ARAFAT AND THE WORLD FORCED TO DANCE TO SHARON'S WAR TUNES
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ARAFAT AND THE WORLD FORCED TO DANCE TO SHARON'S WAR TUNES

May 21, 2001

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 5/21: The Israelis are pushing their lies, schemes, deceptions, and brutality more than ever these days. It's all designed of course to demoralize and confuse the Palestinians, to twist and torture them into submission. In the process the Israelis have greatly further militarized Palestinian society, pushed the Intifada much deeper underground, and radicalized a whole generation of Palestinian youth whom they will have to try to further repress into submission for decades to come.

The signals being sent by the Israelis may be confusing to many; but less so to experts on such matters, even if few are willing to speak up openly.

Sharon may well want to foment a larger war. And if he gets the chance he will then attempt to force a unilateral Israeli dictat on the Palestinians many more of whom after the smoke clears may find themselves on the east bank of the Jordan in a Palestinian State the Israelis themselves will have midwifed replacing the Hashemite Kingdom. After all it was the picture of Jabotinsky himself that Ariel Sharon had on the wall behind him on his inauguration day.

In the end they let Arafat go off to Cairo last weekend; then sent him a couple of messages that his own days may well be numbered now, trying to force his hand one way or another. One message was verbal as this AFP report suggests. The other was with tanks, a now denied attempt to assassinate Jabril Rajoub, top "Palestinian Authority" security official and CIA man, who survived only because he left the room in his house that was destroyed just seconds before the shell landed.

The other articles come from today's Christian Science Monitor and The Telegraph (UK).

Israel planned to stop Arafat going to Cairo

JERUSALEM, May 20 (AFP) - Israeli Defence Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer revealed Sunday that Israel had planned to stop Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from going to Egypt this weekend for the meeting of the Arab League's follow-up committee. "We did effectively plan to stop him leaving, as Yasser Arafat is waging a total war against us, using to that end all the services under him," Ben Eliezer told Israeli television.

"He is also a leader who is leading his own people to chaos. But at the end of the day, we let him leave," Ben Eliezer added. Asked about the possibility of Israel stopping Arafat leaving the Palestinian territories or coming back, the defence minister remained vague. "I will do everything to convince Yasser Arafat that he can gain nothing from violence," said the minister.

Israel has kept total control of the border posts into Jordan and Egypt, as well as the air space, so Arafat can not go abroad or come home without the green light of the Israeli authorities.

IS IT WAR YET?

Israel's use of warplanes against a Palestinian target Friday marks the biggest escalation since the Six Day War of 1967

By Cameron W. Barr

[The Christian Science Monitor - NABLUS, WEST BANK - 21 May] Hawla Ghafar, the awestruck expression on her face accentuated by a tightly wrapped head scarf, stood across the street from the Police Special Forces headquarters here to take in what the Israeli F-16s had done.

A semicircular swath 50 yards wide had turned to dust and rubble, as if a giant had stamped his heel on the building. "What are the Israelis going to do next, now that they have used jet fighters?" wondered Ms. Hawla, a schoolteacher who lives in a refugee camp. Nearly eight months of Israeli-Palestinian strife, she added, were beginning to feel "like a war." "Weekend of war," echoed Maariv, an Israeli daily, in its coverage of the events of Friday and Saturday. The logo appeared on nearly every page of the tabloid's Sunday news section.

Reuven Rivlin, Israel's communications minister, describes Israel's escalating attacks against the Palestinians as a "war against terrorism." Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat says "the decisive battle for Palestine" has come.

But it seems that no one is willing to declare outright that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a war. Armed groups are fighting each other, but they lack the motives and perhaps the level of organization that war demands. For now, anyway.

"War" means two sides clashing with some objective in mind; the Israelis and the Palestinians don't have any grand strategies. "War" also suggests a balance of power more even than the staggering imbalance that exists between the Israelis and Palestinians.

In most of their rhetoric, the partisans of the two sides cling to the articulation of their rights rather than uttering words of war. The Palestinians defend their "right to resist" Israel's occupation of their lands - by any means necessary. The Israelis resist any infringement on their "right to defend" themselves from Palestinian attacks, and that often means attacking the Palestinians first and with overwhelming force.

Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit has a different take: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a blood feud, two sides bent on revenge, fighting to the end. "A feud is not about future prospects," he says, something that war often is. "It's settling scores from the past."

The possibility exists that Arab states will involve themselves in this conflict, and that would indeed mean war, as it has repeatedly over the past half-century. After Israel's use of US-made F-16 fighter jets to attack Palestinian targets on Friday, that possibility is arguably one step closer.

It was the first time such sophisticated weaponry had been used over the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967 - the war in which Israel seized those territories from Jordan and Egypt. On Saturday, Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo called upon the organization's 22 members to cut all political ties with Israel.

That move fell short of Egypt and Jordan severing their diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, but it may have killed an Egyptian-Jordanian peace initiative. It has also brought relations in the region to a low point not seen in decades.

The Arab League meeting capped some of the bloodiest days of the intifada. On Friday, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and five Israelis in a grisly explosion in the seaside Israeli town of Netanya. Palestinian Attackers later shot to death an Israeli officer in the West Bank.

Israeli reprisals occurred in the late afternoon: F-16 jets and Apache helicopter strikes killed 12 Palestinians. A bomb discovered in a Jerusalem bar was detonated by Israeli police at 3 a.m. Saturday.

Saturday also brought more Israeli raids and a massive public funeral in Nablus, the main Palestinian town in the northern part of the West Bank, for policemen killed at the Police Special Forces headquarters. As thousands of mourners filled the central square of the old part of this ancient town, Palestinian gunmen emptied clip after clip into the air.

The gunfire served to illustrate both Palestinians' rage and the futility of their position, since they have little more than small arms to defend themselves against the most powerful military in the Middle East. Israeli security forces killed three Palestinians in clashes Saturday. So far 553 people have died in this conflict, including 469 on the Palestinian side and 84 on the Israeli side.

While all this violence adds up to something, it is not quite war. The formulation used by the Israel Defense Forces is "an armed conflict short of war," but international humanitarian law has only two categories: war and non-war.

Calling a conflict "war" gives military forces leeway and liberties to use violence that a state of non-war does not allow, says Kim Gordon-Bates, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jerusalem. That might be a boon for the IDF, which has drawn global condemnation for using excessive force in dealing with the Palestinian unrest, but it would amount to a declaration of war. Although Israelis generally support their hard-line prime minister, Ariel Sharon, the majority of the population does not want to give up on the longheld dream of peaceful coexistence with Israel's Arab neighbors.

The problem for the IDF is that international humanitarian law specifies much higher standards of protection for civilians when a military is operating in a state of non-war. So Israel is trying to define a third, in-between path, in part to absolve itself of having to account for the hundreds of civilians its forces have killed since the intifada began last year.

The Palestinians, too, dream of peace, but their unwillingness to adopt the language of war is also a matter of practical reality: Israel would crush them. It's hard to destroy F-16s with automatic rifles.

It is true that some of the circumstances of this conflict are present in situations of war. Hostilities are, of course, taking place. Organizations capable of conducting war are involved. (One subtlety: While Israel's forces are under a unified organizational command, it is by no means clear that the militants on the Palestinian side are.)

The main complexity is motive. Israel would have no reason to battle and conquer the Palestinians; the whole point of years of negotiations has been to try to extricate Israel from its occupation of Palestinian territories. Palestinians might want to capture parts or all of Israel, but they simply do not have the means. Nor, incidentally, do the Arab states, as a series of Arab-Israeli wars has shown.

Mr. Margalit, a Hebrew University professor who laid out his feud analysis in a recent edition of The New York Review of Books, says the only way out is the intervention of a third party - in this case, the United States. "The two sides can't get out of it themselves."

SHARON SHRUGS OFF AMERICAN PLEA TO STOP USING JETS

By Alan Philps in Jerusalem

"The use of such hi-tech weaponry can cause serious damage to Israel on the second front that the country is fighting: the battle for world public opinion."

"Within eight months the Intifada [uprising] has gone from M-16 rifles to F-16s...newspaper. In military terms the F-16s achieved rather negligible results but, in terms of diplomacy and PR, Israel bombed itself in the knee.

[The Telegraph (U.K.) - May 21, 2001] THE Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, yesterday brushed aside mounting criticism of his use of American-supplied F-16 warplanes to bomb a Palestinian city, saying he would use "everything at our disposal to protect the citizens of Israel".

The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, called on Israel to stop using the fighter-bombers against Palestinians, saying the tactic amounted to an escalation of a "very delicate situation". "Both sides should stop and think about where they are headed here and recognise that down this road lies disaster," Mr Cheney said.

The country was on high alert amid reports that 24 suicide bombers were ready to strike as Israel began marking Jerusalem Day, which celebrates re-unification of the city after Israel's conquest of the eastern part in 1967. Marchers with blue and white Israeli flags paraded along the main streets of Jerusalem, handing a basket of fruit grown by West Bank Jewish settlers to the prime minister, who was on a highly protected platform.

In a change from the routine of evening gunfire, fireworks exploded over the western part of the city as the authorities tried to keep up a semblance of normal life. As sporadic violence continued, an Israeli tank shell hit the home of Jibril Rajoub, one of the key lieutenants of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, during an exchange of fire on the outskirts of the town of Ramallah.

Mr Rajoub was not at home at the time but three of his guards were injured. An Israeli army spokesman said: "There was no intention to kill Rajoub. The house was caught in the crossfire." The death of Mr Rajoub would have prompted a further explosion of anger from a populace already enraged by Israel's first use of F-16s, its front-line aircraft, during the seven months of violence.

Friday's air raid came in response to a Palestinian suicide bombing of a shopping mall in the resort of Netanya, which killed five Israelis and caused outrage throughout the country. Twelve Palestinians were killed in the air raid but the target - a commander of the military wing of Hamas, the Islamic extremist organisation - escaped with only a minor injury.

Yesterday, at funerals for Palestinians killed over the weekend, suicide bomber recruits, clad in white shrouds, proclaimed their readiness to blow themselves up to attack the "Zionist enemy". Mr Arafat immediately repeated his calls for a multi-national protection force for Palestinians, in the same way as the international community mobilised to protect the Kosovar Albanians last year.

But Mr Sharon was defiant. "We will do what it takes and use everything at our disposal to protect the citizens of Israel," he told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. The lives of Israeli citizens will not be forfeit." Mr Sharon said he would not "fold in the face of terror attacks" and would never make any concessions on security.

Arab foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo on Saturday, responded with a call for the 22-member Arab League to break off all contacts with Israel until it ended its "aggression" and "siege" of the Palestinian territories. The Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, said he feared the situation "might reach a point of no return".

Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, said he had commiserated with the Israeli foreign minister, Shimon Peres, over the five Israeli deaths in the suicide attack, but called on Israel to achieve security by negotiation and not "revenge". "The situation is grim and getting grimmer," Mr Cook said in a television interview.

The army played down the significance of the use of the air force. Maj Gen Giora Eiland, head of planning, insisted at a news conference yesterday that the decision to use the F-16 was "tactical" and aircraft would not be used "very often".

"The targets selected were so strong that attack helicopters would not have been powerful enough to penetrate them," Gen Eiland said. "This does not mean we are entering a new phase. We are under no illusion that retaliation will stop the violence. We are not so naive. We have to show that we are doing everything to protect our people and that there is a cost to sponsoring terrorism."

Israeli commentators and some retired military men were united in condemning the use of the air force. "Within eight months the Intifada [uprising] has gone from M-16 rifles to F-16s," wrote Hemi Shalev in the popular Maariv newspaper. "In military terms the F-16s achieved rather negligible results but, in terms of diplomacy and PR, Israel bombed itself in the knee."

Even the Jerusalem Post, which is usually sympathetic to the prime minister, said the mission was wrong. "The use of such hi-tech weaponry can cause serious damage to Israel on the second front that the country is fighting: the battle for world public opinion," it said. Eitan Ben-Eliyahu, a retired air force commander, said he would not have sent F-16s to attack the Palestinians "because the consequences of such a step could be very harsh".

The Israeli government agreed yesterday on an increased defence budget "due to security problems", a spokesman for Mr Sharon said. The boost was approved by 15 ministers to 11. The increased expenditure will be compensated for by cuts on various other ministries and social funds, a statement said.

During the budget meeting Mr Sharon said: "We are facing a tough battle which has been imposed on us. The people of Israel have shown great mental strength and we need to give our security forces the necessary budgets." The death toll since the start of the Palestinian uprising last September stands at 559, including 458 Palestinians and 85 Israelis.


May 2001


Magazine



FEISAL HUSSEINI - DEAD AT 60 IN KUWAIT
(May 31, 2001)
Feisal Husseini will be buried tomorrow in Jerusalem with great circumstance. However whatever else he was, and many think he was a good and committed man, he was a fairly simple man and he certainly was not a great man.

SHARON SHOULD SURRENDER TO HISTORY
(May 25, 2001)
Like many nation states born out of war, Israel must re-evaluate its past in order to move forward, argues Mark Mazower*

THE GAZA GHETTO/PRISON
(May 25, 2001)
The "Gaza Strip" is a huge ghetto; created of course by the Israelis. In a sense it is also the largest prison in the world as the great majority of those who reside in Gaza are unable to leave and return through any of the handful of Israeli army checkposts which control who comes and goes.

APARTHEID ISRAEL
(May 24, 2001)
"There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies -- not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."

WATER WARS
(May 24, 2001)
In the end its not really the "settlements" that will determine which civilization will prosper in the once Holy Land now so fought over by the descendants of Abraham. Control and use of WATER is even more at the heart of the conflict between the two competing societies.

CONTINUE THE INTIFADA
(May 23, 2001)
It's a terrible deal for the Palestinians actually -- they expected to give up their very justifiable struggle against the occupier in exchange for another promise to "freeze settlements". Gee...it was just last year that Yasser Arafat was proclaiming ad infinitum that no matter what there would be a Palestinian State by the end of the year!

WHAT THE "MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT" REALLY SAYS
(May 23, 2001)
"Here's your lifeline Yasser, Nabil, Jabril, and all you Palestinian VIPs -- and you better grab it because it may be the last one you get".

THE MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT -- A LONG SORDID HISTORY
(May 22, 2001)
The big fix is on of course with the "Mitchell Commission Report". Other madmen desperately scampering from one TV studio to the next are "Ambassador" Dennis Ross, now back at the Israeli/Jewish lobby from whence he came, and of course Senator Mitchell, himself retired from the most pro-Israeli political body on the planet ...

ARAFAT AND THE WORLD FORCED TO DANCE TO SHARON'S WAR TUNES
(May 21, 2001)
The Israelis are pushing their lies, schemes, deceptions, and brutality more than ever these days. It's all designed of course to demoralize and confuse the Palestinians, to twist and torture them into submission.

BREAKING NEWS - RAJOUB HIT
(May 20, 2001)
Jibril Rajoub is a favorite of the CIA, the headquarters of which he has personally visited numerous times in recent years on his visits to Washington. His force is the main one trained by the CIA in order to keep the Arafat Regime in power ...

TRUE MARTYRDOM
(May 20, 2001)
Mahmoud Ahmed Marmash -- 21 and now departed -- never knew anything other than Israel's brutal military occupation. He never knew anything other than Arab "client regimes" and the Arafat "Authority". He never knew anything other than a savage Israeli army, fueled by an increasingly racist ideology, armed and financed by America.

ISRAEL - APARTHEID IN THE MIDDLE EAST
(May 20, 2001)
A little trip back in history's lane will result in all kinds of close connections between Israel and South Africa in the days of Apartheid. And during that trip one will discover that Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin were at the top of the list of those promoting those relations.

THE ARAB AMERICANS and their "CLIENT ORGANIZATIONS"
(May 19, 2001)
There are many desperate and depressed people out there these days, especially among Palestinians, their friends, and the Jewish left that is mortified to awaken to find itself with Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister, the hoped for salvation of the Oslo "Peace Process" destroyed, and one of their false prophets, Shimon Peres, at Sharon's side.

SUICIDE BOMB, ISRAELI AIR STRIKES CAUSE NEW CARNAGE
(May 18, 2001)
A suicide bombing followed by retaliatory Israeli air strikes killed 16 people and injured 200 on Friday in one of the bloodiest days since a Palestinian uprising erupted nearly eight months ago.

ISRAEL'S ARMY - A NEW, PERHAPS DANGERSOUS, FREEDOM
(May 18, 2001)
TRIGGER-HAPPY troops set loose? Questions about the response of Israeli soldiers facing Palestinian demonstrators are being asked, and not just by Palestinians. But suspicions about individual behaviour are less relevant than the clear fact that the army, given its head by Ariel Sharon, has made a deliberate decision ...

SEVEN KILLED, OVER 50 INJURED IN SUICIDE BOMB ATTACK
(May 18, 2001)
A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the Hasharon shopping mall in the center of the coastal town of Netanya at around 11.30 A.M on Friday morning. Seven people were killed in the blast, one of them most likely the bomber himself.

ISRAELI ARMY ON THE RAMPAGE
(May 17, 2001)
The Israelis are more and more specifically targeting children, journalists, and Palestinians at all levels. The goal is to create such fear, such intimidation, such apprehension, that ...

MORE BLOOD AND MEMORIES FLOW ON "DISASTER DAY"
(May 16, 2001)
Yesterday was the 53rd anniversary of what the Israelis believe was the start of their independence and the Palestinians believe was the start of their ongoing and tortuous "disaster", the "nakba".

"SCHOLARS, INTELLECTUALS, EXPERTS BETRAY THEIR VOCATIONS..." - MER FLASHBACK
(May 15, 2001)
The recent orgy of 'activism' surrounding the new "Har Homa" settlement has given 'peace groups' and various Arab Americans groups something to do again.

THERE WERE WARNINGS THEN, THERE ARE WARNINGS NOW
(May 15, 2001)
It's 53 years now since Palestine was fractured, a Jewish State was born, the Palestinian refugee crisis created. There were warnings from both Arab and Jewish leaders what would result if a "Jewish State" were declared when the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948.

NO JUNITY, NO ALLIES, NO FUTURE
(May 14, 2001)
Let's get right to the bottom line here first. Those American Jews, and whoever else for that matter have been looking to what is called "JUNITY" (that's "Jewish Unity For a Just Peace" so they say) ...

AN AFFRONT TO CIVILISATION
(May 13, 2001)
I was on my way to Khan Yunis, a desperately poor Palestinian refugee town in the Gaza Strip, when we learned it was under heavy bombardment. Please, urged my Palestinian guides, could I postpone my visit to the next day?

IN MEMORY OF PROF. CHARLES BLACK
(May 12, 2001)
"Against hugh odds...they decline to submit, and instead go out on the streets and pick up stones. They are beaten without let or mercy. They are imprisoned under obscene conditions, after kangaroo trials, or no trials at all.

THREATENING WRITERS AND MORE ASSASSINATIONS
(May 12, 2001)
Of course what the Israelis are doing in so many areas to many classes of people is dastardly and deserves widespread condemnation. The first article details what the Israelis are doing to Palestinian writers who are citizens of Israel; the second to Palestinian activists who are struggling against Israel's occupation.

HASHEMITE COLLUSION AND REPRESSION
(May 11, 2001)
The Hashemite Regime of King Abdullah the Second is running more and more scared; and for good reason. After all, the collusion of this regime with the Israelis, going way back to the beginning of the conflict...

MAHMOUD DARWISH ON 53RD NAKBA ANNIVERSARY
(May 11, 2001)
Next Tuesday, 15 May, is the 53rd Anniversary of what the Palestinians call the Nakba, the "Disaster", and what the Israelis call their Independence. In a very unusual move some 250 Arab Professors and Intellectuals have issued a call for their own countries to finally join in a serious way the Palestinian struggle.

FROM HERZL TO SHARON - STEALTH DISPOSSESSION
(May 10, 2001)
"The removal of Arabs bodily from Palestine is part of the Zionist plan to 'spirit the penniless population across the frontier' by denying it employment... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."

THE POLITICAL PROSTITUTION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN PALESTINE
(May 10, 2001)
We're talking here about political prostitution; for it too is an age-old profession and it too leads to many other vices.

THE POPE GOES VISITING
(May 9, 2001)
With the creation of a "Jewish State" in the Holy Land, in a sense a new era began twisting the modern-day concept of nationality back to one of ethnic and religious identification.

FROM HELL WITH LOVE
(May 8, 2001)
Ironically, in the early years of this ignoble "Peace Process", Dr. Sarraj himself -- a dignified psychiatrist and recipient of the Physician for Human Rights Award -- was arrested three times, tortured, and threatened with death...not by the Israelis but by the forces of the Arafat "Palestinian Authority".

ISRAELIS SEE THROUGH GLOSS OF LIFE AMID ORANGE GROVES
(May 7, 2001)
When the real estate sharks of California began to coax Americans to Los Angeles early in the last century, they stuck oranges on the trees to make the desert more alluring. The oranges are real enough in the groves on the hills around Jerusalem, but the hard selling is just the same.

WE ARE ACCUSED OF TERRORISM
(May 7, 2001)
The incomparable Nizar Qabbani was buried in Damascus earlier this week. "We Are Accused Of Terrorism" was one of his last poems first published a year ago; key excerpts from that poem follow.

GUNNING DOWN ISRAEL SHAMIR - Part II
(May 4, 2001)
Previously we outlined how the regimes-sponsored Arab American establishment, using the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to try to control everyone as usual...

SHARON'S RISE TO THE PINNACLE OF POWER - HELPED BY THE ARABS THEMSELVES
(May 3, 2001)
Ariel Sharon's becoming Prime Minister of Israel didn't happen overnight. He pursued the job for a very long time and whatever one thinks of his person and policies he carried out a masterful political coup.

GUNNING DOWN ISRAEL SHAMIR
(May 3, 2001)
The worst thing that happened to the people of the Middle East in recent history was the imposition on them by the Western powers of the "Client Regimes" -- those who read MER regularly know what we are talking about...

ARAB REGIMES COWER AND BEG; ISRAELIS CONTINUE TO KILL AND DESTROY
(May 2, 2001)
Shimon Peres runs around the world, especially to the gullible American media, and especially to CNN and PBS, with soothing rhetorical jibberish while his Generals further demolish Palestinian homes making fools of those who believed in the "Oslo Peace Process" and its associated "agreements".

FORMER SHIN BET HEAD TALKS SOME SENSE IN PUBLIC....BUT WHY?
(May 2, 2001)
Motives are of course a very important aspect of life and politics...as is timing. And when it comes to someone who has been head of the Shin Bet, like Ami Ayalon, and who is saying these things now, at this particular crucial and sensitive time, there are good reasons to have many suspicions, and many questions, and many doubts.

EXTINGUISHING THE INTIFADA
(May 2, 2001)
A major effort is underway to somehow smother and snuff out the Intifada, one way or another. Those heading up the effort, in order of importance, are:

ARAFAT'S FIRST INTERVIEW SINCE THE INTIFADA BEGAN
(May 1, 2001)
Yasser Arafat often describes his struggle as a "long march" to the "spires and minarets" of Jerusalem, capital of his Palestinian state-to-be.




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