Jerusalem – Yom Kippur will be observed this Saturday.

It is not hard to explain the concept of Yom Kippur to the secular Jew or to the non-Jew. It is a day of moral reckoning.

The personal message of Yom Kippur: Ask tough questions of yourself, especially if you discover a moral indiscretion in your behavior.

The communal message of Yom Kippur: Ask tough questions of your community and your government, especially if you discover a moral indiscretion in the policies that your government has undertaken.

A case in point: Over the past year, both the U.S. and the Israeli governments, in their quest for peace, have skirted around one the great moral issues of the day – the fact that they are dealing with the Fatah (Arabic for “conquest”) organization, as if Fatah is dedicated to peace and reconciliation with Israel.

On July 15, The Bulletin placed four questions of moral consequence to the governments of the United States and Israel:

1. The Israeli Ministry of Justice defined the Fatah organization as an illegal terrorist organization in 1980. The U.S. Department of Justice made that same determination in 2002. Since the U.S. and Israel now deal directly with Fatah, why have neither country changed the legal status of Fatah? Shouldn’t Fatah’s legal status as a terrorist organization be amended before the U.S. and Israel proceed with recognition and negotiation with Fatah?

2. In September 1993, on the White House lawn, Fatah leader Yasser Arafat signed the Declaration of Principles of the Oslo accords (for recognition of Israel and against terrorism). However, in October 1993, Fatah would not ratify these accords. Shouldn’t Fatah be asked to finally ratify the 1993 “Declaration of Principles” against terror and violence?

3. As an integral part of the Oslo accords, Fatah promised to cancel its covenant that calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. The Palestine National Council convened in 1996 and 1998 to discuss that covenant yet have never cancelled it. Shouldn’t the U.S. and Israel insist that Fatah cancel its covenant?

4. Fatah’s most recent Palestinian Authority schoolbooks, authored by Noa Meridor (see and by Dr. Arnon Groiss (see, demonize Israeli Jews and prepare Palestinian children for war. Shouldn’t the U.S. and Israel insist that the Fatah cancel its curriculum?

Neither the American or the Israeli governments will answer these questions. Spokespeople of both governments say, unofficially, that they wish that that The Bulletin would not ask such questions.

Hardly anyone asked these questions of Fatah at the outset of the current peace process. As a result, the Fatah got away with murder – literally.

This past July 26, The Bulletin published a list of 328 men, women and children who were murdered by Fatah over the past seven years. And over the past year, Fatah took credit for the vast majority of the rockets fired from Gaza into Sderot and the Western Negev region of Israel. Fatah took credit for the bombardment of Sderot on the day before the Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year last week.

What remains clear is that the American and Israeli governments have cut corners, acting as if Fatah is something other than what it is.

Yom Kippur should be a time of reckoning for both governments.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2007


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.