Tuesday, November 30, 2004
'A Palestinian state must be created, with east Jerusalem as its capital... This would be the first and the best of steps to establish a dialogue with Muslims and Arabs,' said Jagland, currently the head of the Norwegian parliament's foreign affairs committee and one of the leading members of the Labour opposition.
Giving in to suicide bombers is the first step? I guess dismantling Israel is step 2, converting all of Europe to Islam is step 3 and giving Iran nukes is step 4, according to this clown. - EoZ
The preparations for and launch of one or more Iranian satellite 'is something that needs to be watched closely,' a U. S. government missile analyst familiar with Iranian capabilities told AW&ST.
Such an 'Iranian Sputnik' would elevate the stature of the Iran in the Middle East.
Tehran's satellite launch plans could also be a 'Trojan Horse' to further advance ballistic missile or nuclear warhead related technologies, sources told the magazine. Some of the materials and micro-electronic technologies necessary for Iranian satellite design could also be important for the development of tiny high quality components needed to produce small nuclear weapons, AW&ST reports.
The U. S. intelligence community was taken by surprise in 1998 when a North Korean satellite launch attempt unexpectedly demonstrated a long range North Korean missile capability. U. S. intelligence officials said they do not want to be surprised again, this time by Iran.
Even if they fail initially, Iranian satellite launch attempts would help Iran develop both range and warhead improvements to the Shahab-3 missile under the cover of a civilian space program, AW&ST reports.
If the Iranians are successful with the space launch program, it will have political and technological ramifications in both the U. S. and Middle East. 'It would move the Iranians from the junior varsity into the big leagues,' an analyst told the magazine.
And as previous experience with North Korea shows, such a space launch demonstration can have significant impact in a weapons context. 'Something like that from Iran would certainly have a similar effect in the Middle East,' sources told AW&ST.
The resolution from the committee on decolonization, concerning Israeli practices affecting Palestinian human rights, included an oral amendment expressing “grave concern at the use of suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians, resulting in extensive loss of life and injury.”
Israeli officials said the language was included at European nations’ behest. “We said that every time the resolutions include condemning Israel for its acts, there’s no mention of the suicide bombers,” an Israeli spokeswoman said. “We’re glad that the Europeans made sure” to condemn suicide bombings in Israel this time. The resolution passed by a vote of 142 to 6, with 15 abstentions.
"Oral amendment"? SOunds like it is not worth the paper it it written on. -EoZ
The inventor of the program will produce an even larger receiver which will connect to the command's vehicle.
'The commander will be able to view the field at the appropriate time and to direct his forces without needing to rely on verbal reports that can become sometimes problematic', explains Head of the Field Intelligence Department of the weapons unit at the Ground Forces Headquarters, Lieutenant Colonel Yoni."
The discovery provides fresh evidence of the reach and sophistication of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's global black market in nuclear know-how and equipment. It also exposes a previously undetected South African branch of the Khan network.
Monday, November 29, 2004
When the IDF updated its military doctrine in 2003, Prof. Asa Kasher, Professor of Professional Ethics at Tel Aviv University, joined me on an ethics committee to craft principles on how to make moral and ethical decisions in Israel's operational campaign against terror.
As we sought to formulate how to fight terror, we understood that the main asymmetry is in the values of the two societies involved in the conflict - in the rules they obey. We are fighting with a people that have totally different values and rules of engagement.
How do we differentiate between terrorists and non-terrorists? Everyone who is directly involved in terror is a legitimate target. Those who are indirectly involved in terror are not a legitimate target.
Some asked if the collateral damage was producing future terrorists. We found that because of the level of incitement, the collateral damage only raised public support for terror from 95 to 96 percent.
In August 2002 we had all the leadership of Hamas in one room and we knew we needed a 2,000-pound bomb to eliminate all of them. Think about having Osama bin Laden and all the top leadership of al-Qaeda in one house. However, use of a 2,000-pound bomb was not approved - we used a much smaller bomb - and they all got up and ran away.
We should do the job at the checkpoints ethically, professionally, and as fast as we can because we have to care about the many times the ambulance is really carrying somebody who needs help.
The bottom line is that Israel has to fight terror because terror declared war on us. In the current war Israel has lost over 1,000 people - equivalent to the U.S. suffering 45,000 dead and 300,000 wounded. We can win, but we must do it ethically as the Jewish people, as a democratic state, and as IDF officers who respect our ethical profession."
Unreservedly pro-Israel, our correspondent reveals how her first visit to the country fulfilled a long emotional and political love affair
WHEN I TOLD people that I was going to Israel this autumn, I noticed that a lot of them had the same reaction. They’d look dubious, then worried, then say: “Ooo. Is it a story?” The implication being that only professional interests could take one to such a hellhole. They also expressed fear for my safety, going as far on the part of one friend (Gentile, never been there) to actually weep, and on the part of my beloved former mother-in-law (Jewish, never been there) to write to me that she would pray every night for my intact return, even though she is an atheist!
I had had it coming, the Big Jew Thing; ever since as a nine-year-old girl in a working-class West Country Stalinist family, I learnt about the Shoah and the Six-Day War at the same time. It must have been that collision, that schism; death, life, struggle, NEVER AGAIN! — how could I ever not believe? Then I learnt the word for what I was; philo-Semite. That so few people have heard of philo-Semitism, whereas everyone has heard of anti-Semitism, says it all, really.
And the puzzle comes back to this — why do these people, above all others, inspire such ludicrous, ceaseless, surreal loathing? Why is it that one of my sweetest, youngest, most educated friends said to me one night, not even drunk: “Come on babe, admit it — don’t you ever EVER think that if the Jews had never existed how much easier life would be?”
Over the years I have pursued the Jewish Enigma and, it must be said, often got it wrong. My marriage to a non-observing Jew in the 1980s ended after a decade, most of which was spent either having very good sex (yay!) or rowing about the Palestinian question (oy!), with the shiksa on the side of the Jews and the Jew having a good old kvetch on behalf of the Palestinians. It was during such rows with my Jewish husband and his Jewish family, for the first time, that I wondered whether it was actually the Jews I really liked most . . . or the Israelis, those SuperJews, on whose behalf I seemed increasingly to be going into battle.
It didn’t take a genius to see that the more Jews stood up for themselves, the less the world liked it, whereas other races were cheered on and drooled over as “freedom fighters”, no matter how bloody their hands got, I reflected. Could it be that anti-Semitism in England in particular was based on the fact that we had gone in the opposite direction to the Jews — from powerful to powerless — and felt great resentment about this fact? After all, they’d had a good deal more than loss of empire to deal with in the 20th century — the loss of one third of world Jewry, for instance.
And Israel is a country the size of Wales, which within the first 25 years of its re-establishment (remember, the Jews were in the countries of the Middle East some seven centuries before the Muslims even existed) — from the Declaration of Independence in 1948 to the Yom Kippur War of 1973 — single-handedly fought off murderous attacks from such neighbouring dictatorships as Egypt, Jordan and Syria. (The US, surprisingly, did not begin to aid Israel in any major way until the mid-1970s; the country was founded with arms from the Communist bloc, and the first Government comprised a coalition of the majority Socialist Mapai Party with the Stalinist Mapam Party to the Left and religious and liberal groups to the Right. Beat that for pluralism!)
During the same period, it’s worth noting, the might of the British Armed Forces couldn’t even keep the oddballs and bishop-bashers of the IRA under control, so tied were the hands of our soldiers. It became common in working-class English households during the Seventies to hear Dad, never a great fan of the Jews (“sneaky”, “arrogant”, “cliquey”), say grimly as the latest atrocity from Ulster made itself felt through the medium of the Six O’Clock News: “The Israelis would have that lot sorted out in no time!” In 30 years, the image of the archetype Jew had gone from that of a frail, bullied scholar walking meekly to his doom to that of a big blond brute in a tank bulldozing across the desert, scattering tyrannies before him, STANDING UP FOR HIMSELF!
If the English working class were seeing the Jews in a new and favourable light due to Israel’s military triumphs — small and scrappy, innee, yer Israeli? Bit like us! — it’s fair to say that both the right-wing ruling class and the liberal middle class were shocked senseless by developments. You could see the bafflement on the faces of the most well-meaning of liberals as the mild-mannered, ever-scapegoated People Of The Book morphed into the creators of the Uzi machine gun and the proud owners of a nuclear capacity. (Interestingly, when the Jews put their scientific brilliance to the service of the European powers, no one ever complained, as I remembered. No one ever said: “Ooo, Albert Einstein, don’t do that!”)
What the Jews had done, unique of all the oppressed races of the world, was to come back better than ever.
This was a country founded on socialist principles, by idealists and intellectuals, which could shape-shift at the merest whiff of cordite into a lean, mean, fighting machine that did not allow soldiers to salute their “superiors” yet was deadly effective. It was the only Jewish country in the world, yet surrounded as it was by hate-filled theocracies who had wan-ted Hitler to kill the lot of them, it held secularism to be the most precious cornerstone of its democracy; only in Israel do you find that the most religious Jews, the Haredim, are the most opposed to the existence of the Jewish state — the most extreme of these, the Neturei Karta, even supported the PLO’s charter calling for its destruction. Ultra-religious Jews are not generally drafted into the Israeli Army, and those who are end up in the “Rabbinical Corps”, checking that the kitchens are kosher.
Secular Israel regards them with its characteristic, ceaseless tolerance; but for their part, the men in their side-curls and suits walk alongside young Israeli hotties wearing less on the street than other girls wear on the beach with never a sneer or slur, let alone a stoning. Surrounded on all sides by countries where religion and politics are one, to the point that democracy is considered ungodly, and where the chosen religion spends so much time acting as a tireless curtain-twitching Mrs Grundy, determined above all to curtail the freedom of women, that it has no time to tackle the subjugation and impoverishment of its faithful by their filthy rich rulers, Israel’s cool, clear-eyed take on matters of faith and secularism is a lesson to all of us. Imagine — a country in which the MOST religious are the LEAST nationalistic!
Anti-semitism can be as in-your-face as smashing up synagogues. But it can also be sly, sneaky, subtle and sometimes surreal. It must, in my opinion, go some way to explaining why Israeli human rights issues are so obsessively concentrated on, while many Arab and African countries are allowed to treat their citizens with as much subhuman sadism as they wish — the pregnant, raped women so frequently sentenced to death by stoning under Islamic regimes come immediately to mind, but the list is never-ending.
In having one human rights rule for democratic Israel — which can be summed up as “Be perfect or we’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks” — and another for the dictatorships which surround it — “Do what you like to your people, it’s your culture!” — Whitey displays an interestingly sly bit of anti-Semitism which is also rather insulting to the said dictatorships and the people they lord it over. The Jews are seen to be the one ethnic group who “pass” as white; their insistence on making their state a democracy is also seen as a sign of their stubborn refusal to act the savage to Whitey’s civilising influence. In short, the Lord forbid that any ethnic group should ignore the all-important world dominance hierarchy and dare to turn from victim into victor — and that is Israel’s ultimate crime. So why did it never occur to me to actually go to Israel before? After all, since I broke my self-imposed travel embargo a decade ago (didn’t want to have sex with my various husbands, if you’re interested) I’ve been a veritable globetrotter, nipping off to places as far away as the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean at the drop of a luggage tab. Why I would choose to make 12-hour flights to places I had absolutely no interest in while Israel is a mere four hours away, has a climate which makes the Bahamas look like Bradford and everything about it fascinates me, is a mystery to me, but a lot of it probably has to do with inertia, fear and a long-held belief that one should never meet one’s heroes. This was the first time a whole country had been my hero — millions of the f******, all ready to let me down! — so naturally I held back.
Finally, the turn of events led me there. An avalanche of congratulatory e-mail from Jews around the world led to lunch with beautiful Michelle from the Israeli Tourist Board, which led to me and my best friend Nadia Petrovic — the only person I know whose philo-Semitism leaves mine in the shade — boarding an aircraft to Tel Aviv this October.
Even before your baggage goes through airport X-ray machines so huge that it would be possible for a standing adult, barely stooping, to walk through one, everything about going to Israel is larger than life, which is strange considering that it’s a country the size of Wales. Everything from the clothes you need to pack — not many, nothing warm, because it’s always hot and always informal unless you plan to hang around some neurotic, misogynistic Muslim/Catholic “ Holy Place”, in which case, COVER YOURSELF YOU FILTHY DAUGHTER OF A WHORE! — to the reaction you get from your friends — OH NO, YOU'RE GOING TO DIEEEEEE! — is Not Normal.
But that feeling ended, for me, the minute I was settled on the El Al aircraft. Looking around at my fellow passengers, in their various skullcaps, side-curls and crop-tops, I felt an eerie sense of calm, so different from the irritation, nerves and boredom that air travel usually provokes. My favourite bit of the Bible, verse 16, Chapter 1 of The Book of Ruth, came back to me, triumphantly this time after a lifetime of aloneness: “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
To be among them, but not of them; to “pass”, of all the outrageous things, when one of the stewardesses (minimal make-up, stern slacks; Israeli girls make the rest of us, even Oriental women, look like inappropriate drag queens, but somehow you can’t hate them because they’re beautiful as they don’t mean to be) speaks to me in Hebrew! I can’t get over this — it’s what I’ve been waiting for since I was nine years old! — but my face falls a little when snub-nosed, baby-blonde Nadia is similarly spoken to; no one could mistake her for one. Bitch. And this is the first of many sad lessons I learn in Israel — that because of the terrible fall-off in tourism since the intifada, Israelis presume that they have no friends abroad any more. They simply presume that every person on an Israeli plane, or in an Israeli hotel, is an Israeli. That was the first thing that broke my heart, there.
But it healed the moment we stepped out of the plane into the sunshine. In Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth’s self-loathing hero remarks of his first visit to Israel something like: “Look! — Jews — Jews everywhere — walking around as if they own the place! WHICH THEY DO!” What was striking to me, though, all through Israel, was the very absence of weight being thrown around.
“Shalom.” They say it, them Jews, every time. It’s their hello, their goodbye, their have-a-nice-day, and they mean it. You hear them say it, you see them do it, and sometimes, just a little bit, got to say it, it makes you hate them — makes you hate their endless belief in the goodness of Mankind, the very Mankind that came so very near to destroying them.
You see it in Jerusalem, where the mosques and churches gleam free. You see it in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, where the Avenue of the Righteous comes before everything else — the Righteous being un-Jews, that is. You see it from the car, being driven from Jerusalem to Eilat, when you ask your Israeli tour guide what is that place over there that looks . . . different? Oh, that’s the Bedouins. That’s the Palestinians. That’s where they cut off people ’s hands and stone women to death, because it’s their culture, and that’s what so much of the “civilised” world wants even more of Israel to be sacrificed unto.
You see it in Ariel Sharon, that alleged hawk of hawks, sending in the Israeli Defence Force to violently evict 8,000 Jews from the Gaza in order to go ONE STEP CLOSER towards peace with a people who want his own people dead. You see it in the beautiful English Jewish journalist Charlotte Halle from Haaretz, the “Tel Aviv Guardian”, married to an Israeli, with a three-year-old son, who only comes near to losing her temper once with me — when I express too much antipathy towards the Palestinians who already want her baby son dead, because he will grow up to be a Jew, and she is prepared to go, as her ceaseless, blameless, shameless people are always prepared to go, for ever a bridge too far.
You see it in Nadia’s eyes when she says, so serenely, in the car after Yad Vashem: “I always knew that lots of people had suffered. But if ever, EVER, anyone says that anyone has ever suffered like the Jews did, you know now that they’re either one of two things. One, they're silly. Or two, they’re just a little bit WICKED.”
You see it in Tel Aviv, on your balcony, your last night in Israel, with Nadia crying back in the room, and you really want to go home and see your husband and she does her son . . . but you really wonder how you will live now, back at home, beyond the wild blue yonder where these people, these F****** PEOPLE, did the thing they did — where they literally created the modern world.
Where they turned a place the size of Wales, which was just another regular barren Arab desert, into a Garden of Eden overnight, or at least over a decade. Where they came straight off the ships from Auschwitz and Belsen and Drancy and simply rolled up their sleeves and shook their heads and said, “Oyyyy . . .”
Where they created Tel Aviv — the first Jewish city in 2,000 years — by simply saying it was so, a few dozen ragged-ass Hebrew re-settlers, standing on some sand in 1909.
Where they don’t even WANT your help, the obdurate, stubborn, stiff-necked f****** —
All seven million of them —
Seven million . . .
So we won, then . . .
Back in the room, Nadia is singing now as she packs.
I’ve been back from Israel less than a week as I start writing this, and my suntan is already fading as my mind and soul shrink back to the size they were before — the size that fits so snugly around The X Factor and Brit Art and Whither the Novel Now and all those cultural Hula Hoops we keep up so frantically to distract ourselves from the big hole in the middle that is us.
Don’t get me wrong — I love my life. This isn’t a cheesy old I-was-lost-and-now-I’m-found snow job — I find that such woe-is-me eulogies tend to come from your basic dust-in-the-wind types anyway, who have neither the guts nor the inclination to change their lives but can’t pass up the chance of a little extra whine-time. No, like I said — I love my life. I love my God, my husband, my son Jack, my job, my friends and reality TV. I’m a happy bunny with such a high level of optimism that I frequently wake up in the morning, at the age of 45, feeling almost excited about washing my face and drinking my coffee — a sure sign, according to my shrink friend, of a person in A Happy Place. (Or a cretin.)
And yet, and yet . . . while all other parts of my heart beat properly, I feel that, increasingly, I have a country-sized hole in it. I have always loved my country with a fierce cool pride, knowing our faults, and still thinking “Yeah, we may well be stiff-upper-lipped/stuffed-shirts/sex-maniacs/drunks/po-faced/frivolous/whatever — but what’s the option? Being French — BEING GERMAN? I don’t think so!” No country is perfect, but relatively, I have always felt blessed to be British; generally, when prejudiced push comes to murderous shove, we have always tended to be on the side of the angels.
But increasingly, I don’t feel this. Because, in the face of all the evidence of history, and thus in the face of logic, Britain is slowly but surely ceasing to be Britain and becoming little more than an outpost of the “European Union” — the very name, I feel, echoes the join-us-in-friendship-or-else! promise/threat of an earlier European Unity dream-turned-nightmare. I have many minor gripes against the EU, such as its monstrous levels of corruption and waste.
But mainly I loathe the EU as I believe it to be a massive threat to what remains of the world Jewry which its leader, Germany, did so much to destroy. I cannot trust an organisation which has a belligerent Germany, aided and abetted by his vicious short sidekick, France, at its head — especially when that Germany is increasingly painting itself as the real “victim” of the Second World War. And it’s not just them, it’s us — in 2003 an EU survey claimed that six out of ten Britons believed Israel to be a threat to “world peace”, whatever that is.
Israel is not without its problems — but they are problems which are a result of other countries’ ignorant and destructive instincts and actions rather than its own. Because of this, they will be easier to solve — and, crucially, they make “war-torn” Israel a far better place to be in than peaceful Britain. Israelis can at least see the bombs that go off in their country — whereas ours go off in our minds and hearts, day after day, destroying everything which was once precious to us. I’m bad at languages, but I do have a heartful of soul and pretty soon I’ll have a Hebrew teacher — a female teacher, thankyouverymuch! — who I’ll see once a week. And eventually, I’ll get there.
Once I couldn’t imagine not living — or dying — in England, but as I get older the more I feel the need to walk in the sun; in the blatant, blameless light of confidence, of communal effort, of a cause greater than keeping the European gravy train/hate machine on track. It’s not exactly next year in Jerusalem — but, God willing, five years from now in Tel Aviv will do me just fine.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Anniversary of the UN vote on Resolution 181
Today is the anniversary of the UN vote on resolution 181, which approved the partition of the western part Palestine into a predominately Jewish state and a predominately Arab state. (It is vital to recall that the UN partition plan referred to western Palestine, to underscore that in 1921 the eastern part was ripped off the Jewish National Home by the British Government and handed over to the then Emir Abdullah.)
The partition plan was approved by 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions.
The 33 countries that cast the “Yes” vote were: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussia, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine, Union of South Africa, USSR, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela. (Among other countries, the list includes the US, the three British Dominions, all the European countries except for Greece and the UK, but including all the Soviet-block countries.)
The 13 countries that chose the Hall of Shame and voted “No” were: Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen. (Ten of these are Moslem countries; Greece has the special distinction of being the only European country to have joined the Hall of Shame.)
The ten countries that abstained are: Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia.
On November 30, 1947, the day following the vote, the Palestinian Arabs murdered six Jews in a bus making its way to Jerusalem, and proceeded to murder another Jew in the Tel-Aviv - Jaffa area. This was a prelude to a war that claimed the lives of 6,000 Jews, or 1% of the total Jewish population in 1948. This toll is the per capita equivalent of today’s Canada losing 300,000 lives, or the US losing 3,000,000.
The object of the war, launched by the Arabs in the former Palestine and the armies of Egypt, Tansjordan, Syria and Lebanon (with help from other Arab countries), was to "throw the Jews into the sea". As the partition map indicates, however, rather than annihilate the Jewish population, the Arabs ended up with less territory than they would have gained by peaceful means.
In addition to the bloodshed in nascent Israel, immediately after the UN vote, Arabs attacks their Jewish neighbours in a number of Arab countries, the murders in Syria’s Aleppo being the best known.
Bruised and bleeding, Israel prevailed nonetheless. May our sister-democracy thrive and flourish.
List of participating sites, in alphabetical order of site name
Catholic Friends of Israel
Christian Action for Israel
Clarity and Resolve
Crusader War College
I Love America
Instant Knowledge News
The Seal Club
Who's Your Rabbi
Weblog of a Wandering Jew
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
How Not to Promote Democracy: Palestinian elections shouldn’t come before a free society has been built.
Palestinian elections shouldn’t come before a free society has been built.
By Meyrav Wurmser
Since the death of Yasser Arafat, many in European capitals and within various circles of Washington have called on the Palestinians to hold elections. Former special Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross, for example, recently asserted that to avoid a violent competition for power, elections can become "the mechanism for shaping the Palestinians' future and determining Palestinian leadership." Palestinian basic law requires that elections be held 60 days after the death of a Palestinian president. On the surface, elections appear to be a step that will further Palestinian democracy and President Bush's vision of a free and democratic Palestinian society. In reality, however, the election, scheduled for January 9, 2005, would be part of the smoke and mirrors that is Palestinian politics. It would merely dress an enduring dictatorship with democratic robes.
Even before Arafat's demise, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Queria (Abu Ala) and the new chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), had divvyed up the chairman's powers amongst themselves. Abu Mazen's appointment as the central figure of the PLO puts him in control of the most powerful body in Palestinian society. The PLO's powers remain superior to the institutions of the PA. In his capacity as the chairman of the PLO, Abu Mazen is responsible for all Palestinian foreign affairs and negotians with Israel. His associate, Abu Ala, continues to be the Palestinian prime minister, a position he held prior to Arafat's death. Since then, however, his powers have been redefined: He now controls all internal affairs of the PA and the mulitplicity of unruly security services. Rawhi Fatooh, a junior political player and the speaker of the parliament, replaced Arafat as the temporary president of the Palestinian Authority until elections are held.
When Arafat was alive, he controlled the powers — and more — now shared by the new triumvirate. He was chairman of the PLO, president of the Palestinian Authority, and head of the largest faction of the PLO, Fatah. It took many years of international pressure to force him to appoint a prime minister. Even when he did, Arafat made certain that his prime minister would remain weak and unable to control any of the security services. A typical example of Arafat's treatment of his revolving prime ministers is the rumor that he slapped Abu Ala across the face several weeks ago. In response, Abu Ala threatened resignation until it became clear that Arafat's health was deteriorating. But the multi-tentacled style of Arafat's reign could not have been maintained by any one of his successors, because they all lack his gravitas. Realizing their unpopularity, they opted to divide and rule.
But the division is not between equals. Abu Mazen and Abu Ala remain the senior partners. They have taken all substantial powers, leaving the position of the president virtually void of real authority. Taking away from the president control over the guns of the security services and the money held in the PA's entangled accounts has reduced his position to that of a glorified debate-club leader. Elections, now deemed by many in Europe and the State Department as the flood gate for Palestinian democracy (and by extension the renewal of the peace-process), only serve to legitimize Abu Ala's and Abu Mazen's unelected and unchecked grip on power.
One could argue that Abu Ala and Abu Mazen could not control the results of an election, that a challenger to their power could win. But these two are attempting to stack the cards in their favor. Even if relatively orderly elections occurred in 60 days, they would not be free and democratic. Abu Mazen, who recently announced his candidacy, is trying to make sure that no one of any real influence will compete against him. Not wishing to look undemocratic, he might find — as Arafat did in the elections of 1996 — a single, unknown, and unpopular candidate to "oppose" him. Even if there is a strong opposing candidate, the lack of a free press, the existence of bodies (such as the PLO) that are more powerful than the elected institution, and an insufficient period for the oppositional candidates to organize, these elections will not accurately reflect the will of the people.
The Bush administration, which remains committed to a vision of a free and democratic Middle East, must be certain not to legitimize oppression by endorsing Palestinian elections now. In the process of building a free and democratic society, elections are the last — not the first — step. Elections should come after limits on governmental institutions are in place and the basic freedoms of individuals have been guaranteed. Western recognition of this masquerade of freedom would only serve to strengthen the undemocratic nature of Palestinian society.
Even if elections will renew hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, peace must not come at the price of liberty. Only a free Palestinian society can confront Arafat's legacy of terror, chaos, corruption, and poverty.
|Moderate Muslims, Real and Phony||
FrontPageMagazine.com | November 23, 2004
There is good news to report: the idea that “militant Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution” is finding greater acceptance over time. But there is also bad news, namely growing confusion over who really is a moderate Muslim. This means that the ideological side of the war on terror is making some, but only limited, progress.
The good news: Anti-Islamist Muslims are finding their voice since 9/11. Their numbers include distinguished academics such as Azar Nafisi (Johns Hopkins), Ahmed al-Rahim (formerly of Harvard), Kemal Silay (Indiana), and Bassam Tibi (Göttingen). Important Islamic figures like Ahmed Subhy Mansour and Muhammad Hisham Kabbani are speaking out.
Organizations are coming into existence. The American Islamic Forum for Democracy, headed by Zuhdi Jasser, is active in Phoenix, Arizona. The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism appears to be genuinely anti-Islamist, despite my initial doubts about its founder, Kamal Nawash.
Internationally, an important petition posted a month ago by a group of liberal Arabs calls for a treaty banning religious incitement to violence and specifically names “sheikhs of death” (such as Yusuf Al-Qaradawi of Al-Jazeera television), demanding that they be tried before an international court. Over 2,500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries rapidly signed this petition.
With time, individual Muslims are finding their voice to condemn Islamist connections to terrorism. Perhaps most outstanding is an article by Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, a Saudi journalist in London: “It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists,” he writes, “but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims. … We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women.”
Other analysts have followed al-Rashed’s example. Osama El-Ghazali Harb writes from Egypt that “Muslim and Arab intellectuals and opinion leaders must confront and oppose any attempt to excuse the barbaric acts of these [terrorist] groups on the grounds of the suffering endured by Muslims.” From Virginia, Anouar Boukhars holds that “Terrorism is a Muslim problem, and refusal to admit so is indeed troubling.”
The bad news: There are lots of fake-moderates parading about, and they can be difficult to identify, even for someone like me who devotes much attention to this topic. The Council on American-Islamic Relations still wins mainstream support and the Islamic Society of North America still sometimes hoodwinks the U.S. government. The brand-new Progressive Muslim Union wins rave reviews for its alleged moderation from gullible journalists, despite much of its leadership (Salam Al-Marayati, Sarah Eltantawi, Hussein Ibish, Ali Abunimah) being well-known extremists.
Even anti-terrorist rallies are not always what they seem to be. On Nov. 21, several thousand demonstrators, some of them Muslim, marched under banners proclaiming “Together for Peace and against Terror” in Cologne, Germany. Marchers shouted “No to terror” and politicians made feel-good statements. But the Cologne demonstration, coming soon after the murder of Theo van Gogh on Nov. 2, served as a clever defense operation. The organizer of the event, the Islamist Diyanet Iþleri Türk-Islam Birliði, used it as a smokescreen to fend off pressure for real change. Speeches at the demonstration included no mea culpas or calls for introspection, only apologetics for jihad and invocations of stale and empty slogans such as “Islam means peace.”
This complex, confusing record points to several conclusions:
· Islamists note the urge to find moderate Muslims and are learning how to fake moderation. Over time, their camouflage will undoubtedly further improve.
· Figuring out who’s who is a high priority. It may be obvious that Osama bin Laden is Islamist and Irshad Manji anti-Islamist, but plenty of Muslims are in the murky middle. An unresolved debate has raged for years in Turkey whether the current prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoðan, is an Islamist or not.
· The task of identifying true moderates cannot be done through guesswork and intuition; for proof, note the U.S. government’s persistent record of supporting Islamists by providing them with legitimacy, education, and (perhaps even) money. I too have made my share of mistakes. What’s needed is serious, sustained research.
As the Palestinian media slowly return to their regular routine following Arafat's death, their well-documented hate promotion and incitement are likewise reappearing. One common theme that has quickly returned due to the war in Iraq is the depiction of the US, verbally and visually, as the cruel and inhuman enemy.
A cartoon in today's official PA daily, Al Hayat al Jadida, shows an American soldier raping a young girl, while the Arab world looks on with amusement and even offers support.
|A Palestinian newspaper depicts an American soldier raping a woman as Arabs look on and encourage him.
The most recent Friday sermon on PATV, delivered by Sheik Ibrahim Madiras, depicts the US as the creator of international terror. 'Fallujah is undergoing ethnic cleansing right now: Thousands of shahids [martyrs], hundreds killed every hour... You've seen with your own eyes the terrorism, the terrorism of the United States, who accuses the Palestinian people, the Iraqi people and all Muslims of being terrorists, while creating international terror. The U.S. is the one who creates terror.'
In a third example, a vicious cartoons depicts US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the exterminator of Arabs.
Reservist Sgt.-Maj. Yosef Avrahami and Corporal Vadim Novesche accidentally strayed into Ramallah after making a wrong turn on the way to their army base.
They were forced out of their vehicle and taken to the local police station, where an angry mob forced their way into the headquarters and, together with PA security officials, attacked and beat them to death. Scores of people participated in the lynch which was broadcasted in grisly detail around the world.
Novesche was thrown out of a second-story window to the mob below and later, Salha stood at the window and proudly showed the crowd his hands covered with the reservists' blood.
According to the charge sheet released by the army on Monday, Salha arrived at the police station and spotted Novesche lying on the ground with a knife protruding out of his back.
He grabbed the knife and stabbed the Israeli to death while holding him in a stranglehold. He then went inside the station and stood at the second floor window showing off his bloodstained hands to the crowd.
Several photographers were beaten by PA officers that day by Palestinians for filming the scene and their cameras and films were destroyed.
Muhammad Ghassan Sheikh was killed, along with two of his aides, by an elite police unit while in a car in Beituniya, west of Ramallah, on Sunday evening.
As the unit closed in to arrest Sheikh, he opened fire, lightly wounding a policeman.
Police officers shot back; Sheikh was killed along with Nasser Said Jabarra, 30, a member of Yasser Arafat's presidential guard, Force 17, and Salem Hilna, 33, a member of the PA security forces.
During the two years that he was holed up in the Mukata, Sheikh planned suicide bombings and maintained contact with terror cells in the West Bank. He has had contact with Fatah Tanzim activists in Ramallah and Samaria and members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Iraq since his first terror activities in 2001.
Sheikh and other Mukata fugitives are believed to have left the Ramallah compound only after Arafat's death.
Sheikh was also involved in a shooting on a road between Na'ame and Talmon on June 13 in which a man was killed and two others were wounded.
In 2002, Sheikh helped plan a suicide bombing in Jerusalem and recruited his cousin to lead the suicide bomber from Samaria to Jerusalem. The next year, he was to have supplied the weapons and bombs to be used in a suicide bombing at the Beit El military court. However, both attacks were thwarted.
In August of that year, he was involved in shooting at security forces in the Ramallah area.
In March, Sheikh was to have sheltered a suicide bomber and his transporter who were sent by the Tanzim in Nablus to Ramallah, where they were to stay before setting out for Jerusalem. Both were arrested by security forces before they reached Ramallah.
The article that references anti-Semitism notes that the commission recognizes 'with deep concern' the growth in the number of incidents of lack of tolerance and violence directed at people who belong to religious communities in various parts of the world, including attacks motivated by hatred of Muslims, anti-Semitism, and hatred of Christians.'
The resolution is adopted annually by consensus, and the original formulation focused on condemning all forms of religious intolerance and xenophobia.
Attempts made in the past by Israel and Jewish groups in the U.S. to include explicit references to anti-Semitism were foiled by the Arab and Islamic states. This year, too, the Arab states were active behind the scenes, trying to prevent the mention of anti-Semitism in the draft.
But Holland - holding the current presidency of the European Union - and Germany made clear to Arab diplomats last week that Europe was determined to include the reference to anti-Semitism.
Anyone want to bet that the Arab nations will spin this by saying that "anti-semitism" means hatred of Arabs and that Jews are not Semites? -EoZ
A senior PA official told Haaretz that IDF operations inside PA-controlled territory such as Ramallah are particularly problematic. 'These are the biggest threat to the continuation of Palestinian rule and our ability to hold elections on January 9 in an optimal fashion,' he said.
The official said that Abbas and Qureia also presented various other demands of Israel to Powell, including dismantling parts of the separation fence, as well as asking the U.S. for financial support. Powell responded that he will try to explain the importance of financial aid to the U.S. Congress.
At his meeting with Sharon, Powell stressed that U.S. President George Bush sees an opportunity to advance the peace process. Bush has not changed his view that the Palestinian state must be free of terror and incitement, he said, but efforts to combat terror and incitement must not become a precondition for negotiations.
Sharon stressed in response that Israel rejects European proposals to skip the first stage of the road map peace plan, which requires the PA to fight terror and carry out reforms, and go straight to final-status talks.
'The Palestinians are daydreaming if they think that after Arafat's death, all they need to do is submit a list of demands to Israel,' he said."
Plans to crash planes on the two high-profile targets are among four or five al Qaida strikes that security chiefs believe they have stopped.
Training programmes for suicide pilots have been disrupted, a senior authoritative source told ITV News.
The Home Office and Metropolitan Police declined to comment on the report.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Climate of hate rocks Columbia University
By DOUGLAS FEIDEN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Many students say Columbia Prof. Hamid Dabashi, a department chairman, has bullied and threatened them for defending Israel.
Students Ariel Beery (speaking) and Noah Liben (r.) at press conference after showing of the film 'Columbia Unbecoming.'
In the world of Hamid Dabashi, supporters of Israel are "warmongers" and "Gestapo apparatchiks."
The Jewish homeland is "nothing more than a military base for the rising predatory empire of the United States."
It's a capital of "thuggery" - a "ghastly state of racism and apartheid" - and it "must be dismantled."
A voice from America's crackpot fringe? Actually, Dabashi is a tenured professor and department chairman at Columbia University. And his views have resonated and been echoed in other areas of the university.
Columbia is at risk of becoming a poison Ivy, some critics claim, and tensions are high.
In classrooms, teach-ins, interviews and published works, dozens of academics are said to be promoting an I-hate-Israel agenda, embracing the ugliest of Arab propaganda, and teaching that Zionism is the root of all evil in the Mideast.
In three weeks of interviews, numerous students told the Daily News they face harassment, threats and ridicule merely for defending the right of Israel to survive.
And the university itself is holding investigations into the alleged intimidation.
Dabashi has achieved academic stardom: professor of Iranian studies; chairman of the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department; past head of a panel that administers Columbia's core curriculum.
The 53-year-old, Iranian-born scholar has said CNN should be held accountable for "war crimes" for one-sided coverage of Sept. 11, 2001. He doubts the existence of Al Qaeda and questions the role of Osama Bin Laden in the attacks.
Dabashi did not return calls.
In September in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, he wrote, "What they call Israel is no mere military state. A subsumed militarism, a systemic mendacity with an ingrained violence constitutional to the very fusion of its fabric, has penetrated the deepest corners of what these people have to call their soul."
After the showing of a student-made documentary about faculty bias and bullying that targets Jewish students, six or seven swastikas were found carved in a Butler Library bathroom last month.
Then after a screening of the film, "Columbia Unbecoming," produced by the David Project, a pro-Israel group in Boston, one student denounced another as a "Zionist fascist scum," witnesses said.
On Oct. 27, Columbia announced it would probe alleged intimidation and improve procedures for students to file grievances.
"Is the climate hostile to free expression?" asked Alan Brinkley, the university provost. "I don't believe it is, but we're investigating to find out."
But one student on College Walk described the campus as a "republic of fear." Another branded the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department the "department of dishonesty."
A third described how she was once "humiliated in front of an entire class."
Deena Shanker, a Mideast and Asian studies major, remains an admirer of the department. But she says she will never forget the day she asked Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics, if Israel gives warnings before bombing certain buildings so residents could flee.
"Instead of answering my question, Massad exploded," she said. "He told me if I was going to 'deny the atrocities' committed against the Palestinians, I could get out of his class."
"Professorial power is being abused," said Ariel Beery, a senior who is student president in the School of General Studies, but stresses he's speaking only for himself.
"Students are being bullied because of their identities, ideologies, religions and national origins," Beery said.
Added Noah Liben, another senior, "Debate is being stifled. Students are being silenced in their own classrooms."
Said Brinkley: If a professor taught the "Earth was flat or there was no Holocaust," Columbia might intervene in the classroom. "But we don't tell faculty they can't express strong, or even offensive opinions."
Yet even some faculty members say they fear social ostracism and career consequences if they're viewed as too pro-Israel, and that many have been cowed or shamed into silence.
One apparently unafraid is Dan Miron, a professor of Hebrew literature and holder of a prestigious endowed chair.
He said scores of Jewish students - about one a week - have trooped into his office to complain about bias in the classroom.
"Students tell me they've been browbeaten, humiliated and treated disrespectfully for daring to challenge the idea that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish nation," he said.
"They say they've been told Israeli soldiers routinely rape Palestinian women and commit other atrocities, and that Zionism is racism and the root of all evil."
One yardstick of the anti-Israel sentiment among professors, critics say, is the 106 faculty signatures on a petition last year that called for Columbia to sell its holdings in all firms that conduct business with Israel's military.
Noting that the divestment campaign compared Israel to South Africa during the apartheid era, Columbia President Lee Bollinger termed it "grotesque and offensive."
That didn't stop 12 Mideast and Asian studies professors - almost half the department - and 21 anthropology teachers from signing on, a review of the petition shows.
To identify the Columbia faculty with the most strongly anti-Israel views, The News spoke to numerous teachers and students, including some who took their courses; reviewed interviews and published works, and examined Web sites that report their public speeches and statements, including the online archives of the Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper.
Their views could be dismissed as academic fodder if they weren't so incendiary.
In the world of Hamid Dabashi, supporters of Israel are "warmongers" and "Gestapo apparatchiks."
The Jewish homeland is "nothing more than a military base for the rising predatory empire of the United States."
# Nicholas De Genova, who teaches anthropology and Latino studies. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls him "the most hated professor in America."
At an anti-war teach-in last year, he said he wished for a "million Mogadishus," referring to the slaughter of U.S. troops in Somalia in 1993.
"U.S. patriotism is inseparable from imperial warfare and white supremacy," he added.
De Genova has also said, "The heritage of the victims of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people. ... Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust."
De Genova didn't return calls.
# Bruce Robbins, a professor of English and comparative literature.
In a speech backing divestment, he said, "The Israeli government has no right to the sufferings of the Holocaust."
Elaborating, Robbins told The News he believes Israel has a right to exist, but he thinks the country has "betrayed the memory of the Holocaust."
# Joseph Massad, who is a tenure-track professor of Arab politics. Students and faculty interviewed by The News consistently claimed that the Jordanian-born Palestinian is the most controversial, and vitriolic, professor on campus.
"How many Palestinians have you killed?" he allegedly asked one student, Tomy Schoenfeld, an Israeli military veteran, and then refused to answer his questions.
To Massad, CNN star Wolf Blitzer is "Ze'ev Blitzer," which is the byline Blitzer used in the 1980s, when he wrote for Hebrew papers but hasn't used since.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be likened to Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, he once declared.
"The Jews are not a nation," he said in one speech. "The Jewish state is a racist state that does not have a right to exist."
Massad didn't return several calls. On his Web site, he says he's a victim of a "witch hunt" by "pro-Israel groups" and their "propaganda machine."
# George Saliba, a professor of Arabic and Islamic science. His classroom rants against the West are legendary, students have claimed.
One student says his "Islam & Western Science" class could be called "Why the West is Evil." Another writes that his "Intro to Islamic Civilization" often serves as a forum to "rail against evil America."
A recent graduate, Lindsay Shrier, said Saliba told her, "You have no claim to the land of Israel ... no voice in this debate. You have green eyes, you're not a true Semite. I have brown eyes, I'm a true Semite."
Saliba did not return calls.
# Rashid Khalidi, who is the Edward Said professor of Arab studies. He's the academic heir to the late Said, a professor who famously threw a stone from Lebanon at an Israeli guard booth.
Columbia initially refused to say how the chair was funded. But The United Arab Emirates, which denies the Holocaust on state TV channels, is reported to have provided $200,000.
When Palestinians in a Ramallah police station lynched two Israeli reservists in 2000 - throwing one body out a window and proudly displaying bloodstained hands - the professor attacked the media, not the killers.
He complained about "inflammatory headlines" in a Chicago Sun-Times story and called the paper's then-owner, Conrad Black, who also owned the Jerusalem Post, "the most extreme Zionist in public life."
Reached at Columbia, Khalidi declined to comment on specifics.
"As somebody who has a body of work, written six books and won many awards, the only fair thing to do is look at the entire body of work, not take quotes out of context," he said.
# Lila Abu-Lughod, a professor of anthropology, romanticizes Birzeit University in the West Bank as a "liberal arts college dedicated to teaching and research in the same spirit as U.S. colleges."
But it is well-established that Birzeit also is the campus where Hamas openly recruits suicide bombers, stone-throwers and gunmen.
As in her published works, Abu-Lughod gave a carefully nuanced response when reached Friday by The News:
"The CIA has historically recruited at Columbia, but that's not the mission of Columbia. The mission of Birzeit is to educate students, and they're working under very difficult circumstances to do that."
At the same time, the Sunday Times reported that secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice is convinced Yasser Arafat's death has created a unique opportunity and she believes the revival of the peace process leading to a Palestinian state will be her top priority.
Powell was widely rumored to be ready to resign after four years of conflict with Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
However, the Telegraph quoted 'friends' as saying he changed his mind because he saw the chance of progress on the peace process and wanted to see through the Iraqi elections.
He was reported to have made an unsuccessful pitch to remain in office for at least one more year during British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to Washington earlier this month.
The paper noted that while Powell's departure was announced on November 15, his letter of resignation was dated November 11, the day of his meeting with Bush.
White House officials were quoted as saying that Powell was not asked to stay on. Briefing reporters later, Powell said he and Bush had had 'fulsome discussions,' diplomatic code for disagreements.
'The clincher came over the Mideast peace process,' a recently-retired State Department official reportedly said. 'Powell thought he could use the credit he had banked as the president's 'good cop' in foreign policy to rein in [Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon and get the peace process going. He was wrong.'
Among those who lobbied against Powell were Cheney and Undersecretary of State John Bolton, both of whom want the administration to focus primarily on Iran's nuclear ambitions and the fight against Islamic terrorist groups.
Cheney and Bolton, who will be Rice's deputy, were said to fear that Powell would back away from a confrontational approach. They are also frustrated that Britain, France, and Germany are still seeking a diplomatic deal with Teheran rather than backing an immediate UN Security Council resolution condemning Iran and threatening sanctions.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that Rice is said to be sympathetic to the Palestinians' plight and has said she will work tirelessly for a democratic settlement.
Stanford Institute for International Studies director Coit Blacker, who has been a friend of Rice for 25 years, was quoted as saying: 'She is going to focus like a laser beam on it. The timing could not be better. I know from talking to her she feels this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a settlement.'
According to Blacker, Rice's style of diplomacy will be very different from that of Powell.
'She believes in old-fashioned diplomacy,' he said. 'You get on a plane and you go to the capital and meet your counterpart. We're going to see a change there.'
The paper also reported that before news of Rice's nomination was made public, she met Minister-without-Portfolio Natan Sharansky and assured him that bringing democracy to the Middle East would be 'the centerpiece' of US foreign policy over the next four years.
Sharansky was in Washington to promote his latest book, The Case for Democracy, on how to beat terrorism. Rice told him, 'You know why I am reading your book? Because the president is reading your book and he thinks I should read it.'(Jerusalem Post/Douglas Davis)"
A poll conducted by the Center of Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at Najah University on November 19-20, 2004, asked: "Several Palestinian personalities support the conviction that Arafat died by being poisoned, do you believe this?" Yes - 80%, No - 9%. (IMRA)
But an interview with a Palestinian mother on PATV yesterday indicates the depth of the PA society's worship of Death for Allah (Shahada), and support of suicide terror, which has not changed merely because of a change of leadership. In this program, a Palestinian mother of a suicide terrorist talks about how she and other mothers in her position see their sons Shahada death as a positive event -- like a joyful wedding.
The following is an excerpt from the PATV NOV. 17:
Moderator: "They [Israelis] accuse the Palestinian mother of hating her sons and in encouraging them to die. This is what we hear from Israelis. Is this true?
Mother Um Al-Ajrami: "No, we do not encourage our sons to die. We encourage them to Shahada [martyrdom] for the homeland, for Allah."
[She then talks about a group of women, all mothers of Shahids, who go to other mothers of Shahids during the period of mourning]:
"We don't say to the mothers of the Shahids, 'We have come to comfort you’, but 'We have come to bless you on the wedding of your son, on the Shahada of your son. Congratulations to you on the Shahada . . . ' For us, the mourning is joyous. We give out drinks, we give out sweets. Praise to God -- the mourning is joyous. occasion" [PATV, Nov. 17, 2004]
The "Islam Online" website (www.islamonline.org) points out that this woman, Um Al-Ajrami is quoted as saying, "I brought sweets and biscuits in order to change the day of joy to a new wedding, not mourning. I will sweeten anyone who will come to me to bless me on the occasion of the first holiday of the Shahada of my son."
Palestinian Media Watch has frequently documented that the PA political and religious leadership has promoted the interpretation of Islamic tradition, that Shahada -death is not to be feared, but should be aspired and anticipated with great pleasure. Young men are taught by religious leaders and through video clips that if they die as Shahids, they will join 72 beautiful maidens in Paradise. (see sermon and video clip.) The Palestinian mothers' positive, even joyous, responses to their sons' deaths -- and their celebration of their sons' "marriages" to the maidens of Paradise -- is a result of years of PA indoctrination.
Yasser Arafat's widow took possession of his much-sought medical dossier on Friday. She fled with the files after Palestinian TV broadcast a Friday sermon which threatened her life. She reportedly flew to Tunis in Arafat's jet, defying PA orders. Although the French defense ministry decided Nasser al Kidwa could access information on his uncle's mystery illness, Suha's lawyers claim only his widow can.
Suha Arafat obtained the file from the Percy military hospital in suburban Paris in mid-afternoon, attorney Jean-Marie Burguburu told The Associated Press by telephone.
Burguburu declined to give any details about the content of the file, but said the Palestinian leader's widow was considering whether to release the information to the public.
'The decision is in the process of being examined,' he said. 'The problem is, on the one hand, to try to stop all these false ideas about the death of President Arafat - these rumors.'
'Secondly, it's to make sure that there is not any abnormal exploitation of this medical file,' Burguburu said.
Earlier, Palestinian leaders dispatched an emissary to Paris to pick up the records and promised to make public the cause of Arafat's death.
It wasn't immediately clear how the latest development would affect the mission of the emissary -- Nasser al-Kidwa, Arafat's nephew and also the Palestinian representative to the United Nations. He had confirmed to the AP late Thursday that he would be traveling to France.
French officials insist the law prevents them from making Arafat's medical records public -- but they can give them to family members, who can then reveal information if they wish.
Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi, said Arafat said so when they met in Tunis, days before he returned to the Gaza Strip. 'The man told me, 'Listen, Abdel Bari, I know that you are opposed to the Oslo Accords, but you must always remember what I'm going to tell you. The day will come when you will see thousands of Jews fleeing Palestine. I will not live to see this, but you will definitely see it in your lifetime. The Oslo Accords will help bring this about.''
Before Oslo, Atwan regularly met with Arafat but later became a harsh critic of the Accords and corruption in the Palestinian Authority. He repeatedly called on Arafat to resign.
'President Arafat was the one who established the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in response to the attempt to marginalize him after the failure of the Camp David summit,' Atwan added.
'At the summit, he faced immense pressure from Israel, the US and some Arab parties to compromise on Jerusalem. Ironically, some Arab leaders, including Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, called Arafat demanding that he display flexibility on the issue of Jerusalem.'
Atwan said Arafat rejected Israel's offers at the summit 'because he wasn't prepared to sign a final agreement with the Jewish state. He was well aware that such an agreement would make him go down in history as a traitor because he would have to give up the right of return for the refugees and most of the sovereignty over east Jerusalem.'
Commenting on Arafat's hope that the Oslo Accords would force thousands of Jews to flee Israel, Atwan said: 'The Jews did not flee from Palestine by the thousands as President Arafat predicted. But they have started packing their bags to run away from the Gaza Strip and some settlements in the West Bank. There are also signs of emigration to Europe, the US and Canada following the suicide bombings and the sense of insecurity among Israelis.'
Friday, November 19, 2004
Written by Cinnamon Stillwell
For over a year now, an ongoing battle between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups has taken place in the streets of San Francisco. Long used to running the show, the anti-Israel crowd is now routinely counter-protested by groups like San Francisco Voice for Israel and ProtestWarrior.com. And judging by the behavior at last weekend’s counter-protest, they’re not too happy about it. The following after-report from San Francisco Voice for Israel provides the details.
They say that when a caged rat is cornered, it lashes out. A perfect example of this was the Justice In Palestine rally on Saturday, November 13, at the 24th and Mission BART station plaza.
It had not been a good couple of weeks for the anti-Israel forces. Their preferred candidate for president of the United States, Ralph Nader, had gone down to humiliating defeat, achieving a mere 0.5% of the vote. Furthering their angst, master terrorist and father of the Palestinian people, Yassir Arafat, had died of a mysterious illness in a French hospital, and no western head of state came to his funeral. Additionally, newspapers were full of reports of Arafat's corruption and how he fleeced the Palestinian people of billions of dollars.
We knew the anti-Israel crowd was particularly on edge because the week before a Palestinian student group (GUPS) at San Francisco State University violently attacked members of a Republican student organization. Not just with words, but also by throwing food, attempting to destroy the table, and even physical attacks.
With this in mind, we were not surprised when the intimidation started almost immediately as we were setting up at the BART station plaza. We were instantly surrounded by Palestinian flags to the front, and the ''Jews for a Free Palestine'' sign to the back. Undeterred, we raised our Israeli and American flags, put out flyers, and even offered Israeli chocolates, cookies, and tea to anyone who wanted them, from whatever political perspective.
As we prepared to fire up some music, one of their people came over and boasted of the volume capabilities of their own sound system and if we even tried to play music, they would ''shut us down.'' We subsequently discovered that they had even taken the precaution of obtaining an exclusive sound permit to forbid any other type of amplified sound in the plaza!
There were about one hundred of them in total. They comprised the usual collection of Stalinists and other factions from the far left, along with their Arab supporters. Conspicuously absent were the anti-Semitic signs and statements we have come to expect at these events. We numbered roughly 25, with many teenagers, and a handful of Israelis.
Soon it was time for them to bring out their speakers. As this was the ''Targets of the Empire'' rally, they spoke on everything from the San Francisco Hotel Union strike, Cuba, Venezuela, and Haiti, but always tying it back to ''Palestine.'' Unintended irony appeared when a striking hotel worker spoke, but failed to mention that the American Israeli Policy Advisory Committee (AIPAC) had moved their banquet so as not to cross picket lines. A representative of Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT) tried to claim that it was the Israeli ''occupation of Palestine'' that caused the Palestinian Authority to oppress gays, and that once Israeli control ends, the P.A. will no longer harass, murder, and torture Palestinian gays.
The highlight of the lineup was Dick Becker, head of the local chapter of A.N.S.W.E.R. He railed against us for ''admiring'' Ariel Sharon, despite not a single pro-Sharon sign being present and not a single pro-Sharon statement having been issued. He then went on to praise the al-Qaeda led terrorists in Fallujah and compared them to the Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising during the Holocaust.
Given the statements made by Becker and the other speakers, it was no surprise that the anti-Israel protestors did not want these speeches made public, and so went about attempting to block our filming of the speakers. They waved flags directly in front of the cameras and then when they finally realized the flags were translucent, held up signs. As they doggedly attempted to block filming of the talks, they displayed the very same fascist policies that, at least in principle, they claim to oppose!
The harassment did not stop there, however. As our cameraman attempted to film a polite exchange between an anti-Israel Israeli and a pro-Israel Palestinian, members of QUIT put a flag in front of the camera. They persisted even when the anti-Israel Israeli said she did not mind being filmed! As the cameraman attempted to push the fabric of the flag aside, the anti-Israel activists started shouting, ''You're provoking us! You're provoking us!'' repeatedly.
They were clearly itching for a fight, and when we would not take the bait, they tried to initiate violence themselves. Twice they tried to assault us, but the nearby San Francisco police were ready. They had heard about the SFSU attacks and swooped in as soon as the anti-Israel activists got violent.
The distinct ugliness of this rally – the harassment, the intimidation, and the thwarted attempts at physical violence – represents an acceleration of the continued moral decline of the anti-Israel activists. No longer content to merely lie about the situation and to glorify al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other terrorists, they are resorting to puffing up their chests and lashing out at us, while trying to suppress public dissemination of their ideas and their agenda.
They failed to intimidate any of us. They failed to hurt any of us physically. They failed to suppress the truth.
They now know that we will not back down.
They know we are tracking them, and they are running scared. As a result, they lash out.
We know that with the truth, morality, and justice on our side, we will prevail.
Devised by an American-Jewish benefactor, the series begins airing next week with contestants in business suits plying their propaganda skills at various foreign locales, a Channel Two advertisement said on Thursday.
In a format recalling the U.S. reality show 'The Apprentice,' where participants vie for a management post under magnate Donald Trump, an Israeli panel including an ex-security chief and a former army spokesman will weed out the winner.
The prize: an all-expenses-paid year working as an Israeli public relations liaison in New York.
Israeli crackdowns on a Palestinian revolt raging in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since September 2000 have drawn censure internationally, and many Israelis say their politicians lack the personality or language skills to offset the bad press.
'Why Do We Talk by Means of Bullets, and Hasten to Make Sweeping Accusations of Unbelief?'
"Why can't we see things as the rest of the world sees them? Why do we always feel that someone is conspiring against us, and that he is the cause of our problems and our cultural and economic backwardness?… Why are we not able to criticize ourselves and [why do] we view anyone who tries to do so as an enemy of the nation and of its principles, and other things of this kind that make some people afraid to think?…
"Why do we talk among ourselves by means of bullets, bombs, and car bombs, and when we disagree we hasten to accuse [our interlocutor] of unbelief and of being dragged after the West and the East? Why don't we recognize that nobody among us has the answer to all the questions and whoever pretends to have the absolute truth is nothing but a pretender? Have we heard that in any respectable country the parties and political streams talk by means of bullets, as sometimes happens between the various factions in Gaza and as is happening now in Iraq?…"
'We Kill, Blow Up Cars, and Slit Throats in the Name of Allah, Yet Protest When Others Depict Muslims as Terrorists'
"Why are we the only nations in the world that still use religion, Islam, and the name of Allah in everything – in politics, economics, science, art, and literature. We kill in the name of Allah, blow up cars in the name of Allah, and slit throats in the name of Allah and Islam, and then we protest when others depict the Muslims as terrorists. We indiscriminately kill doctors who went to provide medical care to Afghans, and then we protest when the world describes these acts as acts of terror. We blow up embassies and trains [and consequently] children, women, and citizens with no connection to our cause are killed, and then we protest when the world describes these extremists, who view themselves as Muslims, as terrorists.
"We do not ask ourselves why no other religious group perpetrates these acts of atrocity, and when a terrorist country like Israel does so, it does not say it is killing in the name of the Lord or in the name of Allah, but claims it is doing so out of self-defense. Why Allah is [held responsible] for our bad deeds and for our desire for revenge... Why don't we act like [Israel] and say that these acts are for self-defense or for defense of the homeland, without bringing Allah and Islam into it? Why don't we ever ask ourselves what are the roots of extremist thinking and why don't we try to deal with it? When other countries demand that we deal with these roots and reconsider them, we scream that they are intervening in our internal affairs and that they are the enemies of Islam. Why don't we ask ourselves whether anyone had demanded that we reconsider our curricula before we blew up the [World] Trade towers and killed thousands, and before we blew up the trains in Madrid and killed hundreds, and before we kidnapped hostages and slaughtered them on the TV screens, so that the entire world would see our ugly face?"
'Democracy is the Best Regime, and has Brought Progress and Prosperity to Those Countries that Have Adopted It'
"Why can our brain not understand that democracy has proven itself to be the best regime and that it has brought progress and prosperity to those countries that have adopted it? Why can our brain not understand that democracy is not just the election ballots, but is an entire framework, the most important [aspect] of which is freedom of choice, in religion, in belief, in attire, and in the freedom to express political and cultural opinions, even if they differ from what is accepted, as long as they do not incite to violence. Why don't we understand that democracy is complete equality between people, regardless of sex, color, or religion…
"We have reached a crossroads. If we want Islam as a political solution, not as a religion … we must be strong and admit honestly that Islam – according to the belief of groups of political Islam that follow bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri's organization – stands in utter contradiction to democracy in its true meaning… Let all the political Islamic groups, and first and foremost the 'Muslim Brotherhood,' cease their policy of concealing [their real opinions] and show their true faces [and reveal] that they are trying [to bring] an Islamic rule that at best will be no different from Iran, and at worst, [no different] from the Taliban…
"However, if we want a democracy, we cannot avoid agreeing that religion must not [be mixed up] with politics, which is the expression of the people. Since most of our peoples are Muslims, they will not legislate laws that contradict the principles and spirit of Islam, and they do not need parties that claim to speak in the name of religion, [while in actual fact] they are appropriating it in the name of their political and mundane interests.
"Democracy has only one meaning: No party or political trend has [the right] to claim that it absolutely and everlastingly represents the people. Governing is a ball that we pass between ourselves… Citizenship, and its attendant rights and obligations, belongs to all those who live in the homeland, regardless of sex, color, or religion. The most basic civil right is the right to vote and the right to present candidacy to any public office, including the presidential office, whether man or woman, Muslim or non-Muslim, as long as they uphold the constitution and pledge not to change it, except through the means of change determined in the constitution itself, and to which the people have agreed.
"This is democracy. If we want a different regime, let us call it by any other name except democracy. Otherwise we will be using the tools of democracy in order to destroy it, just as those who conceal [their true opinions] in our world – and these are, regretfully, many."
 http://www.elaph.com/elaphweb/AsdaElaph/2004/10/19110.htm, October 31, 2004.