A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
A collection of the week's news from Israel
November 9, 2001
Issue number 352
Sunday November 11; 10:00 am
Rally against terrorism at Earl Bales Park; Keynote speaker Norman Doidge; Taking a stand against Terrorism; Sponsored by Canadian Citizens for Freedom and Jewish War Veterans of Canada.
Sunday November 11; 8:00 pm
The Toronto Zionist Council presents a public forum Rolling Back the Forces of Terror with Daniel Pipes along with Yehudit Dasberg and Esther Wachsman at BAYT
LAST CHANCE! November 18-23
Aish Hatorah / One Israel Mission to Israel; Four days of visits throughout Yesha; Meetings with Israeli politicians and dignitaries; Dedication of Sifrei Torah from GTA at Israeli army bases; 5-star hotel accommodations; Cdn$1,695 all inclusive; Call 905-764-1818 ext.228
Commentary...The Death of Outrage By Michael Freund
This past Sunday, one of Israel’s ostensible “peace partners” picked up an M-16 rifle and opened fire on an Israeli passenger bus carrying children home from school. This “martyr” for the Palestinian cause, this “hero” of the Palestinian revolution - as Yasser Arafat’s state-controlled media will no doubt refer to him in coming days - succeeded in murdering two innocent Jewish children and wounding 46 other Israelis before he himself was killed.
And so, while our politicians prattle on about how strong we are and how powerful our army is, Jewish children cannot ride home safely from school in our indivisible, yet apparently under-defended, eternal capital. So much for promises of peace and security.
And how did the sovereign, independent Government of the State of Israel respond to this atrocity? By retreating, of course. Just hours after the attack, while some of those injured were still fighting for their lives at local hospitals, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave the OK for the Israeli army to withdraw from Kalkilya, thereby turning control over the city back to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The same Palestinian Authority, that is, which Sharon recently compared to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Sunday’s events provided further proof that while the Oslo process may be dead, its destructive mentality is alive and well, and it continues to reap a bitter harvest of Jewish victims.
There is something wrong, something terribly wrong, with how inured we have become to the violence around us. The daily fare of grenade attacks, roadside bombs, mortar rounds, shootings, stonings and stabbings have all become a regular part of the news broadcast, and they seem to elicit about as much interest as the daily weather forecast.
Attacks come and go, the injured are evacuated, the dead are buried, and now we turn to our economics correspondent for an update on the price of fruit and vegetables.
One of the most dangerous impacts of this “routine” is that we have become numb, our senses dulled by the numerous tragedies. We have lost the ability to empathize, to feel the pain and share in the grief of a family whose father, or mother, or son will not be coming home any more. It is the death of outrage, for we no longer feel any outrage over death.
We talk about the sanctity of human life, but when our government does little to protect it, we fall silent. We express revulsion for Yasser Arafat, the man behind the past 13 months of devastating bloodshed, but when our Foreign Minister greets him with smiles in Majorca or Brussels, hardly a peep of protest can be heard.
In a democracy, the government is supposed to respond to public pressure. It keeps a watchful eye on the public mood, often basing its decisions on how it thinks the people will want it to act. It may sound na?ve, but in this sense we all share part of the blame for what has befallen the Jewish people over the past year, for we have failed to pressure the Government into acting as it should.
Sure, Prime Minister Sharon is under tremendous pressure from the United States and Europe to refrain from sending Yasser Arafat into early retirement. And yes, Foreign Minister Peres, with his weekly threat to resign, adds to the strain the Prime Minister faces.
But if the nation were to finally say, ‘Enough is enough’, if all the port workers, Labor ministry officials and university lecturers were to strike, not to get another few dozen shekels every month, but because Jews are being murdered in the streets, then maybe, just maybe, the pressure on the government would be too great to ignore. If Prime Minister Sharon saw that the people of this country are no longer willing to tolerate daily casualties, then it might provide the necessary counterweight to Colin Powell and Shimon Peres.
Sharon has had plenty of opportunities to bring down the PA - after the suicide bombing at the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv, the Sbarro attack in Jerusalem, or in the aftermath of the World Trade Center. In all these cases, he failed to do so, preferring instead to take far more limited steps. Even the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, which by any standards would be considered an act of war, was met with only a limited incursion into Palestinian-controlled territory.
Analysts have suggested that Sharon is waiting patiently for another opportunity to act. But that may be only partly true. If Sharon is waiting, it might very well be that he is waiting for us, for the people of Israel to pour into the streets and express our long-forgotten sense of outrage over what has been occurring. And if we do so, if we raise our voices loud enough in protest, then perhaps it will give Sharon the political cover he needs - to finally bring about an end to Palestinian terror, once and for all.
The writer served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office from 1996 to 1999.
"Protocols" By Andrew Sullivan
One of the most vivid experiences of my time as a graduate student at Harvard was a seminar I took with the preeminent liberal political theorist John Rawls. The discussion centered on Rawls’s later work, in which he divorced his liberalism from the claim of absolute truth. His argument was only cogent, he averred, if read and understood by people who already shared some basic premises--the need for consent, the reliance on reason, a tone of civility, a relatively open mind. With characteristic tactlessness, I asked him what his response would be if Hitler joined the debate and disagreed with him. Rawls answered that there could be no discourse with Hitler. We would have to agree that he was simply crazy, a madman at a Cambridge dinner party, a figure outside the conversation. To Hitler, Rawls had nothing to say, except please go away.
But what if Hitler refuses to go away? My mind has drifted back to that conversation recently, as we try to grapple with the reality staring us in the face: Something like Hitler is back, and it is waging war on the United States. Part of the current crisis is that many of us simply do not have a philosophy capable of countering him.
Is this a grotesque exaggeration? The argument ad Hitlerum is, after all, such a high-school debating tactic that it should be employed only with extreme caution. The reason I invoke it is not simply because we have an irrational, lethal movement stirring many people across the globe in a call to mass murder. But because one central element of that movement, which we are doing our best to ignore, but which is increasingly unignorable, is pathological anti-Semitism.
Yes, of course, the geopolitical differences between anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany and anti-Semitism in the Arab world are vast. Germany was the preeminent military power of its time; the Arab nations are decidedly not. Germany had a large, and largely defenseless, Jewish population within its borders and millions more on its doorstep; the Arab states have only Israel, which despite its tiny size is hardly defenseless. But ignoring a virulent ideology because we believe those who hold it to be weak is the kind of thinking that recently enabled the murder of 5,000 people in New York. So consider the following: According to a recent Newsweek poll, 48 percent of Pakistanis believe Jews were responsible for the World Trade Center bombing. A plurality of Egyptians agree.
This should come as no surprise. Vicious anti-Semitism is now the official doctrine of most Arab governments and their organs of propaganda. The official Palestinian Authority newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, for example, regularly contains references to the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the loopy nineteenth-century hoax that suggests Jews run the world. As one article put it (at the height of the Oslo peace process, no less): "It is important to conduct the conflict according to the foundations which both are leaning on...particularly the Jews...such as the Torah, the Talmud and the Protocols [of the Elders of Zion]....All signs unequivocally prove that the conflict between the Jews and the Muslims is an eternal on-going conflict, even if it stops for short intervals....This conflict resembles the conflict between man and Satan....This is the fate of the Muslim nation, and beyond that the fate of all the nations of the world, to be tormented by this nation [the Jews]. The fate of the Palestinian people is to struggle against the Jews on behalf of the Arab peoples, the Islamic peoples and the peoples of the entire world."
Here's a summary of a gem that appeared in Egypt's Al Ahram, the largest newspaper in that country: "A compilation of the 'investigative' work of four reporters on Jewish control of the world states that Jews have become the political decision-makers and control the media in most capitals of the world (Washington, Paris, London, Berlin, Athens, Ankara) and says that the main apparatus for the Jews to control the world is the international Jewish lobby which works for Israel." It is worth noting here that every word Al Ahram prints is vetted and approved by the Egyptian government, a regime to which the United States--i.e., you and I--contributes $2 billion a year.
Or take Syria, a thugocracy whose leader indulged in an anti-Semitic outburst in front of the pope, but a state that Colin Powell nonetheless wishes to bring into his grand coalition. In 1983 Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass wrote a book entitled The Matzah of Zion, claiming that Jews murder Arab children to knead their blood into matzahs for Passover. An article about the book that appeared in Al Ahram one year ago (and was noted by the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute) concluded with the following sentences: "The bestial drive to knead Passover matzahs with the blood of non-Jews is [confirmed] in the records of the Palestinian police where there are many recorded cases of the bodies of Arab children who had disappeared being found, torn to pieces without a single drop of blood. The most reasonable explanation is that the blood was taken to be kneaded into the dough of extremist Jews to be used in matzahs to be devoured during Passover." If this is the "most reasonable explanation," can you imagine an unreasonable one? But it gets worse. The Matzah of Zion will soon be turned into a movie.
According to MEMRI, "the producer stated that the primary goal of the film is 'to respond to all of the Zionist films distributed by the American film industry, which is backed by the Zionist propaganda apparatus. Among these films is Schindler's List, which supports the idea of the Jews' right to the land of Palestine.'" Schindler's List versus The Matzah of Zion: just a battle of ideas.
The sobering truth is that somewhere in my head, I knew all this already. It is not a revelation that large segments of the Arab world--at all levels of society--are not just anti-Israel, but fanatically anti-Semitic. Bernard Lewis wrote in 1986: "The demonization of Jews goes further than it had ever done in Western literature, with the exception of Germany during the period of Nazi rule. In most Western countries, anti-Semitic divagations on Jewish history, religion, and literature are more than offset by a great body of genuine scholarship... In modern Arabic writing there are few such countervailing elements."
So why did I look the other way? Why did I discount this anti-Semitism on the grounds that these are alien cultures and we cannot fully understand them, or because these pathologies are allied with more legitimate (if to my mind unpersuasive) critiques of Israeli policy? I guess I was thinking like John Rawls. We in the West simply do not want to believe that this kind of hatred still exists; and when it emerges, we feel uncomfortable. We do everything we can to change the subject. Why the denial, I ask myself? What is it about this sickness that we do not understand by now? And what possible excuse do we have not to expose and confront it with all the might we have? (The New Republic Nov 5)
Syria Yes, Israel No! By Norman PodhoretzOur (US) anti-terror coalition doesn't distinguish friend from foe
During Desert Shield, the run-up to the Gulf War of 1991, President George Bush told a visitor that Israel would join in the fight "over my dead body." His reason was that the coalition of Arab states he was building to eject Iraq from Kuwait would break up if Israel were involved.
Everyone knows this, but there is something else that few know now and fewer chose to know then: When Saddam Hussein started firing Scud missiles at Israel, several Arab members of the coalition -- including even Syria, whose hostility to the Jewish state was easily a match for Saddam's -- announced that they would "understand" (that is, tolerate) a military response by Israel. Nevertheless, the first George Bush turned a blind eye to this green light, so persuaded was he that Israeli entry into the war would break up the coalition. Refusing to give the Israelis the codes their planes would need to assure they would not be shot down by ours, he stopped them from taking to the air.
Yet the elder Bush must have been aware that special Israeli pilots had been training for years to fly low enough to find the Scud launchers in their hiding places (with the help of target-spotting commandos who had also been preparing for this very mission). Our own pilots were not allowed to descend to such perilously low altitudes. And so, as a direct consequence of the exclusion of Israel, Saddam emerged from his defeat with his Scuds intact, and only the dummies destroyed.
Now a different George Bush is sitting in the White House, confronted by a different threat emanating from the Middle East. Even so, the younger Bush has gone about meeting this new threat of terrorism in much the same way his father did in preparing to throw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and preventing him from invading Saudi Arabia. Now, as then, the building of a coalition in which, it is deemed, Arab and other Muslim states must be included, has become so obsessive that it has almost turned into an end in itself rather than a means of fighting a war. And now as then, this overriding imperative has dictated the exclusion of Israel.
Yet today, George W. Bush is under no compulsion to put together a semblance of the coalition his father rightly calculated he needed. In 1991, half the country -- and practically all the Democrats in Congress -- opposed the idea of going to war against Iraq. Hence it was to provide himself with political cover (and a sharing of the financial burden) that the elder Bush assembled his coalition. In 2001, by contrast, some 90 percent of the American people are solidly behind the war on terrorism, and the Democrats are all on board. (Tom Daschle, the majority leader of the Democratic-controlled Senate, seconded the president's magnificent speech before Congress on September 20 with unprecedented fervor: Not even Pearl Harbor elicited words from the repentant isolationists that came close to Daschle's in bipartisan solidarity.)
Why then has George W. Bush been following in the footsteps of his father? Specifically, why has Secretary of State Colin Powell been pitching woo at some of the very states against which the president himself declared we were going to war?
After all, the president vowed that we would make no distinction between terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the states that had financed and trained and provided safe haven and diplomatic protection for them over the years. These states, the president and leading members of his administration kept repeating, were no less guilty of the aggression against us on September 11 than the terrorists who depended upon them.
To make matters even more bizarre, a few of the countries courted by Powell -- Syria and Iran, for example -- were on his own department's list of such sponsors of terrorism. Along the same lines, several groups officially recognized by the State Department as terrorists, including Hamas and Hezbollah, were omitted from a new list of organizations whose assets were to be frozen as part of the war we had declared against them.
But not even all this exhausts the bizarre aspects of the situation, which extend not only to our self-declared enemies but to our "friends" and "allies" in the Arab world -- the two most prominent being Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These "moderates" have sympathetically clucked their tongues over the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and have made all -- or anyway some -- of the right noises about the evils of terrorism. And why not, since the despotic rulers of those countries are all potential targets in their own right? Indeed, Hosni Mubarak came to power in Egypt only after Anwar Sadat had been assassinated by Islamic militants.
This, however, is not the whole story of how Saudi Arabia and Egypt relate to the war against the terrorists in their midst.
Mubarak and the monarchy in Saudi Arabia may wish for various reasons to play ball with us, and we are constantly being assured that they are doing so. Thus, to start with the latter, in the early days of our struggle to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban regime under whose protection Osama bin Laden had long been operating, Phil Reeker, a spokesman for the State Department, announced that the Saudis "have agreed to everything we have asked of them in our campaign against terrorism."
If this were true, all it would have meant was that we had not asked them to do much of anything, especially not to allow us to launch bombers from Saudi bases. But Reeker's statement was a bald-faced lie.
As of late October, 94 countries had complied with our request that airlines entering this country provide U.S. Customs with advance lists of passengers, so that they could be checked for possible terrorists; the Saudis are among a handful (along with other great friends of the U.S. like Egypt, Kuwait, and Jordan) that have said no. The Saudis have also balked at investigating the 15 hijackers of September 11 who identified themselves as citizens of Saudi Arabia and obtained their visas there. And the Saudis have not exactly been enthusiastic about joining the more than 80 countries that are freezing the assets of terrorist cells. (A Treasury official last week praised the Saudis for their "cooperation," while acknowledging that the accounts in question may simply be under surveillance, not frozen.) To be sure, Saudi apologists whisper that, behind the scenes, they are providing us with valuable intelligence. But if so, it has not been valuable enough to help us find bin Laden in the caves of Afghanistan.
Nor has the intelligence we have been getting from that other much-touted bastion of "moderation," Egypt, led us to bin Laden's hideout. Admittedly, unlike the Saudi rulers, Mubarak has granted overflight rights to American warplanes. Perhaps that is why the United States is preparing to supply him with new weapons. Whatever else Mubarak plans to do with these weapons, however, he has repeatedly expressed his determination to refrain from using them -- or the rest of the huge arsenal with which we have supplied him -- against Afghanistan or any other Muslim country. He has in addition particularly cautioned us not to risk offending Islamic "public opinion" either by "widening the battlefield" to Iraq (with which he has been working to improve his relations), or by bombing Afghanistan during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan (even though it was precisely during Ramadan that Egypt itself attacked Israel in 1973).
In interviews with Western journalists like Lally Weymouth of Newsweek, Mubarak attacks bin Laden, deplores suicide bombing, and voices sympathy for America. Yet in his own officially controlled press, not even the relentless assaults on Israel (and Jews in general) are more disgusting than the vitriol directed at America.
Here are only two of many dozens of examples. First, shortly after September 11, in Al Akhbar, a daily newspaper sponsored by the Egyptian government, a columnist wrote: "The Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbor, must be destroyed because of...the idiotic American policy that goes from disgrace to disgrace in the swamp of bias and blind fanaticism....[T]he age of the American collapse has begun." Then, after the bombing of Afghanistan had started, the editor of Al Ahram, an even more important government daily, reported that the food we were dropping into Afghanistan "may have been genetically treated....If this is true, the U.S. is committing a crime against humanity by giving the Afghani people hazardous humanitarian products."
This kind of filth could not be published without Mubarak's acquiescence. But very likely he thinks it serves as a safety valve, deflecting opposition to him on the part of a population that shares in such views. Evidently, giving a new twist to an old clich , Colin Powell, and presumably his boss, too, believe that even with friends like these we still need enemies whom we can also cajole and bribe and flatter and whitewash. Which brings me back to the question of why.
The answer usually given is that Powell and Bush are convinced that even lip-service support from some Islamic countries will keep the war against terrorism from being interpreted as a war against Islam, which is how bin Laden and his allies have been trying to portray it.
Never mind that there is an irrefutable argument against this charge in the fact that we have in recent years aligned ourselves both militarily and politically with Muslims: first in the Gulf, and then in Bosnia and Kosovo (where we sided with Muslims against Christians). Scarcely mentioning this fact, we have instead bought into the notion that the price of securing even such minimal support as we receive from Saudi Arabia and Egypt is to exclude Israel, a natural ally in any war against terrorism. It is a price Colin Powell is willing to pay. As he has made abundantly clear over the past month, the only way the Israelis can help us in our war against terrorism is not (shades of Desert Storm!) by participating in it with all the expertise they have gained in this area through much bloody experience, but rather by exercising "restraint" whenever terrorist aggressions are committed against them.
Nor is this all. The administration has no compunction about pressuring Israel to try yet again for a deal with the godfather of contemporary terrorism, Yasser Arafat. This holder of the Nobel Peace Prize is even now continuing to harbor terrorist organizations (at least one of which, Hezbollah, has participated in actions against the United States) in the areas over which he rules as head of the Palestinian Authority. If the PA were a nation, this would qualify it as a target of our war against state sponsors of terrorism. Yet it is not to close that loophole that we are pressuring Israel to accede to a Palestinian state. We are doing so because we imagine that this will lessen Islamic hostility to us and undercut the popularity bin Laden enjoys among Muslims all over the world.
Assuming that Arafat would now accept what he refused when it was offered to him last year by Israel and the United States, it is yet another delusion to believe that the establishment of a Palestinian state at this, of all moments, would have the desired effects. On the contrary: it would be seen by the Islamic world, and correctly, as a capitulation to and a reward for terrorism. It would therefore add contempt to the hatred already felt for us as the embodiment of modernity and all that modernity entails.
Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, undoubtedly committed a great diplomatic blunder in warning the West against trying to do unto Israel today what England and France did unto Czechoslovakia when they surrendered it to Hitler at Munich in 1938. But Sharon's mistake lay in talking so bluntly in public to his allies and benefactors, not in the substance of his speech.
The upshot is that the coalition of Muslim states put together by Colin Powell is proving to be of no value to us. I would go further: It is causing us harm, and not alone by making us look like appeasers in our constant rebukes of Israel. We have been pulling our punches in Afghanistan, and a major cause is fear that a greater deployment of our power would put a strain on the coalition. That same fear, I suspect, is also behind the record speeds achieved by some administration spokesmen in fleeing from any suggestion that Iraq ought to be our next target.
Finally, and most damaging of all, by allying ourselves in a war against terrorism with states that harbor terrorism, we create moral and intellectual confusion, and make it even harder to define an already shadowy enemy.
I realize that a similar complaint was lodged against our alliance with Stalin in the war against Hitler. But in forging a pact with the devil, as Winston Churchill put it, we derived a great military asset. An analogous, if lesser, military consideration justifies our current alliance with Pakistan, from whose territory we have been able to stage raids into Afghanistan.
But no such military benefit has come from our courtship of Syria and Yemen and Iran, or even our "friendship" with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. And who can tell whether the "intelligence" they are all said to be sharing with us is reliable? If R.W. Apple of the New York Times is right, "the sole known commando raid into enemy territory" in Afghanistan provided "ample evidence that American intelligence about the Taliban is thin."
On September 11, we suffered the bloodiest aggression against us on our own soil in our history. War was declared on the United States, and the United States responded by going to war. But in no small measure because of the irrational compulsion to assemble a coalition that Arab and/or Islamic states would be willing to join, we have not been fighting this war with the all-out energy we summoned up after Pearl Harbor.
We, the American people, passionately want and need and demand that the enemy be defeated as decisively as Germany and Japan were by 1945. (Seventy-two percent of us are even in favor of restoring the draft!) It is not merely our physical security that has for the first time been called into question. A great blow has also been struck against our confidence in our strength and power, and we hunger for -- yes -- revenge.
Beyond revenge, we crave "a new birth" of the confidence we used to have in ourselves and in "America the Beautiful." But there is only one road to this lovely condition of the spirit, and it runs through what Roosevelt and Churchill called the "unconditional surrender" of the enemy. If we go on dithering, our lives will remain at permanent risk. So, too, will something deeper than the desire for physical security that has been stirred and agitated by the ferocious wound we received on September 11: a wound that is still suppurating and sore for lack of the healing balm that only a more coherent and wholehearted approach to the war will bring.
What I mean is that nothing less than the soul of this country is at stake, and that nothing less than an unambiguous victory will save us from yet another disappointment in ourselves and another despairing disillusion with our leaders. Only this time the disappointment and the despair might well possess enough force to topple us over just as surely as those hijacked planes did to the twin towers of the World Trade Center. (Weekly Standard Nov 12)
The writer is editor-at-large of Commentary and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. His most recent book is My Love Affair with America
Curse of the Tongue-Tied By Shmuel Katz
In the discussion initiated last August by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on what hasbara line Israel should pursue, the Foreign Office Director-General Avi Gil suggested (according to Ha'aretz) that what should be emphasized was that "Israel's hand is extended in peace." Sharon interjected: "Who would buy it? The Palestinians want to blow us up, and we are extending our hand in peace? We need to explain our right to the land."
Over the years, however, it has been Gil's vision that has dominated Israeli hasbara as promoted by the foreign office. Thus, when the Arabs claimed that the Jews stole Palestine from them, and the representative Jews said they wanted only "peace," unbiased foreign observers could neatly accommodate both Jews and Arabs: "the Jews stole the Arabs' land, and now they want peace." Who could blame them?
In earlier days, it would have been said that a curse has been laid on the Jewish people: that it should be lied about, defamed, maligned, its history distorted or obliterated, its enemies extolled - and itself tongue-tied, so as not to tell the truth about itself. (Worst of all, it does little or nothing to "untie" its tongue.)
The severity of that curse is demonstrated by the unbelievable fact that we - arguably the most maligned nation in the world, beset by recurrent bouts of anti- Semitism in the Christian world and with the high-powered Arab propaganda machine waging a day-and-night war against us and our State - have no machine even remotely adequate for exposing the lies and telling the world the truth. In military terms our existing hasbara could be likened to a single fishing smack confronting a fleet of a dozen battle ships firing all its guns.
Whoever has heard, in our day, of a sophisticated country at war - and Israel has been in an enforced war since its birth - that has not established a special department, manned and equipped for dealing with "Information?" When Winston Churchill became prime minister of a Britain-at-war in 1940, one of his earliest decisions was to set up a ministry of information, which was soon
built up as one of the largest ministries in his administration. His foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, protested vigorously, but to no avail. He simply did not understand the problem and, for that reason, was piqued at being deprived of a part of what he saw as his domain. Indeed, most foreign ministers traditionally fight hard to prevent the establishment of a separate information office.
Our foreign ministers have been uniformly successful in this endeavor. Some of them have even had an ideological explanation. Moshe Dayan said that there was no need for hasbara. "What's important," he said, "is not what we say,
but what we do." Shimon Peres in his turn, tells us that history is not important. Meanwhile the Arabs have been putting together and energetically disseminating a fantastic fabrication of history, and half a world has accepted it as true.
Thus we have left the propaganda field almost entirely in the hands of the Arabs - aided by considerable Saudi funding and wickedly biased media (like the BBC or CNN). Israeli hasbara efforts have consisted, at moments of crisis, of sudden sorties of two or three emissaries who spend a few weeks in the United States and, as Israeli consul-general in New York Alon Pinkas has wittily hinted (October 25), what they achieve is to increase the consumption of bagels and smoked salmon.
What then should be done?
We have to start from scratch; but this means first of all that the government recognizes that there is a propaganda war in progress, and that conducting a war requires a strategy and an army. Just as our military has to be run by the Ministry of Defense, a many-faceted propaganda war against powerful enemies cannot be conducted from a sub-section, as a secondary chore, of some other
ministry. A responsible minister must be appointed and hasbara must be his or her exclusive occupation. In these times, the minister must inject the hasbara consideration into every relevant cabinet discussion. And his office must be open 24 hours a day.
He would appoint a "General Staff" and would choose people who are expert in the subjects required, chief among which must be Jewish and Arab history in relation to Eretz Israel. A curriculum would be constructed in cooperation with mavens from the United States, where the first "base" must be established. Indeed, the minister would send members of his general staff to the US, where they would seek out organizations and individuals who have for years been fighting, with limited resources, Israel's information battle. They would then proceed to develop the kind of "information" army that we badly need.
Unless this, or a similar plan based on permanence, separate ministerial responsibility and Diaspora cooperation is put into operation, the widespread incapacity to confront hostile propaganda will become a real and present danger to the Jewish state.
The writer is the author of Hareshet - The Net: The Aaronsohn Family Saga and a biographer of Ze'ev Jabotinsky. (Jerusalem Post Nov 6)
The US as Contortionist By Evelyn Gordon
The US administration took a welcome step last Friday when it added five organizations from this region to the list of terrorist groups covered by a post-September 11 financial crackdown. The new additions included three groups based in the Palestinian Authority - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; one Lebanese organization, Hizbullah; and the PFLP-General Command, a Palestinian group based in Damascus.
But the administration's reaffirmation of these groups' terrorist status makes its attitude toward the states that host them all the more puzzling. Since September 11, the Bush government's declared policy has been that states are responsible for the actions of terrorist groups to which they give aid and comfort. This is precisely the rationale for its month-long bombing campaign in Afghanistan: Though the Afghan government itself has never attacked America, it is guilty of sheltering an organization that has. Yet in the Middle East, the administration has not only refused to apply this doctrine, it has even tried to prevent others from doing so - up to and including the US Congress.
Lebanon, Syria and the PA all provide the terror organizations they host with complete freedom of operation. In the PA's case, Chairman Yasser Arafat has made no effort to arrest or disarm members of terrorist groups, nor has he in any other way tried to impede their almost daily attacks on Israeli citizens - despite having pledged to do so in no fewer than five signed agreements with Israel. On the contrary, these groups play an integral role in the PA regime: Arafat regularly consults with the leaders of
Hamas, the "loyal opposition," on government policy, while the PFLP is an official member of Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization.
Similarly, Lebanon has permitted Hizbullah to take up positions along the length of the Israeli border, from which the organization periodically launches attacks on Israel. This is in direct defiance of a UN Security Council resolution that required Beirut to impede such attacks by instead deploying its own army on the border following Israel's pullout from south Lebanon. The UN certified Israel's withdrawal completed almost 18 months ago, but the Lebanese army has yet to move into the area.
Yet neither Lebanon nor the PA appears on the administration's list of state sponsors of terrorism - and Syria, which is on that list, is nevertheless being courted for America's anti-terror coalition.
This is not mere passivity: With respect to the PA, the administration has actively opposed efforts to apply the doctrine of state responsibility. Not only did it sharply condemn Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory that were aimed at capturing terrorists the PA had refused to pursue itself - the precise justification America gives for invading Afghanistan - but it successfully fought a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress earlier this year that would have mandated sanctions against the PA should it continue to harbor terrorist organizations.
The proposed legislation would seem to accord perfectly with the administration's stated policy of penalizing states that give aid and comfort to terrorists. Yet on September 28, the Senate bowed to a direct request by Secretary of State Colin Powell that it freeze the bill, which had passed the House and was expected to pass the Senate shortly. Powell told the Senate that while the administration wants the PA to fight terrorism, it believes the right way to achieve this goal is through negotiations.
Given that the administration devoted all of four weeks to negotiations with Afghanistan before declaring that military pressure was the only option, it may seem strange that it is unready to approve even nonmilitary sanctions against the PA after eight years of talks have failed to end its support for terror. But White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer has an answer. The difference, he explained on October 23, is that the US never signed an agreement with the Taliban, but the PA has signed one with Israel. In other words, having paid the requisite lip service to opposing terror, the PA is now free to aid and abet it with impunity.
The idea that signing an agreement buys you lifetime immunity from the need to honor it, seems like an excellent recipe for turning all signed accords into worthless scraps of paper. It is hard to believe that is really what the Bush administration had in mind. But unfortunately, it is difficult to justify an inconsistency as glaring as that between America's Afghani and Middle Eastern policies without resorting to such contortions.
It might be easier if the administration simply adhered to its own stated policy of holding states (or proto-states) responsible for the terrorists they harbor. Judging from the list of organizations that it published last Friday, the Middle East would be an excellent place to start. (Jerusalem Post Nov 6)
The article "We've Been Down this Road Before" in the Nov. 2/01 issue was by Michael Medved, not by Joseph Farrah as listed in the article. We apologize for the error.