Ignore The Propaganda
Thursday, May 9, 2002
We should not fall into the trap of condemning Israel on the basis of propaganda. Instead, conclusions must be based on established facts.
Consider recent events in Jenin as an example. Mr. Arafat and all the Palestinian spokesmen stated that there was "at least a thousand" individuals massacred and placed into "mass graves." Israel denied committing a massacre. In fact, Israel lost 23 of its own soldiers in what was described as fierce street battles against armed Palestinian combatants.
As of May 5, approximately 60 Palestinians have been confirmed dead, most of them armed combatants. Groups such as Human Rights Watch have concluded that Israel was falsely accused of a "massacre."
Mr. Rabbani expresses the same view as the entire Arab world that the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the "occupation." Left out of the discussion are two central questions and the accompanying facts. How did Israel come to "occupy" the Palestinians and why is the "occupation" continuing?
Between 1948 and 1967, the Palestinians were under Jordanian and Egyptian rule who chose not to create a Palestinian state. Instead, those countries, along with Syria, tried on four occasions to destroy the state of Israel. Israel moved into the West Bank and Gaza strip only after winning this land from Jordan and Egypt in a war of self-defense.
The goal of the Palestinians was never to simply remove Israel from the West Bank and Gaza but rather to eliminate all of Israel. Consider the Palestinian "PLO Charter" adopted in 1964, three years before the "occupation" began. It calls Zionism "racist and fanatical" and "Fascist and Nazi" in its means, and calls for the "liquidation of Israel."
In 1993 Israel made a historic decision to do what the Jordanians and Egyptians would not do. As part of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Israelis granted Palestinians autonomy with the goal being a future Palestinian state. The Palestinians had one condition placed on them--end terrorism. Mr. Arafat agreed to this in a number of signed documents. The Wye River Memorandum signed in 1998 leaves no doubt what was required of the Palestinians--no illegal arms, no media incitement, and no terror organizations.
In lieu of peace the Palestinians have chosen terror. Suicide bombers are encouraged by the Palestinian leadership and countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia who pay families up to $25,000 to have their children kill innocent Israelis at cafes, Bar Mitzvah celebrations, and Passover seders. They are encouraged by their spiritual leaders such as Sheik Ibrahim Mahdi, who, on April 14, made an impassioned speech on Palestinian state-controlled television making statements such as this: "Oh Allah, show the Jews a black day...Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters." (memri.org)
Like every civilized country in the world, Israel will continue to use its military to defend its citizens against terror groups that seek its destruction. As clearly expressed in the agreements signed by Mr. Arafat himself, "occupation" will end only after terrorism ends!
Don''t be fooled by half-truths, falsehoods, and slanderous statements that litter propaganda pieces such as Mr. Rabanni''s. Instead, learn the history and read through the signed agreements. An outstanding educational resource is the Middle East Media Research Institute (memri.org). This is an independent, non-partisan group that translates both Arab and Israeli media into English. Read what the Palestinian and other Arab spiritual and political leaders say to their own people, and you will understand why there is no peace.
Donald C. Pompan, M.D., Chairman, Israeli Action Committee of Monterey County
Palestinian Leadership Failed Its People
I am disappointed to see the Weekly turned into a forum for Israel-bashing. However well intentioned, your paper should strive to encourage a more balanced view of the conflict. Of course, the Israelis are the bad guys. They''ve built a modern state with world class medicine, science, technology, R&D, venture capital, and creative arts, etc. Palestinian propaganda so graciously presented by your paper will not further the cause of Palestinian statehood. Palestinians should first convince their Israeli neighbors of a genuine willingness to coexist. So far they haven''t. How much of the failure to achieve statehood is related to misguided Palestinian leadership and corruption within the Palestinian Authority (important considerations that have nothing to do with Israel)?
Congratulations on your joining the mainstream, biased, pro-Palestinian press in reporting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Ramallah! I hope that, in the interest of fair and honest reporting, you will run a similar article from the Israeli point of view, including photos of the slaughter of innocent Israeli citizens by Ramallah-trained and Ramallah-based suicide bombers.
Hang your head in shame over one-sided reporting which reflects total ignorance of history and facts.
PL Barrett/MarinaAnti-Zionism Isn''t Anti-Semitism
Thank you for having the courage to print Rabbani''s dispatch on the devastation of Ramallah. Many of us realize that most of the media news is pro-Israel and anti-Palestine because people fear that being anti-Israel translates into being anti-Semitic. History books trace both Israelites and Palestinians back to Abraham, a Semite, whose descendants settle in Arabian lands. So most Arabs are every bit as Semitic as Jews, and being anti-Semitic would apply to both Arabs and Jews. A Jew is an adherent of Judaism and you can be Jewish regardless of race.
But I have known people whose Semite ancestors practiced Judaism but who no longer call themselves Jewish, as they don''t practice Judaism. So in my book Semitism has nothing to do with religion. Neither does Zionism, the political movement concerned with furthering the aims of the state of Israel. But supporters of Zionism latched onto the term "anti-Semitism" in an effort to keep their attackers subdued.
The very idea that they could move into Palestine leaving Palestinians only Gaza and the West Bank hardly seems like a just solution to their problem, in retrospect. Then to continue building settlements in Palestinian territory boggles my mind. Enter Sharon, who believes he has the right to occupy and completely destroy one city after another in his swathe of terrorism.
A thinking person won''t buy into this anti-terrorism justification for horrendous crimes against humanity. And how does he have the right to deny U.N. investigators entry into Jenin? Outside USA people do see what''s going on and they condemn the Zionist military policies. We should also, and there''s no anti-Semitism involved here.
Endthe Religious State
Thanks for publishing "Witness to Devastation" by Mouin Rabbani, on the siege of Ramallah. Violence is tragic, whether you are a Palestinian shot in front of your house, or an Israeli blown to pieces at a Jewish wedding.
Israel was created following WWII to provide a home for survivors of the Holocaust, and to fulfill a prophecy of return to a land Jews had occupied many centuries ago. It was not empty land. Large numbers of Palestinians were expelled from their homes, and two generations have grown up in refugee camps. If Palestinians were allowed to return, Israel feels it could not exist as a Jewish state.
Even now the two cultures are so geographically intertwined they can not be easily separated into two states without leaving many Jews and Palestinians stranded on the wrong side--at the mercy of their enemies.
Is a Jewish state really necessary? Hitler is gone. So is ancient Biblical history. The goals now must be survival and peace. In my opinion, these can be best achieved if the two sides are willing to dissolve the existing political structures, form a coalition and a secular democracy with complete separation of religion and state--as in America.
A new constitution would provide equal rights to all citizens regardless of ethnic background or religion. Every Jew, Muslim, Christian or persons of other religions would be allowed to worship when and where they choose without discrimination, including in Jerusalem, and be able to buy or rent property wherever they wish. The constitution would provide for policing of radical extremists of any religion in order to protect the new democracy and its citizens.
America ended slavery and has gone through a difficult civil rights movement. South Africa ended Apartheid. The Middle East has hope for peace and prosperity, if all parties involved are willing to make some big changes.
Bruce Cowan/Pacific Grove
SquidInked Pawlick Unfairly
Once again, the writers at Coast Weekly have chosen to take the low road, preferring sensationalism over facts. Why do you take such issue with Dr. Joseph Pawlick''s goals of working to improve both the academic and athletic profile of Salinas High School?
Helping Salinas High School become a California Distinguished School is a noble goal, but he can''t just wave his hand and make it happen. No one said it would happen overnight.
Test scores are improving at Salinas High, but that will take time, work and of course, money. Are you aware that Dr. Pawlick obtained a $800,000-plus grant to help improve test scores of underachieving students at Salinas High? Or that the school has also received a technology grant of well over $400,000?
No, that would be objective journalism, and you seem obsessed with keeping the Weekly''s editorial standards down in the "tomorrow''s fish wrap" category.
Dr. Pawlick may have gotten carried away with his request to use student funds for the athletic field, but that is why the school district has a system of checks and balances. But his ultimate goal is to have a better public school for all students and the community. He and other staff are working hard toward that goal.
Also, Dr. Pawlick was not an "ousted So Cal athletic director." He was an assistant principal at a well respected public high school in Southern California, and his duties included overseeing the Athletic Department. He was an employee in good standing who chose to advance his position by becoming the principal at Salinas High.
When was the last time Mr. Squid set foot (or tentacle) at SHS? Has he seen the many changes and improvements that have been made in the past few years? Or is it easier to sit on the sidelines and throw stones?
So which are you, Weekly? A journalistic force in the community, or a cheesy, sensationalist tabloid? Curious minds want to know.
Kickthe Oil Habit
The debacle of a national energy plan currently being debated by our legislators in Washington D.C., ("Oil in Los Padres," April 11-17) fails to provide for our energy and environmental needs.
With national policy so clearly heading down the wrong tracks, the most important decisions to secure safe and independent sources of energy now fall to state and local decision-makers, who should support an increase in renewable energy. California especially has a prime opportunity to do just that.
California decision-makers should commit to doubling our use of clean energy to 20 percent of power generation by 2010. Such a move would boost the state''s economy by adding tens of thousands of new jobs and billions in new state revenues, but more importantly it would help us meet our energy needs without engaging in more drilling for oil.
Now that decision-makers can think about our energy future out of crisis mode, it''s time for an energy policy that grows our economy and protects our shores at the same time by promoting clean, renewable energy.
Eli Richlin/California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), Los Angeles