is rapidly moving toward armed confrontation. This is a brief update of the current situation.

Human Rights

During the last few months human rights violations against local Palestinians by their own Police and Security apparatus have increased. Dissident voices have essentially been silenced. There is now a feeling of fear and apathy on the part of the Arab residents of PA controlled Hebron.

The violence against the Jewish community has become a manner of PA policy rather than a spontaneous outburst of emotions. These attacks are carried out with the tacit approval of the Palestinian Police and sometimes under their direct control. In the past, there have been many incidents of the activists being given a financial stipend for participating in violent demonstrations against the Jewish Community.

In the Israeli controlled areas, there has been no improvement in the areas of house demolitions and administrative detention. With callous disregard for the issues at stake, the Israeli Civil Administration continues the thoughtless policies of the Israeli Government in destroying Palestinian homes. For each new home destroyed a potential terrorist cell is created.

The Jewish community of Hebron has also suffered. The daily attacks launched against the Jewish community by a small minority of Palestinian activists continue to keep the situation unstable. These attacks have escalated from stone throwing to shooting at Jewish houses and cars. The fact that the PA encourages this has not been lost on the Jewish Community. The feeling that the IDF is helpless to protect them is giving credibility to the fanatic minority who advocate direct action against the Arabs.

At the same time the Jews are being alienated from the mainstream Israeli community who resent their presence in Hebron as being an unnecessary provocation and military expense. The result is that the Hebron Jews are sinking into a ghetto mentality and are becoming increasingly more unstable and prone to acts of counter violence.


The Jewish community has always been provided with weapons by the IDF. These weapons are generally defensive in nature, consisting of surplus IDF army arms, and licensed pistols purchased legally on the Israeli market. In addition to this, the Jewish Community has the full protection and backing of IDF regular Army and Police units that are stationed both inside and near the Jewish Communities.

The PA has far exceeded the agreed upon limits which were set on their possession of semi-automatic weapons. They now possess a variety of assault rifles, sub-machine guns, machine guns, mortars, anti-tank weapons and grenades.

In addition to the massive Palestinian Police build up under Lt. Col. Abu Sine, there is a sizable independent unit of President Arafat’s Force 17 operating as a law onto itself. Beside this, unknown numbers of Col. Rejoub’s security forces and local PLO security unites under Gabril Al Backrin, the HAMAS and PFLP militias, operate more or less openly in the Hebron area. It has been estimated that there are between 3000 and 5000 serviceable weapons in the Hebron area. It is an open secret that weapons can also be bought under the indifferent eye of the PA in from various local arms merchants.

According to an independent Security Analysis, the situation is rapidly deteriorating and has reached a point where an outbreak of armed conflict between the Jewish and Arab communities is considered only a matter of time. For experienced observers, there is no longer any doubt that some trivial incident will set off the Hebron powder keg.

Hebcom Middle East Bureau
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Insight into the Middle East by the people who live there

Transcript of the Israel Radio News Correspondent Discussing One-sided Israeli News Coverage of Hebron, in Favor of Arabs

On July 6, 1998, on the popular morning talk show HaKol Diburim (“It’s all Talk”) hosted by Shelly Yechemovitch, who does not hide her very leftist positions, the following conversation took place with journalist Guy Kotev, who covers Hebron for Kol Yisrael radio.

Yechemovitch: We have just received a phone call from Moshe ben Zimra of Hebron who says that the Jewish Community of Hebron had nothing to do with the recent violence.

Kotev: That is correct.

Yechemovitch: He added that the community condemns all violence but says that unfortunately Hebron’s Jews are violently attacked daily by Arab thugs who ambush them and hurl huge rocks at them on the roads. Is this true?

Kotev: Yes, it is true. There are many many acts by Palestinians against the settlers. Any Palestinian you ask in the alleys of Hebron will tell you that the settlers don’t belong here and that ‘we will continue to act and are presently acting to prevent the setters from continuing to live in Hebron. We want them to leave.’ And these words and thoughts are translated into deeds. Palestinian youth throw rocks and riot in the alleys, throw rocks and bottles at houses in the Jewish community and at security forces. And of course they damage settler vehicles on the roads and when they are parked at night and do just about anything they are able to in order to cause the settlers problems and to prevent them from living normal lives in Hebron. This is true.

The settler’s complaints also relate to us, the media. They say that when rocks are thrown at them and when they are attacked and when their cars are attacked, we, the journalists, don’t report it. And here, when three kids riding on horses in Hebron, causing a little confusion and the resulting damage is seemingly minimal, the whole episode opens the hourly news on Kol Yisrael radio. This is true. Our understanding relates a little differently when a Palestinian damages Israeli property in Hebron. We relate to this differently because this is the way it seems, and it is very difficult to explain but this seems to be more newsworthy. The settler’s complaint is true.

Intelligence Sources: Hamas Members Who Planned Attacks are Serving in the Palestinian Security Forces

A recently compiled intelligence report submitted to the government lists 21 prominent Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists as currently serving in the Palestinian security forces.

Six of the terrorists played central roles in the suicide bombings in Jerusalem, Ashkelon, and Tel Aviv during February-March 1996, in which some 60 people were killed. Another three of the terrorists appearing on the list served in the past as aides to the wanted terrorist Mohammed Dief. The list also includes four terrorists convicted by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and sentenced to terms of two to 12 years in jail. Instead of serving their sentences, the four were enlisted by the Palestinian security forces.

Israel has already submitted extradition requests to the PA for five of the men on the list. However, the PA refuses to extradite them, just as it turned down 31 other extradition requests.

The six terrorists involved in planning suicide attacks who are now serving in the Palestinian security forces are:

  • Adnan al-Gol – senior operations officer in the Hamas, who underwent military training in Syria and Jordan. He prepared the Dizengoff Center bomb, escaped custody in June 1996, surrendered himself to the PA and joined the Palestinian security forces in December 1997. In March 1998 he was detained on suspected links to a grenade factory but returned to serve in the PA forces.
  • Kamal Khalifa – helped plan attacks in Jerusalem and Ashkelon, and was later drafted into the Preventive Security Service.
  • Yasser Yusef Mustafa Khasin – who took part in the attacks in Jerusalem and Ashkelon, today serves in the “Special Office,” a small bureau without defined areas of responsibility which is subordinate to the PA’s Preventive Security Service.
  • Bassam Issa – among other things, he trained the unit from eastern Jerusalem that helped Hassan Salameh carry out the February-March 1996 attacks. He was drafted to serve in the Preventive Security Service.
  • Mahmad Sanwar – involved in preparing suicide attacks at the beginning of 1996, after which he was drafted into the Preventive Security Service.
  • Sufian Abu Jadian – took part in the murder of Ilan Sudry and was enlisted by the PA’s Military Intelligence.

Abd al-Fatah Sitri, Salaam Abu Maarouf and Abd al-Khader Amar served as deputies of Muhammad Dief and were drafted to serve in the Preventive Security Service. Yusuf Malhi and Osama Abu Taha, involved in lethal attacks against Israelis and both sentenced to 12 years in prison by the Palestinian Authority, were released and now serve in the “Special Office”.

The five terrorists whose extradition has been requested by Israel are: Atef Hamadan, Yusuf Malhi, Raid Bashiti (who took part in the murder of two Israeli workmen at a construction site in Ramle), Bassam Issa and Imad Abbas.

Intelligence Report: Palestinian Authority Has Some 400 Weapons Obtained in Violation of the Agreement With Israel (article by Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz, July 7, 1998)

An intelligence report presented to the government in the past few days contains a long list of security violations of the Oslo Accords by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Among other things, the document states that “there is an ongoing and deliberate effort by officials of the PA’s security forces to smuggle weapons in to areas under its control with the aim of increasing the quantity and improving the quality of weapons at their disposal, including attempts to obtain anti-tank missiles.”

The report also states that despite the Palestinian Authority’s obligation under the Interim Agreement to confiscate illegal arms and license weapons in the hands of civilians in coordination with Israel, nothing has been done in this regard. “There are cases in which the Palestinian Authority has issued licenses unilaterally, and it is known that the Palestinian police continues to hold onto Israeli weapons despite requests to return them to the Israeli Army_ the Palestinian security forces have several hundred weapons of different types whose delivery to Palestinian-controlled areas was not coordinated with Israel nor approved by it as the agreement requires. According to our information, this is true of some 400 weapons, the source of which is smuggling from abroad, purchase from criminal elements within Israel or collection from opposition sources.”

The intelligence report also states that the size of the Palestinian police continues to exceed the agreed-upon limit. “Thus far, Israel has approved some 18,600 Palestinian policemen, but thousands more are operating in the field – apparently double the number approved by Israel.”

The report notes that armed bodyguards of Palestinians with VIP passes have entered Israel without the requisite Israeli gun license, in part because of lax Israeli enforcement. The Palestinian Authority, the report says, continues to arrest and interrogate holders of Israeli identity cards. “There are numerous such instances every month, and at times the detention is for long periods. There are cases of detention for up to two months, and in exceptional cases, for even longer. Detainees report being subjected to physical violence and humiliating treatment. In general, the Palestinian police do not hurry to answer Israeli requests to free detainees, as the accord requires.”

The report states that “the PA has refrained from initiating or taking comprehensive action against the terrorist infrastructure. They have failed to respond to Israel’s repeated requests to initiate thorough action against the infrastructure of the Islamic opposition organizations and they have refused to exert the necessary efforts to locate senior terrorists. The PA has closed Hamas institutions only for appearances’ sake. Thus, for example, there are currently 16 Hamas institutions which have been formally “closed” since September 1997, but there is evidence that regular activity takes place in at least some of them.”

“Around the time of Ramadan, (January-February 1998), there was a growing tendency in the PA to release prisoners. The PA also released Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists who were involved in attacks against Israelis. After complaints by Israel and the United States, this trend slowed somewhat.”

Reciprocity: Just a Word. What About the Promise of Justice?

To many Israelis, “reciprocity” is at best another cliched slogan, or, at worst, an excuse not to continue as part of the peace process. To us, the bereaved parents, reciprocity means the arrest and hand-over of the murderers of Israelis who have escaped to the safe havens of the Palestine Authority.

In an article published this week in HaAretz, Aryeh Bachrach, the father of Ohad, of blessed memory, who was killed by terrorists on Wadi Kelt, near Jerusalem, stated that President Ezer Weizman had “misled” him and other bereaved families. Bachrach quoted President Weizman as having promised to raise the issue of the hand-over of terrorists with President Mubarak of Egypt, and Bachrach accused Weizman of not having done so. Bachrach goes on to say that these murderers have been subsequently drafted into the ranks of the Palestine Authority security services, with the capability to carry out further attacks, as was the case with one of the murderers of teenager David Boim, who was gunned down at a bus stop in May, 1996. In September, 1997, the same man who shot David Boim also blew himself up on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehudah Street pedestrian mall, killing himself and five Israelis. If Israel had demanded the arrest and the hand-over of that killer, perhaps the tragic bloodshed could have been prevented.

Bachrach expressed the hope that Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu would not give in on the demand for reciprocity to hand over murderers of Israeli citizens, as proscribed in the Oslo accords.

I too identify with Aryeh Bachrach in his wish, and I too am have received grandiose promises which were broken.

The first person who “misled” me, in the words of Mr. Bacjrach, was the President of the United States, Mr. Bill Clinton.

In March, 1996, my husband Yehudah and I met with President Clinton more than a year after the murder of my son Nachshon at his Mount Herzl graveside, following the conference on terror that took place in Sharm El Sheikh. Clinton arrived at the grave together with US ambassador to Israel, Mr. Martin Indyk, and with Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. Indyk is now the under-secretary of state under Albright.

On the drizzling day, President Clinton placed two stones that he had brought with him from the White House on Nachshon’s grave, and assured is that the arrest and hand-over of Muhammad Deif, who masterminded our son’s kidnapping and murder, was a top “American priority”.

Clinton went on to tell my husband and myself that the very continuation of the peace process was contingent on Deif being apprehended and arrested. Peres nodded his head in agreement, and we were moved by their determination and we believed him.

Only three months later, however, my husband met with a senior security official in the Palestine Authority, who reported that Deif was indeed free in Gaza and that he could arrest him at any time and that Arafat would not allow it. I then flew to Washington, where I was brought to a meeting with Anthony Lake, then the national security advisor to President Clinton. Lake promised to look into the matter.

Mr. Lake called me a week later to my home in Jerusalem, and told me that the senior security official had denied that the conversation with my husband Yehudah had ever taken place, and that Deif was not in Gaza.

This was after the translator of the meeting was subsequently arrested and tortured by Palestine Authority security officials.

Yet we have since received further confirmation that Deif still wanders freely in Gaza, and that his subordinates are serving in high positions in the Palestine Authority security services.

Yet the same American president who made such a solemn promise to us at our son’s grave is now pressuring Israel to proceed with a preace process without asking Arafat to arrest or to hand over the murderer of our son and the killers of others who have been given welcome asylum by the Palestine Authority.

Meanwhile, our prime minister is portrayed as the one who breaks promises.

Most recently, I received a letter from a number of Senators and Congressmen who wrote to me that they had raised the issue with Secretary Albright and that she claimed not to be familiar with the case at all. I immediately contacted Under Secretary Martin Indyk, who was present when the president made his prome, and we got no satisfactory anwswer from Indyk, except to hear that the US condemns terrorism and that its interest was to apprehend known terrorists.

So I was also “misled” by the very highest of leaders, and my conclusion is that it is very easy to make promises in moments of emotional vulernability, when faced with bereaved parents at the fresh grave of their murdered son, yet fulfilling those promises remains another issue altogether.

President Clinton and then-prime minister Shimon Peres broke their promises to me, and Mr. Barach should not be surprised that President Weizman broke his promise to him. The name of the game is politics.

Al-Ahram: Eritrea, US Press

The following are selections from articles which appeared in the Egyptian English weekly, “Al-Ahram” of Al-Ahram Weekly, 25th June – 1st July, 1998

Small Arms for Big Wars
by Gamal Nkruma

{“Heading:] America may have suffered a diplomatic setback in its attempt to bring peace to the Horn, but its arms manufacturers are unlikely to complain

The United States, ostensibly to contain Sudan, has over the past two years supplied $7-million-worth of arms and ammunition to Eritrea and Ethiopia. These two countries are now using American military equipment to fight each other. America’s most senior officials appear at a loss for words when it comes to deciphering the political quagmire they have helped create. “The war, quite frankly, is madness,” said US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington last Friday. But couldn’t America’s foreign policy be described in similar terms?

… The $7-million-worth of American military equipment… consisted in the main of small arms. Their proliferation in the Horn of Africa is what makes the region so volatile, where they kill and maim an estimated 6,500 people a week. A bold international code of conduct on their export should be enforced — but probably won’t be.

… The American-led international efforts to end the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia faltered because of its rather patchy grasp of the political priorities of the countries of the region. Strategically important sectors of the Ethiopian economy, such as its defence industries, have now opened up to private foreign investment. American arms exporters will not be disappointed by that.

Both Eritrea and Ethiopia have embarked on diplomatic offensives to win the support of their Arab neighbors. A top-level Eritrean delegation… stopped over in Cairo during a tour of Maghreb and Gulf countries. Eritrean Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Abdalla Jaber said, “The Arab media exaggerates ties between Eritrea and Israel. They recently reported that 100 Israeli diplomats fled Asmara. There are only five Israeli diplomats in Asmara [and they] left the country last week.” Jaber also denied rumours that there were 10 Israeli military bases and projects underway on Dahlak Islands. “Actually two Saudi nationals — Hani Zaki Al-Yamani and Prince Al-Walid bin Talal — are the only investors involved in tourism ventures on the Dahlak Islands,” Jaber told Al-Ahram Weekly.

In Search of an Honest Press
by Mariz Tadros

[Heading:] A backlash against the press in the US is forming from within, but will it mean anything for the countries of the South ?

It has become customary for… media types from the United States to come and give lectures in Egypt about the abominable violations of press freedom in this country.

But there are always exceptions to the rule. At a lecture on press and social responsibility held by the Al-Ahram Regional Press Institute, Professor Emeritus John Merrill turned the tables round and chose to talk about the finer points of press practice in the US.

Merrill is dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia… The fact of the matter, declared Merrill, is that unrestrained press freedom has led to more monopolies and less democracy. “I think we can all agree that in the US, we do not know what the truth is anymore, we are getting warped versions of the truth based on our prejudices and biases.”

The whole idea behind journalism, pointed out Merrill, was to present the truth to the public. “They don’t call it censorship, they call it editing,” he grinned. “In theory the government is closer to the people than the press because it is elected, whereas the press is a private, unelected business, which is about making money.”

Merrill said that although he had fought relentlessly in defense of a free press, he cannot turn a blind eye to the “excesses of the system in America.” Too much freedom, he insisted, can make for biased reporting, for example, in favor of the Israelis and against the Palestinians. The “overindulgence of press freedom in the US” has also been responsible for a multitude of ills, including information imperialism by the major press monopolies.

Public or civic journalism has emerged in the US, explained Merrill as a backlash to existing press practices. It emphasises communitarianism, as opposed to individualism, which they believe characterises the press in America today.

… Merrill is quick to point out that while communitarian journalism is spreading fast, especially among new graduates of journalism, it has been repudiated and shunned by newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. He believes the reason behind this is that in many sections of American society, “they associate the collective nature of such newspapers with Marxism.”

But when it comes to the crunch, Merrill told the Weekly that communitarian journalism won’t ever be able to challenge the grand monopolies. Also, it has a puritanical streak to it, “it has this fundamentalist religious base to it, so it might not get far.”

… Merrill concludes that although communitarian journalism is a kind of fad that may not last, there is a definite wave in the US calling for greater regulation of the press.

Al-Ahram: Egypt’s Options, Lutfi El-Kholi

The following are selections from articles which appeared in the Egyptian English weekly, “Al-Ahram” of Al-Ahram Weekly, 2nd – 8th July, 1998

Forging News Alliances
by Dina Ezzat

[Heading:] Dina Ezzat explores Egypt’s options beyond a defunct peace process

As the deadlock in Middle East peace-making persists and inter-Arab differences re-surface, Egypt is faced with the difficult task of preventing these factors from eroding its role as a regional power broker.

“If Egypt does not make a significant contribution to the peace process and if it fails to deal with inter-Arab divisions, then it is destined for marginalisation in the region,” said one official.

… Syria wants a significant scaling-down of Arab-Israeli economic cooperation but Jordan feels that this will hurt its own interests,” a source said. In fact, the source added, there are serious concerns that Jordan may soon join Israel and Turkey in some sort of military alliance.

But Cairo is not giving up yet. Over the past few weeks, diplomatic sources said, it has stepped up efforts to contain inter-Arab divisions, particularly those between Syrians, Jordanians and Palestinians. Saudi Arabia co-sponsored the Egyptian effort. Sources told Al-Ahram Weekly that the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria have held at least two secret meetings to look at the possibility of organising a limited summit of the Arab states bordering Israel plus Saudi Arabia. Another possibility that was discussed was a tripartite Egyptian-Syrian-Saudi summit.

… Egyptian and European officials agree that if no agreement on a West Bank withdrawal is reached by the end of July, when the Israeli Knesset starts its summer recess, The Egyptian-French initiative will have to move ahead more forcefully.

On the other hand, Egyptian efforts to lobby the Israeli opposition have not yielded any significant results. Actually, Egyptian officials are aware that when push comes to shove, the Labour and Likud parties are likely to adopt similar policies on the broad lines of a final settlement.

During a visit to Cairo last month, Labour leader Ehud Barak agreed with the Likud policy of providing Israeli settlers with weapons, describing it as “technical security arrangements”. Barak also refused to accept the existence of a full-fledged Palestinian state, at any stage, arguing that a Palestinian state with an army would be a violation of the “red line” of Israeli security.

In fact, Egyptian officials said that Netanyahu’s policies are beginning to gather enough local support to carry him through the term and secure him a decent chance of winning a second term in the year 2000.

Lutfi El-Kholi: The Warrior Dove”
Profile by Gamal Nkurmah

[Heading:] Political commentator, columnist, writer, activist, and above all survivor: he’s done it all, seen it through and he’s still coming back for more

For over four decades, beginning in the early 1940s, El-Kholi has written, criticising the regime, the establishment, or the extremists.

… Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, Nasser’s confidant and the popular and highly acclaimed former chief editor of Al-Ahram… hand-picked El-Kholi for the plum job of editor-in-chief of Al-Tali’a (The Vanguard). The highly esteemed journal was to become something of a repository for independent socialist thinking in Egypt and throughout the Arab world.

… El-Kholi, as chief-editor, basked in the limelight until his unceremonious sacking in February 1977 by the late president, Anwar El-Sadat.

… El-Kholi himself, however, has not been immune to criticism. He is a key advocate of dialogue between Arab and Israeli intellectuals, and one of the instigators of the International Alliance for Arab-Israeli Peace, established by the so-called Copenhagen Declaration, which was issued in January 1997. By championing the cause of Copenhagen, El-Kholi is going against the grain. With the prevailing international climate and Israel intransigence, few Arab intellectuals want to speak with Israelis — especially former military men. There has been a concerted effort to discredit El-Kholi in the aftermath of the initiative, but his supporters believe that he has consistently waylaid his adversaries.

Whether or not one sees eye to eye with him on the Copenhagen question, his promotion of dialogue with “enlightened” Israelis should not cloud the fact that the man himself, and the causes he espouses, are much bigger than Copenhagen. As head of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Union (AAWU), Lutfi El-Kholi, political commentator, writer-activist, and above all survivor is essentially interested in the cause of the Third World. He is now working to convene an international conference in Cairo in 1999, based on the exploration of the relationship between the West and “the rest of us”, as El-Kholi humorously puts it.

The AAWU, however, is a shadow of its former self. Gone are the days of bountiful Soviet backing. The Union no longer enjoys the support of a host of anti-imperialist Third World governments. El-Kholi sees the brighter side of the matter. “It is a miracle that, with all its financial and other problems, it survived….”

Yediot Aharonot’s Ron Ben-Yishai: Don’t Know What Arafat Wants

Senior “Yediot Aharonot” reporter, Ron Ben-Yishai’s article, EXPOSURE: Military Intelligence Estimate – The Chance of War in the Coming Year Greater Than In The Past was the feature article in the Friday, 10th July supplement and highlighted in the newspaper’s advertising campaign.

Ben-Yishai reports that Arafat is preparing to attack Israel via three forces:

  1. Local Fatah activists under the command of Preventive Security chiefs Rajoub and Dahlan, who directed a dry run mobilization last May.
  2. The 36,000 arms bearing “security forces” – some of whom have already planned and practiced attacks against settlements. The Palestinian Authority has special anti-terror forces trained by Austria and other European countries whose role is apparently to attack settlements. Arafat own guard, Force 17, may also take part.
  3. Hamas forces who would, as in the past, be given the “green light” from Arafat.

IMRA interviewed Ben-Yishai, in Hebrew, on July 10:

IMRA: In your article today you write that “The GSS and military intelligence are convinced that Arafat will prevent violence as long as he sees a chance to advance towards a Palestinian state within more or less the 1967 borders.” What does “more or less” mean? Beilin-Mazen with the large settlement blocs intact?

Ben-Yishai: “More or less” really isn’t defined. I don’t know. It is open to negotiations. He didn’t give me a map.

IMRA: So there is no sense if there will be an explosion if he doesn’t also get those areas.

Ben-Yishai: As long as he sees that he is advancing towards his goal it is OK. And when he is stopped it won’t be OK.

IMRA: But it isn’t clear what his goal is.

Ben-Yishai: It isn’t clear what he is willing to compromise on.

IMRA: So it can be that the demands of the Third Way or Ehud Barak are beyond what is acceptable.

Ben-Yishai: It isn’t known. It is negotiations. It is a bazaar.

IMRA: There aren’t estimates on this.

Ben-Yishai: No.

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

Abbas: Klinghoffer Created Troubles So I Killed Him

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 Arafat…. 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 terrorists.

… 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 tactics.

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.”

The Case of a Missing Children Part Ten : “Swept Under the Magic Carpet”

On the 5th May, 1998, I attended a rally held by the “Mishkan Ohalim” organization, at Gan HaAtzmaut (the Independence Gardens), in Jerusalem.

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 causes.

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 later on.

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 their babies.

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 heart attack.

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]
Gender: Female.
Citizenship: [Blank]
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 blank.

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 Israel.

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 arrival at 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 issue.

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 of conscience.

Yechiel Mann,
Eshhar, Israel.
email: yam@netvision.net.il