Israel News

A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto

March 9, 2001   -   14 Adar 5761
Issue number 316

Events...

Friday March 16, 9:15pm
Oneg Shabbat at BAYT with Bentzi Lieberman, Chair of the Shomron Regional Council.

Sunday March 18
“Next Year in Jerusalem?” Symposium at Chabad @ Flamingo, 8001 Bathurst.

Wednesday March 21, 8:00pm
Chabad of Markham presents Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, 83 Green Lane, $6.

Thursday, March 22, 8:00pm
Mizrachi presents Rav Hershel Schachter speaking on The Pesach Haggada from the Teachings of Rav Y.B. Soloveitchik ____ at Bnai Torah.

News...

Ariel Sharon Drops United Jerusalem from Swearing in Speech

Israel Television's Channel One's Knesset Correspondent noted this evening that when prime minister elect Ariel Sharon made his inaugural speech this evening in the Knesset, he dropped one line from his text. Sharon told the special session that it is important for Israel's present and future not to forget Jerusalem and then skipped over the phrase in his prepared speech "united under Israeli sovereignty". The following is IMRA's translation of the paragraph as it appeared in the text distributed PRIOR to the speech. The sentence Sharon omitted when he spoke IS IN CAPITALS: "Jerusalem was and will be the eternal capital of the Jewish People. JERUSALEM COMPLETE AND UNITED WILL ALWAYS REMAIN UNDER ISRAELI SOVEREIGNTY. Prime ministers of Israel always repeated this commitment in their swearing in speech and among them the late Yitzhak Rabin of blessed memory. And thus also the pledge: If I forget Jerusalem..." (IMRA Mar 7)

Sharon Presents Largest Gov't Ever

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presented Israel's largest government ever Wednesday.. In a departure from tradition, and in accordance with a special request by Ariel Sharon, the new Prime Minister will be sworn in on a Bible. (arutzsheva.org Mar 7)

PA Communications Chief: Intifada Was Planned in July

PA Communications Chief Imad Falouji told a PLO rally in southern Lebanon last Friday that the recent intifada had nothing to do with Ariel Sharon's walk on the Temple Mount. The disturbances were planned after the peace talks failed in July, according to Falouji. "It [the uprising] had been planned since Arafat's return from Camp David, when he turned the tables on the former US president and rejected the American conditions," Falouji said. PA officials rejected Falouji's statement, reiterating that it was Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount that had set off the violence. He also told the roaring crowd of supporters that the PLO is now reorganizing to escalate the violence against Israel: "We are going back to the '60s, '70s, and '80s. The Fatah Hawks, the Kassam Brigades, the Red Eagle, and all the military action groups are returning to work." (A7 Mar 4)

IDF General: "Not One Centimeter"

O.C. Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Doron Almog says that the IDF is against giving even one centimeter of land to the PLO, as long as no agreement is reached with the Palestinians and their violence against Israelis continues. Gen. Almog said Monday that evacuating any Jewish community from anywhere in Gaza would be interpreted as a sign of weakness, and would invite further aggressions from the Palestinian Authority. "It is sufficient to see how the Arabs viewed our pull-out from Lebanon," he said, and added, "there is no difference between [the isolated community] Netzarim and any other town in Israel. The IDF is obligated to protect and defend all of them." (arutzsheva.org Mar 6)

Another IDF General: "Violence Likely to Increase"

Head of IDF Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Malka told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that an escalation of Palestinian violence is foreseen for the coming days. "The Palestinian Authority will want to test the new government," Malka said, noting also that an upcoming convention of Arab nations at the end of March is also a factor in the PA's plans. He noted that it does not matter which terrorist organization carries out a given attack, as they all receive the same go-ahead from Arafat and the PA. "All the terror organizations are acting under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority," Gen. Malka said. (A7 Mar 6,7)

American Airlines Plans to Call off Tel Aviv Flights

The TWA Workers' Committee protests the decision of TWA's likely purchaser - American Airlines - to suspend TWA's daily flights from New York to Tel Aviv. American's claim that "it does not make economic sense to continue the route at this time" was dismissed by the workers as being "based on other considerations." The workers noted that the JFK-Tel Aviv route earned almost $20 million in profits over the past two years and continues to fly at 80% capacity, while similar flights to Egypt and Saudi Arabia have not been canceled. The workers therefore implied that the reasons for the decision are likely political. "Does American Airlines believe that continuing service to Israel will adversely affect its business relationships with other middle-eastern countries?" rhetorically asked a workers' statement. (arutzsheva.org Mar 6)

Three Killed in Suicide Terrorist Attack in Netanya

Netanya suffered its third terrorist attack in the same downtown area in two years Sunday when a suicide bomber exploded a bomb he was carrying on his person, killing one woman immediately. Another woman and man later died as doctors were attempting to save their lives on the operating table. The terrorist himself was also killed. 74 people were hurt. Extensive damage was done to stores in the area. The three victims of today's attack were: Naftali Din, 84, of Tel Mond; Evgenia Malchin, 70, of Netanya; and Shulamit Ziv, 58, of Netanya. The explosion took place on a pedestrian crossing opposite the central bus station in the center of Netanya. The number of Israelis killed since the beginning of the Rosh HaShanah Arab Assault is now up to 67; Hizbullah killed two others along the northern border. Hamas has claimed responsibility for the fatal attack, which came only hours after it published an announcement warning of its readiness to carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis "as soon as the Sharon government takes office." (A7 Mar 4)

Threat of War

Military historian Dr. Aryeh Yitzchaki was asked Sunday how he reads the reported Egyptian decision to call up its reserves for "exercises." His response:"All the classic warning signs are there, and it is clear that we are poised for war, possibly within two months. I don't want to scare anyone, but as opposed to IDF Military Intelligence, my opinion for the last two years has been that war will erupt in the spring of 2001, and it will involve not only the Palestinian Authority and Hizbullah, but also Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. The Egyptian Army does not need reserves - it's an army built on its standing force, and therefore Israel's denials of the Egyptian call-up are not relevant. The Egyptian Army is poised for war; it has created new regiments, has been training intensively, and has acquired the most up-to-date American equipment... I am happy that despite the IDF's denials of my prognosis, Intelligence Chief Head Maj.-Gen. Amos Malka is beginning to agree with me." Yitzchaki said that despite reports that Iraq and Iran will have nuclear weapons only three and five years from now, respectively, "I have reliable information that Iraq already has one nuclear bomb - and this explains his recent 'chutzpah' vis-a-vis the Americans - and that Iran will have one ready by the end of this year." (arutzsheva.org Mar 4)

Commentary...

Chaos Is Not So Bad

By Efraim Inbar

There is great concern in the West, as well as in Israeli circles of all political hues, that the Palestinian Authority might collapse soon. PA Chairman Yasser Arafat seems unable to rule, i.e. maintain a modicum of law and order in the territories under his control. We see the beginning of the "Lebanonization" of the PA, which is indicated by the emergence of a myriad of armed groups displaying only partial loyalty to Arafat.

In addition, the deteriorating economic situation, as a result of the limited access to the Israeli market, creates demands upon the PA which it is unable to meet, furthering the erosion in its authority and legitimacy. Such challenges are reinforced by the widespread Palestinian perceptions of the ruling elite as corrupt and authoritarian. The PA increasingly fails to provide basic needs, such as personal security and a minimum standard of living for its citizens.

We may well see the breakdown of the PA into several patches effectively ruled by new barons, who have almost full monopoly over arms in their fiefdoms. The PA may well turn into a failed state - a post-Cold War phenomenon in several regions of the world.

The premise of the Oslo process was that, since the Israelis have failed to govern the territories successfully (Jews seem to be unfit for an occupying role), they should find a suitable Palestinian to do it effectively, in the words of Rabin, "without the Supreme Court and B'Tselem."

We were led to believe that Arafat suited the role of leader who could establish a Palestinian entity that would have good neighborly relations with Israel. This did not work very well, primarily because of Arafat's governing style and political ambitions. He was unwilling to suppress the armed opposition groups (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) that continued to engage in terror against Israel. Moreover, the PA expanded its own military capabilities by an increase in the number of armed soldiers and by equipping them with mortars, anti-tank weapons and shoulder missiles against aircraft, all in flagrant violation of signed agreements with Israel. In fact, Arafat allowed the PA and its security organs to turn into what IDF Chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz called "a terrorist entity," which holds radical aspirations such as the relocation of numerous Palestinian refugees to Israel.

The desire to prevent the anarchical characteristic of failed states is understandable and this is the main motivation for the attempts to save and strengthen Arafat. Yet the belief that Arafat can change and behave reasonably, or that a strong PA is beneficial for Israel, is questionable.

In short, Arafat and his coterie are part of the problem and not of the solution. Therefore, we should think about a third option (in addition to Israeli occupation and Arafat's rule) - chaos. It is indeed not a pleasant thought. Chaos in the territories poses a security problem for Israel. Such a problem is less acute if the fragmented Palestinian armed groups do not coordinate their low- intensity conflict against Israel. Anarchy in the territories may allow Israel a freer hand in dealing with the terrorists.

Indeed, a situation of chaos might ultimately yield positive results.

The collapse of the PA will weaken the young Palestinian national movement. This nationalism has been a source of endemic violence in the past and is a recipe for regional instability in the future. It threatens at least two "nice" states - Israel and Jordan - and has continuously supported policies of radical regimes such as Iraq and Libya. It is also thoroughly anti-American.

The collapse of the PA and the failure of the Palestinian national movement to establish a successful state might reduce the appetite of the Palestinians for an independent entity. Although failures rarely affect the political fortunes of Arab leaders (as with Egyptian president Gamel Abdul Nasser or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein), Arafat, as a symbol of the Palestinian national movement might be seriously tainted in the case of the PA falling apart, and this could bring to the forefront a more realistic and conciliatory leadership.

It is misleading to portray Hamas as the only alternative to Arafat. It is his current ally. Moreover, the disintegration of the PA would be a public-relations debacle for the Palestinians and would elicit greater understanding in the world for Israeli fears of its destructive implications.

Disorder in the territories could be the incentive for fresh thinking on the Palestinian issue on the part of the Palestinians, as well as elsewhere.

More chaos in the Palestinian-ruled territories might open up new opportunities to stabilize the situation. The internecine violence of the previous intifada led to acceptance of the Madrid conference formula - a clear indication of growing political realism among the Palestinians.

The failed PA experiment could be an additional factor to the emergence of a more politically mature body politic. For example, the Palestinians in Gaza may ask the Egyptians to return, while in the West Bank the rule of the Hashemites may look increasingly favorable in comparison to Arafat's.

Chaos as an interim situation is not necessarily the worst-case scenario. Therefore, Israel might have an interest in Arafat taking a fall. (Jerusalem Post Mar 5)

Jerusalem Must Be Liberated Again

By Nadav Shragai

In the midst of the first Intifada, then-police commissioner David Kraus called a meeting of senior Israeli police commanders and - in what later turned out to be an amalgam of naivete and a little pathos - declared, "What we are about to do is to liberate Jerusalem again." At the time, Israelis thought the situation could not get any worse: Traveling by vehicle through East Jerusalem was a real problem, as rocks and Molotov cocktails were being hurled at them. However, firearms were not being used.In the reality of March 2001, the "reliberation of Jerusalem" is an infinitely more difficult task. Nonetheless, responsibility for attaining that goal cannot be shirked by Jews, especially by Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon, who presented his vision of a united Jerusalem as an antithesis to the plan for partitioning the city that had been agreed to by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

The most important asset that Israel has lost in East Jerusalem is control of security matters in that part of the city. Palestinian security services and the "civilian" police of the governor of East Jerusalem, Jamil Othman (also known as Abu Nasser), who was appointed to this post by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and whose offices are in Abu Dis, operate in East Jerusalem almost openly. East Jerusalem's Arab residents regard these agencies as the "law" and as having the same status as - usually, higher status than - the Israeli police.

Operating in parallel to Israeli security services and law-enforcement agencies in East Jerusalem is a comprehensive security and law-enforcement mechanism that is being run by the Palestinians and which engages in a variety of activities: Intelligence work, abductions, interrogations, bodyguard services, arbitration and patrols. Any Arab East Jerusalemite who dares to ask for the assistance of the Israeli police is invariably threatened by the representatives of this Palestinian police-cum-security mechanism. According to the assessment of Israeli security experts, it is just a question of time before the active collaboration of the PA's security services in the violence unfolding on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip spreads to Jerusalem. The two recent shooting incidents at the French Hill intersection corroborate this evaluation.

However, even if the anticipated collaboration of PA security services in terrorist activities directed against Israelis does not materialize, the time has arrived, so it would seem, to once again draw the boundary lines between what is permissible and what is not in Jerusalem. There is no possible justification for making peace with the PA's present security operations in that city. From the formal standpoint, these operations are a violation of agreements that Israel has signed with the PA. Even the cooperative relationship in the field of intelligence between Palestinian and Israeli security services - a relationship that, from the very beginning, probably did not justify the price (namely, the erosion of Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem) - has deteriorated in quality. And that is definitely an underestimate.

The removal of Palestinian security services from East Jerusalem will be no easy task. However, it must be done if the vision of a reunification of Jerusalem is to be realized. It is absurd for a single capital city to have two parallel police forces, two parallel internal security agencies and two parallel intelligence mechanisms. The thousands of individuals carrying out police and security work on behalf of the PA in East Jerusalem must not be allowed to continue these activities any further. If their continued presence would make it futile for Israel to attempt to put a halt to their work, then they must be removed from this part of the city, even at the cost of curfews, closures and encirclement in Jerusalem itself.

In the final analysis, even Arab East Jerusalemite - many of whom are frightened to death at the prospect of living under PA jurisdiction - would actually be grateful if Israel were to take such actions. Nonetheless, the carrying out of this difficult task cannot be an isolated operation. Barak and outgoing Public Security Minister and Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami gave broad hints of their plans for partitioning Jerusalem well before they led the government to decide on dividing up the city. As early as last summer, it became evident that the Barak government had stopped transferring funds for the development of infrastructures and services in East Jerusalem. This was a dramatic about-face, in stark contrast with the policies of the government headed by Barak's predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, which - after years of deprivation and neglect - increased by several hundred percentage points the financial allocations to East Jerusalem.

The Barak government's freeze on cash transfers to East Jerusalem delivered an obvious message to each of its Arab residents: "Dear resident of East Jerusalem, Israel's presence in East Jerusalem is temporary and, thus, it is not in Israel's interests to invest in you."

A month before it was toppled, the Netanyahu government made a series of wise decisions regarding East Jerusalem. The Sharon government now has all the time in the world to implement them. This is a far easier task than banishing Jibril Rajoub, head of preventive security for the PA on the West Bank, and his personnel. All that the Sharon cabinet has to do is to pave roads, install street lamps and sewage systems, and set up public parks - in short, to begin acting as if East Jerusalem were really under Israeli sovereignty.

Finally - or perhaps it should be said: To begin with - Israel owes it to itself to make a major effort to change the situation on the Temple Mount. What is taking place today there delivers an ethical and moral message not only to the Palestinian population in the territories but also to the Jewish population in the Land of Israel. Israel cannot continue to put up with the ban on visits by Jews to the Temple Mount. The government has the tools (which have been used before) to force the Waqf (Moslem Religious Trust) and the PA to open the gates of the Temple Mount to non-Muslims as well as to Muslims. For example, the government has the authority to prevent Muslims from entering the Temple Mount.

The Antiquities Authority must also return to the Temple Mount in order to stop the continued destruction of the antiquities there. What has been happening over the past few months on the Temple Mount should make all intelligent persons indignant, especially Jews, when the relics of the Jewish past are slowly but surely being erased at Judaism's holiest site.

The exercising of the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount can be delayed for awhile - until a new reality has stabilized itself there. Israel must adopt a unique policy toward the Temple Mount, which is part of the time-honored traditions of a nation whose existence has been molded and protected by Jerusalem, rather than the other way around. This heritage compels Israel to teach the love of Jerusalem even in the nation's schools. The Palestinians have no qualms about expressing love for their Zion; there is certainly no reason why Jews should hide the love they feel for theirs. (Haaretz Mar 6)

Learning from Mistakes?

By Joseph Farah

Some wise old sage once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. If that's true, U.S. policy in the Middle East is in need of serious psychiatric treatment -- maybe even electroshock therapy. While the faces in charge of the U.S. State Department have changed, the policy of pursuing peace at any price appears to be the same.

Secretary of State Colin Powell visited the Mideast, but his rhetoric was amazingly familiar. If we closed our eyes and disguised the impressive voice, it could have been Madeleine Albright speaking. Yet his middle-of-the-road wishy-washiness didn't win him any friends in the Arab world. He was denounced harshly in Arabic-language, official press outlets in Egypt.

"The American secretary of state did not hesitate to demonstrate humiliation and submission when he recently visited Israel," explained an editorial in Al-Akhbar, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. "He stood humble, a Jewish yarmulke on his head, in front of the memorial of the false Holocaust of the Jews in World War II; he also sat in front of the new Israeli leadership like a student listening to the opinions of that same leadership that opposes the American role in the peace process, without being able to answer! Furthermore, he praised Sharon and attacked Arafat with unjustified cruelty."

Well, of course, Powell did no such thing. He bent over backward in an attempt to be even-handed to Israeli and Arab interests. But, the point is, he won no more friends in the Arab world than did his predecessor who treated terrorist Arafat like an equal of elected leaders in the Jewish state.

The attacks on Powell were relentless, cruel and racist in Al-Akhbar. Here's what Editor-in-Chief Galal Duweidar had to say: "I can swear that the Jewish yarmulke that Powell put on his head during his visit in Israel was the reason for his surprise (at the Arab reaction to the bombings in Iraq). Certainly this cursed yarmulke causes whoever wears it to lose his righteousness, to forget justice, and to free himself of any wisdom or logic."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Meanwhile, it appears Powell is on the verge of nominating one of the key architects of President Clinton's failed peace process as ambassador to Israel. Daniel Kurtzer is the current ambassador to Egypt and has long desired to move to Jerusalem (or, more likely, Tel Aviv). Kurtzer immediately emerged as a key player for the Bush team on Middle East policy and made no secret of his desire to become ambassador to Israel even before Bush was inaugurated. Though Kurtzer is the first observant Jew to serve as ambassador to Egypt, his appointment will only provide cover for more, unyielding Washington pressure on Israel to sacrifice its own security interests in pursuit of more concessions to Arafat. But Kurtzer is well-respected by the Washington political establishment and is expected to face no opposition in the U.S. Senate among Democrats or Republicans, if, indeed, he is the nominee.

Meanwhile, lost in all the diplomatic news -- or non-news -- was perhaps the most revealing development of all in the Mideast. It turns out the current intifada was not a spontaneous uprising at all -- but rather a deliberate, planned, orchestrated outburst against Israel after peace talks bogged down last summer. A Palestinian Cabinet official, Communications Minister Imad Falouji, admitted as much in Lebanon last week. "It had been planned since Chairman Arafat's return from Camp David, when he turned the tables in the face of the former U.S. president and rejected the American conditions," said Falouji, as quoted by the Associated Press at a PLO rally in Sidon.

Falouji, by the way, is a former activist in the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, for which Arafat maintains plausible deniability with regard to his control. He also told the PLO rally that Arafat is reviving its "military action" groups to escalate fighting against Israel. "The PLO is going back to the '60s, '70s and '80s," explained Falouji. "The Fatah Hawks, the Kassam Brigades, the Red Eagle and all the military action groups are returning to work," he told the cheering throngs.

So much for the sincerity of those involved in the "peace process." And so much for trying more of the same old diplomatic prescriptions.

The writer is editor and chief executive officer of WorldNetDaily.com.

The God Factor

By Stewart Weiss

In many ways, the upcoming holiday of Purim is a microcosm of much of Jewish history outside Israel: A rabid antisemite seeks to destroy the local Jewish populace; defenseless Jews cower in fear, at the mercy of their hosts; last-minute, behind the scenes machinations - orchestrated by some genuine heroes and assisted by friends in high places - save the Jews in dramatic fashion. The Jewish community heaves a sigh of relief, declares a holiday, and awaits the next crisis.

Yet I suggest that Purim - though it occurred in Persia - is as much a metaphor for life in modern Israel as it is for the Diaspora experience. One of the key questions regarding Purim is the role of God. Does God play a part in this story, or doesn't He? All the events revolve around human beings, and no supernatural miracles of any sort occur. In fact, the Megila has not a single reference to God, being the only book of Scriptures which totally omits His name. In Israel, there has always been a raging debate about the place of God and religion in our national and political life. Many of the original founders of the state, like Ben- Gurion, were prepared to tolerate a religious influence in the fledgling nation, as long as it was restricted to places of worship, national holidays, and family matters.

But God was persona non grata in the courts, in the halls of power, and in the decisions of state, which had to be conducted along much the same lines as in any other civilized country.

Others in the power structure were not so benevolent - they tried hard to eliminate God from every quarter, arguing that a modern, "enlightened," 20th-century nation has no place for illusions of the divine. Thus Yemenite children had their earlocks cut off, and were forcibly placed in non-religious schools and kibbutzim. Whole parties, like Meretz, were created to attack and dismantle the religious influence, cynically mocking the "outdated" laws and mores of the observant population (who can forget Shulamit Aloni referring to the chief rabbis as the "twin popes" of Israel?). The same attitude is reflected in Ehud Barak's ill-fated "social reform," a thinly veiled attempt to eradicate the special Jewish character from every official aspect of everyday state affairs.

Nor is this approach unique to the secular population. At the other end of the spectrum, there are numerous observant Jews who restrict God to their own definition of whom He cares about and where He gets involved. I recall meeting such a group of Jews who refused to acknowledge either the victories or the sacrifice of our armed forces, telling me, "God could have nothing to do with the IDF." This atheistic posture is not only misguided and elitist; it also represents a total misreading of the people's belief in what I call, "the God factor." For on virtually every level, we are a people and a state with an acute awareness of the fact that we are special, that we operate by different standards, and that, in the community of nations and by the laws of logic, we simply "do not compute." And what makes us different is our connection to God.

THE AVERAGE Israeli, observant or not, innately understands that we could not have created - much less sustained - this little nation, without some help from above. He recognizes that our astounding military victories were more than just luck, tactics or fighting spirit. He knows that there is no earthly financial explanation of how our economy is in such dire straits and yet new cars abound on the road, and virtually no home in Israel lacks a computer, video, or TV. He expresses this belief in various ways: in outright praise of God and commitment to the Torah; in the constant mention of God's name for every occasion - "God willing," "Blessed is God," "God help us," "God have mercy," etc; or even in his natural affinity for Jewish holidays and Jewish life-cycle events. One need only witness the popularity of songs like Moshiach at secular weddings or watch the non- observant clamoring to kiss the Torah at the Second Hakafot following Simchat Torah to feel the emotional tie which the average citizen of Israel has to God and Judaism. I believe it is this tie to God which convinces Jews to immigrate here from the affluent countries of the West; to bravely settle the ancient biblical heartland; to withstand terror and trauma on a continual basis; and to raise our children with the optimism that we shall surely conquer all the formidable obstacles in our path. Somehow we know that God is with us, and not necessarily on the "side with the strongest army," and that He will see us through this and every crisis.

The challenge of Purim is to bring God back into the equation, to live in a natural, normal environment and yet to be able to remove the masks and see God everywhere. To affirm that life is not a lottery, conducted at random, but rather an ordered, directed universe with a captain steering the ship.

True, God's name is not mentioned in the Book of Esther. But when God is everywhere, he need not be restricted to any one page or paragraph.

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana. (Jerusalem Post Mar 4)

Finding Truth in the Mideast

By Geoff Metcalf

Geoff Metcalf interviews author, journalist, historian Joan Peters Editor's note: Joan Peters' monumental book, "From Time Immemorial," changes the terms of the debate about the conflicting claims of the Arabs and the Jews in the Middle East. After many years of research, Peters has documented the complex history of the region and deftly contradicts common perceptions about the role and strategy of each side of the struggle. WorldNetDaily staff writer and talk show host Geoff Metcalf recently interviewed Peters about her book and the current Mideast conflict.

Question: You spent about seven years researching your book, "From Time Immemorial," right?

Answer: Really, it was a lot more than that, but there were seven years in the field.
Q: What precipitated your interest in the history of the Middle East?
A: I was sent there by CBS for the 1973 Yom Kippur War to do a series of documentaries. I stayed for the war and its aftermath -- it became a very long process. Then, Doubleday offered me a contract to do a book and I became an instant expert. So, I started doing the book and eventually realized that I and everybody else who had been studying it had been studying it from the wrong end, and it was turned on its head. So, I had to give back the contract.
Q: You mean they didn't like the conclusions you were coming to after doing the research?
A: It wasn't that they didn't like them. To be fair, they were very interested. But it was an open-ended time estimate and I couldn't give them any deadlines. They needed a book on the Middle East so, with all fairness, I gave back the advance and said, "Maybe I'll come back to you when I've finished, if I ever finish."
Q: What was it you found? Everybody is confused about the Mideast.
A: Yes, they are.
Q: All people are getting is what they are being fed through the mainstream, and so much of that is mitigated by partisan politics and other concerns. What did you find that was surprising and different from the conventional wisdom?
A: I'm going to back up a minute. People are learning from the media -- that's true. But today's media has some more taxing problems. I don't know if you get a rather unfamiliar -- not very popular -- publication called Commentary Magazine. In the January issue it told a very chilling story about what's available in the Middle East for publication and why. There are open threats by the Palestinian Authority, for example. The problem of the Middle East media is they have to write things the "right way" or else they are dead meat.
Q: It has to be politically correct to their perspective?
A: It's more than politically correct. It means they don't report an Israeli who has been murdered. They don't report the reason for an Arab slaughter of Israelis. They report it as though it was an Israeli provocation. There was one exception to that. I'm sure you and your audience must remember the ... I can't even call it a mutilation. They called it a "lynching," but it was much worst than that. The reporter who had the audacity to photograph that and then publish it in Italy and then worldwide had to get down on his knees and beg forgiveness from the Palestinian Authority to prevent from being killed. There is no freedom to publish there anymore than there is in places like Egypt, where the news starts at the top of the pyramid -- I was told that by an Egyptian editorial writer once, a television writer.
Q: Wait a minute. You've got two adversarial factions there. Both sides are propagandizing -- there is no argument about that. So why would one side be more successful at inhibiting reportage?
A: You're talking about Israel and the Palestinians?
Q: Yes.
A: There is nothing equitable about that. There is not even an analogous situation. Israel has a free press. Everything bad you can write about Israel is welcome in Israel. In fact, the Israeli press has been arguably the source of most of the anti-Israeli material in the world. They have many more papers that are what we would call anti-Israel than they have pro-Israel.
Q: The guy who published the piece about the slaughter of those Israeli soldiers -- where was he from?
A: Italy.
Q: So whose ring did he have to kiss?
A: He was reporting to an Italian newspaper, an Italian media company. And he thought his job was to report the truth.
Q: He didn't get the memo?
A: No. That's about it.
Q: How come the Arab refugees are perceived so differently? There are a lot of other people who were displaced after World War II in far greater numbers than the Arabs. Who drew up the rules on this as far as perception versus reality?
A: There are a lot of disturbing questions -- and that is a very disturbing one. It has become an urgent matter to talk about the refugees but people in the Middle East don't want to talk about refugees. They want to talk about Palestinians. The refugee situation was equal in 1948. There was more or less an exchange of populations. There were an unknown countless number of hundreds of thousands of Arab-born Jews who fled or were expelled from Arab countries with the advent of Israel. And they left their properties or their properties were confiscated in those Arab countries. The Palestinians who fled or were ordered to run from Israel -- many of them recently arrived nomads who had come for a job -- those people could have taken over the positions that were left by the Jews in those Arab countries. It could have been solved and it could have been one of the more humane solutions to the refugee problem anywhere in the world. There were many international boards of inquiry. There were many recommendations by American and foreign presidents and prime ministers to solve the Arab refugee problem. As the Arabs said in the Arab League at that time, "We want to keep this as an open sore and use these people as a pawn against Israel."
Q: They actually had the brass to say that?
A: Oh, they say it. In my book, it is quoted many times.
Q: In the wake of your research, what do you see as the most crucial, compelling challenge in the Mideast right now?
A: The most crucial, compelling problem in the Mideast is standing history on its feet from its place turned on its head, and trying to get justice turned back on its feet. The history of the region has been so distorted by the flames of a politically motivated force. There is no way to right this unless people just stop and say, "Whoa!" It's going to have to be an almost revolutionary movement in historical terms. People are going to have to go back to the books and find out about some of the disturbing questions that could create another holocaust.
Q: How rabid is revisionist history in the Mideast?
A: I can tell you it isn't even revisionist history anymore. It's almost mainstream. It's become so prevalent and it is a complete hoax. It is bogus. The situation that we are hearing about is not relevant to the truth of the situation about the conflict of Arabs and Jews in Israel.
Q: What is the reality?
A: The reality is that Israel is a very small place, a Jewish place, and without a huge struggle, the Jews would never have had it. But they had it before the Second World War. It was a Jewish national home mandated internationally by the League of Nations as long ago as 1917 at the time of the Balfour Declaration. And then it was adopted by the international League of Nations Mandate in the '20s.
Q: In 1947, the British sat down with a crayon and carved up the Mideast. From that point forward, what is the complaint that the Arabs have?
A: They have no complaint. What they want is Jews out. First, they want the Saturday people out and then they want the Sunday people out. I sat with some very soft-spoken, very chilling people in Gaza -- Islamic Jihad leaders who told me very carefully and very quietly and very succinctly that no one and no border exists for the Arabs, the Islamic Arabs, in the area between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean except the Islamic borders, and that any others are artificial and the governments must be wiped out.
Q: How do they deal with the cruel reality that every time a bunch of them get together with rocks and try to choose victims that are trained, armed and motivated, they come up on the short end of the stick?
A: First of all, they are not stones. They are not rocks. I have some examples of these lethal weapons that people think are tiny little gravel pieces that are slingshot material. They are lethal weapons. Imagine a group of people with lethal weapons of any kind going into a crowd of American police who are, for any reason at all, in a cluster, preventing some kind of rioting. Imagine what would happen to them if they suddenly threw these lethal weapons or shot at our police. How quickly would they be rounded up? And how quickly would they be put out of action?
Q: First, they would be immediately arrested -- those that could still walk, because the legal justification of the application of deadly force is if you are in danger of your life -- and you can be in danger of your life if attacked by a rock or an RPG. You can take out that attacker. I have a dear friend who is a police officer who shot and killed an assailant who assaulted him and his partner with an iron crowbar. It was a righteous shooting -- no harm, no foul. So why doesn't it happen there?
A: The Israelis have been in a position of extreme restraint since day one, because the British always considered the Jews provocateurs just because they were there. They treated the Arabs as natives in the Jewish national home, and, they allowed Arabs to come in illegally and take places that were being frantically cleared by Jews for other Jews to come from Hitler's Germany. It's a very concise and very traceable history. If you trace it, it loses the complicated factor and it becomes quite clear.
Q: Why are you the Lone Ranger here?
A: As a matter of fact, [WorldNetDaily Editor] Joe Farah is very keen on my research and the research, of course, is not just mine. It belongs to the world. There is a new documentary being prepared on the book, called "The Myth." It looks like people are finally waking up to the fact that there is nothing Israel can do except die out for the Arab Muslims to be satisfied. And since that will not satisfy the world either, they are going back to reality. I am very encouraged by that. And, I must say I thought I was the Lone Ranger.
(WorldNetDaily Mar 5)
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