Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Israel Not On Map in Palestinian Textbooks

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Sept. 2 “ After years of sharp debate and bitter recrimination, one of the most delicate and politically loaded documents in the Arab-Israeli dispute was unveiled today amid great ceremony“ and immediately delivered into the eager little hands of first- and sixth-graders.

The pupils were Palestinians returning to school in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the documents in question were glossy new school textbooks on civics and other subjects, the first written exclusively by and for Palestinians. They replace aging Jordanian and Egyptian volumes that the Palestinians have used for years.

The distribution of the slim, soft-covered books was a major event because in the Middle East, textbooks are not simply neutral educational tools but are read closely as indexes measuring each side’s acceptance or rejection of peace. They are seen as a crucial instrument, along with TV, in forming Arab and Jewish images of one another.

Israeli critics have long said Palestinian textbooks are part of a general Arab effort to deny Israel legitimacy. Some had hoped the new books would speak explicitly about Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and peace partnership.

The Palestinians said they were determined to produce texts that were educational, not political. Their approach was to minimize references to Israel and Jews rather than to malign them ×’€“ and that alone may represent an improvement of sorts.

However, inside the covers remain points of potential friction:

Maps in a sixth-grade civics textbook depict a long, dagger-like green shape separating the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but do not say that the shape is known to most of the world as Israel. Nor does the map include Tel Aviv, although it does pinpoint other Israeli cities with large past or current Arab populations.

A chapter on tolerance speaks generally of the importance of that rare Middle Eastern commodity, urging that it apply not only among religions but also sports teams and political parties. But there is no specific mention of tolerance for Israelis and no suggestion of Arab-Jewish reconciliation in the accompanying illustration ×’€“ a Muslim sheik greeting not a rabbi but a Christian priest.

When it is discussed, Israel is characterized as an “occupier” and treated more like an old enemy than a new peace partner. “The Palestinian people were expelled from their land as a result of the Israeli occupation of Palestine,”the civics text says, “and have been subjected to massacres and banishment from their land to neighboring countries.”

Still, from the perspective of peace supporters, the Palestinian textbooks are an improvement over the old Jordanian and Egyptian textbooks, nearly all of which were written before the Oslo declaration inaugurated Middle East peacemaking in 1993. Some contain virulent attacks on the “treacherous and disloyal” Jews and predict military victory for the Arabs over Israel.

That made them handy ammunition for some Israelis, who said that using the old texts in Palestinian-run schools proved that Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority was a racist and warmongering regime whose peaceable intentions were dubious at best.

Stung, the Palestinians noted that old Israeli textbooks contain unflattering references to Arabs as backward, shifty and unclean. They dismissed their Israeli critics as right-wingers opposed to peacemaking, and insisted the Palestinians should be judged only by their own textbooks.

Now, say Palestinian officials, the new books ×’€“ the product of four years of work by hundreds of experts ×’€“ represent an enormous step forward and a way station toward building an independent Palestinian state.

“We are going to teach the truth,” Naim Abu Humus, the Palestinian deputy minister of education, said today.

Soft-spoken and U.S.-educated, Abu Humus told an audience including Arafat, diplomats and dozens of educators at the Education Ministry in the Palestinian-ruled city of Ramallah that the new texts fulfill “one of the dreams of the Palestinian people.”

Later, in an interview, he insisted the books reflect sound educational principles and nation-building goals, and do their best to steer clear of politics.

“It’s not necessary to relate everything to politics,” he said. “In [the Israeli] curriculum they don’t have the word Palestine. Our curriculum is not anti-anybody.”

Abu Humus said the books’ focus on Palestine, not Israel, is intentional. The chapter on tolerance was illustrated by a Muslim and a Christian because those are the two main religions of Palestinians, he said. As for the omission of Israel on the maps, that was the decision of political higher-ups, he said.

His brother, Omer Abu Humus, an education official who worked on the new textbooks, said the Palestinians were wise to sidestep the issue of Israel’s borders, which are the subject of current peace talks.

“If I ask you to show me the exact borders of Israel, you can’t show me,” he said. “Why indulge in political questions which remain to be negotiated?”

Still, it may be difficult to convince some Israelis, particularly right-wing skeptics of peace who stress that there can be none until Palestinian officials and schools get used to the idea that Israel is here to stay.

“Not mentioning Israel on the map and only referring to cities with an Arab past is consistent with the ongoing media campaign,” said Itamar Marcus, the Israeli research director for the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, a New York-based group that monitors Arab media.

“There’s no attempt to create legitimacy or recognition that Israel exists,” said Marcus, whose focus on Palestinian media has touched a nerve among Arabs. “They’ll have to go through a major education campaign to reeducate people to see us as human beings…. The fact that there’s not any vicious antisemitism is a basic minimum.”

Marcus characterized as “very, very upsetting” the fact that the textbooks omit Israel and Jews from the chapter on tolerance.

His critique reflected a theme in Jewish-Arab discord: the Israeli insistence that the Palestinians must preach peace to their people as a means of reconciliation, and the Palestinian rebuttal that justice “ the return of Palestinian land“ is the only real route to peace.

“What will change the situation will be to give the Palestinians their rights,” said Naim Abu Humus, the deputy education minister. “Without that, no newspaper, no textbook, will change the situation.”

The textbooks released today mark the beginning of a broad curriculum reform for Palestinian schools, whose growth rate is among the fastest in the world.

Until now, West Bank students have read textbooks from Jordan, and Gazans have used books from Egypt.

Funded by Italy, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and Belgium, new textbooks for all grades through high school are to be phased in over the next four years. They will be used by 865,000 students in the more than 1,750 schools administered by the Palestinians and the United Nations in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as Arab schools in East Jerusalem. However, the new books will not be distributed to U.N.-run schools for tens of thousands of Palestinians classified as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The curriculum reform calls for a 10 percent increase in class time, and all Palestinian students will be required to study English for 10 years, starting in first grade. Until now, compulsory English had been taught for only four years, beginning in fifth grade. Compulsory classes in civics, technology and science will be added, and more courses are to be offered in German, French and environmental studies.

The writer is the bureau chief of the Washington Post in Israel

‘A’ Is for Arafat, ‘B’ Is for Bethlehem. Skip Zion.

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Sept. 7 Inside a modern, secular private school here, the first-grade boys and girls stuffed their Pokemon and Barbie backpacks into their cubbies and gathered on the blue rug for story time.

Their 24-year-old teacher, Nesrin Alayan, kneeled, clasped her hands and began, in a singsong voice, to tell “the tale of a joyful home called Palestine.”

The tale begins, she told the children, with a large, happy family eating and laughing inside their house. One day, she said, “some people” come to the door with rifles and pistols, open fire on the house and seize it.

“We the Palestinian family are forced out into the cold,” she said. “And then we spend many, many years trying to get back into our house. In order to do so, we start throwing stones. And then people are killed. Do you boys and girls know the word intifada? That’s when the world starts paying attention to our tale.”

With her story, which concludes on the “path of peace,” Mrs. Alayan was improvising a setup for the opening lesson in a new first-grade reader, the very first official reader written by and for Palestinians.

The lesson deals with the symbols of the new Palestinian identity – the flag, the passport and it is part of a fledgling home-grown curriculum that was introduced this week in first- and sixth-grade classrooms throughout the Palestinian-ruled territories.

For decades Palestinians in the West Bank have used Jordanian textbooks and those in Gaza have relied on Egyptian ones, making for a disjointed and ultimately borrowed educational program. As part of the process of building institutions for an emerging Palestinian state, the Palestinian Authority, with money from European countries, is trying to create from scratch a genuine Palestinian curriculum, starting with two grades as a pilot effort.

But since the Palestinian nation has not yet emerged, the curriculum is a delicate work in progress, fodder for criticism from within and without.

With peace negotiations unresolved, it is hard to know how Mrs. Alayan’s tale will end. Her principal, Maha Shihadi, said it was almost impossible to teach geography. The regional map, as far as every Palestinian is concerned, cannot be drawn before borders are determined as part of the peace talks.

How, Mrs. Shihadi asked, can the children illustrate Palestine? She wondered if they should make cutouts, like snowflakes, to portray the unconnected parcels of land that now constitute the Palestinian-ruled territories. The textbook writers opted for what they call “the historic map of Palestine,” the map of 1948.

In other words, Israel is not pictured. Tel Aviv does not exist.

This greatly upsets those Israelis, mostly rightists, who monitor Palestinian media and literature, documenting hostility toward Israel and Jews. They say it betrays the whole spirit of the peace effort for the Palestinians to generate a new educational curriculum that, for starters, ignores Israel on maps.

Salah Yassin, the director general of curriculum development for the Palestinian Authority, defends this omission as calculated and unavoidable.

“Complain to the Education Minister!” he joked. Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, holds that portfolio.

Mr. Yassin said Israel, like Palestine, remained undefined. “That is what these peace talks are about, no?,” he said. “When the crisis is solved, we will clearly mark: `This is Palestine. This is Israel.’ But for now we educators are not going to get involved in politics. The texts are, by necessity, works in progress, and they will be modified.”

The Palestinian educators think it is significant that Palestinian students will crack open textbooks saturated with local images and references for the first time.

Math books ask students to calculate the distance between Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank, not Amman and Petra in Jordan. Arabic texts feature poems and essays by Palestinians and reading comprehension passages about the Palestinian olive oil and stone industries. Mr. Yassin also cited “Mary and Jesus” as examples of Palestinian personalities in the new books.

In the sixth-grade books, Palestinian history is presented not in linear narrative form but sketchily.

The creation of Israel is explained tersely as “the Israeli occupation of 1948,” which with the assistance of Britain “destroyed most of the Palestinian villages and cities and kicked the Palestinian inhabitants from their lands.”

In a section on the Palestine Liberation Organization, its “liberation army” is mentioned, as well as the return to the West Bank and Gaza of its “fighters” after the Oslo interim peace agreement was signed in 1993. Terrorism is not mentioned, and Oslo is not explained.

A chapter on “Palestinian problems” includes a grab bag of issues, including high unemployment, a brain drain, the Israeli settlement expansion policy and the “Judaization” of Jerusalem.

Text blocks tend to be short, followed by suggested activities – like inviting a Palestine Liberation Organization official to class or fill- in-the-blank exercises:

Palestine in the 20th century was under (blank) occupation and blank) occupation.

The correct answers are British and Israeli, omitting what some Palestinians consider to have been periods of Ottoman and Jordanian occupation.

For much of Israel’s history its textbooks were far from neutral themselves, sticking closely to a heroic Zionist narrative and avoiding any Palestinian perspective. Starting last year, shortly after Israel’s 51st birthday, a revised curriculum began using the term Palestinian freely and referring to a Palestinian people and a nationalist movement.

In a bid to introduce greater historical detail to the story of Israel’s founding, new textbooks said that in 1948 some Palestinians were expelled from their villages and that some fled because they feared Israeli soldiers. But the new books are used only in the mainstream secular school system, which serves about 60 percent of schoolchildren. And since some secular Israeli educators consider them offensive, they are not used throughout the system.

Mr. Yassin emphasizes that the first- and sixth-grade books must be seen as part of what will eventually be a complete first- through 12th- grade curriculum.

They cannot be judged in isolation, he said. Over the next four years, the Palestinian government intends to phase in the remaining grades and introduce broader educational reforms: more creative teaching, less rote learning, compulsory English starting from the first grade, third- language electives including Hebrew, technology classes.

But with so many inside and outside the Palestinian world anxiously wondering what shape the new state will take, the books have been pounced on this week, and not just by Israeli rightists. Palestinians, too, have been scouring them for signs of how the government is managing the delicate question of forging a national identity from so many strands: the West Bank and Gaza, Muslims and Christians, religious and secular. And academics are scrutinizing them to evaluate the educational standards they set.

In an article in the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds, a local professor condemned the new first-grade reader for underestimating Palestinian children. Every Palestinian child knows and understands the camel, a part of the landscape here, “the cargo ship of the desert,” he said. Why, he asked, did the textbook writers feel compelled to concoct a story about a camel and a lion that describes the camel as “the king of the jungle?”

At the private school here, which is called Al Mustaqbal, or the Future School, a seasoned science teacher expressed disappointment with the new sixth-grade science book. After conducting a lively anatomy class on joints, the teacher, Dalal Kasabri, said she had greatly departed from the text because it was overly simplistic, unimaginative and in some cases inaccurate.

“Obviously there are different levels in the West Bank and Gaza, in public schools and private ones like this one,” she said. “But we should be setting high standards for our children and our people.”

The illustration for a civics book lesson on tolerance shows a sheik and a priest shaking hands.

To the disappointment of Israeli critics, who were hoping that the new Palestinian textbooks would preach tolerance for Jews, too, the books look inward only, where Palestinian educators say a lot of work must be done. As part of an interfaith effort, they also produced textbooks on Christianity, which will be used by Christian children during the period when their Muslim classmates study Islam.

Back in Mrs. Alayan’s class, the children were examining one little girl’s shiny new Palestinian passport. The young teacher, her face shining, asked the children how they could use their new documents, their new badges of Palestinian identity.

“Teacher, teacher!” one boy called out, leaping with his outstretched arm into the air. “To go to America!”

The writer is the bureau chief of the New York Times in Israel

Analysis of a new textbook of the Palestinian Authority

“NATIONAL EDUCATION FOR SIXTH GRADE” Published by the “Ministry of Education for the State of Palestine”. presented September 2000.


[Ed. From the content of these pages it is clear that this entire area is referred to only as Palestine]

[The student is instructed to] “Look at the map and answer the following questions…..

1. What are the natural resources of Palestine? 2….Mention the borders of Palestine from all four sides. 3. “Which are the continents which Palestine connects?” 4. Mention the seas that are “on the land of Palestine”.

The Location of Palestine.

Palestine has an important place in the heart of the Arabic motherland because

1. She is the connection between three continents, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

2. She is the connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and that is why she is extremely important from a strategic, political and military point of view………….”


“In the division of Palestine, there are four parts:

1. The coastline. The cities that are on its coast are Acco, Haifa, Jaffa and Gaza. 2. The mountain areas which include the Galilee, Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron, and the cities which include Nazareth, Jenin, Tulkharam, Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Hebron 3. The Jordan Valley which extends from Lake of Tiberius to the Dead Sea. 4. The Negev comprises half of the territory of Palestine [geographically]. This is semi desert & its important city is Beer Sheva……….

THE WATER RESOURCES OF PALESTINE I. Rain II. Other water sources include A. Rivers, including the River Jordan and springs,and rivers Al-Muqata, Al-Odja and Al-Faria. B. Lakes – the most important is the Lake of Tiberius

165 square km. In area and consisting of sweet water, and the Dead Sea, 1050 square km. with salt water. It is also rich in minerals.

3. Underground water, which is in the form of springs and wells. [Ed. This is a literal translation. One presumes that the reference is to the aquifers although the sentence construction is ambiguous.]

Page 11

1. Draw a map of historical Palestine 2. Indicate the main cities on the coastline. 3. Indicate the main cities in the Jordan Valley.


1. The West Bank 1,972,000 2. Gaza 1,113,000 3. Palestinians Within Palestine 1,094,000 4. Palestinians Outside Palestine 4,419,000

5. TOTAL 8,598,000

[Ed. Note: There is an absence of statistics for the Jewish population residing in the area currently known as the state of Israel].

Page 11

“Let’s understand that… Palestine is a part of the great Arabic motherland and the Palestinian people are a part of the Arabic nation. Arabic unity is the goal that the Palestinian people work for”, quoted from the Laws of the Palestinian National Authority. Chapter 1, Paragraph 1.

Page 13. Characteristics of Palestinian Society… “All of Palestinian History is a struggle manifested by courage and bravery. The Palestinian people fought the British authority and Israeli occupation and they have revolted several times. They had thousands of martyrs and wounded……….’

[Ed. Regarding Arabic National Issues}…

4. The flag of the Palestinian National Movement is the Arabic flag and the national anthem is the Arabic anthem. Arabic unity is the desire of the Palestinian people.

5. In Palestinian society brotherhood and tolerance exists between the Moslems and the Christians…

“The Palestinian people were expelled from their land because of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the Palestinian people were subjected to massacres and made to emigrate to neighboring states.

Page 15. 3 photographs show…

A. Arab revolt of 1936 B. Subtitle reads “This is the map of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza” C. Azzadin-al-Kassam (Mujahid)**

The following questions then appear 1. Mention the name of the Imperial power which colonized Palestine from 1918 to 1948. 2. Mention the means which the Palestinian people used to fight the British imperialists. 3. Give the name of the Arabic leader who died as a martyr in Yaabad in 1935 in his fight against British imperialism…”


Page 17

1. “Imperialism”…[talks of British imperialism]…”and the Israeli occupation in 1948 with the help of Great Britain”…Israeli occupation has destroyed most of the Palestinian cities and villages, expelled the Palestinian residents and forced them to leave their lands and villages.

2. Israel has embraced a new policy in occupying the Palestinian lands, which is settling the land and including developing agricultural,industrial and residential components

[Ed. NOTE: the Arabic words used for “settling the land by Israelis” has a highly pejorative implication in Arabic].

3. Under the Israeli conquest, [the Israelis] were neglecting the health, education and social services of the Palestinian people.

4. Israel took control of underground water supplies in Palestine.

5. The lack of independence of the Palestinian economy…being influenced by the Israeli economy…

6. Judaizing Jerusalem and obliterating the Palestinian identity of its [Arab] residents.

Page 18

2. Explain the policy which Israel carried out against the Palestinian people after its conquest of Palestine. FILL IN THE MISSING WORDS [IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE]

3. part C. The leader Azzadin al-Kassam died as a martyr while fighting against the occupation…[student is instructed to fill in the answer in the dotted line spaces provided]whereas the leader Khalil il Wazir (Abu Jihad)died as a martyr while fighting against the occupation [fill in the answers here]…. [Ed. required answer to the first part is “by the British”. Required answer to the second part is: “the Israelis”.]

Page 19

Write a short report regarding the negative effects resulting from the “settling of the land” by the Israelis.


[from the Declaration of Independence (of the state of Palestine) on 15 November 1988 at the meeting in Algeria]

The National Council declares in the name of God and in the name of the Arab Palestinian people the establishment of the State of Palestine on our Palestinian land, and its capital Holy Jerusalem. The State of Palestine is an Arabic state and is part of the Arabic nation and is a part of its tradition and culture.

[Questions relating to this are ]

1. When was the Palestinian state declared?

2. Name the capital of the Palestinian state.

Page 30

The declaration of the creation of the state of Palestine and its capital, Holy Jerusalem occurred in Algeria in 1988.

Page 32 [Ed.] Includes a significant portion of the Declaration of Independence of 1988….not further translated in this report at this time.

Page 64 entitled “Me and The Others” [talks of] Invention, Tolerance, Racism, Imitation*, Justice and Values… [Asks the student to]….. Explain the dangers of racism in the society. [ *which may be either positive or negative imitation.]

On Page 70… A picture illustrates a Moslem Imam and Christian Cleric shaking hands. [Ed. Nowhere is any reference made regarding tolerance towards the Jews]

Page 72 Question 1. “What is the position of the Islamic religion about the people of other revealed religions?

[Ed. NOTE. Connotation of “other revealed religions” is of Judaism and Christianity]

[Quotes a line from the Koran regarding the People of the Book]…….. “Don’t argue with the People of the Book unless it is for something good”

[Ed. NOTE: Although specifically mentioning Moslems and Christians, there is no mention of the Jews, in this textbook despite the fact that Islamic culture traditionally recognizes the three religions, Moslems, Christians and Jews as People of the Book. The item quoted from page 72 may be an oblique reference to Jews and possibly an entree to discussions in the classroom regarding the Jews and the policy of the Palestinians]

Page 73 Shows Picture A.[subtitled] “Release of a [ Palestinian] prisoner”

[Asks] Question 4: “What are the feelings of the person, after his release, and also when his motherland is liberated from the imperialists?”.

[continues] Question 5. “Mention a few of the movements and revolts that took place in Palestine and the Arabic motherland for freedom”

Page 75

Shows two columns with name of country and event.[and asks student to pair up country with appropriate event]. [Subtitle explains.]…”The Movement of Struggle for Freedom and Independence” Name of Country and…Event

Morocco Revolt of Saad Zaghlul in 1919 against the British Iraq Revolt of Azzadin al-Kassam against the British Palestine Revolt of Abd al-Karim al- Khitabi against the Spanish Algeria Revolt of Rashid al-Kilani against the British Egypt Revolt of Abd al-Kader al-Jazayiri against the French

[Ed. NOTE: The required answer is to pair “Palestine” with “Azzadin al-Kassam”. This is yet another glorified reference to Azzadin-al-Kassam who is the marytred hero of the “Hamas” Movement]]

EDITOR’S EPLIGOUE The 1993 Declaration of Principles of the Oslo process required both the Israeli government and the PLO to introduce a peace education program for both the Israeli and Palestinian populations. Seven years later, the peace curriculum is in its seventh year of operation in the Israel Ministry of Education.

Now that the PLO’s Palestinian Authority has finally introduced its own curriculum into its school system, there is no indication of peace education or reconciliation with the Israelis.

It is as if seven years of a peace process never happened.


The writer is a research psychiatrist who recently retired from active work at the Truman Center for Peace, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

Muhammad and Meira begin first grade

I work with a senior Palestinian TV journalist, Mustafa, who, like me, hits fifty this month and, like me, has a child, Muhammad, who begins first grade this week.

My Meira, also six, is excited to know that ever so soon she will learn how to read and write like her older siblings.

I witness the same excitement that I see on Meira’s face when I see Muhammad at his home in Ramallah, sitting with his older siblings.

Muhammad, who always runs to get me Kosher cookies when I come to work with his father on a fliming assignment, tells me that now that he’s in first grade he’ll be able to read the kosher label on the cookies.

Yet when I joined Mustafa this week to cover the beginning of the school year in both the Israeli and Palestinian first grades, the difference in the curriculum could not be more dissonant.

When I went to the curricula center in the Al Bira, the well kept middle class Palestinian suburb of Ramallah, the PA director of textbooks and printings, showed my Palestinian journalist and myself the new school books that have been published for the first time by the Palestinian Authority itself, with special grants received from the nations of the European community, beginning this year with brand new books for the first and sixth grade.

The other school books used by Palestinian school children, published for the PA in Egypt and in Jordan, are rampant with passages that prepare Palestinian children for war against the state of Israel, while describing the Jewish state in Nazi-like terms.

When the Israel Civil Administration had supervised the Palestinian school system until 1994, Israel had deleted all such passages. The PA simply reinstated them.

Many people had held out hope that the new school books published by the Palestinian Authority would contain passages of peace, unlike the others. No such luck. The history and geography books for both the first and sixth grades contain maps which portray all of Palestine, and numerous new passages that call on a new generation of Palestinian children to liberate all of Jerusalem and all of Palestine.

The contrast with what Israeli school children are learning is striking, since a peace curriculum has been required in the Israeli schools and Israeli educational Television since 1993.

As I browsed through the Palestinian school books, I could not help but think about the difference between Meira and Muhmmad.

Meira knows the Sesame Street song “let’s be friends” in Arabic from the program that he has been watching on Israeli educational TV since she is four, and she sometimes insists on singing it at the Shabbat table.

For her, the idea that she might make friends with Arab kids her own age has caught her imagination from a young age.

Yet Muhammad, at the same age, can’t stop singing the Biladi song of the PLO, the marching song which calls on every Palestinian youngster to take up arms against the Jews.

Such manipulation of children was not supposed to be part of the peace process.

After all, “peace education” was to be included in the second paragraph of the Oslo declaration of principles that was signed and issued by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jorgen Holst, and PLO leader Yassir Arafat back in September, 1993.

Yet almost seven years to the day from that declaration of principles, and despite numerous grass roots efforts at reconciliation, the official organs of the PLO and its administrative creation, the Palestinian Authority, have yet to issue their first statement in Arabic that calls for peace and reconciliation with Zionism and/or the state of Israel.

I inquired as to whether the Italian consul, Mr. Gianni Ghisi, who was responsible for organizing the funding of the European consuls to fund the new Palestinian textbooks, had even seen the new textbooks of the Palestinian Authority that he had funded.

Mr. Ghisi responded by saying that the PA would not let him see the books before they were published, despite an agreement that they had to review the texts before publication.

Recognizing that the PLO and the PA had instead substituted incitement for peace in their official rhetoric, the US, PLO and Israel had agreed at the Wye conference in October, 1998 to establish a continuing task force to address the subject of official PLO incitement to war.

That task force met constantly for more than a year, even into the Barak administration, which assumed the helm of Israeli leadership in July of 1999. Barak appointed Yaakov Erez, the editor of Maariv, to head Israel’s delegation to the task force on incitement.

The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, an agency that monitors school books on all sides of the middle east conflict, dispatched streams of material to the task force, and organized an unusual nonpartisan session of the Knesset in May to address the subject of PA education, which constantly depicts Israel as a Nazi entity that needs to be wiped off of the face of the earth.

The Center’s website can be accessed at:

Following my visit to the PA curriculum center at AL Bira, where I had perused the new textbooks of the PA, I called Yaakov Erez to ask him if the textbooks had been seen and evaluated by the task force on incitement. Erez told me that he had resigned from the committee, and referred me to the Israel Foreign Ministry, who had assigned a senior staff member to continue Israeli representation at the committee.

When I got to the Israel foreign ministry and finally located the Foreign Ministry staffer who was assigned to the incitement committee, he informed me that the task force on incitement was no longer meeting. The reason given by the Israel Foreign Ministry staffer: Lack of interest demonstrated by the current US ambassador.

So there you have it.

Meira begins first grade knowing the Sesame Street song in Arabic by heart, wondering aloud if she will ever have an Arab friend, while Muhammad will be handed a map of the whole of Palestine on his first day of school, and inculcated to do everything that he can in his young life to make war on my children.

It was therefore not surprising that the New York Times, in a front page story on August 3, 2000, entitled “Palestinian Summer Camps Offer Games of War”, documented how the schoolyards of Palestinian educational institutions were used all summer to train 25,000 Palestinian school children in the art of war.

The writer, who now works as a journalist, has worked on issues of reconciliation and holds a master’s degree in community organization social work practice

Professional Review of the Palestinian Authority teachers guide

Analysis of “REPORT: PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS”, compiled by the “Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace” CMIP); Research Director: Itamar Marcus. (CMIP is accessible at

140 textbooks were reviewed by CMIP.

Of these, 36 were quoted in their Report.

From these 36 books, 7 are analysed here in greater detail for content.

(1). “Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. 22 items from this textbook appear in the report. The content within these twenty-two items includes:- – Need to liberate Jerusalem, Palestine or both by force from Jews: Appears 13 times -Jihad as duty/Muslims defeating enemy:Appears 6 times – Map of Palestine which includes whole of Israel:Appears 2 times – Importance of Martyrdom:Appears 8 times – Claims that various Israeli cities including Jerusalem are actually Palestine: Appears 5 times -Jews are referred to as “the thieving conquerors”: 1 time

* See, for example, page 27 of the Report:- “Why must we fight the Jews and drive them out of our land?”

(2). “Our Arabic Language for Seventh Grade, Part A.” 2 items from this textbook appear in the Report. The content within these two items include:- Need for force to liberate Palestine from the Jews.*Appears 1 time Claims that various Israeli cities are actually Palestine 1 time Concept of Palestinian land being stolen by the Jews: 1 time * See page 13 of the Report: “Subject for Composition: How are we going to liberate our stolen land? Make use of the following ideas: Arab unity, genuine faith in Allah, most modern weapons and ammunition, using oil and other precious natural resources as weapons in the battle for liberation.”

(3). “Our Arabic Language, Part 2 for Sixth Grade.” 4 items from this textbook appear in the Report. The content within these four items includes:- – Concept of Jihad. Appears 4 times – Martyrdom Appears 2 times See page 31 of the report:- To be learned by heart the poem “Mother of the Cities” in which BAGHDAD is to liberate Jaffa, Nablus and Shaar Hagai, (the entrance to Jerusalem)

(4). “Contemporary History of the Arabs and the World.” 4 items from this textbook appear in the report. The content within these four items includes: – Equating Zionism with racism, Nazism and Fascism:3 times – Comparing Zionism with Imperialism: 1 time

NOTE: stating that Zionism advocates elimination of the original inhabitants, whereas Imperialism has not gone as far as eliminating the original inhabitants. See page 9. – A so-called “Talmudic quote” stating that “We the Jews are God’s people on earth,to… marry into the various religions [to have] the final word in managing the countries [of the world]…… We should cheat [the non Jews] and arouse quarrels among them that they then fight each other… Non Jews are pigs who God created in the shape of man….that they be fit for service to the Jews…..” See page 8.

(5)“Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part 2, for Tenth Grade.” 13 items from this textbook appear in the report. The content within these four items includes: Expulsion of the Arabs by colonialist, aggressive Jews: 1 time Denial of Jewish nationhood, history and legitimacy: 4 times – False maps 1 time – Colonial powers use Israel 1 time

Note. The USA is helping Israel in its aggressive wars against the Arabs. See page 52 – Israel is occupied Palestine 1 time – Zionist Greed 1 time – Israeli or Jewish provocation 2 times

“Israel constitutes a military, economic, political and security provocation to the Arab world. The struggle has whittled away much of the economic capacity of the Arab world…. “ See page 38

** “Revolt of 1929: [started] when the Jews congregated at al-Buraq Wall {The WesternWall} and raised the Zionist flag over it as a provocation to the Arabs. This was an insult to Moslem worshippers and they attacked the Jews.” See page 38. – Israel transferring out water resources: 1 time

(6). “Our Arabic Language, Part 1, for Sixth Grade.” 11 items from this textbook appear in the report. The content within these eleven items includes:- – Need to fight, war, Jihad“ 3 times – The Jews as thieves (0f Palestine) 3 times – Martyrdom, including its glories and heroism. 4 times – the Zionist danger: 1 time. (7). “Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade.” 13 items from this textbook appear in the Report. The content within these thirteen items includes:- – Advocates the need for Force to liberate Jerusalem: 8 times * &

*For example: from poem entitled “Bayonets and Torches” “….Without blood not even one centimeter will be liberated….”

The text then continues “The poem represents a reality lived by Palestinians. Explain this.” (See page 13 of the report ). – ** From poem, “Palestine” “My brothers! The oppressors [Israel-ed.] have overstepped the boundary, Therefore Jihad and sacrifice are a duty………let us gather for war with red blood and blazing fire……Oh, Palestine, the youth will redeem your land…” page 28 of the Report

The Jews as greedy, thieves, and making false claims to Jerusalem…………………… “ 2 times

The text asks “What can we do to rescue Jerusalem and to liberate it from the thieving enemy……..”

page 22 of the Report

– False claims of arson and a Zionist plot: 1 time – Occupiers set al-Aqsa Mosque on fire on 21.8.69…. a further chapter in the Zionist plot…to destroy all that is holy to Islam there…What can we do to rescue Jerusalem and to liberate it from the thieving enemy?”

Editor’s note: the fire was set by a non-Jew from Australia-ed. At his trial he was found to be of unsound mind, and was committed to a mental hospital.

The writer is a research psychiatrist who recently retired from active work at the Truman Center for Peace, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

This week in the official Palestinian Authority media

This week, the Palestinian press dwelt on the Palestinian achievements in the Camp David summit, and how Israel was pulled closer to the positions held by the Palestinian Authority (P.A.). In one interview, Palestinian negotiator Saib Arikat recounted an important conversation between President Bill Clinton and P.A. Chairman Yasser Arafat, the conversation, in fact, that brought about the failure of the Camp David summit. In the conversation, Clinton attempts to persuade Arafat to settle for the concessions offered by Israel which included, among others, the dismantling of all the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of territories, and a withdrawal from 90% of Judea and Samaria:

Arikat: “While the President [Arafat] listened, the American leaders stated their warnings [about the consequences of refusal]. They did not stop until he [Arafat] retorted: ‘Thank you very much for the effort you put in, but I am not prepared to agree to treason and I will never agree to give the Israelis any sovereignty whatsoever on any part of Jerusalem. We are weak now, but [some day] some one will come who will liberate [the city]’.”

Arikat added that Clinton became angry and said: “Good, go back to Gaza as a hero, and be the hero in the eyes of the Christians and the Moslems… but you will return and remain isolated in the Middle East; the Barak goverenment is on the verge of collapse, and the peace process will collapse.”

President Yasser Arafat replied to Clinton: “We are prepared to work on the peace process… day by day and hour by hour, but I will not agree that [even] one inch of Jerusalem will be under Israeli sovereignty.”

Clinton retorted: “Gaza will be cleansed of settlers, there will be a road between the West Bank and Gaza, absolute Palestinian control of the passages, the Palestinian state will be declared on 90% of the West Bank, there will an exchange of territory, and their will be Palestinian control over many religious sites in Jerusalem!” The President responded to Clinton, “You don’t see the picture in its totality, which is that I came [here to Camp David] with a broken heart because I am negotiating on only 22% of historical Palestine, and this is the painful concession that remains with the the Palestinian people; I will not concede more than that and the Palestinian people will never weaken. [Al Ayyam, 8 August 2000].

In another interview, Arikat described the Israeli proposal to divide Jerusalem, including the proposal that “the seat of the Palestinian government will be in the area of the Temple Mount”:

“…[Saib Arikat] said… ‘Israel submitted proposals to divide Jerusalem into a number of districts, where districts that are outside the borders of Jerusalem, that we don’t recognize to begin with, will be subject to Palestinian sovereignty; a few neighborhoods inside Jerusalem will be subject to full Palestinian autonomy, and a municipal body will be established to administer Jerusalem’s affairs. And side by side, there will be Palestinian sovereignty over the holy places and the seat of the Palestinian government will be in the area of Ha-ram (the Temple Mount), and Israel will hold the remaining sovereignty at the bottom of the illustrious Ha-ram (Temple Mount) of Jerusalem… Arikat [also] said that the subject of the refugees was a major point of contention during conversations that took place in the course of the summit.” [Al Hayat Al-Jadida, 13 August 2000].

After the recent events in Lebanon, Israel is seen by Palestinian society as a nation that cannot endure adversity and military challenges, as opposed to the Palestinians who are prepared to sacrifice and fight for their cause. The Palestinians view this as Israel’s Achilles’ heel and they intend to use the threat of violence, as well as controlled actual violence, to weaken Israel’s resolve and ability to hold on to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. This position was expressed this week by a leading member of the United National Front of the Villages of ’48, Yusuf Alsalem:

“…Alsalem emphasized that Barak has no other option but to acknowledge the Palestinian rights that are recognized by international law… especially since our Palestinian people. are prepared to make sacrifices in order to achieve independence; as for the Israeli people, it cannot tolerate the consequences of continuing violence and bloodshed, from a psychological, economic, and social standpoint…”. [Al Hayat Al-Jadida, 13 August 2000].

At the same time that the P.A. is discussing peace with Israel, messages of the Palestinians’ not coming to terms with Israel’s existence as well as not recognizing her existence, are accentuated over and over in every newspaper and periodical, often quite explicitly, as in the following examples:

“Minister of Justice Farich Abu Midyen… called for ‘co-existence with the Israelis, in accordance with the example of South Africa or other bi-national states, but the problem is that the Israelis want a Jewish state”. [Al Hayat Al-Jadida, 10 August 2000].

The Secretary-General of the Movement for the Islamic Struggle: “Jerusalem never was the capital of the Hebrew state and we will note what is emphasized in the Koran: The end of the Zionist entity is a Koranic necessity, there is no place for [Israel] no matter how long it takes [to disappear]…” [Palestinian Television 6 August 2000].

At times, the tool for expressing this non-acceptance of Israel is the use of terminology of non-recognition. For example, defining Israeli cities as “Palestinian cities”, or characterizing Israel as “the occupation”. The following are a few examples:

“The city of Akko (Acre) in occupied Palestine… [Al Hayat Al-Jadida, 10 August 2000]. “The occupation tried to entice the residents of Um Al-Farg… which is near Nahariya, and the occupation set up at the site of the village the ‘Ben Ami’ base…”… [Al Hayat Al-Jadida, 10 August 2000].

Crossword puzzle clues: “A Palestinian city”. The correct answers are “Akko (Acre)” and “Nazareth”. [Al Quds, 6 August 2000]. The Justice Minister Farich Abu Midyen refers to Israel as the “Hebrew State” [Al Hayat Al-Jadida, 10 August 2000]. The expressions, “the settlement of Kfar Veradim” and “the settlement of Ma’a lot” are used to refer to Israeli towns and cities within the Green Line [Al Ayyam, 10 August 2000].

The press frequently contains announcements of activities that emphasize the Palestinian refusal to come to terms with Israel, such as trips to “… regions that were captured in 1948 – in order that the children will be aware of the Palestinian cities and areas from which the residents were expelled…”

Lately, there are reports of the cultivating and strengthening of the links between the P.A. and Hamas:

“… Salim Alzanun [the chairman of the Palestinian National Council] said: ‘At the present stage, we have decided to enter into a national dialog with Hamas and the [Islamic] Jihad, with the goal of including them in the P.L.O. and its institutions…” [Al Hayat Al-Jadida, 6 August 2000].

Israeli Arabs continue to be portrayed in the Palestinian media as Palestinians who represent the Palestinians vis-a-vis Israel. Knesset member Ahmad Tibi recently appeared on a television program where he complemented Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak by stating that Barak really and truly aspires to peace, but added that Barak must stake out a bolder position, in order to conform to the desires of the Arabs. For the duration of the interview, whenever M. K. Tibi spoke of the Palestinians, he used the first person plural, i.e., “we” or “our society” and the like [Palestinian Television, 10 August 2000].

The media repeatedly praises the most murderous of terrorists that attacked Israel and similarly praises the terrorist acts themselves. In a quote from a book about Dal’al Al Ma’grabi, a woman terrorist that participated in the Coastal Road Bus terrorist massacre in which more than 35 Israelis were killed, it mentioned that the terrorist, who felt fatigued during the attack on the bus thought, “how pleasant is a [good night’s] sleep after a hard work day”. [Al Ayyam, 10 August 2000].

Every Friday, the Palestinian Television broadcasts sermons from mosques. The sermons of the P.A.’s religious leaders continue to exhibit a non-compromising Hamas line and present Israel-Palestinian relations as a religious war. The Islamic preacher Dr. Ahmad Yusuf Abu Halbiah, permits the shedding of Jewish blood as mandated by a heavenly decree:

“The resurrection of the dead will not occur, until you battle with the Jews and kill them…” [28 July 2000], and “Oh, our Arab brothers… Oh, our Moslem brothers… don’t leave the Palestinians alone in their their war against the Jews… even if we are destined to serve as the vanguard… Jerusalem, Palestine, and Al Akza will remain as the focal point of the struggle between truth and falsehood” [11 August 2000].

The writer directs Palestinian Media Watch and also serves as the research director for the Center for the Study of the Impact of Peace

Eastern Jerusalem Arabs paying taxes to remain Israeli and avoid PLO annexation

(August 4 2000)

Arabs of eastern Jerusalem have begun paying up all their debts to the Jerusalem Municipality, including all the taxes and fees, in the hope that this will strengthen their links to the Jerusalem [Jewish] Municipality.

Hatzofeh: Eastern Jerusalem Arabs Pay Their Municipal Debts Hoping This Will Spare Them From Annexation by the Palestinian State

Many of them are also bringing their Interior Ministry documents uptodate so that, if a Palestinian state is established, they will be able to claim Israeli citizenship and demand to remain in Israel rather than be annexed to “Palestine.”

Among those doing the above are also Arab residents of villages on Jerusalem’s periphery which Israel annexed in the wake of the Arab-Israel War of 1967. Among these is Wallaja village on the outskirts of Bethlehem.

Jerusalem Arabs fear a political arrangement that will transfer them to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. In private conversations with Israeli politicians, senior Palestinian officials admit that if a referendum were to be conducted among the Jerusalem Arabs asking them whether they would rather be annexed by the Palestinian Authority or remain under Israeli jurisdiction, the overwhelming majority would vote to remain under Israel.

Palestinian Summer Camp Offers the Games of War

NABLUS, West Bank, Aug. 2 — It is summer camp time for 25,000 Palestinian teenagers, and strikingly unusual camps they are, too. As run by the men who handle psychological warfare for Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, they allow no horsing around in the dorm, no fun-in-the-sun by a cool clear lake, no rousing sing-alongs beside a roaring campfire.

Instead, there is the chance to stage a mock kidnapping of an Israeli leader by masked Palestinian commandos, ending with the Israeli’s bodyguards sprawled dead on the ground. Next, there is the mock attack on an Israeli military post, ending with a sentry being grabbed by the neck and fatally stabbed. Finally, there is the opportunity to excel in stripping and reassembling a real Kalashnikov rifle.

In the summer of the latest Camp David talks, a summer that was supposed to produce a final peace settlement between Israel and its Palestinian adversaries, the Palestinians’ idea of a teenage boys’ camp is a reminder of how deep old enmities run. At 90 two- and three-week camps on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, youths from towns and villages already ceded to Israel by Mr. Arafat’s Palestinian Authority are learning the arts of kidnapping, ambushing and using assault weapons.

“As President Arafat says, this is the generation that will plant the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem,” said Dr. Wajieh Affouneh, a 49-year-old dental school graduate who joined Mr. Arafat’s Fatah organization in a refugee camp. In the 1970’s and 80’s, he participated, according to other aides, in some of the operations that made the Palestinian cause synonymous with attacks on Israeli and other targets. Dr. Affouneh is now a top man in the “political guidance” department of Mr. Arafat’s National Security Forces, the armed police unit permitted under the Oslo accords.

In the camps around this biblical town 35 miles north of Jerusalem, the mood is a throwback to the days before Mr. Arafat joined Israeli leaders in the peacemaking effort that faltered last week at Camp David, mainly over the future of Jerusalem.

Since the current cycle of talks began in Oslo in 1993, both sides have made generous use of the tactics of bluff and threat, and have still made impressive strides toward peace. But the display today in the yard of what was once a notorious Israeli prison seemed more than old-time propaganda, even if there was an element of that. What the youths and their mentors had prepared for a graduation parade on Thursday appeared to a visitor to be steeped more in the Palestinian mind-set of the 1970’s than the conciliatory postures of today.

In the mock kidnapping, an Israeli official walked across the old prison yard surrounded by eagle-eyed security men. Suddenly a reporter approached with a tape recorder. The target stopped, only to be grabbed by the reporter, now flourishing an imitation pistol. As the target was dragged off, other mock kidnappers shot seven of the bodyguards dead.

For 1,000 Palestinian youngsters standing in neatly ordered platoons, cheering, the exercise seemed like ripping good stuff.

Afterward, many predicted that their generation would someday take up arms against Israel over Jerusalem. At indoctrination sessions in the camps, the youths have been told that Mr. Arafat, at Camp David, rejected American proposals that would have given the Palestinian Authority a foothold in parts of Jerusalem, demanding instead that Israel surrender the entire eastern half of the city it seized in 1967.

Fikri Fouad, a 15-year-old village boy, said Palestinians had learned during the Oslo peace effort to live with a split view of Israelis — “as people that we can make peace with, but still our enemies, too.” He added: “If we can get Jerusalem without weapons, it is better. But if there is a need to liberate Jerusalem with weapons, we will be ready for that.”

Other youths offered opinions that would be grist for the mill of Israeli politicians like Ariel Sharon, the hawkish former general who has accused Prime Minister Ehud Barak of endangering Israel with his acceptance of American proposals on Jerusalem. At a news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Sharon said any Palestinian foothold in the city would encourage Mr. Arafat to press the “real” Palestinian goal of recovering Tel Aviv and Haifa, along with the rest of Israel.

Suleiman Nubaim, 16, said the Camp David talks had given new relevance to what he and his friends had been taught about the exploits of the freedom fighters, or “fedayeen,” the name taken by Palestinian guerrillas of the pre-Oslo period. Like many youths, he said he wanted to join the Palestinian forces.

“I want my country to be free,” he said. “It’s been my dream since I was a small boy.”

Asked how he defined Palestinian freedom, he said it included having Jerusalem, and then the rest of Israel. “As long as Israel occupies any part of our land, in Tel Aviv or Jaffa or Haifa,” he said, “we have not liberated our homeland.”

Although these camps have been run for five years with some weapons training, it is only this summer that they have caused noticeable controversy in Israel. Since Camp David, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli Army chief of staff, has cited the training in the summer camps as evidence of the risks of a new Palestinian upheaval. Israeli officials have said security has been tightened all across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, especially near the 145 Jewish settlements that have been the cause of much Palestinian ire.

Mr. Affouneh, the Arafat aide who oversees the Nablus camps, said weapons training was only a small part of a wider program that included inculcating the benefits of discipline and physical fitness, and teaching the youths about the history of Palestine before and since 1948, including the armed struggle led by Mr. Arafat. “We joined the Palestinian national movement when we were their age,” he said, referring to the men who now lead the Palestinian Authority, “and we are creating a continuum between our generation and theirs.”

In any case, he said, weapons used in the camps — judging by the graduation rehearsal, American-made Smith & Wesson revolvers in addition to the Kalashnikovs — were “legitimate” under the Oslo accords.

These allowed Mr. Arafat to establish an armed police force but denied him the right to acquire heavy weapons. In practice, even Palestinian officials admit that the Russian mafia, with the foothold it has gained in Israeli life, is smuggling an enormous number of rifles and other small arms into Palestinian-controlled areas.

Dr. Affouneh said Israeli alarm at the weapons training was hypocritical, since Israel was one of the world’s most heavily-armed countries. “Israel is a country with nuclear weapons, whereas we have no air force, no tanks, and no arms industry,” he said.

“All we have is a small number of rifles. And even today, just a few miles from here, Jewish settlers are being encouraged by the Israeli government to build up their arms stockpiles. Tell me, who are the victims, and who are the victimizers?”

Other officials noted that recent Israeli news reports had identified a hitherto-secret Israeli Army training camp where troops rehearse storming a mock Palestinian village being used as a base for attacks on Israelis. What’s good for Israel, the Palestinians seemed to be saying, is good for Palestinians.

Dr. Affouneh drew a closer parallel, saying that a part of the Zionist movement that survived the transition to Israeli statehood was Gdudei Noar, or Gadna, a corps that introduces tens of thousands of Israeli teenagers to army life. In recent years, the organization has shifted from weapons familiarity to sports, physical fitness and camping, but Dr. Affouneh said the Palestinian summer camps were essentially the same.

“We hope that we will achieve our rights through negotiations, so that summer camps like these will cease to exist,” he said. “There is nothing we want more than a full and genuine peace, including Jerusalem, which would allow us to end the weapons-training and concentrate instead on teaching our young people about computers, and swimming and other recreations. That has always been our hope.”

Arafat lies about his birthplace

What a difference a birthplace makes: How, contrary to the facts, was Arafat born in Jerusalem?

One of the pieces of information leaked to the Arabs at Camp David (to Muhammad el-Abzi of the international Al-Quds newspaper) stated that Prime Minister Ehud Barak suggested to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat that he set up his presidential offices in the village of Abu Dis, which is actually a suburb of East Jerusalem.

Abu Dis is even closer to the Old City and the Temple Mount than the Israeli Knesset building, and Barak allegedly said to Arafat that this would make it possible for him to pray every day at the Al Aqsa mosque.

To this Arafat purportedly replied, “My office will be in the Old City, on the property that is registered in my family’s name, the Al-Qadwa family.”.There seems to be some mistake in this statement, because there is no evidence that the Al-Qadwa family, which is Arafat’s father’s family, had any property in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The family that did have property there, and still does, is the Abu Sa’ud family, which is Arafat’s mother’s family. The large old house belonging to the Abu Sa’ud family tribe, which was among the oldest and most established Arab families in Jerusalem, stood on what is now the southern corner of the plaza in front of the Western Wall, adjacent to the Mugrabi Gate that leads from the plaza to the Al Aqsa mosque.

That house was destroyed in the summer of 1967 in accordance with a decision by the government of Israel to evacuate and demolish the whole Mugrabi neighborhood in order to expand the plaza at the foot of the Wall.

Arafat has claimed in the past that he was an eyewitness to the destruction of his mother’s home. In the summer of 1967 he was still an unknown figure, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization sent him to infiltrate the West Bank via the Jordan river in order to set up a cell of guerillas to wage a grass roots war against the Israeli occupation. After spending a few weeks in the underground here, Arafat returned to east of the Jordan river, and that is apparently the last time he visited Jerusalem.

Arafat has, of course, enormous national, religious and political interest in Jerusalem, and it was the reason that the sides did not succeed in reaching an accord at Camp David. This interest, however, is coupled with a complex personal story. All the official PLO publications have always stated that Arafat was born in August 1929 in his family’s home in East Jerusalem.

Several newspaper researchers have investigated this statement and found it to be untrue.

Arafat was born in Cairo. His father, Abd al Ra’uf Arafat Al-Qadwa, was the son of a well-known family from Gaza and nearby Khan-Yunis, who had married Zahava Abu-Sa’ud from Jerusalem. In 1927, the couple had emigrated from Palestine and settled in Egypt. Two years later their son Yasser was born. When Yasser was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to spend some time with his mother’s family in Jerusalem. During the 1930s, Yasser lived alternately in Jerusalem and in Gaza, and after his father remarried, his family sent him back to Cairo, where he spent the rest of his youth.

What is bad about this biography? Is something not correct? It seems that during Arafat’s early years as a PLO activist, he found it a great drawback to have been born in Egypt, in a foreign country, and not in the Palestinian homeland.

His friends also found it strange. Many of the young Arabs who volunteered to serve the PLO immediately after the Six-Day War noted with astonishment that their leader, whom they were meeting for the first time, spoke Arabic with an Egyptian accent. Arabs from Middle Eastern countries can easily recognize the country of origin of any other Arab they meet by his accent – and here the man who claimed to be a warrior representing and leading the Palestinian people spoke with an Egyptian accent.

Could the solution to the hardship of the Palestinian people and the refugees be spearheaded by a man whose speech indicated that he was not a Palestinian and was apparently also not a refugee?

Not only this, but the issue of birthplace is also among the most important components of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. There is hardly a discussion in which the Palestinian claim of birthright is not raised – they were born here, this is their homeland, and they therefore deserve sovereignty over it. This counters the Jewish claim to the land, inasmuch as the Jews are foreigners, most of whom were born abroad and immigrated here.

And what could Arafat say to all this, when he, too, was born abroad? Furthermore, his father and mother left their homeland of their own free will. They were not expelled by a hostile imperialistic government and were not refugees displaced by a wave of Jewish settlers who stole their land, but they had simply picked up and gone down to Egypt because they felt they could earn a lot of money there (Arafat’s father apparently emigrated to Egypt to claim ownership of a plot of land in Cairo that had belonged to his grandmother). How credible could all the Palestinian claims to standing firm on their ownership of their homeland be if the father of the national leader deserted the homeland to chase after riches?

Arafat was aware of all this. He understood that it would be better for whoever wanted to lead the Palestinian nationalistic struggle if his biography stated that he was born in Palestine, and there is no better birthplace than the Old City of Jerusalem, in a house adjacent to the Al Aqsa mosque.

It was easy for Arafat to say that he was born in Jerusalem because he was familiar with his grandparents’ home from his childhood. When, several years ago, journalists showed him copies of his birth certificate and other documents attesting to his birth in Egypt, he replied that they were forgeries made by his father so that he would be exempt from paying tuition, as are all Egyptian residents who were born in Egypt. Arafat said that his mother came back from Cairo to Jerusalem to give birth to him in the family home, adding that he spent most of his childhood in Jerusalem and only went to Cairo when he had almost finished elementary school. On several occasions Arafat related his blurred memories as a child in the Old City, near the Wall, when there were clashes between Jews and Arabs during the pogroms (or the Arab rebellion, as they call it) of 1936 to 1939.

In interviews during the 1980s and 1990s, Arafat gave detailed accounts of the years he spent in the Abu-Sa’ud family home in Jerusalem, and spoke very little of the Al-Qadwa family home in Gaza, or about his youth and freedom in Cairo.

There are very few members of the Abu-Sa’ud family tribe still living in Jerusalem. Arafat’s closest relatives there are some first cousins, the descendents of his mother’s brothers and sisters. One of them, the engineer Ahmed Al Husseini who died recently, was the head of the East Jerusalem Electric Company. The family still owns a house and a plot of land in Ras el Amud, above the village of Silwan, next to the section of land that was purchased by philanthropist and settlement supporter Irving Moskowitz, on which a small Jewish neighborhood is now being built.

The place on which the original family home stood, below the Mugrabi Gate, currently serves Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall plaza. Even if a permanent accord grants Arafat presidential office space in the Old City, it is highly unlikely that it would be on the spot where his grandparents’ home once stood.

Why Peres was defeated: the betrayal of the public trust

Over a period of six months, our news agency hired a leading financial investigations firm to monitor the financial dealings of the Peres Center for Peace, while delivering the documentation of these findings to every key member of the Knesset concerning the financial discrepancies of the Peres Center.

These financial investigators examined the accessible public records of the Peres Center that were provided by the registrar of non-profit organizations of the Israel Ministry of Interior.

What the record showed was that the center that Peres had personally organized was delinquent in every aspect of what can be called the “public trust”.

The Peres Center refused to disclose its foreign contributors, as required by law.

The Peres Center refused to disclose its senior staffers who received exorbitant salaries, as required by law.

The Peres Center did not pay the appropriate taxes that an organization in the political realm is supposed to pay, as required by law.

The Peres Center remunerated the law firm of one of its founding members, Yitzhak Hertzog, in the amount of more than $250,000, in violation of the law.

The Peres Center would not provide the government with an explanation as to what it did with more than $2,000,000 that disappeared from the coffers of the center.

Meanwhile, the Peres Center initiatiated a $60 Million investment fund to transfer money to a corrupt PLO agency, Pal-Tel communications, a company owned in part by Osama Bin Ladin.

The Peres Center would not disclose where it got the funds for such an investment and whether it knew of the involvement of Bin Laden in such a venture.

Although the popular investigative journalist of Maariv, Yoav Yitzhak, had last year written three articles in the Fall of 1999 that was based on this research concerning these financial discrepancies of the Peres Center, the press in the Spring and summer of 2000 turned a deaf ear to our findings.

To begin with, Maariv, whose publisher had meanwhile been jailed, was less than enthusiastic to allow Yoav Yitzhak to further explore these issues.

The editor of Maariv, indeed, had meanwhile been appointed to be an advisor to Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

However, the reporters for all of these media outlets met with our news agency and demonstrated great enthusiasm for this story, until the editors vetoed their reporters.

Besides Maariv, the story was self-censored by the editors of Yediot Aharonot, the “Mishal Ham” investigation show of Israel TV, HaAretz, Makor Rishon, Yom HaShishi and IBA Israel news radio.

There was a breakthrough on July 13, when the leading Israeli economics paper, Globes, reported two articles based on the Peres Center which appeared on page 2 – The first, concerning the accusation of the registrar of Non-Profit organizations which stated that the Peres Center would not provide for an accounting of more than $2,000,000.

The other article concerning the fact that the Peres Center was providing 73% of its budget for exorbitant administrative costs.

However, no other media outlet picked up on the story.

The reporters from the various media outlets all reported that their editors were under pressure not to report the story.

Self-censorship of the media concerning Peres hit new heights when the Jerusalem Post canceled its July 28th investigative story that was based on our documentation, after which we encouraged a “citizens for clean government” organization to sponsor an ad on the front page of the July 28th edition of the Jerusalem Post which would state some of the financial discrepancies of the Peres Center so that the people should know about before they voted.

HaAretz, which had also self-censored an article on these findings, refused to run the same ad in Hebrew.

However, integrity won the day.

At least six MK’s say that they used this investigative material played a key roles in their decision to vote for Moshe Katzav, and, most significantly, against Shimon Peres.


This is not the first time that the integrity of Shimon Peres as a candidate for public office has been called into question.

On April 23, 1996, Peres, then a candidate for re-election as Prime Minister of Israel, declared that the PLO would cancel its covenant that calls for Israel’s destruction in a special meeting of the PNC that was to be convened the next day.

Only one TV crew covered the PNC’s special session.

Since it was held on Israel Independence Day, the Israeli media was “off”.

After the session, Peres declared that the PLO had indeed canceled its covenant, and this was the most important day in Zionist history. Clinton chimed in with coordinated praise of the PLO and the Oslo process.

Except that the tape of the session was shown repeatedly before the May 29, 1996 election.

A picture is worth a thousand words: The PLO had decided to create a committee, not to cancel its covenant. Peres and Clinton were lying.

In 1996 and in the year 2000, Peres was exposed in a betrayal of the public trust. It was that betrayal of the public trust that denied him election as the prime minister and the president of Israel.