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U.S. State Dept Slams Israel's Human Rights Record

The Mid-East in Flames: Behind the Rhetoric (part II)

05 January 2001

A territorial struggle can often last for decades. Spilling over into a new century gives it special significance. Playing out with an ancient biblical motif makes it unique. These descriptions characterize a Mid-East conflict that does not belong in a 21st century setting. The Mid-East struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians has elements of ancient tribal warfare -a nomadic tribe moves into the area of another tribe, usurps its land, and then proceeds to cleanse the land of its original inhabitants. On the way to fulfilling this simple ancient custom, the 21st century usurper uses only modern weapons. The usurped partially uses biblical weapons.
Behind the illusions that lead to delusions, media interpretations and double-speak, each of the contestants has definite objectives and strategies for achieving these objectives. After almost a century of direct conflict, the strategies have taken fruit and achieved some objectives. The successes and failures of the strategies can be delineated. The delineation serves the purpose of clarifying the results of decades of conflict. The results indicate the direction the international community must take to prevent the Mid-East struggle from causing grief to the entire world.

A 3-part article presents a behind-the-scenes reality of the Mid-East conflict.
Part I : Objectives and Strategies
Part II : Successes and Failures
Part III : Involving the International Community
Part II : Successes and Failures

After years of turmoil and strategic alternatives to relieve the turmoil, how effective have Israel and the Palestinians been in achieving their goals?Israel's Successes and Failures Security

A small nation equipped with a makeshift military in 1948 has emerged into a strong military force complete with the latest missile technology and nuclear weaponry. How has this been accomplished? By clever strategies, Israel gained allies and supporters, received military and intelligence assistance, and neutralized critics who questioned its policies. The strategies have successfully enabled Israel to assure itself protection from invasion by external hostile forces.

Western nations responded to the overused terms of "special relationship" and "strategic partner", by agreeing to support Israel with finances, weapons and technology. Since 1948, the United States has supplied Israel with military loans of 11.2 billion dollars and military grants of 37.6 billion dollars for purchase of modern arms and technology. Direct military grants started after the 1973 Mid-East war as a direct result of U.S.-arranged peace agreements. After 1984 all military loans became direct grants and these grants have been fixed at approx. 1.8 billion dollars annually. (Source: Clyde R. Mark, "Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance", Congressional Research Service 2000).

The U.S. industry has also cooperated with Israel's military efforts. An El-Al cargo plane crash in Amsterdam in 1993 revealed 50 gallons of a chemical for producing the deadly nerve gas Sarin. The chemical originated from Solkatronic Inc., a Pennsylvania chemical company. Other nations have also assisted Israel in its security objectives. In the 1960's, France answered Ben Gurion's call for assistance in developing atomic energy, and unknowingly provided Israel with the means for producing fissionable material and developing nuclear devices. Although not proven, it is probable that joint nuclear developments with South Africa culminated in a 1979 nuclear bomb test in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa.

Western governments are not the only contributors to Israel's successful tactics. From Tierra del Fuego to Canada, Israel has created a network of lobbies, supporters, apologists and media advocates that have promoted its causes. These promoters range from local community centers, which present programs on Israel, to huge political lobbies, such as The American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), to media assistance. The latter comes either directly, such as, say, a television station ownership in Lima, Peru by an Israeli citizen, or indirectly, by those sympathetic with the Israeli state.

AIPAC is the pride of Israel's political influence. In an early alert to AIPAC's activities, former Illinois congressman Paul Findley, warned against AIPAC's pervasive influence in his book, They Dare to Speak Out: "it is no overstatement to say that AIPAC has effectively gained control of virtually all of Capitol Hill's action on Middle East policy. Almost without exception, House and Senate members do its bidding, because most of them consider AIPAC to be the direct Capitol Hill representative of a political force that can make or break their chances at election".

Paul Findley, a Congressman for 20 years, lost his congressional seat in 1982 after twice meeting with Arafat to discuss Mid-East peace arrangements. California ex-Congressman Paul McCloskey and Illinois ex-Senator Charles Percy can testify to Paul Findley's observations. Both of them were highly respected and unbeatable congressional leaders, with bipartisan support. Early on in AIPAC's congressional realignment career, they lost their seats due to AIPAC's targeted campaign against them. Their faults: they voiced criticisms of some of Israel's policies and AIPAC considered that their votes on certain issues compromised Israel's security.

AIPAC defines its mission as legislative action. It does not raise or spend money in partisan campaigns. For these reasons, efforts to have the court force AIPAC to register as a Political Action Committee (PAC) and subject it to financial disclosure have not been successful. A network of smaller PAC's with unidentifiable titles, such as "Committee for 18" or "Government Action Committee", operate as PACs that flow funds to pro-Israel candidates.

AIPAC is only one of many "watchdog" supporters of Israel. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which once had a respected record as a civil rights organization, has now been involved in restraining those who criticize Israel. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 1999, reported that on Sept. 27, 1999, a California federal court issued an injunction against the ADL permanently adjoining it from engaging in any further illegal spying against Arab-Americans and other civil rights groups. The court appointed a Special Master to supervise the removal of illegally obtained information from the ADL's files. Victor Ostrovsky, an ex-Mossad agent accused the ADL of exerting pressure on radio stations to cancel his "talk radio" appearances. Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace organization, claimed that an ADL office in Jerusalem tried to have Israeli authorities silence its organization for its crude portrayals of Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Israel's public relations are pervasive. Jewish American youngsters receive free trips to Israel for indoctrination into future emigration. Black children from Brooklyn's ghettos also receive free excursions, obviously to indoctrinate developing minds so Israel can gain future support from the large African American community. Israel's émigrés are part of the public relations effort. Rather than leaving Israel and migrating to another country, many Israeli emigrants appear to bring Israel's objectives to the other country. The appearances and actions of expatriate Israelis and those friendly to Israel, as is happening with a sudden flood of immigrants to Germany, generates suspicion of a conscious plan by the Israeli government to encourage immigrants to create sympathy for Israel and influence the policies of their adopted countries.
A severe pro-Israel media bias that assisted Israel's objectives in the last decades has begun to wane. In the past, Israel's opponents complained that radio stations received calls to immediately remove them or the station would lose its advertising revenue. More recently, sympathetic voices for the Palestinian struggle have dramatically increased. Talk radio, which once favored Israel's policies, can now be characterized as a major proponent of the Palestinian cause. Still, Palestinian support has no counterpart to vehement Israel supporters in the United States and its conventional media; Columnists Charles Krauthammer, George Will and Cal Thomas, radio personality Diane Rheam, and cartoonist Herblock are among many well syndicated commentators who have viewpoints that shape a pro-Israel bias.

Many American institutions, including federal institutions, such as the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center (partly government financed) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the state of Israel. Citizen complaints derailed efforts by the Smithsonian institution to also celebrate the occasion. No institution celebrated the birthday of any post WWII constituted country, including India, which had its 50th anniversary in 1999. At Georgetown University, Israeli students readily received permission to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Israel. After much travail, Palestinian students were finally allowed to have an equal Day of Remembrance for their al-Nabkah or the 1948 Palestinian tragedy. The reason for their difficulties: it was reported that Georgetown University president had feared a loss of donations if the Palestinian students were allowed to hold a rally. Palestinians in the United States are often criticized for their failure to generate support for the Palestinian cause. Palestinians claim there is a reason for this inadequacy. It is not well publicized that Palestinians in the United States who engage in political activity in favor of their people are placed on lists that might jeopardize their U.S. residency and prevent them from visiting relatives in Jerusalem or Israel.

By taking advantage of open entry into Western democratic institutions, Israel and its champions populated institutions with "friendly faces". From this position, Israel successfully countered vocal critics and gained support from those who remained unaware of the total history and facts of the Mid-East struggle.

The Palestinian Threat

Israel subdued any possible PLO threat to its existence. It has continued to prevent a Palestinian rebellion from developing into a military threat. Israeli has used its power and control to surround all Palestinian villages, limit Palestinian access to weapons, infiltrate the Palestinian infrastructures and become aware of most operations that endanger Israel. Since the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, a relatively small number of terrorist actions have occurred in Israel and few Israelis have been killed within Israel proper. Israel's military forces have successfully located and targeted key Palestinian operatives from Fatah, have entered Palestinian villages and arrested Palestinian shooters and have assassinated without trial several persons whom Israel claims guilty of terrorist actions. The Palestinians claim that "at least a dozen Palestinian politicians and party officials have been eliminated in pinpoint attacks in recent weeks" (Jordan Times, December 22, 2000).

The Intifada of the previous decade slowed Israel's economic development. The peace initiative hastened economic development. In the present Intifada, a similar trend appears to be happening. March recorded the year's high for investment --$2.3 billion dollars. In August, the total was $1.2 billion. September's foreign investment slowed to $417 million. After the outbreak of violence, October figures fell to $250 million. Total investment of foreign citizens in Israeli securities and real estate in November then reached a low of $128 million. (Ha'aretz, December 21, 2000).

Tourism is almost non existent. Israel's relations with other countries have deteriorated and Israelis are fearful, cynical and disgusted. The government is going through one of its periodic crises. Israel's strategy has been entirely successful in creating a nation under duress. The country has not been successful in preventing cycles of instability and pain.

Security Threat by Israel's Arab Citizens

After Israel refused to allow the re-entry of 750,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war, Israel remained with 160,000 Arab citizens. This population has increased to about one million Arabs. In the first two decades after the creation of Israel, the government contained its Arab citizens by a state of martial law. Israel ended martial law after realizing that their Arab population was not militant and after perceiving that a growing Israel required their labor. Since then, a series of ugly and discriminatory laws designed to prevent Arabs from buying land, securing housing loans, and receiving university scholarships, combined with total government favoritism to the Jewish community, have prevented the Arab minority from organizing themselves and achieving any economic or political power.

The recent Intifada has completely alienated the Arab and Jewish communities. Still, Israel has succeeded in preventing the Arab community from committing active rebellion. Israel has continually applied to its Arab populations a similar tactic to that proposed in a memorandum by ex-New York Senator Moynihan to then President Nixon for containing rebellious populations in the United States during the late 1960's: benign neglect. Legislative changes are now being proposed to bring the Arab populations into the mainstream. Will deeds follow the words, or will the words be sufficient for Israel to continue to succeed in pacifying their Arab minority? This remains to be seen.

Internal Antagonisms

The cultural differences in immigrants to Israel, coupled with the extreme attitudes of fundamentalist and biblically-minded Jews, have made Israel a potential nightmare of conflicting religious, economic and social beliefs. The government has applied a short-term strategy that appeases the religious orthodox community with educational privileges and makes use of financial assistance from outside sources to house new immigrants and to provide them with funds for social needs. These methods, together with a favorably-growing and healthy economic environment and an emergency military situation have lessened demands and fostered cooperation. Soon, this short-term strategy will have run its course. The antagonisms that have enveloped other multicultural countries, such as Canada and Northern Ireland, will surface. Unequal distribution of income, misapplication of social value and favoritism to a ruling elite, as well as the conflicts that stem from secularism facing fundamentalism, will force Israel into an eventual confrontation with reality. If its multi-party parliament, lack of a constitution and archaic and undemocratic religious laws prevent any coherent strategy, the success in resolving the internal antagonisms will be temporary and Israel might face its own internal Intifada.

Creation of A Jewish State

UN Resolution 181, that created Israel, defined it as a Jewish state. This characterization served to distinctly divide the former Palestine, similar to the manner in which Gandhi accepted the division of India into Hindu and Moslem states. Israel has successfully taken advantage of its unique identifying qualifier. By maintaining itself as a Jewish state, Israel capitalized on an association with the WWII Holocaust, received donations, support from Jewish people, and gave the world a reason for limiting the Palestinian population in its territory and claiming all of Jerusalem. Ehud Olmert, Jerusalem's mayor recently declared that "this nation will not exist if its rights to Jerusalem are not recognized".

It is not certain that a Jewish identification will forever be helpful to Israel. Although the relation of Israel to world Jewry is obvious, it is not obvious that the world community will continually accept the designation, especially when the designation denotes a fundamentalist position that is anathema to Western democratic nations. The biblical relation complicates the solution of the two most serious impediments to resolving the Mid-East conflict --return of refugees and status of Jerusalem. Israel must consider that calling itself a Jewish state carries a responsibility to the Jewish people, and that it cannot perform actions that reflect poorly upon them.

By reviving the ancient Hebrew tongue and making it the country's language and by only allowing immigrants it certified as Jews, Israel hoped to establish a Jewish land. In the rush to populate the Jewish state, the country became a medley of disparate cultures from Ethiopia, North Africa, Russia and Western nations. Most of these cultures practice different forms of Judaism, many of whom practice no Judaism, are atheists or are definitely non-Jews by birth, and none of whom spoke Hebrew before arriving in Israel. The extent of the cultural disparity is shown as part of a study that compared Ashkenazi Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations (Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, June 6, 2000). The investigation reported that the Ethiopian Jews and, to some extent, the Yemenite Jews showed little genetic affinity with the European Jewish populations. Include the Arab citizens, who are 20% of Israel's population, and a unified Jewish nation becomes less obvious.

Israel retained an appearance as a Jewish state by rejecting the claims of Palestinians to their expropriated property and by preventing a return to their homes. Now Israel claims it can't permit the return of Palestinian refugees or else it would no longer be a Jewish state. Circular reasoning of this type indicates an obfuscation of facts and a confusing rather than equitable approach to a major problem. Considering that the expulsion or failure to permit the return of several hundreds of thousands of persons amounts to ethnic cleansing, as the U.S. claims happened in Kosovo, Israel has successfully demonstrated to other nations and itself that ethnic cleansing can be excused.

President Truman also made a statement on the subject. Truman affirmed recognition after Israel declared a provisional government on the day before Britain's withdrawal from its mandate. Truman changed a sentence that referred to a Jewish state. The document reads: "[t]his government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the [inserted the word "provisional"] government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new [crossed out the words "Jewish state" and replaced them with the words] State of Israel".

Israel had good reasons and a vague legal directive to call itself a Jewish state. It has successfully attached that description to its sovereignty. In the 21st century, the description may become counterproductive to its progress and stability.

Creation of a More Industrialized State

Water scarcity, fluctuation of agricultural prices and military demands forced Israel to become a more industrialized nation than foreseen by the original Zionists. With the aid of 125 billion dollars in assistance from the United States and Germany, a huge influx of experienced and well educated technologists from the former Soviet Union and their own well organized, well educated and capable labor force, Israel has accomplished the goal of partially industrializing its economy. The industrial statistics reflect the changing nature of the country. All industry sectors, except leather production and leather products, have exhibited dramatic growth since 1990. Israel's three major industries are now high technology, military hardware manufacture and tourism.

The success in changing the economy has increased the demands upon it. Israel is now more susceptible to conditions that impede capital inflow, labor market and tourism. The present Palestinian rebellion has provided the conditions, and Israel's economy is beginning to suffer capital, labor and tourist shortages. If the shortages become a permanent problem, then Israel will again be forced to change its economy and its present strategy.

Association with the Western World

Israel cannot entrust its fate to the Arab nations. It wants to be recognized as a Mediterranean nation, similar to Greece and Spain and link itself with the European Union. Some general agreements have been concluded, but total membership as a European Union state has not been successful. Until the Palestinian rebellion ends and Israel makes peace with the Palestinians, it does not appear that the European Union will approve Israel's membership.

Israel continues its intensive public relations efforts to gain entry into the European Union and enlists the support of others.

# Richard C. Holbrooke, in his acceptance speech after being appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, mentioned he would work for obtaining Israel's entry into the European Union.
# A German cultural program received on U.S. cable systems that focuses only on the cultural outlook of European Union countries included Israel art and music in its discussion and advertised travel to Israel.
# Israel competes in European sporting games. Which brings the question - What would be the European community response to a solicitation by other Mediterranean countries, such as Egypt or Morocco to compete in the same games?Palestinian Successes and Failures
Part I of this article indicated that the Palestinians confined their goals and strategies. As a result, their successes and failures are also limited.

Regaining their Total Land

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) failed in its early objective of completely regaining Palestinian lost lands. A multitude of competing factions, lack of a coherent and coordinated strategy and no suitable long term strategy, doomed the initial goals. The terrorism tactic brought attention and not sufficient sympathy to the Palestinian cause. Buffeting from rival Palestinian organizations, decline of assistance from Arab nations and the Soviet Union and the ending of the Cold War delegated the PLO to ineffective actions. As Israel became more powerful, the PLO became weaker. Gradually, the plight of the Palestinian people succeeded in obtaining world recognition of their struggle and a feeling of justice for their cause. A more attainable goal, and one that is also more acceptable to the world community, emerged from the PLO failure --developing a viable Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank with Jerusalem as the capital.

Establishing a Viable Palestinian State

Establishing a viable Palestinian state is a script in process and the process has been slow in fulfillment. Part of the problem is the lack of total acceptance of the Palestinian Authority and Arafat's leadership by Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and in exile. Charges of lack of organization, corruption and dictatorial leadership have plagued the Palestinian Authority (PA). The major problem to establishing a viable state has been the lethargic pace and eventual failure of the peace process. During this process, the PA behavior validated the opinions of it severest critics.

The PLO finally responded to its deteriorating situation by presenting in November 1988, a peace strategy and declaring the establishment of the independent State of Palestine. It accepted UN resolutions 181, 242 and 338 as the bases for negotiating a political settlement with Israel. On December 13, 1988, Arafat renounced terrorism and accepted the right of Israel to exist alongside Palestine. In so doing, the PLO totally renounced its previous goals and strategies and became an acceptable party to peace negotiations. After finally showing its willingness to accept the existence of the state of Israel, the PA trusted the peace process as a route towards establishing their state. It was their only possible strategy. The Oslo agreements flowed from this strategy.

From the start of the post-Oslo meetings, it had become apparent that Israel's failure to halt settlement expansion on the West Bank, remove 5,000 settlers from controlling 1/3 of Gaza, and its continuous military presence in the West Bank and Gaza, signaled failure of the negotiations. The PA sensed they had no choice but to continue discussions until the emergence of a final outcome. Still, rather than acting forcibly, the PA constantly reacted weakly. The PA could not convince the mediator that Israel's attitude would not lead to a peace agreement. By failing to arrange an alternative strategy and assess Israel's responses, the PA demonstrated a weakness in organization and a lack of preparedness. The peace initiative outcome did not bring beneficial results to the PA. Their strategy proved fruitless and the Palestinian people have stumbled into the strategy of armed conflict. This accidental strategy has caused Palestinians many casualties and completely disrupted their economy. Suffering people can usually endure additional suffering, but not forever. The Intifada is slowly being reduced to people throwing stones and people being killed for throwing stones. Its effects on Israel are being dissipated and it is likely that in the long term Israel might be able to endure more than the Palestinians can sustain. If so, a viable Palestinian state will become a dream.

Jerusalem as a Capital

This goal is the Palestinian Authority's principal "trump card." In order to be recognized as a viable nation, the PA needs to incorporate the Palestinian sections of ancient Jerusalem and have East Jerusalem as its capital. With East Jerusalem and the Old City as the capital of its state, the PA will receive support from both the Moslem and Christian world. The strategy has partially succeeded. The Arab world has fully supported the PA efforts to retain the Old City. The Pope has visited the Holy sites, identified the Catholic world with the Palestinian cause, and at least asked for an internationalization of the holy sites, rather than having Israel obtain sovereignty over them. For the Palestinians, internationalization of the Old City is not a preferred option. If all of Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites, becomes Israel's capital, or if the holy cites are internationalized, then the Palestinian initiatives will have failed. Their aspirations will be subordinated to the Moslem world's more attentive focus on the governing of their own holy sites.The Stalemate

The UN Resolution 181, which created the state of Israel, did not intend for the Palestinians to be dispossessed from lands they had occupied for centuries and be reduced to an impoverished situation. The resolution did not consider that the two communities would offer one another 50 years of hostilities and then proceed to offer the world an eternity of conflict and violence. The controversy of the reasons for these events does not modify the reality of injustice and suffering that have succeeded the events. Regardless of the political and military confrontations that caused havoc, the two peoples should not continually suffer from the failures of nations and leaders. Humanitarian considerations demand that injustices are corrected and sufferings are ameliorated.

The Palestinians have firmly declared that they will not accept less than a viable state with East Jerusalem and the Holy City as its capital. At this moment, United States government initiatives appear to support some but not all of the Palestinian objectives. It is doubtful that the present Clinton administration would have proposed any plan which the incoming Bush administration had not discussed and approved. This plan will become the new basis for any further discussions. The actions and statements from Israel's leaders, such as Likud leader Ariel Sharon, indicate that Israel's government cannot obtain a consensus that allows the creation of a viable Palestinian state or permits the PA to gain sovereignty over the Holy city. Possibly, this is no longer significant, but Barak's heart may not be in rhythm with his words. Knesset member Barak voted against the Oslo accords in 1992, which is supposedly the basis for the peace initiative. During the peace initiative Israel increased and further fortified the settlements and furnished a barrier to a joint accord. Israel's leaders have constantly stressed that Jerusalem is indivisible and must remain with Israel. The two communities are locked in a stalemate of eternal struggle.

The crisis has become a global problem. Innocent people throughout the world have been victims of the violence and now face increased violence and terrorism. Being closely identified with either of the Mid-East antagonists, Jewish and Moslem peoples and institutions are subject to attack. Regardless of the conclusion of the latest negotiating effort , the nature of the long term crisis leads to the conclusions that: (1) Israel and the Palestinian Authority have forfeited the right to determine the outcome of the Mid-East crisis; (2) their decisions can only bring further harm to themselves and to the world's peoples, and (3) only the international community backed by serious enforcement potential can resolve the situation.
Part III will discuss the involvement of the International Community

.© The News Insider 2001

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