Saturday, April 21, 2018

Did Anyone Hear ‘Jihad’?

Did Anyone Hear ‘Jihad’?

The problem is not a new one: Palestinian leaders purport to seek peace with Israel but their actions suggest otherwise.

The question is how to respond, as when Yasir Arafat speaks in moderate tones to Western officials and reporters and then calls for jihad, or holy war, when addressing Arab audiences.

In the first several years after the signing of the Oslo Accords between the Palestinians and Israelis, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres tended to either not respond or to dismiss the Palestinian leader’s rhetoric as simply that – words – while insisting that he be judged on his actions. The trouble was, Arafat’s actions were often deeply problematic. The Palestinian Authority flagrantly violated key aspects of the accords – giving terrorists safe haven, exceeding the limit of the Palestinian police force and failing to curb anti-Israel propaganda on television and in schools. But the Israeli government was so intent on moving negotiations along that it looked the other way, until a series of terrorist attacks wrecked the momentum.

For the next three years, Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the need for reciprocity, pointing out numerous and flagrant Palestinian violations of the agreement with Israel. These were cited as the basis for Jerusalem’s unwillingness to carry out some of its Oslo pledges. Neither approach was effective. Ignoring Arafat’s words and actions only emboldened him, and coming down hard on him spoiled Israel’s relations with the U.S. as well as the Arab world.

Last week, with a new Israeli prime minister in place operating on overdrive in trying to improve the negotiating climate, Arafat celebrated his 70th birthday by calling for jihad against the state and people of Israel, and praising “the children of the stones,” the instigators of the deadly intifada. So much for extending the olive branch.

But there are indications that despite Ehud Barak’s goal of concluding a peace deal with the Palestinians, he is not willing to tolerate such behavior. A senior Israeli army official held a briefing with the press in Israel the other day and criticized Arafat’s behavior. (Washington had no comment on the latest Arafat flare-up, after cautioning him repeatedly against such volatile talk.) Further, the Israeli official, who did not speak for attribution, accused the Palestinians of providing safe haven for terrorists and doing little to prevent further attacks or to confiscate weapons. David Bedein, a media researcher in Israel, noted that it was the first time in the last six years that a high-ranking Israeli army official convened a press conference to put the Palestinians on call in this manner, accusing them of “planting the seeds of war.”

The impression is that Barak seems to be holding firm on security issues while seeking to advance the peace process. It’s a delicate balance, one that has not worked until now.

On Tuesday, in wake of a Palestinian youth’s would-be suicide mission – he was shot dead after trying to run over a group of Israeli soldiers – Barak did not accuse the Palestinian Authority of duplicity, or lax security. Instead, he said the incident strengthened Israel’s resolve to cooperate with Palestinian security officials to prevent terrorism. Whether Barak can walk the fine line of insisting on reciprocity while going forward on negotiations remains to be seen, but it is clear that this issue is of critical importance to the future of the peace process.

Justice Must be Delivered to Victims of the Maccabiah Bridge Disaster

Australian Jewish Community leaders strongly supported the victims of the Maccabiah Bridge Disaster at the dedication and naming of the Warren Zines Reserve on Sunday, July 25, 1999.

In the presence of the Mayor and Councillors of the Waverley Municipality, the State director of Magen David Adom, Israel Consular officials, leading Sydney Jewish communal identities and numerous members of the community, Maccabi World Union (MWU) was again criticised for its unsatisfactory conduct following the Maccabiah Bridge Disaster on July 14, 1997.

Warren Zines, together with three others, Greg Small, Yetty Bennett and Elizabeth Sawicki were killed and 66 others were injured in the Disaster. The Reserve, donated by Sydney property developer, Hymie Meyerson, was dedicated to honour Warren Zines and the other victims of the Disaster and will stand as a permanent memorial in their honour.

Peter Wertheim, President of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies told the gathering: “The memory of those who died and the many more who still struggle with the consequences of the tragedy can only truly be consecrated by the attainment of justice. Justice demands that those who are accused of wrongdoing stand down from all positions of authority until their culpability or innocence is established. Justice also demands that the entire structure of the Maccabi World Union and the way in which the Maccabiot have been organised be reviewed to ensure that the overriding responsibility for the safety and well being of the participants can never again be devalued in so cavalier a fashion as occurred two years ago. Only when all the demands of justice have been met can our consciences be satisfied and the spirit of those who died rest in peace.”

Dr Ron Weiser, President of the Australian Zionist Federation added: “Whilst the Israeli justice system is dealing with five people who have been criminally indicted and for whom we expect the judgments to be brought down towards the end of the year – there still remain two people in high position in Maccabi World Union who should not be there and it is to the undying shame of Maccabi organisations in the U.S.A., in Great Britain, in Canada and elsewhere that they do not support us in the matter – indeed they oppose us.

I would just like to say that I have been privileged to come to know the bravery and dignity of those that survived. I have seen strength of character, of purpose and of decency – people who should never have known such sorrow – good people with whom we are all proud to walk.

The Australian Jewish community stands behind you and beside you – we will not rest, until we find the justice we seek for you and for all of us.

It is not your issue alone – Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze“.

The JNF planted trees in honour of the victims of the Disaster.


Speech by Dr Ron Weiser, President, Zionist Federation of Australia at the Naming of the Warren Zines Reserve on Sunday, 25th July, 1999

Distinguished Guests – Friends

Today, as we gather to dedicate this reserve, just over 2 years since the terrible tragedy of the bridge collapse at the 15th Maccabiah, we all have the opportunity to pause and reflect on and remember that 4 members of our community perished and scores were injured in an accident that should never have happened.

This reserve will give us a permanent place to remember real people and what occurred.

The bridge collapse initially brought about the nadir in the relationship between Israel and the Australian Jewish Community – even though the games were organised by an international Jewish sporting body and not by the Israeli Government itself.

Nevertheless – Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze – we are all responsible for each other.

And so the Zionist Federation took the lead, with the support of communal organisations, to attempt to deal, with the aftermath.

All along the way we have sought only some basic and moral justice:

  • The acceptance of responsibility by those people who should do so
  • The payment of just and speedy compensation
  • Action to ensure the future safety of such events
  • Land the fulfilment of commitments and promises made by Maccabi World Union

    Whilst the Israeli Justice system is dealing with 5 people who have been criminally indicated and for whom we expect the judgements to be brought down towards the end of this year – there still remain 2 people in high position in Maccabi World Union who should not be there and it is to the undying shame of Maccabi Organisations in the USA, in Great Britain, in Canada and elsewhere that they do not support us in this matter – indeed they oppose us.

    We have been working extremely hard for the Israeli Government – even though they are not legally liable – to pay out the compensation and avoid years of painful and arduous legal struggle with the various insurance companies involved.

    Having recently returned from Israel and after discussions with many members of the New Israeli Keneset – across the spectrum of the various parties – including with the new speaker of the Keneset – our friend Avraham Burg – I have a degree of optimism that there is a genuine feeling there to resolve this aspect.

    For this and in order to ensure that future Maccabiot will not be organised in a similar manner to the 15th, we need the continuation of the Keneset committee of inquiry – again – I have good reason to be optimistic that the Keneset will reform the committee.

    And finally, despite the fact that the Israeli government paid all of the loan monies requested of it – on time, in full and without strings attached – MWU has not – and we must continue to press MWU to honour their own unambiguous promise.

    My friend and colleague, Peter Wertheim, will speak on both of our behalf about those that died, but I would just like to say that I have been privileged to come to know the bravery and dignity of those that survived.

    I have seen strength of character, of purpose and of decency – people who should never have known such sorrow – good people with whom we are all proud to walk.

    The Australian Jewish community stands behind you and beside you – and we will not rest, until we find the justice we seek for you and for all of us.

    It is not your issue alone.

    As I said before – Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze

    Thank you

    Speech by Peter Wertheim, President, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, to the Dedication and Naming of the Warren Zines Reserve on Sunday, 25th July, 1999

    Mr Mayor, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It is now a little more than two years since the Australian Jewish Community was rocked to its foundations by the terrible tragedy of the bridge collapse at the 15th Maccabiah Games. We all felt the pain and the shock of losing four popular and well-regarded members of our community and witnessing the injuries of 70 others. In an accident that was clearly preventable and should never have happened.

    As we dedicate this reserve, let us spare a moment to remember the four precious lives that were taken from us before their time.

    Yetty Bennett was part of the bowling team. Her three children, Mark, Jeff and Ilana, were orphaned as a result of her loss, as their father had died suddenly from a heart attack three years earlier. Yetty’s partner at the time, Frank Gaensler, was clinically dead when he was plucked from the river after the bridge collapse. But he was resuscitated and in January this year, he had the joy of seeing his son, Brian, named ‘Young Australian of the Year’.

    Friends have praised Yetty as someone who faced a lot of adversity in life but always overcame it. She loved her sport and going to Israel meant a lot to her. She was a loving mother and an extremely good person who touched the hearts of all who knew her.

    Elizabeth Sawicki died in hospital from organ failure twelve days after the bridge collapse as a result of the deadly fungus contained in the Yarkon River. Elizabeth represented the Australian team in the bridge competition. She left behind her husband, Henry, and four children.

    Greg Small has been described by friends as a dedicated family man and a good friend who loved his sport. Greg was accompanied by his wife Susan when they crossed the bridge. The couple had been high school sweethearts. They went to the Maccabiah Games as part of the ten Pin Bowling Team. Ironically, it had been a four-year ambition of Greg’s to participate in the games. As a result of the bridge collapse, Greg lost his life and Susan sustained multiple breaks to her ankle, as well as injuries to her lower back and neck. Now Susan has to contend not only with her physical disabilities, but also with the need to support herself financially and her two children, Joshua and Rebecca, without the family breadwinner.

    Warren Zines died from a stroke four weeks after the bridge collapse, leaving behind his wife, Lynette and three children – Adam, Shelley and Lisa. Warren had represented Australia in the Lawn Bowls competition. Lynette and two of his children were with him in Tel Aviv in the days immediately before he passed away. Warren’s first grandchild was born to daughter Shelley two days after the bridge collapse.

    One of Warren’s team mates described him by saying that “Warren was a gentleman and mild mannered…. The salt of the earth. Every time we saw each other, we hugged. He was so considerate and warm.”

    Let us spare a thought also for the 70 injured athletes and, in particular, for Sasha Elterman, who has had over 30 operations in her battle against the effects of the deadly fungus which was contained in the Yarkon River when she and her team mates were plunged into it. Their unfailing courage and dignity in the face of everything that has happened has been an inspiration to all of us.

    We are here today to dedicate this reserve, and the trees, which have been planted in it, to the memory of the victims. It is a beautiful location and one, which, in a physical sense, is appropriate to recall the affection and esteem in which the victims were held by their families and friends in the community.

    But in a deeper sense, the memory of those who died and the many more who still struggle with the consequences of the tragedy, can only truly be consecrated by the attainment of justice – justice for the families of the dead and justice for the injured and those who support them. Justice demands that all the facts of the tragedy – before, during and after the bridge collapse – be brought out into the open and that those who were responsible for the tragedy be tried and, if found guilty, convicted and punished.

    Justice also demands that those who are accused of wrongdoing stand down from all positions of authority until their culpability or innocence is established. It demands that the Maccabi World Union provide immediate financial assistance, without pre-conditions, To the financial dependants of those who were killed and also to those who were injured and those who care for the injured.

    And finally, justice demands that the entire structure of the Maccabi World Union and the way in which the Maccabiot have been organised be reviewed to ensure that the over-riding responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of participants can never again be devalued in so cavalier a fashion as occurred two years ago.

    Only when all of the demands of justice have been met can our consciences be satisfied and the spirits of those who died rest in peace.

PLO State to Include at Least All West Bank and Gaza

  • When permanent status negotiations begin, borders of the state of Palestine, including Jerusalem and all other territories occupied in 1967, will be determined by the terms of reference of the Oslo Agreement.
  • the “peace of the brave”, must ensure the rights of Palestinians as set forth in international resolutions. These rights must include, among others, the Palestinians’ right of return to the land from which they have been exiled.
  • From now on, all international forums and contacts should be mined in order to bring to bear the maximum amount of international pressure on Israel.
  • Palestinians sense a lack of seriousness on the part of the Palestinian leadership and note the gap between its statements and its practices… Committees recommended by the Central Council to prepare the way for full Palestinian sovereignty have never been activated… The efforts of the whole world to support us will not be of any use to us if we fail to get the credibility we need from our own people.

Borders First – Official Fatah Website
http://www.fateh.net/e_editor/99/150799.htm

In agreeing recently to play the role of mere “facilitator”, rather than mediator and referee, in the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, the US appears to be abandoning its responsibilities as a co-sponsor of the peace process. This role change creates a situation similar to the one that existed before Netenyahu’s election in 1996. It appears that the Labour Party is trying, before the word of Dennis Ross becomes absolute in the region, to forestall any obstructionist moves on the part of the Likudniks and their US supporters. We have already lived through the difficulties which resulted from the pro-Israeli bias of the Oslo Agreement. Now, if we are to prevent a total breakdown in the peace process, it is time to lay down new terms of reference for negotiation.

The Oslo Agreement set forth objectives, along with schedules and deadlines. In order to evaluate what has been achieved in the past five years, we need to compare these stated objectives with the actual results which came about. Sound management of the process in the days and weeks ahead cannot rest on good will alone.

Clearly, on the Palestinian side, there is an enormous gap between objectives and results, all the way from the Oslo Agreement through the Wye Memorandum. Indeed, so few achievements were made that it could be said that the major result of the five-year process was Palestinians’ success in keeping their objectives unchanged — despite the massive pressure put on them by both Ross, Netenyahu and their respective governments. Both parties, US and Israeli, made every effort to impose their own vision on the Palestinian leadership. Again and again, in myriad ways, representatives of both countries attempted to lower the expectations of Palestinians regarding our future.

What Palestinians need now is not simply a new chapter in our dealings with Israel. Just as important is the need to open a new chapter in our internal relationships among our own Palestinian people. Palestinians today are painfully aware of the gap that exists between the verbal commitments made by the Palestinian leadership and the practices of that leadership. Instead of being fed more statements, we need to define, once and for all, a national consensus on each of the issues that confront us.

Already, in calling for merging implementation of the Wye Memorandum with negotiation of final status issues, Barak is making it clear that, in this respect at least, he is taking a stand every bit as dangerous as any taken by Netenyahu. In failing to implement the Wye Memorandum by canceling the third Israeli troop withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, and thus failing to carry out Israel’s commitments under the interim agreements, Barak is, in effect, arranging things so that in the final status negotiations, Palestinians will have to re-negotiate issues that have been negotiated already. In the June 16 issue of Ha-aretz, the Israeli left-wing daily, Yuel Marcos wrote that Barak has implicitly threatened Arafat that if the third withdrawal does not become part of the final status negotiations, then negotiations could drag on endlessly. Barak cannot, he told Arafat, begin the negotiations with such a large territorial concession. Barak also warned, according to Marcos, that negotiation of all final status issues will be extremely difficult. Obviously, what is being suggested — and none too subtly — is that Palestinians should expect to make concessions regarding the final status issues if they want to see the interim commitments fulfilled.

Despite the lack of concrete achievements during Netenyahu’s term, Palestinians in fact made significant progress in a realm less tangible but just as vital: that of international consensus on the justice of our cause. Such consensus will be essential when final status negotiations do begin. The Berlin Declaration on Palestinian self-determination, for instance, in raising the subject of United Nations Resolution 181, will have an important influence on the issue of Palestine’s borders. In the same international resolution which created the state of Israel, Resolution 181 affirms the right of Palestinians to create their own state. The resolution further establishes international law as the arbitrator for determining the borders of the Palestinian state.

The Palestinian leadership insist that the Wye Memorandum and the remaining as-yet-unimplemented parts of the Hebron Protocol, as well as all other interim issues, be fairly concluded before final status negotiations begin. Palestinians insist that issues which have already been negotiated, but not implemented by the Israeli side, are not to be subject to re-negotiation as final status issues. Final status issues must include only those not already negotiated — issues which will be tough enough when tackled separately, such as the third phase of Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank and the related issue of future borders of the Palestinian state.

The Israeli Labour Party now in power must undertake to fulfill all obligations its government has already assumed without subjecting them to the Likud’s destructive influence. Clearly, the Israeli army should withdraw from all the Occupied Territories except those related to the issues of Jerusalem, Israeli military installations, borders, and settlements established before the signing of the Oslo Agreement. (Settlements established after the Oslo Agreement were signed are illegal under the terms of that agreement and should be dismantled immediately.) This means that Israeli troops should withdraw from all of Area C, with the exception of lands related to the issues just mentioned. This is the scope of withdrawal which is in line with the spirit of the Oslo Agreement. When permanent status negotiations begin, borders of the state of Palestine, including Jerusalem and all other territories occupied in 1967, will be determined by the terms of reference of the Oslo Agreement.

The historic peace agreements grew out of the need to put an end to all wars in the region and to establish a true and lasting peace. Such a peace, called first by Palestinians and now by Barak, echoing them, the “peace of the brave”, must ensure the rights of Palestinians as set forth in international resolutions. These rights must include, among others, the Palestinians’ right of return to the land from which they have been exiled. The term “peace of the brave” implies that both parties to the peace should achieve historic rights based on principles fair to both. The term also suggests that our belief in the future of humanity should help us bring about the kind of democracy that guarantees a just and lasting peace.

The Palestinian “state” that Barak has talked about does not meet these criteria. Barak’s vision of a Palestinian state is to Palestinians no more than a symbolic step along the path toward statehood. A “state” on a mere 3% of the area of Palestine is not a state at all, but rather, at best, a kind of limited autonomy. A “state” in which half of the population lives in refugee camps is not a state. A “state” in which land can be confiscated at will for settlement by another people, with no concern for human values, is not a state. Finally, a “state” without Jerusalem as its capital may be a state for most, but is not the state of Palestine.

Our state will be achieved on the basis of full separation from Israelis. As Barak himself has said, quoting the American poet, “A good wall makes good neighbors.” The Palestinian “wall” that is likely to achieve real peace and stability is one that gives our state its borders with Egypt in Gaza in the South and with Jordan in the East.

As we enter the permanent status negotiations, we will require new terms of reference, ones that Oslo does not provide. We also require adherence to the Fourth Geneva Convention, despite the opposition of Israel and the US.

US opposition to the convening of the conference in Geneva is merely one more sad reminder of US pro-Israeli bias. It shows, further, to what lengths the US is prepared to go in denying Palestinians the right to employ the legal mof the internatiocommunity to advance our cause. Over the objections of both Israel and the US, the conference was indeed held, with the sole concession that sanctions allowable under international law not be discussed, as a gesture of good will towards the newly elected Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak. From now on, all international forums and contacts should be mined in order to bring to bear the maximum amount of international pressure on Israel. Such connections and the international support they bring will go far to strengthen the position of the Palestinian negotiating team in any future negotiations.

The conflicting positions taken by different sectors of Israeli society toward the Geneva conference confirm the importance of the event. On the one hand, the conference was officially described as a “non-event on a non-issue”. On the other hand, Moshe Zack described the conference as a destructive event for Israel. In the Jerusalem Post Zack wrote that the conference was based on United States General Assembly resolutions that consider East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory occupied by the Israelis. The conference opens the way for the international community’s adoption of measures against Israel that no US veto can deter. Finally, Zack noted that Palestine was invited on an equal footing with countries that signed the Geneva Convention.

Barak’s call for resumption of negotiations on all tracks — Syrian and Lebanese as well as Palestinian — means that the leadership of the three should coordinate a unified strategy for achieving a just peace in the region. This strategy should be based on a full understanding of both the positive and negative aspects of agreements reached with Israel. Meanwhile, the Palestinian call for a summit including Egypt and Jordan in addition to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine indicates how deeply Palestinians are committed to the larger Arab cause.

The importance of united international and Arab positions does not constitute an alternative to a unified Palestinian strategy on present and future requirements. As was mentioned at the beginning of this article, Palestinians sense a lack of seriousness on the part of the Palestinian leadership and note the gap between its statements and its practices. Official Palestinian reaction to Barak’s moves came very late. Committees recommended by the Central Council to prepare the way for full Palestinian sovereignty have never been activated. In fact, three months have passed without any of these committees having been convened. Such lassitude can only strengthen the position of those who do not respect the Palestinian institutions that endorse decisions which are at once most dangerous and most important. The Central Council, it should be mentioned, is the Palestinian institution that endorsed the Oslo Agreement. It also represents the Palestinian National Council, and filled the legal vacuum created by the expiration of the interim negotiation period.

The efforts of the whole world to support us will not be of any use to us if we fail to get the credibility we need from our own people.

Revolution until victory!

“Don’t Release Murderers”

(July 26) – Since Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s return from Washington, rumors are flying about the upcoming release of terrorists, with or without “blood on their hands.”

There have been attempts of redefining who “really” has blood on their hands and who doesn’t; there has been talk of separating “killers” who actually pulled the trigger or stuck in the knife, and those who “merely” aided and abetted.

There have been suggestions of “goodwill” gestures, whereby terrorists tried and sentenced by Israel will be released.

All of these ideas are not new. The same ambassadors of “goodwill” brought up these immoral travesties of justice to the late Yitzhak Rabin, and to prime ministers Shimon Peres, and Binyamin Netanyahu.

On each of those occasions, I spoke to those three prime ministers, and pointed out to them that my son Nahshon’s kidnapper “merely” aided and abetted the three other terrorists who murdered him and were themselves killed in the failed rescue attempt at Bir Naballa, where he was held hostage for six days.

For us, the nightmare of those six days, which shook the entire country, indeed our entire people, as well as people of goodwill everywhere, has never faded.

I sat at the trial of the driver of that cursed car that kidnapped my son, listened to his attorneys and the IDF prosecutors who asked for life imprisonment, and was witness to his sentencing, in a fair and democratic trial. Any reversal of the justice meted out to that monstrous kidnapper of my son would be a mockery of justice, a travesty of law and order, and an act of extreme immorality.

With all due respect to the peace process, and with the true hope and prayer for Barak’s success in bringing true peace to our region, I do not believe that overturning acts that were right and just can lead to peace. All of these values must go hand in hand, and an act of injustice and moral corruption cannot ever further peace.

We must never sell out one value for the sake of another, a principle which I am certain Barak would agree with, as did his predecessors, among them his mentor, Yitzhak Rabin, as did US President Clinton as well, in a private conversation with my husband and myself at our beloved son’s graveside.

May right and justice prevail in our land.

Esther Wachsman, an American trained educator who has lived in Israel for the past thirty years, is the mother of seven Israeli-born sons, one of whom, Nachshon, was kidnapped and later murdered by Arab terrorists in October, 1994.

Biochemical Warfare Threat to Israel?

The likelihood of a chemical terror attack in Israel’s cities is such that Minister of Defense Ehud Barak ordered the Chemical Response Unit on full alert during these critical days of the peace process.

Lets picture the scenario.

VX gas is released along the shore-line of Tel aviv. What happens?

  1. The sirens are sounded. Citizens have no idea what is going on. Many assume it is a prank. Some turn on the radio and hear that they are requested to go to sealed rooms and put on gas-masks. Gas? But there is no crisis with Iraq; no missiles have fallen. Some turn to the foreign media. They hear that terrorists have released a lethal gas in central Tel Aviv and the authorities are presently checking the wind direction.
  2. Citizens in Tel Aviv, most without adequate shelter, most without access to gas-masks, begin to flee the city. The roads become blocked and they begin to run on foot.

Who can run faster than the wind?

Presently this is the best protection offered to us. Instructions published by HAGA relate only to a missile attack and give no instructions what so ever for response to Chemical, Biological or nuclear terror attack. This must reflect a lack of coordination of security policy regarding civilians and non-conventional weapons which is leaving Israel’s citizen’s tragically vulnerable and mis-informed.

The gas masks, if we have them, are ineffective four hours after breaking the seal. We have presently no civilian answer for a second strike on the civilian frontier.

With limited budgets and confused priorities it seems citizens have no choice but to demand security measures that have otherwise been sorely neglected.

For more information and press contacts: Yael Haran (04) 984-0310
The Sleeping Giant
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Congress/7663
harans@internet-zahav.net.il

Clinton and the Right of Return

On July 1, 1999, President Clinton stated that American policy was that Palestinians have a right to live “wherever they would like to live”.

Clinton’s policy statement resounded through the Palestinian media and the United Nations Relief and Work Refugee Agency (UNRWA) camps which have serviced Palestinian Arab refugees in “temporary” shelters since 1948, under the premise and promise of the UN resolution #194, that assures the 3.6 million Palestinian Arab refugees under the aegis of UNRWA that they have the “inalienable right of return to the villages that they left in 1948, which now constitute Jewish communities throughout Tel Aviv, Haifa. Ashkelon, and at least 200 kibbutzim and Moshavim.

Far from being a theoretical notion, the “right of return” remains a living program that moves the hearts and minds of 3.6 million Palestinian Arab refugees. For UNRWA camp residents, the “right of return” is not a dream: it is a plan of action.

The policies of UNRWA, whose greatest funder for the past fifty years remains has been the US, reassure Palestinian Arab refugees that they may indeed realize their right of return”, while the new Palestinian Authority forbids housing assistance or eve voting rights to UNRWA camp residents, under the premise of the “right of return”. >

Toward that end, the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority Educational system, funded in part by the US, stresses the “right of return”, as UNRWA school principals and teachers inculcate a new generation of Palestinian youth to prepare themselves to return “home”, and that does not mean to the west bank and Gaza.

Meanwhile, a senior US State Department official told me that Under Secretary of State Dennis Ross has reassured the Israeli government that UN resolution #242 (that recognizes Israel’s 1967 ceasefire lines) supersedes UN resolution #194.

However, nobody bothered to tell that to 3.6 million people who linger in UNRWA refugee camps, who are also assured by US officials in the employ of UNRWA that they have the right to return to the homes and villages that they left in 1948.

Egyptian Al-Ahram: Peace Only if ’48 Refugees Return Home

Full Text:
Even if the statement made by US President Bill Clinton last week that millions of Palestinian refugees “should be given the freedom to settle wherever they want to” was a “slip of the tongue”, as the new Israeli government would like to believe, it was a Freudian slip that may have revealed more than Clinton intended. Any objective mind would agree that the Palestinians are entitled to enjoy rights equal to those of other human beings. All human beings are “chosen people” — one ethnic or religious group alone cannot claim that title for itself.

If the US led NATO in a long war to force Slobodan Milosevic to accept the return of nearly one million Albanian refugees to their homes in Kosovo, why is the world’s sole superpower not moving at all to help more than four million Palestinian refugees dispersed worldwide by the “pioneering” Zionists, the builders of modern Israel, return to their homes? President Clinton was apparently taken by surprise when the question was put to him by an Egyptian writer who accompanied President Hosni Mubarak on his visit to Washington.

Although it has been 51 years since Zionist gangs systematically terrorised and massacred thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians to empty the land of its real owners, many of the million Palestinians expelled in 1948 continue to hold the keys to their houses. The names of their villages and towns have been changed in an effort to rewrite history, but they can still remember every street and alley, and continue to feed that information to their children and grandchildren. If any Palestinian refugee was given the “freedom” to choose where he or she would like to settle, the answer would definitely be: Palestine, my home, my land.

If the new government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak recognises this important fact before starting negotiations with the Palestinians, the outcome of these talks must necessarily be a just and comprehensive peace. Without justice, peace will never exist. And justice will be served only when the Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to their homes.

Article researched, located and shared by IMRA, “Independent Media Review and Analysis”.

Abu Mazen: No Negotiations Unless Barak Drops Red Lines

The following are excerpts from an interview of the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) published in the Palestinian weekly, El Ashaab, on 5 July, 1999:

[The interviewer is not identified; the interview took place in Abu Dhabi.]

Question: What happens if Ehud Barak fails to back down from his four noes?

Mazen: If the four noes are the maximum of what Barak is willing to give then there will be no final status talks.

Question: After Barak won there has been a return to talking about the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement. Does such an agreement exist?

Mazen: No. A document does not exist. An agreement does not exist. All that there was was dialogue between myself and Beilin regarding the final status issues. Beilin wanted to tell Yitzhak Rabin about this dialogue but before he could Rabin was murdered and the dialogue ended.

Question: Could the dialogue be the basis for the coming talks?

Mazen: Like all dialogue it could be a basis but it is also possible to go to back to the starting point.

Question: What about Jerusalem?

Mazen: Jerusalem is occupied Arab land like the other occupied Palestinian land. Resolutions 242 and 338 should be implemented – Israel should withdraw from all occupied territory.

Barak’s “Red Line” Coalition

Quotes from text:
“There are enough hawks in Israel’s emerging coalition — including perhaps Barak — to insure that no withdrawal from occupied south Lebanon is likely to be forthcoming without firm Syrian or international guarantees for Israel’s security”

“not a single party in Barak’s new political dispensation… is likely to challenge his “red lines” of no shared sovereignty in Jerusalem, no dismantling (but probable expansion) of settlements and no withdrawal to the 1967 borders. And there are a few — like Yisrael B’aliya and NRP — who will blanch at the prospect of a Palestinian statre, even if it is truncated and demilitarised.”

“The only parties in Israel who oppose that consensus are the three Arab lists which, between them, command 10 seats in the new Knesset. And it is because they oppose the consensus that they cannot be in an Israeli government”

Excerpts:
Despite — or perhaps because of — the onslaught on Lebanon, Israel’s prime minister elect Ehud Barak’s long toil to form a government appears slowly to bearing fruit. For the Arabs — as always with Israel — it is a mixed harvest.

The first coalition agreements were signed on 25 June within hours of Israeli warplanes returning to base from Lebanon. As widely predicted, the Russian Immigrant party, Yisrael B’aliyah, landed the Interior Ministry. Less widely predicted — and ominously for the Palestinians — the far right and pro-settler National Religious Party received the Housing Ministry, a post with inordinate powers to market lands and offer tenders for settlement construction in the occupied territories. Having wooed representatives of Israel’s “right” and “centre”,

Following a terse five minute meeting with Barak on 28 June, Sharon was “sorry to say the partnership [between One Israel and Likud] was not a partnership of truth”. It was certainly going to be an equal partnership if that was what Sharon had intended.

The apparent departure of Sharon and Likud from government undoubtedly will be greeted with sighs of relief by most of the Arab world. Yet it would be unwise to cheer too loudly. The removal of Likud will probably make things easier for Barak to resume negotiations with Syria from the “point they left off” in 1996 or, more precisely, from the different points each side think they left off. But there are enough hawks in Israel’s emerging coalition — including perhaps Barak — to ensure that no withdrawal from occupied south Lebanon is likely to be forthcoming without firm Syrian or international guarantees for Israel’s “security”.

As for Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, this will be faced with an Israeli government that, unlike its Netanyahu predecessor, accurately reflects the Israeli consensus. This could mean the implementation of the 1998 Wye River agreement and a resumption of Oslo’s final status negotiations. But there is not a single party in Barak’s new political dispensation that is likely to challenge his “red lines” of no shared sovereignty in Jerusalem, no dismantling (but probable expansion) of settlements and no withdrawal to the 1967 borders. And there are a few — like Yisrael B’aliya and the NRP — who will blanch at the prospect of a Palestinian state, even if it is truncated and demilitarised.

The only parties in Israel who oppose that consensus are the three Arab lists which, between them, command 10 seats in the new Knesset. And it is because they oppose the consensus that they cannot be in an Israeli government….

Article researched, located and edited by IMRA – Independent Media Review and Analysis

America Too, Is Part of the Exile

Today we have interesting computer programs which can help us search for all kinds of things. One which is very helpful to Jews, is a calendar program which takes the solar calendar and co-ordinates it with the Jewish lunar calendar.

This way we can check out when our child’s bar mitzvah will come out, and we can go back and check to see the Hebrew date which fell on the day we were born.

I was experimenting with this program a while back and made an interesting discovery. I plugged in the date, July 4, 1776. I was amazed to find that in that year the Hebrew date was the 17th of Tamuz.

This date, on the Hebrew calendar, marks the beginning of a three week mourning period for the destruction of our holy Temple in Jerusalem. For two thousand years we Jews have marked this period as one of national mourning. On this day, when the mourning period begins, we all fast and contemplate this enormous tragedy to the Jewish People.

Thus, on the very day when the United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain, and became a sovereign nation, while the majority of the new American citizens were celebrating and feasting, the Jews were mourning and fasting. Clearly this fact was no coincidence. The symbolism is prophetic. On the surface it may have seemed that the establishment of the United States of America was an opportunity for the Jew to find acceptance and true freedom from religious oppression. Indeed, over the past two hundred and twenty-three years most Jews would declare that this country has proven itself to be the best thing that ever happened to the Jewish People during our long Exile.

This fact alone is reason to mourn. The Jewish people were never meant to find peace and tranquillity outside of her homeland. We were scattered to the four corners of the world as a punishment. We were destined to wander and never find contentment until, at long last, our Exile would end and we would come home to our country, the Land of Israel.

In every nation of our Exile, in every generation, we made the best of a bad situation and kept our Judaism intact. We prayed for the day when we would be able to come home, and never lost hope that the day would finally come.

It wasn’t hard to keep the dream of Zion alive in the ghettos, and under the many persecutions which we had to suffer. But in the Land of the free and the home of the brave we faced a challenge for which we were unprepared. We were permitted to live as we wished. Surely there was anti-Semitism here too, but it was easier to ignore and hide from than in most of our temporary homelands.

Because it was a nation of immigrants, there really was no such thing as a pure bred American. It thus became easy to cast aside those things which made us appear different from our neighbours and to blend in with them. We took upon ourselves a new culture and rejected at least those parts of our Judaism which made us different.

We forgot the blessing of Balaam, that we are destined to be a nation that stands alone, not to be reckoned among the nations of the world. No.

We would find a way to be like our neighbours, and to be accepted by them as equals. That was the new Jewish dream.

The United States of America is the most dangerous place in the world for the Jewish people. The dangers here are more subtle than in other places. The fact that Jews have been able to achieve financial and political success has created an illusion that is nearly impossible to shatter.

We have been taken in by this illusion. We live in beautiful homes, send our children to the best schools, drive new cars and enjoy all of the best technological advances of mankind. We never had it better. But do we ever stop for a minute to look at our children? Where do they get their values? How are they equipped to deal with the moral conflicts which face them as they grow up among the American Gentiles?

Chances are, aside from their friends at school, most of their values are learned from the television and movies they watch. The watered down version of Judaism that they are given has no substance for them. What kind of role models do they strive to emulate?

The President of the United States is certainly not the kind of role model any moral individual would want for his children. Yet he is there, and he does present such an image. No matter how high a standard of living we have in the United States, no amount of money can adequately insulate the Jew from the depraved foreign values being imparted to his children. Even among the religious Jewish segment of American culture, which tries to develop a strong barrier between themselves and the society around them, it is impossible to avoid exposure and contagion with the alien culture in which we are submerged.

Throughout our history there have been Jews who dealt with anti-Semitism in different ways. Some gave up their Judaism outright in the futile hope that this would gain them acceptance in the eyes of the Gentile.

Others tried to adjust their Judaism to make it less different than the religion of their neighbours. And a hardy few kept a low profile but adhered to their heritage with a passion. Those are the ones who survived over the centuries. We can see all of these mechanisms at work in the United States as well.

Many have outrightly rejected their heritage. They married out of the faith and changed their names. Others re wrote our Torah and made Judaism easier for the goyim to accept. But, even with the strongest of our people, those who did not give in and who have kept their Judaism strong and proud, even these people cannot help but be affected by the warped society in which they live. Today there is only one guarantee for the survival of the Jewish People. Only by returning to our homeland and striving to rebuild, not only the Land, but the Jewish way of life, will be breathe true redemption into the dry bones of our Exiled people. We must seriously consider the very ominous implication of the fact that the birthday of the United States of America was a sad day for the Jewish People.

Let us understand that we have only one homeland. It is the Will of G-d that the Jewish People be gathered together in the Land He Promised our Father, Abraham, as an internal inheritance. Until 1948 it was extremely difficult to come home. But today, despite the many problems, at least it is under Jewish sovereignty and a modern nation. Today we have no excuse to remain in the cursed Exile which is destined to come to an end. We have no future outside our homeland.

We can wait for the Exile to spit us out or destroy us, or we can elect to come home now, with our pride and our possessions.