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

 

24 Kislev 5760
December 3, 1999
Issue number 248

News...

Thwarted Outpost Attempt; Police Arm-Breaking to Be Investigated

Some 25 young members of the Dor Hemshekh [Next Generation] movement were detained by the police Tuesday afternoon. They were evacuated from a site outside the community of Nokdim, in eastern Gush Etzion, where they attempted to start a new outpost. Donnie Gefen, one of those detained, told Arutz-7, "The site is about three kilometers away from the Herodion, and in the area slated for Nokdim... The police used force on us, not violence, although one woman had her arm broken during the course of being pushed by the police." The results of a police investigation will be submitted to the Justice Ministry regarding the circumstances of the breaking of 18-year-old Tamar Ferenczi's arm. Channel 2 television footage indicates that the police forcefully broke her arm while removing her from the site. Speaking with Arutz-7, Tamar Ferenczi explained that she attempted to get away from the policemen several times, and that finally they grabbed her, twisted her arm, and broke it. Visiting her later in the hospital, they apologized to her, but this did not suffice for the Shomron and Judea District Police Commander, who ordered an investigation into the police behavior. When asked what was special about that specific spot in eastern Gush Etzion - yesterday's was the second attempt to occupy it - Tamar said, "Well, every hilltop in Israel is important, and all of them belong to the Jewish People. This particular hilltop happens to be breath-takingly beautiful, and in addition the government is unsure about its exact legal status, which makes it extra important for us [to stake our claim]." She said that she would be anxious to take part in starting a new neighborhood there, if the proper approvals were given. (arutzsheva.org Nov 30, Dec 1)

Starting an Outpost Is Not a Crime

It is not a crime to establish an outpost in Judea and Samaria. So informed the State Prosecution to the Supreme Court, in preparation for a hearing on the matter tomorrow. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the statement is part of the government's response to a Peace Now petition demanding the dismantling of nine additional Yesha outposts. The Prosecution says that at worst, erecting an unapproved outpost is a violation of administrative regulations. The Peace Now petition was originally presented in December, 1998, under the Netanyahu government. The State Attorney's office explained that construction without a permit in Judea and Samaria does not constitute a criminal act - unless it is executed in violation of a court order or of a demolition order for the structure. Peace Now now claims that Prime Minister Barak had no authority to approve selected outposts. In response, the State Attorney explained that "the issue was dealt with by the highest levels of government with consideration of the legal, security, and diplomatic ramifications," and that the Prime Minister has the authority to act as he did. (arutzsheva.org Dec 1)

Italian Court Separates Jewish Girls From Mother

Two Jewish girls may be being forced to convert to Christianity against their will, and with the sanction of an Italian court. The story began eight years ago when Tali and Moshe Dolberg, native Israelis living in Genoa, were divorced, and the mother was awarded custody of their two children, Nitzan and Danielle. Four years later, after Tali had become religiously observant - and, as is now becoming clear, Moshe was beginning the process of becoming a devout Catholic - her former husband demanded custody of the two girls. He claimed that her new religious lifestyle rendered her unfit to raise the children. Although Tali fled with her two daughters to Israel, the Israeli Supreme Court, in accordance with accepted international custom, ordered the girls returned to Italian courts for a custody decision. The Court expressed its "confidence" that the Italian courts would consider the welfare of the girls. The reality, however, was quite different, and the Italian court ruled as follows: "It is true that the girls expressed their wish to return to Israel with the mother. This allegedly free wish is nothing but a personal wish which is relinquished and no longer exists... Absolute custody is given to the father... Two telephone conversations calls a week [are permitted] between the minors and the mother, 10 minutes with each daughter, and in Italian, while allowing Mr. Dolberg to record these conversations... meetings with the mother three successive days per month (without her sleeping with the children) in a place determined by the father and in the presence of a person approved of by Mr. Dolberg... there shall be a prohibition on telephone communication and exchange of letters between the girls and others who have not received permission to so communicate from the father* The girls were in isolation from the rest of the world, prevented from receiving groups of girl friends, to mix socially... the case is one of an absolute group [Orthodox Jews] whose laws are inflexible in every respect - clothes, food, reading material..."

The following is a note written by one of the sisters, on the backdrop of a drawing of a house with the name Rosenberg - their mother's married name - on the door. Words in square brackets were inserted by Arutz-7; words in round parenthesis are in the original. "For Public Knowledge! With the help of G-d, things will be OK. With the help of G-d, we will return quickly to Eretz Yisrael, we will meet Ima [Mommy] who we miss so much, our sisters, our friends, and this whole [ordeal] will end quickly, with G-d's help, after these so many obstacles that we have passed [and] are passing. We hope that they will end quickly, and that our father who loves us so much (he claims) will understand what is the way of life that we have chosen, and who we want to live with, and he will free us. Now we are like prisoners in a cage, but very soon, with the help of G-d, the cage will be broken and we will be able to fly.With great hope, the sisters who are united forever, Danielle and Nitzan"

The older daughter has described her father forcibly taking away her prayer book, yelling that her prayers were worthless, and hitting and pinching her when she continued to pray. He forces the girls to listen to readings from the New Testament, and continually denigrates Judaism in talks with them. The author of a psychological report on the two parents noted that the girls' relationship with their mother was excellent, stressed the need for preserving an intensive connection with her, and described the father as "immature," "narcissistic," prone to "uncontrolled bursts of aggression." He threatens the older sister that if she does not comply with his wishes, he will have her committed to an insane asylum. Mr. Dolberg attempted to convince the girls that their mother offered to renounce all custody claims for $10,000, and the younger sister has begun to believe him. Parties close to the story have demanded that the State of Israel step in to save the girls. As Rosenblum concluded one his recent articles on the topic, "If the Dolberg sisters were backpackers injured climbing in Nepal, the State of Israel would move heaven and earth to make sure everything possible was done for them. Should it do anything less because they are imprisoned against their will in Italy and subjected on a daily basis to psychological pressure to give up their Judaism?"

Journalist Jonathan Rosenblum spoke with Arutz-7 Tuesday. Asked what Israel's role in this matter could be, Rosenblum said, "If Israel wanted to raise this issue on a diplomatic level, it could point out all the many, many violations of the UN Convention For Child Rights, which provides for the child's freedom of religion, and the child's right to privacy in his or her communications, and for their right to be heard in custody proceedings." The children have said repeatedly that they wish to live with their mother. Rosenblum said, "We don't have high hopes for the appeal. The father's attorney has been seen coming out of the judge's chambers, he is very well connected in Italy with police officials, and so on. There have been extraordinary breaches of the rights of the mother and the daughters, such as holding court hearings without even the knowledge or presence of the mother's attorneys." When asked about the public pressure that can be exerted, Rosenblum said that crucial persons to write to are the Italian ambassadors to the UN, Israel, and other countries. (A7 Nov 30, Dec 1)

Final-Status in Doubt?

A senior political figure in Jerusalem says that it is doubtful whether an agreement on final-status principles can be reached by February 2000, as Barak has promised. The source says that the chances of reaching agreement even on one of the points in dispute are slim. The two sides met Wednesday, and will meet next week - for their 8th meeting - in Ramallah. Monday marked two weeks since Israel's next withdrawal from Judea and Samaria was to have been implemented. Yasser Arafat continues to demand land adjacent to Jerusalem, instead of that which he is being offered in the Judean Desert, while Israel stands on its sole right to determine the location of the withdrawal. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports: "The talks are stuck. Even Ehud Barak is becoming more and more doubtful whether his February deadline for a permanent-status agreement is realistic. Israel is beginning to feel that Arafat is unable to come to the hard decisions - such as agreeing to a final-status that does not involve a complete Israeli withdrawal to the '67 borders or the removal of all the Yesha settlements - by himself. He's been trying to get the Americans involved [in convincing Israel to agree to switch the areas of withdrawal], but in vain, as neither the U.S. nor Israel is willing to help him climb down from his high tree. For Israel, the principle of being able to solely determine the location of the withdrawals, which is written into the agreements, is very critical. Even world public opinion is on Israel's side this time... In this sense, I'm willing to take a minority position and give credit to Barak for his trip to Europe: It was very important in garnering public support... The talks are simply stuck, and it doesn't seem as if Arafat wants to come to an agreement even on principles for a final-status agreement. For instance, he appointed as head of his delegation the tough Yasser Abed Rabbo, with whom it is very hard to come to an agreement on any issue, instead of Abu Mazen or even Saeb Erekat..." Israeli-Arab expert Dr. Rafi Yisraeli of Hebrew University, in an interview with Arutz-7's Ron Meir on the same issue, said that Arafat, too, is gathering European support, and sees no need to rush. "Arafat considers America on Israel's side, especially now in an [American] election year," Yisraeli said. "But he's trying to also mobilize European support around him, and there it's been half and half..." True, the agreements state that Israel is the sole arbiter of the withdrawal maps, "but the agreements don't matter a bit. What matters is what Arafat tells the world the agreements say. Nobody reads the agreements... they only live by what the media says, and if they hear that Arafat says [Israel is at fault] then that's enough for them." (arutzsheva.org Nov 28, Dec 1)

Waqf Opens New Temple Mount Entrance

The police have decided not to seal the new entrance to the Temple Mount opened by the Moslem Waqf a few days ago, and the decision has been approved by Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The police claim that the entrance is needed as an additional exit for large crowds in case of emergency. The Jerusalem Municipality and the Antiquities Authority have protested the decision. MK Benny Elon (National Union), who called for the entrance to be closed, terms the decision not to do so a "surrender to the Islamic Movement." (arutzsheva.org Dec 1)

Woman Arrested for Closing Eyes

A Jewish Quarter resident was arrested Tuesday for simply closing her eyes on the Temple Mount. The 49-year-old widow told Arutz-7's Ron Meir that she went up to the Temple Mount to walk in the areas permissible according to Jewish law. When she sat down on a bench and closed her eyes, she was accosted by the Waqf police and interrogated. When she told them that she is a student at Hebrew University, studying the Second Temple period, they responded by asking, "You really believe there was a Second Temple? You plan to destroy the dome [of the Rock] and build the Second Temple!" The Waqf officials then turned her over to a detachment of the Israel police stationed in the Old City, where she was held and questioned for four hours. During the questioning, a police officer told her that she was being charged with the crime of "praying on the Temple Mount. He explained to me that closing my eyes 'was an act of prayer.'" On this issue, Atty. Baruch Ben-Yosef said that the Waqf has no legal right to detain people, and neither is there a law on the Israeli books forbidding prayer on the Temple Mount. "The policeman forbade me from returning to the Temple Mount," continued the woman, "and instructed me to report to the police every two days until I leave the country on December 15th, or else risk a 4,000 shekel fine. I told the officer that even though my tourist visa will expire on the 15th, I was not planning to leave the country, since I am in the process of making aliyah . At this point, our conversation was suddenly interrupted by a big commotion, and a policewoman entered the building holding three knives. Someone outside had just tried to stab another police officer! [See next article] The policeman dealing with me said that I could go. When I walked out, I saw the attacker lying on the ground..." (arutzsheva.org Dec 1)

Palestinian Brazenness

An IDF soldier in Hevron overpowered an Arab terrorist who attempted to stab him this morning. The soldier was not hurt, and the attacker was taken to the Hevron police. A similar attack occurred in Jerusalem yesterday, when two Arabs entered the Kishle police station in the Old City. One attempted to stab a policeman at the front entrance, while the other terrorist went for the policeman sitting behind the front desk. Other policemen fought off the attackers and arrested them. Earlier this week, a group of 15 Palestinians were bold enough to chop down, in broad daylight, an old Jewish orchard of pecan trees. Alon Bukara, of Moshav Hagor near Rosh Ha'ayin, recounted what happened: "We woke up in the morning, and found, unbelievably, that our landscape had changed overnight. An orchard almost 30 years old, with 88 pecan trees, on 14 dunams [3.5 acres], had simply disappeared! We then looked over at the next field, and saw them cutting down the trees there as well - 15 workers from Jenin, with 8 or 9 saws, stealing our trees by the light of the day and loading them onto trucks! We called the police, and they actually told us that we should bring the suspects to the station. We were only about five people, and we couldn't do this, obviously... Finally, after a while, the police troubled themselves to come." Speaking with noticeable pain, Bukara said, "These were beautiful, giant trees. It was not a particularly profitable crop, but we cared for them out of love for the trees and for the land..." (arutzsheva.org Dec 1)

"We're on the Map" Takes off

For just 15 shekels, Israelis can take a day off and see their country. A new campaign called "We're on the Map" has set as its goal the bringing of one million Israelis to the areas of Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and the Golan by Rosh Hashanah 5761 (September 2001). Public referenda on these areas are expected sometime in the not-too distant future, and it is feared that Israelis will have to express their electoral opinion about places with which they are not familiar. Dudu Sa'ada, head of the "We're on the Map" association, told Arutz-7 today, "We want to show people that Judea and Samaria is not just some caravan on a hill, as they see on television, but instead has everything a big city has - universities, malls, beautiful schools, hesder yeshivot, kollels, industrial zones, etc." Public response so far has been very heavy, Sa'ada said, and orders for trips have been received - and filled - for many different groups from all walks of Israeli life. Behind the campaign stands Arutz-7 Executive Director Yaakov Katz, or Katzele. He explained to Arutz-7 his vision of the project: "The idea is to bring as many Israelis as we can, including new immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia, and other countries, to see areas in Israel - Yesha and the Golan - which they may never have seen before... Most of the people in Israel, and all over the world, are not aware that there are almost 230,000 Jews gathered in these areas - and this is in addition to close to 200,000 Jews in eastern Jerusalem and its new neighborhoods [such as Gilo, Ramot, East Talpiot, Givat Shlomo, Pisgat Ze'ev, Ramat Eshkol, French Hill, and N'vei Yaakov]. Most Israelis hear only the leftist-controlled media which talk only about caravans and outposts, and they therefore have the impression that all of Judea and Samaria is a temporary phenomenon. They are simply not aware that the quality has become great in quantity as well, and they don't even realize that we have beautiful cities like Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim, Efrat, Bet El, and Katzrin... We are providing day-long bus trips from all over the country to these areas for only 15 shekels a person, because we are subsidizing part of the price so that no one will have an excuse not to come and see their own country... [Here they] can meet their own people, and see them as warm, idealistic, military veterans, contributing members to society... This project can be facilitated with the help of good Jews from abroad and from Israel too." Katzele said that the program strives to reach not only those who are already convinced. "We have already had many responses from all parts of society and the country. These include many who are not religious, and people who beforehand had felt that maybe we should give away these lands but who are now changing their minds." (arutzsheva.org Nov 30)

Knesset Tells High Court to "Butt Out"

The Knesset made a startling call yesterday upon the Supreme Court: "Please don't intervene in our affairs, nor in ideological issues." The proposal, which was sponsored by the United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beiteinu factions, called on the Supreme Court not to intervene in areas of "values, Halakhah [Jewish law], ideology, and politics [nor in] laws legislated by the Knesset." It also expressed its opposition to the approach of Chief Justice Aharon Barak, according to which "everything is justiciable [given to being judged]." Some Knesset Members demanded that another vote be held on the issue, as only 24 MKs took part in the actual vote - although the debate that preceded the vote lasted for about two hours. (arutzsheva.org Nov 30)

Law of Return Targeted From Different Angles

A vigil of former USSR refuseniks took place outside the Prime Minister's home Monday, demanding that the Law of Return be changed. The protestors are up in arms at the increasing rate of non-Jews among the new immigrants from Russia, and are concerned that the Jewish character of the State of Israel may be in danger. Yigal Yehudi, one of the organizers of the rally, told Arutz-7 of the absurdity of the situation: "A Jewish woman from a Jewish family in South America just called me, and told me that in order to be allowed to immigrate to Israel, she was told that she has to pass all sorts of psychological tests, whereas in the C.I.S. there are hundreds of Jewish Agency emissaries sending masses of non-Jews over here." He noted that the rate of young non-Jews arriving in Israel is considerable, especially compared to the high immigration rate of elderly Jews. He said that he was happy that the Shas party had awoken to the great dangers for Jewish society in Israel embodied in this immigration, "but the Yisrael B'Aliyah party has a political interest in bringing more people here, [even] if they are not Jewish..." The rate of non-Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union during 1999 stands at 57%. Shas ministers are demanding a change in the Law of Return, as well, and even got into a near-shouting match with Prime Minister Barak over the issue. Barak told the Cabinet Sunday, "As long as I am Prime Minister, the Law of Return will not be changed!" Shas Minister Benizri said, "In other words, I can tell people that the Prime Minister is interested in more non-Jewish immigration." Shas Minister Cohen: "What is the limit? 70% non-Jews? 80%?" Here Barak lost his temper and said, "You will not interrupt a Prime Minister!" He later apologized to Cohen. Ya'ir Sheleg wrote in Ha'aretz of yet another call for a change in the Law of Return. A report prepared by a group of senior Immigration Ministry officials proposes that the "grandfather clause" of the Law of Return be rescinded. This clause entitles automatic citizenship to non-Jewish grandchildren of a Jew. Speaking with Arutz-7, Sheleg said that a Jewish Agency official told him that 9% of the non-Jews who receive automatic Israeli citizenship do so under the grandfather clause. The committee also called for other changes in the Law, including limiting rights of converts only to their children born after the conversion, and designating the financial benefits of immigrants for Jewish education. (arutzsheva.org Nov 29)

Six Palestinians Arrested by P.A.

Six Palestinian activists were arrested by the PA yesterday - and two others are under house arrest - for circulating a manifesto calling for new Palestinian elections. The petition, signed by Arab intellectuals and Palestinian Legislative Council members, accused the PA of corruption and exploitation of its own people. The detained Arabs include a physician and several university professors, as well as former Shechem mayor Bassem Shaka'a. LAW - the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment - denounced the arrests as a "grave violation of the right to freedom of being, expression and thought." (arutzsheva.org Nov 29)

Kibbutz Puts Salty Water to Good Use

The drought continues. Only 10% of the year's average annual rainfall has fallen so far, and the level of the Sea of Galilee is 213.21 meters below sea level, or 21 centimeters lower than the government-set red line. In the Negev's Kibbutz Revivim, however, a heretofore untapped natural reservoir of salt water is being used to raise quality crops of tomatoes, melons, and olives. Uri Yogev of Revivim told Arutz-7 that the water is about three times more salty than normal drinking water in Israel - though less salty than ocean water. "Though not many agricultural products can thrive on this water," said Yogev, "our olives this year have reached record levels - we expected a half-ton per dunam (quarter-acre), and instead we harvested two tons. We are conducting studies, at Ben Gurion University, as to how the salinity of the water affects the fruit - but so far we see no connection between the taste and the water that is used. We have received only praise for the quality of our olive oil." (arutzsheva.org Nov 29)

Israelis Demand Syrian Information on MIA's

A Gallup Poll of adult Israeli Jews commissioned by IMRA finds that the overwhelming majority - 75.2% - supports requiring Syria to provide Israel with any information it has on missing-in-action Israeli soldiers as a pre-condition for an Israeli-Syrian peace treaty. Almost as many - 73.3% - support putting this requirement into law, as recently proposed in the Knesset. At issue are three missing soldiers - Zechariah Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz, from the 1982 battle near Sultan Yaqub in Lebanon - as well as Navigator Ron Arad. Arad has been held prisoner by Arab organizations since October 1986, when his Phantom aircraft blew up over Sidon, Lebanon, and he was taken prisoner by the Lebanese Shi'ite organization Amal. (A7 Nov 29)

Huldai Removes Yarmulke

The Tel Aviv Municipality has carried out its decision to remove offensive words from a monument to Yitzchak Rabin. "...murdered by a yarmulke-wearing assassin" had been the original wording, but Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai ordered the words "yarmulke-wearing" erased. Huldai is not ordinarily known for pro-religious views. Mrs. Leah Rabin sharply criticized Huldai for his decision, and vandals re-wrote the offensive words over the weekend. Ha'aretz columnist Uzi Benziman criticized the Rabin family and the artist for "prejudice and generalizations." He wrote today that their stance "reflects prejudice and anger against the religious public as a whole. The description of Yigal Amir as wearing a kippa is no different from other details in his identity card: He was also from a family of immigrants from Yemen, a resident of Herzliya, thin and 25 years old at the time." (arutzsheva.org Nov 28)

Tel Aviv Arab Official Tells Jews to Get Out

Moslems in Jaffa wish to re-open an old mosque located in the middle of the artists' quarter, prompting an outpouring of objections from Jewish residents there. The latter have submitted a petition to the Supreme Court, in which they claim that opening the mosque will endanger their security and detract from their "quality of life." The artist-residents ask why Moslems must come and pray exactly in the middle of a Jewish neighborhood. Ahmed Balha, a member of the Tel Aviv municipal council, accused the complainants of racism, and said, "Whoever doesn't want to see a mosque next to his home - should get out." (arutzsheva.org Nov 26)

 

 

Commentary...

Greatest Story Never Told By David Bar-illan

An article of faith shared by virtually all the media is that the Palestinian body politic is divided: The majority are pro-peace moderates, supporters of Yasser Arafat and the PLO, opposed by anti-peace extremists, followers of the Islamist Hamas. And since most journalists seem to feel their mission in life is not just to report the news but to help the cause of peace, the result is inevitable. They minimize or ignore news that may harm Arafat and the PLO, and bash their opponents. Like all Western governments, they are convinced that if Arafat is weakened the extremists will prevail, and the hope for peace will vanish.

The only trouble is that the premise of this theory is false. The simplistic good guys-bad guys division is divorced from reality.

A study soon to be published by the Palestinian Media Watch confirms what observers of the Palestinian scene have known for a long time: The differences between the PA and Hamas are over the role of religious law in society and government, and over who should be in power. There are no differences on issues related to Israel. Both the PA and Hamas deny Israel's legitimacy, both define Israel as the occupying power of "all of Palestine," including the area currently known as the State of Israel, and both want the elimination of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state.

Nor do they attempt to conceal the commonality of their purpose. True, the Islamists believe that the Oslo agreement retards and inhibits Palestinian mobilization against Israel, and that only a relentless armed struggle can achieve Israel's destruction. And the more pragmatic Arafat views Oslo as the first stage in "the plan of stages" formulated by the PLO in 1974, which advocates the use of diplomacy as well as violence in an incremental war against Israel. But the ramifications of these disagreements are strictly tactical.

As the Palestinian Media Watch study demonstrates, the similarity between Hamas doctrine and PA rhetoric is striking. PA Communications Minister Immad Falouji, himself a Hamas member, summed up the common goal only last week in the PA official newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadida (November 18): "Our nation is full of hope for the future. The occupying power will not continue to exist, no matter how powerful and arrogant it may be," he said.

Four days before, Chief of Preventive Security in Gaza Muhammad Dahlan made clear that the argument with the Hamas was solely over tactics."We believe that military action at this stage definitely does not serve the national interest, which is why we shall not permit action motivated by emotion." (Al Hayat Al Jadida, November 14.)

It is instructive to compare the formulations of the Hamas covenant with the language used in sermons by PA-appointed imams. The covenant states that "Palestine is Islamic Wakf (sacred) land, for all generations of Moslems until Judgment Day." It declares that "the liberation of Palestine is the duty of every Moslem wherever he may be," and that no one is permitted to "abandon or concede any part of Palestine - the robbery of Palestine by the Jews makes Jihad imperative."

In his sermon on April 30, Yusef Abu Sneineh, the PA's imam whose sermons are broadcast on The Voice of Palestine, made identical assertions: "The land of Palestine is Wakf land for all Moslems, east and west. The liberation of Palestine is the duty of all the peoples of Islam, not only the Palestinian people. The land of Moslem Palestine is one unit, indivisible. There is no difference between Haifa and Nablus, Lod and Ramallah, Jerusalem and Nazareth. There is no religious sanction for dividing Palestine into districts and recognizing the occupation. No one is allowed to give it up or divide it."

Arafat himself has often emphasized the inevitability of Jihad. He told his newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadida in January, "The agreements will not liberate the land. Every centimeter demands a struggle, the land demands blood."

Nor does the PA lag behind the Hamas in expressions of classic antisemitism. The Hamas covenant decries "the Nazi Zionist practices against our people."

Al Hayat Al Jadida editor Hafez Bargouti refers to "Israeli attempts to perform Nazi massacres on us."

The Hamas charges that "[The Jews] have used their money to dominate the international media, the news agencies, press, broadcasting and publishing houses."

The official PA newspaper states, "The Jews' success is no accident. It is a result of long years of planning and huge efforts to achieve control of the world's news media."

Such similarities are hardly accidental. Article 27 of the Hamas covenant explicitly describes the relationship between the Islamic organization and the PLO: "The PLO is among the closest to the Hamas, for it constitutes a father, brother, relative, friend. Can a Moslem turn away from his father, brother, relative or friend? Our homeland is one, our calamity is one, our destiny is one and our enemy is common to both of us."

Nor is the feeling unrequited. Arafat, who in his youth belonged to the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, has made no secret of his filial relationship with the Hamas. He embraces and kisses its leaders, declares that all Palestinians must aspire to follow the footsteps of the martyr Yihye Ayyash (the notorious "Engineer" responsible for 50 Israeli deaths who was assassinated in 1995). He shelters Ayyash's successor Muhammad Deif, and refers to Hamas's spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin as "my brother."

Israel's intelligence agencies repeatedly assert that Arafat has no intention of confronting the Hamas or its military wing. His activity against terrorism is restricted to preventing actions that can be traced to PA territory, and even these restrictions apply only "at this stage," according to Dahlan. Fatah central committee member Hani Hassan put it aptly two years ago: "Our unity is like a building, and we must distribute the work among the builders." (Al Ayyam, August 31, 1997.)

All this makes the media treatment of the Arafat story one of the great puzzles of our time. In the past 30 years Arafat has allied himself with every anti-Western and anti-American regime and organization on earth: the USSR, East Germany, Cuba, the Red Brigades, Bader Meinhof, the Japanese Red Army, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and the Iranian ayatollahs.

He has ordered the murder of children, the kidnapping and killing of athletes, and the execution of American and other Western diplomats taken hostage by his gunmen. Now he is a certifiably corrupt tyrant who tortures and executes real and imagined opponents at will. He identifies with Hamas, an extremist, antisemitic, anti-Western organization sworn to Israel's destruction, and he matches the virulence of its rhetoric by heaping medieval blood libels on Israel.

Yet he is celebrated and lionized throughout the world, hailed by governments and the media as an astute and moderate leader, the world's best hope for peace in the Middle East. Just to keep him happy, the government of Israel gives him a personal grant of close to $100 million a year, and the US, Europe and Japan make huge contributions to his regime. If he declares a Palestinian state next year, he will have the support of almost all the world's governments.

There must be a story here somewhere.

A CNN footnote: Last month, American Muslims for Jerusalem, an umbrella organization of anti-Israel groups, launched a campaign against the CNN website, which named Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The same organization had spearheaded the boycott threats against Disney for calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel in its EPCOT Millennium Village exhibit.

Among the constituent members of American Muslims for Jerusalem are CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. CAIR is a spinoff from a "Hamas front," according to Oliver Revell, a former head of the FBI's counter-terrorist investigation. MPAC is a Los Angeles-based group whose executive director, Salam Al-Marayati, has supported Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy.

CNN promptly removed references to Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But after discussions with representatives of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), the CNN web page was changed again. It now states that Jerusalem is "the seat of Israel's government and its self-declared capital, although its status is in dispute."

This is essentially accurate. Hats off to CNN. (Jerusalem Post Nov 26)

 

 

Not Just the Police By David Bar-Illan

To anyone familiar with Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, observing the conduct of Israel's law enforcement agencies in recent months has been an excruciating experience. The most basic concept of democratic justice - the presumption of innocence - is being trampled by a high-handed and abusive police force, aided and abetted by sensation-mongering journalists and backed by an obtuse, short-sighted, and insouciant bureaucracy.

Granted, Israeli justice is not patterned after the British and American systems. It is closer to some of the less liberal European traditions.

But to observe the treatment of former chancellor Helmut Kohl, accused of involvement in what the press has branded "the dirty money affair" - a far more scandalous allegation than anything leveled against former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu - is to realize the outrageousness of Israeli police conduct. It is simply unthinkable that the German police would inform the media about a dawn raid of Kohl's home without telling Kohl about it and then conduct such a raid in front of television cameras.

Even more disturbing is the way another raid, at the offices of Ofer Nimrodi's defense attorneys, was executed. Obviously, the police have the right to conduct a court-approved search if they suspect wrongdoing. But, as became clear in court the next day, no such suspicions existed.

And when the police confiscate documents needed by the defense for a hearing the next morning and refuse to allow them to be photocopied, the inescapable impression is that the raid was concocted strictly to undermine the right of the accused to adequate defense. No free society can countenance this if it wishes to remain free.

In democracies the burden of proof is on the state. One way to lighten this burden is to wage psychological warfare against the accused through the media. And in seeking media cooperation, the police have an extraordinary advantage. They can provide the media's daily bread: "scoops" about criminal and terrorist acts and juicy tidbits from sensational investigations. In this they can both rattle the accused, particularly by intimating that an indictment is imminent, and hold the media in their debt.

In return, the media easily forgive the police for abysmal failures, such as their inability to apprehend the serial rapist or obtain information about terrorist activity among Israeli Arabs. Nor does the fact that some of the most sensational police cases end up being thrown out of court diminish media readiness to buy the next police sensation.

Especially puzzling is the indifference of the purportedly liberal press to police brutality, insufferable arrogance, and inattentiveness to individual distress. Police treatment of demonstrators, whether Women in Green or Israeli Arabs, is almost always unnecessarily violent. And as if to show that they know they are acting against the law, the police habitually remove their name tags when subduing demonstrations.

Even more brutal is their treatment of illegal foreign workers, whom they subject to savage physical abuse and unspeakable humiliations.

Yet the police are not the only culprits. They are backed by the State Attorney's Office and by cooperative judges who act as rubber stamps, particularly on matters of bail. Denial of bail is justified only if it is intended to prevent the suspect from endangering the community or leaving the country. Nor should suspects' refusal to cooperate in interrogations without an attorney's presence be held against them.

And regardless of the likelihood of guilt or innocence, the State Attorney's Office must not sanction unreasonably long remands; senseless, repetitious interrogations; and tendentious leaks to the press.

The root of the problem may have been accurately described by law professor Ruth Gavison in a recent Ha'aretz interview. "The judicial system serves as the last refuge for elements of the old elites," she said. "So they have a natural tendency to aggrandize the power of the court, and curb or restrain the process of democratization."

The government offices most directly responsible for the administration of justice, the Internal Security and Justice ministries, are headed by two outstanding liberals and human-rights advocates, Yossi Beilin and Shlomo Ben-Ami. Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein, too, is known for fairness, integrity, and common sense.

One should like to hope they realize that citizens of a free society must feel not only that justice will ultimately prevail, but that everyone is fully protected from humiliation, abuse, and harassment throughout the judicial process. (Jerusalem Post Dec 1)


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