Sunday, October 31, 2004
One out of every five Israeli Jews has lost a loved one to the current “Palestinian” terrorist campaign, according to the survey.
That is the equivalent of approximately 60 million American victims of terror.
In addition, over 14 percent of the Israeli Jewish population has either witnessed a terrorist attack or stumbled upon a scene where murdered Jewish bodies were present.
Most of those polled in the study said they had adjusted their lives as a result of Palestinian Arab terrorism, and were pessimistic about the government’s ability to protect them.
Professor Gavriel Ben Dor and Dr. Daphna Kanti-Nissim of Haifa University carried out the survey last month by conducting telephone interviews with a random sampling of 1,613 Israelis.
Nearly 29 percent of Jewish respondents said they had lost a close friend or relative to Palestinian Arab violence since September 2000.
There are roughly five million Israeli Jews, meaning more than one million had registered the loss of a loved one to terror in the past four years.
Fifteen percent of the Jews polled said someone among their family or friends had suffered injuries as a result of Arab terror during that period.
The results also showed that 14.5 percent of Israeli Jews had either directly witnessed a terrorist attack or had subsequently arrived at a site where the bodies of murdered men, women and children were present.
The atmosphere of terrorism, suffering and grief has produced a serious psychological effect on Israel’s Jews, the study explains.
“If Israel has won the Intifada, as some pundits have claimed, it is having a much more difficult time in the psychological battle against terror,” read a press release issued by Ben Dor and Kanti-Nissim last week.
“Nearly one third of the Israeli public (28.1%) will have nothing to do with any event, person, or situation that reminds them of a terrorist incident,” their statement noted.
A full two-thirds of Israelis said they have less faith in the government’s ability to protect them than they had four years ago.
More than half of the public feels less in control of events affecting their lives, and 56.3 percent are pessimistic about their future welfare.
The numbers were even higher among Israeli Arab respondents, though they are rarely if ever the direct targets of “Palestinian” terrorists.
In search of a solution
Israel has for years searched in vain for diplomatic and limited military solutions to the terrorism plaguing its citizens.
Jerusalem has, under constant and heavy international pressure, refrained from fully unleashing its vaunted IDF against the forces of “Palestinian” terror.
An operation to forcibly disarm and dismantle the terror groups – in light of the Palestinian Authority’s decade-long refusal to do so – is a non-starter amid fears of the worldwide outcry it would produce.
Senior Palestinian Authority sources say Chairman Yasser Arafat has lost some of his mental capacities and cannot function. Some doubt that he will be capable of resuming his position as PA leader, even if his health recovers to some extent.
In Paris, where Arafat is hospitalized, Palestinian sources said initial tests on the 75 year old leader ruled out leukemia, but his condition remains serious. The Palestinian envoy to Paris, Leila Shahid, said specialists were still looking for the cause of the dramatic collapse of the Palestinian leader's health.
The reports that Arafat's mental state may have deteriorated are worrying Palestinian leaders at home far more than his physical health. Reports say that after his collapse last Wednesday, Arafat lost his mental functioning. In some cases he did not recognize people who came to visit him.
Diplomatic sources said last week he even had trouble recognizing Abu Mazen and Abu Ala who and in some cases his speech was incoherent and confused, but there is no clear opinion on whether such lapses might be permanent or temporary. However, there are grave doubts as to whether, even after a relative recovery, he will be able to make decisions or give orders or even to understand what is happening around him, sources said.
By Barbara Plett
BBC correspondent, West Bank
The world watches the unfolding drama as the man who has become the symbol for Palestinian nationalism seems to hover between life and death. Though full of uncertainties, Mr Arafat's life has been one of sheer dedication and resilience.
To be honest, the coverage of Yasser Arafat's illness and departure from Palestine was a real grind. I churned out one report after the other, without any sense of drama.
Foreign journalists seemed much more excited about Mr Arafat's fate than anyone in Ramallah.
We hovered around the gate to his compound, swarming around the Palestinian officials who drove by, poking our microphones through their dark, half-open windows.
But where were the people, I wondered, the mass demonstrations of solidarity, the frantic expressions of concern?
Was this another story we Western journalists were getting wrong, bombarding the world with news of what we think is an historic event, while the locals get on with their lives?
Yet when the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound, I started to cry... without warning.
In quieter moments since I have asked myself, why the sudden surge of emotion?
I suppose there was a pathos about the strong contrast between this and other journeys Yasser Arafat has made.
There was his defiant departure from Lebanon in 1982 after the Israeli army had routed his Palestine Liberation Organisation. He promised then he was on his way to Palestine, and, in a roundabout way, he was.
There was his triumphant return to the Gaza Strip in 1994, when the Oslo Peace Accords appeared to open the window to a Palestinian state. Tens of thousands of people cheered his arrival; they were even hanging from the trees!
Compare that to the few hundred loyalists who came out to watch him leave the West Bank on Friday, waving and calling out one of his favourite sayings: the mountain cannot be shaken by the wind.
But I think this history explains Palestinian emotions better than mine.
For me, it was probably the siege.
I remember well when the Israelis re-conquered the West Bank more than two years ago, how they drove their tanks and bulldozers into Mr Arafat's headquarters, trapping him in a few rooms, and throwing a military curtain around Ramallah.
I remember how Palestinians admired his refusal to flee under fire. They told me: "Our leader is sharing our pain, we are all under the same siege."
And so was I.
Original article in French
September 30, 2000: a France 2 news report filed by Talal Abu Rahma with a voice-over commentary by Charles Enderlin purports to show the fatal shooting of a Palestinian child, Mohamed A Dura, and the wounding of his father Jamal by Israeli gunfire. France 2 distributed the report free of charge to world media.
The accusation against the IDF was based solely on the testimony of France 2 reporter Abu Rahma, backed up by his hierarchy at France Télévision.
The 3-year Metula News Agency investigation, in conformity with the findings of the IDF commission led by physician Nahum Shahaf, has consistently maintained that Abu Rahma’s declaration was false, and that the 27 minutes of footage allegedly showing the Israelis shooting at the A Duras does not exist.
Repeated requests by our agency to view the 27 minutes of footage were denied
Further, MNA concluded that France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin was deliberately lying, to make the incident seem authentic, when he claimed that he cut out the sequence of the child’s death throes because they were too horrible to show.
Enderlin also declared that there was no footage showing the fatal bullet hit the child. The images on the news report do not corroborate the accusation that child was killed by Israeli soldiers; the commentary suggests what the images do not show.
France 2 claimed to be holding the clinching evidence—the film of the child’s death throes--but would never present it.
Under circumstances connected to the Metula investigation and film demonstration, France Télévision’s CEO, Marc Tessier, asked the station’s news director Arlette Chabot to show the 27 minutes of raw footage to Luc Rosenzweig, former Le Monde journalist (now free lance contributor to Metula News Agency, Radio Communauté Juive, etc.)
Rosenzweig, accompanied by two eminent media directors, was received in the France 2 offices by A. Chabot, Didier Epelbaum (advisor to the president of France 2) and an “image analyst” from the station’s legal department.
The France 2 officials tried to sidestep projection of the 27 minutes of raw footage, dismissing them as insignificant and irrelevant, since Abu Rahma had retracted his testimony, explaining that the cameraman had been “caught off guard” when he testified.
“Caught off guard? Three days after the incident, comfortably seated in a lawyer’s office?
So they are admitting that Abu Rahma gave false testimony…and subsequently retracted. Now that the sole witness to the assassination of Mohammed A Dura has retracted, there is nothing left of the affair “but a shred of bad fiction not worth a kopek.”
Rosenzweig and his colleagues were not aware of Abu Rahma’s retraction for the simple reason that France 2 never made it public.
For four years French public TV officials had been hiding the fact that they do not have 27 minutes of film to prove the blood libel against Israel.
They had allowed the hoax to become a symbol of the Palestinian revolt against the barbarous Jews.
The A Dura image has generated years of dreadful violence, murderous mobs, the Ramallah lynching, etc. It has fanned hatred between Palestinians and Israelis, between Jews and Arabs.
The atmosphere in the France 2 office became tense.
Didier Epelbaum was violating numerous provisions of the ethical charter he himself had drafted, namely the obligation to correct news reports when new, contradictory information arises.
Informed that Abu Rahma is in Paris undergoing medical treatment, Rosenzweig said he would like to speak with him. Epelbaum replied that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble because the Palestinian cameraman doesn’t speak French and his English is very poor.
Stéphane Juffa remembers hearing Abu Rahma speak on CNN; his English was fine.
Finally Rosenzweig and his colleagues are shown the 27 minutes of raw footage.
No new images of the A Duras. No shots of Israeli soldiers. Scenes of demonstrators attacking the Israeli position, scenes of kids pretending to be wounded by the Israelis.
Epelbaum comments, “Those kids are always doing that!”
Enderlin claimed he’d handed over the raw footage intact to Israeli authorities.
Rosenzweig saw that this wasn’t true.
The few seconds where you can see the child moving voluntarily after he was (allegedly) killed instantly by the fatal shot, had been retouched with stills.
Rosenzweig asks about the “unbearable” death throes. Embarrassed reaction from the France 2 officials. There are no such images. Epelbaum asks the visiting journalists if they have proof that the news report is a fake.
He doesn’t seem to realize that the September 30, 2000 incident at Netzarim Junction is totally baseless now that it has become obvious that the sole witness (Abu Rahma) gave false testimony and the correspondent (Enderlin) was caught lying.
But Rosenzweig has further proof. He plugs his USB stick into a computer and brings up the picture of a dead child taken in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital on the day of the A Dura incident, and presented as Mohamed A Dura.
“There’s a slight problem here,” he says. “The face on this corpse is not exactly the same as the face [of Mohamed] in your news report.”Chabot wonders out loud if they had been “fooled,” and suggests having police experts compare the two. Metula has already made the test: the two boys are not the same age, the wounds on the corpse have nothing in common with the alleged wounds of M. A Dura.
Enderlin can stick to his usual defense--explaining that Israeli army officers fell into his trap, which is true, and that the State of Israel would have sued him if the report were a hoax—but it won’t work anymore.
In fact, Daniel Seaman, head of the government press office (GPO) and the Prime Minister’s spokesman, Ra’anan Gissin, have already publicly announced that the A Dura news report is a fake.
Seaman informed us that the government had decided it was not appropriate to drag accredited foreign correspondents into court. But that might change after the revelations in this article.
There is nothing left of the claim that Mohamed A Dura was assassinated by Israeli soldiers.
But the larger question, of the dangers when foreign media interfere in a conflict, remains to be addressed. France 2 has been fooling people for four years, pretending they were holding raw footage that showed Jewish soldiers assassinating an Arab boy.
The French public TV channel contributed to the revival of medieval rumors that demonize Jews: the Israeli soldiers would have to be utterly heartless to pick out a child in the crowd and fire at him for 45 minutes until they killed him.
The media hoax fabricated by Abu Rahma and Enderlin exceeded their expectations. The image of the ferocious Israelis still holds, and it has convinced the vast majority of French-speaking people.
Now France Télévision has a tremendous task. They have to explain what happened and acknowledge what they did. And they must reconsider the journalists and methods that produced the A Dura affair, the biggest hoax in media history.
The people who did it should no longer be allowed to inform the French public about the Arab-Israeli conflict. And they shouldn’t be allowed to keep the prizes awarded for the scoop.
The Metula News Agency will be watching!
Friday, October 29, 2004
Tracy and sheriff's Sgt. Skip Curtis spent one week in September, with more than three dozen other sheriffs and their personnel, traveling throughout a nation that regularly sees the tragedies of terrorism.
The trip, sponsored by the National Sheriffs' Association, was a fact-finding mission as well as a chance to look at systems in place in Israel that may be adaptable to homeland security issues this nation may see in the future, Tracy said.
In many ways, the trip was reassuring because agencies in Utah County are working on some things already in place in Israel, he said.
But, the sheriffs and their personnel also saw more advanced weapons and systems than those available in the United States, Tracy said, adding America is behind when it comes to such equipment for the nation's first responders.
Tracy said he would like to see the equipment developed nationally and made available to local
agencies through homeland security grants.
'We will take this back to the Department of Justice,' said Tracy, who is a member of the National Sheriffs' Association committee on weapons of mass destruction and homeland security, to see what may be the best way to develop the weapons and systems for agencies in the United States.
The sheriffs and their people received several classified briefings during their trip. They looked at port security as well as internal surveillance systems -- the camera infrastructure with ready response capability.
Israel's advanced equipment includes high-tech modifications to camera systems and a gun that can shoot around corners.
The equipment could be used to prevent or deal with a terrorist attack in America -- the threat of which is still real -- or other events.
A lawyer for the families, Michel Calvo, told AFP that they were going to ask France's top anti-terrorist investigating magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, to interrogate Arafat 'as soon as his physical situation allows'.
Arafat was expected to arrive at a military airport outside the French capital later Friday for treatment of what one of his doctors said was a potentially fatal blood disorder.
Calvo has been representing a claim against persons unknown for murder for six attacks that occurred in Israel between 1996 and 2002.
The lawsuits were lodged by French families who live in the Jewish state and lost relatives in the attacks.
Five of the deaths happened in suicide bombings in Jerusalem over that period, while the sixth was a sniper attack in Hebron in March 2001."
Ibrahim Mohamad Faid Issa, 47 year old Hamas terrorist, was known to be an expert bomb maker who manufactured and distributed explosive devices. These explosive devices were used by various terrorist organizations in the area of Qalkilya, including for use in attacks in the vicinity of the security fence in the Qalkilya area. 19 explosive devices made by Faid Issa were found in the possession of a member of Faid Issa's terrorist cell.
Issa was responsible for dispatching the suicide bomber Yossef Taleb Yosef Agbari, who detonated an explosive belt at one of the agricultural gates in Habla in September 2004, wounding 3 IDF soldiers, one seriously. The suicide attack was intended to take place in Israel, however due to early security warnings and the alertness of IDF soldiers, entry through the gate was prevented.
In addition, Issa planned a number of attacks aimed at Israeli civilian targets within Israel which were thwarted when he was killed during IDF activity in the outskirts of Qalkilya.
Issa regularly wore an explosive belt and was constantly armed with weapons and grenades in order to avoid an arrest by Israeli security forces.
by Issam Abu Issa
Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are known internationally for the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. As ruinous as that violence has been, another cancer permeates Arafat's administration; its name is corruption. From firsthand experience, I understand just how deep it is. Here is what I know.
From Optimism to Dismay
On July 1, 1994, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman, Yasir Arafat, arrived triumphant in the Gaza Strip, watched by millions on television across the world. I was already in Ramallah, having traveled there from my family's exile in Qatar in the weeks after Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and President Bill Clinton had signed the Oslo accords in September 1993. Between 1994 and 1996, I and fellow Palestinian businessmen and intellectuals spent many days brainstorming to see what contributions we could make to a Palestinian state. My family was originally from Haifa, and I hoped to witness an Israeli withdrawal of forces and the birth of a democratic Palestinian state. It was a time of optimism among Palestinians. I gathered with friends and business partners around the television in Ramallah and watched Arafat's arrival in the Gaza Strip.
In 1996, I founded the Palestine International Bank (PIB). Thousands of Palestinians in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the diaspora supported me financially or morally. My investors and I hoped to build a thriving economy in the newly autonomous PA areas. The PIB was truly Palestinian. Headquartered in Ramallah, it used mostly Palestinian capital, although it did receive support from other Arabs. All its reserves were kept inside Palestinian areas, and our shares traded actively on the Palestinian stock exchange. From nothing, we expanded our customer base to more than 15,500. Among those licensed by the newly established Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA), we were the largest bank in the Palestinian territories.
I first met Arafat in April 1995 while trying to secure a banking license for the PIB. This meeting at his Gaza office, though brief, was cordial and encouraging. I thought things would go smoothly. But, as the PIB grew more popular, Arafat's inner circle and, specifically, Muhammad Rashid, a PA official, also known as Khalid Salam and often described as an economic advisor to Arafat and manager of a small percentage of PIB stocks, made it difficult for us to branch out and move forward. The PA, which strictly controls Palestinian media, launched a negative media blitz against us in a bid to suppress our growth. The systematic effort to undermine PIB came after I refused to cede power to Muhammad Rashid.
Over the course of fifteen meetings, I became better acquainted with Arafat and grew increasingly concerned with his leadership style. Arafat and top PA officials did not respect the rule of law; many were corrupt. Arafat believed neither in separation of powers nor in checks and balances. His animosity toward accountability thwarted efforts to establish a responsible leadership. By 1996, Palestinians in the PA were saying they had traded one occupation for two, the one by Israel and the one by Arafat and his cronies.
Rather than use donor funds for their intended purposes, Arafat regularly diverted money to his own accounts. It is amazing that some U.S. officials still see the Palestinian Authority as a partner even after U.S. congressional records revealed authenticated PLO papers signed by Arafat in which he instructed his staff to divert donors' money to projects benefiting himself, his family, and his associates.
How did Arafat's inner circle benefit? In 1994, he instructed the Palestinian Authority official in charge of finances, Muhammad Nashashibi, to fund secretly—to the tune of $50,000 per month—a Jerusalem publicity center for Raymonda Tawil, Arafat's mother-in-law, and Ibrahim Qar'in, an associate of Arafat's family. He also ordered the investment in the computer companies of ‘Ali and Mazzan Sha'ath, sons of Nabil Sha'ath, the PA's key negotiator in talks with Israel. Amin Haddad, Arafat's designated governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority, established several import-export companies acting as the front man for Arafat. The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction financed these activities. Thus, an organization meant to channel funds from donor countries like France and Germany became a mechanism by which to enrich Arafat.
Arafat's men flagrantly displayed corruption. Arriving penniless in Gaza and the West Bank from exile in Tunisia, many PLO members amassed wealth, built villas in Gaza, Ramallah, Amman, and other places, and sent their children to the best schools in the United Kingdom and the United States. Hisham Makki, former head of the Palestine Broadcasting Services, assassinated in January 2001, earned a monthly salary of $1,500 but became a millionaire within a few years. Immediately after his assassination, Arafat froze Makki's personal bank accounts, estimated at $17 million. Makki was alleged to have taken bribes and sold government-owned equipment. However, it was rumored that he had a dispute with another PA official over the sharing of profits gained on illegal business transactions. His assailants, believed to be members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a shady group affiliated with Fatah, have never been caught.
Palestinians complained. The corruption of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority were blatant, but it appeared as if their status quo policies caused Israel and the United States to turn a blind eye. Diplomats downplayed flagrant corruption. In August 2001, Israel seized close to a half million documents from Palestinian offices in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Subsequent State Department reports on Palestinian governance and terrorism made little use or even mention of these documents. European and U.S. policymakers assumed Arafat's critics to be against the Oslo accord. That may have been the case with members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but it was not the case among more liberal-minded Palestinians and investors like me.
Arafat's corruption reached its peak in 1999 via the monster of "twelve security forces that nobody could control," in addition to the disorganized Tanzim (Fatah's militia). He played these services off each other, never allowing a subordinate to gain power. Between 1995 and 2000, Arafat's thugs beat up at least eleven elected members of the 88-member Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) because they voiced views in private and in public that were opposed to Arafat's on how the PA is run. The victims included PLC Human Rights Committee head Qaddoura Fares, Azmi ash-Shoaibi, Abdul Jawad Saleh, Hatem Abdul Kader, among others. Arafat wanted to terrorize and silence his critics. Indeed, one of his favorite slogans was Dimuqratiyat al-Banadiq (Democracy of the Guns). Arafat believes true power lies in force, whether directed against Israelis or against his own people.
How popular is Arafat among Palestinians? At times of crisis, television crews show cheering Palestinians demonstrating and greeting their leader outside his Ramallah headquarters. In better days, Palestinian television regularly broadcasts pro-Arafat rallies across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But rallies aren't always what they seem. PA funds are used to buy loyalty and drum up support. The PA hires crowds, stages promotional media campaigns, and distributes Arafat's pictures in the streets and alleys of the Palestinian territories. Rather than build a viable state, Arafat sought only to amass wealth and power. I myself heard his entourage and close associates refer to him as al-Arrab, meaning "the Godfather."
At the end of 1997, when the PA Auditor's Office released its end of the year financial report, $326 million—43 percent of the annual budget—was "missing." Only 57 percent of the budget was accounted for, spent on security forces (35 percent), office of the president (12.5 percent), and public allocation (9.5 percent). A special committee appointed by the PLC conducted an investigation and released a report accusing the PA of financial mismanagement. The findings of this panel exposed many official misgivings and abuses such as the use of government money for personal purposes by ministers Nabil Sha'ath, Talal Sidr, and Yasir Abd Rabboh; excessive expenditure on rent, salaries, and cost of travel in various ministries; receipt of bribes by ministry officials in the Ministry of Civil Affairs; illegal and unreported collection of taxes by the Ministry of Postal Services; granting illegal customs exemptions on cars, furniture, and material donations entering the PA, etc. It concluded that anyone involved in corruption should be taken to court, regardless of his position as minister, undersecretary, or director-general. The report demanded the ouster of at least two ministers: civil affairs minister Jamil at-Tarifi, and planning and international cooperation minister Nabil Sha'ath.
The PLC voted 51-1 in favor of dissolving Arafat's appointed 18-member limited self-rule cabinet. Sixteen ministers gave letters to Arafat signaling readiness to resign if asked. But Arafat confirmed the corrupt ministers in their positions rather than firing them. Additionally, PLC member Haider Abdel Shafi resigned due to "frustration with the performance of the PLC and with the executive's total lack of concern for its recommendations," and added, "The PLC is a marginal body and not a true parliament."
Even as the PLC committee was conducting its investigation, Arafat appointed Tayeb Abd al-Rahim, general secretary of the Presidential Office, to make a detailed inquiry into acts of corruption. His report remains secret.
In practice the reports were meaningless. Since Arafat does not honor rule of law, decisions by auditors or the Palestinian Legislative Council fall by the wayside. Corruption continues. More than six years after the report's issuance, Tarifi remains in the cabinet. Rather than face charges, Sha'ath has won promotion.
In another case, Salam Fayyad, the official in charge of finance, again said in August 2003 that there were many "irregularities" in the work of the Petroleum Authority, which has been siphoning money to secret bank accounts for years. When Nablus legislator Mu'awyah al-Masri asked for details and figures about the revenues from oil products, Fayyad shocked the lawmakers by declaring, "Unfortunately, the documents related to the revenues from oil products—or how the money was used—can't be found. They have disappeared from the ministry."
The bank accounts of Harbi Sarsour, head of the Petroleum Authority, were frozen by the PA pending investigation into the scandal. But an initial investigation by Fayyad's office and the PLC showed that much of the oil profits had been deposited into a bank account under Arafat's name.
For sheer scale, few allegations match up to a deal allegedly struck between Muhammad Rashid, one of Arafat's economic advisors, and the late Yossi Ginosar, a former Israeli security officer. Ginosar's company, ARC, helped open Swiss bank accounts and deposit funds into them derived from both PA-financed companies and Israeli tax rebates to the Palestinian Authority. Over a period of five years, approximately US$900 million was diverted to these accounts.
In early 2002, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted a poll in which they surveyed 1,320 Palestinians. Eighty-five percent believed that there was corruption in PA institutions; only 16 percent gave a positive evaluation to democracy under the Palestinian Authority. Eighty-four percent expressed support for fundamental reforms in the PA.
Arafat Robs the Palestine International Bank
On November 28, 1999, I became a victim of Arafat's abuse of power and flagrant disregard for the law. That's when, in direct breach of the law, Arafat issued a decree dissolving the Palestine International Bank's board of directors. The state-controlled Palestine Monetary Authority took over the bank, and with Arafat's blessing and written approval, formed a new supervisory board of directors, including at least one convicted and Interpol-wanted felon. The unlawful takeover was a confiscation of my own, my shareholders', and my clients' private assets for Arafat's personal use. At the date of seizure, PIB total assets amounted to $105 million. Since the takeover, they have neither called for a shareholders' meeting nor disclosed the bank's balance sheet.
The PLC investigated the seizure of the bank after I lodged a complaint in 2000 about the PIB's unlawful takeover. The PMA governor then threatened the bank's auditing firm, Talal Abu Ghazaleh International (TAGI), for revealing facts and figures that implicated the Palestinian leadership. The PMA governor took punitive measures against them but was unanimously condemned by the PLC. Meanwhile, the PMA altered, hid, or destroyed bank records in their campaign to demonstrate malfeasance on my part retroactively. They supplied false information to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) group leading to a faulty audit. PWC seems to have taken for granted the accuracy of material that PMA governor Amin Haddad supplied, but he both provided some fraudulent documents and omitted others. The Qatari government, which has remained interested in the case because of my Qatari citizenship, rejected the PWC Report.
As they seized the bank, Arafat's security services harassed me. I fled to the Qatari mission in Gaza. Arafat's staff confiscated my private belongings, including my car, which Arafat took for himself. My brother Issa accompanied a Qatari Foreign Ministry delegation to Gaza in order to resolve the stalemate. But, upon his arrival, Palestinian police acting on orders from Arafat arrested him. The PA said they would trade his freedom for mine. Only after the State of Qatar threatened Arafat with financial sanctions and severing of diplomatic ties did the PA give us free passage to leave Gaza for Qatar.
In recent months, there has been some movement on my case. After months of investigation and deliberation, the Palestinian Legislative Council ruled all decisions taken by the PMA on the matter of PIB to be illegal, and hence subsequent actions to be illegitimate. Chiefly because of his mismanagement of the PIB case and citing corruption, in May 2004, the PLC fired Amin Haddad from his position in the Palestinian Monetary Authority. Hassan Khreisheh, Palestinian deputy parliament speaker, said, "This is part of the parliament's war against corruption in the PA." He pointed out that Haddad had been pocketing unauthorized bonuses and profiting illegally from his management of the PIB. In spite of this, Arafat continues to back Haddad. As Khreisheh says, "Arafat resists any change, but pressure is building against him." Arafat's support for Haddad is magnified in his August 5, 2004 letter to the PLC Reform Committee. He stated, "Firing the governor of the PMA would serve our enemies." By "enemies," he was referring to, among others, myself and the deputy prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor ath-Thani, whom he mentioned more than three times before several PLC members.
The PLC also indicted Arafat's relative, Jarrar al-Kudwa, who headed the General Monitoring Board that functions as the PA's Controller's Office, for corruption and misleading the investigation into the seizure of the PIB.
On June 18, 2004, the evening after the Jordanian daily Ad-Dustur published the Khreisheh interview cited above, Arafat ordered his Special Security Apparatus to arrest one of my sympathizers in Ramallah. Thus does Arafat continue to use the Palestinian security forces to harass and intimidate anyone who questions his pocketbook. It is no surprise then that he issued clear instructions to PA officials not to discuss openly the PIB issue. To him, the matter is an extremely important issue.
I have very little faith in the Palestinian judicial system, which is fully under Arafat's thumb. The PA disregards many court decisions unless they serve Arafat's purposes. Chief Justice Zuhair as-Sourani usually acts on Arafat's orders. Arafat and Sourani handpicked Judge Talaat Taweel in order to pass the civil judgment against me in absentia. Taweel has been implicated in criminal cases. Likewise, the PLC's Human Rights Committee condemned Sourani's illegal actions. Earlier, while an attorney general, Sourani issued an arrest warrant against me but failed to produce any legal basis before the PLC; he merely acted on Arafat's verbal instruction. Arafat subsequently promoted him to chief justice.
The continuing decay of the judicial system prompted the Union of Palestinian Lawyers to launch a short boycott of the Palestinian court system on June 28, 2004. Union leader Hatem Abbas remains a vocal critical of judicial corruption. On September 26, 2004, he sent a strongly worded letter regarding Sourani's malpractice.
And just recently, the PLC decided to suspend all sessions from September 7 to October 7, 2004, in an attempt to pressure Arafat to accelerate the approval of a reform package that he publicly adopted on August 18, 2004, and in protest against the Palestinian cabinet for not implementing the decisions and bills approved by the PLC. The PLC wants to stress that the council's decisions have to be taken seriously.
The Cement Scandal
Abuse of power among Arafat's associates and Palestinian ministers is not the exception but rather the rule, as shown by the cement scandal: PA officials were accused of selling cement to Israel for use in constructing the West Bank wall and for Israeli construction in the disputed territories, then pocketing the money.
On February 11, 2004, Israel's Channel 10 television reported that the Al-Quds Cement Factory supplied the cement for these purposes. Television footage showed cement mixers leaving company headquarters and driving to Maale Adumim, an Israeli settlement a few kilometers away. The family of Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia co-owns the Al-Quds company. When confronted by the allegations at a June 2004 press conference in Rome, Qureia denied personal involvement.
On June 9, 2004, the PLC held a debate in which some legislators accused Maher Masri, who held the Palestinian Authority's economy portfolio, of negligence and fraud. Council members called for an investigation on "corruption and tax evasion" charges. Despite the charges, the debate itself was stilted. Palestinian security ejected PLC deputy and anti-corruption campaigner Jawad Saleh from the debate after the PLC speaker prevented nine deputies who had conducted the investigation from participating in the debate.
The scandal reportedly started with an Israeli-German businessman named Zeev Blenski. Blenski sought to import 120,000 tons of Egyptian concrete but, the Egyptian firms, under pressure from Egypt's anti-Israel lobby, refused to provide it. Blenski then turned to the Tarifi Ready Mix Cement Company, owned by Civil Affairs Minister Jamil Tarifi and his brother Jamal and two other Palestinian cement companies, Intisar Barakeh Company for General Trade and the Yusef Barakeh Company for General Trade.
Tarifi got Masri to sign an import permit. In fact, "senior PA officials had received bribes to issue import licenses to several importers and businessmen working on behalf of Israelis." The permits directed the cement to be used to rebuild homes in the Rafah refugee camp, which had been razed by Israeli troops. Instead, Blenski sold the cement to build parts of the separation fence, as well as new houses in Jewish communities in the West Bank and Gaza.
The PLC report concluded that the cement scandal went against PA objectives by indirectly contributing to the separation barrier but also by undermining the Palestinian treasury through the failure to collect tax on the imported cement. Lastly, because the Palestinians still operate under annual cement importation quotas, PA officials' greed undercut the Palestinian construction sector. The PLC passed the report to the district attorney, but no action has yet been taken. Few Palestinians expect that action will be taken.
Surprise in New York
Pressure for reform is waning, and Palestinian democrats are caught in the middle. On February 13, 2004, I arrived at JFK International Airport in New York on my way to testify about PA corruption before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. It was not my first trip to Washington; I have been there a half dozen times and have never faced any difficulties. My most recent visit had been a year before when I addressed both the Hudson Institute and The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy on democracy and Palestinian reform.
But, this trip was different. Instead of breezing through customs as I had in the past, agents from the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement kept me in custody for seventeen hours. At some point, I was cuffed at the wrists and ankles and repeatedly interrogated by agents who accused me of laundering $6 million from the PIB on behalf of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. They let me go, but I now cannot gain entry to the United States. While dozens of academics signed petitions in support of a visa for Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, my case generated only silence in American universities.
Why the change? PA officials passed the charge to the State Department, which forwarded the information uncritically to Homeland Security. This is ironic since the PIB leadership installed after my ouster was implicated in money laundering for Saddam Hussein. The U.S. embassy in Doha has sought to rectify the matter, and I was allowed to reapply for a new visa; the case is still pending. But splashed across the Arabic press, the message was clear: Foggy Bottom supports Arafat and will turn a blind eye toward the concerns of dissidents. It is counterproductive for Washington to indulge Arafat to the extent that they pull the rug out from anyone trying to make a change. Recent chaos in Gaza reinforces that Washington should not put all its eggs in one basket. But, how can Palestinian administration improve if the U.S. government allows Arafat to use its bureaucracy to do his dirty work? Accountability is key.
For four years, there has been violence and unmasked hostility between Israeli and Palestinians. Palestinian security forces and Israeli soldiers, who once jointly patrolled the streets of West Bank and Gaza towns, now fight each other. The conflict has taken a heavy toll on human life and on resources, both among Palestinians and Israelis. Israeli authorities and Palestinian organizations estimate the total dead at almost 4,000 and the wounded at more than 32,000. The ailing Palestinian economy has declined 25 percent in 2003 while Israel has lost billions of dollars due to recession in the tourism sector and declining investor confidence. When I see cars blown apart by missiles, buses and cafes on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv destroyed, as well as destruction and death in Gaza and the West Bank, or pictures of grieving mothers and daughters, it is hard to believe that it has been only eleven years since the world celebrated the promise of the Oslo accords. I have problems with Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but Arafat's leadership for too long has used Israel as an excuse for failure to clean our own house.
Arafat's failed leadership is one factor responsible for the evolution of Palestinian extremism and fundamentalism, as well as a culture of death and despair among the Palestinians. While Clinton feted Arafat at the White House as a peace partner, many of us who worked with or lived under Arafat disagreed, seeing him instead as a man exclusively concerned with power, money, and personal gratification. He heads a dictatorial regime staffed by gangsters. I and increasing numbers of Palestinians also blame U.S. and Israeli officials who, in the wake of the Oslo accords, calculated that a Palestinian dictatorship would make a better negotiating partner than a Palestinian democracy. They were very wrong. When growing pressure in the Palestinian territories forced Arafat to find a scapegoat for his political failure, mismanagement, and economic plunder, he turned his guns toward the Israelis.
Reform and Arafat are like oil and water. Arafat instigates violence to deflect blame for his own corruption. No amount of dialogue or diplomatic dinners will change this fact.
On the positive side, there are still persons who can move the peace-building process ahead. Many Palestinians seek change and welcome democratization and good governance. The Palestinians have the wealth, talent, and skills to carry out major functions for the needed transformation. Young economic leaders could spearhead the process since economic growth and development are fruits of peace. The Palestinian private sector and civil society organizations can be mobilized and empowered in order to foster the democratization process.
With the right support, the Palestinians are capable of leading a real transformation towards a democratic state, one characterized by a separation of powers, the rule of law, a free market economy, and a strong civil society.
America should not be discouraged by what is going on in the Middle East today. Signs of freedom and reform abound. But, Washington must look forward and not revert to the formulas of the past. Palestinians want not only to be freed from Israeli control but also, as importantly, to end the occupation by Arafat and his cronies.
Issam Abu Issa, former chairman of the Palestine International Bank, currently resides in Qatar. He is founder of the Palestinian National Coalition for Democracy and Independence, a Palestinian democratic reform movement.
 Interview with Palestinian deputy speaker, Ad-Dustur (Amman), June 17, 2004.
 Lamis Andoni, "Palestine Banking Trouble," Middle East International, Jan. 28, 2000, p. 10.
 "Scandalous PLO Letters Authenticated by Congressional Task Force," Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation (New York), at http://www.manfredlehmann.com/sieg429.html.
 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Corrupt Palestinian Officials Said Fleeing in Fear for Their Lives," The Israel Report, Jan./Feb. 2001, at http://www.christianactionforisrael.org/isreport.
 Matthew Levitt, "PLOCCA 2002: Empty Words," The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Peacewatch #384, May 24, 2002, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/watch/Peacewatch/peacewatch2002/384.htm.
 Mahmoud Abbas, ex-Palestinian prime minister, quoted in Newsweek, June 21, 2004.
 Nathan Vardi, "Auditing Arafat," Forbes.com, Mar. 17, 2003, at http://www.forbes.com/global/2003/0317/014.html.
 The Washington Post, Dec. 2, 1998.
 PLC Special Committee Report (The Corruption Report,) May 1997, at http://www.jmcc.org/politics/pna/plc/plccorup.htm; Stacey Lakind and Yigal Carmon, "The PA Economy," The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Inquiry and Analysis Series, no. 11, Jan. 8, 1999, at http://www.memri.org/bin/opener.cgi?Page=archives&ID=IA1199.
 Arjan El Fassed, "Cement and Corruption," The Electronic Intifada, June 11, 2004, at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2813.shtml.
 Khaled Abu Aker, "Where Has All the Oil Money Gone?" Arabic Media Internet Network, Aug. 11, 2003, at http://www.amin.org.
 The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 3, 2003.
 Ma'ariv (Tel Aviv), Dec. 2, 2002, Mar. 7, 2004.
 Press briefing, International Monetary Fund, Dubai, UAE, Sept. 20, 2003, at http://www.imf.org/external/np/tr/2003/tr030920.htm.
 The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Public Opinion Poll #5, Aug. 18-21, 2002, at http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2002/p5a.html.
 Appointment letter signed by Arafat, May 24, 2003, Palestinian Court of First Instance.
 PLC decision, no. 626/1/8, Oct. 25, 2003.
 Letter, signed by Muhammad Jeham al-Kuwari, then-director of the Office of the Foreign Minister of Qatar, to the late Yassin Shareef, Palestinian ambassador to the state, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar, Aug. 30, 2000, at http://www.palestine77.net/kuwari.pdf.
 Focus Magazine (Munich), Dec. 16, 2002, p. 208.
 PLC decision, no. 642/1/8, Dec. 30, 2003.
 Associated Press, May 5, 2004.
 Newsweek International, Aug. 30, 2004.
 "Report of the Special Reform Committee," PLC, Aug. 25, 2004, p. 6.
 The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 18, 2004.
 Tahseen Al Miqati, Palestinian ambassador to Qatar, quoted in Forbes (Arabic edition), May 2004, p. 88.
 "Position Paper —Re: The Case of Palestine International Bank," Jan. 23, 2004, co-signed by four Palestine-based NGOs: the Mandela Institute for Human Rights, Al-Haq, Al-Quds Human Rights Center, Al-Dustour, at http://www.palestine77.net/ngoenglish.doc.
 Ad-Dustur, June 17, 2004.
 "Report of the Human Rights Committee," PLC, Dec. 2, 2003, p. 34.
 Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 27, 2004.
 Palestine Media Center, Sept. 2, 2004, at http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=1&id=1422.
 Arjan El Fassed, "Cement and Corruption," The Electronic Intifada, June 11, 2004, at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2813.shtml.
 Rouhi Fatouh, PLC speaker, quoted in The Jerusalem Times, June 18, 2004.
 The Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2004.
 The Jewish Tribune (Toronto), June 17, 2004.
 The Jerusalem Post, June 10, 2004.
 The Jewish Week (New York), June 25, 2004.
 Israel National News, June 13, 2004, at http://www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=63989.
 The Jerusalem Times, June 17, 2004.
 Feb. 6, 2003.
 "Tariq Ramadan: American and European Scholars Respond," Campus-Watch.org, Sept. 23, 2004.
 Amber Pawlik, "Exporting Freedom," May 9, 2004, at http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/archive/p/pawlik/2004/pawlik050904.htm.
 The Peninsula (Doha), Apr. 13, 2003.
 "A Critic of Arafat Is Turned away at the U.S. Border—Reformer Detained at Kennedy Was Headed to Meet Congress," The New York Sun, Feb. 17, 2004; "Standing up to Arafat," The Fox News, Feb. 23, 2004; Adam Daifallah, "Arabs Who Believe in Democracy," The New York Sun, Feb. 23, 2004; "New York Authorities Detain PIB Chairman for 17 Hours at JFK Airport," Ar-Raya (Doha), Feb. 19, 2004; "Story of the Detention of PIB Chairman at the JFK Airport on Allegations of Financing Hamas and Jihad," Al-Hayat (London), Feb. 16, 2004.
 Casualty updates from Palestinian Red Crescent Society, at http://www.palestinercs.org/crisistables/table_of_figures.htm, and Magen David Adom of Israel, at http://www.magendavidadom.org/casualtyitem.asp?Update=41.
 Palestine Investment Promotion Agency, at http://www.pipa.gov.ps/economic_indicators.asp.
 Rafiq an-Natsheh, former PLC speaker, quoted in Asharq (Doha), July 20, 2004.
 Natan Sharansky, "From Helsinki to Oslo," Journal of International Security Affairs, Summer 2001, at http://www.jinsa.org/articles/articles.html/function/view/categoryid/1383/documentid/1690/history/3,2359,947,1383,1690; "Yasser Arafat: An Asset or a Burden. A Confidential Israeli Document," summarized by Mohammed Salah al-Attar, Nida Younis, trans., Ma'ariv, July 6, 2001, at http://www.aljazeerah.info/News%20archives/2004%20News%20archives/Jan/13n/Yasser%20Arafat%20an%20asset%20or%20a%20burden,%20a%20confidential%20Israeli%20document%20By%20Mohammed%20Salah%20Al-Attar%20and%20Nida%20Younis.htm.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
The violent suggestion came in response to a question from a child moderator on the program, which runs on official Palestinian TV, reported Palestinian Media Watch.
The recently aired episode was dedicated to the importance of trees. The moderator asked "Tarabisho," a talking chick, what he would do if someone, specifically a "little boy," were to chop down his tree. In his squeaky little voice, Tarabisho answered that he would shoot the little boy with an AK-47 automatic rifle, create a massacre and make a riot.
The following is the full text of the translated dialogue between the child moderator and Tarabisho:
Girl: If a boy comes in front of your house where a tree is planted, and cuts it down, what would you do?
Talking chick: I have two trees in front of my house.
Girl: If a little boy cuts them down, what will you do to him?
Talking chick: What I'll do to him? I'll fight him and make a big riot. I'll call the whole world and make a riot. I'll bring AK-47s and the whole world. I'll commit a massacre in front of the house.
Palestinian Media Watch, which features a video of the exchange, reported the moderator twice checked her notes while asking the questions, suggesting this was not a spontaneous discussion but was a deliberate educational message planned by the writers and producers of the show.
While Spanish officials have named several different men as possible masterminds over the past few months, the remarks Monday about the Syrian, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, represent the clearest statement of responsibility yet made by a senior investigator.
"It is very clear to me," the investigator, Rafael Gómez Menor, said, "that if by mastermind we mean the person who has put the group together, prepared the group, trained it ideologically, sent them to Afghanistan to be prepared militarily for terrorism, that man is Abu Dahdah, without any doubt."
Yarkas was sent to prison in November 2001 by Judge Baltasar Garzón, who has been investigating the Qaeda presence in Spain since the mid-1990s.
In an indictment filed in September 2003, Garzón said that since 1995, Yarkas had been responsible for recruiting members, indoctrinating them with an extremist ideology and sending many of them to Afghanistan for training at Qaeda camps.
In his comments Monday to a commission looking into the attacks, Gómez Menor did not say that Yarkas had planned the Madrid attacks from his prison cell. Instead, he suggested that Yarkas had set the stage for them before his arrest.
The opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), also disclosed the existence of what it said is a new uranium enrichment facility in central Iran that is nearing completion.
Speaking to reporters in Paris yesterday, Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the NCRI's Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Iranian regime is "playing a double game" with Europe.
"Khamenei has ordered his regime to not only continue the enrichment of uranium, but to buy time and accelerate the project in order to make the bomb as quickly as possible," Mr. Mohaddessin said.
"Khamenei has ordered his diplomats and his negotiators to prolong the negotiations as much as possible, possibly by between eight and 12 months, which is exactly the time needed to complete the bomb," he said.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Although, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza – the largest deportation of Jews from their homes since Poland 1944 – passed a legislative hurdle in today’s Knesset vote, it has not begun or been definitively approved and may yet be subject to a nationwide referendum.
The whole process, though, may have just been stopped in its tracks.
In a press conference held at the Dome of the Rock immediately following the Knesset vote, Gaza settler leaders, led by the leaders of the settlement block Gush Katif, announced that they and their followers have converted to Islam. The Gaza settlers have all either submitted electronic forms through an Islamic website or have stated “I bear witness that there is no diety but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”
This news seems to have brought an immediate reaction from certain countries and NGOs.
Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, stated that “the deportation of 8000 Muslims from their homes constituted a serious crime against humanity and a violation of international law.
Saeb Ekrat, interviewed on CNN, stated that the people of Gush Katif had lived in their homes since time immemorial, before the Jews even existed, and that the planned actions of the Sharon government constitute another vicious deportation of indigenous peoples by the Israeli government. He continued that the Palestinian Authority could not be held responsible for the violence that might result from this unheard of provocation – the deportation of 20,000 women and children. He stated that the Palestinians would seek an international presence in the Gaza Strip to protect these people. Also interviewed by CNN was the former president of Iran, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. He was not aware of the developments but welcomed the new converts to the fold and stated emphatically that if any Muslims are removed from their homes, Iran would “burn the little satan, the Zionist entity, with fire from the sun to bring peace to the world.” When asked if he was referring to a hydrogen bomb or other nuclear device, President Rafsanjani stated that Iran was only pursing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
In a hastily arranged speech in Kuala Lumpor, former Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated that Sharon and the Jews are pig monkey dogs and that the attempt to deport 50,000 Muslims would demonstrate to the world that the Jews are cockroaches and the spreaders of AIDS. The Malaysian Foreign Ministry later clarified that these statements were not anti-Semitic but reflected a reaction to the actions of Israel.
Human Rights Watch is preparing a report on the deportations which it says violates the first, third and forth Geneva Conventions as well as numerous other laws applicable only to Israel. It announced that it is investigating allegations of massacres of former Jews in these former Jewish settlements, now ancient Arab villages, by Israeli security forces,
France in its role as rotating president of the European Union announced that it and other members of the European Union could not be expected to protect Jews living in the European Union if Israel undertakes such aggressive actions against Muslims. France has announced that it will accelerate aid to Hamas, Hizballah and other humanitarian organizations which will deal with the eventual human rights crisis that would result from these actions. When a reporter asked about the concurrent humanitarian crisis in Sudan, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier stated that as the crisis in Gush Katif dwarfed that of Darfur, Sudan, the European Union had rescheduled its meeting to discuss taking immediate action to aid those being killed by Arab militias in Sudan until the fall of 2006.
The government of Israel has not formerly responded to these developments but former Knesset member, Yossi Beilin during a stopover in Geneva stated that while he did support the deportation of Jews from their homes, he did not support the deportation of Muslims under any circumstances but went on to question whether the settlers had the proper intent when converting. Tomy Lapid, head of the Shinui party stated that any form of conversion, no matter how cursory, was satisfactory and he would not stand for a haredi interpretation of conversion requirements.
When questioned during a campaign stop over, John Kerry said that he would have voted for the disengagement but would now vote against it, if he could vote.
Ashdar said it had sold eight apartments, mostly in Ashdod, and was negotiating the sale of fourteen more. Contractor Yigal Damari said he had sold four apartments in Ashdod and Tel Aviv and was negotiating more deals. Bonei Hatichon Civil Engineering and Infrastructures (TASE:BOTI) also concluded deals, but declined to disclose details. Fair participants Azorim, Nitsba Holdings (TASE:NTBA) and Avrahami reported interest in apartments and agreements in principle on sales.
An Africa-Israel Investments (TASE:AFIL) sales manager told 'Globes' that although it had not signed any deals, 25 people said they would come to Israel to conclude negotiations. Mishab Housing Construction and Development also said many people would visit its sites in Modi'in and Givat Shmuel to pursue negotiation.
Discount Mortgage Bank (TASE:DMBK) has granted 30 mortgages in the past month to French Jews who bought apartments in the fair, Discount Mortgage Bank CEO Anat Keinan and deputy CEO Issacar Kaufman told 'Globes'. Keinan said demand from overseas investors was unprecedented.
Keinan added that scores more French Jews were negotiating to buy apartments following the fair, and that the bank would likely grant scores of mortgages to these buyers soon.
Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan claimed that unidentified UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) had fired missiles during the "Days of Repentance" military operation in the northern Gaza Strip against Kassam rocket squads.
Rayyan, who fought alongside Hamas gunmen in the Jabalya refugee camp during the IDF operation, boasted that Hamas had managed to develop new techniques to face the drones, including the use of blankets as cover.
"The technology of the carpets defeated the modern Israeli military technology," he said.
Eyewitnesses said the pilotless aircraft was used Sunday in a pre-dawn attack in Khan Yunis in which two Islamic Jihad gunmen were killed – Ziad Abu Mustafa and Omar Abu Mustafa, both in their late 20s.
"The missiles were fired from a drone that was hovering over the area," said Ismail Mujahed, who was walking home from a nearby mosque. "There was a huge explosion and a number of people were wounded. There were parts of bodies everywhere."
A senior Palestinian Authority security official in Khan Yunis said Palestinians were aware that Israel was using more sophisticated weapons to track down and kill fugitives.
"They have been using these drones for some time," he said. "The drones were used in the assassination of several Hamas activists and leaders."
The PA-owned Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda published a photograph of the Israeli UAV, dubbed Zanana in Arabic – a reference to the buzzing made by the approaching UAV.
Israel has readily admitted to using UAVs for years in its surveillance of Palestinians, including the Hunter and Searcher models. This is because UAVs are ideal for many of the missions required by the IAF, which involve extended flight, monotonous surveillance, and dangerous conditions. But it has never acknowledged that it has armed them.
"The Israelis almost certainly have armed UAV programs on the go right now," Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, recently told Reuters.
"The UAVs offer an ideal 'closed loop': spotting the target and then hitting it from the same platform," Hewson said.
According to the Web site of Northrop Grumman, a US avionics firm, the company has rigged the Hunter to fire laser-guided Viper Strike missiles that are completely silent, gliding out of the sky using fins instead of propulsion.
Hewson said Israel has its own UAV-fired munitions, adapted from tank shells and rockets.
"We are positive Israel has developed specific low-collateral guided weapons for these platforms," he said.
The US has openly used the Predator drone armed with Hellfire rockets to strike at al-Qaida targets in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
Sixty top Israeli security-related companies will be displaying their latest technology for American companies and agencies responsible for patrolling U.S. borders and protecting against terrorist threats.
Some of the most exciting equipment is suitable for customs, border patrol, and detection, said Rob Hartwell of the American Business Development Group (ABDG), which helped organize the Oct. 28-29 conference for invited guests only.
"The Israelis excel at combining photo optics, sensing devices, cameras and also water-acoustical instruments, capable of detecting any intrusion and identifying whether it is human or animal," Mr. Hartwell said.
The conference also will help Israeli firms connect with like-minded American companies interested in satellite tracking, security systems, firearms, ammunition, maritime security, armor and bulletproof glass.
The United States and Israel already cooperate in the military arena, and several skilled Israelis have clearances to work in the U.S. military sector. This week's symposium is designed to expand that cooperation into the homeland-security arena.
Israel's government must approve the transfer of any sensitive technology, and several companies will not disclose their most advanced technologies. But many companies are ready to show off equipment that is more advanced or more competitive than anything made in the United States.
One company has developed hyper-spectral imaging based on satellite technology that can instantly map out an area contaminated by weapons of mass destruction and determine the best evacuation routes, Mr. Hartwell said.
Another offer is for a product already being used "in a major conflict" — a vehicle-borne camera that can see in the dark, sense heat or movement, and sniff out a number of chemical and biological compounds.
"A lot of different industries in Israel have transferred their knowledge to nonmilitary applications," said Ronin Zahavy, director of industry affairs for the Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute.
More than 200 Israeli companies were evaluated over the last six months by conference organizers. Some offers were rejected, such as a company whose major concept was a lounge chair with a built-in lie detector.
ABDG, a consulting group, traveled to Israel with more than 20 experts, including former military members, program managers, potential clients and Capitol Hill defense staff, to vet the companies invited to the program.
There will be some 60 presentations in three sessions during the two-day conference, with the aim of finding business partners and establishing joint ventures to better approach the American market.
"We are arranging face-to-face business-opportunity meetings with U.S. companies and essentially trying to take the cream of the crop of Israeli technology and putting them in front of top U.S. companies," Mr. Hartwell said.
CAIRO, Oct. 25 - A disgruntled Palestinian who worked as a driver and was bent on killing as many Israeli tourists as possible organized the bombings of three resort areas along the eastern Sinai coast that left 34 people dead this month, the Egyptian government said Monday.
The Interior Ministry announced that of the nine men involved in the Oct. 7 attack, two of them, including the ringleader, died unintentionally in one attack, the huge explosion at the Taba Hilton. It said two bombers remained at large, and five suspects with lesser roles were arrested.
Aside from the ringleader, identified as Eyad Said Saleh, the other men were Egyptians from Bedouin tribes and all nine lived in Al-Arish, a town on the northern Sinai coast, said an investigator involved in the case. Most of the men were in their 30's, he said.
Mr. Saleh did not appear to be connected to any specific Palestinian faction, or to Al Qaeda, said the investigator. Egyptian investigators have favored the theory that the attacks were linked to the violence against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
The Interior Ministry said Mr. Saleh had sought revenge for an extended Israeli assault against the Gaza Strip that has killed and wounded scores of people.
Monday, October 25, 2004
“Canada has no plans to discontinue its contributions”, Canadian foreign affairs spokesman Marie Christine Lilkoff told the Canadian Jewish News in its latest issue, in effect rebuffing calls by various Jewish groups to suspend financial aid to the UN-run organization.
UNRWA head Peter Hansen caused a stir in early October when he told a television reporter from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that, “I am sure there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll. And I don’t see that as a crime.”
Canada contributes about $10 million annually to UNRWA
The remarks placed the Canadian government in an uncomfortable position, as they had previously outlawed Hamas for its terrorist activities. Hence, by supporting UNRWA, Ottawa might indirectly be assisting Hamas as well.
In response to Hansen’s statement, B’nai Brith Canada called on the Canadian government “to withhold immediately any payments to UNRWA until there can be absolute assurances that contributions from Canadian citizens will never be used to support terrorist operatives.”
Canadian officials reportedly raised the issue with Hansen, and were apparently mollified by his assurances that he had been referring to his employees’ “political sympathies, not membership” in Hamas in his televised interview. Hansen also asserted that UNRWA “is not in the business of employing terrorists.” (Apparently, no one decided to look again at the interview. -EoZ)
As a result, the Canadians have now decided not to suspend or discontinue their funding of the organization.
Canada contributes about $10 million annually to UNRWA, which represents approximately 5% of the organization’s yearly budget.
| PLO English spokesman Ashrawi: "Peace with justice is a real determining factor of our lives." PA TV sermon: "The Muslims will kill the Jews and rejoice"
While PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's chief English spokesperson, Hanan Ashrawi, speaks of peace and human rights, the Palestinian Authority television station broadcasts the opposite message to the Arab residents. Video footage released yesterday of Dr. Ashrawi addressing an overseas audience in English may be compared with two Arabic TV programs broadcast just last week on PA TV.
In honor of the International Day of Prayer for Peace, the World Council of Churches posted on its website today an eloquent video message from PA spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi, who declares, "Peace with justice is not an abstract value; it is a real determining factor of our lives. It is a most basic human right, and we appreciate everything you've done, in order not just to talk about peace with justice for Palestine and Israel, but also to act on that basis."
At the same time, a video address from the same Ramallah offices was broadcasting a very different message.Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) captured footage of two PA TV programs in three recent days showing official religious leaders openly calling for the genocide of Jews. In one of them, the televised sermon of Friday, September 10, Sheikh Ibrahim Madiras told the Arab neighbors of the Jews in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza:
"The Prophet said: the Resurrection will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill them. The Muslims will kill the Jews, rejoice [in it], rejoice in Allah's Victory. The Muslims will kill the Jews, and he [the Jew] will hide. The Prophet said: the Jews will hide behind the rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: O servant of Allah, o Muslim this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him! Why is there this malice? Because there are none who love the Jews on the face of the earth: not man, not rock, and not tree everything hates them. They destroy everything. They destroy the trees and destroy the houses. Everything wants vengeance on the Jews, on these pigs on the face of the earth, and the day of our victory, Allah willing, will come."
Click here for a brief clip of the televised footage of the above sermon.
While Ashrawi speaks in English of "courage, conviction, integrity and a genuine commitment to peace with justice," Muslim religious leader Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Maadi presents the killing of Jews not merely as the will of Allah, but also as a necessary stage in history that should be carried out now. On September 12, Maadi said on his weekly PA TV show:
"We are waging this cruel war with the brothers of the monkeys and pigs, the Jews and the sons of Zion. The Jews will fight you, and you will subjugate them. Until the Jew will stand behind the tree and rock. And the tree and rock will say: oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." Click here for a short video clip from Dr. Maadi's Sept. 12th show.
Numerous times in recent years, Arab religious leaders and academics in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority have taught publicly that the Islamic teaching calling for the murder of Jews applies today. Even Ashrawi herself, according to PMW Director Itamar Marcus,
"did not condemn in Arabic the suicide bombing that killed tens in a Jerusalem pizza shop, or the hundreds of civilians murdered on buses, in recent years. Not even once... The first public statement against suicide terrorism in Arabic was made by Ashrawi only in an open petition she signed with other Palestinians in the Al-Quds newspaper on June 19, 2002... However, even a simple reading of the petition shows that she explicitly does not reject terror as a tool when it is politically effective, but only when it causes political damage. The petition does not include a single word of condemnation of suicide terrorism, and does not rule out terrorism at times when it is an effective tool. It deals entirely with the negative political results of suicide terrorism now for her cause."
Marcus concludes: "Ashrawi is not a moderate by any Western standard. She is a slick terrorist supporter who understands the importance of public relations, proper timing and spin for terrorism."
A few weeks ago, thousands of Haitians died or were declared missing in Gunayev, the country's third largest city, which was completely destroyed.
The social and economic situation in Haiti in the wake of the hurricane has been declared a disaster.
MDA board chairman Yohanan Gur said this donation is part of MDA's humanitarian activities around the world.
'Oh, Kassam, don't let any Jew sleep,' the protesters chanted, referring to the homemade Kassam rockets that Palestinians have fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
The demonstrators marched about 500 meters from the downtown al-Husseini Mosque to Amman's city hall, where they dispersed quietly. A few police officers watched the protest, but did not intervene.
The protesters, who comprised members of the fundamentalist Islamic Action Front and several left-wing political parties, carried banners with slogans such as 'No to the Zionist and American aggression on Iraq and Palestine.'
By The Associated Press
Even after Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip, it will still be considered under international law as the occupying power and be held responsible for the crowded territory, according to an internal government assessment made public Sunday.
Under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, Israel is scheduled to withdraw next year from the entire Gaza Strip and four isolated settlements in the northern West Bank.
But because Israel intends to maintain control over the crossings into Gaza, its coastline and airspace, international law will still hold Israel responsible for the territories and its population, according to the study by legal experts from the Justice Ministry, Foreign Ministry and the military.
'We must be aware that the disengagement does not necessarily exempt Israel from responsibility in the evacuated territories,' said the 47-page report.
Israel could reduce its responsibility over the territory, where 8,200 Jewish settlers currently live among 1.3 million Palestinians, if someone else were to take control there, the report said.
'The more active control is given to other parties, the more difficult it will be to claim Israel is still responsible,' the study said.
The study, which has been submitted to the National Security Council, responsible for implementing the withdrawal, said that both the involvement of an international force in Gaza or the establishment of a Palestinian state would reduce the burden on Israel.
However, Cabinet Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday that Israel was unlikely to endorse either option since it was reluctant to hand security control over to another party.
Despite the legal complications, Israel hopes the international community will recognize the withdrawal from Gaza as the end of occupation of the area, said Livni, a lawyer by profession. (Ah, so wishful thinking will make it so! - EoZ)
'I really would like to have the technical, legal, international declaration that Israel is no longer responsible there,' Livni told Army Radio. 'There is a tremendous difference between if Israel stays there ... and a situation in which Israel does everything to get out of there.'
'The European proposal is their preliminary proposition and is not definitive but it is unbalanced,' foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
Iran is also refusing to suspend indefinitely work on enriching uranium, part of the nuclear fuel cycle, as called for in the deal offered to Tehran last week by the European Three of Britain, France and Germany, he added.
'In their proposal, the Europeans sought the suspension of enrichment until a comprehensive deal is reached. During the negotiations there is no question of an unlimited suspension,' he told reporters.
Nevertheless, Asefi said, the decision to engage in negotiations with the Europeans was the right one, adding: 'Today we are on the right path.'
The three European states presented Iran with a deal Thursday, aimed at avoiding possible UN sanctions. Under the deal Tehran would receive valuable nuclear technology if it indefinitely suspended all uranium enrichment activities.
The proposal was seen as a last chance for Iran before the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), decides on November 25 whether Iran is cooperating with the international community.
The United States wants the IAEA, which since February 2003 has been investigating US claims that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons programme, to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
Tehran has long insisted it is seeking only to generate electricity and on its right to produce enriched uranium, which makes fuel for civilian reactors but which can also manufacture the explosive material for atomic bombs.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “wants to begin (to follow the international peace plan known as the roadmap) with a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip,” Solana told Der Spiegel. “But he must also commit to making the withdrawal the first step in a process that leads to the pullout from all the occupied areas.” “If he thinks that withdrawal from Gaza alone is enough and that peace will automatically return, we will not back that idea. It would not be a dream but a nightmare.” Solana said the European Union would contribute to the implementation of the roadmap put forward by the EU, Russia, the United Nations and the United States by training Palestinian security forces. “From the beginning of November, there could be certain steps as part of the roadmap that could accelerate the process,” he said, in comment printed in German. “We plan, probably along with Egypt, to ensure that the Palestinian security authorities can carry out their duties.
“We will send people who are well-prepared so the Palestinians can have a reasonable command structure and also the means to carry out their tasks. “We want to commit all of our energy to creating security, otherwise there can be no Palestinian state. Of course, president Yasser Arafat must do his part and give his prime minister the necessary powers.” (afp)
העיתון הלבנוני "אל-מוסתקבל" מדווח כי בארוחה לרגל סיום הצום, שנערכה בעיירה אל-ע'בריירי בלבנון, אמר מנהיג החיזבאללה: "במצב הנוכחי, ההתנגדות (שם קוד לארגון חיזבאללה - א"ע) צריכה להיות חזקה מבעבר, ואם יש אפשרות להשיג נשק חזק יותר, יש להשיג אותו מכיוון שהאינטרס הלאומי מחייב את זה".
נסראללה ביקש להרגיע את שאר העדות בלבנון מפני הנשק רב העוצמה. "לבנון לא צריכה לפחד מנשק ההתנגדות בגלל שהוא מופנה נגד האויב, לשם הגנה על לבנון, על ריבונותה ועל עצמאותה", הוסיף נסראללה.
According to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustakbal, Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said recently:
"In the current situation, the resistance (code name for Hizballah) must be stronger than in the past, and if there is a possibility to acquire stronger weapons, we should acquire them because the national interest requires it."
For some years the Palestinians have tried to smuggle anti-aircraft missiles from Egypt through tunnels. However, until now no reliable intelligence confirmed the existence of the missiles.
A senior military official told Haaretz Sunday that the security establishment working premise is now that such missiles do exist in Gaza and the air force is responding accordingly.
Combat helicopters are flying with minimum exposure to danger, as was the practice in southern Lebanon. Helicopters carrying senior officers have stopped landing inside Gaza, but rather on landing pads outside the Strip.
The downing of an Israeli plane or helicopter is an important objective for the Palestinians, symbolically. The fighting of the past weeks has only increased that importance.
The air force increased the presence of helicopters during Operation Days of Penitence and was responsible for hitting half of the military cells targeted.
Both sides are aware that if the disengagement plan is implemented, and IDF land forces pull out, airborne forces will play a much larger role than before. 'The Palestinians are clearly interested in challenging our total superiority in the air,' the senior official said.
Palestinian organizations have a role model in the guerrilla groups fighting the U.S. presence in Iraq. In the past 18 months dozens of U.S. helicopters with hundreds of crew members have been downed, some by anti-aircraft missiles, some by heavy mortar.
Hezbollah, however, never accomplished this goal during Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon.
In an interview to a Saudi newspaper last month, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza said his organization was seeking help from Arab states to acquire weapons capable of downing Israeli aircraft, as an answer to the recent wave of assassinations.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
JEDDAH, 21 October 2004 — Expatriates of all nationalities are entitled to apply for Saudi citizenship and their travels abroad with re-entry visas will not disqualify them, press reports said yesterday quoting senior officials.
Nasser ibn Hamad Al-Hanaya, undersecretary for civil status at the Interior Ministry, said the executive bylaw for the Kingdom’s amended naturalization law would be ready within four months. “We will look into applications only after the executive bylaw is issued,” Okaz Arabic daily quoted Hanaya as saying.
He estimated that more than a million expatriates would benefit by the amended law, which was passed by the Council of Ministers on Monday. There are nearly 8.8 million expatriates, mostly Asians and Arabs, in the Kingdom.
Shubaily ibn Majdoue Al-Qarni, chairman of the security committee which supervised amendments to the law, said Saudi citizenship would be open for all nationals working in the Kingdom. “The law does not aim at a particular nationality. On the other hand, it covers all expatriates in the country,” he told Al-Madinah.
But Al-Watan Arabic daily reported that the naturalization law would not be applicable to Palestinians living in the Kingdom as the Arab League has instructed that Palestinians living in Arab countries should not be given citizenship to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland.
Diplomatic sources have estimated the number of Palestinians in the Kingdom at about 500,000. There are large concentrations of Palestinians in the country’s western, central, eastern and northern provinces.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
The nearest hospital is in Amman. So far, Israel has not been asked to grant him traveling permission. Prime minister Sharon would not object to him leaving, but is already under American and European diplomatic pressure to make sure he is allowed his return. A delegation of Tunisian physicians arrived in Ramallah Saturday night, October 23. According to our sources this visit has little to do with Arafat’s ailments. Tunisia holds presidential elections Sunday, October 24. The incumbent Zein bin Ali is certain that a show of concern for the Palestinian leader will enhance his electoral prospects. He asked Sharon to allow Tunisian physicians to attend the ailing Palestinian leader and the Israeli prime minister assented.
Earlier this week, on Monday, October 18, a medical team from Egypt and Palestinian doctors from Jerusalem and Nablus gave the 75-year old Palestinian leader a thorough check-up after he complained of severe pains. They decided provisionally that he was suffering from stones on the gall bladder that needed to be surgically removed and an acute intestinal infection, which is the more serious ailment because of its recurrence within a short period despite medication. For a definitive diagnosis, they want him X-rayed under hospital conditions which are lacking in Ramallah.
Even in extreme pain, Arafat keeps his eye on the main chance. He and his close aides have grasped that ill health offers him an opportunity to break out of the siege Israel clamped down on his Ramallah quarters after the failed Karin-A weapons smuggling episode in January 200.
The deterioration in Arafat’s health has caught Sharon unawares. He is currently in full tilt of an assault on government and parliament to hammer home his disengagement plan against massive resistance. The distraction of Arafat’s sudden departure from Ramallah threatens to slow down his plans in the short term. A long term threat cannot be ruled out. Established in an Arab or European country, the Palestinian leader would pose a different sort of peril, one that could undermine Sharon’s disengagement scheme. If and when Arafat recovers, he may decide not to return to Ramallah. He may find he has more freedom of action and broader international support for running the Palestinian political and terror war against Israel from a base in an Arab or European capital, like Paris. Arafat cut loose from his isolation in Ramallah could change the rules and force Israel to review its options afresh. US President George W. Bush could be confronted with uncomfortable dilemmas days before the November 2 election.
For the moment, Arafat has been so weakened by pain and high fever that he has given up the Ramadan fast and cancelled appointments. The official play-down of his condition continues until the various parties concerned fully digest its possible impact.
Mohamed Elmasry made the comments Tuesday on the Michael Coren Live TV show and was criticized yesterday by the Canadian Jewish Congress.
When asked whether 'anyone over the age of 18 in Israel is a valid target,' Elmasry replied: 'Anybody above 18 is part of the (Israeli) army.'
The show's moderator followed with another question: 'Anyone in Israel, irrespective of gender, over the age of 18 is a valid target?'
'Yes, I would say,' Elmasry responded.
Canadian Jewish Congress president Ed Morgan said his organization was outraged by Elmasry's comments.
'The very notion that anybody endorses the killing of civilians is beyond what we as Canadians are used to hearing,' he said.
'Anybody who makes a statement like that, to me, is not making an error. And if it is an error, then he should correct the record.'
Elmasry said on the show that since all adult Israelis are part of their country's army, they are not bystanders in the conflict.
'But they are not innocent if they are part of the total population which is part of the army. ... From 18 on, they are soldiers, even if they have civilian clothes,' Elmasry said.
'It is a ridiculous assertion. A civilian population is a civilian population. When people are sitting in a restaurant or at a bus stop, they are civilians. Simply because Israel has a draft doesn't mean any person is a target,' he said.
The CJC was not the only organization to protest Elmasry's statement.
Tarek Fatah, a founding member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, said Elmasry's comments were a thinly veiled attack on Jews and hurt the Palestinian cause.
'Palestinians have a moral and legal obligation to fight the Israeli occupation but to believe all Israelis are targets is ... the height of hypocrisy,' he said.
Elmasry could not be reached for comment yesterday.
'The president is in good health. He is suffering from a cold,' a Tunisian representative was quoted as saying in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. 'There is nothing to worry about.'
But sources told FOX News the Palestinian Liberation Organization (search) leader's condition has seriously deteriorated since Friday, when Israeli TV first reported he had the flu. Palestinian sources said that if the doctors determine Arafat needs surgery he will be flown to an overseas hospital.
However, Sharon has long stated that should Arafat ever leave the West Bank compound, he will not be allowed to return. The PLO has placed part of the blame for its leader's deteriorating health on his confinement by the Israelis.
Viewed by Washington as a major obstacle to peace in the Mideast, Arafat's health has been the subject of much speculation since the bloody uprising began in 2000. He appears to tremble during public appearances, but his representatives have routinely denied he suffers from a nervous disorder like Parkinson's disease.
Friday, October 22, 2004
Elad suffered severe injuries and is now paralysed from the lower back downwards.
'This is a win-win situation for Louisiana and Israel,' said Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy. 'Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is America's only true friend in the Middle East, and it is one of our staunchest allies.'
Louisiana law enables the State of Louisiana to invest up to 5% of the portfolios of three trust funds in bonds from other countries. The state's $5 million investment in Israel bonds is the first step in this process.
The writer is president of the U.S.-based Reform Party of Syria.
The news this week that two Israeli scientists, in addition to an American, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, should be read with interest in the Arab world.
This win says a lot about the state of affairs of the Middle East.
While Israel builds its future with Nobel laureates, the Arab world fills its future with suicide bombers.
Ever since the inception of the State of Israel, Arabs have had this romantic notion that through wars and revenge we can return to our past glory.
Of course, they don?t tell us which past they are referring to.
Was it when we were governed by the Ottoman Empire or by England and France?
Or was it more like 1,300 years ago when spears ruled the battleground?
Ever since 1967, Arabs from all countries -- but especially Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt -- have lived this fantasy that we can throw the Israelis to the sea.
With the 1973 near-win against Israel, Arabs concluded that one more loss is not reason enough to stop and think.
One more loss, with so many lives lost on both sides, is not enough for us to understand that the continued struggle is destroying us from within.
Even after Anwar Sadat came to understand the value of peace and co-existence, it seemed that more and more of our energies were diverted toward destruction.
The downfall of the Soviet Union, the longtime ally of the Arab world, seemed to spur us to seek justice with the barrel of a gun rather than through pragmatic understanding.
The Oslo Accords produced a willing Israel and exposed fraudulent Palestinians. Again, we watched as Arab leaders mounted a campaign of deceit to divert our attention away from our own oppression. We, the obedient Arab sheep, followed. We carried banners, objected, revolted and in the end, we created a new cadre of school children with strong arms to throw stones but without the education and discipline no brains to produce Nobel prizes.
Ever since the Intifada, a term that truly spurns our sense of justice, we have achieved the lowest point of our self-esteem. Arab children that throw stones seem to feel an invisible power that is not available to the children of the State of Israel.
That power to revolt consequently pre-disposes to a low self-esteem, which inevitably helps to build the mentality of a suicide bomber.
Suicide bombers feel nothing, understand little, and cannot see the future.
They go on automatic pilot with the brain functioning as a guiding tool to self-destruct literally, as a person and against the society that developed them. Suicide bombers represent the lowest of our self-esteem as people of Arab descent.
We are in an Intifada, but it is one that is seen through the eyes of the Israeli Nobel laureates.
We, as people of the Middle East, are dying and we cannot even feel it. We have reached the bottom and we do not even know it.
Because of oppressive regimes that give us no chance to think for ourselves, we have no hope, no future, and certainly no Nobel prizes in science awaiting us.
What very few people know is that an Intifada is also attributed to the last movement by a human body upon death.
Could that be this understanding of Intifada that is the true symbol of a struggle that should have ended long ago? All Arabs are in an Intifada, still moving yet not truly alive as citizens of the world.
Every time the Syrian Ba'athists call for armed resistance, secretly support groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and propagandize Arab unity, we fall further and further into oblivion. The funny thing is that very few Arabs care to understand why we do not have Nobel laureates.
They blame it on Imperialism and Zionism. In their minds, absent these two forces, we could be raking in those Nobel prizes.
So while Israel survives Intifadas, wars, hate, and oppressive Arab rulers, we, the Arab people, must wake-up.
If we pursue the same policies that drove us to the lowest point in our history (Asr al-Inhitat or Era of Despair as opposed to Asr al-Jahyliah or Era of Ignorance that preceded Prophet Mohammed), only we lose.
If we listen to our rulers, we will always be kneeling on the sideline watching Nobel prize winners produced by the Middle East -- but not by us or for us.