The following article is in response to the many letters we received regarding Yasser Arafat's secret meeting with top Arab diplomats in Stockholm's Grand Hotel on January 30, 1996. Despite the story's independent verification by a number of top investigative journalists and terrorism experts in several countries, there is a campaign afoot to deny it's accuracy which appears to be emanating from the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem and the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
The ensuing article, entitled: "Arafat's Secret Agenda Is to Wear Israelis Out" appeared in the April 1, 1996 issue of Insight magazine in Washington D.C. written by this correspondent. Additional comments follow the article:
"In the dark shadow of horrific suicide bombings in Israel carried out by Hamas terrorists operating from the safe haven of Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA), an Israeli government which had asserted that the leopard of the Palestine Liberation Organization had changed its spots, finds itself questioning its basic premise: Does Yasser Arafat really believe in the peace process with Israel, and what are his true intentions?
According to reports of an unpublicized January meeting between Mr. Arafat and Swedish-based Arab diplomats in Stockholm, Arafat estimates that the final-stage agreements between the Palestinians and Israel will ultimately bring about Israel's collapse. He reportedly told the diplomats that a migration of Arabs to 'the West Bank and Jerusalem' and the psychological warfare the Palestinians would wage against the Israelis would cause a massive emigration of Jews to the United States. 'We Palestinians will takeover everything, including all of Jerusalem,' the PLO leader declared, claiming Israeli leaders 'Peres and Beilin have already promised us half of Jerusalem. The Golan Heights have already been given away, subject to just a few details.'
'We of the PLO will now concentrate all our efforts on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps,' Arafat reportedly declared. 'Within five years, we will have six to seven million Arabs living on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. All Palestinian Arabs will be welcomed by us. If the Jews can import all kinds of Ethiopians, Russians, Uzbeks and Ukranians as Jews, we can import all kinds of Arabs to us.' He added that the PLO plans 'to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian State. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion; Jews won't want to live among us Arabs.'
Mr. Arafat's meeting took place on January 30th, in Stockholm's Grand Hotel shortly after an official state dinner in his honor sponsored by Sweden's Foreign Minister. Unlike the 'Jihad' speech given by Mr. Arafat in a Johannesburg mosque two years ago, no recording exists. However, an investigation by Israel's Channel 7 (Arutz Sheva) Radio news (which also released the Johannesburg tape) has confirmed the existence and authenticity of a transcript, as have Swedish sources and Murray Kahl, editor of Israeli & Global News. Channel 7 broadcast excerpts on Feb. 14.
The next day, the Israeli Hebrew language dailies Ha'aretz and Ma'ariv both ran the story quoting Channel 7 Radio, and Ma'ariv translated the radio report to Arabic and passed it on to Arafat's office in Gaza requesting comment. Arafat told Ma'ariv that the story was 'not true and not accurate.' He then admitted that the secret meeting had, in fact, occurred but claimed the Arab ambassadors came on their own initiative to congratulate him on his boldness in pursuing peace with Israel and his victory in the Palestinian elections. [Mr. Arafat failed to explain, why, if the meeting's content was as he alleged, it was kept such a secret until Arutz 7's broadcast exposed its having took place. YA]
Two days later, the conservative Norwegian newspaper Dagen published new details regarding Arafat's speech under a front-page headline declaring: 'Arafat Gave Speech about Israel's Destruction.' The Jerusalem Post ran the story Feb. 23, and on Feb. 24, the Swedish weekly Magazinet published excerpts from the speech. Meanwhile, three prominent Israeli writers, Chaim Guri, Aharon Amir and Aharon Meged took note of the Channel 7 and Dagen's reportage and published articles in leading Israeli newspapers expressing deep concern [over Arafat's true intentions and the Peres government's inability to recognize them. YA].
The Israeli press since has revealed that the investigative division of the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, circulated among its intelligence personnel a copy of the article on Arafat's speech in Stockholm. Observers thought this had particular import after IDF Military Intelligence chief, Major General Moshe Ya'alon, told a Committee of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, in mid-January that Arafat has no intention of dismantling the Hamas terrorist infrastructure, stating that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to freely arm themselves with weapons and explosives and recruit new activists. Ya'alon testified again in February that Arafat has still failed to take any significant steps against Hamas.
The day after the second Jerusalem bus bombing and the morning of the Tel Aviv explosion, the new head of Israel's General Security Service, Ami Ayalon, appeared before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee and reported that suicide bombers are recruited by faculty members of the (Islamic) Teachers Seminary in Ramallah, after which they undergo technical training in the Islamic Colleges, and 'spiritual' preparation by the Muslim imams from the mosques. Ramallah is under the jurisdiction of Arafat and his PA. Had the PLO leader been interested in dismantling the Hamas terrorist infrastructure, he would never have had to travel far.
Early in March, under tremendous pressure, Arafat finally began to crack down on Hamas - just as polls showed that Likud had overtaken Labor peace forces and that the Israeli elections might produce a government more likely to resist Arafat's long-term plans. He is nothing if not pragmatic, and he can wait."
The above article was written in mid-March. During and since that time, others have published confirmations. For the sake of brevity, I shall quote only two wholly respectable and establishment accepted sources:
The first, BIPAC (British-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the British version of "AIPAC" in the U.S.). In its quarterly publication, "BIPAC Briefing" of March 1996, BIPAC reported: "Arafat's remarks../..../..../..were reported by the Norwegian daily Dagen and confirmed to BIPAC Briefing by senior Arab sources in London."
The second: Ehud Ya'ari, Israel Television's (government-sponsored Channel One) premier Arab Affairs reporter and commentator, wrote the following in his column in the April 4, 1996, issue of The Jerusalem Report: "The government of Israel already has, for example, full confirmation of the accuracy of the words Arafat has been quoted as saying in his meeting with Arab diplomats in Stockholm. He spoke there, as reported [by Arutz 7 Radio], about the 'psychological pressure' and 'demographic pressure' that will cause Israel to crumble in the end, and its Jews to run for cover. For reasons of momentary convenience, the [Peres] government chose not to challenge Arafat on his vision of the New Middle East. In the Israeli press, the item was pushed to the bottom of the inside pages."
Ya'ari clearly indicates that the Peres government, although fully cognizant of Arafat's Stockholm speech, has deliberately ignored both its existence and political ramifications. It appears to this reporter that given the official public statements issued by the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem as well as by the highest Israeli officials in the Embassy in Washington, there is a concerted effort by the Peres government to not only ignore the story, but to actively spread disinformation abroad and deny its validity.
A recent story in The Washington Jewish Week is a classic example of Jewish yellow journalism. The headline and its contents try to systematically deny the accuracy of the Arutz 7 Radio reports and that of the Norwegian daily newspaper Dagen. The Jewish Week's reporter, if he can be called that, managed to write a whole story about Arutz 7 without having the professional courtesy of even talking to Arutz 7. Nor is it clear that he spoke with the reporter from the Dagen.
He sets great store in quoting "Arutz 7's key source," a Mr. Berlinger in Stockholm, as denying he confirmed the story for Arutz 7. Apparently it is The Jewish Week's policy that its reporters are not only not required to speak to those who wrote and reported the stories which The Jewish Week wishes to discredit, they are not even required to read the target stories either.
Had The Jewish Week's "reporter" read Arutz 7's reports, he would have known that Mr. Berlinger was not mentioned anywhere in the story, he was not a key source, or even any source. The only Swedish source mentioned by name who confirmed the existence of the hitherto secret meeting was Ms. Annika Soder, director of the Press Division of Sweden's Foreign Ministry who told Arutz-7: "../...The [Arab] ambassadors, as we call them, were not in the official program, but I heard that he [Arafat] met them in the hotel after dinner."
Moreover, although The Jewish Week quotes the Tel Aviv based Institute for Peace Education as confirming The Jewish Week's contention that the Arutz 7 report was false, here too its reporter neglected to speak with Yigal Carmon, former advisor on terrorism to the Prime Minister of Israel, and head of the Institute. And when he spoke with him after the publication of the malicious and slanderous article, Mr. Carmon told him that on the contrary, he believes the story true and faxed The Jewish Week a letter stating just that wherein he made reference to Ehud Ya'ari's column previously mentioned.
At this point, Arutz 7 is waiting for The Washington Jewish Week to publish a prominent apology for its shoddy and malevolent story, and wonders why The Jewish Week's editors felt the need to attempt to deny the story more than a month after it was initially released. One Washington observer opined to this reporter that the impetus for The Jewish Week's "hatchet job probably emanated from the Israeli Embassy in view of the appearance of the Insight magazine article on Capitol Hill the previous week." One hopes The Washington Jewish Week is only guilty of poor editorial control, and not political bias to the extreme.
Yedidya Atlas is Arutz-7's senior correspondent for events inWashington D.C. and the U.S. in general. His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Insight Magazine, The Jerusalem Post and other publications. Atlas is a member of the Advisory Committee of Freeman Center For Strategic Studies. He resides in Israel, but travels frequently to the U.S. on behalf of Arutz-7. Arutz-7 Educational Radio is a project of Bet-El Yeshiva Center Institution.