Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Follow the Money Trail

Greg Myre writes in the New York Times that Palestinians are dependent on international aid "which has approached $1 billion dollars annually for a Palestinian population of fewer than four million" ("Poverty Worsening in Israel and Palestinian Areas, 2 Studies Find", Nov. 24).

Unfortunately, he neglected to note that many tens of millions of those donor nation funds have been embezzeled by corrupt Palestinian Authority officials, from Yasir Arafat on down. Kickbacks and skimming are most rampant. Other monies feed the terror campaign. This is one aspect of the poverty that cannot be blamed on Israel, or can it?

So, When is a Terrorist Not A Militant?

I found this report on the NYT web site on November 21. (URL below).

Islamic Jihad is an officially recognized terror group.(*)
Why, then, does the NYT insist on using the term"militant" when the group itself acknowledges the person's organizational affiliation while on a mission of violence? Why not "terrorist"?

The report:
"In violence Sunday, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian militant who tried to attack a Gaza road frequented by Jewish settlers, the Israeli army and Islamic Jihad said. The army confirmed it killed one militant during the incident, which occurred in an off-limits area not far from a crossing point into Israel. It said soldiers chased after another armed man, but Islamic Jihad said he escaped unarmed. The Islamic Jihad confirmed in a statement one of its men was killed in the incident.

(*) State Department Identifies 37 Foreign Terrorist Organizations
A listing of terrorist organizations and groups is included in "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003", areport released by the Department of State on April 29. Designation of a group as a foreign terrorist organization results in the U.S. government blocking assets held in U.S. financial institutions, denying their members visas, and making it a criminal offense for U.S. citizens or persons within U.S. jurisdiction to provide them with material support or resources.

Following is the list of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, determined by the Secretary of State, plus a list of other terrorist organizations that the report identifies as active in the past year Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2003U.S. Department of StateWashington, D.C. April 29, 2004
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)
Hizballah (Party of God)
Kahane Chai
Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

To which, I received this reply:-

Dear Yisrael Medad,

Thanks for the message. Mr. Okrent briefly touched on this in a recent web journal post where he also said he would be revisiting this issue at some point during his tenure.

Personally, I was torn until a conversation I had last week with a reader from Germany. Absent any clear definition, I felt, it seemed reasonable to use "abuse" if it helped keep temperatures down, much as the use of "militant" instead of "terrorist" in the Palestine-Israel conflict suggests a sometimes misplaced wish neither to take sides nor to be inflammatory (many supporters of Israel feel very differently about this, and I expect to address the specific issue in a future column). I will keep the example you sent us on file for him.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sharon Worse Than Clinton?

President Bill Clinton's Library opened and I searched through its site. Did you know that,
of all people, he refused to commit to a Palestinian state? Maybe Sharon should review his American policy history and realign with what is in Israel's best interests?

For Immediate Release September 28, 1998
AT The Oval Office 12:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I would like to publicly welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat. We have had a very, very good meeting today, following the one-on-one meeting that the Prime Minister and the Chairman had last night, their first face-to-face meeting in a year. I believe that we all agree that we have made progresson the path to peace... And again I want to thank both these men for the open, candid, respectful way in which they worked and we worked together. And we're going to work at this now to see if we can get it done.

Q What are the major sticking -- Q Mr. President, there was --

THE PRESIDENT: Wait, wait. One, two, three. We'll do them all. Go ahead.

Q Mr. President, do you support the Palestinian state in principle, and do you think the Palestinians have the right to have a state made for -- or in principle, and self-determination for them?

THE PRESIDENT: In the Oslo Accords, that question was left for the final status negotiations. Because of the heavy involvement of the United States in the peace process, I believe it would be in error for me to comment on that. I think the important thing is that has to be resolved in the final status negotiations as provided for in the Oslo Accords. As long as the peace process is going forward, whatever the United States says on that publicly will be unhelpful to the ultimate outcome.
Q Mr. President, the First Lady commented on this in public --
Q Mr. President, is it your assumption --

THE PRESIDENT: She did, but she's not the President and she's not trying to manage this peace process.That's a different thing. But I'm telling you the --we gave our word when we agreed to try to be an honestbroker to respect the Oslo process. And therefore -- I have to tell you, when I'm in Israel or when I'm with American Jewish groups, they also try to get me to say things that I said before I was the President and the broker of the process that I can no longer say. So it's a different -- I gave my word that I would be faithful to the process that these two parties set out for the resolution of their agreement, and I have to try to do that.

Vote Absentee

I would think there is a simple solution to the Palestinian Authority demand that elections scheduled for January 9 be conducted in Jerusalem, a demand that U.S. Secretary of State Powell forced Israel to commit to.

Why not absentee ballots?

If millions of Americans can vote abroad in a presidential and congressional campaign, as done earlier this month, less than 200,000 Arabs in Jerusalem should present no logistical nor political problem. That is, unless PA officials are interested in creating one.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Misquotation in NYTimes

Judith Miller's obituary of Yasir Arafat (Nov. 11) quotes Menachem Begin, Israel's former Prime Minister, as referring to Arafat as "a beast on two legs".

Actually, on June 8, 1982, Begin spoke during a debate in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. He referred to Arab terror directed against civilians, specifically children as his context. The minutes of the session read: "the children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington...We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off...".

Begin did not mention Arafat, but rather terrorists in a generic sense, those who deliberately target children. These were the "animals".

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Quoting the Wrong Quotations

I first met Menachem Begin personally in a synagogue in Queens in 1968. He was on an Israel Bonds tour and I and other Betar youth movement members provided an honor guard for the event. Of course, I had earlier "met" Begin through the books he wrote, which I had read. I had also been present, during my year of training in Israel in 1966-1967, at outdoor rallies and indoor meetings where he had spoken. Later, as a result of my work in the political field, I even took dictation from Mr. Begin in the summer of 1982 at coalition talks when he was prime minister.Thus, it was with interest and curiosity that I listened to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presenting his disengagement program to the nation. In his statement before the Knesset last week, he recalled words Begin spoke over two decades ago during the first debate on his autonomy plan. He also quoted two lines from a song penned by Begin's mentor, Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Obviously, he was seeking to underpin his drastic turn-about from traditional nationalist camp policies by attaching himself to luminaries of the past.There can be a problem in drawing historical parallels based on the relevance of what was once said, and it is obvious that Sharon was not that successful in attempting to mobilize this postmortem support. Let me start with Jabotinsky.Sharon noted that Jabotinsky possessed a vision for partnership and peace among the peoples of this land. In an article published in his last collection, The Jewish War Front, he even proposed the possibility of an Arab president for the future state of Israel. In the plenum, Sharon read two lines from a song written in 1934 that became a popular song of the Betar movement.Its fourth stanza reads: "There he will benefit from bountiful plenty and joy, the son of the Arab, the son of Nazareth and my son." The song's title, Sharon neglected to inform his listeners, is "The Left Bank of the Jordan" and the "there" in the line quoted is quite a different geographical reality from Sharon's disengagement. Jabotinsky's "there" was the entire area of the mandate granted to Great Britain by the League of Nations in 1922.To Jabotinsky's great regret, the mandate was whittled down considerably and all of Trans-Jordan, east of the Jordan River, was awarded to a Saudi Arabian refugee named Abdallah, a scion of the Hashemite family. Forced by his personal commitment to institutional discipline, Jabotinsky, as a member of the Zionist Executive, did not vote to reject the loss of homeland territory. But he later resigned in protest and his Revisionist party championed the concept of the integrity of the homeland.So, while Sharon sought to don a mantle that Jabotinsky once wore, in truth, his quotation was, to put it kindly, a slight misrepresentation. And now, to what Menachem Begin said.On December 28, 1977, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin presented his plan for Palestinian autonomy. Sharon quoted the following excerpt, where Begin refers to criticism directed against him from Chanan Porat of Gush Emunim:"I once said, during an argument with people from Gush Emunim, that I love them today, and will continue to like them tomorrow. I told them: 'You are wonderful pioneers, builders of the land... However, you have one weakness - you have developed among yourselves a messianic complex.... I call on you today, my good friends from Gush Emunim, to perform your tasks with no less modesty than your predecessors, on other days and nights. We do not require anyone to supervise the kashrut of our commitment to the Land of Israel!"It is easy to understand why Sharon selected these lines at this moment, faced as he is with his decision to expel some 8,000 people from their homes. Begin's legalistic approach, we know, led him to distinguish between Sinai and the former Mandate area. Sinai, Begin insisted, was not Eretz-Yisrael. Sharon, however, is dealing with Gaza and a portion of northern Samaria. This is another matter entirely.In fact, a few paragraphs on in his speech, we read Begin saying: "When it was demanded of us [in Washington] that we agree to the establishment of a so-called 'Palestinian' state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, we replied that in no way would we accept such an entity, which represents a mortal danger to the state of Israel."Moreover, in Begin's last public address, on August 14, 1983, he said: "As far as Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district are concerned, we have a perfect right to live and stay there;" a clear indication that his vision of the people of Israel in the land of Israel was quite different from that of Mr. Sharon.Words are important. People remember them. They remind us. Care, too, we now know, must be taken to guard them and to recall them in their context and circumstances. To do otherwise is to distort, something public debate should not tolerate.