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Articles for the week of July 25, 2004
the Discussion (click here).
Prospect Magazine, Benny Morris, August 2004
Once the great chronicler of Israel's war crimes, he now laments
Ben-Gurion's failure to clear all Arab inhabitants from Palestine in 1948.
What has become of Morris and the Israeli left?
David B Green
The Israeli historian Benny Morris achieved a modicum of fame in 1988 with
his first book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949. It was
one of the first works to look objectively at the factors that led 700,000
Palestinians to leave their homes during the 1947-49 war that followed the
partition of mandatory Palestine by the UN. It is seen as a landmark because,
by citing places and dates, it provided evidence that members of Israel's army
had carried out war crimes and that the actions of Israeli forces had
intentionally contributed to the flight of the Palestinians. It also blamed
the Arab states for having rejected the UN plan that called for the creation
of both a Jewish state and an Arab one, but the major significance of the book
for Israelis was that it challenged the official Zionist story that the Jews
had done all they could to keep the Palestinians from leaving. Morris became a
self-loathing troublemaker in the view of some jingoistic Israelis, and a hero
both for Israelis on the left and for supporters of the Palestinians.
But in February 2002, nearly 18 months into the al-Aqsa intifada, the
Guardian published a long piece by Morris in which he effectively told British
readers that he was sending back his membership card of the Israel left. He
had, he wrote, become convinced that Yasser Arafat, symbol of "his
people's miseries and collective aspirations," had no intention of
reaching a compromise with Israel. He had reached this conclusion, he said,
not only because of Palestinian behaviour since the failed Camp David summit
in July 2000, when Arafat had turned down a "generous offer" from
Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, but also after having spent most of the
1990s researching Righteous Victims, a book on the century-long history of the
conflict. "By the time I had completed the book," Morris wrote,
"my restrained optimism had given way to grave doubts," as he began
to understand that a common thread of rejection of the Jewish national
movement ran through the entire history of Palestinian nationalism.
Morris described himself as disillusioned, but not as someone who had
changed his basic sense of what peace might entail. His belief that the
two-state solution was the only practical and morally correct possibility, and
that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was misguided, had not
changed, he said, but he no longer felt convinced that his peers on the
Palestinian side shared his outlook.
To Morris himself, this expression of frustration and anger seemed a
natural consequence of the horrific events that had overtaken the region since
the breakdown of peace efforts at Camp David. To others, however, the champion
of the Palestinians had crossed over to become their prosecutor. As Morris
wrote, with characteristic self-consciousness, readers couldn't be blamed for
thinking he had undergone a "brain transplant."
That was only the beginning. Earlier this year, Morris gave an interview to
Ha'aretz, the Tel-Aviv based daily broadsheet. He explained that his research
for a recently revised edition of the Palestinian Refugee Problem had turned
up more evidence of murder and rape of Palestinians. In addition, he had found
confirmation of numerous cases in which ethnic cleansing of Arabs from
territory Jews were trying to consolidate had been policy and not just the
by-product of a defensive war. "Transfer," he wrote in the book,
"was inevitable and in-built into Zionism - because it sought to
transform a land which was 'Arab' into a 'Jewish' state and a Jewish state
could not have arisen without a major displacement of the Arab
Yet far from wringing his hands over these new revelations, Morris
explained that Israelis, at least, would probably have been better off had
they completed the expulsion of the Palestinians from the entire land - the
Mediterranean to the Jordan river - in 1948. Israel's leader, David
Ben-Gurion, he argued, had got cold feet. "If the end of the story turns
out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will be because Ben-Gurion did not
complete the transfer in 1948. Because he left a large and volatile
demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself."
As a consequence, Israel was burdened not only with some 3.5m Palestinians in
the occupied territories, but also with a large minority population of Arab
citizens in Israel proper (today 1.2m out of a total population of 6m), and
they constitute a "timebomb" and a "potential fifth
column." He contemplated (some might say relished) the possibility that
some day, if Israel were exposed to an existential threat from, say, Egypt and
Syria, it might have no alternative but to complete the expulsion begun more
than 50 years earlier.
Morris was careful to distinguish between expulsion and atrocities like
murder and rape, which he said were always unjustified, though he also
stressed that the number of Palestinians whom he estimated had been
slaughtered by Jews in the war (as opposed to killed in battle) did not exceed
800, and that was "peanuts" compared with, say, Bosnia. In any case,
Morris said, "when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide -
the genocide of your people - I prefer ethnic cleansing."
But it was some of the other observations Morris made in his interview with
Ari Shavit, spoken in Hebrew, that got people emailing the piece around the
globe. Feeling that the situation granted him licence to generalise about Arab
and Muslim cultures, he noted that the Arab world today was
"barbarian," and that in Islam, "human life doesn't have the
same value as it does in the west," which explained why they "will
commit genocide." He compared the Palestinian adversary to "a wild
animal that has to be locked up."
Not surprisingly, the interview elicited strong reactions. Ha'aretz printed
many angry letters, and historians and middle east buffs filled internet sites
with essays criticising Morris. One reader concluded that Morris served as
"a case history in the psychopathology of colonialism." Israeli
sociologist Baruch Kimmerling, who has written several histories of the
Palestinians, dismissed Morris the historian as no more than an
"archivist," and Morris the political thinker as someone who applied
his own "prejudices and stereotypes" of Islamic and Arab culture to
fit the embattled zeitgeist in "the Israeli-Jewish world and some parts
of western political culture since the 9/11 calamity."
Speaking to the web magazine Salon, Tom Segev, a historian who has shared
the loose mantle of "new historian" with Morris - along with Ilan
Pappe and Avi Shlaim - concluded that "Morris flipped out as a result of
three years of terrorism. Happens to many of us," he added nonchalantly.
As if to highlight the break that he had made with his past, Morris also
published a long review of Ilan Pappe's A History of Modern Palestine: One
Land, Two Peoples in the New Republic in March 2004. Opening the piece on a
personal note, Morris told readers that although he and Pappe had once
"walked together in uneasy companionship," they had now "parted
Even when they were fellow new historians, Pappe and Morris had been some
way apart. Morris is a Zionist, and Pappe (together with Shlaim) a
"post-Zionist," believing that only a single state for Jews and
Arabs can lead to a just society. Nonetheless, the intifada has sharpened the
differences between the two. In Morris's review, and in a response that Pappe
posted on a website, both men attacked one another personally as well as
professionally. Morris listed dozens of errors in the book and recommended
that readers "run vigorously in the opposite direction" of what is
"truly... an appalling book."
Pappe, in turn, denied that he and Morris had ever been intellectual
companions, but "as he seemed to trust me" in the late 1980s, he had
shared with Pappe what were already then "his abominable racist
views" of Arabs. Morris "was never a historian," but a
chronologist, and also a liar and a "charlatan."
Why does it matter what Benny Morris has to say about the intifada or the
Palestinian mind? The reason he is important is that the questions he is
asking and answering are the same ones that have occupied tens of thousands of
thoughtful Israelis over the past few years. The only difference is that he
expresses his opinions loudly and clearly before a world audience.
Israel today is not the same country it was four years ago. What is new is
a deep disillusionment among that segment of society that used to call itself
the left. Its members for the most part still believe in the two state
solution. At the same time, however, they fear that this solution is no longer
attainable. Like Morris, they have become convinced that Israel lacks an
adversary who shares its understanding of political bargaining. There is, they
fear, "no partner." And much as they would like to feel regret over
the harsh measures Israel has imposed on the Palestinians in the past few
years, the blows that Israel has endured - above all the suicide bombings -
have hardened their hearts to their enemy's suffering.
This explains the stunning victory of Ariel Sharon both in the 2001 direct
prime ministerial election, and his re-election 18 months ago, once Israel had
reverted to its original party-based electoral system. It explains the nearly
unanimous support of Israelis for the construction of the security barrier
between the state and the West Bank (despite a lack of consensus on what the
course of the fence should be), and the fact that more than two thirds of the
public is behind Sharon's plan to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza strip.
And finally, the disillusionment of the left explains in part the near total
collapse of the Labour party as a political organisation offering a coherent
approach to the country's problems and a vision for its future. Labour's
inability even to agree on a leader for the past three years (its interim
leader continues to be Shimon Peres) is a symptom of this collapse.
I met Benny Morris recently for morning coffee at a café in Jerusalem's
Rehavia neighbourhood. The place is not far from where a city bus was blown up
earlier this year, and not much farther from Café Moment, which was hit by a
suicide bomb in March 2002. Because of a mix-up, I arrived an hour early.
Concerned that I had missed Morris, I called his home, where I was greeted
with a recorded message saying the line had been disconnected. Luckily, Morris
showed up soon after, and explained that he had just moved house. He had, he
said, moved to a "settlement" - understood here, as it is worldwide,
to refer to Israeli communities in the occupied territories. Chuckling at my
surprise, he quickly explained that it wasn't really a settlement, but rather
a community, near the city of Beit Shemesh, inside Israel. He may have moved
to the right, but Morris is still no right-winger.
Morris was born in Israel the same year as the state, 1948, but his father,
from Belfast, and his London-born mother had immigrated to pre-state Palestine
from England in 1947, and his mother tongue is English. This is what he spoke
with me, rapidly, eloquently and precisely, in an English accent. His
appearance is disarmingly sloppy and approachable. He is friendly,
unpretentious and direct. His enemies claim that the changing political
climate has led Morris to lower his guard so that his "natural
racism" can emerge, but I felt his cheerful demeanour and open manner
might be masking the fear and even hurt that he has experienced in the last
few years. In an interview he gave to the Atlantic Monthly's website, he
acknowledged that he may well be "basically depressed," adding that
he had become convinced that "unless there is a basic change of heart and
mind... among Palestinians and in the Arab world in general about Israel,
we're in for a continuous struggle over the coming decades."
As members of the Hashomer Hatzair socialist movement, Benny's parents
lived briefly on Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, where he was born, and then were
involved in the establishment of Kibbutz Yasur, in the western Galilee
(founded, as their son says, "on the ruins of an abandoned Arab village,
Al-Birwa"). When Benny was a year old, the family moved to Jerusalem,
which remained their home, although his youth was punctuated with two long
periods in New York, where his father Jacob served as Israeli consul. (Later,
in the 1980s, Jacob was Israel's ambassador to New Zealand, about which he
published a book of poetry.) Benny too was a member of a socialist youth group
connected to the kibbutz movement.
After receiving his BA in modern European history from the Hebrew
University, Morris did a doctorate at Cambridge, England, finishing his
thesis, on Anglo-German relations in the 1930s, in 1977. Unable to find a job
in academia, he took up a position as a reporter on the Jerusalem Post, which
was then a left-leaning English-language daily owned by Israel's labour
federation. He explains in the introduction to the revised edition of his 1988
book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited that his interest
in studying Palestinian refugees began during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in
1982, when he interviewed residents of a Palestinian refugee camp outside Tyre,
in the south of the country. He had earlier planned to write a book about the
history of Israel's army, but had to abandon it when his access to the
archives of the Palmah (the elite commando force of the pre-state Haganah
militia) was withdrawn - though not before he had glimpsed top secret
documents testifying to the role of Jewish soldiers in expelling Palestinians
from their homes.
In 1988, the year that he published the first edition of the refugee study,
Morris - who was still working as a journalist - was jailed for refusing to
report for reserve duty as a soldier in the West Bank city of Nablus. It was
during the first intifada and, he told his Salon interviewer recently,
"my sympathies were with the rebels. I thought the Arabs really meant
what they said and they were out to liberate the West Bank and Gaza from
military occupation. I thought that was just. And therefore, I refused to
By the early 1990s, Morris had left the newspaper and begun searching in
earnest for a university job in Israel. But his efforts were in vain. "I
was blackballed for years," he told me. "I was already well known,
because of my first book, but I was not even invited to a single interview.
Eventually, in 1996, I gave an interview to the newspaper Ma'ariv, and I told
the reporter that I would starve if I don't find a job here. I had literally
been searching for five or six years. The headline of the story was, 'Benny
Morris is leaving Israel.' The same morning the story ran, I got a call from
the office of [Israeli president] Ezer Weizman, who I was told wanted to meet
me. I went by a few days later, and we talked for about an hour. He quizzed me
about 1948: I guess he wanted to see if I was just one of those anti-Zionists,
and I think he reached a positive conclusion" - that Morris was kosher.
Weizman apparently asked his chief of staff to make some calls, and a few
minutes after Morris had made the short walk back to his home, "I
received a phone call from the president of Ben-Gurion University assuring me
I had a job." Today he is a professor of middle east studies at
Ben-Gurion University, in the Negev city of Beer Sheva.
At heart, Morris told me, he still believed that the creation of a
Palestinian state was a practical necessity. "I've always believed that
we must separate from the Palestinians, that they must have their own state in
the West Bank and Gaza strip, alongside Israel, along more or less 1967
borders, including East Jerusalem, which must be returned to Arab sovereignty.
I think that's just and I think that's practical."
But Morris, along with many other Israelis, has found himself wondering
over the past four years just which war he was revisiting: 1967, when Israel
took "temporary" possession of the territories? Or 1948, when a
coalition of Arab states fought to prevent the newly declared state from
coming into existence? In other words, was the intifada about how much of the
territories Israel would withdraw from, or was Israel still fighting for its
This question seemed all the more relevant coming, as the intifada did, in
the wake of the failed summit hosted by President Clinton at Camp David in
July 2000. Israelis have overwhelmingly accepted Ehud Barak's claim that
between Camp David and January 2001, Israel made a series of proposals that
seemed to answer most, if not all, of the Palestinian demands: the withdrawal
from nearly all the territories and dismantling of most of the settlements;
the ceding of Arab Jerusalem to the new Palestinian state, as well as of the
Temple Mount, which is central to both Islam and Judaism; and there were also
indications that Israel was open to a compromise formula in which it would
accept joint responsibility for the creation of the refugee problem and offer
to take in a symbolic number of refugees. Arafat's rejection at Camp David of
the terms, followed not by a counter-offer or a proposal to continue
negotiating but rather, several months later, by an armed uprising, was taken
as evidence that the Palestinians were unwilling to bring the conflict to an
This is the way Barak presented Camp David to the world, and subsequent
memoirs not only from Israelis who were involved but also from Clinton himself
(as well as his middle east special negotiator, Dennis Ross), have generally
corroborated this version. There have been several journalistic accounts of
the Camp David talks from a more Palestinian point of view - including a piece
in the New York Review of Books in 2001 by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley that
outlined the tactical mistakes of both sides - but for the most part the
Palestinians who were present have remained silent for the past four years,
and this has given Barak's version a clear run.
When Barak responded in the New York Review to the Agha-Malley piece, he
did so via an interview he gave to Benny Morris. Barak insisted that his offer
to Arafat had been sincere and comprehensive, and that the claim that he had
offered a Palestinian state composed of "Bantustans" was an
"embarrassing lie." But lying, he explained, was endemic to Arab
culture, and largely defined Arafat's style as a leader.
Barak, and subsequently Morris - who accepts Barak's version of events
almost entirely - make special note of Palestinian unwillingness at Camp David
to acknowledge Israel's claim to a historical connection to the Temple Mount.
The issue came up during discussions over the future of the old city site,
which is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians. There are many legends attached
to the mount, but there are a number of facts that most secular sources agree
on, among them that in 70AD, the Romans destroyed the Hebrew temple that stood
on the site, and that the Western, or Wailing, Wall, where Jews have prayed
for much of the past two millennia, is a remnant of the retaining wall built
by Herod the Great to support the mount in the first century BC.
Yet even the Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, an urbane,
western-educated mandarin, was reported to have told his Israeli counterparts
that he did not believe that there had been a temple at the site, reflecting
the wider Palestinian view. If that denial was just Israeli propaganda, no
Palestinian spokes-man has taken advantage of the past four years to correct
the record and state clearly that since the mount is holy to both peoples, a
way must be found to share it. Aside from the significance of this to Jews
anxious to know that their holiest site will remain accessible, the symbolic
meaning of the Palestinian position cannot be overstated. Negation of the
Jewish link to the Temple Mount - denial that there ever was a temple - is
equivalent to rejection of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, which in turn
is like asserting that the Jews have no claim to Palestine in general.
Morris told me that he was not a "determinist," and believed that
"a mindset can change over a generation or two." The problem with
the Arabs was cultural, not racial, he believed. But this did not make him any
more optimistic. And it was his historical research for Righteous Victims that
forms the basis of his pessimism. "I spent time looking at the whole
thing, from its origins in the 1880s until the present day... and the thrust
of Palestinian history from the beginning of the Palestinian movement in the
1920s... was rejectionist. It opposed the idea of Jews coming here, it opposed
the idea of a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. 'Not one inch' - that was
basically the slogan, and unfortunately, my study of the last 100 years shows
me that they've been uniform, monolithic, linear about this." He then
recounted all the opportunities for the Palestinians to accept a compromise -
in 1937 (when a British commission called for partition of Palestine into Arab
and Jewish states, and population ex-changes between them, with the former
getting some 70 per cent and the latter 20 per cent), and 1947, and 1978, and,
finally, four years ago. And each time "they reject a peace offer and a
compromise based on two states, they lose territory. The Jewish population
grows, Jewish greed grows, and Jews take over more and more territory. And
then there's less territory available for Arabs, and they're offered
Although Barak and, following him, Morris, now seem certain about the depth
of Palestinian intransigence, other Israelis, even some in the very thick of
the military establishment, are not so sure. In mid-June, the journalist Akiva
Eldar reported in Ha'aretz that Amos Malka, who had been head of Israeli
military intelligence at the time of Camp David, was claiming that his
division's assessment had always been that Arafat was interested in making a
deal; the turn to violence in 2000 was a continuation of diplomacy by other
means, not a sign that the two-state solution had been discarded. Malka's
remarks were meant to discredit the analysis of his then deputy Amos Gilad -
now an outspoken political adviser to the defence minister - who has been
called "the high priest of the 'we have no partner' creed." Malka
charged that Gilad had no basis for his assertion that Arafat's ultimate goal
was the destruction of Israel, and that his insistence on the right of return
was intended to achieve that goal demographically.
Gilad has defended his position, and reactions to this dispute from other
observers have predictably divided along political lines. But while one has to
wonder why Amos Malka has chosen to speak now, one cannot help but have doubts
about the entire science of reading the mind of the Palestinian president.
When I discussed this with Gidi Grinstein,who served as secretary of the
Israeli delegation to Camp David, and today heads the Re'ut Institute for
strategic planning, he told me that he "wouldn't claim to know what's in
Arafat's heart." But Israel, he said, will always be at a disadvantage in
negotiations, not because of unclear Palestinian intentions but because of a
more basic "structural mismatch" between the Israeli and Palestinian
political systems. Grinstein observed that whereas Arafat "has been the
Palestinians' leader for 40 years, the average Israeli prime minister is in
office for two and a half to three unstable years. This gives the Palestinian
side an incentive to prolong negotiations." He also noted that the
Palestinians made decisions via deliberation and consensus. "Thus you
can't carry and enforce a decision with a one-person majority" - the way
that the Knesset passed the Oslo II agreement (mandating the withdrawal of
Israeli forces from most Palestinian urban centres in the West Bank) in
October 1995, after two parliamentarians switched to Labour. "For the
Palestinians to reach a more significant majority, you may need an agreement
that will be unacceptable to the Israelis. Without external pressure, why
should Arafat take any risks in putting his coalition to the test of a
challenging agreement with Israel?"
I wondered also if Morris, in the wake of 9/11, now saw the intifada in a
more Islamic context. He responded by suggesting that the conflict be viewed
on two levels: a "territorial conflict between two peoples, unfortunately
turned into a zero sum game by the Palestinians," and as "a war
against the existence of the state of Israel." This, he said, has
"merged with the pan-Arab, pan-Islamic radical struggle against the west,
against modernism, against liberal values and democratic values. They see the
west as a threat to their own culture, and they see Israel as an outpost of
this west. So when Hamas wages the struggle against this entity called Israel,
they're also waging the pan-Islamic struggle against the west itself. And we
are on the front line."
The picture Morris draws is a gloomy one, but if it misrepresents the
Palestinians, few politicians or intellectual leaders from that side have
tried hard to challenge it (Sari Nusseibeh, the liberal academic and Al-Quds
University president, is one of the few exceptions). This does not mean that
most Israelis have an alternative solution, or want to claim the West Bank as
their own. Morris told me how, a year or two ago, he received a call from a
leader of the Council of Jewish Communities in the territories, asking him to
speak at a rally in Tel Aviv. "I said to him: 'I'm not there yet, I'm not
quite there.'" Then he added, in case I had misunderstood his point,
"That was a joke. I've never identified with the settlers. I think that
the settlement movement was a mistake from the beginning."
Similarly, two thirds of Israelis told pollsters in June that they
supported Sharon's plan for unilateral Israeli "disengagement" from
Gaza, and 68 per cent said they would be behind a plan to dismantle most of
the settlements there and in the West Bank in the context of a peace deal. If
there is no partner, then Israel has no alternative but to act unilaterally.
Hence the broad support not only for the Gaza pullout, but also for the
construction of the security barrier.
Morris is all for a withdrawal from Gaza: "I don't think we should
have 20 or 25 per cent of the Gaza strip's land for 7,000 settlers when you
have 1.5m really impoverished people there." He would like to see a
similar withdrawal in the West Bank (though holding on to enclaves adjacent to
the Green line), and even, in the event of a peace deal, Jerusalem.
All of the political figures in Israel I have spoken to over the past few
months have their own take on Sharon's decision to withdraw unilaterally from
the Gaza strip, but they all agreed that the move was preferable to the status
quo. Yossi Alpher, a former adviser to Ehud Barak, is suspicious of Sharon's
motives, but contends that "after the last four years, unilateral action
is much more doable than bilateral." Alpher said he was convinced that
Sharon "is leaving Gaza to stay in the West Bank," but went on to
suggest that "the weight of the precedent of dismantling settlements will
be far greater than any coup he may be planning to hold the West Bank."
Gidi Grinstein, head of the Re'ut institute, was more generous, crediting
Sharon with "a sophisticated understanding of the present reality with
the Palestinians. He understands that entering into negotiations may suck him
in the way it did the four previous prime ministers, since Rabin. Each time we
start to negotiate, the agenda expands, the timeframe is prolonged and
Palestinian demands escalate, while we still have terrorism." At this
stage in the conflict, said Grinstein, it would be a mistake for an Israeli
leader, even if conditions were ripe for the resumption of negotiations, not
also to have a "viable, credible strategy based on unilateral moves and
agreements with third parties [essentially the US] to free Israel from its
dependence on Palestinian consent and its vulnerability to the pathologies of
On the security issue Israel has drifted towards a one-party state. In the
last election, 18 months ago, Labour's leader Amram Mitzna called for the
resumption of talks with the Palestinians, and was trounced, with Labour
winning only 19 seats out of 120 in the Knesset, its lowest share ever. (Its
share of the vote fell to 14.5 per cent, compared with 46 per cent for Labour
and allied parties in 1969.) Mitzna resigned as leader, and for lack of an
alternative, the party turned to Shimon Peres to take over as acting chair. He
has been dogged with almost weekly reports that he is angling to take Labour
back into a Sharon-led coalition, in which he would again be foreign minister.
Before the election, Labour's most prominent peacenik, Yossi Beilin, left
his long-time political home, and is now the leader of Yahad, the heir to what
until recently was called Meretz, a left-wing Zionist party. He is only one of
many Labour luminaries to have left the party in recent years, the latest
being Avrum Burg, another left-winger and recent candidate for the leadership.
The party's foundering can be understood as a combination of its inability to
unite around a leader or to agree on a path that is capable of making the
Israeli public feel the country might be more secure than it is under Sharon.
Benny Morris, a product of the left-wing Ashkenazi elite that created
Israel and ran it - through the labour movement and its affiliated parties -
for a generation, is emblematic of this implosion of Israel's left.
Some people still insist on seeing Morris's switch in more personal terms.
Psychologist Dan Bar-On told me that he saw Morris's change of heart towards
the Palestinians as sour grapes: "He thought he was the pioneer leading
the camp. He believed that Oslo would show him as a hero who discovered these
things for the public. Then October 2000 came, and now he's angry at Arafat
for spoiling his vision and sending him to the margins. I think it's a
personal and childish reaction."
Morris himself admits that he can be "provocative," and some of
the ugly generalisations he made about Arab culture in his Hebrew-language
interview in Ha'aretz were examples of a kind of bravado. Though he has not
withdrawn the remarks, he did tell me that he believes "that the way the
interview was edited and illustrated with a cover photo that made me look like
Dr Strangelove... did try to taint me as some sort of fascist." At the
same time, it is undeniable that Morris's principles are basically the same as
they were when he went to prison for refusing to serve in the West Bank. He
has sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians, but argues that they have
left Israel little choice but to hang tough.
The question Israelis will have to contend with in the coming months is
whether they have done enough to search for that elusive "partner"
on the Palestinian side, and whether the conviction that they did all they
could to reach a peaceful settlement is right, or just self-righteous. There
is something discomforting about the ease with which Morris now rattles off
his evidence, as if he were trying to win a case in court, rather than search
for a solution. But then Morris, along with much of the old Israeli left, has
given up on finding a solution, and giving up on something you have spent most
of your life believing is not a comfortable experience.
David B Green is a senior editor at the "Jerusalem Report"
The following articles give an interesting perspective on various
factions within Palestinian society. They cover a range of views from a Palestinian peace
movement and give a Palestinian perspectives on the divisions among the
Palestinians and options for the Israelis. It is right on the mark about
what is going on in Gaza today. [ed.]
Also included is Egyptian op-ed supplied provide by David Victor with
his comment. An op-ed from Egypt's ruling party newspaper
(translated by MEMRI) that offers a bit of insight into the Arab world's
intentions for Israel. It is a footnoted, quasi-scholarly piece
demonstrating the Holocaust to be a lie fabricated in furtherance of
international Jewry's Zionist ambitions. Unpleasant reading but
important if you're interested in getting a handle on the level of
incitement promulgated by mainstream and state controlled media in the
WALL STREET JOURNAL, COMMENTARY, Let Us Vote, By KHALIL SHIKAKI July 30,
2004; Page A10
Gaza is responding to Ariel Sharon's withdrawal plan. Israel's
impending disengagement has triggered the current turmoil there, as
nationalist warlords and other leaders of the young guard jockey to
ensure that they will come out on top in the post-withdrawal period.
They calculate that once Israel is out of Gaza, they may lose the
justification to arm themselves and maintain their independent militias
(such as al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades), the most effective means they have
today to assert themselves and weaken the grip of their old-guard rivals
in the Palestinian national movement. If their efforts fail, they will
have a stake in the continuation of Palestinian-Israeli violence after
Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. The resolution of this power struggle,
therefore, has implications for all parties in the Palestinian-Israeli
As Israel readies itself to pull out of Gaza, leaders of the
nationalist young guard have exploited the fact that most of Yasser
Arafat's loyalists are corrupt and inept, and hated by the public.
Because Israel is withdrawing unilaterally, the leaders of the old guard
are no longer needed to negotiate the end of Israeli occupation. So in
the eyes of the next generation, they have become increasingly
irrelevant. The mounting public clamor for fundamental reforms and clean
government has emboldened young-guard leaders to challenge Arafat
directly, and the current turmoil in Gaza represents the most serious
challenge to Arafat's leadership since 1983.
Most of the underlying causes for the turmoil, however, have always
been present. A dysfunctional Palestinian political system has led to
serious divisions and fragmentation within the nationalist camp, an
empowerment of Hamas and other Islamists, and a specter of the
Palestinian Authority's disintegration and loss of legitimacy. The armed
intifada of the last four years has allowed young nationalists to
intensify their fight against a cadre that is perceived by the public as
responsible for failures in state-building and peacemaking. Arafat's
lack of vision and inability to project clear direction during these
difficult intifada years, and the resulting Palestinian political
paralysis, has led many Palestinians to question his judgment and
leadership. The increased scrutiny of PA finances by the international
community, and Arafat's subsequent loss of control over the public
purse, have made it difficult for him to continue to secure his position
Palestinian public perception of widespread corruption in the PA and
its security services have created greater frustration and despair than
ever. A survey conducted last month by the Palestinian Center for Policy
and Survey Research found that 87% of Palestinians in Gaza and the West
Bank believe that corruption exists in the PA; while two-thirds believe
that public officials involved in, or accused of, corruption are often
not charged or brought to account.
The survey found that 92% support internal and external calls for
fundamental political reforms in the PA, but that only 40% believe the
PA is actually carrying out such reforms. Perhaps as importantly, the
survey shows alarming concerns among the public: 59% are worried about
possible Palestinian infighting after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza;
only 30% believe the PA has high capacity to control internal matters
after the withdrawal; and only 31% believe life in Gaza will fully
resume in an orderly manner.
It is these conditions that provided fertile ground for those wishing
to challenge Arafat, and which emboldened them to come out in the open.
A similar political challenge is under way in the West Bank, but at a
slower pace. The era of the old guard could be coming to an end.
The current crisis will probably weaken Arafat's control and might be
followed by further developments in the next 18 months, culminating in
making merely nominal his, and the PA's, hold on Gaza. Arafat's control
there will most likely be replaced by that of Islamists. In order to be
able to gain and consolidate power, warlords and other young leaders
will need to strengthen their alliance with the Islamists and to make a
deal with Israel in which Israel -- which refuses to negotiate its
withdrawal with Arafat's PA -- agrees to full withdrawal in return for
full cessation of violence from the Gaza Strip.
In the short term, Israel may gain some peace and quiet, but this
will not be sustainable in the long run. Israel, which will continue to
occupy the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, will find itself facing a
much stronger foe across the Gaza border, and violence will return. In
the meanwhile, the Islamists will probably become stronger and will test
the nationalists when the first opportunity presents itself. Infighting
between the nationalists and the Islamists could signal the beginning of
a long-term internal conflict and the threat of civil war. No one stands
to gain; all -- Palestinians, Israelis, and the international community
-- would be losers.
Only national elections now, before the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza,
can help the Palestinians avert this outcome. Elections would help them
get rid of the old guard, and thereby provide the young guard with the
means to give up their arms without losing political power. Indeed,
elections will provide the latter with the opportunity to translate
their popular base into political empowerment. Elections would also
weaken Arafat's authoritarianism (even if he is re-elected), integrate
the Islamists into the political system, and bring about a governing
coalition of young guards and independents. Only elections can bring an
end to the current political anarchy, chaos, lawlessness and political
paralysis. Only elections can make the Palestinian political system
The ability of the international community to influence the chaotic
conditions in the Palestinian areas today is not great. Only by
facilitating Palestinian national elections can Israel, the U.S. and
others contribute to immediate stability, to the creation of a
democratic Palestine with a more accountable leadership, and to a more
peaceful Israeli-Palestinian relationship.
Mr. Shikaki is director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and
Survey Research in Ramallah.
Ruling Party Newspaper: The Holocaust is a Zionist Lie Aimed at
Extorting the West
Dr. Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad, director of the "Jaffa Research
Center" in Cairo and columnist for Al-Liwaa Al-Islami, which is the
Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party's paper, published a two-part
article titled 'The Lie About The Burning of the Jews.' In his article,
Ahmad stated, using the work of Western Holocaust deniers, that the
burning of Jews in gas chambers during World War II was a tale made up
by the Zionist movement in order to extort the West and make possible
the establishment of the Zionist enterprise. The following are excerpts
from the article:(1)
'Did this Holocaust Indeed Take Place, and what is the Truth about
"The Zionist enterprise on the land of Palestine succeeded by
means of lies and myths, from the myth of the 'Chosen People' and the
'Promised Land' to the lie about the burning of the Jews in the Nazi gas
chambers during World War II. When these means were scientifically
examined, it was proven that they were untrue, that their reasoning was
weak, and that they cannot withstand the test of solid fact.
"What interests us here is that this lie [about] the burning of
the Jews in the Nazi crematoria has been disseminated throughout the
world until our time in order to extort the West and make it easier for
the Jews of Europe to hunt [sic] Palestine and establish a state on it,
in disregard of the most basic principles of international law and the
right of peoples to independent life without occupation. [This lie] was
raised [also] so that [the Jews] would receive financial, technological,
and economic aid from the West.
"During the past 50 years, Germany alone gave a total of some
$100 billion. Many European countries began to amend their laws so that
they would be compatible with the Holocaust myth ... and they toughened
the regulations, resolutions, and laws convicting anyone who mocks this
lie or tries to [state that] the number of victims was smaller - as
happened to Muslim philosopher Roger Garaudy in France.
"This entire situation has turned the Holocaust - that is,
Hitler's operation of burning the Jews in gas chambers - into a drawn
sword at the necks of historians and serious researchers in the West,
and even in the East. At the same time, [the Holocaust] became
profitable goods for the Zionist entity...
"At a conference of 50 countries held in Germany in April 2004,
the German foreign minister delivered a speech called 'Antisemitism.' He
demanded that the conference participants demonstrate solidarity with
Israel and fight those who deny or cast doubt on the matter of the
burning of the Jews in the Nazi crematoria. Several months ago in the
city of Stockholm, Sweden, some 26 European and non-European countries
passed a resolution to teach 'the false Nazi holocaust' that Hitler had
carried out against the Jews, at all stages of study in the schools of
the participating countries. At the same time, there were words of
appreciation for the Israeli prime minister, whose entity is today
implementing the same purported Hitler Nazism.
"None of the senior officials who participated in the conference
bothered to answer a number of questions: Did this holocaust indeed take
place, and what is the truth about the numbers that were disseminated
regarding it? [They did not answer the question of] what their opinion
was regarding the slaughter in cold blood of children, men, and
defenseless elderly in Palestine today, since September 28, 2002 [sic].
Is this not 'the new Nazism?' And how does their false European
integrity and their false defense of human rights accept this?
"To this day, none of these countries has answered these
questions, and never will answer them, because they are hypocrites with
regard to [the difference between] perception and analysis, and there is
no chance of getting an answer from them. We can only present clear-cut
evidence, and try to reread the story of this 'holocaust' with complete
'Objective Essays by Zionist Authors Prove the Lie about the Burning
of the Jews in Gas Chambers'
"First, the facts about this lie and what surrounds it, as
"[The number] of victims as a result of World War II, due both
to the crimes of the Axis countries and the [crimes of] the Allies, are,
according to a few versions, about 50 million, whether as a result of
the war or of Hitler's crimes. Of these, 18 million were Germans. Among
the victims of this war were Jews, like other members of the human race,
as war and cannon shells and planes are incapable of distinguishing
between Jew and non-Jew.
"Similarly, Hitler was against all nationalities that were not
pure German, whether Jewish or non-Jewish. He was a fanatical German
nationalist whose nationalism, which was against everything except
Germany, included, of course, both Jews and non-Jews.
"Objective essays by Zionist authors prove the lie about the
burning of the Jews in gas chambers. Of these it is possible to mention,
for example, Josef Ginzburg, a German [Jew] who lived under Nazi rule
and fled with his family to America and from there went to Israel -
about whose establishment he was enthusiastic. But after experiencing
what he called its racist Nazi essence, he quickly left Israel and
returned to Germany in the 1950s. There [in Germany] he wrote a number
of important books about the 'holocaust,' denying that there had been
gas chambers designed for burning the Jews. He said: 'This is nothing
but a great lie, by means of which the extremist Jews wanted to extort
Europe - particularly Germany - and to plunder the homelands of others.'
And that is exactly what happened in occupied Palestine.
"Josef Ginzburg was murdered by the Jews when he went to visit
his wife's grave in Munich's Jewish cemetery, in retaliation for his
attempt to expose their falsification."
The Hoax of the 20th Century
"The famous French historian and geographer Paul Rassinein [sic,
reference to Paul Rassinier] tried to confront this falsification and
lie from the outset. In 1948, he published an extremely important
history book about this falsification, called 'Crossing the Line.'(2) In
his book, he used exact numbers and statistics about the number of Jews
in Europe - particularly in Germany - prior to and following World War
II. He carefully compared these [with the number of victims], and
concluded that the number of killed from among them as a result of the
war or as a result of Hitler's persecution of them and others who were
not German subjects did not exceed a few hundred thousand. [Rassinier
wrote in his book], 'The number did not reach even one million killed,
"Paul Rassinier was persecuted and stood trial. He, the
publisher, and the author of the book's preface were all fined a large
amount, just like what happened half a century later to the Muslim
philosopher Roger Garaudy when he published his book 'The Founding Myths
of Zionism,'(3) in which he refuted this same lie - the lie of the
burning of the Jews in the gas chambers. And in a democratic country,
France, he [Garaudy] was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, fined,
persecuted, and slandered. What kind of democracy is this, that does not
tolerate the intellectual efforts of others on this world's historical
"The American author and researcher Arthur Butz produced an
important book titled 'The Hoax of the Twentieth Century'(4)... This
book includes precise scientific data on the Auschwitz camp, where it
was alleged that 1.2 million Jews were 'burnt.' Arthur Butz proved that
at this camp dead bodies - of Jews and non-Jews - were burnt as a result
of the war, and that their bodies were burnt so contagious diseases
would not be spread by leaving them in the streets for a long time.
[Similarly,] it is almost certain that it was not Hitler who built the
crematoria, but the Poles, after the war, and that the odors emitted by
the crematoria in which the bodies were burnt were also those of horses
who died as a result of the war... He concluded from all this that the
'crematoria' ... were a lie that must now be exposed. Of course, Arthur
Butz was attacked by world Zionism, and nearly paid with his life."
'No Matter what Proof We Present, [the Jews and] the European
Politicians will Never Believe Us'
"The evidence and the objective essays published in the world
about this 'lie,' which the Jews have succeeded in exploiting with great
wisdom, are continuing. The most recent important attempt, which also
faced a Zionist counterattack, was that of British historian David
Irving, who in 1990 stated before 800 people in Munich that there were
no gas chambers at Auschwitz, and that the gas chamber in the detention
camp there was erected by the Poles after the war - similar to the one
erected by the Americans at Dachau - and that six million Jews were not
burnt there as was alleged.
"In January 2002, he again stated that it was inconceivable that
the number of Jews killed as a result of the war reached this number
"In the same way, articles by Gilbert Aire [sic] appeared in the
British [newspaper The] Independent, in which he considered the talk
about the Holocaust as nothing more than a cheap fashion. Similarly, the
essays of British authors Sam Shulman, Tim Cole, and Nata Shalter [sic],
of the American author Peter Novick, and of dozens of other [authors] of
conscience, who were very humiliated by the trade in the false
"No matter what details and proof emphasizing the lie of the
burning of the Jews in Nazi crematoria we present, they [the Jews] and
the statesmen of Europe who trade in the Holocaust will never believe
us. On the contrary - it is almost certain that they will accuse us of
"Dozens of Western laws in the European countries have been
changed to protect this false myth of the burning of the Jews. Dozens of
curricula have also been changed. Today, it is possible to curse the
monotheistic religions, but the 'holocaust' and its lie are above
criticism and above opinion, and in Europe it is unapproachable.
"All this proves that we are standing before new Western
idol-worship that requires a genuine cultural revolution within it in
order to destroy it - a revolution that will use facts and science
against tales ungrounded in true reality and credible history."
Endnotes: (1) Al-Liwaa Al-Islami (Egypt), June 24, 2004; July 1,
2004. (2) Rassinier, Paul. Le Passage de la Ligne. Paris: Editions
Bressanes, 1950. (3) Garaudy, Roger. Les mythes fondateurs de la
politique israelienne. Samiszdat, 1996. (4) Butz, Arthur R. The Hoax of
the Twentieth Century. Torrence, California, 1976
Palestinian Peace Now. The Jerusalem Report. July 28,2004 Isabel
While the Gaza Strip melts into chaos, Sari Nusseibeh’s orderly
People’s Campaign for peace and nonviolence is gaining surprising
support among grass-roots Fatah leaders in the West Bank
The timing couldn’t be more ironic, or the contrast more stark. It’s
3:15 in the afternoon on Friday, July 16 and in the Gaza Strip, a
kidnapping spree is just reaching its anarchic peak with the brief
abduction of five French volunteers from a Khan Yunis café. Meanwhile
at the same time, in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah, hundreds of
Palestinians are gathering in a school courtyard for the first national
Palestinian peace demonstration.
Organized along the lines of Israeli Peace Now operations -- where
sympathizers are shipped in from all over for demonstrations -- but on a
more modest scale, 15 busloads of Palestinians have converged on this
dusty corner of Qal-qilyah, along with a convoy of private cars. Dodging
the donkey carts that trundle along the city streets, they have brought
in over a thousand Palestinian demonstrators from cities, towns and
villages around the West Bank. There is a large contingency from the
Hebron district, and a particularly rowdy crowd of shebab, or Fatah
youth, from the villages around Jerusalem. Others have come from the
nearby villages of Jayyous and Zawiya, from the West Bank
"capital" of Ramallah and, of course, from Qalqilyah itself.
The occasion is the first anniversary of the "Destination
Map," the document of principles for a final Israeli-Palestinian
settlement based on a two-state solution drawn up by prominent Jerusalem
Palestinian intellectual Prof. Sari Nusseibeh and former Shin Bet head
Ami Ayalon. The document stipulates that the agreement should be based
on the 1967 lines (with equitable land swaps where necessary) and,
controversially for the Palestinian side, that the Palestinian refugees
should exercise their right of return to the new Palestinian state, not
The aim of today’s demonstration, according to the press release
from HASHD, the Arabic acronym for the People’s Campaign for Peace and
Democracy headed by Nusseibeh, is to promote the peace initiative with a
nonviolent demonstration and also to highlight "the negative
effects of the wall on Palestinian-Israeli dialogue and peace-building
The airy Shariqa girls’ school, the site of the rally, built in
2000, stands on the western edge of Qalqilyah, looking out onto the
forbidding 8-meter-high concrete security barrier which, complete with
round watchtowers, now separates Qalqilyah from Israel. The Israeli city
of Kfar Saba sits less than a kilometer away, just across the
Trans-Israel highway. Here the Green Line, the pre-1967 border, has
turned steely gray.
On a hill on the Israeli side, facing the school, about 400
supporters of Ayalon’s People’s Voice, the Israeli counterpart of
HASHD, have come to show solidarity and try to engage in dialogue
through mobile phones connected to loudspeakers. A huge balloon bears
the Hebrew slogan "Yesh im mi le’daber," or "There is
someone to speak with," a counter to the official Israeli position
that there is no Palestinian partner, and therefore no current
alternative to fence-building, containment and unilateralism.
Apparently unaware of the goings on in Gaza, where the kidnappings
soon develop into mass demonstrations and the torching of PA police
stations, the Palestinians pile onto the school’s roof, wave and
whistle at the Israelis on the opposite hill -- a former rubbish dump --
and fly a few kites. The wall is no doubt a crowd-puller when it comes
to organizing a Palestinian protest; many say this is why they have
come. But at the same time, all the demonstrators stick to the strict
code of nonviolence -- not a stone is thrown at the army jeeps idling by
the wall below. Everyone asked expresses support for the HASHD agenda.
Nusseibeh, constantly surrounded by activists who want to introduce
each other to him or be introduced, is clearly pleased. More usually
associated with the ivory towers of academia and wishful thinking than
with rooftops in Qalqilyah and grass-roots activity, he has pulled off a
"The Israelis do this all the time," he says, "but
this is our first national demonstration. It’s a good beginning,
though it’s been hard getting everyone in through the army
In fact seven buses don’t make it at all, having been stopped by
the army on the way from Salfit, Tul Karm and Jerusalem. Campaign
organizers who inquire are told by the army that there are fears that so
many Palestinians gathering in one place might lead to violence. (Army
sources later tell The Report that "Qalqilyah was declared a closed
military zone on Friday and demonstrators were prevented from reaching
the site because of disturbances, including stone-throwing and
tire-burning"; The Report saw absolutely no evidence of such
Particularly gratifying for Nusseibeh is the fact that the crowd is
made up of local grass-roots community leaders, laborers, farmers,
clerks, factory workers, traders, engineers, men and women of all ages.
A few PA policemen are also standing around, armed only with cell
"These are not your run-of-the-mill academics and types that I’m
usually associated with in the Israeli press," remarks the
philosophy professor who is now the president of Al-Quds University.
In a common touch, while the school walls inside the courtyard are
decorated with paintings of global heroes like Tweetie Pie and Pokemon,
the street side is adorned with graffiti of Hamas, various martyrs’
brigades and now of HASHD.
And the two figures who grab the megaphone and bark out speeches can
hardly be categorized as the Palestinian intellectual elite. One is Abd
al-Karim Shamasna, who heads the popular campaign against the fence at
Jayyous, and the other, a young activist called Yasser from the village
of Zawiya, who wears a faded black T-shirt and jeans, and has brown,
severely nicotine-stained teeth.
Both speak in favor of an independent Palestinian state living in
peace alongside Israel, about the need for a new way forward and the
goal of reaching a peace not of governments, but of the people. Shamasna
also says that the Palestinians in Haifa, Jaffa and Acre, inside Israel’s
1948 borders, are part of the Palestinian family, but that "the
price" of gaining an independent state has to be "giving up
the dream" of ever returning there.
Ugly as this Qal-qilyah wall is, it hugs the 1967 line, making it
less controversial than the parts of the security fence that encroach
into the West Bank. Nusseibeh acknowledges that the wall here "is
actually OK" and says the location was chosen because it offers
"high places on both sides." Still, he adds, "the point
is also that a wall is not a solution, and is not a substitute for a
negotiated border that would guarantee both sides what they seek: for
Israel, security, and for us freedom and dignity."
At precisely the time that Nusseibeh was speaking, the Gaza Strip was
witnessing rare scenes of chaos and lawlessness with armed militia-men
challenging the corruption of Yasser Arafat’s regime, and threatening
to bring about the collapse of the entire 10-year-old Palestinian
The unrest had started at midday, when a gang identified with Arafat’s
mainstream Fatah faction kidnapped Arafat appointee Gaza Police Chief
Ghazi Jabali, a widely despised figure long accused of corruption and
abuse of power. They took him to the Bureij refugee camp and demanded he
be fired. He’d been dismissed once, by the Abu Mazen government last
year, but Arafat had him reinstated after Abu Mazen resigned.
Following the kidnapping of another Gaza security personage and the
French volunteers (all were released unharmed within hours), Arafat
appointed a new security authority in Gaza -- his equally unpopular
relative Musa Arafat, the longtime head of the Military Intelligence
apparatus. The Strip erupted into angry demonstrations and rioting.
Many observers suspect Gaza strongman and former Preventive Security
chief Muhammad Dahlan of being behind the ferment. Dahlan is an old
rival of both Jaballi and Musa Arafat, and has recently been one of the
most prominent voices demanding political and security reforms within
Fatah and the PA. He has also been positioning himself, and his
loyalists in the Preventive Security apparatus, to take control of Gaza
in the event of an Israeli withdrawal.
In recent weeks, The Report has learned, Yasser Arafat had been
funding Musa Arafat and his men in order to compete with Dahlan.
Advocates of Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan and some
Western diplomats have placed high hopes in Dahlan, at first believing
he might be able to create a new model of leadership and a "Yasser
Arafat-free zone" in Gaza. Arafat, in classic style, had set about
making sure that would not happen.
A senior PA official in Ramallah, speaking on condition of anonymity,
says there are two theories behind the power struggle in the Gaza Strip.
One is that it is a generational competition within the Fatah movement,
with the young reformist "insiders" who have grown up in the
territories pitted against the old-timers who returned with Arafat from
exile in the mid-90s.
"The Fatah young guard believes the old guard has to leave the
stage, that they are the cause of all the problems and that if the young
take over, things will improve," the official explains. "So
they are trying to prove to Arafat that they can control everything,
including who he appoints."
The second theory is that some of the established leaders within
Arafat’s own close circle are forcing the rais to abandon his
autocratic system of one-man rule, and to share some of his powers.
"In order to convince Arafat, they have to take action on the
ground; Arafat believes in deeds, not words," says the official.
"In my analysis," he goes on, "it’s a combination of
Historically, the West Bank is less volatile than Gaza, partly
because the economic situation is never as bad. "Give people jobs,
bread and butter," the PA official says, "and they wouldn’t
care how many ministers they have or don’t have."
Nevertheless, in the West Bank too there is an acute political
vacuum, the result of PA stagnation and abdication of control throughout
almost four years of intifada. "Everyone is busy with their own
agenda, and looking for anyone who can offer solutions," the
It is in this same, uncertain atmosphere that the unlikely growth of
a Palestinian peace movement, led by the soft-spoken, self-deprecating,
super-rational Prof. Nusseibeh, is quietly taking place and is
particularly gaining ground within Fatah.
Against all predictions, almost as many Palestinians (140,000) have
now signed up in support of the Nusseibeh-Ayalon plan as Israelis
(192,000). Originally, HASHD staffer Dimitri Diliani says, there were
expected to be twice as many Israelis as Palestinians.
Moreover, adds Diliani, in some areas of the West Bank, HASHD
activists have started standing for election in local institutions. In a
recent ballot for the council of labor unions in the southern West Bank,
11 of the 27 members elected were "HASHD people." The new head
of the council is Jamil Rushdie, a member of HASHD’s leadership
council and Fatah leader from the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron.
"People are now seeing that Prof. Nusseibeh is honest, has
foresight and is not corrupt," HASHD publicist, fundraiser and
administrator Diliani says. "It is not an academic thing
In late July, Jamil Rushdie was scheduled to open the doors to the
HASHD "Smarter without Violence" summer camp for over 150
9-14-year-olds from the Hebron area. Taking place in the Arroub
Agricultural College adjacent to the refugee camp, 28 youth leaders,
graduates of a HASHD leadership training course, were due to provide
three weeks of education through art, sports and other activities in the
importance of peace, democracy and nonviolence.
A far cry from the notorious Gazan horror camps where children are
trained to jump through hoops of fire, shoot guns and storm Jewish
settlements, the Smarter without Violence camp is meant, according to
director Rushdie, to teach the next generation "how to live with
Rushdie, 39, who describes himself as a "Fatah man," spent
nine years in an Israeli jail for his activities against the occupation.
He was released in 1992. Like many of the graduates of Israeli prisons,
he speaks good Hebrew. Though a refugee himself -- his family hails from
Al-Fallujeh, now the Israeli town of Kiryat Gat -- he says the refugee
issue needs to be dealt with "logically."
"Bringing the refugees back to Israel would mean no State of
Israel," he explains, adopting the old Israeli argument that any
large refugee return to Israel proper would cancel out the Jewish
majority and the whole raison d’être of the Jewish state. "The
most important thing for us is to have our own state in the territories
of 1967," he argues. "Bringing the refugees back to it would
not be such a bad thing."
Rushdie says he hasn’t faced too much opposition in Arroub for his
views. Of the 9,000 camp residents, he notes, 1,100 have signed on to
Moreover, he points out, "all the HASHD officials in the West
Bank are Fatah people who were leaders of the first intifada. You’ll
be surprised to hear that most of them -- some 70 percent -- have served
time in Israeli prisons, and we’re talking at least four or five
On the rooftop in Qalqilyah, another kind of chaos reigns. "It’s
a bit disorganized," Nusseibeh smiles, about half an hour into the
demonstration. "I’m not sure what else we’re supposed to be
doing." Nusseibeh has spoken to Ayalon by phone, but there are no
facilities here to broadcast the conversation.
The Jerusalem district youths are standing on the edge of the roof
and chanting for an Arab TV camera. Running out of chants, they come up
with an inappropriate one made famous by Arafat about a million martyrs
marching on Jerusalem.
Different districts are milling around in different T-shirts: Young
boys from Qalqilyah are sporting white shirts with the HASHD slogan and
a small portrait of Yasser Arafat placed on the heart.
While Nusseibeh’s People’s Campaign is about as reformist as they
come, many of its activists remain ultimately loyal to Arafat. Fractious
as the Fatah family has become, he is still the father figure and
respected as such. "Arafat is our symbol," says Rushdie,
"he is the first man of peace. He is also our elected president,
which is the first principle of democracy."
As for Nusseibeh, "he comes from Fatah and is one of its
leaders," Rushdie asserts. "Most people in Fatah believe in
Dr. Sari -- not as a replacement for Arafat, heaven forbid, but he knows
what’s going on and he speaks the truth."
Nusseibeh, for his part, says that what Fatah needs as a movement is
"clarity. A definition of our identity and what we are fighting
for. There’s a vacuum concerning this, and a lot of cloudiness."
HASHD, he says, offers a solution. "We are very clear in stating
what kind of state we want and how to bring it about." Moreover,
Nusseibeh feels, HASHD is increasingly shaping the agenda of the PA
leadership itself. "At first they criticized us, but more and more
they are expressing their opposition to violence and so on."
The PA official in Ramallah agrees that HASHD is gaining ground.
"Anyone who comes and creates a people’s party that gives some
kind of framework will have members," he says. "People want
By 5 P.M., as the French hostages are being released in Khan Yunis,
the Qalqilyah peace demonstrators disperse and get back on their buses.
Many of them would not get home till late, however, as the army has set
up "flying checkpoints" every few kilometers of the way on the
main road to Ramallah.
The campaign buses are lined up all along the route as soldiers
repeatedly check the IDs of all the passengers. Army sources say the
roadblocks are for "operational purposes."
The demonstrators felt "harassed," HASHD’s Diliani later
reports. Still, he adds, those he has spoken with since insist they won’t
be discouraged from coming out again.
August 9, 2004
Divided By Khalil Shikaki From Foreign Affairs, January/February 2002.
Summary: Yasir Arafat has been neither an orchestrator nor a spectator
of the second intifada; he has been its target. A young guard of
Palestinian nationalists, angry at both Israel and the corrupt
Palestinian Authority, lies behind the violence. Arafat must reform his
government and secure a credible peace process -- before it's too late.
Khalil Shikaki is Associate Professor of Political Science at Bir Zeit
University and Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey
Research in Ramallah.
WHO LET THE DOGS OF WAR OUT?
Has Yasir Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA),
orchestrated and led the second Palestinian intifada in order to gain
popularity and legitimacy while weakening Israel and forcing it to
accept extreme Palestinian demands? Or has the uprising been a
spontaneous response by an enraged but disorganized Palestinian
"street" to Likud Party leader (and later Israeli Prime
Minister) Ariel Sharon's September 2000 visit to the site known to Jews
as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al Haram al Sharif, and the
failure of the Oslo peace process to produce an end to Israeli military
occupation? Most Israelis take the first position, whereas most
Palestinians take the second. Both are mistaken.
The truth is that the intifada that began in late September 2000 has
been a response by a "young guard" in the Palestinian
nationalist movement not only to Sharon's visit and the stalled peace
process, but also to the failure of the "old guard" in the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to deliver Palestinian
independence and good governance. The young guard has turned to violence
to get Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
unilaterally (as it withdrew from South Lebanon in May 2000) and
simultaneously to weaken the Palestinian old guard and eventually
displace it. (more)
Berkovits, Theologian of Zionism by David Hazony, AZURE
Many Jews are active, even vocal advocates of a Jewish state. Yet
their support for Israel is rarely identified as deriving from their
Judaism. Zionism is often considered to follow not from any specific
religious belief, but from a concern for the well-being of one’s
fellow Jews. The Jews were persecuted for centuries, it is said, and the
State of Israel is the remedy. But whether such a Zionism is an aspect
of one’s Judaism, understood as a faith, remains unclear.
This ambiguous relationship between Judaism and political Zionism is
most in evidence when one considers the attitude of the great Jewish
theologians writing after the emergence of the Zionist movement at the
end of the nineteenth century. Most Reform thinkers, for example,
opposed the idea of a Jewish nation state, its theologians arguing for
decades that Zionism contradicted Judaism’s universalist ethic.1 For
leading Orthodox thinkers as well, Zionism was taken to be an affront to
the messianic ideal, according to which it is God—and not secular
Zionists—who will redeem the Jews in the end of days. While there were
noteworthy exceptions, it is fair to say that the energies Jews brought
to the Zionist enterprise in the pre-state period were largely despite,
rather than because of, Jewish theological reflection.
A great deal changed, of course, with the rise of Nazism, the
Holocaust, and the establishment of the State of Israel. The Reform
movement abandoned its opposition to Zionism, as did the great majority
of Orthodox Jews. Jewish theologians of virtually all persuasions began
to speak of the Jewish state mainly in positive terms. Yet it would be a
mistake to conclude that the idea of sovereignty came to play in Jewish
thought anything like the central role that it assumed in Jewish
communal life. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the leading interpreter of
Judaism within modern Orthodoxy in North America, endorsed the Jewish
state in 1956 as a divine “knock on the door,” a wake-up call for
Jews to the possibility of redemption and repentance;2 yet Soloveitchik
himself chose to remain in the diaspora, and the thrust of his
philosophical efforts continued to be the ethos of the individual living
under Jewish law, or halacha. Similarly, the Reform theologian Eugene B.
Borowitz, whose enthusiasm for Israel is reflected in his hope that the
Jewish state will help Jews “sanctify social existence” in a manner
impossible under conditions of exile, nonetheless continues to place the
pursuit of the ethical and the development of the “Jewish self” at
the center of his theology—a challenge that in his view is best met in
the diaspora.3 In his landmark work Renewing the Covenant (1991),
Borowitz distanced himself from the biblical ideal of Jewish
sovereignty, emphasizing the failure of ancient Israelite rulers to meet
the ethical standards established at Sinai: (more)
church defames Christianity. Dennis Prager. July 20, 2004.
I have argued in this column that the greatest sin is committing evil in
God's name. As bad as the evil committed by secularists, such as
communists and Nazis, has ever been, the most grievous evil is that
which is committed in the name of God. For not only do religious evils
harm their victims, they also do lasting damage to God-based morality,
which those of us who believe in God and religion consider the only
viable antidote to evil.
That is why Islamic terror is
so evil. Not only because it targets the most innocent of people for
death and torture, but because it does so in the name of Allah and
Incredibly, The General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) joins the list of religious
groups committing evil. In the name of Jesus, it has called for the
economic strangulation of Israel. They have equated the Jewish state
with South Africa during apartheid and called for a universal divestment
The Presbyterians are the
first Christian church to do this, and, ironically, the divestment
campaign came the very week that the Roman Catholic Church signed a
document equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. (more)
Israel Project Releases New National Poll As TV Ad Campaign
· 67% of likely voters
agree “It is critical that the next President of the United States
support Israel, our democratic ally in the Middle East”
· 72% of likely voters
agree “The Palestinians have been indoctrinated by a generation of
anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda; they are teaching their
children to hate Americans and Jews and to become terrorists.”
· 81% of likely voters agree
“There cannot be peace in the Middle East until the Palestinians stop
teaching their children to become terrorists and to hate Israel and
· 67% say US should not
pressure Israel to tear the fence down and compensate the Palestinians.(more)
22, 2004 Fence Gives Israel Chance for Peace. By David Makovsky, senior
fellow The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Newsday, July 13,
2004. Israel has rejected last week's ruling of the
International Court of Justice. The court issued a nonbinding advisory
opinion Friday that Israel's barrier is an impediment to peace.
However, given the violence
of the last four years between Israelis and Palestinians and the
distrust that violence has engendered, the barrier has netted Israel
security gains that are actually creating a political space for peace
for the first time since 2000. (more)
16, 2004. The Presbyterian Church loses its grip. The American
Thinker. Jewish liberals received a shock this week. The
liberal Presbyterian Church USA [thanks to readers who corrected the
earlier mistake on the name] declared war on Israel at is annual General
Assembly meeting, approving a divestment campaign from Israel by an 87%
vote, making the Holy Land into the new South Africa, in their minds.
The shock was doubly painful since liberal Jews believe that liberal
churches are supposed to be their allies in all kinds of common fights. (more)
July 20, 2004. The Present Danger. By Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl. The
Washington Post. The successful handover of
sovereignty to the Iraqi people last month offers fresh hope for
stability and democracy in their country, but it could also mark a
turning of the tide in the world war against terrorism. While the
deposed tyrant and terrorist Saddam Hussein stands trial, the people of
the great Muslim country he suppressed for so long are now standing
proud and free, and taking control of their own destiny. And they are
showing strong support for their new leadership and new optimism about
their democratic future. According to a BBC/Oxford Research
International poll released this month, 55 percent of Iraqis believe
their lives today are quite good or very good, 56 percent believe their
lives will get better in the next year, and 70 percent believe Iraq
These survey results are significant because they show we are making
real progress in the war of values and ideas in Iraq, ideas that are at
the heart of the larger war on terrorism. Iraq has become a proving
ground for the freedom and security we are fighting for, and a tough
test of our resolve in this fight. The terrorists in Iraq and beyond
will never beat us militarily. But they can defeat us politically if
they succeed in their strategy to terrorize, demoralize and divide
America and its allies. (more)
hutzpa. the Jerusalem Post. Some of Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon's advisers and Israeli diplomats in Paris were at pains yesterday
to try and temper Sharon's call on French Jews to come to Israel.
08/15/2004 05:36:07 AM
2002-2004 Washtenaw Middle East Watch
08/15/2004 05:36:07 AM
2002-2004 Washtenaw Middle East Watch