|September 2000 - Return to Monthly Index MiddleEast.Org 9/29/00|
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MER WEEKEND READING AND VIEWING:
LION OF THE DESERT - A MOVIE BY MUSTAPHA AKKAD
COLONEL YOSSI - MADE IN ISRAEL
By Mark Bruzonsky*
MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 9/29/00:
The man in Israel who has been the designated working architect of the "peace process" with Yasser Arafat and who has done more to try to convince the Palestinians of Israeli sincerity after so many decades of deception and bloodletting is Yossi Beilin. In recent days Beilin has been dispatched to Europe to try to whip up more support for the Israeli-American "peace plan"; and many billions of ECUs that will be used to "resettle" the Palestinian refugees and fund the Arafat regime if Israel has its way. Today, before the start of the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana, Beilin was to meet with the Pope in Rome, not so much to seek his blessings but rather to enlist his help to get everyone else to agree to what the Israelis and the Americans are pushing.
The last time I met Yossi Beilin in his office in Jerusalem he was Cabinet Secretary. I had known Beilin personally since my student days when I first visited Israel as the Representative of the International Student Movement for the United Nations and Beilin was assistant to Shimon Peres with a small office in Israeli Labor party headquarters.
This time Beilin had a much bigger office and a considerable agenda of his own. He had a book on his desk about the economics of the European Community, the Intifada was raging, and he wanted to talk about his "Gaza First" concept which a few years later eventually lead to Oslo. He wanted to know about Yasser Arafat, whom I had met personally with a number of times, including a lengthy private dinner with him and senior PLO persons in Cairo a few years earlier. The only other person with us was a Palestinian, and as we left Beilin said to her, "Please don't hate me."
There haven't been any private meetings with Beilin since. The following article I wrote about him earlier this year helps explain why. I did run into Yossi a few years ago during one of his many visits to Washington and I took the opportunity to recommend to him that he too watch and ponder LION OF THE DESERT. I don't think he understood. I don't think he did. And, in his case, I don't think it would have mattered.
C O L O N E L Y O S S I
By Mark Bruzonsky*
Like in the movie LION OF THE DESERT, those who profess sympathy and
understanding can often cause the most harm. The well-meaning Lieutenant
Colonel who befriends Omar Muhktar, lures him into deceptive "peace negotiations"
in the desert, and then salutes him as his own involvement leads to Muhktar's
being hung from the gallows, is an illustrative symbol from the past.
As befits all militarist authoritarian regimes, the Israelis have their own good cop. He is Yossi Beilin, the Justice Minister in the Barak government, former Deputy Foreign Minister and long-time protege of Shimon Peres. Earlier this year at the U.N. Human Rights Commission, just in advance of the big push at that time to bribe/threaten Hafez el-Assad into the "Peace Process" before his death, Mr. Beilin told everyone how sorry he is for what has happened to the Palestinians. Trouble is, Mr. Beilin, Mr. Peres, Mr. Barak, et. al., have been saluting for so long now at the various metaphorical hangings while often times actually carrying out and covering up the assassinations and massacres themselves.
WATCH OUT FOR THOSE LIBERAL APPOLOGISTS
Now there are a few things about the boyish looking soft-spoken Mr. Beilin which people may not remember. Here's a man who worked closely with Apartheid South Africa back in those days; then very quickly did an about take when Apartheid was no more. Here's a man who helped Shimon Peres coverup everything from the kidnapping of Mordechai Vanunu in the 1980s to the Qana massacre just a few years ago. Here's a man who helped bring about the "Oslo Peace Process" yet to this day he insists he never once discussed with Prime Minister Rabin the end result of what they were starting and whether or not it would lead to true Palestinian independence. And worst of all at the moment, here's a man who while today professing such newly found deep concern for the Palestinians now champions a novel kind of Middle Eastern "Apartheid" greatly further restricting the rights and movements of the great majority of Palestinians in what once was a unified country.
BEILIN IMPLIMENTS REFORMULATED AUTONOMY PROPOSALS
Beilin's speech at the U.N. Human Rights forum earlier this year -- see the BBC News article below -- is far too little far too late and far too lacking in credibility. But that's not the biggest problem...which is that Beilin's speech is far too devious. Beilin's policies are actually the implimentation of those originally put forward as "autonomy" now carefully repackaged to bring in Yasser Arafat and the "Palestinian Authority" to handle local repression, as Noam Chomsky has so brilliantly pointed out. He reformulates all the past policies with soothing rhetoric and professions of sorrow. But in the end the predicament faced by the Palestinians is much the same if not worse.
Having failed to impliment the "Mayors plan" and the "Village Leagues" throughout the 70s and 80s, the Israelis then turned to Arafat and the largely destroyed PLO in the 1990s to legitimize in another form their control and oppression. Now Beilin goes before the international community proclaiming Israeli atonement, when in fact things are progressively worse for the great majority of Palestinians who now live under far more restrictions and repression than before. In the end Beilin, like Rabin, promotes this double occupation approach not out of sincere concern for the Palestinian people but actually in an attempt to cleanse and justify his Zionist convictions which have left such a long legacy of killing and dispossession. "Don't hate me" is no doubt a refrain he has used more often than I realized at the time.
WHEN WILL THE "JUSTICE MINISTER" LET MORDECHAI VANUNU FREE?
When we hear from Yossi Beilin that Israel will finally agree to U.N. Security Council Resolutions; that the Israeli army will pull back completely to the 1967 borders; that the Palestinian people will at least be treated with full respect, equality, and sovereignty; that the more than 3 million Palestinian refugees can come as they will to the Palestinian State; that substantial compensation for lost properties and personal suffering will finally be offered to the Palestinian people for what has been done to them; and that the "Justice Minister" advocates the release of Mordechai Vanunu...
If and when we finally hear these things from Yossi Beilin we can wonder
if he finally did watch LION OF THE DESERT and had a true epiphany.
ISRAEL REGRETS HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD
Israel says its Arab occupation has gone sour
Israel's Justice Minister Yossi Beilin has
expressed regret at his country's record on
Speaking in Geneva at one of Israel's biggest
critics - the UN Human Rights Commission - in
a rare, conciliatory tone, he admitted that
Israel's occupation of Arab territory had gone
"We tried to convince ourselves that our
occupation was a benevolent one," he told the
commission. "But we know from history that
occupation is occupation is occupation."
Just four days before a summit between
American President Bill Clinton and his Syrian
counterpart Hafez al-Assad, Mr Beilin said the
prospects for peace this year between Israelis
and Arabs were "very significant."
"I think we are ready. I hope the Arab parties
are ready too, and if that is the case we can
make peace during this year and put an end to
the Middle East conflict," he said.
Mr Beilin said he hoped President Clinton's
meeting with the Syrian president would lead
to a resumption of the stalled Israeli-Syrian
peace talks, noting that this could be the last
opportunity for bringing peace between the
two countries for a long while.
Referring to the Palestinians, Mr Beilin said he
believed the two sides would be able to find
solutions for outstanding issues such as
refugees, Jerusalem's status, borders and
Mr Beilin is regarded as an architect of the
1993 Oslo Israel-Palestinian peace accords.
He is more dovish on peace issues than most
of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's Labor Party.
Mr Beilin explained that Israel's occupation of
the West Bank, Gaza and other territories
must be understood in the context of the Holocaust.
"In our own perception we were the victim of a
world (in) which there were still countries
ready to destroy us," he said.
"We saw ourselves as a transparent democracy
fighting for its life," he said. "But the world
compared us to the most racist countries."
He acknowledged that Israel had rejected
criticism too often, and that its foreign ministry
had become a department of defence, over-eager to
defend Israel's view of the world than reaching
out to others.
His comments also come at a time when the
Pope is visiting the Holy Land and has made an
impassioned plea for a Palestinian homeland.
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++ "LION OF THE DESERT" with Anthony Quinn by Mustapha Akkad ++
Editors Note: For those who don't know, Omar Muhktar can be said to be
the George Washington of Libya and was played brilliantly in the movie
by Anthony Quinn. The movie was produced by Mustapha Akkad, made famous
by his previous movie "Holloween". It is widely available for video rental.
Everyone trying to understand the inner contours and complications of
today's "peace process" should watch it and ponder the historical relevance.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* Mark Bruzonsky's bio information and publication list can be found
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