U.S. State Dept Slams Israel's Human Rights Record
to Sharon: Israel Exposed
15 February 2001
Israel and the Palestine Authority arrived
at their "Moments
of Truth." President Bill Clinton offered proposals
that had a semblance of fairness to the Palestinians and
tested Israel's sincerity in the peace process. Both parties
wavered. For the Palestinians, already disillusioned by previous
proposals and bothered by Clinton's choices of mediators
they characterized as being biased to Israel, the last proposals
came too fast, required more careful study and more attention
to details. For Israel's politicians the "peace process" had
gone too far. The time had arrived once again for Israel
to change its government.
Israel reverted to a familiar routine
-new elections. The party in power had taken over the negotiations
for the third
time, started out well, and then became misguided. The
party out of power claimed to have fought for peace each
and was again prepared to find justice for the Israeli
people and bring peace to the area. To achieve public and
acceptance of a new government, the road to Sharon had
to be carefully paved.
Paving the Road to Sharon
By offering their worst candidate
-the fallen Ehud Barak- the Labor Party made certain their
government would be replaced.
A large part of the Israeli electorate hoped that Likhud
could offer a more acceptable candidate than the international
pariah, Ariel Sharon. No possibility. Sharon was the only
available leader and, as such, a contradiction -Israel which
poses itself as the most democratic country in the region,
and the most obedient to human rights, showed they have no
prominent democratic leader, nor one who pursues human rights.
The bumpy and rocky road leading from Sharon's provocative
appearance on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to Sharon
as an honored Prime minister had to be smoothed. This was
done by demonizing Arafat who had "tricked" the
Syndicated U.S. columnists in the Washington
Post approved the technique that demonized Arafat and held
for the tragic events. A few examples:
There are of course no Palestinian voters, only the vexing
Arafat […]. But why chase after Arafat? It is his mess.
Let him clean it up" -Stephen S. Rosenfeld, Arafat's
Mess, The Washington Post, February 3, 2001.
After embracing a peace offer that for a generation seemed
possible only to its most ardent doves, the Israeli government
will now line up behind a hawk who had been marginalized
as an extremist for just as long. This dramatic change has
been brought about, first and foremost by Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat, who first rejected the Israeli peace offer
at Camp David, then countenanced -at least- a violent uprising
in the West Bank". -Washington Post Editorial, February
Now, as a consequence of his own actions, Arafat faces Ariel
Sharon. The former general knows that he won -and won big-
on account of those 50 Jewish victims of Palestinian terrorism.
For the moment at least, the peace process is as dead as
those people. Yasser Arafat, to his shame, holds the smoking
gun. -Richard Cohen, Israel's Answer to Arafat, February
The commentators who criticized Palestinian
Authority President Arafat for not accepting "Israel's proposals
for peace" failed
During all the negotiating years from 1993
to 2001, Barak's Israel continued the illegal and harassing
to withdraw troops from the West Bank, constantly perturbed
the Palestinian economy, failed to follow the Oslo accords
timetable and showed no sympathy for the plight of the desperate
Palestinians. Meanwhile, Arafat followed the timetable of
the Oslo accords within acceptable limits. The United States
and not Israel originated the last minute proposals. There
are no officially recorded proposals. Everyone used their
own preferred guesswork and rumor mills. Barak never signed
agreement to any proposals. He waited for Arafat's acceptance
before making a decision. It didn't matter what Barak stated.
It was obvious that the Israeli government and Israeli people
were not going to grant the Palestinians anything. Arafat
only asked what any fair-minded person could consider fair.
(1) A contiguous West Bank territory that Palestinians had
occupied for centuries. (2) East Jerusalem as a capital that
Palestinians had occupied for centuries. (3) Sovereignty
of the Old City including the Haram al-Sharif that Moslem
authorities had controlled for centuries and (4) Resettlement,
or compensation for, Palestinian refugees whose property
and resources had been seized and used by Israel. Since permitting
the Palestinians to retain what they already owned didn't
amount to a compromise, Israel's apologists never defined
the compromises they reported Barak had made. Instead, they
reverted to the phrase "more compromises than any previous
Israel leader had made." In 1993, as a Knesset member,
Barak voted against accepting the Oslo accords. Arafat received
the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
Arafat needed a peace
agreement to establish a viable Palestinian State and gain
acceptance as a leader of that state. He had
no reason to refuse a fair and honest peace agreement.
Israel had reasons to continue the status quo and impede
agreement. The continued occupation of the West Bank and
East Jerusalem allowed continued expansion of the settlements
and delayed the resolution of the Palestinian refugee situation.
No agreement benefited Israel.
The demonization of Arafat
was only one part of paving the road to Sharon. Excusing
Israel's violence against the Palestinian
people was another part. Israel's apologists spread propaganda,
which tended to excuse Israel's violence against the Palestinians
and which attempted to balance Israel's record in denying
the Palestinian refugees their legitimate claims.
Israel asserted its soldiers had
no responsibility for killing Palestinian children; the
vicious Palestinian parents placed
their children in front of Palestinian sharpshooters. Despite
lacking credible evidence, Israel and its supporters promulgated
this racist claim. They disregarded documented and filmed
reports showing that children had been killed on balconies,
while walking the streets from school and in other places
that had no crowds. The Israel apologists hid from the
public that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza
children to barren lives on top of isolated outposts from
which settlers constantly provoked Palestinian communities,
subjecting the families, including the children, to possible
reprisals from angry Palestinian neighbors.
attempted to show that although Israel might have killed
350 Palestinians, the Palestinians ran
the risk. The Palestinians killed 50 Israelis and that
was sufficient to make the Israelis insecure and vote for
Why did the Israelis vote overwhelmingly for Ariel Sharon,
a hard-liner, a rightwinger and the scourge of the Arabs?
They know that most of the Palestinians were killed in fights
they picked with Israeli soldiers […]. But the Israeli
dead -that mere 50 of the news reports- include not only
soldiers ambushed at their posts but civilians traveling
the highways of the West Bank and Gaza strip. It includes
children, or parents shot and killed before their children's
very eyes".-Richard Cohen, ibid.
Usually if soldiers
shoot a population, that population finds a means of retribution.
Israel is the only Western country
where soldiers stay behind impregnable fortified positions
and shoot demonstrators. More peaceful means are used to
subdue demonstrators who throw rocks that can do little
damage. As for the civilians shot on the road; weren't they
who had shot Palestinian farmers in their fields?
the indefensible Israeli position of not allowing the return
of Palestinian refugees to their dispossessed
lands or reimbursing them for the illegal evictions, a
network of Israel apologists flooded the media with claims
who left Arab lands and migrated to Israel deserved compensation
for their financial losses.
Twisting the Refugee Compensation
Towards the final
deliberations of the Camp David negotiations, after the
Palestinian refugee situation became an issue,
Israel proposed having the Arab regimes compensate those
who migrated to Israel from Arab countries. Coincidentally,
the World Jewish Congress prepared a report on Jewish property
in the Arab countries, primarily in Iraq and Egypt. Meanwhile,
talk radio received comments from listeners pleading the
case for Jewish migrants from North Africa, specifically
mentioning Tunisia and Morocco, where there is no evidence
that any Jews were forced to migrate or had their property
seized. As a matter of fact, all Arab countries aver that
they didn't force Jews to leave and didn't expropriate
their property. They claim that Jews left on their own volition
due to a perception that they would be in danger after
invaded Egypt in1956, and due to instabilities in the same
nations. Other peoples of those nations were not as fortunate.
If they wanted to leave, they had no place go. Syrian Jews
were not permitted to leave until the last decade; one
refutation that they were forced to leave en masse.
It is obvious that
Israel wants the Arab countries to indirectly pay the compensation
that Israel owes the Palestinian refugees.
Actually, these are two independent refugee situations.
One has nothing to do with the other. If the migrants to
from Arab countries feel they warrant compensation, then
they should personally appeal to the countries from which
they want the compensation. Since they haven't murmured
an appeal to anybody in 40 years, it is obvious they don't
a case. Also, if they want, they can request to return
to their former countries, just as some of the Palestinian
have requested to return to their former land. There are
of course great differences between the two situations.
The Palestinians are legitimate refugees, living in refugee
or without passports and citizenship in foreign lands.
They tried to return immediately after the 1948 war, and
refused their admittance. The Jewish immigrants to Israel
from the Arab lands have never been classified as refugees.
They came to a land that welcomed them, provided them with
citizenship and passports and gave them financial support.
They appear to have gained and not deteriorated in their
new surroundings. They are no different than a refugee
to America or any other country. Israel's and the World Jewish
Congress' demand for compensating Jewish immigration to
from Arab lands is pure subterfuge. It demonstrates the
little feeling that Israel has for the unfortunate Palestinians
and its determination to escape the obligations for seizing
the Palestinian lands and personal properties that are
in Israel's files.
The final paving of the road to Sharon
The usual scowling and sinister Ariel Sharon
suddenly appears riding a tractor with his grandchildren.
He talks in moderate
and non-militant tones. He reaches out to shake hands with
an equally smiling Barak. Two happy gentlemen. He is presented
to the public as a new Sharon; which he might be. In order
to stop the violence, Sharon might pacify the Palestinians
by stopping the settlements and controlling violent activity
from the settlers. He might assist the Palestinians in
relieving their economic distress. He will try to create
a more respectable
image. But, it will all be temporary. The Israeli prime
Minister can never morph from the Sharon, who at the age
of 22, led
commando units that specialized in behind-the-lines raids
and forced Palestinians to flee their homes. Sharon has
admitted that for retaliation upon Israeli settlements, in
attack in 1953 on Qibia village, Jordan, his unit blew
up homes and slaughtered 69 civilians, over half of them
and children. Two years later he was reprimanded for giving
logistical support to four young Israelis who took random
blood revenge on Bedouins for Arab attacks on Israeli settlements.
In the 1956 Suez war, Sharon disobeyed orders and sent
his paratroopers into the Mitla Pass in the Sinai desert.
doing so, he deceived his superiors, sacrificed his men
and gained the displeasure of the Israeli chief of staff,
Dayan. Four of his junior officers accused him of sending
men to their deaths for his own glory. Sharon's military
career went into eclipse. In 1964, chief of staff, Yitzhak
Rabin, resurrected him. Evidently, Sharon served Israel
well in the 1967 war; the military gave him the task of
Palestinian resistance in the occupied Gaza Strip. With
a brutal policy of repression, of blowing up houses, bulldozing
large tracts of refugee camps, imposing severe collective
punishments and imprisoning hundreds of young Palestinians
suspected of being fighters, he managed to decrease resistance
The leader of Israel's Likhud Party
is mainly known for commandeering the invasion of Lebanon
and proceeding to lead his army to
Beirut. This invasion occurred despite a well-known pact
made between Israel and the PLO that succeeded in preventing
any retaliatory raids upon one another for more than a
year. Sharon's invasion of Lebanon caused retaliation against
United States and deaths to American marines. It brought
destruction, havoc, internecine warfare and economic decline
to Lebanon, from which the country has never fully recovered.
is also associated with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian
civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps
in Beirut. For this brutality, the military removed him
from office in 1983. An Israeli tribunal, that investigated
1982 Lebanon invasion, determined that Sharon was indirectly
responsible for the killings.
With a past record of brutality
and reckless behavior, why did the Israeli people vote
Sharon into office? Two reasons-
a major portion of the electorate is not long-time Israeli
citizens, and the electorate favors Sharon's characteristics.
Fallacy of the Israeli Electorate
Israel is a new country
and not a unified one. As immigrants from different cultures
arrived over the years, its demographics
repeatedly changed. The principal common features in the
mass of the immigrants, who are mainly from North Africa,
Mid-East and the former Soviet Union, have been impoverishment
and a relation in being of Jewish heritage. The post-1967
war era, after Israel greatly expanded its territory and
control of the Palestinians, brought immigrations of Orthodox
and Messianic Jews from the United States and professional
people from the former Soviet Union.
The Orthodox and Messianic
Jews only attend to their fundamentalist mission - to recreate
a Jewish state based upon biblical
beliefs. The oppression and physical presence of Palestinians
are completely invisible to them. The immigrants from the
former Soviet Union, partially led by Natan Shransky, a
supposed fighter for human rights in the Soviet Union, have
little consideration for Palestinian human rights. The
Russian immigrants who have education and knowledge have
their grasp, in a short period of time in Israel, a prosperous
life they never considered they would have in the former
Soviet Union. The social and economic opportunities in
Israel have given the Russians a nationalistic spirit. They
want want their opportunities to be impeded and won't compromise
one shekel of them. They have also transferred their psychological
development in the totally domineering and oppressive Soviet
system to their new land.
Powerless in the previous system,
they now feel a sense of strong power. They are using
their psychological development and power to its limits -
dominate and control Palestinian life while they expand
and material life and forge their own manifest destiny.
The new generations have little cognizance of the previous
to the Palestinian people and easily rationalize that
they are not responsible and therefore not bound to rectify
them. The main point is that people, who have only recently
within the last two decades, have become responsible
the condition of Palestinians who have occupied the land
for centuries and have a qualified legal ownership. In
one day after arrival, these immigrants became part of
but it is hardly possible that in less than two decades,
they share traditions and determinants of a common Israeli
people. Yet, by becoming the determining factor in elections
and changing the demographics of Israel, they have suited
the ideology of hawkish leaders such as Ariel Sharon.
They have shaped Israel into an image that the international
community has despised - the image of demagogue Ariel Sharon.
Prime Minister Begin had been involved in a
criminal hanging of innocent British soldiers during Britain's
Palestine. Prime Minister Shamir has been accused of the
murder of UN representative Count Folke Bernadotte during
Bernadotte's 1948 investigation into bringing peace. Ariel
Sharon's unnecessary visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif
provoked the latest wave of violence that brought death to
50 Israelis and 350 Palestinians and wounded thousands more
Palestinians. By voting Ariel Sharon the Prime Minister of
Israel, the Israeli population has once again allied itself
with brutality, recklessness and demagoguery. Israelis have
shown contempt for the Palestinians and the international
community who consider Sharon a "war criminal." Israel
stands accused of betraying the original UN resolution that
created it and specified there not be any oppression of the
area's peoples. Israel is now in conflict with all people
who demand justice, promote human rights and cherish freedom.
News Insider 2001
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