The "nuts" in the next room
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The "nuts" in the next room

January 27, 2001

"If the refugee problem is not resolved, it will explode again and again, just as it did after 1948, when Israel and the Arab states believed that the Palestinian problem was past history."

"My children were killed in an Israeli bombing of the Pekani neighborhood in Beirut. They were nine and seven. Khaled and Walid. It was in 1981." Nayef Hawatmeh, Founder Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

"The 'Nuts' In The Next Room..." Ezer Weizman referring to Bibi Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon

In recent years Israel's most important and serious newspaper, Ha'aretz, has taken to not only reporting Palestinian affairs much more deeply but to interviewing major Palestinian personalities abroad. Of course for all of its sophistication Ha'aretz remains an Israeli publication catering primarily to liberal and sophisticated Israeli and Jewish audiences. And make no mistake about it, there are biases, however subtle they may be in most cases -- twists that are important in coloring who is interviewed, when, and how. In this case, at the ending of this interview by a seasoned Israeli journalist with one of the historic leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization, there is a very telling, and no so subtle, exchange.

It's amazing that even the most sophisticated Israelis still have so little appreciation at times for what it means to be a Palestinian and for how many Palestinian leaders have tried to protect their families and their personal lives from the dangers Israel has represented to all of them at one time or another.

That Gideon Levy expresses such skepticism after being told of the deaths at Israeli hands of Hawatmeh's children, calling it a "riddle", only serves to underscore how wide the chasm of misunderstanding and distrust remains.

Oh yes, the timing of this interview. Well...anyone who thinks the timing here is accidental just doesn't understand what's going on these days. The newspaper (Ha'aretz), the country where the interview took place (Jordan), and the person (Hawatmeh), are all eager (should we say desperate), to find some way to head off Ariel Sharon at the pass. And that explains the timing, and much of the content, of this interview.

With all of these special considerations in mind, this is indeed a very insightful interview and good journalism. Even so, it's not likely at this point, in this way, that the "Arab vote" is going to be affected. Indeed, the same Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, reports in its Sunday edition that "Ten days before the election, all the Arab parties and non-parliamentary political movements in the Arab sector have called on their supporters to abstain from the prime ministerial election. The only differences between the parties lie in whether to boycott the election or to express their protest against both candidates by submitting a blank ballot."


Nayef Hawatmeh, head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, talks about his peace efforts, says the terrorist attack at Ma'alot was a 'deviation,' reveals what Ezer Weizman told him about 'the nuts in the next room' and describes the death of his children in an Israeli bombing attack

By Gideon Levy

[Ha'aretz - 26 January] The whole story of the peace process may be encapsulated in his calling card, which his aide stuffed into my hand very late at night, as we were about to take our leave: Nayef Hawatmeh, Secretary-General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Phone numbers in 10 different cities from San'a to Algiers, including Nicosia. Two of the cities, Ramallah and Gaza, are currently barred to him. Hawatmeh lives in Damascus, calls Palestine his homeland - even though he was born in Salt, Jordan - and treats Amman as his home. But the meeting with him this week in the Jordanian capital almost had to be called off because, his aides say, the Jordanian authorities placed obstacles in the way of his entry to his native country. It is no easy matter to be a revolutionary, still less to be an aging revolutionary. At 63, Hawatmeh - one of the founding fathers of the Palestinian national movement - continues the nomadic existence that has been his lot for most of his life. In a blue sweater worn over a shirt and tie, he looks more like a senior clerk than a revolutionary. Slightly stooped, his movements betraying a certain lassitude, he radiates warmth and softness. In fact, he creates an impression not unlike that of his partner and rival in the revolution since its outset, Yasser Arafat - whom Hawatmeh now calls a right-wing leader.

As for George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hawatmeh calls him bourgeois. If Arafat's uniform still evokes the past, the elderly uncle Nayef really does not look like someone who once headed a terrorist organization. Israelis, of course, remember him mainly from the Ma'alot operation and other attacks, as the identical twin of George Habash and Ahmed Jibril: They once terrified Israelis, whose only interest in them was their murderous actions, not their views.

A researcher of terrorism, Reuven Paz, wrote two years ago in Ha'aretz that the Israeli Intelligence community found Hawatmeh's Democratic Front "the hardest of all to digest." Hawatmeh was the first to call for negotiations with Israel, long before the others, and it was very important for him to remind me of that fact. He was also the first to address Israeli public opinion, via a Jewish-American journalist, in an interview that appeared in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth as far back as 1974. This week he cited the exact date on which that interview appeared.

But a few weeks after that historic event, came the brutal operation in Ma'alot, in Upper Galilee. This week he described it as an accident, a violation of orders, and placed some of the blame on the Israeli defense minister at the time, Moshe Dayan, who refused to negotiate over the release of the hostages. Twenty-four Israelis were killed at Ma'alot, 22 of them schoolchildren.

In the 1953 raid on the Jordanian village of Kibya, for example, he will remind us, 69 Arabs were killed, most of them women and children. The perpetrator of the massacre at Kibya is now the Likud candidate for prime minister. In the interview, Hawatmeh warns Israel's Arab population about Ariel Sharon and, somewhat surprisingly, calls on them to vote, not to cast a blank ballot. Vote for Ehud Barak, he tells them. At the same time, he hints that he would prefer Shimon Peres. He demonstrates an impressive knowledge about the situation in Israel and explains that he gets an Arabic translation of the Israeli press on a daily basis. Only once did he get his facts wrong - he tried to attribute the 1956 massacre of Arabs from the Israeli village of Kafr Qasem to Menachem Begin. When I corrected him, he tried again: Sharon was responsible for the 1948 massacre at the village of Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem, he said, as though the massacres in which Sharon was really involved were not enough.

Until Hawatmeh arrived, his aides - no youngsters themselves - hosted me in the bedroom of a modest suite in a Jordanian hotel that has seen better days. The veterans of this Trotskyite organization don't use room service, so the refreshments during the conversation consisted of bitter coffee poured from a thermos and some chocolates they had brought. The organization's house photographer snapped a few shots as souvenirs.

Hawatmeh came to Amman this week in order to address the Israeli nation. Our talk lasted four hours, partly because many of his replies to my questions were very long-winded. He also paused for a few minutes before answering most of the questions, in some cases trying to gain time by having the question translated, even though he speaks a reasonable English. He uttered the phrase "a comprehensive and final peace that will be based on United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338 and 194" at least two dozen times. That is his mantra, and it represents his only compromise. Any other arrangement will simply not endure. Late at night, he was the most wide-awake person in the room, even though he was also the oldest.

What would you say is the first association Israelis make with the name Hawatmeh?

"It is difficult for me to guess exactly, but I think they will immediately remember that Hawatmeh was the first Palestinian leader who called for a comprehensive peace between the two peoples, who was the pioneer in calling for negotiations and the first to address the people of Israel and say that the hand of the Palestinians is offered in peace.

"That took courage in those days. The Palestinian national movement then supported a struggle using force to liberate all of Palestine, in one stage, and a compromise of any sort was considered treason. >From August 1973 we fought for a new program, based on two states for the two nations. Arafat was against it then. Our members were attacked. We thought at the time that the military resistance operations should be concentrated only against the occupation and the settlements, and take place exclusively inside Palestine. We were against operations outside Palestine, and therefore we condemned the actions of the Black September organization - Munich [where 11 Israeli athletes were killed during the Olympic Games in 1972], [the hijacking of the] 'Achille Lauro,' Habash's plane hijackings and the attacks on the airports of Vienna and Rome by Abu Nidal."

And then came the operation at Ma'alot, which ran contrary to everything you said.

"The organization's resistance policy cannot be judged according to one deviant case. The orders our fighters received were to operate only against the army and weapons. Not to hurt any civilians. But things are not always under control. Sometimes a small group crosses the boundary without coordination. The mission of the squad that was sent to Ma'alot was to confront the army and, if possible, to take hostages in order to obtain the release of Archbishop Capucci [who had been caught by Israel smuggling arms for Palestinian terrorists]. That was the 27th year since the Naqba [the 'Calamity,' as the Palestinians call the war of 1948] and the idea was to get 27 prisoners released.

"Our organization separated the military and the political wings, and an operation like that was authorized by the military level. We did not want to hurt civilians, but we also did not want our fighters to be hurt. Moshe Dayan was against any negotiations for the release of the hostages [who were being held in a high school]. He asked for two more hours and we agreed. And then he sent in his units, which started shooting, and then what happened, happened. I don't just say this now, I suggest you go back to what people said even in Israel after the operation. The military level that carried out [the attack in] Ma'alot is now living in the Palestinian Authority and working with Arafat.

"You don't see the whole forest, but only one finger that hides it. No Israeli government knew the Palestinian political map. They never knew our psychology. There are operations we didn't want and operations that we wanted. The massacre at Kibya and at Sabra and Chatila of Sharon, or the assassination of three Palestinian leaders in Beirut, one of them a poet, by [Ehud] Barak - those were deliberate operations. That should be the focus of things, not only Ma'alot.

"Despite this, we said that war is war, rivers of blood and sometimes also unplanned operations and accidents, as at Ma'alot. Now too there are decisions by Barak to assassinate political leaders, more than 18 liquidation operations. I know there are many in the government who did not accept this. I know that [Meretz leader Yossi] Sarid and [Justice Minister Yossi] Beilin were against it, for example. And those are not accidents, they are deliberate operations. Israelis should know this."

What is wrong with the Clinton proposals?

"I think that Clinton's ideas are very far from the United Nations resolutions that formulated the compromise between the two peoples after 1967. The whole world accepted them as a compromise after the 'victory' of Israel in 1967. Clinton is proposing a new compromise, with new borders in the West Bank and in northern Gaza, and the annulment of Resolution 194 regarding the refugees. Just as the UN resolutions were followed in Lebanon, it should be the same here. No other solution will endure in the long run. A peace of the brave, as Arafat called it, and Barak too, is very nice, but it is not enough. There has to be a combination of a peace of the brave and justice.

"We were the pioneers of the call for a settlement. Already in 1968 I gave an interview to Le Monde, to Eric Rouleau, calling for a comprehensive settlement. Rouleau was stunned. He was a friend and he feared for my life. I asked him to go to Tel Aviv and meet with the leaders of the [Labor] Alignment and call on them to say something in reaction. Everyone in the Alignment refused. When I gave the interview to Paul Jacobson, which was published in Yedioth Ahronoth in 1974, I asked Rouleau to go to Lova Eliav, who was then the secretary-general of the Alignment, and to Yitzhak Ben Aharon, who was the secretary-general of the Histadrut [federation of labor].

"Rouleau told Eliav that Hawatmeh was calling for a comprehensive settlement - I quoted the phrase about beating your swords into plowshares - and Eliav said he could say nothing. He was a politician and he was afraid of losing the support of public opinion. Still, I said that Eliav and Ben Aharon were preferable to Golda [Meir] and Dayan. I read Eliav's book, "Land of the Hart," and I thought he was someone it would be possible to talk to. But he was afraid and our people continued to live under the occupation."

Which Israelis have impressed you, if any?

"Of those who bore responsibility and could have done something, I hoped and expected that Yitzhak Rabin would open his policy and we would reach a strategic agreement. I followed Rabin in books and his [biography], I saw how he slowly developed since 1967. So I hoped he would open up even more. The same goes for people like Yossi Beilin and Amnon [Lipkin-] Shahak."

Are Barak and Sharon the same for you?

"No. They are far apart politically. The history of both of them is dripping with blood, but there are political differences between them. Barak is also one of the hawks of Israeli politics, but he is right-center. He said he would be the prime minister of everyone and that means that from the very start he took a road that could not lead to peace. He called for a broad coalition that would have a Jewish majority. Rabin was more progressive than Barak from that point of view. He did not look for a Jewish majority."

How should the Arabs in Israel vote?

"In the next few days I will meet with the heads of the Arab parties and I will examine the question with them. If Sharon is elected, it will be a new catastrophe for the region. Sharon's historic plan and his base on the right mean the end of the peace process. Sharon is a person of war, not of peace, and therefore every call for a boycott of the elections or for a blank ballot is a vote for Sharon."

In fact, you are saying they should vote for Barak.

"Who knows, maybe the Labor Party will call on another leader who will replace Barak."

Is Peres preferable to Barak?

"Peres is an unclear personality. Barak is more clear. Peres, for example, did not believe in a comprehensive settlement, but in the path of stages, based on Oslo. He also criticized Barak for raising the question of Jerusalem. Peres' positions on the final settlement are not clear. But that is not my problem, it is your problem."

Who is Arafat in your eyes?

"A national leader. A fighter for more than 30 years. We cooperated in many areas. More than once we were in danger of being killed together. Arafat is a right-wing national figure and it is good for every national movement to have someone like that."

What about the executions carried out by the Palestinian Authority?

"When the State of Israel and its prime minister assumed the right to assassinate Palestinians without a trial, that opened the way for the executions by the Palestinian Authority."

Why did you shake hands with [then-president] Ezer Weizman at the funeral of King Hussein?

"Mr. Weizman came into a room where I was meeting with Arab Knesset members - Tibi, Dehamshe, Al-Sana and Tarif - and he immediately asked me: Mr. Hawatmeh, how can we reach peace? I told him it was possible to reach peace easily and that was our policy, as long as it will be based on UN Resolutions 338, 242 and 194. Weizman wanted to send a message that he was a man of peace and my message then was that the Front was ready to conduct negotiations and talk to the leaders of Israel. There are organizations that are against any settlement and any negotiations. We are not. Weizman said that he personally believed in a comprehensive peace with the Arabs, but, he said, 'the nuts in the next room' were against it, and he nodded toward the room where [former prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and Sharon were. When he went into the next room, Netanyahu asked him how he could have shaken hands with Hawatmeh, whose hands are drenched in Jewish blood, and Weizman replied that his hands too were drenched in blood. He told Sharon that his hands were drenched with the blood of Sabra and Chatila. That is what Tibi told me."

Have you given up the military struggle?

"Between 1964 and 1987, all the organizations believed in the [armed] struggle and in military resistance. When the Intifada erupted, we in the Democratic Front said that from now on our struggle would focus on popular resistance and on political and diplomatic methods. That is what we have done since then."

How is it that your group shrank so much and became so small?

"Honestly, that is not true. The Democratic Front is one of the three organizations that comprise the Palestine Liberation Organization, together with Fatah and the Popular Front. The additional body is Hamas. Organizations like Hamas exist only inside and have no independent hold in the diaspora. In the diaspora we are second after Fatah and ahead of the Popular Front."

Do you have a private life?

"I did not live the natural life I could have. For example, I like films and theater. In the past 20 years I have not gone more than four or five times. My revolutionary life took too much of my time."

What mistakes have you made?

"The first mistake was the contradiction, at the outset of my revolutionary life, between ideas that were socialist and my joining an Arab national movement that was not socialist. From that moment I lived with a conflict, until the establishment of the Democratic Front."

Have you succeeded in life?

"Not fully, but many of my ideas have been adopted by the Palestinian national movement and the Arab progressive movement. We directed the Palestinian movement toward realistic plans and solutions."

Do you have anything good to say about Israel?

"I want to say that Israeli society has achieved broad and deep social, economic and technological development. The Israelis took things from their cultural roots in the countries they came from - Western Europe, Russia and other countries - and made use of what they brought to build a state that will lead to a high technological and economic level. Even though they came from more than 100 cultures and countries, they succeeded in establishing an Israeli society that is in the process of taking shape. They also built a democratic state, for 'whites,' in quotation marks, in Israel. A democracy that is not for all the citizens and not for all the residents, so they created gaps in the Israeli society between the whites and all the rest - Jews and Arabs who are not white."

Do you feel hate?

"I distinguish between the nation, which consists of human beings who have the right to live in dignity, and policy. I do not judge the situation according to ideas of revenge. I feel how the governments of Israel caused injustice to our people."

I live in Ramat Aviv, where the Arab village of Sheikh Munis stood. What will become of me in the wake of the return of the refugees?

"I am convinced that Israel can absorb the Palestinian refugees in its territory. That does not mean that the refugees will return to their towns or villages, but it is essential that they return to live as equal citizens who own land in their country."

Three and a half million refugees?

"Their right in principle to return home must be secured. In practice, it will be according to the plans that the two sides agree to. If the refugee problem is not resolved, it will explode again and again, just as it did after 1948, when Israel and the Arab states believed that the Palestinian problem was past history. An unwritten agreement between Israel and the reactionary Arab regimes, and with British and then American colonialism brought about a division of the Palestinian territory between Jordan and Egypt, and the illusion that the Palestinian problem no longer existed. I remember that in 1974 Golda Meir said there was no such thing as the Palestinian people and that there was no Palestinian problem. And afterward everything exploded.

"Ninety percent of the Israelis live in big cities on no more than seven percent of the land. That means they can take part in resolving the refugee problem. Everyone knows that in the past 10 years, Israel absorbed a million new immigrants from Russia solidly. Among them, as you know better than I do, 41 percent are not Jews, and there are no real problems with them. So the impression is that the possibility exists and that there is room.

"That does not mean that three and a half million refugees have to return immediately. It is a matter of principle. First, Israel must recognize that these people have a right to return home. Look what happened in Australia, New Zealand, North America, how they absorbed so many immigrants. I know how the opponents of the return in Israel think - they think of a pure Jewish state, which is an apartheid idea, not a democratic idea. And the people on the right are not thinking only about apartheid but also about transfer, and at the same time they are absorbing the immigrants from Kazakhstan and Ukraine and Ethiopia.

"When I read Netanyahu's book, which in Arabic [and English] was called 'A Place Among the Nations' and in Hebrew 'A Place Under the Sun,' I was appalled and shocked. How is it possible to think like that in the last decade of the 20th century? And there are many others, like [MK] Rehavam Ze'evi, the nut, and [MK] Avigdor Lieberman, the racist, who declare at the same time that they can absorb another 10 to 12 million Jews."

Have you ever used a weapon?


Why not? After all, you sent others.

"I personally am incapable of shooting any living thing."

And the people you sent were different?

"We live under occupation and a people under occupation must resist. Resistance is resistance. It is not a matter of individuals, it is a matter of a people, and no people under occupation ever achieved its rights without resistance."

Where would you like to live?

"It is essential to return home."

Your home was in Salt.

"That is a big mistake on your part. If so, most of the Israelis have to go back to the countries they came from."

Choose a place.

"The houses and alleys of Jerusalem are deeply engraved in my memory. I have not visited there since 1958, but the memory is still fresh. I would like to live there. But this is not just a matter of personal choice, it is a matter of circumstances. Whatever the national movement demands, that is what will be. So maybe in the West Bank, maybe in Gaza."

At one point in the conversation, Hawatmeh's eyes clouded over and tears welled up in them. It happened when I asked about his family. "My children were killed in an Israeli bombing of the Pekani neighborhood in Beirut. They were nine and seven. Khaled and Walid. It was in 1981. I did not have any more children after that. I prefer not to talk about it. Maybe for psychological reasons. The Palestinian people had 70,000 martyrs, and I feel that all of them are my brothers."

Silence fell in the room. It was not known that Hawatmeh had lost his two children in an IDF raid on Beirut. There was in fact an attack on his headquarters in 1981 and reports at the time said he had a miraculous escape. But there had not been a word about his children. This week I asked a few Palestinian figures, but none of them ever heard that Hawatmeh was a bereaved father. A few of them said they had their doubts, others offered various explanations. The riddle remains.

January 2001


Leila Khalid - refugee from Haifa, fighter for Palestine
(January 31, 2001)
When Palestinian liberation fighter Leila Khaled hijacked her first plane in 1969, she became the international pin-up of armed struggle. Then she underwent cosmetic surgery so she could do it again. Thirty years on, she talks to Katharine Viner about being a woman at war.

The end of Israel?
(January 30, 2001)
At a time with rampant current events breaking daily, often hourly, there is much need to remember the importance of sometimes taking time for reflection, of sometimes stepping back to contemplate both the past and the future.

Sharon - the REAL legacy of Clinton and Barak
(January 30, 2001)
As the Barak era fades from view -- more short-lived than anyone predicted just a long year and a half ago -- his epitaph is already being written and Ariel Sharon's government and policies are already being debated.

Looming civil war in Palestine
(January 29, 2001)
Fears are growing in the international community that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) is heading for collapse.

Arafat blasts, Peres maneuvers, Barak sinks
(January 29, 2001)
For all practical purposes Ehud Barak is gone and Yasser Arafat is now desperately trying to save his own skin.

Barak's 3 no's, and Bush's 7 minute call
(January 28, 2001)
The Americans leaked it, a 7-minute Saturday call from the new U.S. Pres to the sinking Israeli PM -- leaked its brevity that is.

The Bomb and Iraq
(January 28, 2001)
As war clouds gather in the Middle East public opinion is being prepared for a possible regional war that could likely include a combined Western/Israeli effort to take out the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The "nuts" in the next room
(January 27, 2001)
In recent years Israel's most important and serious newspaper, Ha'aretz, has taken to not only reporting Palestinian affairs much more deeply but to interviewing major Palestinian personalities abroad.

Get ready for Prime Minister Sharon
(January 27, 2001)
The new Ma'ariv-Gallop poll questioned a particularly large sample of 1,100 people, putting special emphasis on the Arab population and new immigrants.

Panic in the Barak camp
(January 27, 2001)
All the tricks and lies of the Israeli Labor Party have now come back to haunt it. Barak, never a politician, bears the brunt of popular blame for all the political deceptions and tricks that have for so long accumulated.

War alert in Europe and Middle East
(January 27, 2001)
We've noted the "war fever" growing in the region for some months now. There's considerable anxiety about who may now strike first.

Israeli and Jewish soul-searching
(January 26, 2001)
The Intifada, coupled with Israeli brutality and recognition that the term "Apartheid Peace" is in fact applicable after all, are having an effect on at least some Israelis and some Jews; even while Ariel Sharon marches to the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem (and maybe because of this).

"Disastrous" American intervention
(January 26, 2001)
ou've got to wonder about these Palestinian "negotiators". What others saw decades ago those who have been most involved are apparently beginning to see only now.

Sharon marches on, Barak stumbles on
(January 25, 2001)
The 554,000 Arabs eligible to vote represent 12.3 percent of the electorate. The Arab turnout in 1999 was 76%, and 95% voted for Barak.

An alliance of the outcasts? Iran, Iraq and Syria
(January 24, 2001)
So the Israelis are going to elect war-criminal tough-guy General Ariel Sharon to be Prime Minister. This after the most top-heavy military-intelligence government in peacetime history for Israel -- that of General Ehud Barak.

General Powell says no to sanctions on behalf of Corporate America
(January 23, 2001)
Hamas has struck again and the "negotiations" are "suspended" again. Two Israelis were assassinated by masked men while eating at a restaurant in Tulkarm. Though this time it was Israelis who were killed it was another warning to Yasser Arafat. Last week similarly masked men in Gaza killed a close Arafat friend, the head of Palestinian TV in Gaza, just as it was rumored Arafat was about to sign some kind of new deal with the Israelis.

EyeWitness Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa
(January 23, 2001)
The depressing element of this entire struggle is that the Arafat regime survives and...will be the one to ultimately determine the fate of the Palestinian people.

War Fever - Israel and Syria
(January 23, 2001)
Tensions continue to grow in the Middle East region, armies continue to prepare, public opinion continues to be manipulated. Though Ehud Barak too is a militarist -- a former commando, General, and Chief of Staff of the Army -- Ariel Sharon brings with him historical baggage and war-criminal image which could easily contribute to a clash of armies sooner rather than later, even if not fully intended by either side.

EyeWitness Gaza
(January 22, 2001)
A year or so ago, I visited the Mouwasi area in Gaza. It was a green paradise, on top, and in the midst, of white sand dunes. I particularly remember this Guava grove, where the guavas hanging from the trees were the size of large oranges; I hadn't seen anything like that ever before.

Reaping what they have sown
(January 22, 2001)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak abruptly cut short a radio interview on Sunday after being asked about his poor showing in opinion polls, prompting speculation he was buckling under pressure of a February 6 election.

Israel's president departs
(January 21, 2001)
There has never been, and there probably never will be, a president who had such fantastic relations with the State of Israel. It's unbelievable.

Ross officially join Israeli lobby
(January 19, 2001)
During the Lebanon War of 1982 -- some think of it as Sharon's war -- the Israelis and their American Jewish friends felt they had a difficult time when it came to public relations. And when the American Marines pulled out, symbolizing the failure of the Israelis to force Lebanon into the American-Israeli orbit and out of the Syrian-Arab one, the Israelis realized that they had much power in Washington on Capitol Hill, but not enough power with the media, intellectuals, and think-tanks.

War preparations in Israel
(January 19, 2001)
It's always called "The Peace Process" but more behind-the-scenes the whole Middle East region continues to be an arms bazaar with more weapons being sold to the countries in the area than ever before, most by American arms merchants and allies.

Palestinian TV Head killed
(January 17, 2001)
It may have been a warning to Arafat not to dare sign any new agreements, as has been rumored in the past few days he was planning to do tomorrow in fact. It may have been another Israeli assassination - though usually they don't take such risks and use such methods, strongly preferring instead to use high-technology and long-distance means.

Iraq, Saddam and the Gulf War
(January 17, 2001)
It was 10 years ago yesterday that the U.S. unleashed the power of the Empire against the country of Iraq after created the regional conditions that lead to the Iraq-Iran and then the Iraq-Kuwait-Saudi wars. In that period of time somewhere in the number of 1.5 million Iraqis have been killed, the history of the Middle East altered, the future of the region more uncertain and dangerous than ever.

Last night in Gaza ghetto
(January 16, 2001)
It's quite a game of international political brinkmanship. At the same time that Yasser Arafat is being tremendously pressured, and quite possibly further tricked, to sign some kind of "framework agreement" with Clinton and Barak before it is too late -- his regime is also being threatened with extinction both from within and without.

Generals Sharon and Barak as politicians
(January 16, 2001)
With Jan 20 (Clinton leaves office) and Feb 6 (Barak likely to be defeated by Sharon) fast approaching, desperation and near panic are evident in the traditional power centers, including various Arab capitals.

"Unilateral separation" one way or another
(January 15, 2001)
The separation plan would go into the event of one of the following three scenarios: as a response to a unilateral declaration of statehood on the part of the Palestinians; under a severe security threat; or as part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority

Up in arms against Apartheid
(January 13, 2001)
At the end of the second millennium, three million Palestinians are imprisoned in ghettoes by the very man whom the Palestinian leadership hailed as the saviour of peace. Netanyahu had driven the peace ship off course. Barak scuttled it.

Locking in Oslo
(January 12, 2001)
The Americans and the Israelis continue to try to twist the screws. Their minimum goal now is to "lock in" the "Oslo Peace Process" approach to the conflict. It may be an "Apartheid Peace", and it may have resulted in considerable bloodshed, but even so it is leading to a form of "Palestinian Statehood" and "separation" that the Israelis strongly desire as the best alternative for themselves.

Sharon charges on
(January 12, 2001)
he long-serving (now recalled to Cairo) Egyptian Ambassador to Israel was quoted saying last week that if an Israeli-Palestinian agreement isn't reached in the next two weeks there won't be an agreement for the next two decades.

"Sharon leads to peace"
(January 11, 2001)
The last time the Israeli "Arab vote" was pushed toward Shimon Peres for Prime Minister -- back in 1996 -- there was much resistance. Then Peres was acting Prime Minister after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Army had just committed the Qana massacre in Southern Lebanon, and Peres was busy trying to cover it up.

Grandfather Sharon
(January 10, 2001)
If the polls remain as disastrous as they now are for Ehud Barak, expect him to be pushed out and Shimon Peres substituted. Barak has no chance; Peres has some, especially with the "Arab vote".

The Dangerous weeks, months ahead
(January 10, 2001)
Guys like Commando-General-Prime Minster Ehud Barak don't go easily from the scene. Barak's daring-do was lavishly praised just a few years ago; now it has even the military types fretting. No telling just what Barak and friends might try in the next few weeks.

Assissination, siege and war crimes
(January 9, 2001)
The Israeli government, both as a group and as individuals, bears full responsibility for the crimes that were committed. We will do everything possible, including declaring members of this government war criminals who are eligible for trial by the world tribunal." Palestinian Authority "Minister"

Soul-searching Israelis
(January 9, 2001)
The "liberals" among them, the most cosmopolitan and internationally-oriented of the Israelis, are now getting extra nervous. Not only is Ariel Sharon coming to power, not only is regional war possible, not only are the cold treaties with Egypt and Jordan in jeopardy, but even Israel's future has come into question

Israel acts while Arafat talks
(January 8, 2001)
srael continues to take major steps designed to shrink, isolate and control the Palestinian areas forever. The policy is termed "unilateral separation" and it is linked to bringing about a so-called "Palestinian State" that serves Israeli interests, making everything worse than ever for the Palestinian "natives".

Clinton's Israel speech
(January 8, 2001)
On his way out the Presidential door Bill Clinton went to New York City to speak to his American Jewish supporters and further grease his way toward his future. This is the Bill Clinton that turned the U.S. government over to the Israeli/Jewish lobby in his years in office; of course pretending otherwise.

Specter of an "ugly future"
(January 5, 2001)
Lofty, humanitarian goals like 'peace and democracy'? No, America's primary interest in the Middle East is effective control of the world's most important energy reserves, Noam Chomsky tells Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Sharon
(January 5, 2001)
Did President Hindenburg and the German intelligentsia feel this way in 1930s when they saw that Adolf Hitler, and his brownshirt thugs, were about to be elected to power?

Barak and Sharon
(January 5, 2001)
While the Labor "Doves" are busy running ads in Arab papers showing dismembered corpses in Palestinian Refugee Camps -- with the caption "Sharon" -- the reality is that Generals Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon are more two of a kind than anything else.

Arab nations add their voices to the chorus of despair
(January 4, 2001)
All chance of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future is vanishing, destroyed by hardening opinions on both sides, continuing violence, the precarious position of the political leaders involved and disagreements over key issues.

Darling of American Jewry
(January 4, 2001)
Over the years, most of the strongest advocates of Israel have usually been people who are not Jewish....[I] look forward to working with him...

Barak publicly warns of regional war
(January 4, 2001)
Amid veiled threats from the Israelis to start targeting even more senior Arafat Regime persons, and even to bring the Arafat "Palestinian Authority" to an end, Ehud Barak has also started publicly talking about the possibility of regional war.

No deal for Arafat
(January 3, 2001)
In particular, the Palestinians are concerned that the proposed settlement would create Palestinian territorial islands separated from each other by Israeli territory and therefore not viable as a nation. They object to a proposed land swap that would allow some Israeli settlers to remain on the West Bank in exchange for land that the Palestinians claim is desert and a toxic waste dump.

Arafat rushes to Washington
(January 2, 2001)
Clinton and the Israelis have set the stage for the last act of their multi-year drama attempting to trap the Palestinians on controlled reservations and calling it "an end to the conflict". But like a modern-day computer game the users can interact and change the outcome to various scenarios.

Top Palestinian Leader in the Arafat Regime
(January 2, 2001)
The whole house of political quicksand built by Bill Clinton at the behest of the Israelis (and popularly known as the "Peace Process") is bubbling, steaming, and swallowing many of its key participants.

Arafat hangs up on threatening Clinton
(January 1, 2001)
The coming issue of TIME magazine reports that Arafat hung up the phone receiver on Clinton a few days ago, turning to an aide and saying: "He's threatening me!

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