Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Arafat From Defender to Dictator. Part one of book summary

Arafat: From Defender to Dictator
by Said Aburish
Bloomsbury Publishers, London, 1998

Born August 24, 1929 in Cairo. Named Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat Al Qudua Al Husseini.(Muhammed Abdel Rahman-first name, Abdel Raouf – father’s name, Al Qudaua – grandfather’s name, Al Husseini – klan name). (page 7)

1927 – The family had moved from Gaza to Cairo, after Arafat’s father gained some land from a questionable law suit. (page 9)

1933 – Arafat’s mother dies. Father cannot deal with seven children alone so he decides to send Arafat and his brother Fathi to their uncle Selim Abul Saoud, in Jerusalem. (page 11)

1937 – Father calls the two brothers back to Cairo to help take care of the rest of the children. Ever since than, Arafat disliked his father and never forgave him for making him leave Jerusalem. Once back in Cairo, in order to escape his father, Arafat started to visit the Al Akbar family. That is where Arafat got his Koran training, while he started running a neighborhood gang creating a small army of Muslims. Jews and Christians in the neighborhood were not allowed to join because Arafat’s gang needed an enemy. (pages 13 -14)

1946 – Hajj Amin Al Husseini, Mufti of Palestine arrived in Cairo from six years of exile in Nazi Germany, along ith Adul Saoud, who was of distant relation to Arafat whom he called ‘uncle.’ Also, Sheikh Hassan who was a Palestinian nationalistic leader and the Mufti’s chief assistant and personal advisor, had arrived in Cairo after the British exiled him.

At age 17, Arafat became the Sheikh’s errand boy. Yasser did everything from personally delivering important letter from the Arab Higher Committee to visiting Arab leaders; offices of the Arab League, collected money from sympathetic donors, and reported on pro – Palestinian Arab activities in Egyptian schools and universities. (pages 15 -16)

1947 – Arafat entered King Fuad I (now Cairo University) with financial backing and a push from Sheikh Hassan, always at student political meetings and Palestinian gatherings. He began buying arms and sending them the Mufti’s Arab partisans in Palestine. (page 16)

1948 – when the British left and the Arab – Israeli war broke out, Yasser and many of his classmates returned to Gaza. (page 17) He got to Palestine as a member of Al Ikhwan Al Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood). Being part of the Muslim Brotherhood at that time less disccounts what Arafat said about fighting alongside Abdel Kader Al Husseini -, a marytred military leader in Palestine and the Mufti’s cousin. Abdel Kader saw the Muslim Brotherhood as the opposition.

This was when Yasser adopted the name Yasser Arafat and stopped using his given names. (Yasser bin Ammar was a celebrated Muslim warrior and companion of the prophet. By calling himself by this name, Arafat enhanced his religious credentials). Later on, Arafat also used the name Abu Ammar. Being the ‘father’ of someone or something showed to be an important title in Muslim society. (page 21)

1949 – Arafat returned to Cairo with fabricated stories of his heroism in the war. (He claimed he was a special military assistant to Abdel Kader during the battle of Jerusalem, except that the Muslim Brotherhood never got to the Jerusalem area). (page 18)

Arafat believed that Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq who were all involved in the 1948 war were all struck with incompetent leadership and corruption. If they would have stayed out of the war, Arafat was sure that the Palestinians would have won. (page 19)

The Arab Higher Committee of the Mufti and the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the Arab armies for not being prepared and for the corruption of the regimes, without admitting that they were guilty of the same thing.

Arafat adopted the Higher Committee’s views of distinguishing efforts of groups like the Muslim Brothers from the failure of the Arab armies and he praised Arab fighters who belonged to popular movements and distinguished them from the governments of their countries. (page 20)

When Arafat returned to Cairo he joined 2 groups:

  1. Egyptian Union of Students – whose aim was to treat the causes for the 1948 defeat and punish King Farouk for it. (Membership to this group was closed to Palestinian Arabs). (page 21)
  2. Federation of Palestinian students.

Arafat’s commitment was to the Muslim Brotherhood because the Brotherhood was committed to an inclusive Islamic picture which was bigger than an Palestinian or Egyptian.

Arafat began publishing a magazine called ‘The Voice of Palestine’ which promised to fight the Zionist entity. He continued to help needy Palestinian students by using his contacts to get them into Egyptian universities. (page 23)

1950 – Arafat finished his first year of university, at age 22. (A former classmate said that he had to take the required math course 3 years in a row – making Arafat reluctant to discusshis higher education). (page 25)

1951 – Arafat was elected as chairman to the Federation of Palestinian Students. Meanwhile, he became friends with a Muslim Brotherhood card – carrier named Salah Khalaf – later close associate and became Abu Iyad of Fatah and the PLO. The Muslim Brotherhood supported his election because he incorporated their demands. (pages 23 – 24)

1952 – Egyptian army overthrew the monarchy and Gamal Abdel Nasser came into power. Meanwhile, Arafat’s father died in Gaza. Arafat did not go to his father’s funeral.

Arafat’s friends and political associates of the Muslim Brotherhood were exiled to Gaza. Arafat was not exiled, because the authorities thought that he was Egyptian.(p. 28)

When Nassar came to power, Arafat went to join the fedayeen (“self – sacrificers”) who raided Israel from the Egyptian controlled Gaza strip. (page 29)

1953 – Arafat was elected chairman of the larger General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) – an older organization with branches in all Arab countries. (page 23) GUPS were probably the most important Palestinian organization in the Middle East.

1953-54 Arafat applied to the University of Texas and applied to emigrate to Canada. (page 26)

1956 – Arafat finished his degree in civil engineering. He continued to chair GUPS. In August, Arafat traveled for the first time overseas to Prague to attend a meeting of the International Students’ Congress, with the executive committee of GUPS. Without telling anyone, he made his first appearance in a white Kuffiya. (1936-39, the kuffiya had been the symbol of the Palestinian Arab fighters in the failed Arab revolt against the British in Palestine). Arafat recounted how he cried on the streets of Prague when he saw Israeli Jaffa oranges being sold, which he was unable to buy in either Gaza or Cairo. (page 31)

Late 1950’s – The Muslim Brotherhood went to the Suez Canal zone to harass the British. Arafat went to the canal zone with units of the Muslim Brotherhood. (This was an all Egyptian affair. Other Arabs and Muslims did not participate). When the British troops decided to evacuate the canal area, Nassar decided to send all young men of Egypt for military training. Arafat was trained as an Egyptian army bomb disposal officer and finished the Suez campaign as a first lieutenant. (page 30)

1957 – The United States, United Nations, and the USSR wanted to stop the conflict in the canal zone between the Egyptians and the Israelis. The UN sent in UNEF forces as a buffer between the two. Arafat, disgusted by Nassar and UNEF presence, that he applied for a Saudi visa. After waiting months to obtain it, he decided to get a Kuwaiti visa instead and he got a job as a civil engineer with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Public Works.

In order for an outsider to secure employment in the Kuwait, depended on the sponsorship of an important citizen or company. Arafat had some influential friends because Arafat had a poor academic record and no real work experience, he had no real qualifications. Applicants for jobs in Kuwait were always thoroughly investigated. Kuwait chose to hire and grant residency to a man who did not have many qualifications and had a long history of political involvement, while at the time, its companies were employing people based on their qualifications, not their political involvement. Kuwait was then refusing to grant visas to members of the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM), the pan – Arab Ba’ath party, and many more. (pages 34-35)

Arafat and many of his Muslim Brotherhood friends moved to Kuwait because Egypt was unwelcoming and most of the other Arab countries considered them dangerous. Most of Arafat’s friends secured Kuwaiti government jobs. All of Arafat’s friends from the Muslim Brortherhood in Egypt and Gaza had reunited in Kuwait. Abu Iyad, Abu Jihad, Adil Abdel Karim, Mohammed Yusuf Al Najjar, Khalid Al Amira, Abdel Fatah Lahmoud – who eventually became the founding members of Fatah, had no difficulties entering Kuwait.(35)

1959 – Arafat’s group in Kuwait began making their appeal to the Palestinian people.

Harakat Thrir Filastin, Arabic acronym reversed into Fatah – Koranic word for ‘conquest.’

They began publishing a monthly magazine, ‘Filastinuna, Nida’Al Hayat (Our Palestine, The Call of Life), shortly before they adapted the name Fatah. It was printed in Beirut without revealing the names of the editors and contributors, they only gave a PO Box number. (page 40)

The magazine was distributed in many Arab countries, yet, because of strict censorship, it did not reach Egypt and Syria. Certainly it did not reach the average Palestinian. Those who published Filistinuna, created Fatah. There is no exact date of the birth of Fatah. 1959 is commonly used. (page 40)

The magazine was edited by Abu Jihad, who had the highest educational level of the group. However, Arafat insisted on writing his own articles since he used his own money to finance the magazine. Filastinuna had a lot of passion and called for the eradication of Israel. (page 41)

Fatah called for the liberation of Palestine through an armed struggle to be carried out by the Palestinian Arabs themselves. Those Palestinians were called the Children of the Catastrophe. Fatah favored an independent Palestinian policy and wanted to arm the Palestinians in order to liberate their country. Fatah thought that liberation came before Arab unity, which in the other Arab nations, it went the other way around. Fatah’s philosophy was not to expect anything from the Arab regimes. They had two strategies for dealing with political conditions in the Middle East: condemn the West for helping to create Israel and to continue to support them. Fatah lost the connection with the Muslim Brotherhood because their ideas of an Islamic identity to the Palestinian problem and the call to Jihad, were in conflict (pages 42-43)

Arafat was still upset withother Arab governments for their lack of success in 1948. He constantly used terms such as: “Violence is the only solution” and “Liberating Palestine could only take place through the barrel of a gun.” He refused to acknowledge the efforts of the other Arab governments and made fun of them. Arafat always criticized Arab governments but he never wanted to alienate any of them. (page 42)

1960 – Arafat divided Fatah into cells and saw to it that no one cell or member was unaware to the activities of the rest. He got rid of doubters who questioned his authority and some he forced to resign. He used to strategic decisions to keep Fatah in existence: Arafat refused to join in Arab feuds and he detached the business of raising money from becoming politically dependant on the donors. (pages 47-48)

Arafat only accepted money that did not put constraints on his freedom of action. (page 48)

Arafat then became a guerrilla leader who also organized in Syria. Arafat placed Fatah above all of the other Palestinian groups including the PLO. He used Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria as bases where he could infiltrate Israel. (page 65)

Arafat’s first target were the wealthy Palestinians who lived in oil – rich countries, the people who had an interest in promoting a conservative, independent Palestinian movement. Arafat also sought help from thousands of Palestinian professionals who were working in the Gulf. However, whoever donated did not became a member of Fatah. Arafat also received assistance from the political and powerful. The Mufti of Jerusalem, who had taken refuge in Egypt, was fearful for the success of Palestinian radical groups, so he gave money to Fatah. Arafat came in touch with members of the Kuwaiti royal family saying, that through Fatah they were increasing the chance for an armed struggle and they were contributing to Palestine. (page 49)

1961, he decided to expand his fund – raising to Qatar. At first he was unable to succeed, but he became friends with Mahmoud Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen of the Oslo Peace Accords. The two of them were eventually able to get large sums of unconditional contributions from the royal family in Qatar. (page 51)

After Qatar, Arafat performed the same magic touch in Libya. (page 52)

Arafat was using money received from the pro-West oil-rich Arab countries to buy arms from Communist and socialist countries. (page 56)

Arafat came in contact with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum (Ahmad Yamani), whom Arafat was able to talk into giving Fatah a substantial amount of money. By 1965, Yamani presented Arafat to Saudi King Faisal who gave Arafat millions. (pages 58-59)

1961 – in Syria, Arafat visited Syria as a representative of Fatah. Syria had just become independent, but they still considered Palestine part of Syria. The Palestinians and the Syrians were already supporting small palestinian guerrilla groups that were conducting raids on Israel. One group was the Palestinian Liberation Front. Arafat considered Syria a safe ally because they did not have enough money to buy Arafat.(53) Furthermore, there were 150,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria who acted as potential recruits for Arafat’s Palestinian force. Syria had hosted numerous Palestinian political groups, but according. to former members of Fatah, there was not another group who could have competed with Arafat’s financial resources. In order to recruit Palestinian fighters, Arafat offered recruits 18 sterling a month. (page 54)

By 1962, Fatah had 200-300 civilian members and no fighters. Eventually, with Arafat’s bribes and salesmanship, young Palestinian refugees grabbed the chance to join Fatah. (page 55)

1962 – the success of the Algerian revolution of keeping an identity alive through reliance on Islam and the use of a guerrilla army against a stronger force, posed as a model that Arafat wanted to copy. (page 53)

By late 1962, Fatah started sending recruits to Algeria for training. Even better, in 1963, Iraq also accomodated training camps for new Fatah members. (page 55)

1963 – Fatah’s headquarters were moved to Syria. First Arafat moved, disguising himself as a lowly official driving an unsuspicious car and soon the others followed. (page 53)

1964 – Fatah began regional activities. Arafat began sending infiltrators to the West Bank with Syrian approval and help. He also sent organizers to Gaza. Others went to Beirut, which at the time was the center of Middle Eastern journalism and many Palestinian intellectuals had settled there. Lebanon also contained 200,000 Palestinian refugees. (page 56)

In May, 1964, the PLO held a conference in the Intercontinetal Hotel in Jerusalem where they issued a National covenant which committed it to the idea of an armed struggle and appointed itself the representative of the Palestinian people, the guardian of their interests in the Arab world and internationally. ‘Armed struggle’ was not part of the original program of the PLO nor its army. (Arafat did not know whether to joint the PLO or to dissolve Fatah and disappear). Arafat did not attend the Jerusalem meeting instead he sent a delegation of a dozen Fatah members, who did not participate, they just listened. At the same meeting the Palestine National Council (PNC) was composed in a parliamentary – style body which was to control the PLO. Also under the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Army was formed. (The PNC was an elitist assembly with little support among Palestinians in refugee camps and in the West Bank and Gaza). (page 57)

Arafat was hoping to be named military commander of Fatah, but his colleagues refused to appoint him. Arafat even though disappointed, took responsibility for the training of troops. Since Arafat was responsible for training camps and the trainees, he was blamed when the Palestinian guerrilla force roved to be ineffective. (page 60)

1966 – Arafat was arrested in April for trying to blow up Tapline, the line carrying Saudi oil to the Mediterranean. Arafat had fired the man who was previously appointed Military Commander, and appointed himself to the position, no one objected. However, in May, he was suspended from the position for refusing to accept the principle of collective leadership, organizing raids on his own and misuse of funds.(62)

Arafat took the defeat of 1967 and turned it to his benefit by turning himself and his group into the symbol of Palestinian resistance and Arab rejection of the loss. (page 70)

When Arafat made his way into the West Bank under Israeli control by disguising himself, he made contact with some Fatah followers. He divided the whole region into southern, central, and northern sectors (Hebron, Jerusalem, and Nablus). He told the local Fatah members to start recruitment in their areas. However, ordinary people of the West Bank were reluctant to join him. (page 72)

Furthermore, the rich and influential Palestinian leaders wanted nothing to do with him. (page 73)

They wanted to maintain the positions of power which Jordan had given them and they did not want Fatah to take charge. They did not trust Arafat or his organization, they considered him and enemy and saw King Hussein as their protector. (page 74)

After three months of failure, Arafat decided to join his colleagues who had moved from Syria to Jordan to set up camps. (page 75)

Arafat had no success with recruiting local Palestinians and thought that he could threaten the public by eliminating those who were collaborating with Israel openly and others whom he offered bribes.

At the same time, the PLO set up the Revolutionary Command Council to

[] rival guerrilla campaign. (page 73)

organization in the name of national unity only after Fatah was promised 33 seats on the Palestine National Council (out of 10 seats) and 57 seats were given to the guerrilla groups. (page 78)

1968 – After Fatah became a member of the PLO and its most important component, Arafat invited seven guerrilla groups to join him in establishing a joint command for guerrilla action against Israel. (p. 78)

Arafat was sending groups of Palestinians to train in the Egyptian military and intelligence schools. (Five hundred volunteers from the West Bank were sent to training camps in Syria, Iraq, and Algeria). (page 78)

Special emphasis was placed on the training of educated young Palestinians from Europe and other countries. (pages 78-79)

Fatah’s money raising activities in the oil-rich countries were becoming more successful than ever, while raids from Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon into Israel were increasing. (page 79)

One of the Jordanian towns, Karameh, which was located on the main road connecting the West Bank with the Jordan, was repeatedly being attacking by Israel. (page 79)

(Karameh means dignity in Arabic and its name, together with its position and the presence of the refugees, contributed to Arafat’s decision to make his headquarters there with his three hundred Fatah fighters). (pages 79-80)

After the battle for Karameh, volunteers from all over the Arab world came to Jordan to join Fatah. One thousand Egyptians appeared at to Fatah offices in their country to offer their services. Small numbers of Germans, Scandinavians, French, South Americans and nationals of other non-Arab countries also joined. (page 83)

Futhermore, donations from Arab nations increased and Arafat expanded guerrilla training facilities in Syria, Iraq, Algeria and Egypt.

Meanwhile, the French government under General Charles de Gaulle had become the first major non-Arab country to accept a permanent Fatah representative. (page 90)

In Lebanon – Arafat moved hundreds of his poorly trained fighters into Lebanon where he set up a command center in the Fakhani district of Beirut. The Palestinians were creating a ‘country’ of their own which they named Fakhani Republic after the area in Beirut which they occupied. (pages 93-94)

In 1969, help was coming from new governments of the Sudan and Libya. Donations and offers of assistance came as far away from Pakistan and Malaysia. (page 84), while Arafat started a military program to train ten-to-thirteen yearold refugee children. (page 88)

The Damascus-based Fatah leadership was uneasy about some of Arafat’s activities but they still decided to appoint him the organization’s official spokesman, meaning that every item of news carried the imprint of Al Assifa (the military wing of Fatah) had to have Arafat’s personal approval. (page 86)

Yet by 1968, after the battle of Karameh, some Arab governments increased their financial contributions and encouraged the collection of money for Fatah non-governmental organizations. Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other wealthy countries contributed unknown millions of dollars in direct assistance, and Arab businessmen everywhere competed with each other in their donations. (page 84), while Libya, Syria, Iraq, the USSR and China each sponsored specific groups within the PLO. (page 102)

Oil-rich states always provided him with financial support which went into funds controlled by Arafat personally. Once a Palestinian construction magnate gave the PLO $70 million, but to this day not even the dead man’s family knows what happened to this money. Other smaller bequests and donations also went missing. (page 195)

Through the years, Arafat lived alone in a small apartment that the Ministry of Public Works provided. His apartment always had 2 or 3 sports cars parked in front. He liked to have many at one time. He did not have a woman companion and furthermore said he was not interested at the time. During this time in Kuwait, there was a shortage of manual laborers to perform light maintenance and building work. This is how Arafat made his money, operating a network of several thousand workers who transmitted funds to him, while he had a salary of $30,000 a year and free housing. In 1997, he told Larry King “I have never received a salary (from Fatah). I am still spending the money I made in Kuwait).” Arafat liked to be seen wearing his kuffiya which he tried to shape to resemble the map of Palestine. He wore the American-style sunglasses, which he even wore indoors, and he was usually in military fatigues. In some photos he carried a stick which resembled a field marshal’s baton which acted as a symbol of his power and he used it to point to locations of heroics acts. He always wore a pendant containing a sura from the Koran around his neck. (page 82)

Arafat always liked to tell the press that he wants “the Palestinians to be like other people and have no need for him.” (page 93)

The recognition of the PLO and of his individual leadership by the world community was singular political triumph for Arafat. He loved his new status, and it showed in the way he walked and talked – the firm step, the broad smile, and the statesman like references to the ‘peace of the brave’ and ‘an end to war and conflict’. He took to speaking slowly and more deliberately, even making frequent references to his poor English. The participants in Oslo became ‘my friends’. He exhibited a sense of confidence.

Arafat realized that he needed financial advisers more than political ones. He commissioned a number of studies to determine what it would take to enliven the economies of Gaza and the West Bank. He equated the welfare of the PLO with that of the Palestinian people. The PLO’s financial situation became a major factor in determining the outcome of negotiations with Israel. (pages 262-263)

Before the Oslo process, it was moderate Palestinians and pro-West Arab governments who had tried to ‘sell’ peace to Arafat. After Oslo, he was doing the selling. Oslo was his alone and it cast him in the role of peacemaker. (page 264)

Arafat’s first concern was to gain greater Palestinian support for Oslo. The agreement had originally been rejected by guerrilla groups, Hamas, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, most of the leadership of the occupied territories and Palestinian intellectuals. (page 264)

Arafat was less concerned with the rest of the Arab world providing political support, and was more interested in the resumption of their financial backing – at least getting them to release tax money collected frm Palestinians working in their countries. (page 265)

With the inception of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, all disbursements of aid money were determined by Arafat, usually on the telephone. The measure of anyone’s importance was their ability to meet him and to have their picture taken with him. (page 280)

Arafat, as head of the PA, kept personal files on all the important people within the Fatah organization which became known as the black files. Arafat always tried to reason and turn people who were opposed to his policies. He would give them options, most commonly their own black file to read,which often included accusations of financial misdeeds, whoring or cowardice. The accused would usually turn around and become a loyal follower. When this occurred, Arafat would make sure that they were offered money and jobs which would make them more loyal.

Background to the Feb 4th Clinton-Arafat Summit

The scheduled February 4, 1999 summit between US President Clinton and Palestinian Authority chairman Arafat occurs after the US has implored the PA to delay its declaration of independence and statehood until after the May, 1999 Israeli elections.

What the US government offers the PA is an aid package of $400 million, while encuraging the nations of the world to contribute another $3 billion dollars.

These contributions are tied to PA compliance with the Wye Accords.

In December, 1998, US Senator Arlen Spector (R-PA), who had accompanied President Clitnon in his middle east visit, explained to me and to other members of the media in Jerusalem that if the Israeli government were to claim that the PA is indeed in violation of the accords, then the $1.2 billion in additional aid promised by the US to Israel would be placed in jeopardy. Spector explained that this is because the US is ready to award such an aid package to Israel within the context of the implementation of the Wye accords.

The logic goes that if the government of Israel claims that the PA is not implementing these accords, then there will be no allocations of US funds – not to the Palestine Authority, and not to the state of Israel. Writing in HaAretz of January 8, 1999, leading security analyst Z’ev Schiff posited that the linkage of funds with the Wye accords implementation was the reason why the Israeli government would not make a clear declaration that the PA was in violation of the accords.

What the Israeli government has done in Washington has been to act in two directions at once. On the one hand, criticizing the Palestinian Authority for slow implementation of the Wye accords, while sending a high level delegation of the Israel Ministry of Finance to press the White House and the US congress to press for post-Wye allocations to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority, acting as if the PA is indeed implementing the Wye accords.

For that reason, the government of Israel has raised no official objection to the expected proclamation of US president Clinton which will be made in the presence of Arafat that, indeed, the PA is acting in compliance with the Wye accords.

The Israeli government acts in two voices – allowing its departments of information to attack the warlike actions of the Palestinian Authority, while authorizing its fiscal representatives to behave as if the PA acts in accordance with peace accords agreed on with the state of Israel, and witnessed by the US government.

Europe May Suspend Funding to PA

The European Union has recently warned Yasser Arafat that Europe would freeze the transfer of financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority if the PA does not explain the disappearance of funds sent over the last two years.

Sources in the European Parliament in Strasbourg told Ha’aretz that the ambiguous financial statements that the PA has presented have raised serious suspicions of embezzlement by Arafat’s close associates.

The sources disclosed that the freeze will be announced next week in Frankfort when the joint Palestinian-EU committee meets. Representatives of the PA are supposed to submit a report explaining the missing funds at the meeting. The EU’s senior representative on the committee, Minister Manuel Marin, has received instructions not to be lenient this time and immediately announce a freeze in funding if suspicions of misappropriation persist.

Marin, who serves as the minister for the EU’s relations with the Mediterranean region, is one of two ministers accused of wasteful budget management by the Parliament in Strasbourg.

The spokesmen for the EU’s Mediterranean desk, Bosco Esteroulas, confirmed to Ha’aretz yesterday that the EU is considering freezing its aid to the PA, but denied that Manuel Marin promised to halt all flow of funds to the Palestinian territory: “If someone contends that a decision has been made to cut off the European allocations, then he is confusing various budgets. What we are considering, and considering very seriously, is freezing assistance to the Palestinian Authority. But we will not freeze allocations to designated projects in the autonomous area, such as the construction of hospitals, since there we know exactly where the money is going. On the other hand, it is possible we will not continue to transfer salary payments for the police, for example, or for items described as ‘administrative expenses of the Authority.'”

The spokesman refused to comment on the suspicion of embezzlement and denied that Marin is taking a new approach to Mediterranean area funding as a result of the investigation being conducted against him.

Ha’aretz has learned that the EU has transfered some 195 million euros (NIS 916 million) to the PA during the past three years, while its total budgetary commitment is considerably greater, as much as 320 million euros (NIS 1.5 billion). The bulk of this larger sum includes funds directly transfered to the PA under vague budgetary titles such as “assistance to the Palestinian government” and “assistance to democratization in the autonomy.

The Forces the Brought Crown Prince Hassan Down

The following is an adaptation of an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal European Edition on Monday, January 25, 1999.

One might question the wisdom of the Clinton Administration’s ongoing attempts to secure Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state in the territory occupied by Israel after the 1967 war. But any policy that also advances his interests in neighboring Jordan must be regarded as dangerous. If recent reports coming out of the Arab world have any basis, some within the Clinton administration might have allowed themselves to be ensnared into doing precisely that and sowing uncertainty over who will rule Jordan after King Hussein.

King Hussein returned home Tuesday from a half-year stay in the United States for cancer treatment. Within a week, he suddenly and unexpectedly removed his brother, Hassan bin Talal, as Crown Princea status which he held for more than 30 years. It was a messy process. For a week, Amman was gripped by confusion and uncertainty. At first, royal officials gave only limited indications that Hassan’s assumption of the throne was endangered. Then, the king failed to endorse Hassan in a CNN interview and excluded him in a meeting with Bahrain and Dubai’s crown princes according to established protocol. Finally, just before dawn on January 26, a short statement was read on Jordanian radio announcing that not only had Hussein appointed his eldest son, Prince Abdallah, as the new crown prince, but that Hassan and his aides were removed because of serious offenses, including trying to purge the army of loyal officers and replace them with his own, and engaging in corruption and scandals, including administering expired vaccines to children.1 These charges were striking. Never in his 35 years of being crown prince, nor in his half year of being regent, was Hassan known for anything other than fierce loyalty to his brother and energetic opposition to corruption in the kingdom. In part, his attack on corruption may explain his downfall.

For years, many in Jordan opposed Hassan’s eventual enthronement. These opponents include supporters of Syria, Saddam Hussein, and particularly the PLO–all three of which identify Hassan with policies they fear. It also includes those benefitting from the structure of corruption which, unfortunately, still plays a large role in Jordanian business and which is tied to the interests of some of Jordan’s neighbors. In addition, numerous elements in the royal family itself, for self-interested reasons, have long seen their own fortunes tied to the crowning of other candidates. The question is whether the United States might have allowed itself to be dragged into these squabbles in dangerous ways.

As early as August, Arab papers reported that American officials were quite anxious about Hassan’s regency and eventual succession.2 They believed that Hassan, since his designation as crown prince in 1965, led a “hard line” camp against the Palestinians, who form the majority of Jordanian citizens. In fact, they saw him as pushing Hussein into the 1970 confrontation with the PLO. They fear that Hassan’s lack of harmony with the kingdom’s “demographic realities” could lead either to internal unrest or to Palestinian capital flight. Much of Jordan’s financial structure is controlled by a few Palestinian families, such as the al-Masris, who are linked to Arafat. They also feared that Hassan would have to rely on Islamic fundamentalists to survive. The administration shared its fears with the Israelis. According to Israeli papers, in an October 14 meeting with Israeli foreign minister Sharon and prime minister Netanyahu, Clinton “expressed grave concern” over Jordan’s stability after Hassan takes over.3

According to articles in the Arab press, before Christmas an American National Security Council official traveled to Hussein’s hospital bed in the United States to suggest that Prince Hamzah, Hussein’s and Queen Nur’s son, rather than Hassan, be crown prince.4 They tried to reassure Hussein that the problem of Hamzah’s youth could be overcome through American security assistance and financial aid to the Kingdom. According to some reports, American officials were encouraged by Hussein’s wife, Queen Nur, to press her husband. Arab papers report that also others within Jordan have been agitating for a similar change. And now newspapers in Amman draw attention to the symbolic significance of allowing only the powerful chief of Jordanian general intelligence, Samih al-Batikhi, to attend the meeting between King Hussein and Clinton on the eve of Hussein’s return.5 Mr. Batikhi is not among Hassan’s supporters. Both Jordan’s Prime Minister, as well as the chief of the Royal Hashemite Court, were not allowed to attend the meeting in which the issue of succession was reported to have topped the agenda.6

Palestinian papers describe Batikhi’s role as central. Not only did Batikhi accompany Hussein to meet Clinton alone on January 5, but he also visited Hussein at the Mayo Clinic over eighty times in the last half year. He also flew with Hussein back from the United States to London and January 6, where Hussein and Batikhi met with Prime Minster Blair and Foreign Minister Cook and then back to Amman, where he was televised alongside Hussein emerging from the plan at that pivotal moment. These papers also report that Batikhi will be named the new prime minister of Jordan within the next few weeks.7

This January 5 Hussein/Clinton meeting appears to be the turning point. In an interview, just days before, Hussein emphatically and quickly dismissed rumors that he intended to remove his brother as crown prince. And, according to Arab papers, he bristled at the NSC official’s suggestion during his pre-Christmas meeting to oust Hassan and crown Hamzah–at which point his wife Nur intervened and asked him to defer his decision to retain Hassan.8 The tone changed dramatically after the January 5 Clinton-Hussein meeting. By January 8, detailed articles appeared in Arab papers explaining not only that Hussein had changed his mind, but explaining the circumstances that led to the change and the sequence of events that would follow–a sequence that hitherto came true to everyone’s surprise a week later.

It is important to understand the agenda of Hassan’s opponents. Despite American skepticism, Hassan is known for his concern for Palestinians and his eagerness to escort foreign dignitaries around abysmal refugee camps in the hopes of securing assistance for them. But Hassan is also known to suspect Arafat personally and the PLO more broadly–skepticism born of the bitter experiences of Black September 1970 when he and his family were targets of Arafat’s murderous organization. American concerns that Hassan cannot come to terms with Jordan’s Palestinians blur the distinction in Hassan’s attitudes toward the PLO and his attitude towards Palestinians, suggesting a tendency to see all Palestinian politics uncritically through the PLO’s narrow lens.

The hopes of those opposing Hassan have been recently bolstered by the involvement of American public relations advisor Frank Anderson, engaged by Prince Talal bin Muhammad on behalf of Queen Nur (though in a surprise move of his own, by the end of the week, Talal seemed to distance himself from his earlier support for Nur). In an interview to an Israeli newspaper, Mr. Anderson admitted his long ties to the PLO as a former CIA official in Beirut in the 1970s and eventually as the head of the Near East division’s operations branch.9 In that interview, Mr. Anderson still speaks nostalgically and proudly of his ties with one of the deadliest terrorists of the 1960s and 1970s, Hassan Salame, the “Red Prince,” killed by Israel in January 1979 for his role in the Munich Olympic massacre. Mr. Anderson recalls that during the fighting in Black September 1970 (the PLO-Hashemite war to control Jordan), Salame headed Bureau 17 (the precursor of Force 17), the elite PLO unit conducting the most dangerous and deadly missions during the fighting against the Hashemites. Mr. Anderson’s long-time ties to the PLO, and his current affiliation with the anti-Hassan camp, contrast with Hassan’s history with the PLO.

Iraq policy will also be affected. Hassan openly challenged Saddam Hussein and supports the Iraqi opposition. During a televised speech to an Arab Parliamentary Union meeting in late December, he lashed out at Saddam, prompting Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to single him out for condemnation. In contrast, Mr. Anderson has been a vocal opponent of the Iraqi opposition, appearing last year on U.S. television to lambaste plans for a popular insurgency against Saddam, preferring a military coup instead.10 And, according to the Iraqi opposition, chief of intelligence Batikhi was deeply involved in helping the CIA’s ill-fated military coup attempt in Iraq in 1996 against which both they and Hassan strongly warned as ill-conceived and infiltrated. Other powerful forces in Jordan oppose Hassan’s support for the Iraqi opposition because they are either sympathetic to Saddam, or at least believe Jordan must maintain good relations with Iraq regardless of its leader. In the fight against corruption, which has been at the center of Hassan’s domestic agenda, also won Hassan enemies, including the small group of Palestinians, including Sabih al-Masri, who run the bulk of Jordan’s financial structure through the Cairo-Amman bank and are also tied to Iraqi and PLO interests.

Jordan has reached a watershed. Though small, its politics can influence the course of Arab politics by example. Jordan has rested in the last 30 years on a firmer political foundation than the fashionable European ideas of fascism and totalitarianism that have corrupted the region’s other states. During his reign, Hussein asked little of his people and rarely demanded sacrifices–as have Assad, Arafat or Saddam–to pursue personal ideas or grandeur. And its constitutional monarchy had been developing into the Arab world’s first genuine democracy.

Precisely these traits made Jordan a necessary target for the region’s questionable actors. Jordan needs a strong leader to navigate through trying times as it deals with democratization and faces a resurgent Saddam, an emerging PLO entity, and a regional climate as uncertain as any in decades. Despite U.S. reservations over Hassan, he had three decades of experience and knows well who threatens his realm. And his half-year regency was generally considered as competently-run. In fact, there appears to be a split in the US government since some in the US State Department acknowledge that Hassan has ruled Jordan well over the last months while others dismiss his capabilities. It would be a grave misstep if the reports emerging from the Arab world have any basis and some in the Clinton administration indeed allowed the United States to be entangled in the succession process in Jordan and has helped derailed succession to Hassan. This would constitute not only a serious violation of an ally’s sovereignty, but also encourage a dangerous turn for which Jordan, the United States and all our regional allies will pay a heavy price. In fact, it opens the door for dangerous games in Amman–a circumstance that could lead to the collapse of Jordan as we know it.

Dr. Wurmser is research fellow in Middle East Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and has just published “Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein” (AEI Press).

1Jamal Halaby, “King of Jordan Names Son Heir,” Associated Press Wire Service, January 26, 1999.
2Said al-Qaysi, “Jordan: Report Views Post-Husayn Developments,” Al-Watan al-Arabi, August 28, 1998.
3Shimon Schiffer and Nahum Barnea, “US Reportedly Discusses Post-Husayn Era with Israel,” Yediot Aharonot, October 18, 1998.
4Walid Abu Dhahr, “US Favors Hamzah to Succeed King Husayn,” Al-Watan al-Arabi, January 8, 1999.
5“King Hussein’s Return Surrounded by Speculation, Debate,” Al-Majd, January 11, 1999.
6Walid Abu Dhahr, “US Favors Hamzah.”
7Al-Hayat al-Jadida, January 24, 1999.
8Walid Abu Dhahr, “US Favors Hamzah.”
9David Makovsky, “The Secret CIA-PLO Channel: An Interview with Frank Anderson,” Haaretz, November 10, 1998.
10“The News Hour with Jim Lehrer,” McNeil/Lehrer Productions, November 25, 1998.

Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI)
1815 H Street, NW
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Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077

Fatah Website: Revolutionary Realism in the Balance

“Together with all Arab peoples, then, we must do our utmost to ensure that Netenyahu is not re-elected”

The date that has been set for Israel’s early elections, May 17, 1999, was not arrived at by chance. Earlier dates suggested by the Labor Party were rejected by the Likud on the pretext that they did not allow for the required administrative preparations. The date agreed upon allows the Likud to stay in power for the longest possible period of time, during which the party hopes to put its house in order, as well as to work to erode the popularity of the new candidate, Shahak.

The May 17 date was also suggested for symbolic reasons related to the counter coup staged by the Likud in 1997, when they won the elections. The Labor Party wants to remind its electorate that it is time they regained power as the real builders of Israel.

Finally, the Likud selected this date because it hopes that by so doing it may prevent the PLO and PNA from declaring a Palestinian state on May 4, 1999.

However, the month of May, and in particular mid-May, has a symbolic value in Palestinian history, too. In 1947, UN Resolution 181 set the date of May 15 as the date for establishing the Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel. Palestinian institutions, then, might declare the state on May 4, while May 15 could be the actual day of its realization. The second date reminds the world of the previous commitment made to the Palestinian people.

For our part, we only wish to put an end to the politics of deception that Netenyahu’s government practices. Saying this is not to deny that the Labor Party engaged in similar practices, albeit to a relatively lesser degree, during the days of Rabin and Peres. Certainly, we expect the Labor Party to continue in the same vein. There is, however, a difference between a party that sees its interest in peace and one which sees its interest in the destruction of peace.

The strength of the Palestinian position rests on its grounding in realism. Solidly based on the knowledge that all its goals, as well as all the accords and protocols signed despite the prejudice they involve, are in line with a legal framework that calls for the application of international law, the Palestinian position is a good one from which to pressure those whose interests are different.

We will continue to recruit international support for implementation of these internationally sponsored agreements, while the Israeli side will continue to be condemned for its failure to keep its promises. This failure, unfortunately, has become a feature of all the agreements both sides have signed, to the tune of the Israeli slogan, “No date is sacred”.

Among the most important of the dates referred to in all agreements, including the Wye River Memorandum, is the date on which the interim period is to end, May 4, 1999. On this day, the Palestinian people will be freed from the restrictions they accepted under the Oslo Accords. On that date, they will be free to implement all international resolutions issued concerning their rights — including the right of return and the right to self-determination and the establishment of the Palestinian state.

As we know, the right of return is one of the final status issues and cannot be implemented unilaterally. This right, however, is one which concerns the Palestinian people only. It is the sacred duty of the PLO to respond to the will of its people.

After May 4, 1999, the PLO becomes the party that is formally delegated to pursue the legal aspects of the Palestinian declaration of statehood. This delegation of power to the PLO has been approved already by the Palestinian National Council. Well before the collapse of Netenyahu’s government, the president of the council and the committees concerned were requested to, and did, make the final arrangements.

Just how apathetic Netenyahu can be towards international relations is made clear in his attempt to use the early elections as a pretext for not implementing the Wye Memorandum. That gesture also makes clear the position Netenyahu has selected in a bid to ensure his re-election. This position will be seen to have been a tragic mistake.

And what, after May 4, 1999, Palestinians may wonder, shall we do? Into this discussion come our reliance on realism and our knowledge of the bargaining power which is in the hands of the PLO. We’ve adhered to all peace agreements, and now we are free. Some may call for the adoption of a “pragmatic” position, involving postponing the deadline until after the Israeli elections.

Such a position, in our view, rewards Netenyahu’s procrastination and implies that we have succumbed to his will.

It was revolutionary realism that caused Fateh to launch its first attack on January 1, 1965 — an attack that most Arab regimes and even some Fateh movement leaders opposed. It was that same realism which provided the movement with the energy to undertake its second attack on August 28, 1967, after the 1967 war, despite the opposition of the majority in the Arab world. It was just that realism which made possible the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in Algeria on November 11, 1988, in response to the Intifada.

To those who are reluctant, we say this: failure to realize our independence, to realize the state which already enjoys the support of legal resolutions, could only provide Netenyahu with the victory he wants so badly. If we were to back down, Netenyahu would only impose his will on the Palestinian people, rank and file. He would persuade the Israelis that he had managed to lower the expectations of the Palestinian people, in contrast to his predecessor, Peres, who avowed that “a successful peace depends on a successful Palestinian state.” Such will be the tenor of Netenyahu’s political discourse.

Netenyahu could, some of his advisors believe, achieve a double objective if he were to implement the second stage of the Wye Memorandum. Doing so would, on the one hand, postpone the re- affirmation of the existence of an independent Palestinian state, while on the other bringing Netenyahu more votes from those who would see in the action an instance of his commitment to peace.

One of the principles that has distinguished Fateh has been its policy of non-interference in the local affairs of other countries. Article 28 of the Basic Law of Fateh, however, used the term “local”, as different from “internal” affairs, a distinction which has allowed the movement to act whenever a country’s “internal” affairs could positively influence our cause. Such interference has never been direct, but has, rather, been undertaken through certain local forces to ensure a positive effect on the Palestinian question. Certain mistakes has been made, but the Palestinian cause has always been the sole beneficiary of all our efforts.

Israeli elections are internal affairs the results of which will have a direct influence on the entire peace process. As we have seen, these elections were timed to release Netenyahu from his obligations within the peace agreements. If he is re-elected, Netenyahu may well impose his own version of “peace”: autonomy for Palestinians within the land of Israel. In short, these elections directly and forcibly influence our fate as Palestinians. Together with all Arab peoples, then, we must do our utmost to ensure that Netenyahu is not re-elected, while recognizing that even if this goal is achieved, it still represents only a somewhat lesser evil.

The PNA may decide to adopt a neutral stance toward the Israeli elections, especially after the negative experience it underwent following its obvious support for Peres in the last election. At that time, the PNA agreed to allow postponement of the Israeli troop withdrawal from Hebron, in the hope that the delay might help Peres win the elections.

Inside Israel, Arab forces need to close ranks to ensure the strongest representation of the Arab population. Pluralism need not prevent these forces from adopting a working program that pushes toward the implementation of all UN resolutions concerning Palestine, the Golan Heights, and South Lebanon.

Unfortunately, the language used by the two main contenders, Barak and Netenyahu, is the same as to final status issues. It differs only regarding the issues of the interim period, the period that Netenyahu has just about killed off. His re-election platform includes the following:

No more land should be transferred to the Palestinians, since doing so would endanger Israeli security.

A Palestinian state must not be allowed to exist, since such a state would be used to launch armed attacks against Israel in an attempt to get Israel to accept the 1947 UN Resolution 181, and thereby re-take some of the territory now called Israel proper.

There will be no withdrawal from the Golan Heights, because of the dangers such a withdrawal would pose to the security of Israel.

As for Barak, who does not outright oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state and who is willing to concede somewhat more land, his election platform is based on the following:

There will be no return to the 1967 borders.

A foreign army cannot be positioned to the west of the River Jordan.

Settlements will remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Both positions, clearly, contract all agreements made as part of the peace process, as well as United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace. These positions, representing an Israeli consensus, should in turn help us to create a Palestinian consensus on final status issues. We can achieve this by means of a national dialogue involving all Palestinian forces and factions. Such a dialogue would determine those principles, or constants, from which none of us would deviate and which none of us would overlook.

Achieving a Palestinian consensus regarding the establishment of a state at the end of the interim period should help open a new chapter in relationships between the various Palestinian factions, including the PLO and other Islamic or Pan-Arab movements. The discussion should lead to a clear formulation of our united position on the establishment of a state and on the adoption of a collective national work program. Such a consensus should assure the continuity of our struggle to free the territories occupied in 1967; to secure the return of our refugees; to take control of our natural resources, borders and points of crossing into other countries; and to put an end to the building and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Agreeing on such a program before the actual creation of the state would require the existence of PLO and PNA institutions strong enough to carry out our mission, including the plan of action already set by the two bodies. Again, we emphasize the importance of village and city councils. Local elections should be considered, in order to reinforce both our national unity and democratic institutions at the local level.

Some of the unfortunate practices that accompanied the Arab local elections in Israel might have strengthened the position of those arguing against elections and in favor of the appointment of local heads of councils. The latter practice can only reinforce individual loyalties and decisiveness. Needless to say, Zionists favor the practice of appointment rather than elections in the Arab “sector” of Israeli society, as a way of weakening the unity of the Arab community in general and especially as Arabs support the cause of their brothers and sisters across the Green Line.

No one denies the existence of social ills within our society. Tribal affiliation gives rise to some of these. But the deliberate manipulation of religious sectarianism is a new and dangerous development which must be fought. We in Fateh try our best to minimize the effects of tribalism on movement conferences. We realize the importance of re-shaping our social fabric so that loyalty is foremost to the nation, rather than to the family or the tribe. The future of our nation is based on our belief that victory is inevitable and sacrifice willingly made. These twin poles will be the means to obtain a prosperous future and the establishment of a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

Revolution until victory!

The Official Curriculum Used in the Palestine Authority

On 11th January, 1999, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres opened the session of the PERES CENTER FOR PEACE by saying that the era of Arab Incitement against Israel is a thing of the past.

What follows is a thorough study of the official curriculum used in the Palestine Authority, prepared by the CENTER FOR MONITORING THE IMPACT OF PEACE, whose website is located at, The Center was established to examine the impact of the peace process between Israel and the Arab countries, on the way youth are being educated, particularly through the crucial media of school books and television.

1a. Abusive terminology

A telling measure of a government’s genuine interest in peace is the intensity with which it acts to replace hateful stereotypes with positive attitudes. Thus, it is disturbing that the following abusive terminology for Israelis, Jews and Israeli characteristics is being used in Palestinian Authority school books and being aired on Palestinian Authority television.

[All sources and context appear later in the report.]

Palestinian Authority School Books

Jews and Israelis are:

Wild animals
Jewish aggressors
Thieving conquerors
Thieving enemy
Enemy of prophets and believers

Israel and Israeli characteristics include:

A provocation to the Arab world A racist Jewish administration Zionist enemy Oppressors Occupied Palestine Israeli danger Zionist entity Zionist greed Zionist occupation

The map that replaces all of Israel is:


Israeli regions cities and towns are:

“Israeli settlements in Galileein
northern Palestine

Israel’s Negev is:

“Southern Palestine”

Palestinian Authority Television

Jews and Israelis are:


Israel and Israeli characteristics include:

Israeli entity
Zionist entity
Jewish gangs

The map that replaces all of Israel is:


1b. The Evil Enemy

Section Index:

  1. Overview
  2. The Evil Enemy
  3. Islamic sources Used to Create Stereotype
  4. Misrepresentation of Modern Events
  5. Palestinian Authority Television


Palestinian Authority school children are actively taught that the Jews and Israel are the enemy, in a broad range of contexts. The school texts portray the Jew as the enemy of believers, the enemy of Islam, the enemy of the Arabs, as well as generally evil and dangerous. Jews are killers and robbers and have stolen Arab land. Modern events are misrepresented to portray Israel and Jews as the evil force in their world. Zionism is equated to Nazism, together they are depicted as the prototype examples of racism. These themes also appear regularly on PA television.

The Evil Enemy

• “Complete the following blanks spaces with the appropriate word: The Zionist enemy – – [attacked] – – civilians with its aircraft.

[Our Arabic Language, Part 2 for Third Grade #523 p..9]

• “Why do the Jews hate Muslim unity and want to cause division among them? Give an example of the evil attempts of the Jews, from events happening today.”

[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade p. 19]

• “The Jews… have killed and evicted Muslim and Christian inhabitants of Palestine, whose inhabitants are still suffering oppression and persecution under racist Jewish administration.”

[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade # 589 p. 182]

• “Who is the thief who has torn our homeland?”

[Our Arabic Language for Sixth Grade Part One #553 p. 15]

• “Write in your exercise book: An event showing the fanaticism of the Jews in Palestine against Muslims or Christians.”

[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade p. 182]

• “One must beware of the Jews, for they are treacherous and disloyal.”

[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade p. 79]

A section on Zionism is entitled:
• “Zionist Greed.”

[‘Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade #613 p. 49]

Even racism is defined through the Jews, while Nazism and Zionism are equated:
• “Racism: Mankind has suffered from this evil both in ancient as well as in modern times, for, indeed, Satan has, in the eyes of many people, made their evil actions appear beautiful… Such a people are the Jews…”

[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade p. 95]

• The clearest examples of racist belief and racial discrimination in the world are Nazism and Zionism.

[The New History of the Arabs and the World, P. 123]

Modern ideologies and their effect on the Arab Nation (6 sections)
• Section 2: Understanding the racist and aggressive character of the Zionist Movement.
Section 6: Summary of the similarity between Nazism, Fascism and Zionism.

[The New History of the Arabs and the World, P. 92]

Islamic Sources Used to Create Stereotype

At times, the hateful portrayal is based on Islamic sources. The children are taught to apply the traditional narratives to hateful teachings regarding Jews and Israelis today. Five examples:

• “I learn from this lesson: I believe that the Jews are the enemies of the Prophets and the believers.”

[Islamic Education, Part Two, for Fourth Grade p. 67]

• “From the Uhud expedition… a number of lessons can be learned…: Treachery and disloyalty are character traits of the Jews and therefore one should beware of them.”

[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade p. 87]

• “The Jews adopted a position of hostility and deception towards the new religion. They called Muhammad a liar and denied him, they fought against his religion in all ways and by all means, a war that has not yet ended until today, and they conspired with the hypocrites and the idolaters against him and they are still behaving in the same way…”

[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade p. 125]

• “In many cases these Jews acted according to their known cunning and deceit, and they fomented wars [between Arab tribes]…

[Islamic Education for Ninth Grade # 589 p. 78]

• “Lessons to be learned: One must beware of civil war, which the Jews try to foment, and of their scheming against the Muslims.”

[Ibid. p. 94]

Misrepresentation of Modern Events

Modern events are misrepresented to portray Israel as active in an ongoing attack against Islam and the Arabs. Two examples: In 1969 an Australian [non-Jew] set the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on fire. Yet, the children are taught that Israel did it.

• “This arson is a further chapter in the Zionist plot, whose aim is to take control of this Islamic holy place, the Dome of the Rock and the whole area of the Jerusalem sanctuary and to destroy all that is holy to Islam.”

[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578 p. 97]

The Zionist movement has never called for the expulsion of Israel‘s Arab citizens. Yet the books teach that Zionism calls for this “expulsion”:
• “Zionism is a political, aggressive and colonialist movement, which calls for the Judaisation of Palestine by the expulsion of its Arab inhabitants…

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade#613 p. 49]

Palestinian Authority Television

The same hateful portrayal of Jews and Israel found in the school books is promoted regularly on Palestinian television. There too, Israel is the enemy of the Arabs and Islam:

“The Koran stresses that the closest people to the Muslims are the Christians, whereas their greatest enemies are the Jews… ‘May Allah protect us from the evil of the Satan – there is no enemy of the believers greater than the Jews and the idoloters’… Jesus warned the Jews of destruction and his prophecy was fulfilled and the City of Peace was purified from the defilement of the Jews… This ended the invasive Jewish presence in the Temple…”

[PA television June 5, 1998]

• “Israel’s mean, brutal, inhuman, fascist, racist, genocidal, cleansing wars…”

[PA television May 14, 1998]

• “The Jewish gangs waged racial cleansing wars against innocent Palestinians… large scale appalling massacres saving no woman or children.”

[PA television May 14, 1998]

• One day they attacked… Attacked my country. They killed the old and slaughtered the young. They burned the Koran and destroyed the house. They marched upon my heart, you are my country.

[summer camp song – Palestinian Authority TV, July 19, 1998]

The Jewish-Israeli character is maligned: • “The occupier as you all know is a deceiver, a cheater, moreover, he is a liar…”

[PA television May 14, 1998, speech by Khalid Mismar, Deputy Political representative]

• Zionism is presented as “a cancer in the body of the nation”.

[PA television May 14, 1998]

• Israeli soldiers are “those terrorists”.

[ PA television May 24, 1998]

• “…the terrorism that the occupying Israeli forces put into practice against our Palestinian nation since 1948.”

[PA television May 19, 1998]

1c. Denial of Legitimacy

Section Index:

  1. Overview
  2. Fabrication of a racist “Talmudic quote”
  3. Denial of Jewish Nationhood
  4. Denial of Ancient Jewish History
  5. Denial of Modern Jewish History
  6. Denial of Religious History
  7. Creation of Palestinian History
  8. Palestinian Authority Television


The Palestinian Authority education has made Jews disappear from all contexts in Israel that are not negative and have even fabricated viciously racist statements, attributing them to Jewish sources. PA books describe Muslim and Christian religious, historical, and archeological sites but omit any reference to Jewish sites. Tourists who visit are Christian and Muslim but there is no mention of the Jewish tourists. The Western Wall of the Temple is called “al-Buraq Wall” but there is no mention of its Jewish history. A history book describes World War II, Hitler and Nazi racism while ignoring the Jews and the Holocaust.

[“World History on Modern Times for Eighth Grade” #586 pp. 34-45]

Fabrication of a racist “Talmudic quote”

It is mentioned in the Talmud: “We [the Jews] are God’s people on earth…[God] forced upon the human animal and upon all the nations and the races that they serve us, and He spread us through the world to ride on them and hold their reigns. We must marry our beautiful daughters with kings, ministers and lords and enter our sons into the various religions, thus, we will have the final word in managing the countries. We should cheat them [the non-Jews] and arouse quarrels among them, then they fight each other… Non Jews are pigs who God created in the shape of man in order that they be fit for service for the Jews, and God created the world for them [the Jews].”

[The New History of the Arabs and the World, P. 120]

Denial of Jewish Nationhood

As part of the overall de-legitimization, the books deny the continuity of the Jewish nation and their place in Israel, by severing modern Jewry and modern Israel from their history in the land. The children are taught that the Jews are not a nation, but rather, a religious group:

• “who deluded themselves that their religious faith was sufficient to turn them into one nation.”

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade p. 49]

Denial of Ancient Jewish History

Thousands of years of Israeli – Jewish history and traditions and 2000 years of yearning to return to Israel, are likewise brushed away with:

• “The Zionists turn[ed] their attention towards Palestine as the national homeland of the Jews, while relying on false historical and religious claims.”

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade p. 50]

Denial of Modern Jewish History

The establishment of the state of Israel is portrayed not as the authentic Jewish national movement but as a colonialist anti-Arab plot to split the Arab world:

• “The colonial powers regarded the Zionist Movement as the means for the attainment of their greedy colonial aspirations and saw Palestine as the base for the setting up of a Jewish state, thus tearing the Arab Homeland asunder and imposing their rule on it in order to exploit its natural resources. The European colonial powers spread the idea of Zionism among the Jews….”

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade p. 48].

The difference between Zionism and Imperialism:



Zionism is not linked to land or country

Colonies are an extension of the motherland

A tool for establishing a non-existent State

A tool and means for serving a state which exists in effect

Believes in the elimination of the original inhabitants

Imperialistic behavior has not gone as far as the elimination of original inhabitants.

Settlement based on the foundation of false religious and historical rights

Based on foundations of economic interests

[The New History of the Arabs and the World, P. 123].

Furthermore, Israel‘s legitimacy is denied from the first international recognition until today:
• “the Balfour Declaration [to establish a Jewish state- ed] is regarded as illegal…”

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade #613 p..51]

Israelis still called:
• “occupied Palestine.”

[Ibid. p..95]

Denial of Religious History

When the school books discuss sites of religious, historical, archeological and tourist interest, Muslim as well as Christian sites are included but not Jewish. Even the Jews’ connection to the remnant of their holiest site, the Western Wall of the Temple, is denied:

• “The Jews claim that this is one of the places belonging to them and call it “The Western Wall”, but this is not so.”

[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578 p. 103]

• “Jerusalem: I have many Islamic holy places and antiquities. This is al-Aqsa Mosque and this is the Dome of the Rock…To the west of the holy mosque you can see a vast stone wall called ‘al-Buraq Wall’, [Western Wall of the Temple -ed] to which the angel Gabriel, peace be upon him, tied the beast of the Prophet Muhammad on the night of his journey [to heaven -ed ]…

As for my Christian holy places – the most famous of them are ‘The Church of al-Qiama’ [Holy Sepulchre-ed], next to the mosque of ‘Umar ibn al Khatab, and the church of ‘al-Juthmana’ opposite al-Isbat Gate, outside the wall.

[Palestinian National Education for Third Grade #529 P. 14]

Write down the names of the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem.
Write down the names of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem.

[ ibid. Page 15]

• “The importance of Palestine arises from the fact that Allah has chosen it to be the centre of religions. It is the place where the Nazarene, ‘Jesus the son of Mary, peace be upon him, was born and it is the place to which Muhammad, the prayer of Allah and peace be upon him, was made to journey… Thousands of Christians come to Palestine in order to perform their religious duties…”

[Palestinian National Education for Fourth Grade #539, p..5]

• “Tourists from all over the world come to Palestine to visit its holy religious places… Muslims come to visit the first Qibla [direction of prayer]…. Christians come to visit Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Lord Messiah and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem…”
[Christian and Muslim sites are mentioned, Jewish sites are ignored- ed]

[Ibid. p. 23]

Creation of Palestinian History

After erasing and ignoring Jewish history in Israel, it is replaced by the creation of an ancient Palestinian history”:

• “Dear pupil, do you know who the Palestinians are?
The Palestinian people are descended from the Canaanites.”

[National Palestinian Education for Fifth Grade # 550 p. 19]

To create a connection to Jerusalem before it was Israel‘s capital, the school books teach that the inhabitants of Jerusalem before the Jews were Arabs:

• “Jerusalem is an ancient Arab city, built by the Jebusite Arabs before Islam… “

[Islamic Culture for Eighth Grade #576 p. 50]

• “Jerusalem: I am an ancient city, thousands of years old. I occupy a mountain plateau in the center of Palestine… My most ancient name, Jebus, is derived from the ancient Arabs, the Jebusites.”

[Palestinian National Education for Third Grade #529 P. 12]

Palestinian Authority Television

Jewish religious and national history in Israel and Israel‘s legitimacy are denied on television, as well, going so far as to teach that the religion of ancient Israel was Islam.

• “Israel [of the Bible]… dwelled near Yemen… Their [Israel’s] original religion in the days of our master Moses… it is strange that the Torah doesn’t give it a name, and I almost dare say, that it is Islam… Mt. Sinai is Mt. Sinin in Yemen… All these events [of Israel in the Bible] did not happen in Palestine… 90% of today’s Jews have no [biological] connection to the Israelites.”

[“Palestine: History and Tradition” – PA television May 26, 1998]

• “Jerusalem is a Palestinian Arab city, and it has no connection to Israel.”

[PA television May 24 1998] Abd al-Rachman [PA official]

As in the texts, the Jewish history in the land of Israel is called: “false” “fake” “claims” and “allegations”:

• “Palestine” is the “… beautiful and blessed homeland, raided by invaders who came from remote lands with false promises and fake contracts…..”

[ PA television, May 19, 1998]

• “At the conference… the Jewish claims and historical allegations in favor of their right to Palestine were noted and the historical right of Arabs over Palestine ever since the dawn of history were stressed…”

[PA television May 19, 1998]

Again echoing the school books, PA television presents Israel as a foreign colonial “entity”:
• “The Israeli entity on our Palestinian land… the war of 1948 brought about the establishment of the Zionist entity on Palestinian land… they raped Palestine and planted the Zionist entity in her land as a colonial project.”

[PA television, May 14, 1998]

1d. Israel Must Be Fought by Waging Jihad (Holy War)

Section Index:

  1. Call to Fight Israel
  2. Impending Victory of Islam and the Arabs Over Israel and the West
  3. Palestinian Authority Television

Call to Fight Israel

The calls to fight and eliminate Israel through Jihad (Holy War) and Martyrdom for Allah, appear frequently in the PA school books. In addition there is a separate recurring theme: the children are taught to fight and conquer Israel‘s capital, Jerusalem.

• “Know, my son, that Palestine is your country… that its pure soil is drenched with the blood of Martyrs… Why must we fight the Jews and drive them out of our land?” [Ed. – The map to the right accompanies this text]

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade p. 64-66]

• “…there will be a Jihad and our country shall be freed. This is our story with the thieving conquerors. You must know, my boy, that Palestine is your grave responsibility…”

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542. p. 69-70]

In the poem “Palestine” the children are taught to wage Jihad (Holy War) against Israel:
• “My brothers! The oppressors [Israel -ed.] have overstepped the boundary. Therefore Jihad and sacrafice are a duty… are we to let them steal its Arab nature… Draw your sword… let us gather for war with red blood and blazing fire…Death shall call and the sword shall be crazed from much slaughter… Oh Palestine, the youth will redeem your land…”

The books then ask questions to emphasize the message that Israel, the enemy, is to be fought and defeated:

“2. Who are the “oppressors” to whom the poet is referring in the first verse?
3. What is the road to victory over the enemy that the poet mentions?
4. The poet urges the Arabs to undertake Jihad. Indicate the verse in which he does so.”

[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade #578 p. 120-122]

• “If you look towards the city Jerusalem, you will see the Dome of the Rock with its beautiful golden color, and you will feel you have the responsibility to free the captive Mosque and the mourning Dome from the thieving conquerors.”

[Our Arabic Language, Part 1, for 4th grade. p. 28]

• “What, in your view, is the way to liberate Jerusalem, enlightened by its liberation by the Muslims in the time of Saladin [who conquered Jerusalem in 1187 -ed.]”

[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade p.102]

• “Bayonets and Torches ‘…In you left hand you carried the Koran, And in your right an Arab sword… Without blood not even one centimeter will be liberated Therefore, go forward crying: ‘Allah is great.'”

[Ibid. p. 131-133]

“The poem represents a reality lived by Palestinians. Explain this.”

[Ibid. p. 135]

• “Poems to Learn by Heart:
‘Oh Jerusalem
If the thief tears our homeland
And our people driven from the land
What is left but the call “Allah is Great”…
Who will not take hold the sword, without fear of death…
Or will hold the flag at the head of great victorious army
Lead by Al-Faruk…”[or ‘Umar ibn al Khatab who conquered Jerusalem in 638.]

[Our Arabic Language, Part One for Sixth Grade #553 p. 14]

Questions on Comprehension:
Who is the thief who has torn our homeland?
What, in the poet’s opinion, is the way to liberate Jerusalem?
Can Al-Faruk lead an army? Why did the poet mention him?

[Ibid. p. 15]

• “Muslims must protect all mosques… and must wage a Jihad both of life and property to liberate al-Aqsa Mosque from the Zionist conquest”

[ Islamic Education for Seventh Grade p.184]

• “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.”

[ Our Arabic Language for Seventh Grade Part A #566 p. 15]

• “What must we do to liberate Jerusalem?”

[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade. 578 p. 63]

• “What can we do to rescue Jerusalem and to liberate it from the thieving enemy?”

[Ibid. p. 99]

• “Make use of the following expressions making logical sentences:
Wise opinion the Zionist danger he called for a Jihad disaster remaining cool-headed.”

[Our Arabic Language, Part One for Sixth Grade #553 p.29]

• “A Poem of Palestine
To Palestine greetings from Arab hearts…
Who has stubbornly and successfully resisted the chains of the enemies.
For me – the promise of Martyrdom and Palestineis my song
From Jerusalem I shall build my ladder towards eternity.”

[Our Arabic Language for Second Grade, Part Two. #513 p.51]

• “The Muslim connects the holiness of al-Aqsa Mosque, and its precincts, with the holiness of the ‘Sacred Mosque’ and Mecca. Therefore, any aggression against one is an aggression against the other and to defend them is to defend Islam itself. Disregard of the duty in respect of them is a crime for which Allah will punish every believer in God and His Prophet.”

[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576 p. 50]

• “Fill in the appropriate word from among the following: they, he, she: ______ is the commander of the Muslim forces in the capture of Jerusalem.”

[Our Arabic Language for Second Grade, Part Two. # 513 p. 42]

The need to fight Israel, all of which is said to be on “occupied Arab land” becomes a religious imperative, with teachings like the following:
• “… if the enemy has conquered part of its land and those fighting for it are unable to repel the enemy, then Jihad becomes the individual religious duty of every Muslim man and woman, until the attack is successfully repulsed and the land liberated from conquest and to defend Muslim honor…”

[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #564 p.108]

Impending Victory of Islam and the Arabs Over Israel and the West

Finally, the children are assured through their books that the victory of Islam and the Arabs over the Jews, Israel, and all religions are preordained eventualities:

• “Know, my son, that Palestine is your country… that its pure soil is drenched with the blood of martyrs… Just as this sacred soil returned to its owners [in the past], so will it return again thorough your courage and determination…”
[The accompanying map of “Palestine” includes all of Israel.- ed.]

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542. pp. 65-66]

• “Our brothers in Arab and Muslim countries felt the danger threatening us and joined with us in a noble Jihad… until the [Arab] Nation recruits its forces and there will be a Jihad and our country shall be freed, by Allah’s will.”

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542. p. 69]

• “Remember:
– The final and inevitable result will be the victory of the Muslims over the Jews.

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade p. 67]

• “This religion will defeat all other religions and it will be disseminated, by Allah’s will, through the Muslim Jihad fighters.”

[ Islamic Education for Seventh Grade. p. 125]

• In the present period, which exceeds all previous periods in the material and scientific advances taking place, social, psychological and medical scientists in the West are perplexed by the worrying increase in the number of people suffering from nervous disorders… and the statistics from America in this matter are a clear indication of this…There is no escape from [the need for] a new civilization… The Western world is not capable of fulfilling this role…There is only one nation capable of discharging this task and that is our nation [Islam]… We do not claim that the collapse of Western civilization, and the transfer of the center of civilization to us [Islam] will happen in the next decade or two or even in fifty years, for the rise and fall of civilizations follow natural processes… Nevertheless [Western civilization] has begun to collapse and to become a pile of debris.

[Some Outstanding Examples of Our Civilization for Eleventh Grade p.3,12, 16]

Palestinian Authority Television

The promotion of violence against Israel is rampant on Palestinian television:

• “Jihad is the principle belief which will never end regardless of how many fall”

[Palestinian Authority TV, July 12, 1998]

…I came to you with my sword in hand…we will oust them [Israel] out to the sea. Your day is coming, conqueror, then we will settle accounts. Our accounts are unending in stones and bullets.

[Summer camp poem- Palestinian Authority TV, July 2, 1998]
[Young Girl- Palestinian Authority TV, July 7, 1998]

• “My brothers! The oppressors [Israel -ed.] have overstepped the boundary. Therefore Jihad and sacrifice are a duty…. are we to let them steal its Arab nature… Draw your sword… let us gather for war with red blood and blazing fire…Death shall call and the sword shall be crazed from much slaughter… O Palestine, the youth will redeem your land…”

[This is the same poem quoted above from a school book. PA television May 14, 1998]

• “…every child carries Palestine in his heart, and in his hands he has a stone, a gun and an olive branch…”

[PA television May 14, 1998]

• “This is our Palestine. We will defend it with blood.”

[Phrase is “typed” and “declared” numerous times daily – PA television May 1998]

• A spliced segment shows a youth throwing a stone followed immediately by a segment of an Israeli soldier being hit by a large rock. The clip was repeated 6 times, one after the other.

[PA television May 18?, 1998]

Echoing the school books, the ultimate victory over Israelis also promised:
• [Following a map of “Palestine” that replaces Israel:]
“Palestineis the land of my forefathers
Get out of it. Go away! Go Away!
Oh occupier! You won’t remain, you won’t remain…”

[Phrase is “typed” and “declared” numerous times daily – PA television May 1998]

1e. Israel does not exist on maps. Its Place is marked – “Palestine.”

Section Index:

  1. In books and in Schools
  2. On PA Television

The Palestinian Authority school books and television use a map of the Middle East in which Israel does not exist and is replaced in its entirety by a state called “Palestine”.

In Books and in Schools

• Under the words on the blackboard “Our Country Palestine”, this map replaces all of Israel

[Palestinian National Education for Second Grade #519 p. 21]

• To the right are giant maps of “Palestine” erasing Israel prominently displayed at the entrance to two PA schools.

[Palestinian Authority television.]

In the new world atlas the word Israel does not appear even once. The map of Palestine replaces all of Israel.

[Ed: – This atlas is privately published in Nablus in the Palestinian Autonomy and approved by the PA for the upcoming school year]

• Map entitled: “Map of Palestinebefore and after the war of 1967” The purple is defined as “The Arab lands conquered before 1967”. The Green is defined as “The Arab lands conquered in 1967”.
All of Israel is called “conquered Arab land”

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade #613 p. 66]

• Maps of the Middle East in which Israel does not exist and its area is marked “Palestine” appear on the following pages: 81, 84, 88, 89, 103, 107, 109, 110, 120, 122 and 124.

[Social And National Education for Fifth Grade, Part A #549 p. 107]

• This map, which accompanies the lesson entitled “Palestine Our Homeland”, encompasses all of the State of Israel and specifies numerous Israeli cities: Safed, Acre, Haifa, Tiberias, Nazareth, Bait Shean, Jaffa [southern Tel Aviv], Jerusalem and Beer-Sheba. – edit]

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade, # 542 p.64]

• “Palestine is situated at the very heart of the Arab Homeland, in the western part of the Continent of Asia, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.”

[Palestinian National Education for Fifth Grade # 550 p. 7]

• This drawing shows a woman waving the Palestinian Authority flag. In the background is a map of “Palestine” in place of all of Israel.

[National Palestinian Education for First Grade. # 509 p. 11]

• Nineteen times in this book, maps mark Israel as “Palestine”. [Pages 12, 20, 23, 36, 48, 50, 53, 55, 61, 66, 72, 73, 75, 80, 81, 88, 90, 115, 124]

[Geography of the Arab Homeland for Sixth Grade #557]

On PA Television

Palestinian Authority television likewise displays the map of Palestine that erases all of Israel. This map appears at the beginning and end of daily news report.

A graphic image of the map depicted as a pulsating heart, dripping blood. This map appears at the start of a weekly broadcast.

1f. Israeli Cities are labeled Palestinian cities and Israel is “occupied Palestine.”

Section Index:

  1. Overview
  2. Israeli Cities are Called Palestinian Cities
  3. Israel is “Occupied Palestine”
  4. Israeli industry is Presented as Palestinian Industry
  5. Palestinian Authority Television


The entire land of the State of Israel, its cities including its capital Jerusalem, are often treated as “Palestine” “Palestinian” or “occupied Palestine”. Events that happened in Israel are often said to have occurred in “Palestine”. Israeli industry, such as “the citrus fruit industry” and “oil refineries… in Haifa and Ashdod”, are presented as Palestinian industry.

Israeli Cities are Called Palestinian Cities

The following Israeli cities and regions are defined as Palestinian in one or more texts:

Safed, Tiberias, Haifa, Jaffa [a part of Tel Aviv], Ashdod, Nazareth, Beer Sheba, Bet Shean, Lod, Acre, the Negev, Shaar Hagai, Jezreel Valley, the Galilee and Southern Israel. Israel’s border with Lebanon is “the border of occupied Palestine.”

[All sources appear below.]

The following are examples:

• “After the River Jordan flows out of the Lake of Tiberias [Galilee]… it passes on the west the plain of Bait Shean, which leads to the ‘Bani ‘Amer Valley’, which has the best soil in the whole of Palestine…”
[Note: the said valley is the Jezrael Valley in northern Israel -ed]

[Geography of the Arab Lands for Twelfth Grade #650 p. 49]

• “Explain the following:… The plain of ‘Bani ‘Amer Valley’ is the most fertile of Palestine.”
[Note: the said valley is the Jezrael Valley in northern Israel -ed]

[Ibid. p. 55]

• “Know, my son, that Palestine is your country… its pure soil is drenched with the blood of martyrs because it is a land of glorious battles and wars: in Jerusalem… in Acre, in Haifa,… in Shaar Hagay… and in the Negev.”
[Note: all are Israeli cities and regions -ed.]

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542 p.65-66]

• “The Arab Homeland attracts tourism from all over the world. Some of the tourists come to visit the holy places, such as: Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth in Palestine…”

[Geography of the Arab Homeland for Sixth Grade #557 P. 79]

• “Map of resorts: Palestine: Haifa ” [Israeli city -ed.].

[Geography of the Arab Homeland for Sixth Grade #557 P. 83]

• “Question: Jaffais a Palestinian town captured by the Jews. Name three other Palestinian towns which were captured by the Jews.”
[Note: Jaffa is an Israeli city- part of the municipal Tel Aviv -ed.]

[Our Arabic Language for Seventh Grade Part A #566 p.13]

• “…There is nothing to remind us, Jaffa still exists…and our blood is still spattered on its ancient walls while the robbers and the locusts feed off its bare fields…the road is twisting and full of obstacles and long; the faint of heart will not endure long on it. Jaffa, we shall return to you tomorrow…”
[Note: Jaffa is an Israeli city- part of municipal Tel Aviv -ed.]

[Composition and Summarizing for Eighth Grade, # 581 p. 20]

• “Beautiful Jaffa
…And I said: I am enchanted by Jaffa:
How good are the companions of Jaffa
Palestine, O good mother – your daughters are all beautiful and goodly
From afar the wind has borne me to Jaffa…
And I saw Lod spread out in the midst of its wells…”
[Note: Jaffa and Lod are Israeli cities -ed.]

[Reader And Literary Texts for Ninth Grade part 2. #592 Part Two Page 33]

Israel is “Occupied Palestine

• “Following the growth in the Palestinian presence in Lebanon at the beginning of the 1970’s, and its armed uprising against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Israel acted – in collaboration with the Lebanese Phalange Party – to remove the Palestinians from Lebanon…. Israel declared that its aim was to remove the danger of attacks of the resistance on Israeli settlements in Galilee in northern Palestine” [the Galilee is Northern Israel – edit]…

[Modern Arab History and Contemporary Problems, Part Two, for Tenth Grade, #613 p. 70]

• “There is an additional problem arising from the fact that Israel is transferring water from the River Jordan to the south of Palestine.”

[Ibid p. 91]

• These forces, [the Christian South Lebanese Army -ed.] with Israel’s help, took control of a number of Lebanese villages close to the border of occupied Palestine.

[Ibid p. 95]

• There are migrations which take place because of the desire of the migrants to improve their economic standard of living, such as the migration to the Gulf area, and there are migrations that take place because of duress, such as that which took place from occupied Palestine.

[General Geography for Seventh Grade, #569 p 60]

Israeli Industry is Presented as Palestinian Industry

The children are often taught that Israeli industry is Palestinian, as in these examples:

• Chart 38: Produce of Fruit Trees in the Arab Homeland: Palestine has the most citrus trees, in front of Morocco and Algeria.

[Geography of the Arab Lands for Twelfth Grade #650 p. 142]

• Table No. 10: Oil Refineries in the Arab Homeland: “Palestine: 2 oil refineries, refining 132 thousand barrels, in Haifa and Ashdod.”

[Ibid. p. 186]

Palestinian Authority Television

Israeli cities are presented as Palestinian cities on PA TV, as well. A young girl recited this on a children’s program:

• “…The land is my land
here is my house and I will build it…
with my blood I shall water it…
Haifa and Jaffa [part of Tel Aviv] and the land of Lod
Jerusalemcalls out and that’s Acre
calling for us…
In the Galilee we have a sister whom we salute…
and if Ashkeloncalls out go find her…
shall we neglect the Galilee and Beer Sheva?”

[PA television March 3, 1998]

A four minute clip presents young children building up and playing with a toy “Palestine“, which is then destroyed to the narration of the following text:
• “Do you know what happened in 1948? They took everything! They emptied the room, broke the houses, they set fire to the forests, they changed the names… my country’s name is Palestine.”

[PA television, numerous broadcasts May 1998]

1g. Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, is called: the capital of the “State of Palestine

The Palestinian Authority school books teach their children that an independent “State of Palestine” already exists, independence day is celebrated yearly, and Israel‘s capital Jerusalem, is said to be the capital of “Palestine“. Some examples:

• “The Capital of Palestine:
Jihad asked the teacher: What is our capital?
The teacher: Jerusalemis our capital.
Jihad: Does it have other names?
The teacher: Yes. The blessed soil…
Questions: What is our capital?
Write [a composition on]: Jerusalem Our Capital.”

[Palestinian National Education for First Grade. # 509 p. 63]

• “Exercise: Distinguish between verb and noun clauses:
‘The land is our land and Jerusalem is ours.'”

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542 p.74]

• “Determine what is the subject, and what is the predicate, in the following sentences:
‘Jerusalem is Arab.'”

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542 p.167]

• “Muntasar paid a visit to Jerusalem…
Jerusalem: I am an ancient city, thousands years old. I occupy a mountain plateau in the center of Palestine…”

[Palestinian National Education for Third Grade #529 p. 12]

• “The Proclamation of the Palestinian State:
At the nineteenth gathering of the Palestinian National Council in Algiersit declared [the adoption] of a document proclaiming Palestinian independence. The following are extracts from this document:
The Palestinian National Council declares in the name of Allah and the Palestinian nation the establishment of the state of Palestine on our Palestinian land whose capital is Jerusalem…”

[ Palestinian National Education for Fifth Grade # 550 p. 39]

• “The second section will [bring] the general terms and administrative and legal institutions… in the State of Palestine.” [Note: This book discusses the state structures of the “State of Palestine” using the expression “in the State of Palestine” at least twelve times. – ed.]

[Palestinian National Education for Sixth Grade # 596 – Introduction p. 6]

• “The Greedy Designs of the Jews in Jerusalem”
“The Jews have clear greedy designs on Jerusalem. They believe that their state is not complete without Jerusalem as its capital, which is what they claim. The proof of this is that their Minister of Defense declared on the third day of the war of 1967, together with the Prime Minister, when both of them were standing by “al-Buraq”, which they call the Western Wall: ‘We have returned to you, Jerusalem, and we shall never part from you again. You are not just the capital of “Israel”, but the capital of the entire Jewish People.’…
Thus do the Jews conspire, before the eyes and ears of the Arabs and the Muslims. What can we do to rescue Jerusalem and to liberate it from the thieving enemy…?

[Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade. [578] P. 96, 99]

2. Education to Jihad – Holy War and Martyrdom

Section Index:

  1. Education to Jihad – Holy War
  2. Education to Martyrdom

Education to Jihad (Holy War)

Palestinian Authority (PA) school books praise and encourage the waging of Jihad – Holy War.

• “Jihad for Allah is one of the greatest commandments and duties of Islam, the purpose of which is to establish Allah’s rule on Earth… Jihad is not an issue of need, necessary only at certain times, rather, it is an ever-present necessity which a Muslim society must never relinquish. Its abandonment brings weakness and humiliation and invites aggression.”

[Islamic Education for Twelfth Grade # 641 p. 284, 139]

Fighting is the highest level of Jihad:
• “Jihad with of one’s life: This is by fighting enemies… This is the highest level of Jihad because the Jihad fighter sacrifices himself in accordance with Allah’s way for the sake of his religion and to defend his nation…

[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade, #564 p. 107]

The reward for Jihad:
• “The reward for shooting an arrow for Allah covers not only the archer, but also him, who made the arrow, as well as him who handed it to the archer…”

[Islamic Education for Twelfth Grade # 641 p. 319]

• “The Muslim believes in Allah and His Messenger and fights a Jihad for Allah with property and his life in order to please Allah and to earn a place in paradise on the day of resurrection… “

[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade, #564 p. 129]

The punishment for shirking Jihad:
• “These verses prove the superiority that is in Jihad for Allah’s sake… and warned against evading a Jihad for Allah….and a warning to the Muslims not to defy His word nor refrain from Jihad…”

[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade, #564 p. 124]

• “Islam has forbidden flight from the battle and regards this as a grave sin.

[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576 p. 176]

Jihad is promoted not only in books on Islamic studies, but in grammar, literature and civic studies as well:
• “Determine what is the subject, and what is the predicate, in the following sentences: -The Jihad is a religious duty of every Muslim man and woman.”

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542, p. 167]

Education to Martyrdom

PA text books glorify Martyrdom as an ideal to be sought. The fortunate are those who are killed – reaching “Martyrdom”.

• “Martyrdom is when a Muslim is killed for the sake of Allah… A person who dies thus is called a “Martyr” [Shahid]… Martyrdom for Allah is the hope of all those who believe in Allah and have trust in His promises… The Martyr rejoices in the paradise that Allah has prepared for him…

[Islamic Education for Seventh Grade #564 p. 112]

• “The Muslim sacrifices himself for his faith and fights a Jihad for Allah. He does not know cowardice because he understands that the time of his death is already ordained and that his dying as a Martyr on the field of battle is preferable to dying in bed… “

[Islamic Education for Eighth Grade #576 p. 176]

• “…Martyred Jihad fighters are the most honored people, after the Prophets…”

[Reading And Literary Texts for Tenth Grade – #607 p. 103]

• “… competing with each other to achieve Martyrdom in the battle…”

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542, p. 193]

• “Martyrdom is life.”

Reading And Literary Texts for Tenth Grade – #607 p. 171]

Numerous poems encourage the children to see themselves as future Jihad fighters seeking Martyrdom. Many school book poems have the word “Martyr” in their title, including the following poem which is in at least two grammar books [the children are instructed to learn the poem by heart] and was broadcast three times recently on PA television, read by different children.

• “Song of the Martyr
1 -I shall take my soul in my hand and hurl it into the abyss of death [in war]…
5 -Upon your life, I see my death and am marching speedily towards it
6 -Upon your life, this is the death of men and he, who seeks an honorable death – this is that death.”

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542. P. 60]

[Guide for Improving Arabic Language for Twelfth Grade” #719 p. 84]

[PA television, May 22, 1998]

[PA television, May 1998]

[PA television, May 1998]

The students are instructed to “learn the following poems by heart”, as well:
• ‘My Homeland’
…The youth will not tire,
They desire to be free or to perish
We draw our water from death
And we will not be as slaves to the enemy…
Our symbol is the ‘sword’ and the ‘pen’, but not ‘words’…

[Palestinian National Education for First Grade. # 509 p. 67- 68]

•”O Muslims, Muslims, Muslims, where there are truth and justice there shall we be found. Death pleases us and we refuse to be humbled. How sweet is death for Allah….”

[Islamic Education for Sixth Grade #551 p. 151]

This poem: “We Are The Youth” expresses the same sentiment:
• “We are the youth and tomorrow is ours…
We shall march on despite death
Onward, onward
We shall build, we shall not rely on others
We shall perish, but, we shall not be humbled…”

[Palestinian National Education for Third Grade #529 p. 70]

The Martyrs of the Intifada:
•…They stoned with them [the stones], the wild animals of the way…
They died standing, burning with excitement… Death attacked with raised pickaxe
Facing death, they stood erect…

[Reading and Literary Texts for Tenth Grade – #607 p. 167]

Grammar exercises likewise glorify Martyrdom:
• “Write five lines on the virtues of the Martyrs and their superior status.”

[Our Arabic Language for Fifth Grade. # 542. p. 201]

The Jihad-Martyr concept is encouraged and glorified through many personal stories. The following are excerpts from a sixth grade school book:
• “The first words the young boy heard were the words “Jihad”, “attack” and “conquest”…These words were constantly on his lips…'[The boy] Uqba grew up with the love of Jihad flowing through his veins and filling every fiber of his being……. For him no joy equaled that of taking part in Jihad…Nothing gave him pleasure but the sight of swords and spears shining in the hands of the fighting horsemen. Nothing was pleasing to his ear but the sound of the horses charging into battle and nothing gave him joy but the sight of the enemy lying dead on the battlefield, or defeated and fleeing for their lives…Uqba showed heroism and courage… attacking them from his horse and hacking the enemy soldiers to pieces, coming down on them blow after blow, crushing their skulls…

[Uqba bin Nafi’ or The Conqueror of Africa for Sixth Grade #700- p. 6-7, 43, 83, 96]

The entire content of this book is the glorification of war and Jihad. [See appendix]


a. The Palestinian Authority Educational System

b. International Aid for the PA Education System

c. Additional Sources For In Depth Study

Israel Ain’t Monica, Keep Yer Hands Off

With new elections in Israel now set for May 17, 1999, many questions about the vote remain to be answered. But from an American frame of reference, the big question is not which candidates will emerge as serious rivals to embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The great unknown of the coming campaign is to what extent will the government of the United States seek to involve itself in the election.

The posture of the United States has played a crucial role in at least the last two Israeli elections.

In 1992, the intense open hostility of the Administration of President George Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker toward Yitzhak Shamir’s Israeli government nearly ruptured the U.S.-Israel alliance. The late Yitzhak Rabin and Labor benefitted mightily from the perception that Washington’s abhorrence for Shamir and Likud might permanently alienate Israel’s sole ally. Given the razor-thin edge in Knesset seats that was the margin of Rabin’s victory, the U.S. stand has to be considered crucial.

Don’t touch that flag, Bubba! But that intervention paled before President Clinton’s all-out effort to ensure the election of Shimon Peres as Prime Minister in 1996.

Clinton and his entire foreign policy team went out of their way to bolster Peres as Prime Minister after terrorist bombings and the behavior of the Palestinian Authority’s Yasser Arafat fatally undermined the Labor government. Indeed, as some observers said at the time, Clinton campaigned harder for Peres (and against Likud challenger Netanyahu) than he did for many a Congressional Democrat.

But unlike 1992, the results were not what Washington intended. However much they may have liked President Clinton, Israelis did not care for the banana republic treatment accorded their country. The president’s propping up of Peres carried little weight. Peres was hopelessly tied to Arafat and that trumped Clinton’s endorsement.

When contrary to Clinton’s hopes, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli premier directly elected by the people, the United States was left with egg on its face. Over the course of the following 30 months, the Netanyahu and Clinton relationship has rarely risen above the animosity engendered during that election.

Netanyahu will have his hands full dealing with revolts in Likud and the emergence of possible centrist options as well as with Labor. Dissatisfaction with the prime minister’s halting attempts to advance the Oslo process (from both the right and the left) as well as disgust with Netanyahu’s treatment of colleagues seems to have irrevocably broken the coalition that won the last election. But with nearly six months to go before the balloting, anything, including a Netanyahu comeback, is possible.

With Netanyahu’s demands for reciprocity from the Palestinians still a thorn in the side of Clinton’s Middle East policy, it is no secret that the State Department and the White House is openly rooting for the prime minister’s defeat. The question is, are they wise enough to back off and let Israel’s voters make their own decisions?

At the moment, Clinton may be too preoccupied with his own impeachment crisis and the ongoing confrontation with Iraq to have much time to monkey around with Israeli politics. But as May approaches, the temptation to intervene may prove irresistable. Especially if Netanyahu or another Oslo opponent appears to have a strong chance of victory.

The leadership of the organized American Jewish world, who have been known to intervene in Israeli politics themselves, need to tell the Administration in no uncertain terms that in 1999, America must stand aside and let the people of Israel choose.

Whether Israelis opt for a candidate who is more committed to Oslo than Netanyahu, for a leader who’s an outright Oslo critic or even someone like Amnon Lipkin-Shahak — who keeps his opinions to himself — it is their choice and their future, not ours, that’s at stake.

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent

The Israeli Elections

Bang! A starting gun shooting blanks. The candidates are off and running in the Israeli Knesset sweepstakes.

Nine of them have taken the field thus far, on the track for would-be prime minister in Israel.

Israel’s electoral system allows for candidates to run for prime minister on one ballot, while there is a second ballot for political parties running for seats in the the knesset.

At present count, there are twenty of those, and any party that garners at least 1.5% of the votes is guaranteed parlimentary representation. Bang Again. But this time, deadly missiles. They screech in from southern Lebanon, an area under the de-facto control of neighboring Syria.

On the first day of campaigning for forthcoming election election of 1999, almost the entire Israeli cabinet, arrived at the missile-torn town of Kiryat Shmoneh on Israel’s northern border and posed for photographs with bombed-out Israeli homes as the backdrop.

Incumbent Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a seemingly impromtu press conference. His stage was a gaping hole that had been an Israeli family’s living room window

His role was tough-talking leader, surrounded by a chorus of Israel Defence Forces general staff, declaiming that Israel will fight back…. It was rhetoric among the ruins, with Netanyahu’s problems of yesteryear/yesterday pushed off into the winds. There is nothing like screeching missiles to drown out the thunder of political opponents.

But the scriptwriters for the forthcoming months of the Israeli election campaign may well be Syria’s president Hafez El-Assad and the Palestine Authority boss, Yassir Arafat. Their promises of violence make them the unlikely cynosures as well as the manipulators of something of which they have no experience at all – a democratic election.

Assad is frustrated by the new Turkish-Israeli-Jordanian axis, and is flexing his muscles. He knows full well that the people of Israel are weary of the war of attrition on their northern border that has been dragging on for a decade and a half. He also knows that in the short term Netanyahu may react with daring military repostes into Syrian-controlled territory in Lebanon, to hit the supply bases of Syrian-sponsored Hizballah terrorists who have been conducting systematic attacks on northern Israel.

If Netanyahu does take seemingly strong action against Assad, it will will go over well with the Israeli electorate. However, There are sources in Israeli intelligence who say that this is what exactly what Assad wants – the reelection of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The theory is that Syria could do better in negotiations with an Israeli leader who apparently represents the national camp, than with a leader who was elected from an Israeli left wing leader who would have to contend with a strong opposition from nationalist side. In March, 1995, when the former Labor-Meretz goverment was in power, Israel’s president Ezer Weitsman, himself a former IDF intelligence chief, told a group of professors oriented toward Netanyahu’s Likud party, that his assessment was that Syrian president Assaad indeed preferred Netanyahu as the next prime minister of Israel.

As for Arafat, his Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) reports that Arafat has flashed the green light to his Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) for an upsurge of attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets. They will be timed to coincide with the Israeli election campaign.

Just last month, the Washington Institute for Near East policy studies, (that was once directed by the current state department middle east policy-makers, Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross) issued a 50 page briefing paper on the Palestine Liberation Army. The report warns that the PLA now has well-organized military infrastructure and can pose a serious threat to the IDF in any future confrontation.

Arafat’s spokesmen openly state on PBC radio and PBC TV that, with alks stalled during the election campaign, that he will not be able to control violence. On December 22nd and December 23rd, 1998, Arafat held talks with Nayif Hawatma, the head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). This was only ten days after Hawatma, had just coordinated a conference in Damascus of the ten Palestinian groups that oppose any peace process whatsover. Arafat used the occasion to issue a public promise that the groups opposing the peace process would not be disarmed or disenfranchised.

At the same time, Arafat also announced that the Hamas leader, Achmed Yassin, was to be released from two months of house arrest, even though the Hamas leader issued public proclamations that he order HAMAS members to kill Israelis.

And in another development, two Palestinian terrorists recently convicted of murdering Israelis “escaped” from a Palestine Authority maximum security jail in jail. (This writer had served as a guard at that very same jail as part of IDF reserve duty, and can attest to the fact that neither the prisoners nor the guards can “escape” the three walls that surround the prison itself)

It would be a likely scenario if Arab terror attacks on Israeli civilian or military targets during an Israeli election campaign will drive Netanyahu to take forceful military action against the Hamas/DFLP bases that operate with PA sanction. Arafat will condemn the actions, yet at the same time benefit from any harm dome to these groups who represent his domestic political opponents.

IDF attacks on the PA could restore Netanyahu’s credibility, at once making his opponents in Israel’s nationalist camp look irrelevant, and making the “peace camp” look sympathetic to the Arab cause

Netanyahu will sound believable and convincing when he is in the throes of fighting Palestinian violence. After all, not only did he produce three vooks on terrorism, he is also the brother of the heroic Yonatan Netanyahu, slain in the raid in Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976, when more than one hundred Israeli hostages were rescued from their Arab and German captors.

Promoting military counterattacks against Syrian-backed Hizbullah and/or PA terrorists may restore the popularity of the incumbent prime minister.

Thus, Assad & Arafat can make Netanyahu re-electable, with the thought that a nationalist, seemingly hardline goverment with a small margin of victory can make concessions, while a leftwing Israeli regime will have too strong an opposition from the nationalist camp.

Besides, Arafat and Assad assume that they can call in the US to press Israel very hard after any Israeli military action. That is because the US quietly and officially removed both Syria and the PLO from the lists of entities that sponsor terror activity.

Fatah Preparing for “Intifada of the Settlements”

Now, after the “Intifada of the Prisoners”, the Palestinians are preparing a new Intifada to be called the “Intifada of the Settlements”. Senior sources in the Palestinian Authority confirm that the intention is to organize mass demonstrations with the aim of initiating clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers in protest over the expansion of settlements and the paving of bypass roads.

Reports reaching the Palestinian Authority indicate that the Netanyahu government intends to use the period before the elections to create new facts on the ground, including the expansion of a large number of the settlements and the paving of new bypass roads in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority believes that a new Intifada will force the Israeli Government to give up, at least partially, on its plans to expand the settlements.

In discussions held in recent days between senior members of the Palestinian leadership and the Fatah organization, it was agreed to initiate protests and clashes with the Israeli army and settlers along the lines of the “Intifada of the Prisoners”, which broke out several weeks ago in protest over Israel’s refusal to release security prisoners. In the Palestinian Authority it is said that the “Intifada of the Prisoners” was crowned with success since the subject rose to the top of the priority list and since Israel promised to reconsider the issue of the security prisoners. Among other things, members of the Palestinian Authority note the declaration of Israel’s President, Ezer Weizman, who hinted that he supported the release of Palestinian prisoners when he said, “Until when will we continue to hold them?”

In recent years, a number of serious clashes have taken place between Palestinians and settlers. During the Western Wall Tunnel riots, hundreds of Palestinians converged on the fences of the Netzarim settlement in Gaza. Last month, during the “Intifada of the Prisoners”, hundreds of Palestinians closed in on the settlement of Ariel and damaged property there. Dr Zakaria al-Agha, a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, confirms that the Palestinian Authority intends to act against the Israeli Government’s settlement policy. “There is no alternative at this stage to popular opposition to the settlements and the settlers,” explained al-Agha. “This is a burning issue which can not be postponed. All forces and resources must be united in the struggle against the settlements.”

Al-Agha called upon the Palestinian Authority to prohibit Palestinian workers from working within the boundaries of the settlements and to allocate special budgets to struggle against the settlers. “Israel is disowning all the agreements signed with it and continues with the building and expansion of the settlements to thwart the establishment of the Palestinian state.”

Bethlehem’s Massive Tourist Plans Include … One New Hotel

At a time when hundreds of thousands of tourists may possibly make their way to Bethlehem next Christmas and New Years to usher in the new century, including the Pope, and another possible visit of the U.S. President,there is a common assumpton that the new Palestine Authority, which may be an independent state by then, would be making plans to receive such an influx of tourism and foreign currency.

Arriving in Bethlehem, before, during and after Christmas, Israel Resource Review looked for signs that Bethlehem is preparing for something big next year. We had heard of a plan to construct four or five tourist hotel in the area known as Solomon’s Pools and that the area near Manger Square, Beit Sahour, and Shepherds’ Field would also add tourist hotels of some capacity. Yet these were just rumors.

The tourism professionals at the Palestine Authority’s tourism department could only mention one tourism facility that is in the throes of the development towards “Bethlehem 2000” – a singlular tourist hotel development at “Jasser’s Palace”, a ten minute walk from Rachel’s Tomb, the one sight of Jewish interest that you can no longer see from the Bethlehem road.

Described by Bethlehem local tourist bulletin as Bethlehem’s “architectural jewel”, Jasser Palace is an impressive building built by an Arab notable, Suleiman Jasser, in 1910 under the supervision of a French architect. The building has gone through many hands, as a German and then a British prison, as a girls’ school, as an Israel border guard post during the Intifada and then again as a girls school.

However, with the approach of the millenium, the palace is expected to enter into a new stage of its life. The Palestinian Development and Investment Company (PADICO) bought the building and its surrounding land with $46 million of Jordanian and Palestinian investment funds in order to transform it into the “Jaser Palace Hotel-Bethlehem Intercontinental” which will be become Bethlehem’s one tourist resort, scheduled to open its doors next Christmas, 85 years after it was originally built.

Ziad el Nimer,49, an engineer and resident of Amman, Jordan and a native of Nablus, and a father of three, is overseeing the refurbishing of Jaser’s Palace.

Nimer, the general manager of the Palestine Tourism Investment Co. LTD, which is actually subcontracted by PADICO, the Palestine Development and Investment Company, says that the opening of Jasser’s Palace will hold what hoteliers call a “soft opening” next Christmas, with its 250 rooms ready to be filled to capacity, with at least one of its restaurants off and running at that time.

Nimer, bubbling with enthusiasm, says, “There is a clear idea about what the palace was like before. We have allocated a budget of US$1 million for its renovation. We will take advantage of the vast area inside approximately 3,000 square metres, to build various restaurants in addition to a reception hall, a guest hall, a coffee shop, and a bar.” Nimr pointed out that for renovation of the palace, a number of international designers were asked their expertise and who are now conducting detailed studies before beginning renovation on the palace.

Nimer’s vision is businesslike, yet limited to the designs of a small, private businessman who is looking at what looks to be a profitable $46 million investment.

He says very proudly how his enterprise will bring hotel room capacity in Bethlehem to 1500 rooms by New Years Day 2,000, from the present 1200 hotel rooms that Bethlehem currently sports.

If my elementary school math is correct, 1,500 hotel rooms will hardly accomodate to the hundreds of thousands of Christian tourists who are expected in Bethlehem next year at this time.

Nimer referred to his colleague in Jerusalem, Moher Hamdan, the director of the Jerusalem Tourism Investment Company, who is developing the overall “tourism picture” for potential Christian tourists elsewhere in the areas under the control of the Palestine Authority and in East Jerusalem. Reached at his Jerusalem office, Hamdan mentioned that 600 more hotel beds would be added by this time next year. Also not enough to accomadat massive amounts of pilgrims.

At a time when the Israel Ministry of Tourism also does not seem to be making any accomodation plans of its own for a massive pilgrimage to greet the year 2000, it would seem that no one is really expecting a big party next new year, not in Jerusalem and not in Bethlehem.

Since my younger daughter Leora’s Bat mitzvah will be held in a “little town near Bethlehem” on the last weekend of the twentieth century, should I also expect only quiet celebrations to compete without “simcha” at that time?