A FEW NOTES FOR SHARON'S NEW GOVERNMENT....Bernard J. Shapiro
FINDING FRIENDS WHEREVER WE CAN....Rabbi Steven A.Weil and Avi Davis
ISRAELI POLITICS AND DEMOCRACY
NEW GOVERNMENT BEING PRESENTED....Arutz Sheva News Service
DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST....Ariel Natan Pasko
WOODROW WILSON'S (LETHAL) OBSESSION....David Basch
THEY JUST DON'T GET IT....Yehuda Poch
DOES LABOR REALIZE IT IT LOST?....Jerusalem Post Editorial
ROAD MAPS TO ISRAEL'S DESTRUCTION
RE: "SETTLEMENT REMOVAL, A BLUEPRINT" Jerusalem Post....Gail Winston
KEVORKIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE IN THE MIDDLE EAST....David Wilder
TERRORIST PROFESSORS....Daniel Pipes
TIME TO WIN THE WAR....Gary M. Cooperberg
POLLS, PALESTINIANS AND THE PATH TO PEACE....Daniel Pipes
BELGIUM AS GRAND INQUISITOR
ON BELGIUM, PRIME MINISTER SHARON AND INTERNATIONAL "JUSTICE"....Louis Rene Beres
THE BELGIAN BLOOD LIBEL....Ryan Jones
THE BELEAGUERED CHRISTIANS OF THE PALESTINIAN-CONTROLLED AREAS.....David Raab
PRINCIPLES OF HISTORY TO TEACH....Richard H. Shulman
ON MICHAEL JORDAN AND JEWISH DESTINY....Michael Freund
"THE FINAL METHOD"....Prof. Paul Eidelberg
A JAPANESE VIEW OF THE PALESTINIANS....Yashiko Sagamori
MACCABEAN ONLINE [ISSN 1087-9404] Edited by Bernard J.
A FEW NOTES FOR
SHARON'S NEW GOVERNMENT
By Bernard J. Shapiro
1. In the coming months Israel will face enormous pressure and stress in relations to the American war on Iraq and the EU, UN, Russian & US "Road Map." It would be best, in my opinion, to remain calm but resolute on both issues. Israel's deterrence was greatly damaged in the Gulf War of 1991. Israel's population was psychologically scared by having to cower in sealed rooms and not strike back, as was the norm. This resulted in the mad delusion of Oslo which has denigrated Israeli security more than anything in its history.
A HARSH REALITY ABOUT NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE
We all want peace. We pray for peace in our Sabbath services every Friday night. After thousands of years, being victims of persecution, expulsion, extermination, and discrimination, it is natural that we yearn for peace with every ounce of our bodies and souls.
It is because our hunger for peace is so strong that we must be doubly cautious not to fall for a pseudo-peace that is really the wolf of war wrapped in sheep's clothing. Today none of us believe Chamberlain really negotiated "peace in our time" with Hitler. Why do some Jews believe that Peres and Rabin really negotiated PEACE with Arafat, one of today's Hitlers?
Israelis my age have fought in four wars and I understand their desire to be free of constant conflict. Unfortunately there is no magic cure. I wish I could write more optimistic words. Beyond the neighboring states that Israel is negotiating with now lies another ring of unmitigated hostility led by Islamic fundamentalists like those in Iran.
As Jews we are all involved in this historic struggle to survive. It is not our fate or that of the Israelis that we should retire from this struggle. The only peace the Arabs are prepared to give us is the peace of the grave.
In blood and fire was Israel born and on a hot anvil was she forged. The brave young soldiers of Israel must take a quick glance back to the crematoria of Auschwitz and then go forth to face the enemy knowing that there is still no alternative (ein briera).
2. All the diplomatic pressure brought to bear on Israel not to return fire if Iraq attacks must be ignored and Israel must take full responsibility for the defense and security of its citizens. This responsibility should never be given to any other nation or body, including the United States.
3. The "Road Map to Middle East Peace" is really a road map to create a terrorist state in Israel's Holy Land. Aside from religious consideration ( which, in my opinion) are overwhelming, a terrorist state next door to Israel's population & industrial core (Tel Aviv to Haifa) would be disastrous from a security point of view. It must be resisted even if we are unpopular the world over (we are already). Golda Meir once said that: "she would prefer to see a thousand angry editorials in the media rather than a beautiful eulogy at the grave site of Israel".
Below are excerpts I wrote at the inception of Oslo (September 13, 1993) that are still applicable to the emergence of a terrorist state of Palestine:
A PALESTINIAN STATE A DISSENTING VIEW
DANGERS AND REALITIES
"If all mankind, minus one, were of opinion, and that one was of the contrary opinion, it would be as unjust for mankind to silence that one man as it would be for that person, if he had the power, to silence all mankind".......John Stuart Mill
There are serious flaws in the Israel\PLO agreement that you should consider as a leader of the Jewish community. They are:
1. The most fundamental flaw is the renunciation of Jewish claims to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is God-given and can not be renounced by a transitory Israeli government. The present government has no right to deprive future generations of Jews and Israelis their patrimony.
2. Yasir Arafat's PLO is incapable of providing Israelis with the cessation of violence they so dearly crave. There are ten rejectionist PLO factions plus Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist factions that will continue to kill Jews.
3. Without the presence of Israel's internal security force (Shin Bet) inside Judea, Samaria and Gaza it will be impossible to halt terrorism or even keep it within present levels. The Israel Defense Forces maintain tremendous power but are of little importance in day-to-day terrorism. [UPDATE: Under PM Sharon the IDF has been very effective fighting terrorism.]
4. Arafat's signature on the agreement and the PLO acceptance is of no consequence as Arafat is a documented liar and Moslims are permitted to lie to non-Moslims and break agreements with them under the Koranic law of HUDAIBIYA. Agreements with them are worthless.
5. By virtue of this agreement, the Israeli government has validated Arab claims to the Land of Israel. Decades of fighting Arab propaganda and distortions of history are trivialized and discounted.
6. This agreement puts the status of Jerusalem on the negotiating table within to years. Every previous government of Israel steadfastly stood by the principle of Jerusalem being non-negotiable. The thin edge of the wedge is firmly in place and we may soon see Israel forced to give up its sacred capital.
7. All of Israel's military and civilian communications will now be easily monitored from the hills of Judea and Samaria.
8. While Israeli radar and military installations are not affected by this current agreement, the future is less certain. Eventually the population there will force the Israelis out.
9. Whether they will admit it publically or not, Israeli leaders know that this is the first step to a Palestinian state.
10. The "Palestinian right of return" has been acknowledged for the first time by the Israelis and could result in a flood of Arabs to Judea and Samaria. [UPDATE: The PA is now demanding the "right of return" of all refugees from 1948 Israel.]
11. The inevitable increase in Arab population will result in tremendous pressure on Israel's water supply. As Arab wells are dug in the Judean and Samarian hills, the natural mountain aquifer that supplies much of Tel Aviv and the coastal plain with water will be serious depleted. Such depletion will cause the salt water of the Mediterranean Sea to penetrate Israel's coastal strip destroying all water supplies. This process can be witnessed in California, where sea water has already penetrated five miles into the coast.
12. Some 70% of Israel's population and industry is concentrated in a small strip of coast and greater Tel Aviv. The population will be immediately threatened by Kaytusha rockets. Fired singly from the hills of Judea and Samaria, and set with timers they will be virtually impossible to stop. The Israeli government plan to coordinate with the Palestinian police is laughable. Recruited from among the terrorists wh delight especially in murder and mutilation of bodies, it will be rather week reed for Israel to depend on.
13. The Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza will no doubt be victims of ethnic cleansing. The Arabs will insist on a Jew-free country like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. The Rabin government has already begun confiscating the weapons of Jews so that they will become vulnerable to massacre like the Bosnians. Unless there are changes, I expect to begin seeing pictures of murdered and raped Jewish men and women on the nightly news. The announcer will naturally blame the victim, saying they should have moved. [UPDATE: PM Sharon has been strengthening the Jews of Yesha with weapons, security fences and IDF assistance.]
14. Judea and Samaria have geographical features that are extremely significant for Israeli security. Most important is the Judean-Samarian mountain ridge running north and south and parallel to the Jordan river. From the Jordan to the top of the ridge the elevation is very sharp and fast causing a channeling of enemy forces into five passes easily controlled by much smaller Israeli forces on the mountain top. On the other hand, the slope from the top down on the western slope to the coast makes it possible for enemy troops to attack Israeli cities on the coastal plain with the IDF being unable to anticipate the route of attack, channel it and destroy it.
From the top of the mountain ridge Israeli radar is able to see as far as Iraq providing an early warning of hostile military activity. In other words, the Judean-Samarian mountains are not just a barrier but also a radar point. To surrender of such a strategic asset with great topographical significance for defending Israel from attack from the East would be the height of foolishness.
PLEASE CONSIDER THE ABOVE REALITIES. THESE ARE NOT RISKS FOR PEACE. THEY ARE JUST SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. THERE WILL BE NO PEACE.
Unfortunately this is not something that will end well. There will be a tomorrow and the day after. The true motives and the evil intent of the Arabs will become obvious to even the most blind optimist. The hills of Judea and Samaria will begin to rain death and destruction on Tel Aviv.
4. The road map is merely Oslo revisited. Have we learned nothing in the last 10 years? Santayana once said: "those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it." Will Israel be like the obsessive-compulsive who bangs his head against the wall and gets a headache and then does it over and over again expecting a different result? Every part of my intelligence coupled with 45 years of almost compulsive study and attention to Israeli affairs makes me want cry out a warning against the coming disaster.
5. May the Lord, bless the leaders of Israel with the courage to pursue peace, and the wisdom to know when it is not attainable. May the Lord bless the war-weary Israeli people with the stamina to bear up under the strain, if peace not just around the corner. May they understand that their fate may be that of endless struggle to survive in a hostile world May the people of Israel prosper and go from success to success never forgetting that their destiny lies in their might, their righteousness and their faith in HaShem.
The Age (Australia), Tuesday, February 4, 2003
FINDING FRIENDS WHEREVER WE CAN
By Rabbi Steven A.Weil and Avi Davis
One of the more unusual characters in Jewish literature appears in the Book of Esther. The palace guard Charbonah originally plays a role in Haman's conspiracy to slaughter the Jews and dispossess them of their property. But somewhere along the way he experiences a change of heart, turns double agent and informs on his co-conspirators. We remember Charbonah today in a piyut (prayer)as a man to be remembered for his righteousness. Rav Joseph Soloveitchik explains that Charbonah deserves his status because even those with initially suspect intentions can produce good deeds.
What the great rabbi might also have added is that in times of grave crisis, the Jewish people must accept help whenever it is offered. For many years the Jews inclined toward causes natural to our temperament, forming alliances with American blacks, environmentalists and human rights groups. Ever since the days of FDR and the New Deal, Jews have consistently supported those they considered either the underdog or the downtrodden. But has there been a payback? When Jews felt their own cherished causes under assault, have the groups we once joined in a spirit of brotherhood, responded in kind?
The record is not comforting. Black leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have used their platforms to launch ugly attacks against Jews and Israel. The Democratic left has been less than enthusiastic in its support of Israel over the past two and half years and their record in Congress is nothing if not middling. Human rights groups regularly identify Israel as the perpetrator of massive abuses, while ignoring the far worse crimes of the country's enemies. As anti -semitism has risen world-wide, fewer and fewer of our supposed natural allies have chosen to speak out on our behalf.
Contrarily, it has been the Christian right that has proven itself to be in the vanguard of protecting Jewish interests. The outpouring of support for Israel from this community has been extraordinary. Yet a constant stream of warnings, issued within our own community, cautions us to avoid these same Christians because of an agenda that is unconnected to Israel's welfare.
That proselytism is an item on the Christian right's agenda is something no one in the evangelical Christian community denies. Certainly we cannot and will not tolerate missionaries in our communities attempting to convert our youth. This must be made clear. But does it mean we turn our backs on 70 to 80 million Americans whose commitment to Israel's survival is not only unimpeachable but vital to its welfare? These representatives of the American right, after- all, form the core constituency of the most favorable American administration and president Israel has ever experienced.
This was clearly demonstrated on April 15, 2002 , the day 200,000 people descended on Washington in a display of overwhelming support for Israel. Among those multitudes were thousands of Black Christians from the East Coast, white Christians from the South and evangelical Christians from the West. All came voluntarily. All paid for their own transportation.
The failure of the Jewish community to embrace the Christian right is all the more troubling when we remember the great lengths we have gone to cultivate such organizations as CAIR and the Muslim Alliance, Moslems whom we convinced ourselves were moderates. It has been a grave disappointment. Instead of vigorously condemning suicide bombing and terrorism, both groups have become apologists for these acts of base inhumanity. Even more troubling is evidence, produced by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, revealing that 80% of the mosques in this country are controlled by the Wahaabi sect - most of whom receive direct financial support from Saudia Arabia.
For eight years the most venomous among these Islamist leaders, a number of whom have even been recorded a calling for Jihad against America, were invited to the Clinton White House to celebrate the end of Ramadan. This, despite the warnings and protestations of well known terrorist experts such as Steve Emerson, Danile Pipes and others. The Bush Administration, while maintaining the Ramadan Feast, has at least been more circumspect in who it invites.
Isn't it now then appropriate to be asking the question why we give legitimacy to those groups who don't deserve our support and shun those that do?
Shouldn't those who share a common enemy and a common cause be able to find common ground?
This is particulalrly so, when we remember that the same scourge of radical Islam that has been visited on Israel, has been felt among many other Christian communities around the world.
Today 36 of the 39 of the world's conflagrations are related to the incursions of radical Islam.
Christian churches were almost wiped out in a single weekend in Indonesia.
In Lebanon, the Christians are under relentless pressure and every day there are killings of Maronite Christian soldiers, political figures and judicial appointees.
In the Middle East, the heartland of Christianity itself, towns such as Bethlehem, Nazareth and Beit Jala are being progressively emptied of Christians through Palestinian intimidation, rape and murder- some 40,000 having fled Bethlehem since 1993. Former Bethlehem mayor Elias Freij's prediction "that if Arafat is ever allowed to return, Bethlehem will end up becoming a Christian town without any Christians," is proving surprisingly accurate.
In the meantime the Catholic Church is silent. The Pope, cowed by intimidation, embroiled in issues related to the misconduct of his own clergy, could barely utter a word of protest when, last April, several dozen Palestinian terrorists commandeered his institutions's holiest site and used it to hold dozens of Christians hostage.
It should therefore be obvious to us that Jews and Christians are facing a common enemy - an enemy that rejects democracy, western cultural values and the Judeo-Christian ethics we have striven valiantly to instill in our own societies. We are faced, in Samuel P. Huntington's inimitable words, with a genuine clash of civilizations that has nothing to do with borders or territory but a great deal to do with the very survival of our own way of life.
Who else can the Jewish people rely upon in this struggle? The Europeans have been frozen into paralysis, frightened by the rapid, uncontrollable growth of their own Muslim communities. In France there are neighborhoods where the French police fear to enter because they are controlled by militant Muslims. Holland ten years ago had 10 mosques. Today it has 1,000. When the prime minister of Hungary recently met with Jewish leaders he warned that both Poland and Hungary will soon become the next frontier in radical Islam's inexorable encroachment.
All over Europe this mobile, expansionist culture is advancing on a weakened western culture that has lost its own moral bearings and its will to resist coercion.
In the United States, we also have reason for intense concern.
The FBI reports that powerful Muslim criminal networks, specializing in illegal cigarette importation, credit card fraud and drug running, are actually bigger and stronger than the Mafia.
Unfortunately our own intelligence services are still unequipped to deal with all the information they receive because of a lack of translators. Among the 47 boxes of documents removed from the apartment of El Sayyid Nosair, the killer of Rabbi Meir Kahane, were complete details of the planned attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. The FBI overlooked the documents, designating them simply as 'insignificant religious materials'.
In the end we have a common cause and a common enemy and together can make a difference. Why then hang back from embracing those whose welfare is our own?
Have we forgotten that among the hundreds of delegates at the first Zionist Congresses at the turn of the 20th century were dozens of evangelical Christians, including major philanthropists and well known politicians? Have we forgotten how British protestant evangelicalism combined with the intense 19th Century activism of such men as Lord Shaftesbury and Sir Laurence Oliphant drove the eventual promulgation of Britain's Balfour Declaration?
Those who argue against aligning ourselves with the Christian community should also remember the dual attitudes of Harry Truman. Here was a man whose decision to support Partition in 1947 and then immediately recognize the fledgling Jewish state in 1948 transformed him into a Jewish folk hero. But he was not always a lover of the Jews. According to a recent book by the Presidential biographer Michael Benschloss, he would often refer to New York as "kike town" and once when the expression 'Chosen People' was uttered, snapped, "I think G-d has better judgment."
We can therefore never forget that men and women who once were suspected as enemies can transform into allies and even into trusted partners. We are too few in number and have too many enemies to reject a hand offered in friendship. When we recognize that the owner of that hand must also endure the same struggles and ordeals as ourselves, there should no longer be any doubt in our minds.
Rabbi Steven A. Weil is the senior rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, the largest Orthodox congregation on the West Coast. Avi Davis is the senior fellow of the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies in Los Angeles.
Arutz Sheva News Service, Feb. 27, 2003 / Adar Aleph 25, 5763
NEW GOVERNMENT BEING PRESENTED
The Knesset convened this afternoon for the presentation of the new government. Foreign Minister-designate Silvan Shalom opened by presenting changes in the government structure, such as the division of the Labor and Welfare Ministry into two, the disbanding of the Communications Ministry, and the like. Prime Minister Sharon's speech was frequently interrupted by hareidi-party MKs, and he said that he is still interested in a national unity government. He presented the guidelines of his new government, and was then followed by Opposition Leader and new MK Amram Mitzna. Mitzna blamed Sharon for the lack of a national unity government, and promised to "lead a responsible opposition."
The session afterwards is expected to last four hours, concluding with the swearing-in of the Likud, Shinui, and National Union government ministers. Those of the NRP will be sworn in on Monday, after the party chooses them. Effie Eitam is expected to be Housing Minister, and Rabbi Yitzchak Levy and Zevulun Orlev are contesting the Welfare Ministry portfolio.
2. THE NEW MINISTERS
Prime Minister Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu finalized the terms of the latter's appointment as Finance Minister early this afternoon. Sharon agreed to most of Netanyahu's terms, including full backing from the government, the authority to set the composition of the economic cabinet and to privatize government-owned companies, and the mandate to negotiate Israel's request for American loan guarantees. Sharon did not, however, grant Netanyahu the right to be Acting Prime Minister - a position he gave to Ehud Olmert instead. An Acting Prime Minister takes the place of the Prime Minister when the latter is out of the country or otherwise incapacitated, and can serve in this position for up to 100 days before another Minister-MK is chosen as Interim Prime Minister.
Olmert will be Minister of Industry and Trade, a portfolio that will include the Israel Lands Authority, and he will also be a member of the inner security mini-cabinet and of the negotiating team with the PA. Also within the Likud, Finance Minister Silvan Shalom will take over the Foreign Ministry, Tzachi HaNegbi will be Minister of Public Security, Tzippy Livny will be Minister of Immigrant Absorption, and Danny Naveh will serve as Health Minister. Uzi Landau and Meir Shitreet will be Ministers without Portfolio.
MK Ze'ev Boim, who served as Likud Knesset faction head in the previous Knesset, said today that the imbroglio into which Sharon fell regarding the ministerial appointments was caused by mistakes made in the Likud's coalition negotiations with Shinui.
DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
By Ariel Natan Pasko
Scorecard: Israel 1, Arab States 0. That about sums it up.
Israel just had elections recently and three Arab-led parties won 9 seats in the Knesset - Israel's parliament. Democracy, I was told when I was growing up, meant majority rule with respect for minority rights. Israel, more or less qualifies. Let's take a look at a few other examples.
Iraq not too long ago had elections and guess what, Saddam Hussein - running unopposed- was elected by 100% of the electorate. Even people in the hospital, 'deep in coma' came out to vote for him. Same thing for Syria's Hafez Assad a few years ago, running unopposed, he garnered 99% of the vote. Gee, they sure love those Arab despots, don't they?
Take Lebanon for example. Poor thing, they 'invited' Syria in to 'help' them during the civil war in 1976, and it never left. Sort of like an obnoxious guest who overstays his visit, not sensing when its time to leave. The Christians in Lebanon feel that way. That's Syria, well-known 'champion of democracy', respected member of the UN Security Council, and rapacious occupier of Lebanon in violation of UN Resolution 520 (telling them to get out), I might add.
Syria, that's that country run by the Alawis (a heretical offshoot of Shiite Islam), of which Bashir and the rest of the Assad clan are members. Although they make up only 10-12% of the population, about the same amount as Christians, and far fewer than the about 75% Sunni Muslim majority, they rule with an 'iron fist'. The Sunnis might be the majority, but when the now deceased Hafez Assad destroyed a town (Hama 1982) killing 20,000 people, to root out his political opposition (a few hundred members of the Muslim Brotherhood), well hey, so who cares about being a majority, right? Although about 90% of the population is ethnically Arab, with the remainder Kurd, Armenian, and others, Alawi affirmative action proves, minority rights are doing fine in Syria. Democracy is democracy!
Iraq isn't much different. It's run by the Tikritis. Sons of the town of Tikrit, as most everybody whose been following the Iraq adventure probably already know. Saddam Hussein, his advisors, top Baath party leaders, and most military and security leaders all come from there, a town of about 100,000 out of a country of 23 million. Talk about a company town, this one's a town-run country. Saddam and his cronies are Sunni Muslims, that make up only about 35% of the population, in contrast to the about 62% Shiite majority of Iraq. Minority rights win again.
Or look at Jordan that well-known 'modern' Middle East kingdom. Parliament was suspended and political parties were banned for over three decades. Political parties were first re-legalized in 1992. After years of promised 'creeping democratization' under the now deceased King Hussein (friend of Yitzhak Rabin, 'peace' and formerly, builder of latrines in Eastern Jerusalem out of Jewish gravestones), his son the enlightened, western educated King Abdullah II (who became king in 1999), suspended parliament in June 2001. Elections have been postponed ever since. Over 100 emergency regulations (i.e. anti-democratic laws) have been enacted, including the suspension of press freedoms. But, don't worry, everything's been done according to the constitution. Right?
The ruling Hashemite Dynasty I remind you, decedents of Abdullah I, are natives of the Hejaz not Transjordan. The Saud family booted them out in the early part of the 20th century. So, they moved to the Palestine Mandate area and under British perfidy established a new kingdom in Transjordan.
Then there's Egypt, a nice place, as long as you're not a Coptic Christian. For over 50 years, Egypt, has been ruled by only three presidents. Nasser and Sadat were members of the Free Officers Movement revolt of 1952. Mubarak was Sadat's vice president from the National Democratic Party that Sadat established in 1977. In Egyptian democracy, the president is nominated by the NDP dominated People's Assembly, and then ratified (unchallenged) by popular referendum. Mubarak was re-elected in 1999 by about the same amount, 95%, as he's 'won' by for three previous 6-year terms. Surprised?
Elections might not be all that free in Egypt, but there is plenty of media freedom. That is, for anti-Semitism and Israel-Bashing, all in violation of the 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel. But what can you do, democracy is democracy.
Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and several North African states don't even try to pretend. They are honest in their opposition to western-style government. Usually taking the position that democracy, pluralism, and tolerance is alien to their Arabic cultures and Islamic inclinations.
All joking aside, with the 'upcoming' war (if it takes place), the United States is promising a 'regime change' and a democratization process in Iraq. The Bush Administration wants to promote democracy throughout the Middle East; it just dedicated $145 million to a project called the Middle East Partnership Initiative. President Bush for example has called for democratic reforms in the Palestinian Authority before statehood. Taking the cue, Syria has recently publicized a withdrawal, 'cosmetic redeployment' to some, of troops in Lebanon. Even Saudi Arabia has hinted that after another Gulf War, reform is on the way. But for some thinkers in the US, the real question being debated is whether the US should forcibly export democracy, to the Middle East, instead of waiting for the Arab regimes to institute it on their own.
There are plenty of minorities in the Arab world, North Africa and the Middle East, that await real democracy. There are Lebanese who suffer daily occupation under a vicious Syrian regime. There are Kurds throughout the Middle East and Assyrians in Iraq, who aspire to independence. There are Berbers (the pre-Arab indigenous population) in North Africa who after 11 centuries, still resist Arabization. There are Christians in Egypt who are attacked by Islamic radicals and persecuted. There are Christians and Animists in the Sudan who resist slavery or Islamicization. And so on and so on, all are non-Arab or non-Muslim minorities, who long for the United States to bring regime change to their area too. See, "Minorities in the Middle East: A History of Struggle and Self-Expression" by Mordechai Nisan, and "The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam" by Bat Ye'or, to get a better sense of the problems.
Which brings us to the most serious measure of how committed to democratic reform in the Middle East anyone is, the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The Quartet (United States, EU, UN, and Russia) is promoting a 'roadmap' to peace, with the promise of Palestinian statehood. Recently their Task Force on Palestinian Reform met in London, but only the US has been demanding any real democratic reforms in the Palestinian Authority, and only half-heartedly, at that. The Europeans seem to be more interested in financial accountability for their aid money than democratic political reform in the PA.
According to 'global common knowledge', Jewish 'settlements' in the 'West Bank and Gaza' will have to be abandoned, and Jews transferred, voluntarily or forcibly, back to the new borders of the State of Israel.
I ask a simple question, WHY?
Ethnic cleansing has been condemned throughout the 1990's. Bosnia's power sharing government is a case in point. After the breakup of Yugoslavia and the war that followed, the EU, NATO and the US did not help to establish an exclusively Muslim state in Bosnia, but one where Croats and Serbs were included. The 4th Geneva Convention (meant to protect residents from forced expulsion) was adopted after World War II, with the Holocaust in mind. How could the US or Europeans be thinking of making parts of the historic Jewish homeland JUDENREIN?
If the Palestinian state in the making is to claim the mantle of DEMOCRACY; no better test of its tolerance of minorities would be the granting of citizenship to Jews who would choose to remain in their towns, villages, and homes in Judea and Samaria (the 'West Bank'), and Gaza. Without extending full, equal rights and privileges to Jews in Palestine, including the possibility to be elected to parliament and serve in the Palestinian government; rights Arab citizens of Israel have, democracy and peace become empty expressions.
So what will it be? Are we going to stop hearing calls for the closing down of Jewish 'settlements', that is, Jewish cities, towns and villages? Are we going to stop hearing calls for the expulsion of several hundred thousand Jews from their homes? Or will we now know, that 'regime change' and DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST are just empty slogans bereft of all meaning?
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko
(c)2003/5763 Ariel Natan Pasko
To the Editor
The Jerusalem Post
I noted in an otherwise fine article by Rabbi Avraham Feder ("Worshiping Golden Calves") in the Jerusalem Post (2/24/03), that he refers to "self-determination" as "a noble idea." But rightly understood, this too is a "golden calve" since it is an ill-considered, vacuous formula and a recipe for continuing war, of which Menachem Begin warned many years ago in a speech.
Since all lands are allocated, one man's "self-determination" is another man's "evil rebellion against existing rights." Do the Chinese of San Francisco who have lived there for generations have the right to self-determination in creating a new China or do the Mexicans of the American Southwest have a similar right to create a new New Mexico?
The Palestinian Arabs -- as opposed to the Palestinian Jews, both residents of the Mandate of Palestine, from which the term "Palestinian" comes from -- have no absolute, natural right to self-determination without the reciprocal absolute natural right of the Palestinian Jews to veto such "rights" since Palestinian Jews had a prior right to create a national existence in the lands of the Mandate of Palestine. Moreover, the rights asserted by such Palestinian Arabs would pose the gravest of dangers to the prior rights of the State of Israel and trigger the absolute, natural right of self defense of the Palestinian Jews to preserve themselves by wiping out the challenge so that it does not ever arise again.
Anyway, this is what normal people think, which is probably why Israel is always in grave dangers of her own making since Israel's leaders are not normal but put half-baked theories of high morality over their nation's right to exist. After all, what normal, self-respecting nation will allow itself to be dismembered and destroyed on the basis of dubious moralistic imperatives? What normal, self-respecting nation would be unable to figure out that all these supposed high moralistic principles were designed to impale Israel and prevent her survival. Israel's leaders, having failed to figure this out, makes anyone who still thinks Jews are smart need to have his head examined.
West Hartford, CT
P.S. For your information, the following is an article on self-determination that was written three years ago with points that are even more relevant today.
WOODROW WILSON'S (LETHAL) OBSESSION (by David Basch)
Here, slightly edited, is a timely message as relevant as it was when it was first written more than a year ago. It applies to the penchant of Israel's leftists for self-destruction in the name ofan amoprphous high morality, as they are about to do in the name of making peace with Arab savages who are incapable of this with Israel unless physically coerced:
WOODROW WILSON'S OBSESSION
"It is not an accident that leftist Israelis are drawn to Wilson's conception. It fully meets withtheir atheistic, utopian, universalism. As "true believers" in their man-centered religion, such persons are hungry for the guidance of "universals" ... and ... will literally kill for the shadows of such high sounding slogans of 'equality,' 'democracy,' ... self-determination, sacrificing themselves and their children to these Molechs...."
Woodrow Wilson apparently was typical of many intellectuals who think that, somehow, their thought processes comprehend ultimate truth. They see nothing unusual about pontificating on their personal opinions about reality and prescribing these for the behavior of others as some kind of absolute truth.
Woodrow Wilson's real blooper was his concept of "self-determination." Alone with himself in his study he somehow thought that all groups have the right to "self-determination,"the right to form their own government irrespective of the fact that they be residing in areas with established governments.
Some of the underlying assumptions that Wilson must have had, undoubtedly, was about the uniform nobility of all mankind. For if this is true, then all groups were composed of people like Woodrow Wilson and alike in wanting and seeking the things that Wilson did -- truth, justice, freedom, etc'. If so, it would be wrong to deny such things to such fine people and, therefore, whoever ruled them would just have to be decent and give way to such desires.
Wilson probably generalized from the borders of Europe which encompassed various ethnic groups striving for their own national state, chafing under rulers who were of a different ethnicity and often of a different religion. No doubt this leads to instability. Generalizing from these conditions from the perspective of World War I, Wilson created his view of the intrinsic right of all mankind to self-determination.
What may have seemed self-evident to Wilson turned not to be so at all. Obviously, if Wilson operated from such idealistic assumptions about humanity, he was completely wrong. For real human beings come in a variety of moral levels and capabilities. Many groups have extreme anti-social traits, such as venality, brutality, avariciousness, and murderous and would not shirk from destroying others to rob from others to achieve their desires and will call that "self-determination."
Moreover, at any given moment, the world is already divided into regions in which there are preexisting national rights. To confer a natural right to "self-determination" is to immediately pit preexisting rights against would-be usurpers with no guarantee that the usurpers have any greater moral claim to their so called "determination."
What Wilson dreamed up provides the rationale for a Basque Nation in Spain, a Kurdistan in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, as well as a "Free State of Harlem" in New York City, a Black State of Alabama, and a Hispaniola in the South West United States as the US withdraws from the occupied lands of Mexico.
One bad dream that came true, which shows how ill considered was Wilson's obsession, happened 50 years ago in Czechoslovakia when a German minority demanded "self-determination." This insurgency was promoted by Adolph Hitler in order to expand its Nazi State. It used the Wilsonian rhetoric to plunge Europe into World War II with its 50,000,000 dead. It was all triggered by a German madman who used the tool that Wilson's obsession created.
Today, Wilson's conception is being used by imperialist Islamic nations to expand their Islamic realm at the expense of neighbors. Self-determination is the answer to Islam's prayer as it presses its jihad against the world -- a jihad is at the heart of the Islamic religion. At many of bordering nations around Islamic nations the cry of "self-determination" is raised by Muslims in order to continue Islamic Jihad, the expansion of the Islamic realm.
Yes. Before Wilson really went over the edge, crazy, he managed to saddle the world with an "ersatz" universal right drawn from the predilections of his warped utopian brain. No doubt, there may be situations where conditions do call for the kind of thing that Wilson imagined. But if one looks around, the major forces behind such utopian Wilsonian conceptions today are utopian idealists that have little touch with reality and ruthless imperialists, those who are avaricious and those who believe they have a mandate from heaven to usurp the lands of their neighbors, both understanding Wilson's concepts as a tool to make their aggression possible.
It is not an accident that leftist Israelis are drawn to Wilson's conception. It fully meets with their atheistic, utopian, universalism. As "true believers" in their man-centered religion, such persons are hungry for the guidance of "universals" since they take no such universals from the religions of man -- certainly not from Judaism. Such persons will literally kill in the name of the high sounding slogans of "equality," "democracy, "civil rights," and "human rights" such as self-determination, even sacrifice their own and their children's lives to these Molechs. Meanwhile, all these so-called values are ill-defined and are very susceptible to the manipulation of demagogues and the numerous kinds of "people's republics" that pollute the world that regularly find the support such idealists.
As applied in Israel, the utopian universalists rejected the historic heritage of the Jewish people in their land and chose to make their claim for Israel on the basis of a universal right of self-determination. In doing so, these leftists gave a similar right to the Arab residents who also demand self-determination and who are willing to press this tool given them to determine that Arabs will rule over all of Israel and deny the historic rights of the Jewish people, whose self-determination they don't recognize since the Arabs do not recognize any one else's "natural right" to self-determination in their own countries.
The silly leftist fools of Israel, over righteous and hell bent on their own destruction in the name of half-baked universal ideas, have raised themselves on their own petard and now Israel is in danger of plunging to earth since that insubstantial fuel will not support the existence of the Jewish State.
The latest expression of the Wilsonian obsession has now come from the European Union, the nations that participated in the murder of Jews 50 years ago, who proclaim the natural right of Arabs to steal the lands of Israel in the name of "self-determination."
It is important that this Wilsonian obsession be exposed for the half-baked concept it is. It is a formula for never-ending war and it easily lends itself to service as a tool of aggression. We see it now in action once again in the Middle East in Israel as the Arabs wield this sword to destroy Israel with the help of Israeli leftists, mesmerized by the gleam of the pseudo-absolutist values they crave and must believe in to the death, their own included.
P.S. And now a year later the leftists are about to help Arafat's phased program to destroy Israel. An agreement with the Arabs that cannot be enforced by Israel is not worth the paper it is written on and simply will not offer Israel any protection.
THEY JUST DON'T GET IT
By Yehuda Poch
Election campaigns bring out the more pompous characteristics of many politicians. It is following the elections, when government attitudes toward real issues are formed, that the test of true statesmanship begins.
The emerging coalition represents a distinct change in the flavor of government in Israel. The clear winners are mainstream Israelis, who can now hope for the beginnings of a religious-secular reconciliation and a more pragmatic approach to solving the serious problems afflicting our nation.
The losers are those political parties who simply don't understand the need for pragmatic solutions in Israeli society. During the recent election campaign, and in the weeks following the vote, the Labor party and the haredi parties have proven unable to descend from bombastic, pompous posturing to more realistic politics.
The performance of Ariel Sharon's government over the past two years has been dismal. Security is no better now than it was when he took office, and the economy is demonstrably worse. An excuse can be made, however tenuous, that Sharon was hamstrung by the incoherent composition of the Knesset he inherited. And now that that composition has been corrected, Sharon can set out correcting the serious problems that plague Israel.
The first step is the formation of the new coalition with Shinui and the National Religious Party. These parties possess leaders who are capable of true statesmanship. Effi Eitam, the fiery and charismatic leader of the National Religious Party, and Tommy Lapid, the centrist champion of the Israeli middle class, are not cut from the same ideological cloth. Eitam came from a secular background and embraced religion as a way of life that provides strong values and a coherent direction. Lapid assails religion at every opportunity as a backward system that provides only a crutch for those incapable or unwilling to take full part in society.
But both have a sense of national responsibility that compels them to strive for a real improvement in society. These two leaders, partly at the urging of Sharon, managed to hammer out an agreement that will allow them both to sit in a government of pragmatism and, it is hoped, solutions that the vast majority of Israelis can live with.
The responses to the Shinui-NRP agreement have been loud and angry. The haredi parties, Shas and UTJ, have condemned Eitam and the NRP for basically selling their souls to the devil. They condemned Likud for turning their back on the historic alliance with the haredi parties. But they don't get it.
The devil, if that is how Lapid is to be known, was invited into power by the refusal of the haredi parties to assume any national responsibility in the religious-secular realm. UTJ has steadfastly refused to accept a ministry in a government to which many of its constituents have little loyalty. Shas has done a reasonably good job in the health ministry during the last two terms, and a passable job in the social affairs ministry. They have even made major improvements in the Interior Ministry.
But the all-or-nothing attitudes of both parties, the elevation of political self-interest to an integral part of religion, and the refusal to reach compromises where those interests - rather than real religion - are at stake, bespeak a rejection of mainstream societal values. At the same time, these parties demand support from mainstream society and the trappings of power that go with it.
The future identity of the Jewish nation is at stake in the policies of the Israeli government. While Shas and UTJ have valuable input into such discussions, their contributions thus far have been restricted to their own definitions of what that identity should be and no patience for any other ideas - or for pragmatic compromises. The positions of Shas and UTJ do not resonate with Jewish youth who question their own identity and place in society. Instead, such youth view these positions with growing contempt, which pushes them farther from religion and defeats the attempts of Shas and UTJ to affect the debate on Jewish identity. As a result, Shinui won such an astounding victory that the rabbinic leaders can only scream into the wind.
The Labor party is an even better example of the ignorance of leaders who purport to have the interests of the people at heart. They elected Amram Mitzna, a neophyte on the national scene, as their leader. He proceeded to drag Labor's policy back to the days of Ehud Barak - a man even Laborites recognize as the worst prime minister in Israel's history. After two years of violence brought on Barak's miscalcluations, the Israeli electorate did not want to hear about more unilateral concessions to terrorists.
Mitzna again displayed infantile behavior yesterday, complaining that Sharon was working behind the Labor Party's back to form a government with the NRP and Shinui, leaving Labor out in the cold. "I was ready for a historic move but Sharon was not prepared to pay the price," he said. This from a man who all through the election campaign told all and sundry that he would not join a Sharon-led government under any circumstances.
It seems that Labor - and Mitzna - also don't get it. The electorate in Israel is ready for compromise on a lot of issues. But they demand national responsibility on the part of their leaders and a clear improvement in the standard of living from security, economic, and social standpoints. Under Mitzna, Labor has moved to the extreme left wing of rejectionist parties who are more interested in their own narrow self-interest than in providing what the citizens of Israel seek.
Until now, that territory had been the exclusive domain of Meretz. They lost 40% of their representation as a result of their well-known left-wing extremist positions, but party leader Yossi Sarid grasped the meaning of the result. He understood that the voters had loudly rejected the political suicide of the left and had done so in favor of a more pragmatic approach. On election night, Sarid resigned as party leader.
It is high time for Mitzna to follow his lead. His policies are bankrupt and have been rejected by the electorate in two consecutive elections. He is clueless as to the true will of the people, and he is unprepared to realize where the fault lies for Labor's dismal showing in the elections and their continued descent into the bowels of political history.
The Shinui-NRP agreement represents a new hope for reconciliation in Israel, and for a definition of Judaism that takes into account the many various sectors within our nation. It shows that leaders like Tommy Lapid and Effi Eitam, who have real solutions to offer society, can leave the posturing behind and begin to deal with real issues and realistic solutions. When the Labor party and the haredi parties can manage to accomplish the same thing, when they begin to offer real answers to societies demands, they will once again be able to have a say in charting the future course of the State and its people.
Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Yehuda Poch is a journalist living in Israel. Reproduction in electronic or print format by permission of the author only.
Yehuda and Rebecca Poch
The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 2003
Editorial: DOES LABOR REALIZE IT LOST?
Despite the solid thrashing it received at the ballot box last month, the Labor Party continues to act as if it were not aware of the election results.
Though he controls just 19 seats in the Knesset, compared to the 40 in the hands of the Likud, Amram Mitzna is nevertheless trying to compel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to adopt Labor's platform if he and his colleagues are to acquiesce in joining the new government.
When the initial results came in on the night of the January 28 election, Mitzna ascended the podium at Labor headquarters in Tel Aviv and solemnly acknowledged that the people had spoken. "The voter cast his ballot," he said, "and we accept his choice, even if the results are painful." But despite those initial sentiments, Labor's leaders have not followed through, repeatedly insisting that whereas they might respect the voters' wishes, they will only join a unity government if Sharon accepts what the voters rejected.
Speaking 10 days ago at a birthday party in Tel Aviv, former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer put it rather bluntly: "If the prime minister agrees to all my conditions, I think we should sit with him." How generous. And Mitzna himself has said on more than one occasion that Labor would join Sharon, despite an explicit pre-election promise not to do so, if the prime minister were to agree "to evacuate all Gaza Strip and isolated settlements, stop spending billions on the territories, and immediately launch negotiations with the Palestinians."
Yet that is precisely the political program which Labor put forward to the Israeli public, and which the public overwhelmingly rebuffed by a large margin. The people sent a loud and clear message, returning the Likud to power with double the number of seats it previously held, while cutting Labor and its allies on the Left down to size.
This had little to do with Mitzna's personality, which many Israelis were in any event unfamiliar with, and everything to do with the policies he proposed, which were little more than a continuation of the now defunct Oslo process. After enduring a decade of Labor-inspired concessions to the Palestinians, and the wave of bloodshed it provoked, the voters were in no mood to continue pursuing a path that had so obviously and devastatingly failed.
It is therefore neither realistic nor even logical for Labor to now expect the new coalition guidelines to reflect its political agenda, when that very same agenda received a thumbs-down from the electorate. During the election campaign, Sharon made clear that his diplomatic plan was to remain in sync with US President George W. Bush's June 24 vision of two states, provided that the Palestinians changed their leadership and fought terrorism. To this date, Labor has not explained what is wrong with this vision, and why Israel should be more accepting of the Palestinian leadership than the president of the United States.
Labor, it seems, is determined to define itself politically by moving to the left of Sharon's diplomatic program, no matter how far left Sharon himself moves. With his open support for the principle of Palestinian statehood, Sharon has already moved to the left of much of his own party.
Given the stance of the United States, the ongoing war against terrorism, and the outcome of the election, it is difficult to understand why Labor cannot find a way to work with Sharon in a joint effort to defeat terrorism first and leave diplomacy for later. Labor's unwillingness to do so is not just bad politics, but could actually prolong the war and push away the diplomatic option that it presumably wishes to bring closer.
On Friday, Sharon and Mitzna held a marathon four-hour session, which Labor sources variously described as "discussions to clarify Sharon's stance" or "an exchange of views," but which were almost certainly the equivalent of coalition talks. Though the two reportedly agreed to convene again last night, the meeting was called off after Mitzna insisted on a written commitment from Sharon about the concessions he was willing to make to accommodate Labor's demands.
This type of behavior only underlines the need to keep Labor out of the government at this stage, because it obviously has not yet succeeded in digesting its rejection by the bulk of Israelis. At this point, the best cure for Mitzna and his friends would be a spell in the opposition, where they might finally come to realize that, on January 28, the people of Israel chose another path.
Copyright 1995-2003 The Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com/
RE: "SETTLEMENT REMOVAL, A
(Jerusalem Post Feb. 12, 2003 )
by Gail Winston
Founder of M.E.I.R., Mid East Information Resource
Open letter to David Newman c/o Letters to the Editor, Editor Judy Montagu:
You assume Israel can offer a future territorial agreement with the Arab Palestinians to settle the "conflict". Ever since such a far-reaching proposal was made (Oslo), the Arabs have made war (Terrorism is defined as low-intensity warfare). Therefore, I suggest you offer the first stone. Why don't you offer your own house or apartment to the 'poor, suffering Arab Palestinian refugees'. (Why haven't their own brethren?) Obviously, that is ridiculous - as is your entire thesis.
Newman dismisses the Jewish people's heritage as well as security with banal, sophomoric, illogical and dangerous solutions.
Why should any Jews evacuate their homes and lose their lifetime investment in their homes? Would you, David? No, I didn't think so.
Israel can't afford what you propose, that is, 'adequate compensation for 220,000 Jews to evacuate and be 'settled' elsewhere with housing, education, re-employment, psychological services for being forcibly up-rooted and loss of their homes. What is adequate for a family's life savings and investment?
According to Newman, Jewish homes shouldn't be razed as in Yamit but instead, turned over to the new Arab "Palestinian State/Authority" for housing their incoming refugees (estimated by them as 3 to 5 million). Say goodbye to the Jewish State of Israel if she ever agrees to such idiocy.
Newman is a professor of political geography at Ben-Gurion University and would like the settlers to all move to the Negev with their "ideological fervor to revitalize the Negev". Newman should study the "political geography" in the Palestinian Authority's school curricula, maps on official government papers, Arafat's shoulder patches, flags, etc. The PLO plans that another Arab "Palestinian" State will cover ALL of what is now Israel, including the Negev, David. And, are you ready to give up Jerusalem? Because they claim ALL of Jerusalem as their capital.
Newman expects the "young, committed, religious students to assist families in their moves". Thank G-d, those students know their political geography, history and religion which commits them to treasure the heartland of Eretz Yisrael, where most of our Jewish history and geography took place - as in G-d's Commandments to "settle" the Land. This is Our Jewish Covenant which we can't break no matter what Newman "professes".
The Jewish Community of Hebron, February 10, 2003
IN THE MIDDLE EAST
By David Wilder
Doomsday prophecies aren't my thing. It's always good to look at the bright side, to be optimistic, to take life one step at a time.
However, there are times when, left with no choice, reality must be faced head on. And now is one of those times. The state of Israel, led by Ariel Sharon, is on a crash course with major catastrophe. This unmitigated disaster is known as the Road Map, or in its full glorious title, The Road Map for implementation of a permanent solution for two states in the Israel-Palestinian Dispute.
Rather than mince words, let me lay out the basic elements, as they are presently known, of the 'road map.'
1. The central goal of the 'road map' is creation of a Palestinian state. This state is to be sovereign and independent, including maximum contiguous territory. Totally rejected are Ariel Sharon's preconditions, including Israeli control of borders, arms limitations, Israeli control of air space, and more.
This state will be created in two stages: Following elections in the Palestinian Authority, declaration of a state with temporary borders, by the end of 2003, that will receive international recognition and a seat in the United Nations. Permanent borders will be established after determining solutions to issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, and 'settlements.'
Here again, Ariel Sharon's stipulation of a 'long-term process' lasting for at least ten years, falls by the wayside.
2. The Road Map involves two international conferences, the first in 2003 following PA elections, with the marked goal of initiating negotiations leading to declaration of a Palestinian State with temporary borders. The second international conference is scheduled for 2004, to give final approval to a Palestinian state with temporary borders, and to initiate negotiations for a permanent agreement.
It should be noted that past Israeli governments have always avoided international conferences at almost any cost, because the deck was always stacked against us. So why now, is Ariel Sharon willing to risk such a precarious symposium?
The so-called Quartet is the instrument by which a sovereign
Palestinian state will take form. Composed of representatives
from the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United
Nations, this group has supreme decision-making control. For
a. The quartet decides when conditions have ripened for progress, taking into consideration achievements of all of the sides involved. In other words, this foreign body will decide when to recognize a Palestinian state. This bypasses Ariel Sharon's precondition that all progress be determinant on Israeli judgment, taking into account factors such as cessation of terror, collection of illegal armaments, cessation of incitement, etc. In other words, Israel's decision-making control is severely restricted, if existent at all.
b. The quartet will initiate an international observer force, which will examine Israeli-Palestinian progress. Here again it is worth noting that Ariel Sharon did not take major military actions against the PA for a year and half, in order prevent implementation of an international observer force in Yesha.
c. The Quartet will guarantee that both sides implement all obligations simultaneously.
This directly contradicts Sharon's plan, by which any Israeli implementation happens only after full implementation by the Palestinians.
For example, the Palestinian obligation to eradicate terror will be equivalent to Israeli obligations concerning settlement activity.
d. The Quartet will be directly involved in all negotiations
between the two sides, totally negating a cardinal Israeli rule
insisting upon direct negotiations between the parties involved.
e. The Quartet will be involved in all facets of a Palestinian transition, including, financial, administrative, legal, and security issues. This involvement has already begun.
f. The Quartet will be involved in decisions and negotiation concerning the 'permanent agreement,' including Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements.
Concerning settlements, Israel will be obligated to:
a. uproot all settlements formed since March, 2001. Implementation is not dependent on Palestinian cessation of terror or incitement. Rather, the obligations must be fulfilled simultaneously.
b. Israel must freeze all settlement activity, including any natural growth of Yesha communities. Implementation priority must be given to areas which threaten contiguously populated Palestinian regions, including areas around Jerusalem.
c. Towards declaration of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, Israeli must allow maximum geographic contiguity, including further measures concerning settlements, i.e., uprooting of settlements that interrupt Palestinian territorial contiguity.
Concerning Jerusalem, Israel must agree to reopen all Palestinian offices and institutions dealing with commerce, business and economy, which were closed in East Jerusalem, including, of course, the Orient House.
The goals of discussions concerning a permanent solution will seek to achieve a realistic and just solution to the problems of the refugees and the status of Jerusalem, which will take into account the political and religious stands of the two sides. In other words, the Palestinians enter into negotiations on an equal footing with Israel.
Three other interesting points:
a. Concerning security, the United States, Egypt and Jordan will be involved in revitalizing security guarantees between Israel and the Palestinians.
b. The solutions reached will take into account the program initiated by the Saudi Arabians. This program calls for a total withdrawal of Israel to the 1967, pre-Six Day War borders.
c. The road map demands an international conference to attain peace on all fronts, including the Israeli-Syria-Lebanese, disputes. In other words, not only is Yesha on the chopping block. The Golan Heights is also in jeopardy.
These are some of the elements of the Road Map delegating responsibility for almost everything that occurs in Yesha to the European Union and the United Nations. The Quartet is nothing less than a death council whose job is to speed up a step-by-step annihilation of the State of Israel.
The road map, with quartet participation cannot come into being without full Israeli approval. If Israel says no, it doesn't happen.
In other words, the Road Map is an assisted suicide pact that could have been designed by Jack Kevorkian.
With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder
(This article was prepared in conjunction with an article in Hebrew called "The Road Map: a tragedy known in advance" by Eliyakim HaEtzni, dated Feb. 5, 2003.)
New York Post, February 24, 2003
by Daniel Pipes
"It was quiet in [Cooper Hall] 464 Thursday night," noted the student newspaper, "where [Sameeh] Hammoudeh's 6 p.m. Arabic IV class was scheduled to meet. Two students who hadn't heard of his arrest came to class, and a substitute was assigned to teach in Hammoudeh's place."
Hammoudeh missed teaching his Arabic class last week due to a slight inconvenience: He had just been charged with racketeering and conspiracy to murder.
In fact, he was one of eight men indicted at a U.S. District Court in Florida as "material supporters of a foreign terrorist organization," that organization being Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
It is striking that three of those eight are academic specialists on Middle Eastern and Islamic subjects. Their arrests reveal to what extent Middle East studies is a field that serves as an extension of the region's radicalism. (Other defendants teach computer engineering, manage a medical clinic, own a small business and serve as imam in a mosque.)
The three instructors on Middle East topics all have establishment credentials:
* Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, 45. Born in the Gaza Strip, he earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Durham in the United Kingdom.
He arrived in Tampa, Fla., in 1991, taught Middle East studies as an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida (USF) and headed the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a think tank dealing with Middle East issues that was affiliated with USF during the period 1992-95. He left USF in 1995 and later that year turned up in Damascus, where he is now secretary-general of PIJ.
* Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi, 50. Born in Egypt, Nafi has two Ph.D.s and was a researcher at WISE. He was deported for visa violations in 1996 and went to England where, as an Irish citizen he lives in Oxfordshire. He teaches at two London institutions, Birkbeck College of the University of London ("Social and Political Issues in Islam") and the Muslim College ("State and Society in Islamic History").
Nafi is also associated with the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (which in 2000 published his analysis, "The Rise and Decline of the Arab-Islamic Reform Movement"). He has written for the Virginia-based Middle East Affairs Journal and a book of his appeared in Arabic in 1999, "Imperialism and Zionism: The Palestinian Case." (He uses a pseudonym, Ahmad Sadiq, when writing for militant Islamic journals.)
* Sameeh Hammoudeh, 42. Born in the West Bank, he worked at the Arab Studies Society in Jerusalem before reaching America in 1992. He began teaching at USF in 1995. At the time of his arrest, he lived in the Tampa area, taught Arabic at USF and was working toward a master's degree in religious studies at that university.
All three alleged terrorists succeeded in talking the academic talk, fooling nearly everyone. Shallah wrote in 1993, in his capacity as director of WISE, that the organization's long-term goal is "to contribute to the understanding of the revivalist Islamist trends, misleadingly labeled 'fundamentalist' in Western and American academic circles."
Almost any North American academic specialist on Islam could have written those same sneering and duplicitous words. Many do.
The three passed for genuine scholars. Carrie Wickham, a specialist on Egyptian Islam at Emory University, said she "felt deceived" on learning who Shallah really was and expressed surprise that "a serious intellectual counterpart" like him could also be a terrorist.
Even after the indictment, Arthur Lowrie, formerly vice chairman of USF's Committee for Middle Eastern Studies, praises Shallah for his "good scholarly work." And Gwen Griffith-Dickson, director of Islamic studies at Birkbeck, describes Nafi as "highly respected," lauding him for his efforts "with energy and commitment, to encourage critical thinking about religious issues and academic balance in his students, and thus to encourage social responsibility."
That three accused terrorists passed without suspicion as genuine Middle East studies scholars points to the crisis in this academic discipline. This academic field is already criticized for providing refuge to what might be called intellectual terrorists - scholars known for their extremism, intolerance, and dishonesty. Now we learn it apparently has been harboring the real thing.
Conclusion: This field must be scrutinized very closely, especially by the U.S. Congress, which provides vital subsidies to Middle East studies programs.
To comment on this article, please go to: http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1032#comment
To see the Daniel Pipes archive, go to http://www.DanielPipes.org
A Voice from Hebron, February 25, 2003
TIME TO WIN THE WAR
by Gary M. Cooperberg
On Sunday morning a nineteen-year-old soldier, Doron Lev, was bringing coffee to his comrades serving in the Gaza Strip when he was shot in the back and killed by a PLO sniper. The IDF, in its usual after-the-fact manner, boldly destroyed the building from which the sniper murdered the soldier.
The name, IDF, Israel Defense Forces, is all by itself, an inhibiting concept. It suggests that the activities of the armed forces of the Jewish State must be limited to defending against attack. If that is the case, and it certainly seems so, then we automatically give our enemies the advantage of deciding when and where to attack us. Once a Jewish soldier is shot in the back and murdered, it is too late to defend against the attacker.
One needn't have a creative imagination to guess what would happen should a Jewish soldier decide to simply shoot a PLO soldier. Our own dual standard of ethics grants the right of murder to our enemies and limits our ability to even defend our own lives. The fact which we fail to address is that we are at war. It is the same war that we fought in 1948, a war for our right to exist! Were we ever to lose this war there is no question but that our enemies would destroy us. Yet, despite this fact, we have a national policy that forbids us from winning the war!
The strategy is to contain our enemies, not to destroy them. As such, although we have largely succeeded in limiting the number of terrorist attacks against our civilian population, we cannot possibly stop them completely. In effect we have decided to curb terror as much as possible, and continue to live with it. This is the current policy of the State of Israel! No other country in the world would ever consider such a policy. When you have an enemy which is dedicated to your destruction and which demonstrates that dedication by murdering civilians any way they can, clearly negotiation is not an option. Yet Israel continues to seek negotiations. Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin once posed the question, "What are we to negotiate, the terms of our self-destruction?" Yet this is precisely what our government is in the process of doing.
We are a nation under siege. Every shopping center and restaurant has armed guards and metal detectors at the entrance. Missiles are being fired at Jewish communities from the Gaza Strip! Israeli tanks are being blown up by roadside charges inside Israel! And still our leaders pretend that there is a way to find a compromise and live with such people, and even give them their own state on Jewish soil! If even now, when they do not yet have such a state, they are prepared to attack Israel, does it take a fortune teller to imagine what they will do should they ever get a state?
To negotiate under such circumstances is nothing less than treason. There is absolutely no reason for us to tolerate an enemy presence in our homeland. The only way for the IDF to truly defend our population is to recapture all of our homeland and destroy our enemies decisively. Anything less is aiding and abetting our enemies in their effort to destroy us. The only way to achieve peace is to end the war. And the only way to end the war is to win. This can never happen with a government policy which refuses to consider winning as an option.
New York Post, February 18, 2003
AND THE PATH TO PEACE
by Daniel Pipes
Why are Palestinians so angry at Israel? There are two possible reasons.
Political: They accept the existence of a Jewish state but are angry with this or that Israeli policy.
Rejectionist: They abominate the very existence of Israel and want to destroy it.
Which is correct has many implications. If Palestinians only want changes in what Israel is doing (such as building towns on the West Bank), then it is reasonable to ask Israel to alter those actions - and the main burden of resolving the conflict falls on Israel.
But if Israel's existence remains at issue, then it follows that the conflict will end only when the Palestinians finally and irrevocably accept the Jewish state. Seen this way, the main burden falls on the Palestinians.
If it's a routine political dispute, diplomacy and compromise are the way to make progress. But if the Palestinians reject Israel's very existence, diplomacy is useless, even counterproductive, and Israel needs to convince Palestinians to give up on their aggressive intentions. More bluntly, Israel would then need to defeat the Palestinians.
Which interpretation is correct?
In a spring 2002 poll of residents in the West Bank and Gaza conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, a Palestinian organization, 43 percent of respondents called for a Palestinian state only in the West Bank and Gaza and 51 percent insisted on the state in "all of historic Palestine," code words for the destruction of Israel.
Thus, Palestinian rejectionism flourishes. But the outside world averts its collective eyes from this fact. Those institutions and individuals with a megaphone - in both Israel and America, not to speak of the United Nations, the left and those in diplomatic, journalistic, artistic and academic circles worldwide - generally assert that Palestinian acceptance of Israel has occurred and focus instead on Israel's need to "take risks for peace."
In contrast, only a small number of conservatives in Israel and the United States point out the continued power of Palestinian rejectionism.
Given this backdrop of mostly wishful thinking, it is remarkable to see how realistically the Israeli and American electorates view Palestinian intentions. The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University found in fall 2002 that 18 percent of Israeli Jews believe the Palestinians have accepted Israel's existence and 71 percent think the opposite.
To learn American views on this issue, the Middle East Forum recently sponsored a poll asking a national cross-section of 1,000 likely voters, "Do you believe that the goal of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority is to have a small state living in peace alongside Israel, or is its goal the eventual destruction of Israel?"
The response was clear. Nineteen percent of respondents said Arafat seeks a small state living in peace alongside Israel; 61 percent said he seeks the eventual destruction of Israel.
(Technical aside: The other 20 percent didn't know or refused to reply. This poll, conducted on Feb. 11-12 by the New York polling firm McLaughlin & Associates, has an accuracy of +/- 3.1% at the 95 percent confidence interval.)
Not only are the Israeli and U.S. numbers strikingly similar but even more noteworthy is how the U.S. electorate ignores the overwhelming consensus of authoritative voices and, by a more than 3-to-1 ratio, understands that Palestinian rejectionism lies at the heart of the conflict.
This insight testifies to the wisdom of a free and informed people. It also has great potential significance for U.S. policy, signaling to the Bush administration to heed its own electorate and recognize that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict persists because Israel is, not what it does.
This means abandoning the habit of pressing Israel to make further concessions to the Palestinians and instead aiming to convince the Palestinians that Israel is here to stay. This might entail such steps as:
* Discouraging Palestinian anti-Semitism and other forms of incitement against Israel;
* Reassessing antiquated U.S. policies that help keep the Palestinian "refugees" in limbo;
* Endorsing tough but necessary Israeli actions to end Palestinian violence; and
* Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.
The sooner Palestinians, leaders and public alike, come to terms with the unalterable reality of Israel's existence, the better it will be for all concerned.
To comment on this article, please go to http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1030#comment
To see the Daniel Pipes archive, go to http://www.DanielPipes.org
14 February 2003
ON BELGIUM, PRIME MINISTER
AND INTERNATIONAL "JUSTICE"
Louis Rene Beres
Professor of International Law, Department of Political Science
The irony is palpable. Belgium, a nation that finessed its long history of colonial brutality by abandoning almost a million defenseless Rwandans to rape and murder, will allow Israel's prime minister to be tried for war crimes in its own courts. Although the case has been blocked until Mr. Sharon is out of office, once the Israeli leader no longer enjoys sovereign immunity he and co-defendant Amos Yaron, former IDF Chief of Staff, will be subject to Belgium's judicial jurisdiction. This was the ruling of Belgium's highest court on February 12th, which further stated that investigation and trial of Sharon could proceed even if the defendant were not physically present in country.
The case against Sharon and Yaron dates back to 2001, when survivors of the 1982 massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut filed a criminal complaint holding the two Israelis responsible for the deaths of their relatives. In essence, this complaint - a blatantly propagandistic use of national and international law - blames Jews for the killing of Muslims by Christians. Fittingly, Belgium, a country with much to atone from the Holocaust period, is entirely comfortable with accepting such a grotesque complaint.
Christian militias, not IDF units, did all of the killing in Lebanon. Ariel Sharon, then Israel's defense minister, does bear some legal command responsibility for the massacres (the relevant principle is known as respondeat superior "Let the master answer") but his failures were all ones of omission, not commission. He did fail to recognize that the Christians would massacre the Muslims, but he was not in any way aware that these killings were actually underway. Nor was he in any way complicit in the murders. So why prosecute Sharon and Yaron, and not those Christians who were directly responsible for the crimes? The answer is unspeakable but incontestable: The proposed prosecution represents a convenient opportunity for Belgium to continue its incessant history of anti-semitism, only this time encouraged by large numbers of Arabs living in country. Naturally the two defendants here are identified juridically as "Israelis," not as "Jews," but everyone in Europe today understands what this really means. Europe today is the same as Europe yesterday, only less overt. Israel is always the individual Jew in macrocosm; Israel-bashing (especially in Europe) is still seldom more than an acceptable cover for "Kill the Jews."
In theory, the idea of using national courts for the prosecution of international crimes is not only reasonable, but essential. This is because our world legal order remains largely decentralized - even after the recent creation of an International Criminal Court. But the principle is perverted, inexcusably, when individual states lend themselves not to justice, but to propaganda. In this case the Belgian perversion of justice is especially hideous, not only because of its broad distortion of responsibility and coincident disregard for Arab terror, but also because it is being undertaken for the benefit of authentic murderers. And while charges were filed in Belgium against Yasser Arafat in November 2001 by relatives of Jewish victims of PLO terrorism, the authorities have yet to act upon this particular complaint.
Belgium's unique tilt toward twisted justice has multiple causes and multiple ironies. Today, large numbers of Arab Muslims in Belgium hold the country hostage to spoken and unspoken threats. The result is that long- latent indigenous anti-semitism - European anti-semitism - is now reinforced and reinvigorated by virulent Islamic hatred of Jews. Belgium, a country that shamelessly identifies its right to prosecute a Jewish leader for crimes committed by Christians against Muslims, is the nation that brought genocide to the Congo Free State and that stood aside as genocide was committed in the former Belgian colony of Rwanda. There, cowardly Belgian troops fled in disgrace before small ragtag bands of Hutu killers, consciously abandoning hundreds of thousands of Tutsi men, women and children to the mercies of Hutu machettes. This is the same "lawful" nation that, with little reluctance, deported 35,000 Jews - fully half of the Belgian Jewish population at the time - to German gas chambers. This is the same "just" nation that currently joins France and Germany (two similarly "just" nations) to prevent NATO protection for member-state Turkey from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. As for prosecution of Saddam Hussein in Belgian courts, of course, there is nary a murmur. After all, his crimes, like those of the Belgians themselves, are not sufficiently serious.
Crimes of war and crimes against humanity of the sort committed by Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat mandate universal cooporation in apprehension and punishment. All countries, as responsible punishers of "Grave Breaches" under international law, are required to search out and prosecute, or extradite, authentic perpetrators. According to Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, from which this requirement derives, each country "shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts." Without far-reaching compliance here, all countries of the world would agree that true justice is unimportant.
Belgium, unlike any other state on earth, has taken these sacred principles and manipulated them for reasons of domestic cowardice and deep-seated hatreds. Caving in to Arab threats internally, Belgian authorities have agreed to the most unseemly distortions of fact and law to buy off Islamic terrorists. All this from a country with precious little honor in its history - a country that already has a great deal of genocidal blood on its hands, African blood and Jewish blood.
Unlike the Belgians, in the matter of universal jurisdiction for crimes, a small number of states have in fact acted on behalf of Geneva Convention IV. Significantly, one such state is Israel, a tiny ministate that is vastly more vulnerable than one lying in the heart of Europe with no enemies outside its borders. When Israel abducted Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann from Argentina in 1960 and brought him to trial in Jerusalem, it did so in fulfillment of genuine legal and moral obligations. Unable to gain custody of this mass murderer through the usual mechanisms of extradition (Argentina was hardly inclined to extradite Nazi functionaries after they had brought huge amounts of gold into the country, gold extracted from Jewish teeth), Israel's abduction was entirely consistent with basic principles of law and justice. The crimes set forth by Israeli law, namely crimes of war and crimes against humanity, had been established unambiguously as crimes by the Nuremberg Tribunal. All of the crimes set forth under the Israeli indictment had been recognized by the universal conscience of humankind as delicta juris gentium, crimes against the Law of Nations.
An international criminal tribunal that might have judged these terrible crimes had not yet been created. Nuremberg had dealt only with "humanity," and not with the "Jewish People." Israel then invested its legislative and judicial organs of state with lawful power of enforcement. In so doing, it acted CORRECTLY upon the obligation to punish egregious crime under international law, not - in the fashion of the Belgians - as a propaganda agent for true criminals. In undertaking to punish crimes of genocide, Israel acted to secure justice not only for itself and for the Jewish People, but also for the entire community of humankind. By accepting concretely the PROPER principle of "universal jurisdiction," it established beyond any reasonable doubt that the punishment of authentic hostes humani generis - a "common enemy of humankind" - is not an internal question for any one state, but a basic obligation for all.
The difference between the Israeli prosecution of Adolph Eichmann and Belgium's proposed prosecution of Ariel Sharon and Amos Yaron is the difference between justice and injustice. Confronted with the same obligations under international law, Israel chose to meet its obligations with intellect, honor and purpose. Belgium, on the other hand, has willingly sacrificed justice on the altar of ancient prejudice and persistent cowardice. Perhaps, in the months and years ahead, wiser heads may prevail in Brussels, and Belgium could begin a markedly more dignified path to understanding and courage. It would be a good beginning.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and international law. Prof. Beres is the academic advisor for the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.
Courtesy of Jerusalem Newswire, February 24, 2003
THE BELGIAN BLOOD LIBEL
By Ryan Jones
JERUSALEM - Concerning Belgium's recent decision to allow its court system to prosecute Ariel Sharon for alleged "war crimes" following his term as Israel's prime minister, several commentators have rightly pointed out that this style of "universal justice" is certainly legitimate and even necessary.
Israel itself justly apprehended, prosecuted and executed convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960.
Many of those same commentators have also pointed out not only Belgium's baseless, double-standard in this particular case, but also its lack of moral authority to render judgment against Mr. Sharon or Israel because of its own genocidal past.
While much of the following information has been alluded to in several publications, it bears repeating for the sake of cohesive clarity.
From the late 19th century until 1960, Belgium ruled what it called the "Congo Free State" in central Africa. For the first several decades, this colonial possession was solely under the sovereign authority of Belgium's King Leopold II. During this time unimaginable atrocities against the Congolese people at the hands of the Belgians were recorded as the colonial power sought to plunder the country's rubber resources.
Some have pointed to the modern benefits the Belgian state imparted to the Congolese after Leopold was forced to hand his personal fiefdom over to the parliament as sufficient recompense for decades of torture and genocide. The small bit of truth in this position notwithstanding, there are undoubtedly many Congolese families that still have a bone to pick with Belgium.
Belgium's indifferent dealings with the Africans, however, did not end in 1960. In 1994 a Belgian-led UN "peacekeeping force" apathetically withdrew from its former colony of Rwanda after suffering minimal casualties at the hands of rebel forces, despite clear evidence that those same rebels would use the absence of the Europeans to massacre thousands of innocents.
The results are well known - Hutu militiamen slaughtered in horrific manner Tutsi men, women and children shortly after the Belgians' departure.
Belgium's record on its home continent does not read much better. During World War II, Belgium, as did most Nazi-occupied nations, in large part actively cooperated with the Germans to round up its Jewish population for eventual murder. The Belgians handed over more than 35,000 Jews to their Nazi executioners with little reluctance.
Arguments that the Belgians had no choice fall limply by the wayside when one considers the heroic measures the people of Denmark, including their king, went to in order to save the Jews of their nation.
The above examples, which certainly constitute war crimes by any standard, did not take place in the distant past, but rather in the course of the last 100 years. Many of those directly or indirectly responsible, not least of which is the Belgian government as a whole, still live free of prosecution.
A nation with Belgium's recent history of genocide and assistance in genocide seems an odd candidate to claim moral jurisdiction over the world.
As for the Sharon case in particular, Belgium's position as a purveyor of legal justice appears equally unstable.
In 1990, Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Israel office, submitted a list of 14 suspected Nazi war criminals to the Belgian Justice Ministry. All 14 men had recently immigrated to Belgium, and were living there as free men.
The list included several Nazi officers who had actively participated in massacring the Jews of Lithuania during World War II. The charges were dismissed by Belgium, which apparently lacked the inclination to pursue a case with possible negative implications for its government and people.
"The Belgians said that they [the Nazi war criminals being harbored by Belgium] cannot be prosecuted because of a 20-year statute of limitations," Zuroff told the press.
If this purported statute of limitations were indeed a full legal precedent in Belgium, the case against Ariel Sharon should be dismissed on the simple basis that his alleged "war crimes" were also committed more than 20 years ago, in 1982.
The fact that the charges were originally filed only 19 years after the Sabra and Shatila massacre took place is now irrelevant, as the original case was thrown out, and thus rendered immaterial, by a Belgian appeals court last year.
Equally noticeable is the fact that the case makes no official charges against the Christian Phalangist forces who actually carried out the massacre, nor against Yasser Arafat's PLO, whose brutal persecution of Lebanon's Christians paved the way for the retributive killing.
In a similar slighting of justice, the Belgian courts have long failed to render judgment on charges brought against Yasser Arafat in November 2001 by Jewish victims of PLO terror.
Also deemed immaterial by the Belgian courts are the findings of an official Israeli inquiry into the massacre some 20 years ago, which ruled that Sharon, as defense minister, had been guilty of a crime of omission for failing to foresee the killing, but certainly not of a crime of commission.
The above evidence lends much credibility to Israeli Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's assertion that the Belgian case against Sharon is nothing less than a political "blood libel" against Israel and the Jewish people.
The unending attention given to what appears to be a baseless case against Sharon, while recognized murderers such as Arafat are afforded virtual immunity - coupled with the fact that Europe is blaming a Jew for a Christian massacre against Muslims - is indeed, as Mr. Netanyahu pointed out, cacophonously reminiscent of past European blood libels against the Jewish people.
Ryan Jones, Website Manager
Israel My Beloved & Jerusalem Newswire
International Christian Zionist Center
Websites: http://www.israelmybeloved.com & http://www.jnewswire.com
No. 490 27 Tevet - 12 Shvat 5763 / 1-15 January 2003
THE BELEAGUERED CHRISTIANS OF THE PALESTINIAN-CONTROLLED AREAS
by David Raab
A Second-Class People / Regional Repression of Christians / Official PA Domination of Christians / PA Disrespect for Christian Holy Sites / The PA Takeover of the Church of the Nativity / The PA and Jerusalem Christians / Reduction of Christian Political Power / Harassment of Palestinian Christians by Palestinian Muslims / The Palestinian Christian Response
The Christian community in the areas administered by the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a small but symbolically important one. About 35,000 Christians live in the West Bank and 3,000 in Gaza,1 representing about 1.3 percent of Palestinians. In addition, 12,500 Christians reside in eastern Jerusalem.
This population is rapidly dwindling, however, and not solely as a result of the difficult military and economic situation of the past two years. Rather, there are numerous indications that the Christian population is beleaguered due to its Christianity. Taken in context of the condition of Christians in other Middle Eastern countries, this picture is especially credible and troubling.
A Second-Class People
Under Islam, Christians are considered dhimmi, a tolerated but second class who are afforded protection by Islam. Dhimmitude is integral to Islam; it is a "protection pact" that suspends "the [Muslim] conqueror's initial right to kill or enslave [Jews and Christians], provided they submitted themselves to pay tribute."2
However, the reality of Christianity under Islam has often been difficult. "Over the centuries, political Islam has not been too kind to the native Christian communities living under its rule. Anecdotes of tolerance aside, the systematic treatment of Christians...is abusive and discriminatory by any standard....Under Islam, the targeted dhimmi community and each individual in it are made to live in a state of perpetual humiliation in the eyes of the ruling community."3 As described by a Christian Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayil: "a Christian...is not a full citizen and cannot exercise political rights in any of the countries which were once conquered by Islam."4
Palestinian Christians have suffered as dhimmis for centuries. An English traveler in the Holy Land in 1816, for example, remarked that Christians were not permitted to ride on horseback without express permission from the Muslim Pasha.5
Other European travelers to the Holy Land mentioned the practice whereby "a dhimmi must not come face to face with a Muslim in the street but pass him to the left, the impure side," and described how Christians were humiliated and insulted in the streets of Jerusalem until the mid-1800s. The British consul in Jerusalem wrote that in the Holy Land, particularly in Jerusalem until 1839, Christians were pushed into the gutter by any Muslim who would swear: "turn to my left, thou dog." They were forbidden to ride on a mount in town or to wear bright clothes.6
In the early 1900s, sporadic attacks on Christians by bands of Muslims occurred in many Palestinian towns.7 During the Palestinian Arab revolt in the late 1930s, which involved very few Christians, if Christian villagers refused to supply the terrorist bands with weapons and provisions, their vines were uprooted and their women raped. The rebels forced the Christian population to observe the weekly day of rest on Friday instead of Sunday and to replace the tarboosh with the kaffiyeh for men, whereas women were forced to wear the veil. In 1936, Muslims marched through the Christian village of Bir Zayt near Ramallah chanting: "We are going to kill the Christians."8
In the early 1900s, with the Jewish return to the area, Palestinian Christians began to band with the Muslims to oppose Jewish immigration, at least in part as a way to deflect Muslim hostility away from themselves. As Sir John Chancellor, British High Commissioner in Palestine, put it in 1931: "Christian Arab leaders, moreover, have admitted to me that in establishing close relations with the [Palestinian] Moslems the Christians have not been uninfluenced by fears of the treatment they might suffer at the hands of the Moslem majority in certain eventualities."9
From 1953 until 1967, Jordan undertook to Islamize the Christian quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem by laws forbidding Christians to buy land and houses....It ordered the compulsory closure of schools on Muslim holidays and authorized mosques to be built near churches, thus preventing any possibility of enlargement.10
Regional Repression of Christians
The current Christian reality in many Middle Eastern countries is also difficult. In Egypt, "Muslim, but not Christian, schools receive state funding....It is nearly impossible to restore or build new churches....Christians are frequently ostracized or insulted in public, and laws prohibit Muslim conversions to Christianity....Islamic radicals have frequently launched physical attacks on [Christian] Copts."11
Saudi Arabia "is one of the most oppressive countries for Christians. There are no churches in the whole country. Foreign workers make up one-third of the population, many of whom are Christians. For their entire stay, which may be years, they are forbidden to display any Christian symbols or Bibles, or even meet together publicly to worship and pray. Some have watched their personal Bibles put through a shredder when they entered the country."12
An official Saudi cleric, Sheik Saad Al-Buraik, pronounced in a Riyadh government mosque, "People should know that...the battle that we are going through is...also with those who believe that Allah is a third in a Trinity, and those who said that Jesus is the son of Allah, and Allah is Jesus, the son of Mary."13
In Iran, "the printing of Christian literature is illegal, converts from Islam are liable to be killed, and most evangelical churches must function underground."14 Christians are not allowed to testify in an Islamic court when a Muslim is involved and they are discriminated against in employment. A 1992 UN report cites cases of imprisonment and torture of Muslims who converted to Christianity and of Armenian and Assyrian pastors, the dissolution of the Iranian Bible Society, the closure of Christian libraries, and the confiscation of all Christian books, including 20,000 copies of the New Testament in Farsi.15
In Israel, too, Muslim fundamentalists seek to assert dominance over Christian Arabs. "Attacks against and condemnation of Christians are also often heard in mosques, in sermons and in publications of the Muslim Movement."16 In Nazareth, a significant clash developed in recent years when Muslims sought to build a grand mosque next to the Basilica of the Annunciation, the dominant Christian landmark in the town.17
Official PA Domination of Christians
Islam is the official religion of the Palestinian Authority.18 In addition, fundamentalist Hamas and Islamic Jihad have promoted Islamic influence on Palestinian society.
Officially, the PA claims to treat Palestinian Christians equally and pointedly seeks to display this publicly. Christmas is an official holiday. Arafat has stated as his mission "the protection of the Christian and Muslim holy places,"19 and several Christians have held prominent PA positions.
Occasionally, however, contrary messages slip through. In a Friday sermon on October 13, 2000, broadcast live on official Palestinian Authority television from a Gaza mosque, Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya proclaimed: "Allah the almighty has called upon us not to ally with the Jews or the Christians, not to like them, not to become their partners, not to support them, and not to sign agreements with them."20
In addition, no PA law protects religious freedom.21 While asserting that all Palestinians' "liberty and freedom to worship and to practice their religious beliefs are protected," a PA Information Ministry statement also stresses that: "The Palestinian people are also governed by [Islamic] Shari'a law...with regard to issues pertaining to religious matters. According to Shari'a Law, applicable throughout the Muslim world, any Muslim who [converts] or declares becoming an unbeliever is committing a major sin punishable by capital punishment...the [Palestinian Authority] cannot take a different position on this matter."22
In attempting to assuage Christians, the statement goes on to say that capital punishment for conversion "has never happened, nor is it likely to happen" in the Palestinian territories, but that "norms and tradition will take care of such situations should they occur."
The PA's judicial system also does not ensure equal protection to Christians. For example, an Israeli government report noted the failure of the judicial system in Bethlehem to provide protection to Christian land-owners.
The Comtsieh family (a Christian family) has a plot of land with a building that serves as a business center in the city. Several years ago a Moslem family from Hebron took possession of the building and started to use it without permission.
The Comtsieh family filed a claim with the judicial system and after long and arduous court hearings, the court ruled in the claimant's favor.
However, the verdict was never enforced by the police and representatives of the family from Hebron later appeared with a new court verdict (signed by the same judge who ruled in the claimants' favor previously), canceling the previous verdict and ratifying the Hebron family's ownership of the property.23
An Israeli government report in 1997 asserted more direct harassment of Christians by the PA.
In August 1997, Palestinian policemen in Beit Sahur opened fire on a crowd of Christian Arabs, wounding six. The Palestinian Authority is attempting to cover up the incident and has warned against publicizing the story. The local commander of the Palestinian police instructed journalists not to report on the incident....
In late June 1997, a Palestinian convert to Christianity in the northern West Bank was arrested by agents of the Palestinian Authority's Preventive Security Service. He had been regularly attending church and prayer meetings and was distributing Bibles. The Palestinian Authority ordered his arrest....
The pastor of a church in Ramallah was recently warned by Palestinian Authority security agents that they were monitoring his evangelistic activities in the area and wanted him to come in for questioning for spreading Christianity.
A Palestinian convert to Christianity living in a village near Nablus was recently arrested by the Palestinian police. A Muslim preacher was brought in by the police, and he attempted to convince the convert to return to Islam. When the convert refused, he was brought before a Palestinian court and sentenced to prison for insulting the religious leader....
A Palestinian convert to Christianity in Ramallah was recently visited by Palestinian policemen at his home and warned that if he continued to preach Christianity, he would be arrested and charged with being an Israeli spy.24
Another report in 2002, based on Israeli intelligence gathered during Israel's Defensive Shield operation, asserts that "The Fatah and Arafat's intelligence network intimidated and maltreated the Christian population in Bethlehem. They extorted money from them, confiscated land and property and left them to the mercy of street gangs and other criminal activity, with no protection."25
Similar findings were reported in the Washington Times following the PA takeover of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in April 2002.
Residents of this biblical city are expressing relief at the exile to Cyprus last week of 13 hard-core Palestinian militants, who they said had imposed a two-year reign of terror that included rape, extortion and executions. The 13 sent to Cyprus, as well as 26 others sent to the Gaza Strip, had taken shelter in the Church of the Nativity, triggering a 39-day siege that ended Friday.
Palestinians who live near the church described the group as a criminal gang that preyed especially on Palestinian Christians, demanding "protection money" from the main businesses, which make and sell religious artifacts.
"Finally the Christians can breathe freely," said Helen, 50, a Christian mother of four. "We are so delighted that these criminals who have intimidated us for such a long time are now going away."26
Adding insult to injury, during this reign of terror, the PA's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (declared a terrorist organization by the United States) sent a letter to the Bethlehem municipality "requesting" aid in the form of monetary contributions for military operations. Cynically adding a symbol of Christianity to their extortion demand, the letter was signed "Fatah/Al Aqsa Martyrs (and Church of) Nativity Brigades" [emphasis added].27
PA Disrespect for Christian Holy Sites
The PA has shown contempt for certain Christian holy sites, and there has been significant desecration as well. For example, without prior consent of the church, Yasser Arafat decided to turn the Greek Orthodox monastery near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem into his domicile during his visits to the city.28 On July 5, 1997, the PLO seized Abraham's Oak Russian Holy Trinity Monastery in Hebron, violently evicting monks and nuns.29
After the outbreak of Palestinian violence in September 2000, the PA's Tanzim militia chose the Christian town of Beit Jala to shoot at Jerusalem over other locations from which they could have similarly targeted communities built on land captured in 1967. They specifically positioned themselves in or near Christian homes, hotels, churches (e.g., St. Nicholas), and the Greek Orthodox club, knowing that a slight deviation in Israeli return fire would harm Christian institutions or homes.30
At one point, Andreas Reinecke, head of the German Liaison office to the PA, protested:
I would like to draw your attention in this letter to a number of incidents which occurred at "Talitakoumi" school in Beit Jala... which is funded mainly by the Protestant Church in Berlin.
Over the last few days the school staff noticed attempts on the part of several armed Palestinians to use the school premises and some of its gardens for their activities. If they succeed in doing this, an Israeli reaction will be inevitable. This will have a negative impact on the continuation of the functioning of the school, in which no less than 1,000 [Christian] Palestinians study....You cannot imagine the kind of upheaval which will be provoked among the supporters of this school [in Germany] should they discover that the school premises are used as a battle ground.31
The most glaring example of PA disregard for the holiness of Christian shrines, however, was the April 2002 takeover of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by PA forces and their taking over 40 Christian clergy and nuns as hostages. As confirmed by a senior Tanzim commander, Abdullah Abu-Hadid, "The idea was to enter the church in order to create international pressure on Israel....We knew beforehand that there was two years' worth of food for 50 monks. Oil, beans, rice, olives. Good bathrooms and the largest wells in old Bethlehem. You didn't need electricity because there were candles. In the yard they planted vegetables. Everything was there."32
The PA Takeover of the Church of the Nativity
On April 2, 2002, as Israel implemented its Defensive Shield operation to combat the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, in Bethlehem "a number of terrorists took over St. Mary's Church grounds and...held the priest and a number of nuns there against their will. The terrorists used the Church as a firing position, from which they shot at IDF soldiers in the area. The soldiers did not return fire toward the church when fired upon. An IDF force, under the command of the Bethlehem area regional commander, entered the Church grounds today without battle, in coordination with its leaders, and evacuated the priest and nuns."33
That same day, "More than 100 Palestinian gunmen...[including] soldiers and policemen, entered the Church of the Nativity on Tuesday, as Israeli troops swept into Bethlehem in an attempt to quell violence by Palestinian suicide bombers and militias."34 The actual number of terrorists was between 150 and 180, among them prominent members of the Fatah Tanzim. As the New York Times put it, "Palestinian gunmen have frequently used the area around the church as a refuge, with the expectation that Israel would try to avoid fighting near the shrine".35
And in fact this was the case. The commander of the Israeli forces in the area asserted that the IDF would not break into the church itself and would not harm this site holy to Christianity. Israel also deployed more mature and more reserved reserve-duty soldiers in this sensitive situation that militarily called for more agile, standing-army soldiers.36
On the other hand, the Palestinians did not treat it the same way. Not only did they take their weapons with them into the Church of the Nativity and fire, on occasion, from the church, but also reportedly booby-trapped the entrance to the church.37
On April 7, "one of the few priests evacuated from the church told Israeli television yesterday that gunmen had shot their way in, and that the priests, monks and nuns were essentially hostages....The priest declined to call the clergy 'hostages,' but repeatedly said in fluent English: 'We have absolutely no choice. They have guns, we do not.'"38
Christians clearly saw the takeover as a violation of the sanctity of the church. In an interview with CWNews, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's Undersecretary of State and the top foreign-policy official, asserted that "The Palestinians have entered into bilateral agreements [with the Holy See] in which they undertake to maintain and respect the status quo regarding the Christian holy places and the rights of Christian communities. To explain the gravity of the current situation, let me begin with the fact that the occupation of the holy places by armed men is a violation of a long tradition of law that dates back to the Ottoman era. Never before have they been occupied - for such a lengthy time - by armed men."39 On April 14, he reiterated his position in an interview on Vatican Radio.40
On April 24, the Jerusalem Post reported on the damage that the PA forces were causing:
Three Armenian monks, who had been held hostage by the Palestinian gunmen inside Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, managed to flee the church area via a side gate yesterday morning. They immediately thanked the soldiers for rescuing them.
They told army officers the gunmen had stolen gold and other property, including crucifixes and prayer books, and had caused damage...
One of the monks, Narkiss Korasian, later told reporters: "They stole everything, they opened the doors one by one and stole everything....They stole our prayer books and four crosses... they didn't leave anything. Thank you for your help, we will never forget it."
Israeli officials said the monks said the gunmen had also begun beating and attacking clergymen.41
When the siege finally ended, the PA soldiers left the church in terrible condition:
The Palestinian gunmen holed up in the Church of the Nativity seized church stockpiles of food and "ate like greedy monsters" until the food ran out, while more than 150 civilians went hungry. They also guzzled beer, wine, and Johnnie Walker scotch that they found in priests' quarters, undeterred by the Islamic ban on drinking alcohol. The indulgence lasted for about two weeks into the 39-day siege, when the food and drink ran out, according to an account by four Greek Orthodox priests who were trapped inside for the entire ordeal...
The Orthodox priests and a number of civilians have said the gunmen created a regime of fear.
Even in the Roman Catholic areas of the complex there was evidence of disregard for religious norms. Catholic priests said that some Bibles were torn up for toilet paper, and many valuable sacramental objects were removed. "Palestinians took candelabra, icons and anything that looked like gold," said a Franciscan, the Rev. Nicholas Marquez from Mexico.42
A problem that arose during the siege again shows Christian fear of Muslim domination. Two Palestinian gunmen in the church were killed, and the PA wanted to bury them in the basilica. "With two Muslim bodies inside the Church of the Nativity, Christianity could be facing an absolute disaster in Bethlehem," said Canon Andrew White, the special representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Middle East. "It would be catastrophic if two Muslim martyrs were buried in the church. It could lead to a situation like that in Nazareth," he said.43 Only after intensive mediation efforts were plans to bury the bodies inside abandoned.
The PA and Jerusalem Christians
Despite having no legal standing in Jerusalem, PA officialdom has acted similarly there. The PA, in fact, denies historic Jewish - and thus Christian - ties to Jerusalem. Walid M. Awad, Director of Foreign Publications in the Palestinian Ministry of Information, asserted: "The location of the [Jewish] Temple on the Temple Mount is in question....There are scholars who say that it might be in Jericho or somewhere else 4 kilometers outside of Jerusalem." Asked "The New Testament talks of Jesus going to the Temple in Jerusalem. Are you suggesting that Jesus went to Jericho rather than Jerusalem?" he responded, "It depends on what temple you think he went to."44 U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross asserted: "The only new idea [Arafat] raised at Camp David was that the temple didn't exist in Jerusalem."45
A Christian leader, Father Marun Lahham, worries, "Frequent Muslim declarations that...Jerusalem is [an] Islamic [city] trouble Christians."46
The PA has begun to interfere with Jerusalem Christians:
[T]he Palestinian Authority-appointed Waqf (Moslem religious property) authorities attempted to break through into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher from the adjacent al-Hanaqa Mosque. [They] decided to install a latrine on the roof of the Church. According to a May 11, 1997, report in Ha'aretz, "A Waqf internal report, written two weeks ago by the Waqf's Jerusalem engineer, 'Isam 'Awad, confirms many of the Christians' claims in the conflict that has emerged adjacent to the Holy Sepulcher Church regarding construction in the Church. The Church's claim [is] that the Waqf has harmed the historical and architectural substance of the Holy Sepulcher, as a result of a construction addition to the courtyard of the 'Hanaqa,' which leans on the wall of the Holy Sepulcher and even darkens it by its height."
Israel attempted to calm down the conflict after the Churches complained and issued a work stoppage order against it, which was promptly ignored. The same Ha'aretz story reported that "The Jerusalem district archeologist in the Antiquities Authority, John Zeligman, wrote to the Waqf director, 'Adnan Husayni, pointing out to the Waqf the damage to a site that is declared to be an antiquity and threatens to go to law if work is not halted immediately." Finally, the illegal construction was halted due to Israeli and world pressure, but we can be certain that without such pressure the desecration would have continued.47
The PA-appointed Waqf is also working feverishly to convert the Temple Mount, a site holy to Christians and Jews, into a mosque and erase any traces of the Temple. In June 2000, Ha'aretz reported that "the Islamic Movement in Israel has a master plan to build a fourth mosque on the eastern side of the Temple Mount" and that, in fact, according to a head of the movement, "the entire area of the Temple Mount is an inseparable and integral part of the Al Aqsa Mosque."48
The Wakf made a mockery of the laws of the State of Israel. Wakf officials [had] requested and received a permit to open an emergency exit in the new mosque in Solomon's Stables. [But], in fact, the Wakf tried to break through four of the underground arches in the northern part of Solomon's Stables. To do so, it dug a huge hole 60 meters long and 25 meters wide in the earth of the Temple Mount...6,000 tons of earth [were] removed. Some of it was scattered at dumpsites. Some was dumped in the Kidron River. Antiquities dating back to [the first and second Temple eras] were tossed on garbage heaps.49
Israel Antiquities Authority Director-General Shuka Dorfman affirms "categorically" and "in an unequivocal manner, that there is archeological damage being done [by the Waqf] to antiquities on the Temple Mount."50 Under the "guardianship" of the Waqf, "Palestinian pirates are brazenly digging up Jewish artifacts from the holy Temple Mount site and trying to sell them on the black market for as much as $1 million."51
More recently, since the start of the Palestinian violence, the Waqf has precluded Christians from visiting the Temple Mount, despite the fact that no security considerations whatsoever are involved.
Reduction of Christian Political Power
Historically, not only has Bethlehem been a Christian city governed primarily by Christians, but, with its sister towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahur, it has been the largest enclave of Christians in the West Bank.
Since assuming control in 1995, however, the PA has been Islamizing Bethlehem. The city's municipal boundaries were changed to incorporate 30,000 Muslims from three neighboring refugee camps, severely tipping the demography. The city also added a few thousand Bedouins of the Ta'amra tribe, located east of Bethlehem, and encouraged Muslim immigration from Hebron to Bethlehem. The net result is that the area's 23,000 Christians were reduced from a 60 percent majority in 1990 to a minority by 2001.
Also, defying tradition, Arafat appointed a Muslim from Hebron, Muhammed Rashad A-Jabari, as governor of Bethlehem. He fired the existing Bethlehem city council that had nine Christians and two Muslims, replacing it with a 50:50 council. While the mayor is a Christian, the top bureaucratic, security, and political echelons, and the lower levels as well, have been drained of Christians.52 Furthermore, "according to the new local council elections' regulations designed by the PA - but not yet put into effect, however - mayors will be nominated by the council members in their towns. Christians fear that these new regulations will open the way to the nomination of Muslim mayors to the traditional Christian towns."53
While six out of the eighty-eight seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council have been reserved for Christians,54 representing more than double their proportion in Palestinian society, the Council is a fairly powerless entity. Similarly, no Christian holds a position of power in the Palestinian government.
Harassment of Palestinian Christians by Palestinian Muslims Palestinian Christians are perceived by many Muslims - as were Lebanon's Christians - as a potential fifth column for Israel. In fact, at the start of the recent violence in 2000, Muslim Palestinians attacked Christians in Gaza, as confirmed by Fr. Raed Abusahlia, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.55
Anti-Christian graffiti is not uncommon in Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Sahur, proclaiming: "First the Saturday people (the Jews), then the Sunday people (the Christians)."56 The same has often been heard chanted during anti-Israel PLO/PA rallies. Accused of wearing "permissive" Western clothing, Bethlehem Christian women have been intimidated. Finally, rape and abduction of Christian women is also reported to have occurred frequently (especially in Beit Sahur), as was the case in Lebanon.57
Christian cemeteries have been defaced, monasteries have had their telephone lines cut, and there have been break-ins at convents.58
In July 1994, the Wall Street Journal reported that Palestinian Muslims would not sell land to Christians and that Christian facilities and clubs had been attacked by Muslim extremists. Christian graves, crosses, and statues had been desecrated; Christians had suffered physical abuse, beatings, and Molotov cocktail attacks.59
Continuing the Islamic tradition of Saladin - who constructed two mosques contiguous to and taller than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher - mosques have mushroomed adjacent to and usually taller than churches. Loudly amplified Muslim sermons have been aired during Christian services, including the Pope's April 2000 address in Nazareth, which had to be halted until the Muslim call to prayer was concluded.60
In February 2002, Palestinian Muslims rampaged against Christians in Ramallah, and the Palestinian Authority failed to intervene. As reported by the Boston Globe,
The rampage began after Hanna Salameh, a member of a wealthy Christian family, allegedly killed Jibril Eid, a Muslim construction contractor from the Kalandia refugee camp, after the two men argued at the Israeli army's Kalandia checkpoint... A few hours later, hundreds of men poured out of the refugee camp and went to Ramallah, where they burned Salameh's house and store. They then burned his brother's store, damaged several businesses owned by Christians not related to the Salamehs, and torched the exercise room and terrorized more than 100 children at Sariya, a scouting and youth center.
Palestinian police did nothing to stop this destruction, according to numerous witnesses, but drew the line as the mob moved toward Christian churches, whose leaders the Palestinian Authority is cultivating for international support in its struggle with Israel.
While officials of the Palestinian Authority and of Fatah insisted that the incident was simply about revenge and anger, many in Ramallah said otherwise.
"The truth is this is a problem between Christians and Muslims," said one Christian businessman. "There is no security for us. Everyone is taking the law in his own hands....This [accused] man's brother, they burned his house, his shops, his cars, and the police of Ramallah stood by and watched. This is the democracy of Palestine?"
"The chief of security at Kalandia was in charge of this rampage," said a Muslim shopkeeper. "The mayor of Ramallah came, saw what was happening, and withdrew. I am a Muslim, but I condemn this. These are savage people."61
Christians and the PA
Similar attacks have occurred in eastern Jerusalem.
Over the weekend, a gang of Moslem youths ransacked a pool hall near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is frequented by Christian youths. Four of the Christians were stabbed and lightly wounded; one of them required hospitalization. Witnesses said about fifty Moslem youths marched through the Christian Quarter to the pool hall Saturday afternoon, chanting anti-Christian slogans. They attacked the Christians inside, and broke chairs, tables, and other objects....Old City police chief Dep. Cmdr. David Givati confirmed that there have been a number of attacks by Moslems on Christian targets recently.62
The Palestinian Christian Response
Under the Oslo Accords, between 1995 and 1997 the Palestinian Authority was given civilian control over 98 percent of the Palestinian population of Gaza and the West Bank. Instead of embracing PA jurisdiction in the spirit of Palestinian self-determination, however, Palestinian Christians are fleeing.
Palestinian Christians have fled Islamic rule in the past. In the final census conducted by the British mandatory authorities in 1947, there were 28,000 Christians in Jerusalem. The census conducted by Israel immediately after the Six-Day War in 1967, which ended the 19-year Jordanian control of the eastern portion of the city, found just 11,000 Christians remaining. Some 17,000 Christians (61 percent) left during the days of Jordan's rule over Jerusalem.63
True, there has been a steady outflow of Christians from the Holy Land for some time. Daughter communities in North and South America had already outnumbered their mother communities by 1948.64 But this outflow has accelerated since the rise of PA control. Between the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords and the 1995 transfer of Bethlehem to the PA, Palestinian Christians lobbied Israel against the transfer. The late Christian mayor, Elias Freij, warned that it would result in Bethlehem becoming a town with churches but no Christians. He lobbied Israel to include Bethlehem in the boundaries of Greater Jerusalem, as was the Jordanian practice until 1967.65
In December 1997, the London Times reported: "Life in (PA-ruled) Bethlehem has become insufferable for many members of the dwindling Christian minorities. Increasing Muslim-Christian tensions have left some Christians reluctant to celebrate Christmas in the town at the heart of the story of Christ's birth."66 The situation has become so desperate for Christians that, "during his visit to Bethlehem, Pope John Paul II felt it necessary to urge Palestinian Christians already in March 2000: 'Do not be afraid to preserve your Christian heritage and Christian presence in Bethlehem.'"67
On July 17, 2000, upon realizing that then Prime Minister Barak was contemplating repartitioning Jerusalem, the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Latin, and Armenian Churches wrote to him, President Clinton, and Yasser Arafat, demanding to be consulted before such action was undertaken. Barak's proposal also triggered a flood of requests for Israeli identity cards by thousands of eastern Jerusalem Arabs. (This, plus the fact that Israel's own Christian population is actually growing, refutes any claim that emigration is a result of Israel's treatment of Christians.)
Despite their beleaguerment, Palestinian Christians do not speak out about their situation. "Out of fear for their safety, Christian spokesmen aren't happy to be identified by name when they complain about the Muslims' treatment of them...off the record they talk of harassment and terror tactics, mainly from the gangs of thugs who looted and plundered Christians and their property, under the protection of Palestinian security personnel."68
In fact, the Christians' silence may be precisely because they are a beleaguered minority with a long history of dhimmitude. As Lebanese Christian Habib Malik describes:
This sentiment is motivated primarily by a desire for a unified position vis-a-vis Israel. But it also stems from a deeper dhimmi psychological state: the urge to find - or to imagine and fabricate if need be - a common cause with the ruling majority in order to dilute the existing religious differences and perhaps ease the weight of political Islam's inevitable discrimination. The history of Palestinian Christianity has, for the most part, been no different from that of dhimmi Christianity throughout the Levant.69
One Christian cleric in Jerusalem interviewed by this author compared the behavior of Christian dhimmis to that of battered wives or children, who continue to defend and even identify with their tormentor even as the abuse persists.
Palestinian Christians "internalized this dependence on the Muslim majority as a social characteristic that persisted even after the Ottoman reforms of the nineteenth century abolished these rules....The Christians worried that Muslim religious emotions aroused against the Jews might subsequently be turned against them."70
* * *
1. Daphne Tsimhoni, "The Christians in Israel, the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip," Middle East Quarterly, Winter
2. Bat Ye'or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 2002), p. 41.
3. Habib C. Malik, "Christians in the Land Called Holy," First Things: A Journal of Religion and Public Life, January 1999.
4. Bashir Gemayel, Liberte et Securite (Beirut, 1983), pp. 37-38, cited in Bat Ye'or, p. 248.
5. James Silk Buckingham, Travels in Palestine (London, 1821), cited in Bat Ye'or, p. 98.
6. James Finn, as cited in Bat Ye'or, p. 100 and n. 65.
7. Yehoshua Porath, The Palestinian Arab National Movement, 1929-1939: From Riots to Rebellion (London, 1977), p. 109, cited in Bat Ye'or, pp. 160-161.
8. Porath, pp. 268-70.
9. Yehoshua Porath, The Emergence of the Palestinian Arab National Movement, 1918-1929 (London, 1974), p. 303, cited in Bat Ye'or, p. 160.
10. Bat Ye'or, p. 235.
11. Jonathan Adelman and Aggie Kuperman, Rocky Mountain News, December 22, 2001.
12. "Muslim Countries Becoming Bolder in Persecuting Christians," Battle Cry Magazine, September/ October 2001.
13. "Saudi Telethon Host Calls for Enslaving Jewish Women," from the Saudi Information Service, as reported in the National Review Online, April 26, 2002.
14. Adelman and Kuperman.
15. Bat Ye'or, p. 225.
16. Raphael Israeli, Green Crescent Over Nazareth: The Displacement of Christians by Muslims in the Holy Land (Frank Cass: London, 2002), p. 60.
17. Serge Schmemann, "Israelis Bar Mosque on Site in Nazareth," International Herald Tribune, March 4, 2002.
20. MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 138, October 13, 2000.
21. U.S. Department of State, International Religious Freedom Report: Israel and the Occupied Territories, October 26, 2001.
22. Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information, December 1997, as reported in http://www.lawsociety.org/Reports/reports/1998/crz4.html.
23. Danny Naveh (Israeli Minister of Parliamentary Affairs), The Involvement of Arafat, PA Senior Officials and Apparatuses in Terrorism against Israel, Corruption and Crime, 2002, http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0lom0.
24. The Palestinian Authority's Treatment of Christians in the Autonomous Areas, Israeli Government, October 1997, translated to English by IMRA.
26. Sayed Anwar, "Exiled Palestinian Militants Ran Two-Year Reign of Terror," Washington Times, May 13, 2002.
28. The Palestinian Authority's Treatment of Christians in the Autonomous Areas.
29. Associated Press, as reported in Yoram Ettinger, "The Islamization of Bethlehem by Arafat," Jerusalem Cloakroom #117, Ariel Center for Policy Research, December 25, 2001.
31. Letter from Andreas Reinecke to Colonel Jibril Rajoub, Head of the PA Preventive Security Apparatus in the West Bank, May 5, 2002, from IDF Spokesperson, May 12, 2002.
32. Yediot Ahronot on May 24 as reported in Daily Alert, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, May 30, 2002.
33. IDF Spokesperson, April 3, 2002.
34. Serge Schmemann, "Israeli Military Sends Tanks into Largest West Bank City," New York Times, April 3, 2002.
35. "Sharon Proposes Arafat's Exile While Israeli Forces Shell His Compound," New York Times, April 2, 2002.
36. Amos Harel, "IDF Declares: We Won't Forcefully Enter the Church of the Nativity Holy to Christians," Haaretz, April 5, 2002.
37. Baruch Kra, "IDF Maintains Cautious Approach in Bethlehem," Haaretz, April 10, 2002.
38. Paul Martin, "Arafat Tells Gunmen to Refuse Deal," Washington Times, April 8, 2002.
39. "Top Vatican Official Speaks on Bethlehem Crisis," CWNews, April 10, 2002, http://www.catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?vm_id=31&art_id=13065.
40. "Vatican Proposes Independent Force to Halt Mideast Violence," Worldwide Faith News website, http://www.wfn.org/2002/04/msg00201.html, April 15, 2002.
41. Margot Dudkevitch, "Gunmen Stole Gold, Crucifixes, Escaped Monks Report," Jerusalem Post, April 24, 2002.
42. "'Greedy Monsters' Ruled Church," Washington Times, May 15, 2002.
43. Ori Nir, "Arafat's Terror in Church: Armed PA Security Forces Keeping 50 Youths Hostage in Church of the Nativity Cellar," Haaretz, April 22, 2002.
44. Interview with Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA), December 25, 1996.
45. Interview, Fox News Sunday, April 21, 2002.
46. Al-Quds, June 18, 1999, as reported in MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 41, August 2, 1999.
47. Murray Kahl, "Yasser Arafat and the Christians of Lebanon," January 13, 2002, http://christianactionforisrael.org/prsecutn/yasser.html.
48. Nadav Shragai, "Islamic Movement Planning Fourth Mosque for Temple Mount," Haaretz, June 18, 2000.
49. Andrea Levin, "Desperately Seeking the Temple Mount," Jerusalem Post, July 11, 2000.
50. Etgar Lefkovits, "Antiquities Authority: Wakf Damaging Temple Mount," Jerusalem Post, March 22 2001.
51. Uri Dan, "Temple Mount Artifacts Looted," New York Post, April 22, 2001.
55. Margot Dudkevitch, "Church Denies Christians Fleeing PA Areas," Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2000.
56. Andre Aciman, "In the Muslim City of Bethlehem," New York Times Magazine, December 24, 1995.
58. The Palestinian Authority's Treatment of Christians in the Autonomous Areas.
59. Bat Ye'or, p. 244.
61. Charles Radin, "Mob Fears Grow in West Bank," Boston Globe, February 6, 2002.
62. Bill Hutman, "Concern Over Moslem Attacks on Christians in Old City," Jerusalem Post, July 18, 1994.
63. The Palestinian Authority's Treatment of Christians in the Autonomous Areas.
66. Reported in Adelman and Kuperman.
67. "Yasser Arafat, Christmas, and the PFLP," Jerusalem Issue Brief, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 13, December 25, 2001.
68. Hanan Shlein, Ma'ariv, December 24, 2001. Translated from the Hebrew by Palestinian Media Watch.
* * *
David Raab is a strategy consultant who writes frequently on the Middle East. He is the author of "Understanding American Christian Attitudes Regarding Jerusalem," Jerusalem Viewpoints #484, (August 15, 2002).
The Jerusalem Letter and Jerusalem Viewpoints are published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel;. © Copyright. All rights reserved. ISSN: 0792-7304.
The opinions expressed by the authors of Jerusalem Viewpoints do not necessarily reflect those of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
PRINCIPLES OF HISTORY TO TEACH
By Richard H. Shulman
Like terrorism, totalitarianism is the enemy of mankind.
Aggression warrants punishment.
Appeasement doesn't work.
Reform movements often get subverted.
People seek scapegoats.
People tend to stick with ideologies after they have failed. They invested too much in them emotionally, to drop them without some great disillusioning event(s).
People seldom think through their political notions.
Those in a flourishing civilization assume it always will flourish. They don't try to keep it vibrant. They grow soft, vis-à-vis barbaric challengers.
Young rebels think they are clever in adopting revisionist theories, but those theories may be false. They undermine their own society.
The greatest mistake is to assume that other religions have the same ethics as one's own, and to predict the behavior of other societies by one's own or to. Other cultures not only have different values, they have different ways of thinking. This difference is significant between Arab and Western society. Islamic religious mores are much different from those of Christianity and Judaism. Non-Arabs propose "solutions" that the Arabs don't consider solutions and won't accept.
Everyone knows that if one doesn't learn from history, one repeats it. Everyone knows that, but nevertheless few learn from history.
The opposite problem is little known. What one learns from history may not be fully applicable under changing conditions of society. Thus people may agree that the US should stop aggressors such as Iraq, but wait for what they think is imminent danger and assume there always is time to mobilize, as the US did for WWII and Desert Storm. The advent of weapons of mass-destruction eliminates that luxury of time.
History classes should teach the value of keeping faith with allies, knowing who are one's allies, and knowing when they no longer are allies. Ancient Athens let its allies get picked off seriatim, until its turn came. The Allies abandoned members until Hitler unraveled their alliance. Congressional aid keeps Israelis from perceiving State Dept. hostility, and lip service to mutual friendship lulls Israelis. Disloyal expediency often fails.
ON MICHAEL JORDAN AND JEWISH DESTINY
By Michael Freund
It was the day after the recent NBA All-Star game, but my nine-year old and his friend had more important things on their minds: they were busy discussing the difference between mustard gas and nerve agents.
While most children their age were probably hailing the 20 points which Michael Jordan had scored, or voicing excitement about the game's dramatic finish in double-overtime, these two kids were instead engrossed in contrasting the symptoms associated with some of Saddam Hussein's nastier weapons.
"If a missile hits, and you feel a headache, your stomach hurts and you find it harder to breathe, then that means it was nerve gas," one of them said to the other, as I listened in disbelief.
"Yeah, and mustard gas can give you those blisters," said the other, helpfully suggesting that a call to the hospital might then be in order.
After hearing this last bit about the blisters, I did what any responsible parent would do in this type of situation: I swerved the car over to the side, slammed on the brakes, and quietly asked myself what this world was coming to.
When I turned around and asked the budding chemical weapons experts sitting behind me just how they knew all this stuff, they told me that a representative from the army had come to school that day to explain the dangers of non-conventional warfare.
As part of Israel's preparations for a possible war with Iraq, the army has been visiting schools throughout the country, demonstrating the use of gasmasks and doing its best to keep the public informed without provoking a sense of panic. It was from that lecture that my son and his friend had gleaned their new and rather extensive knowledge regarding the dangers of various chemical and biological weapons.
And so, as if the ongoing Palestinian terror campaign, the slumping economy and Israel's political predicament were not enough to send us spiraling into despair, along comes the Iraq crisis and snatches away yet another bit of our children's innocence, introducing them at an all too tender age to man's capacity to wreak havoc and destruction.
LATER, WHILE reflecting on the incident, I began to confront the question that every immigrant at one point or another must contend with: did I do the right thing? Did I make the right decision when I chose to raise my children here, in a country surrounded by implacable enemies armed to the teeth with the most frightening of arsenals?
But just as quickly as the question popped into my mind, so too did the answer: yes, this is where we ought to be. For, as grave as the threats may now appear, there is no question in my mind that Israel will emerge triumphant.
It is true, of course, that Saddam Hussein and his Palestinian allies have wracked up quite a record of terrorism and violence over the years, setting new standards of iniquity in their war against the Jewish people and the West. They have patented and produced previously unheard-of acts of evil, such as airplane hijackings, suicide bombings and the gassing of one's own citizens.
But perhaps their most salient "achievement" is that they have periodically managed to shake our confidence in the justness of our cause, occasionally leading us to question what we are doing here in Israel in the first place.
In that respect, they are no different from the long litany of foes, enemies, antagonists and opponents who have dogged the Jewish people throughout our history, seeking to wear us down by eroding our national morale and will to live.
As they see it, every doubt they sow, every uncertainty they instigate, brings them one step closer to fulfilling their dream of weakening the Jewish state, by undermining its resolve and determination.
I, for one, have no intention of giving them such pleasure.
True, there are probably other places in the world where the threat to Jewish safety and well-being is less pronounced, and where nine-year olds are more conversant with basketball statistics than with ballistic missile technology.
But for the person who values his Jewish identity above all else, for the person who wishes to ensure that his child grows up imbued with Jewish pride and self-respect, Israel offers a unique sense of security unavailable anywhere else. It is the security that comes from remaining true to our past and to our destiny as a people. And that is something too precious to consider forgoing.
On February 23, former Israeli Ambassador to London Shlomo Argov, who was seriously injured in a Palestinian assassination attempt back in June 1982, passed away at a Jerusalem hospital.
A year before he was shot and permanently disabled by a gunman from Abu Nidal, Argov eloquently laid out the case for Israel's future.
"Small and beleaguered though it may be," he told a London audience in 1981, "Israel possesses substantial power and resilience as well as unbounded determination to survive. We have come a long way and mean to go an even longer one and we also have the wherewithal to ensure that we do so," he said.
So when I gaze at my kids and wonder whether I am doing the right thing, I need only remind myself, and them, that with all due respect to Michael Jordan and the NBA, Israel still comes out on top. It is, after all, the best game in town.
The writer served as deputy director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999. He was, and remains, a loyal New York Knicks fan.
"THE FINAL METHOD"
by Prof. Paul Eidelberg
In his "Epistle to Yemen," Maimonides tells us how the nations have tried to destroy Israel. He begins by saying "God has made us unique by His laws and precepts, and our pre-eminence is manifested in His rules and statutes, as Scripture says ¼, 'And what great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this Law [the Torah], which I set before you this say?" (Deut. 4:8).
Although history records various individual gentiles who have praised the Jews in superlative terms, far more typical are the calumnies the nations have heaped upon the Jewish people. Maimonides explains: Because of Israel's unique and divinely inspired way of life, "all the nations, instigated by envy and impiety, rose up against us..." In each era they employed a new method to destroy Israel and its Torah. Maimonides first mentions brute force, for example, Amalek, Nebuchadnezzar, and Hadrian. A second and more refined method was "argument." Thus the Greeks sought to demolish the Torah by means of philosophical controversy. After this, "there arose a sect which combined the two methods, conquest and controversy, into one, because it believed that this procedure would be more effective in wiping out every trace of the Jewish nation and [its faith]. It, therefore, resolved to lay claim to prophecy and to found a new faith, contrary to our Law, and to contend that it was equally God-given [but that it superceded the Torah]." None of these methods, says Maimonides, has succeeded in destroying Judaism or in thwarting the will of God. The Jews survived and remained loyal to their Torah.
Turning to modern times, a fourth method has been used to undermine the Torah, namely, "biblical criticism," which denies the Torah's divine origin and, therefore, the chosenness of the Jewish People. This method, which begins with Spinoza in the seventeenth century, was amplified by the nineteenth-century German school of bible critics. These critics tried to prove, by literary analysis, that the Torah is a human product of multiple authorship. Although this method has often been refuted, most recently by means of computer analysis of the text, it remains very much in vogue. Indeed, its skepticism has shaped the mentality of Israel's intellectual and political elites.
I now turn to a new method which is being employed to destroy Israel and its Torah, that of "peace." Some preliminary statements are in order.
Ever since the Six-Day War of June 1967, when Israel miraculously gained control of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights, the nations have sought to roll Israel back to its pre-1967 borders. This is the true intention of UN Resolution 242, which declares the following principles: (a) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories of recent conflict, and (b) Termination of all claims of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
Inasmuch as the Arab states have never recognized Resolution 242, it harbors a fundamental contradiction. For the borders which Israel deems "secure"-and which Israel alone is qualified to determine-will simply not be "recognized" by Israel's Arab neighbors. Nevertheless, Israel's government acquiesced in Resolution 242, which means it sanctioned a policy of "territory for peace." That Israeli governments agreed and still agree to Israel's territorial contraction is truly remarkable, given the obscene anti-Semitism and the enormous military expenditures of Israel's Arab neighbors, including Egypt. Most observers attribute Israel's adherence to the policy of "territory for peace" to American pressure. It may also be said that this policy has been utilized by the Labor Party to win the Arab vote on which that party's power ultimately depends. Be this as it may, we have touched only the surface of the "peace" method of destroying Israel and the Torah.
The UN policy of "territory for peace" means that Jews must forsake their heartland, Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem and its Temple Mount. The loss of the Temple Mount strikes at the heart of Judaism, of biblical prophecy. It places in question the Torah, its truth and its promise. It fosters doubt among Jews and undermines their national self-confidence. It degrades God's Chosen people, but therefore the God of Israel. Therein is the ultimate price of the "peace process." We must now enlarge on the fact that Jews are not only the victims but the villains of this peace process.
In his commentary on parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:12), the illustrious Torah philosopher Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's defines peace as a state of the most complete harmony, and not only between man and man, but between man and God. God's covenant of Peace or "Brit Shalom" with Pinchas represents God's promise that peace will ultimately reign over the whole world.
Hirsch emphasizes that "True peace of men with each other rests on the peace of all of them with God"-meaning the God of Israel He points out that he who dares to wage war with people who are against the Torah is actually fighting for the Brit Shalom on earth. Conversely, "he who, for the sake of so-called peace, quietly leaves the field to people who are at variance with God, his love of peace is at one with the enemies of the Brit Shalom on earth" (my italics).
Hirsch's commentary has shocking implications. What is shocking is not that the policy of exchanging land for peace has nothing to do with true peace. That should have been obvious to any intelligent and forthright student of Arab-Islamic culture. It is simply stupid or dishonest and cowardly for Israeli governments to pursue a policy of land for peace with Arab despots, no less so than it was for England and France to have pursued such a policy with Nazi Germany (at the expense of Czechoslovakia). What is shocking is that the dishonest and cowardly quest for peace in Israel applies not only to its secular parties but to its religious parties!
According to Hirsch's commentary, those who oppose the Torah-hence Israel's secular parties-do not seek true peace because true peace requires making peace with God. But Hirsch also indicates that he "who, for the sake of so-called peace, quietly leave the field to those who are at variance with God [including those very secularists], his love of peace is at one with the enemies of the Brit Shalom on earth"! Which means that the religious parties, which have acquiesced in the policy of land for peace, are no less blameworthy for Israel's degradation and distance from the Brit Shalom promised by God.
It must be emphasized that nothing has so degraded the Jews as the "peace process." This is precisely the intention of Arafat's terrorist war. Arafat is the Amalek of this generation. Ponder carefully Rabbi Matis Weiberg's commentary on parashat Bishlach, where he refers to Amalek's war against Israel: "Amalek's attack does not take the form of anti-God argumentation. In fact, it takes no intellectually overt form whatsoever-their entire focus is on perception, not reason. They were willing to suffer [great losses] in order to strike a blow at the perceived godliness and prestige of Yisrael..."
Weinberg then quotes from another commentary: "Yisrael left Egypt and God split the sea for them and destroyed the Egyptians; and everyone was in awe of them. Until Amalek attacked. They suffered terrible losses, [but] they deflated the image of Yisrael in the perception of the nations." Weinberg continues:
A terrorist organization may take enormous risks to carry out an operation whose only strategic value is damage to the government's aura of invincibility. The Amalekites do the same. They are the image breakers; they play to the media, utilize communication to manipulate perception. The name of their game is defamation in the literal sense-to defame, tearing down esteem and maligning fame.
In a marginal note Weinberg quotes Emil M. Fackenheim: "The whole purpose of the [Nazi] program was to reduce Israel to excrement. That program included the God of Israel." This, in effect, is the program of Arafat. We see the results of this program: the Temple Mount has been desecrated; suicide bombers reduce Jewish women, men, and children to body parts, and politics continues as usual, flying the banner of peace. This peace is burying the State of Israel.
A JAPANESE VIEW OF THE PALESTINIANS
by Yashiko Sagamori
If you are so sure that "Palestine, the country, goes back through most of recorded history", I expect you to be able to answer a few basic questions about that country of Palestine:
When was it founded and by whom?
What were its borders?
What was its capital?
What were its major cities?
What constituted the basis of its economy?
What was its form of government?
Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
What was the language of the country of Palestine?
What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine?
What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.
And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?
You are lamenting the "low sinking" of a "once proud" nation. Please tell me, when exactly was that "nation" proud and what was it so proud of?
And here is the least sarcastic question of all: If the people you mistakenly call "Palestinians" are anything but generic Arabs collected from all over -- or thrown out of -- the Arab world, if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, why did they never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War?
I hope you avoid the temptation to trace the modern day "Palestinians" to the Biblical Philistines: substituting etymology for history won't work here.
The truth should be obvious to everyone who wants to know it. Arab countries have never abandoned the dream of destroying Israel; they still cherish it today. Having time and again failed to achieve their evil goal with military means, they decided to fight Israel by proxy. For that purpose, they created a terrorist organization, cynically called it "the Palestinian people" and installed it in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria. How else can you explain the refusal by Jordan and Egypt to unconditionally accept back the "West Bank" and Gaza, respectively?
The fact is, Arabs populating Gaza, Judea, and Samaria have much less claim to nationhood than that Indian tribe that successfully emerged in Connecticut with the purpose of starting a tax-exempt casino: at least that tribe had a constructive goal that motivated them. The so called "Palestinians" have only one motivation: the destruction of Israel, and in my book that is not sufficient to consider them a nation" -- or anything else except what they really are: a terrorist organization that will one day be dismantled.
In fact, there is only one way to achieve peace in the Middle East. Arab countries must acknowledge and accept their defeat in their war against Israel and, as the losing side should, pay Israel reparations for the more than 50 years of devastation they have visited on it. The most appropriate form of such reparations would be the removal of their terrorist organization from the land of Israel and accepting Israel's ancient sovereignty over Gaza, Judea, and Samaria.
That will mark the end of the Palestinian people. What are you saying again was its beginning?
You are absolutely correct in your understanding of the "Palestinians" murderous motives. I am afraid however that you, along with 99% of the population of this planet have missed the beginning of WWIII (the enemy call it Jihad) quite a few years ago. The siege of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, an event to which the latest Nobel Peace Prize winner had somiserably failed to respond, can be very well used as the day WWIII stepped out of the pages of the Koran and into the current events. I pray the United States and Israel lead the world to victory in this war.
Come to think of it, there is no choice, be you a Christian, or even, believe it or not, a Muslim.