MY IMPRESSIONS OF ISRAEL:
I recently returned from my fact-finding trip to the Middle East. What follows is my frank and personal assessment of the modern state of Israel, without the embellishments of rose-colored glasses. Millions of religious pilgrims trek to the "Holy Land" each year, skimming the surface of the country in almost total isolation from reality. Their guided tours, cushioned by air-conditioned tour buses and 5 star hotels, concentrate on what was, not what is. Churches dot the Judean landscape, each laying claim to a piece of the past that, with few exceptions, doesn’t exist anymore. I would estimate that fully 80% of the "holy sites" are not the actual location where the original events occurred--which in most cases is virtually impossible to determine. The famed "Via Doloroso" tracing the presumed path of Jesus’ agonizing trek to Golgotha is merely an arbitrary walk through 14th century streets built on 40 foot deep rubble left over from the numerous destructions of Jerusalem’s past. The few holy sites that are authentic are encumbered by heavy stone medieval churches with dark interiors that do not, in my opinion, impart any of the spiritual feeling of the original place.
The Israeli government itself helps perpetuate the mystical, romantic illusions of the past, being acutely aware of the millions of dollars each year generated by religious tourism. The old city of Jerusalem is bathed in soft rosy artificial light at night to give tourists that romantic feeling they can write home about. But the selective rosy views only mask the chronic tension enveloping this relatively hostile land, a region bereft of natural beauty--except for about 5 weeks during the spring when wild flowers briefly bloom, and commercial photographers descend to work their art of selective embellishment that makes Israel look so enchanting in tourist brochures. So great is the contrast between promotion and reality that psychological clinics in Israel have a special term to describe the disillusionment that often affects religious pilgrims. It’s called the "Jerusalem Syndrome" and refers to a chronic form of depression that can afflict those who cannot deal with the extreme contrast between holy and unholy. But with all that said, and in spite of the crass commercialization of religious antiquities, I must admit that one can still sense the God of Israel hovering over the land. I have no doubt that He intends to redeem Israel someday--and believe me, it needs redemption.LAND: I was struck by the steep ruggedness of terrain in the Judean and Samarian hill country. One doesn’t get an accurate impression of the stark hostility of this terrain from photographs. Though not very high in altitude the hills of Israel are almost barren, extremely rocky and punctuated by deep ravines and gorges that make travel in central Israel a strain on man and machine. From Biblical stories and movies one gets the impression that trips to Bethlehem, Bethany or even Nazareth are relatively peaceful walks in the pastoral countryside. In reality, there is almost no greenery, only rocks and sand of a fairly bland hue-- completely lacking in the brilliant colors and shapes characteristic of the deserts in Utah and Arizona. Travel involves major descents into gorges often over a thousand feet in depth and climbing back up again repeatedly.
It was also sad to note how little topsoil had been allowed to develop in the hill country. Although the rainfall is extremely sparse here, I attribute the main cause to extreme overgrazing. For centuries the Judean hills have been used to graze sheep and goats which have extracted the last once of nutrition from this land and not given anything back. Even today herds of sheep and goats, mostly Bedouin-Arab owned, forage on almost bare ground with no visible grass--only tiny bits of stubble. This destruction of the long term soil development is typical of many things I witnessed in Israel on Arab lands. There seems to be a politically correct notion that Arab tribal nomadic culture requires that they be left to age-old practices, no matter how damaging they are to the land agriculturally. The Israeli government is also under severe pressure internationally to let the Arabs do whatever they want. AGRICULTURE: There are two fertile plains in Israel, one along the Mediterranean coast and the other around the sea of Galilee and the Jordan river (which is more like a small creek). Both areas have been put into intensive cultivation by the Israelis. While there have been many comparisons to the Biblical adage of making the "desert blossom," the extreme efforts applied to maximize water resources in relatively poor soil have had many negative environmental effects. Water is extremely scarce, and thus Israel has been at the forefront in the development of drip irrigation systems that conserve the maximum amount of water. Large diversion projects of Jordan river water have, however, overtaxed the northern water resources in order to expand agriculture to the Negev desert to the south, where the sandy soil is much less fertile. Maximum utilization and reuse of fixed water supplies tends, over time, to concentrate contaminants and salt content, leading to the corruption of the aquifers. Both Israeli and Arab controlled agricultural areas pump large quantities of water out of the ground with deep wells. Overpumping from the aquifers has resulted in an increase in the saline content as water from the Mediterranean sea seeps in to replace it. Excessive chemical and fertilizer use in agriculture and industry has also led to extreme pollution levels in rivers and groundwater sources. Some rivers are actually toxic.
The Israelis are reacting to the problem with some earnest. More strict environmental regulations are being implemented, but the Arab controlled areas are exempt for political reasons. There is also a growing movement in Israel to switch to organic farming. I visited a few Kibbutzim (collective farms) and Moshavim (cooperative farms) that are on the cutting edge of organic farming. Israel has developed a special fabric covering that allows them to grow vegetables free from insects inside a greenhouse type enclosure. It is more costly, so much of this elite produce goes to markets serving the orthodox Jewish communities world wide that require certified insect-free food.
Israel has established a significant agricultural outreach to other nations who desire to implement the unique low-water farming techniques it has developed. The Arabs in Israel and neighboring Jordan have especially benefited from Israel’s willingness to share their agricultural expertise. Jordan has been radically transformed into an agricultural Mecca due to the willingness of the late King Hussein to work with the Israelis rather than reject all contact as the more radical Arab factions have done. For Arabs living next door to productive Jewish agro projects, the lure of becoming productive farmers has in many cases overcome the innate hostility between the two cultures. I saw it with the Druse Arabs in the Golan heights and in the Arab areas in Galilee. In these areas orchards may not be as well kept as the Jewish farms but at least they are vastly more productive than before. Only in PLO controlled areas did I find such a strong hatred of everything Jewish that they refused to join in the new green wave of agro-prosperity. As one example of extreme resentment, young Arab radicals regularly destroy trees that the Jews plant as part of their national reforestation effort. This kind of hatred is an all too common byproduct of constant PLO propaganda and incitement to exterminate all Jews. ECONOMY: Most Americans don’t realize that Israel has one of the most tightly controlled statist economies in the world. It is socialist in the extreme due to a combination of early Zionist collectivist fervor and the influence of Russian and Eastern European Marxists that came to Israel and formed the core of the ruling Labor Party. Israel’s Histadrut, a kind of super labor union, controls every aspect of Israel’s economic life--at least until recently. During the last decade, there has been a slow but persistent movement toward free-market reforms in Israel--not because the Jews have much of a free market philosophy in their heritage, but rather because they have a naturally competitive spirit and were forced to compete in a fast-paced international economy. When the government refused to implement needed reforms, there began a ground swell of rebellion in the 1980s and 90s against Israel’s ponderous education, medical, tax and regulatory establishment. The more the government tried to suppress the gray and black markets, the greater the "brain drain" in Israel became as thousands emigrating to the US and Europe.
The government’s virtual monopoly on television was broken after private illegal cable services began sprouting up all over Israel. The Histadrut’s monopoly on health care was broken by a persistent gray market for after-hours surgery performed by low paid doctors eager for extra money. Even Israel’s ponderous "free" public education establishment is under attack as religious and private schools are being formed in ever-increasing numbers to supplement low quality public education. Often the best teachers can make more money teaching privately on the side than in their state controlled teaching jobs. In Israel, public money is doled out even to orthodox Jewish schools which tends to keep them tied to certain political parties which promote those subsidies in the Knesset.
Dependency upon government is a chronic addiction in all of Israel, keeping taxes so high that Israel has to beg for American aid and loan guarantees every year, producing a very high ratio of foreign debt to GNP. Income taxes have been as high as 80% in modern Israel, so naturally, tax evasion is rampant. Recently, to help stem the growth of the underground tax-evading economy, income tax rates were reduced to below 50%, and new taxes imposed such as the 17% VAT tax. But I noticed that only established storefront businesses (mostly Jewish) collected the tax. In the Arab markets (part of the underground economy) I was never charged the VAT tax. POLITICS: There are no free-market political parties in Israel, only shades of statism. Parties on the "right" are orthodox religious parties who are opposed to "land for peace" concessions, but otherwise have their hands in the public coffers as much as the parties on the "left." Except for the recent change to popular election of the Prime Minister, all voting in Israel is for political parties--not individual candidates. You vote for the party of your choice and the party produces a list of who will serve in the Knesset. Thus, the Israeli model of parliamentary politics is very close to Lenin’s dictum of maintaining rigid "party discipline." Members of the Knesset owe their entire political existence to the party, and only indirectly to the electorate. Thus, the powers at the top can and do demand total conformity to the party line. For this reason, Israeli politics are rampant with corruption. Payoffs and personal enrichment are commonplace as is the inevitable blackmail that comes when a party official tries to oppose the party line. Virtually all high political offices, including those in the court system are part of the political patronage system. Hence, it is almost impossible for a beleaguered Knesset member to recur to the courts for justice, if the Powers That Be are against him. The mere threat of prosecution is turned off and on like a spigot to induce the desired leverage on wavering politicians. This week’s announcement that the investigation into Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption charges is being dropped is a tell-tale sign that the PTB are intending to resurrect Netanyahu as a leader in the Likud. This is part of the ongoing evidence pointing to external control of both major parties in Israel.
The Labor Party has undergone a continual stream of factionalization since 1948 when they began with an outright majority of the 120 seats of the Knesset. Now they hold less than 20 seats and must build coalitions with other parties in order to rule. The Labor Party still has two major factions within its ranks--one allied with Shimon Peres who is tightly controlled and financed by the European NWO globalists, and the other aligned with Ehud Barak, the current Prime Minister who, in turn, is controlled by the US faction of the NWO globalists (Kissinger and group). The other two major parties Likud and Shas range in support between 15-17 seats and must form coalitions with other opposing parties in order to govern.
The Likud Party is the Israeli equivalent of the American Republican Party. While the Likud has several members who are pro-free market in orientation, the leadership under Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu is as corrupt as the Labor Party. Sharon is a close friend of Shimon Peres, so there is little difference in their politics except that Sharon pretends to be the opposition. Bibi Netanyahu owes his entire political career to the Henry Kissinger group in the US who financed his education, got him a job on Wall Street and guided his rise in Israeli politics.
The Shas Party is a "right wing" party of Sephardic Jews whose base of support resides primarily among the Moroccan Jews who have immigrated to Israel. Its most prominent leader (Deri) is currently in jail on corruption charges stemming from years of taking bribes from his coalition partners in the Labor Party--who blackmailed Deri in order to keep the Shas Party aligned with the leftist Labor agenda--something the Shas membership nearly rebelled over.
What is ironic is that the Arab population in Israel controls 10-12 seats and thus has become the determining faction that can make or break any coalition. For this reason, it would be political suicide for the Israelis to allow a repatriation of millions of Arab refugees to Israel, who would then be able to command a majority of votes in the Knesset. It is specifically for this reason that Arafat is demanding not only an independent state, but that Israel (not the Palestinian state) absorb almost all the Arab refugees. Arafat fully intends to take back Israel either by militarily conquest (after Israel’s security position is weakened by "land for peace" deals), or by democratic conquest via forcing the return of refugees to Israel. PEOPLE: There are notable exceptions to the generalizations I will make here about Jews and Arabs, but I find these general observations do correctly describe some of the underlying reasons for long-term conflict between the two groups. The Jews represent about 80% of the population of Israel, and perhaps only 20% of these could be considered deeply orthodox. The rest are composed of traditional and secular Jews, most of whom have some feeling for generic Zionism (support of a homeland for the Jews) but who are otherwise very liberal and left-leaning in their politics. The Sephardic Jews are Semitic peoples and tend to be more fervent in their defense of Israel as a nation. The Ashkenazi Jews come from eastern Europe and Russia and tend to provide most of the high intellectual power in Israel, as well as a disproportionate amount of its socialist and Marxist policies.
There is a fair amount of conflict among the Jews themselves, as the various factions hardly agree on anything. In contrast to this innate competition, however, there is a general feeling of collective unity that keeps them from splitting apart entirely, borne out of a common heritage and welded together by persecution. This same collective mentality has allowed the Jews to prosper under socialism (at least in the incipient phases of economic development) that normally proves disastrous in other cultures. For example, none of the collective farms the Israelis helped develop in Africa survived, even when managed by Israelis. Israel’s brand of socialism has, itself, had to give way to free market techniques in order to compete in the world economy. Many Kibbutzim have dropped their most onerous collective policies or have converted to Moshav-type cooperatives. The Jews are clearly the most industrious group of people in the entire Middle East and thus are destined to lead economically.
On a negative note, I found a certain amount of insensitivity to the feelings of conscience among both Jews and Arabs. Everywhere we drove in Israel, there was a pervasive discourteousness, a quickness to anger, and a reluctance to give way in heavy traffic. Although Jews are, generally, highly rational and quick mentally, they have a certain tendency to reject, in a very off-handed manner, new concepts that didn’t fit into existing patterns of thought. Despite their quick minds, Israeli Jews are almost totally blind to the deceptions and corruption involving many leaders at the national level. They have almost no concept of the dangers of the NWO and the globalist agenda to subjugate Israeli sovereignty for the "global good." Even though approximately 80% of Israel knows about Barry Chamish’s startling investigations documenting the role of the Israeli secret service (Shabak) in the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, they do nothing. So while there is a subtle collective feeling on behalf of their national survival, it gets mistakenly mingled with a reliance upon national leaders which produces a uniform type of apathy concerning individual action.
There is perhaps an overconfidence inherent in the Jewish mind as well. In intellectual discussions I find it very difficult to get thinking Jews to consider other points of view. On more than one occasion while interviewing some of the best and brightest Jewish intellectuals, I found them completely insensitive to certain spiritual and libertarian ideals. At the same time, ironically, there seems to be a fascination in the Jewish mind with intricate conceptual thought as evidenced by the great time invested in study of the tiniest details in the Talmud and in other rabbinical writings. Why they cannot see through the complexity of global or national deceptions and conspiracies eludes me.
Factionalism is rampant in Israel due to the intensity with which debate is embraced, especially on religious points, which are highly subject to the special interpretations of each different school of rabbinical thought. I will say, however, that I found the orthodox Jewish settlers to be happy, industrious group, filled with passion for life and for Israel. Their cooperative Yeshivot (schools) are a model of self-help and sacrifice in order to provide a better life for their children. They are certainly not the "right wing" fanatics the liberal media in Israel makes them out to be. Without this small core of faithful orthodox Jews, Israel might not have received the many small miracles that led to national independence and subsequent victories over a determined enemy with a massive quantitative advantage.
The Arabs are generally less intense than the Jews, more likable when not agitated, but less industrious as a whole. Part of the Arab apathy in overcoming environmental deficiencies of their Middle East surroundings may be tied to the problematic and fatalistic Islamic doctrine asserting that much of the bad that happens is the "will of Allah." In contrast, the Jewish concept of being treated by God as a collective (The chosen people, the House of Israel) seems to motivate individual initiative to assist the salvation of the group. Despite this collective view the Jews have of mutual protection the Jews tend to be independent thinkers. In contrast, Arabs tend to be greatly swayed by group psychology. If they have good leaders, they are peaceable and friendly. If they have bad leaders, as is presently the case in the extreme, they can be capable of mass hysteria and panic or even aggression. Both Jews and Arabs are somewhat captivated by materialism, but in different ways. The Jews view material gain as an ongoing tool for progress while many Arabs tend to view material gain as an end in and of itself. Thus, possession of "things" is a sign of prestige in the Arab world. Sadly, because of this, petty theft is a common way of life among many Arabs and is a constant source of irritation for the Jews. Some Jewish settlements have a hard and fast policy of not hiring any Arab labor. However, because Jews tend to rise to entrepreneurial levels quickly in life, the Arabs provide most of the basic labor pool. Thus, Arabs working among the Jews are a permanent fixture in Israel, and of benefit to both Jew and Arab. However, the constant problem of things "disappearing" keeps a barrier of distrust between the two peoples.
There is another imbalance in the relationship between Jews and Arabs that must be aired. Except in times when border areas are sealed during terrorist attacks, Arabs can come and go among the Jewish controlled areas in perfect safety, with no fear of reprisals and vindictive behavior. Yet Jews can never go into Arab controlled areas of the Palestinian Authority and have that same assurance of safety. In the Gaza strip there is a separate strip of land owned by Jewish settlements on the coast. The Jews must pass through Palestinian controlled land to get to their zone, and often they must be accompanied by armed convoys of Israeli troops. This week, two Israeli soldiers were wounded (one fatally) in an Arab attack on a military convoy trying to protection Jewish civilians trying to get to their homes in Netzarim--a Jewish settlement in the Gaza strip. Clearly this is evidence that only the Israelis can be trusted to provide overall security to the lands where a mixed population of Jews and Arabs exist. I don’t believe this is a reflection of the common Arab himself, who has a tradition of hospitality, but rather of the hostile Palestinian leadership that is itching for a fight.
Also in the news this week was a deliberately-staged Arab riot protesting the entrance of Ariel Sharon and a group of Knesset members onto the temple mount. By prior agreement with the Arabs, Jews have a right to free access to the temple mount. But wherever the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been given security authority over a sector occupied by both Arabs and Jews, they refuse to allow Jews safe passage. Worse yet, the Israeli government lets the PA get away with it and the international community says nothing. In this case, the Palestinian Police chief made clear and provocative statements about the impending visit designed to encourage Arab radicals to gather at the temple mount and prepare to attack--which they did, resulting in minor wounds to 34 Israeli policemen. But I suspect that Sharon was not simply trying to publicize the fact that the Arafat would not be fair or even handed in the management of the temple mount. Likud may well be helping the Labor Party’s initiative to give away sovereignty of the temple mount to the United Nations. By precipitating a nasty Arab reaction on the temple mount, it helps move the international community to a position that rejects both Jewish and Arab sovereignty over the contested holy site. The UN tries hard to maintain the image of fairness, but historically the UN has only acted to curtail Jewish self-defense, not Arab aggression. It will happen again if the UN has its way.
ISRAEL: THE BUSH ROAD MAP TO NOWHERE BUT WAR
How many "peace process" failures does it take to prove to the world that international "peace plans" which cover up the root problem of terrorism always lead to more war-especially in the Middle East? The Bush administration is promoting the same old failed Oslo formula whereby Israel trades away occupied land in exchange for a temporary peace-a peace that is becoming more temporary with each new attempt. The Oslo accords merely allowed Arafat’s PLO to develop a safe haven (with funding from Israel, the US, and other nations) from which to stockpile arms and explosives in preparation for the last two Intifada uprisings. Trading "land for peace" has never worked before, because terrorists were never rooted out of the Palestinian side of the political formula. The US has always simply declared them "reformed" -even while possessing hard intelligence of continued terrorist planning and training. But, dressed up in a new title-Road Map to Peace-we are expected to believe Bush’s proposal is something new. The only thing new about this fraud is the heightened order of deception inherent in its appearance of balance and neutrality.
The promoters of this plan (US, Russia, UN, and EU) have gone so far as to give themselves a new name-the Quartet-so as to appear benign and unified. Politically, the reality is otherwise. This is a US initiative from beginning to end; the other participants are merely on board for window dressing and globalist propaganda value.
·Russia, as the longest standing supporter of terrorism worldwide, has no business being part of any peace plan-especially in Israel where it has provided the Palestinians with Russian advisors against Israel. The US even has direct evidence of Russian intelligence liaisons with and support of Iraq before and during the current war. The US continually allows Russia to play these charades of supporting peace and countering terrorism, despite the mounds of evidence that suggest otherwise, to further the deception that Communism is dead and that Russia is reformed.
·Including the EU in the promotional group is merely a ploy to allow France to have a major say in the process. There has long been a deep connection between French financing sources and the Pro-Oslo Labor Party. France also played loose with the rules in Iraq, allowing several sets of Roland 2 and Roland 3 anti-aircraft missile launchers to find their way into Iraq, which were subsequently used to down American aircraft.
·The UN itself is anathema in Israel, having always used its international offices to promote the Arab agenda and undermine Israeli sovereignty in key areas of Jerusalem.
The Bush Road Map itself is a hodgepodge of every past "peace innovative" from the Oslo accords to the initiative of anti-American Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, selectively cobbled together into one giant proposal. In true allegiance to Bush globalist objectives, every pertinent UN resolution is listed and applied, together with other past US initiatives such as the Tenet (CIA) and Mitchell (State Department) Plans. Each of these contain deadly pieces of fine print that undermine Israeli security issues.
To briefly summarize, here is what the Road Map lays out, in three phases meant to finalize a comprehensive settlement by the year 2005. [My comments on the prognosis for success are included in brackets]
Phase I: By the end of May 2003,
A. The Palestinian Authority must:
1. Officially recognize "Israel's right to exist in peace and security" and call for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire. [This is easy for the PA to do verbally, while impossible for the international community to verify the PA’s sincerity.]
2. "Undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt and restrain individuals and groups" engaging in terrorism against Israel. [This is a page right out of Oslo. Again, easy to do in a few token ways, impossible to verify. These kinds of requirements have never been effective.]
3. Dismantle "terrorist capabilities and infrastructure." [This will not happen. There is not enough time and all is well hidden. The US will certify this requirement as complete without sure knowledge-in stark contrast to its Iraqi policy.]
4. End all incitement against Israel. [In the past, the PA ended incitements in English, but not in Arabic. The US media will again fail to report on incitements in Arabic. Also, school textbooks, which are full of incitements, will not be replaced]
5. Bring all security organizations under control of interior minister Mohammed Dahlan. [Dahlan is a former protégé of Arafat, and former Chief of security over all of Gaza. As for his track record of curtailing terrorism, Dahlan permitted Gaza to become a safe haven for the hundreds of fugitive terrorists fleeing Israeli police, including his boyhood friend Mohammed Dief, a top Hamas Terrorist. On Dahlan’s watch, Gaza became the primary launching grounds for the hundreds of Kessem rockets and mortars fired at Israel.]
6. Hold free, open, and fair elections. [Another requirement that is easy to satisfy superficially. However, no one expects anyone opposed to the PLO to run for office-it would be a sure death sentence. Former Arafat cronies like newly appoint Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen is his nomme de guerre) appear to be opposing Arafat, but it is only a show to help justify US support for this phony peace process.]
B. Israel must:
1. Publicly commit to "the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state" [The US will make sure Israel never backs out of this commitment, even though the US has never held Arafat accountable for breaking his tenuous commitment to recognizing the "right of Israel to exist."]
2. Make a call for "an immediate end to violence against Palestinians anywhere." [As if there were ever any Israeli government incitement. This statement was put in to make it look like both sides have been inciting to violence, which is patently untrue.]
3. Freeze all construction in Jewish settlements.
4. Immediately dismantle illegal settlement outposts built since March 2001. [Israel has already begun this process in a ruthless way, demonstrating that they had already succumbed to US pressure before the release of the Road Map. PM Sharon had promised never to do this.]
5. "Take no actions undermining trust, including deportations, attacks on civilians, confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property, as a punitive measure. [These are all key strategic tools in a proper war against terror. A prohibition against attacks on civilians means the IDF simply cannot combat terror in the future, since virtually all terrorists are dressed as civilians, or intermixed with other civilians.]
6. Withdraw progressively from the occupied territories of the 1967 and successive wars. [These territories correspond approximately with the new Green Line security fence Israel has been building over the past year-another sign of advanced complicity with the US Road Map. As I have covered in prior briefs, satisfaction of this demand will result in the dismantling of over half of Israel’s key military bases on the strategic high ground, and the loss of half of Israel’s water supplies. It is this core provision that is fatal to Israel security and guarantees Israel’s vulnerability in the coming war.]
Phase II: By the end of 2003,
1. Israel must provide "enhanced territorial contiguity" for the Palestinians. [This is very dangerous. It means that Israel must provide corridors of travel between all separate Palestinian areas, free of Israeli security forces. This guarantees the Palestinian’s future ability to transfer arms from one sector of their new state to another. Can you imagine the US allowing Saddam Hussein to negotiate something like this?]
2. Palestinian constitution must be ratified. [Without the specification of any criteria for the constitution, this is meaningless in promoting real change.]
3. An international conference will launch the process leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders. [This implies the conference has the power to impose final conditions on the two parties.]
4. Quartet members will promote international recognition of the Palestinian state and UN membership. [I’ll bet they will! What’s another terrorist nation among the many already in the UN?]
Phase III: By 2005:
A second international conference will finalize the permanent-status solution for the Palestinian state in 2005, including the issues of borders, the division of Jerusalem, the status of refugees, and the ownership of settlements -- leading to peace between Israel and other Arab states. [The list of final issues is the most contentious and, in my view, impossible to settle via negotiations. Despite the fact that Phases I and II of the Road Map will give the Palestinians 98% of what they want, they will push for that last 2%. One of the hottest issues here is the "right of return" for the extensive number of descendants of original Palestinian refugees, kept all these years in prison communities for this purpose-but only for relocation to Israel, so the Arabs can become the political majority in Israel too. This is political suicide for the Jews. No Israeli government can get away with allowing that kind of repatriation, but the Arabs won’t settle for less.]
The timing is the tell-tale giveaway. The most striking thing about the Road Map is the sheer audacity of its proposed timing. To even imagine that centuries of animosity and near constant warfare is going to give way to a benign resolution within the next two years is ludicrous. To me, this is a dead giveaway indicating the true purposes behind this proposal. I believe the aggressive timing schedule is only aimed at Israeli compliance. As I have pointed out before, the world court of opinion never held Arafat’s feet to the fire over his constant and blatant violations of the Oslo Accords. And yet Israel-because its commitments were fiscal, visible and verifiable-was required to fulfill its part in full while the world was still giving Arafat’s PA the benefit of the doubt. Isreal is being set up for this same dual standard for the future.
As part of the Road Map, Israel will have to withdraw physically from all strategic bases in the occupied territories and dismantle tens of settlements, leaving thousands of other Israelis unprotected within the new Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the Palestinians will be given near sovereign protected status to rebuild their armed camp, free from Israeli intrusions. With each new terrorist attack, the PA will always claim such terrorism is beyond their control, yet Israel will have to continue withdrawing or be ruled out of compliance-just like during the Oslo years. The timetable is aimed at Israel. The Palestinian commitments are almost all verbal and unverifiable. They can appear to comply and still be hiding terrorism. Israel cannot comply without actual and verifiable destruction of its security.
As for Palestinian reform, this is a sham. The US officially declared that it will not deal with Yasser Arafat anymore, and demanded a new PA cabinet with a Prime Minister who has legitimate powers to act. So why did the US allow the other three members of the Quartet to rush over to Chairman Arafat and present the plan to him? The US is playing as if Abu Mazen, the newly ordained Prime Minister of the new PA cabinet, represents a "new PA" supposedly committed to peace and free from terrorism. President Bush naively praised Abu Mazen last week as "a man dedicated to peace," and indicated that he would soon invite him to the White House for talks. Let’s look at Mazen’s record.
Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, was, in fact, the PLO’s paymaster who doled out the money to the PLO offshoot Black September prior to that organization’s launching of one of the 20th century's most infamous terrorist attacks: the killing of the 11 Israeli athletes (including American David Berger) at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany in 1972. Naturally, Mazen claims he didn’t know what they were going to do with the money. Really? Black September was supposed to have been such a radical splinter group that the PLO had disavowed any further relationship after their split. So why did the PLO continue to fund Black September, if it was truly repugnant to the PLO’s goals?
As far as Mazen’s supposed opposition to Arafat, there is much evidence to suggest otherwise. For instance, the new Prime Minister is demanding no less than the total removal of the siege on Arafat's Mukata compound in Ramallah where Arafat has been quarantined by IDF forces for the past year and a half, due to his responsibility for the Oslo war and continued terrorist attacks on Israel. Additionally, although the US expects Abu Mazen to dismantle the terrorist organizations Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Arafat’s own Al-Aksa Brigades, all three have announced that they have no plans to disarm or cease terrorist attacks on Israel. Do we really expect that Mazen is going to attack them with military force (still controlled by Arafat), his only recourse now that they have openly defied him?
In typical compromising fashion, the Bush administration is demanding that Israel provide some "welcoming gestures" for the new Prime Minister, such as the release of hundreds of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, plus an immediate withdrawal from Northern Gaza. Of course, there are no provisions for Israel to recapture those prisoners or regain lost ground once terrorism resumes and the Israeli gestures are flaunted. As Israeli General Security chief Avi Dichter said, "Terrorists have taken advantage of Israeli largesse [in the past] to improve their capabilities and carry out attacks… Every gesture by Israel carries a price."
A BETTER SOLUTION
Tourism Minister Benny Elon has proposed a new outline for peace, according to Arutz-7 in Israel. "Elon, successor to the assassinated Rehavam Ze'evi as head of the Moledet Party in the National Union, conceived the plan as an alternative to the Road Map currently under consideration. He says that the Road Map is merely a ‘rehashing of the decades-old goal of trying to seat two peoples on the western side of the Jordan River’ -an objective he calls ‘unworkable and dangerous.’ Giving the Arabs of Yesha a quasi-state will not solve the fundamental problems of borders and refugees, Elon says, but will instead guarantee the next round of terrorism and warfare.
"Elon's plan offers what he calls ‘the genuine and original two-state solution,’ proposing that it encompass the full extent of Mandatory Palestine on both sides of the Jordan River. Its six points include the following:
·The Palestinian Authority will be dissolved;
·Israel will put a firm end to Palestinian terrorism by expelling terrorists, collecting weapons, and dismantling terror-hotbed refugee camps;
·The international community will recognize the Hashemite Kingdom [Jordan] as the sole representative of the Palestinians, and will help it economically as it absorbs a limited number of refugees;
·Israel will become sovereign over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and the Arabs living there will be Jordanian citizens living under a form of autonomy to-be-determined;
·The exchange of Jewish and Arab populations begun in 1948 will be completed, and the international community will help rehabilitate the refugees in their new countries;
·Israel and Jordan-Palestine will declare the conflict ended and will work together as neighbors.
Though political opponents say that Elon is ‘ignoring the reality of the Palestinian Authority,’ the Elon Plan states that just as the ‘evil regimes of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were destroyed,’ the same must befall the PA, ‘one of the most dangerous regimes.’" [end of Arutz-7 quote]. Absolutely correct! I would add that this would only be workable if a true system guaranteeing equal fundamental rights to Arab citizens of Israel were implemented. Again, the rule of law restricting government strictly to the defense of fundamental rights, properly defined, also outlaws socialist redistribution schemes as a violation of ownership rights-something the Israelis need to come to grips with. They can never have peace as long as citizens inside a country are competing for pieces of the productive pie-taken away from others by force of taxation.
ISRAEL: SHARON AND BUSH PULL OFF MUTUALLY SUPPORTING SUMMIT
Both President Bush and Israeli PM Ariel Sharon are battling for their political lives at home. As the war in Iraq simultaneously revives and turns sour, with mounting US casualties (which are at least double the figures released by the US military), public approval ratings for the President are slipping. In Israel, Ariel Sharon is facing his stiffest opposition since his embattled re-election.
From the left, Sharon is being attacked on corruption charges (which are true, but are being covered up or downplayed by the major media). However, his biggest fight is with the Israeli right, his increasingly disillusioned constituency. Not only has Sharon crossed the red line in lending credence to a Palestinian state (even worse, he is joining with Bush to hand them that state unilaterally without any cessation in terrorism), but he has turned against the very settlements he used to champion and protect. Hundreds of settlers lined the streets of Jerusalem as Sharon left for his American summit, bearing posters saying, "You have no mandate" – meaning no legal mandate to pursue this course of betrayal. That’s nothing new for Sharon. He has pursued a leftist, sellout agenda ever since his first term in office when he struck up a coalition government with the leftist Labor Party.
Sharon’s own right wing Likud Party is being torn apart by the controversy over yielding key military outposts and billion dollar cities. The referendum is giving party leaders a chance to vote on the issue of Sharon’s plan to unilaterally withdraw from all strategic settlements in the Gaza Strip. That referendum was rescheduled by Sharon’s henchmen in the party with the token excuse that it would conflict with a basketball tournament. Everyone knows it was delayed so that Sharon could rush to the US and gain some sort of approval from the US on his planned withdrawal. He got what he came for, plus more.
President Bush not only came out declaring Sharon’s plan "historic and courageous," but he also declared, in rejection of Palestinians’ claimed "right of return," that Palestinian refugees would have to resettle in the new Palestinian state rather than in Israel, where their homes and lands were originally located prior to the war of independence in 1948. Now that Sharon is returning with a great victory (the Bush approval), he will be able to lobby the Israeli right with warnings that a vote against his plan would destroy "all that I won in America." As I have said in previous briefs, I have suspected all along that the US road map and subsequent US refusals to go along with Sharon were only a façade, a Hegelian strategy to undercut Israeli opposition and divert the attention of the mainstream voters away from how one-sided this giveaway of strategic territory is. Only renewed Palestinian terror can again save Israel from succumbing to this latest ploy.
ISRAEL: SHARON’S LATEST MANUEVERS TO DECEIVE THE ISRAELI RIGHT
Israel’s conservative right-wing Likud Party is on the verge of an internal struggle that may split it apart into two factions. The main controversy is over PM Ariel Sharon’s insistence on abandoning key Jewish cities in Gaza and in the West Bank, in return for nothing on the part of the Palestinians—no cessation of terrorism, no stopping of the infiltration of arms and explosives from Egypt, nothing. The more important issue however, looms even larger. Sharon’s unilateral "disengagement" is meant to force upon both Israelis and Arabs a physical separation leading to the establishment of a Palestinian State with increased powers to prepare future attacks upon Israel with the protection of state sovereignty. What the US Road Map could not accomplish through negotiations, Sharon will force upon his supporters under the guise of disengagement from terror.
"Close to 8,500 people living in Gush Katif and the northern Shomron are slated to be expelled from their homes and relocated to as-yet unknown locations if the evacuation plan goes through," Arutz-7, Israel’s most reliable news service, reports. Adding insult to injury, Arabs who lobbed mortars at these communities will be allowed to take up residency in this homes the Jews built and fought for so many years.
On May 2, Likud Party members will vote on this issue in a party-wide referendum. Close to 3,000 volunteers will begin visiting the homes of the approximately 200,000 Likud members, in a directed effort to explain to them personally the dangers of the plan of evacuation/expulsion from Jewish Gaza and northern Samaria, according to Arutz-7. Prime Minister Sharon, along with many other Cabinet ministers, say they will abide by the rank-and-file's decision.
Sharon, returning from his US summit with Pres. Bush’s approval in hand, is now using US support as the big stick to threaten his constituents into compliance with his radical proposals. Speaking to the Knesset, Sharon told lawmakers to back his proposals or risk losing unprecedented US assurances to support the Jewish state. This is a hollow threat. No US president could back out of US commitments to Israel without facing a huge public backlash from the majority of Christian and Jewish voters in America. What Sharon is really telling his Likud cabinet members is that he finally got Bush to go along with a major Israeli negotiating point—forcing all descendents of refugees to resettle into the new Palestinian state, rather than in Israel, as the Arabs are demanding.
Despite Sharon’s collusion with President Bush in this latest move to shrink Israel to an indefensibly small state, polls are showing that Likud members are almost evenly split on the issue of unilateral disengagement. The half of the Likud members that support Sharon are comparable to American conservative Republicans who support Bush without thinking critically. They see Sharon as their only hope and will back him no matter how badly he compromises or betrays them. But Sharon is taking no chances. BREAKING NEWS: Sharon has just announced he will NOT be bound by the results of the referendum. After changing positions on almost everything he has ever stood for in Israel, are we to be surprised by this latest deception?
Sderot Mayor Moyal said it best – that no matter what the results of the referendum, "the Likud will never be the same party it was beforehand – certainly not with the same personal make-up and the same leadership. Some people will have to leave, because the common denominator bonding the party will have been lost." He’s right. The Likud was built on the issue of Israeli sovereignty and the right to create a homeland for the Jews through settlements. Sharon used to be the champion of those ideals. Now he will use party discipline against those who are allied with the core roots of the Likud. This is all too similar to the National Republican Party’s leadership in the US, who view their party’s constitutional conservative core as radicals and extremists.