A collection of the week's news from Israel
3 Kislev 5760 News...
November 12, 1999
Issue number 245
Terrorist Bombing in Netanya
Three Arab terrorist bombs exploded in quick succession in downtown Netanya Sunday morning, injuring some 27 people, including two in moderate-to-severe condition. A fourth bomb did not explode, and was detonated in the sea by police sappers. Well over 100 Arabs without proper permits were detained for questioning by the police. The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, and claimed that the bombs were planted by an Iranian-backed organization. The PA did not similarly condemn the shooting attack on the bus near Tarkumiya last Saturday night. A victim of the terrorist attack, David Ratzon, described his experience from his bed at Laniado Hospital: "I was standing at a crosswalk, when a couple of meters away from me, two or three blasts blew me onto the road. I lost my sense of direction, but was soon able to make my way to the other side of the street. I had a nail stuck in my back, and people who came to help me had trouble lying me down." Ratzon said that doctors were fortunately able to remove all the nails from his hands, neck, and legs without having to resort to surgery. Police Commissioner Yehuda Wilk said that the attack was not the "large-scale attack that we are expecting from Hamas." Wilk said that the bombing had a "makeshift" character, and that it was probably perpetrated by the same terrorists who placed similar bombs in the same place two months ago; those explosives were detonated safely. Reactions to the bombing:
Final-Status Talks Begin
The first session of the final-status talks began in Ramallah Monday. The Palestinians' opening position: A withdrawal from all of Judea and Samaria, the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the return of the Arab refugees from 1948 to their homes plus the payment of compensation. Yesha Council leaders held a protest vigil at the Yosh Junction at the northern entrance to Ramallah just south of Beit El Monday, against Prime Minister Barak's apparent intentions to uproot tens of thousands of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria in the framework of a final-status agreement. The borders of the upcoming withdrawal from an additional 5% of Yesha will be determined by a ministerial committee, and the maps will be presented tomorrow to Yesha leaders. The Cabinet decided that it would continue its implementation of the agreements with the Palestinians, despite yesterday's terrorist bombing in Netanya. Nine of the wounded from the attack are still hospitalized, and one woman is in moderate-to-severe condition. (arutzsheva.org Nov 8)
Barak: Resolution 242 Doesn't Apply to Palestinians
Prime Minister Barak told the government ministers Sunday that UN resolutions 242 and 338 do not apply to the Palestinians. Resolution 242 calls for the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the [Six-Day War]" and affirms the necessity "for guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area." Resolution 338, adopted during the Yom Kippur War, calls for the implementation of Resolution 242. MK Benny Elon (National Union) praised Barak for his declaration, while Palestinian spokesmen reacted sharply against it. Aryeh Stav, director of the Ariel Center for Policy Research and editor of Netiv magazine, provided some interesting background information on Resolution 242 for Arutz-7 today: "Barak's announcement [that 242 does not apply to the Palestinians] is an important one, and is to his credit. No other Prime Minister ever said this as clearly. What happened was that after weeks of wrangling in the U.N. [following the Six-Day War], the wording of the resolution purposely referred only to a withdrawal from 'territories' and not from 'the territories.' Then-President Lyndon Johnson commissioned a map showing the minimum amount of territory that Israel would need in order to survive. The map, which is not secret, was attached to the resolution. It includes [as part of Israel] all of Judea and Samaria - although not the Jordan Valley - and it included the entire Golan, 5,000 square kilometers in the area of Eilat, and Sharm el-Sheikh." Stav concluded by noting the ironic development that when the resolution was passed, it was considered very anti-Israel "- and rightly so, but now we find ourselves relying on it..." (arutzsheva.org Nov 8)
The self-evacuation of Mitzpeh K'ramim, outside Kokhav HaShachar, was completed Sunday. The families moved from a point one kilometer south-west of Kokhav HaShachar to a point some 250 meters east of the mother community. Protests were held in many intersections across the country against the evacuation of Yesha mini-settlements Sunday. Participants held signs reading, "Israel is My Outpost" and "200,000 people, with 120,000 children, should not be evacuated." Maon, south of Hevron, is expected to be forcibly uprooted by the army by the week’s end, although close to 250 people gathered there to oppose such a move. Mitzpeh Chagit is now empty of its families, and only guards remain at the site, overlooking Wadi Kelt. According to the agreement reached last month between Prime Minister Barak and the Yesha Council, the families will be allowed to return in several weeks. Construction of a new neighborhood in Itamar began Monday. Thirty homes on Hilltop 851, some 2.5 kilometers away from the center of Itamar, will be built - with the consent of the government. (arutzsheva.org Nov 8)
Ma'aleh Adumim Expansion Creates Jewish Contiguity
The Supreme Court Sunday rejected an appeal against the expansion of the city of Ma'aleh Adumim. The decision paves the way for the construction of a new neighborhood on some 10,000 dunams (almost 2,500 acres), which will create Israeli territorial contiguity between Mt. Scopus and Ma'aleh Adumim, and geographically detach Arab villages in Judea from those in Binyamin and Shomron. (arutzsheva.org Nov 8)
Bar Illan Speaks of Rosenthal's Firing from the Ny Times
A.M. Rosenthal has been fired from the New York Times, after 51 years of writing for the paper. David Bar Illan, former Director of Policy Planning and Communication under Prime Minister Netanyahu and former editor of the Jerusalem Post, provided some background on the Times' former chief editor: "Rosenthal is one of the most important journalists in the world, in my opinion," Bar Illan said. "He stepped down from the paper's editorship about 11 years ago, and became a columnist for the Times. About a year ago, they cut down his column from twice a week to once a week, and have now fired him altogether." The publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., said of Rosenthal, "As a reporter, editor and columnist, Abe has been a major force at The New York Times for half a century. In each one of his roles he excelled..." Arutz-7's Haggai Segal commented, "Rosenthal wrote a letter to the Washington Post and said, 'Hardly a day went by that someone did not pass me on the street and kiss me for an article I wrote.' So why did they fire him?" Bar Illan said that the present publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., "has been on the job for three years, since taking over from his father. He does not consider himself Jewish, as his mother was not Jewish. In addition, he does not particularly like the appointments his father made, and he wants to show his independence." Bar Illan said that he does not think that Rosenthal was fired for his pro-Israel views, "but the fact is that there have basically been, at the Times, two pro-Israel columnists - Safire and Rosenthal - and two who could be considered anti-Israel: Thomas Friedman and Anthony Lewis. Safire doesn't write about Israel as much, such that we are now left fairly orphaned. The effects on the op-ed pages will be clearly felt." (arutzsheva.org Nov 8)
Withdrawal Approved by Cabinet
The Cabinethas approved the withdrawal from yet another 5% of Judea and Samaria - area that includes 16 IDF army bases and installations. The IDF Chief of Staff and the head of the GSS addressed the issue of whether the Palestinian Authority is fulfilling its obligations to collect the tens of thousands of illegal weapons within the PA, arrest wanted terrorists, and reduce the size of the Palestinian para-military police. (arutzsheva.org Nov 7)
Sarid to Help in Increasing Religious Drop-Out Rate
Education Minister Yossi Sarid said yesterday that he would provide funding to the organization Hallel - established to help religious people become non-observant. Sarid, who met with Hallel leaders yesterday, said that the funding would be provided according to accepted criteria and available resources. Hallel was founded in 1991 by a formerly-religious man, who later returned to an observant lifestyle. In interviews with the press, he has expressed strong criticism of the ways in which the organization works to attract religious people to its activities. "I know their methods," he said. "--I originated them!" (arutzsheva.org Nov 5
Financial Corruption in The PA
Two private bank accounts of the Palestinian Authority containing half-a-billion dollars are actually under the exclusive personal control of Yasser Arafat. So claims a report prepared by Israeli and Palestinian journalists, which was presented to American officials in Washington last week. The report states that PA-controlled cement-mixing and gasoline monopolies "recklessly and brutally... kick back all profits to private coffers of PA officials." It also describes some 14 divisions of PA "security services" that collect taxes independently of the PA treasury, and states that assets of the PLO abroad are simply not being transferred back 'home.' The World Bank has repeatedly demanded that the PA close the secret accounts that remain under Arafat's personal control, to no avail. (arutzsheva.org Nov 4)
MK's Son Injured by Arab Stones
Nir Baram, son of Labor MK Uzi Baram, was injured last week in an Arab stone-throwing attack. He was hurt in the Arab village Biet Ur a-Tachta, off the Ben Shemen-Givat Ze'ev highway. He entered the village to detour the traffic jams on the highway, which were caused by yesterday's fires in the region. Baram suffered injuries to his head and shoulder, and was taken to Hadassah Hospital at Mt. Scopus. Five suspects were arrested in the case. Arab stone-throwers waiting for other Israeli cars to pass through their village injured at least one other driver, and damaged several cars. (A7 Nov 4)
Levy, Sharon Present Their "Red Lines"
Both Foreign Minister David Levy and his predecessor, opposition leader MK Ariel Sharon, presented their respective "red lines" for a final-status agreement with the Palestinians last week. Speaking from the Knesset podium, Levy said that the government would insist on the following four points: united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, settlement blocs with most of Yesha's Jews under Israeli sovereignty, no return to the 1967 borders, and no foreign army west of the Jordan River. Sharon countered with: a 20-kilometer wide strip west of the Jordan, a 7-kilometer strip along the Green Line, and Jewish holy sites - all under Israeli sovereignty, and Jewish settlement throughout the country. (arutzsheva.org Nov 4)
UJC Wants to Know: Who Leaked Arafat Story?
The United Jewish Communities (UJC) has engaged a private-detective agency to find out who leaked the charity's plans to honor Yasser Arafat with its Isaiah Award. UJC President Stephen Solender confirmed that Kroll Associates - an international investigative and security agency - has already begun to investigate "where our system broke down." UJC officials have denied that they planned to issue the award to Arafat, but The Jewish Advocate of Boston and the Israel Resource News Agency reported that Arafat had been notified of the plans to honor him, that the award had actually been purchased, and that a speech had already been written. The UJC, an umbrella organization of federations that raise $790 million a year, was formed last April from the merger of the United Jewish Appeal, Council of Jewish Federations, and United Israel Appeal. Reactions within the organization to the hiring of the detectives were mixed. UJC Chairman Charles Bronfman informed the Forward that he "supports the decision to ask Kroll Associates to look at UJC's security measures," although he said, "I believe that an award [to Arafat] would have been inappropriate at this time, and I would have said so." Richard Wexler, chairman of the UJC's Campaign-Financial Resource Development pillar committee, said that the Kroll decision was "preposterous" and that the issue "is not a matter worthy of investigation, seeing as I believe everyone knows that a terrible mistake was made." (arutzsheva.com Nov 5)
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, a member of UJC, had no comment when asked if they had expressed their opposition to the award to Arafat. The Officers of the Ontario Ragion of Canadian Jewish Congress have unanimously called upon the National Officers of Congress to condemn the proposed award. (Israel News)
Quotes for the week...
Quotes for the week...
"The liberation of this land by Jihad is the responsibility of all Muslims... This land is an Islamic land with their being no difference between al-Quds or Haifa, or between Lod or Asqalan...The liars and the traitors (your rulers) in the 20th century claim that there is a relationship of cousins between us and the Jews. They are telling you that Rabin, Peres and Netanyahu are your cousins. I say to them - wait, the new Omar Ibn alAhss is coming soon to correct the situation even after all these treaties and treason with the Jews. He will liberate all of Palestine from the Sea to the River as well as other Islamic lands. "
- Sermon on Temple Mount, Al Aqsa Mosque, (Jerusalem Nov 5)
Beware the Re-Educators By Daniel Doron
It has always been questionable whether the "revisionist" new historians' only goal is to redeem us morally by confessing our sins against the Arabs during the ferocious 1948 war. Now Nimrod Aloni (yes, Shulamit's son), a "humanist" educator, admits in Ha'aretz that "historical polemic is ...a crucial struggle over the identity and culture of Israeli society."
Aloni believes that "[It] has far-reaching consequences in shaping our attitudes about the justice of Zionism and our present-day borders...," and that education should therefore be brazenly politicized, so that it could inculcate the Left's political agenda. He wants a cultural war "[along] the Left vs. Right axis ... and the nationalist-humanistic divide tearing Israeli society apart," and he wants education to be part of this war.
This must be music to the ears of Education Minister Yossi Sarid, who has instituted the Kafr Kassem memorial day for the same purpose, without regard to the distorted picture it creates.
Aloni shares Sarid's contempt for facts. "We live," he explains, "in post-modernist 1999 ... and though we do not have a litmus test that is sufficiently accurate for distinguishing between myths and facts and between ideology and history, each of us can still place himself, existentially ... within the framework of competing cultural narratives." It only requires a return to the old "Bolshevik stance" of Mapai's days, as novelist Aharon Megged charged.
Aloni's dismissal of facts may result from the debunking of much of the new historians' evidence. Prof. Efraim Karsh, in his Fabricating Israel's History meticulously documents the many misrepresentations, misinterpretations, and misquotes of documents and sources employed by these historians in building their "case" against Zionism.
But the crucial point is that a vocal post-Zionist finally admits that their teaching of history is not about getting information across. Their history is chiefly designed to provide ammunition against "the Right," and as long as it does so, the accuracy and integrity of its historical writing is unimportant.
As Haifa University Professor Ilan Pappe, a communist (Hadash) spokesman and a vociferous post-Zionist confirms, (after charging Israelis with committing atrocities): "maybe after [hearing Arab atrocity stories] I might decide that the story was embellished, or that their memories weren't completely accurate. But I'm not just a historian. I live my political life mainly among Palestinians in Israel. I live in a memory world completely different from that in which the average Israeli lives. And this memory is not based only on old wives' tales, or just on myths, it is also based on personal tragedies that are intertwined with a collective tragedy." Pappe's is the traditional communist instrumental attitude toward "facts" (embraced by the Post-modernists). As an historian, he claims, he can "decide" what is factual or "embellished," implying that "facts" do matter (or otherwise how could he condemn Israel)? But then, he admits he lives in only a partly factual "memory world" consisting also of "myths," and shaped by how events are "perceived" (or "embellished?").
Based on such memories, Pappe then asserts that "from August '48 and into '49 you see the possibility of a single process, in thought and action ... toward realizing the dream of forcibly expelling the Arabs ... if CNN had existed then ... [the] CNN reporter would have said that an ethnic cleansing operation was going on." Pappe dares not claim that a "cleansing" plan existed because his mentor, Benny Morris, already conceded that Arab expulsion "was born of war, not by design, Jewish or Arab," nor could he factually support such a claim. So instead he insinuates "the possibility" of an imagined "single process" to support a terrible blood libel.
If Sarid is to have his way, such fabricated "myths" will henceforth be taught as history in our schools. True, in the twilight of the British Mandate in '48 (and once in '56), embattled, undisciplined Israeli units provoked by frequent Arab atrocities and fearful of invading Arab armies intent on destroying Israel, did shamefully kill civilians. Revisionist historians and their political allies, such as Sarid, exploit these openly confessed and regretted horrors to declare all Israelis collectively guilty of murder and expulsion.
In a democracy, folks can say what they wish. But freedom of expression must not be exploited to brainwash schoolchildren at taxpayer's expense. When Sarid and his ilk politicize education to create support for a leftist agenda, they must be reminded that the days when Bolshevik Mapai apparatchiks dictated what children learn are over.(Jerusalem Post Nov 4)
The writer is director of the Israel Center for Social Economic Progress.
Misplaced Fury By David Weinberg
We ought to worry more about those who practice anti-Jewish behavior nearby than those who merely preach - and are far away.
From the furious, hyper Israeli response to the recent elections in Austria, you might think that Joerg Haider poses a mortal threat to the state of Israel. Foreign Minister David Levy all but declared war on Haider and his xenophobic political career. He even threatened, sledgehammer style, to completely cut off diplomatic relations with Austria, an important EU country.
Levy's blistering, blustering assault on Austria throws into stark relief this government's whispering, whimpering and meek attitude to the Palestinian Authority. You might reasonably draw the conclusion that our security problems lie in Europe, not the West Bank and Gaza. But I wonder.
Whose antisemitism should be of greater practical concern to an Israeli government - the populist talk of a novice politician in opposition, about "Jews having too much influence"; or the state-sponsored, anti-Jewish brainwashing that continues every day unabated in Palestinian classrooms and media?
Just last week, Ha'aretz reported on the "new" PA school textbooks which compare Zionism with Nazism and describe the Talmud as a book of hatred towards gentiles.
Whose continual Holocaust denial is likely to impact on us more - that of the Austrian Freedom Party or that of the Palestinian Authority? Did you know that Mein Kampf was number six on the PA best-seller list in September, according to the Agence France Presse? I think the book is banned in Austria.
Who has an 50,000-strong "police force" on our borders, heavily stockpiled with arms in direct violation of treaty obligations with Israel - Joerg Haider or Yasser Arafat? Who gives speeches about jihad and threatens further armed struggle against Israel, if necessary - Abu Ala and Yasser Abed Rabbo, or Haider? Which institution has paroled Jew-killers serving in its security forces - the Freedom Party or the PA?
Nevertheless, about whom does our Foreign Minister get all worked up, for days on end, on international television and in every press interview? Joerg Haider. Maybe Levy knows something about Haider's threatening military plans and capabilities that we don't.
One thing is certain: Haider's political cronies don't get free passes to tramp across our country. Arafat's troops do. Did you know that since the opening of the ironically mislabeled "safe passage" last week, 17 suspect Palestinians have disappeared along the "safe" route from Gaza to Hebron?
Arafat can demand our capital in every speech, work to isolate and denounce Israel in every available international forum, and attempt to renew the Arab boycott by threatening Western companies that do business with us - but Levy is silent. Joerg Haider just talks big about Jewish manipulation in far-away Vienna - and Levy goes into conniptions.
If you ask me, we ought to worry more about those who practice anti-Jewish behavior nearby than those who merely preach - and are far away.
Last Saturday night an Israeli bus was shot up returning from a Shabbat in Hebron, and the terrorists fled to PA-controlled territory. Five people were wounded, and it could have been much worse. The PA did not condemn the attack. But neither Prime Minister Ehud Barak nor any other Israeli cabinet minister had anything significant to say either - no bluster, no warnings to the PA, no demonstrative CNN interviews to tell the world how unacceptable this is, no IDF action.
There is something incredibly skewed about all this, strangely inconsistent, as if our political senses and survival instincts are dulled when considering dangers close to home.
The diagnosis is obvious: we just want peace so very badly, to the point where some Israelis are irrepressibly predisposed to ignoring the iniquities of the "peace partner." Like all addictive illnesses, the "starved for peace syndrome" brings on blindness towards one's own destructive behavior.
Yes, the most expensive peace is cheaper than the cheapest war, as the saying goes. And Arafat's little dictatorship is a more manageable neighbor than an Islamic mega-state. But could not our unfulfilled foreign minister direct some of his pompous rhetorical swagger and notorious sulking skills towards getting the PA to live up to its commitments?
In the recent Sharm e-Sheikh Accord, the Palestinians promised once again (for the fifth time) to collect illegal weapons, reduce the size of the PA police force, arrest wanted suspects, combat terrorism, curtail antisemitic and anti-Israel incitement in their press, etc., etc.
But so what. We've got Joerg Haider to worry about.
(Jerusalem Post Nov 7)
Arafat's Disrespectful Salute By Moshe Zak
Arafat learned from Shimon Peres this week that the establishment of a Palestinian state is in Israel's interest. So why should the Palestinians make any concessions?
It came as no surprise that Yasser Arafat exploited the memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin in Oslo to present his demands on Jerusalem, the 1967 borders and the return of the refugees. Theoretically, he honored Rabin's memory by saluting his portrait, but in practice he showed disrespect by not taking seriously what Rabin himself had said to him: There will be no return to the 1967 borders, no partition of Jerusalem, and no return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.
The temptation to gain the greatest possible audience for his demands was stronger than the effect of American and Israeli requests that Arafat not to turn the memorial ceremony into a conflict. The Palestinian leader praised Rabin's readiness for a courageous peace, but he himself didn't have the courage to remove controversial elements that his aides put into his written speech.
This was no surprise. The surprise came from Arafat's Israeli defenders, who attempted to explain away Arafat's statements as only an opening position. They said it would enable him to come back from Oslo to Gaza and face his opponents, and prove to the Palestinian masses that he is faithful to the principles of the Palestinian revolution.
But anyone who believes this is committed in advance to make allowances for Arafat's internal problems at every stage of the negotiations, not just in his opening position.
"Leah Rabin moved me to tears, so I kissed her in front of the whole world," said Arafat, in a display of personal sensitivity. But in his speech he made an effort to destroy the basis for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue that Yitzhak Rabin had established - namely, direct negotiations. The impression left by Arafat's address is that he doesn't want bilateral negotiations, but is aiming for the internationalization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He believes that if the UN, the Arab countries, the Americans, the European Union, Russia and Norway are involved in the settlement of the conflict, together they will force Israel to comply with the UN resolutions on the refugees, borders and Jerusalem.
And what he didn't get to say in his speech in Oslo he pursued in the talks, in which he insisted on close American involvement in the final-status negotiations and "permitting both sides to invite the US to intervene." This wasn't the type of direct negotiations Yitzhak Rabin had hoped for.
Arafat put all his cards on the table. He is willing to maintain a facade of direct negotiations, on condition that in February he can proclaim Palestinian independence.
Barak assumed that he held a key bargaining card: he wouldn't give his agreement to the establishment of a Palestinian state until Arafat agrees in principle to territorial compromise or, to be precise, changes to the cease-fire lines in force before the Six Day War. This was one of the principles Barak hoped to anchor in the framework agreement.
The chances of Arafat agreeing to this principle has always been small, since they contravene the general Arab line of total withdrawal from all of the territories. But this week the PLO leader found a different reason to hold out. He learned in Oslo, from an interview given by Shimon Peres, that the establishment of a Palestinian state is in Israel's interest. If Israel is interested in the establishment of a Palestinian state, Arafat asked himself, why should the Palestinians make any concessions in return for something which is good for Israel? Why should he agree to less territory than what is delineated by the June 4, 1967 borders?
Peres delivered an impressive speech, without notes, at the Oslo memorial, but he did not impress the prime minister and his colleagues with his interview. The prime minister still holds the view that Israel has to condition its consent to a Palestinian state on prior Arafat agreement to the principal of territorial compromise.
The PLO is unwilling to accept this demand, and without the principle of territorial compromise, no framework agreement is possible. So it's reasonable to assume that - unless Barak's talk of economic separation frightens Arafat away from taking such a unilateral step - after the Camp David-style summit there will be a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and the map will be decided on the basis of the facts on the ground.
In the desire to improve the map before February, the Palestinian Authority is now saying it is unwilling to accept only the 5% West Bank redeployment due this month, but is asking for a further withdrawal by February. In the face of such a scenario, Israel will have to tread carefully for the next few weeks.
(Jerusalem Post Nov 7)
CNN: It's News to me By David Bar-Illan
An amusing phenomenon in the media business is CNN's claim to fairness in its coverage of Israel. There are certain things the network probably cannot help. It should not be held responsible, for instance, for the palpable hostility on its reporters' faces when they talk to Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria - those unspeakable "settlers."
Nor can the network be blamed for the arrant ignorance displayed by its Israel bureau chief about the history of Jerusalem. One can attribute his contempt for facts to trendy relativism and multi-culturalism, which have substituted political correctness for historic accuracy. After all, if National Geographic can publish childish nonsense about the Canaanite origins of the Palestinian Arabs, there is no reason why CNN should avoid insulting the intelligence of its viewers.
But the network does have to take responsibility for acting like the propaganda arm of Israel's extreme left and the Palestinian Information ministry (the two are seldom distinguishable).
Example: When Binyamin Netanyahu was prime minister, CNN would invite mostly leftist, anti-government guests to appear on its programs. The excuse was that the government view was amply represented by the prime minister and his spokesmen.
But the same criteria do not apply now. In the past three months (beginning August 1 and ending October 27) not one spokesman of the opposition was invited to appear in a CNN telecast. Not one. Altogether there have been 47 guest appearances by Israelis during this period. Of these, 45, which included six appearances by Ehud Barak and nine by Haim Ramon, ranged from left of center to the extreme left (Yossi Beilin, Ran Cohen, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Leah Tsemel). Only one guest, Eliezer Waldman, who appeared twice, could be described as right of center, though he too is a member of the ruling coalition. During the same period, the Palestinians and other Arabs appeared 39 times.
This kind of bias is even more disturbing on the CNN Internet website. Unlike a quickly forgotten news story, an archival website is a permanent fixture, a primary source of information for researchers. It has the authority of a reference library. To peruse the CNN archive is to realize that facts no longer exist as independent entities. Like trendy "docu-fiction" novels, which incorporate real personalities and actual events into a fictional narrative, the political "profiles" section of the CNN website includes only facts compatible with the portraits CNN wishes to paint.
According to CNN, Cairo-born Yasser Arafat devoted his teen years to "a study of Jewish life, associating with Jews and reading the works of Zionists such as Theodor Herzl." One can only wonder where in the Cairo of 1946 Arafat found Arabic translations of Zionist writings (he spoke no other language). Perhaps they were distributed by the Moslem Brotherhood as Samizdat. These writings must have had a positive impact on young Arafat, for in the mid 1950s he and others formed Fatah, "dedicated to reclaiming Palestine for the Palestinians."
There is an unintended poignancy to this sentence. It was indeed in those years that the Arab leadership realized how much more effective they could make their efforts to "throw the Jews into the sea" if they became Palestinians rather than Arabs.
By then, the Jews of this country (the only people called Palestinians before the War of Independence) were named Israelis. By adopting the name "Palestinians" the Arabs succeeded in converting the Arab-Israeli conflict from a war of annihilation against the Jewish population to a struggle of dispossessed natives against colonialist invaders. It was a spectacularly effective canard, eventually adopted by Israel's own fiction weavers, the "new historians."
One can only wonder what turn history would have taken had King Abdullah I of Jordan not been prevented by the British from calling his kingdom Palestine. Or if Israel's founding father had heeded the advice of a young American journalist (whose name, ironically, is Sidney Zion), and called the new Jewish state Palestine.
CNN's Arafat may have been a Zionist scholar, but "his activities troubled Jordan's King Hussein," the website tells us. The activities themselves - blowing up hijacked passenger planes on Jordanian soil, agitating against the Jordanian government, and inviting a Syrian invasion - are left unmentioned. The innocent reader may be forgiven for wondering why the king was troubled.
Arafat goes on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, with no mention of the two Israelis he happened to share it with. (Why complicate a perfect fairy tale?) But he is not the website's only hero. Syrian ruler Hafez Assad, in whose capital CNN is eager to have an office, is almost as admirable.
After leading a bloodless coup, Assad "became Syria's president, repealed martial law, gave freer rein to the press and enacted other civil rights. International trade was liberalized and Syrians were permitted to travel abroad. He launched a five-year economic development plan and encouraged the development of private enterprise. Assad also admitted into his government representatives of opposition groups. In international affairs, Assad tried to improve relations with his neighbors. In October 1973, he and his close associate, Egypt's Anwar Sadat, launched a joint attack on Israel in an attempt to recover territory lost during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967."
Gasping with admiration for these sweeping reforms, readers must wonder why they have never thought of improving relations with their neighbors by attacking them. It may be downright rude to point this out, but the CNN bio never mentions the Hamma massacre, where civil rights proponent Assad had 20,000 civilians killed, thus depriving them of at least some of their civil rights.
Nor does it include the litany of his unmatched brutalities in Syria and Lebanon. It even refrains from recalling one of Assad's unique distinctions. His is the only regime on earth that has officially commended army officers for beheading prisoners of war. After all the praise the article heaps on Assad, it is quite unsettling to find in the last paragraph a brief reference to his support for "the violent terrorist organization Hizbullah," and to Syria's inclusion in the state Department's list of countries that support terrorism. No wonder Arab leaders claim the State Department is run by Zionists.
Earlier this month, CNN deviated from its dedication to errors, Arab propaganda, and nonsensical observations, and stated on an Internet webpage called "At a glance - facts and figures on the State of Israel" that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.
But when a new organization, "American Moslems for Jerusalem," protested, CNN instantly capitulated. The web was changed, and Jerusalem was converted from capital to "largest city," leaving Israel the only country in the world without a capital.
CAMERA (Committee for Accurate Middle East Reporting in America) pointed out to CNN that Jerusalem's status as Israel's capital is recognized by an act of Congress. The network's reply was unequivocal: "CNN does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."
When the choice is between Congress and "American Moslems for Jerusalem," CNN has no problem deciding.
The writer was communications and public policy adviser to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Jerusalem Post Nov 5)