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Little has changed since 2001


I recently rediscovered the following, an Editorial in The Times”, dated 15th March 2001, and I reproduce it below in its entirety.   The quality of the writing and its honesty seem to me to have come from a bygone age of reportage, one in which intelligent journalists wrote without hyperbole or bias and in thought-provoking ways about issues which concerned us all.

Most saddening, as I reread it and reproduced it here, is the realisation that little has changed for the Palestinian people whose leadership still uses them and gets them killed to make political points, that indeed much has worsened, but that very few journalists have the moral courage any longer to tell us the truth about why that is.  Nowadays Ashrawi’s “crude forgery” below would not be questioned, but promulgated across the media and the internet as an honest account of what was “really happening.”   And Palestinian children, always vulnerable, are even more brutalised and deliberately brainwashed by Palestinian leaders:

“Arafat’s Children:   Protests at last from the weak who protect the strong”:

“Stone-throwing, flag-waving Palestinian youths ripped through the town of Ramallah yesterday in the first of two “days of rage” declared by Yassir Arafat’s Fatah organisation.  It will have been no trouble to recruit this rent-a-mob; there is rage to spare, after nearly six months of futile battling against the Israeli occupation.   But rage, the most nihilistic of impulses, has done nothing but harm to the Palestinians.

“A few powerless people, as they mourn children killed in the crossfire or pushed, like human shields, ahead of rioters attacking Israeli troops, are beginning to whisper the truth – that they are being deliberately exposed to danger and death, exploited by their own side’s gunmen.   As The Times reported yesterday from El Bireh, the Palestinian area where people’s flats are daily used by snipers attacking a nearby Jewish settlement, locals have appealed to gunmen not to expose their families to returning fire.  For response, they get official banners proclaiming their dead infants as martyrs.  They too hate Israel.  But they do not want to be martyrs to an unending, unwinnable confrontation.  They want to be left alone.

“These grieving voices should be heard by their own leaders and by others.   They are ignored.  The European Union has had plenty to say about the damage inflicted by Israel’s economic blockade and military roadblocks in the West Bank; in Jerusalem yesterday that was also Chris Patten’s theme.  But foreign leaders simply shrink from condemning cynicism with which the various Palestinian factional leaders, who themselves are in no firing line, have played upon popular fears and frustration.

“From Hamas and Fatah’s increasingly militant Tanzim militia leaders, both out to destroy any chance of negotiated cohabitation in this wracked land, each Palestinian death is a weapon of war.  But even Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator who was once a moderate, has signed up to the politics of hate.   This week she circulated an incendiary “open letter” purporting to be from Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister.   “To every man, woman and child in the Palestinian territories”, it said, “you are my target; you will be made to suffer; and you shall be made to pay for the original crime of being a Palestinian.”   This crude forgery is black propaganda and bad satire.   What good can Ms Ashrawi think to do by inciting the most violent to fresh extremes?

“Six months after it started “the Al-Aqsa intifada” has presented Palestinians with a grim set of accounts:  Death has claimed at least 345 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs and 65 other Israelis; hundreds more have been maimed.   The Palestinian central bank calculates that economic activity, already feeble, has halved.  In some areas it is down by 80 per cent.  Tourism, which could be a big earner, is for obvious reasons only a memory now, bringing in a mere 7 per cent of what it made before.  Trade is ruined.  More than 160,000 Palestinians cannot travel to their jobs in Israel.

“But such statistics do not reveal a more corrosive and potentially lasting evil, the brutalisation of children of both sexes who are trained and indoctrinated at terrorist boot camps before being used as expendable cover for gunmen.   “Closure does not frighten us,” shouted protestors yesterday.   It should.  Civilians are paying an unendurable price – children first.   Tense Israeli troops have too often shot before asking questions; but the harsher truth is that those children should be kept far away from trouble, not pushed towards it.

“At his first full cabinet this week, Mr Sharon promised to ease restrictions on most Palestinians and to punish only those responsible for violence.  That must be right.  It is easier said than done, certainly while Mr Arafat sticks to the official Fatah line that all Israel understands is violence.   In the coming fortnight, violence is likely to worsen, ratcheted up in advance of the March 27 Arab summit in Jordan.   There are risks for Israel in lifting restrictions around towns such as Bethlehem and Hebron at a time when Fatah is calling on Arabs to join “the beginning of war” and Saddam Hussein is training thousands of volunteers to send.  Israel must maintain its vigilance so long as Mr Arafat scorns the compromises that would make for a better, freer Palestine.”

Picture of the "suicide-bomber baby" found by the IDF forces at a Palestinian wanted terrorist's house in Hebron

12 replies »

  1. Very interesting.

    Actually, this could have been written about the Arab riots and attacks of 1947-1948 – the Arab politicians using the population as human shields, inciting them to violence, circulating forged documents and stories about Israeli atrocities which only had the effect of getting them to pack up and flee, destroying their own economy and livelihoods, etc. while the world looked on.

  2. I was puzzled when first reading “crude forgery”, because I assumed it related to the photo and thought: why would Hanan Ashrawi do such a thing?

  3. Pretzelberg, I seem to remember, from around that time, Ashrawi getting hot under the collar during a television interview when the interviewer asked her why, if Palestinians loved their children, they allowed them to put themselves in danger.

    This was reasonably and politely asked – but Ashrawi answered along the lines of the usual “You’re getting at us” belligerency – “How dare you suggest that we do not love our children?”

    I remember thinking, well, if that is the best way they can show love, I shudder to think how they’d behave if they hated their young.

    And then, of course, we found out from Hamas.

  4. When Arafat was still in power – and saying at his front door in English how he really wanted peace with Israel and then running to his back door and shouting “jihad” to his people in Arabic, I found a personality profile of him (written, I think, because the Israelis wanted to know the type of man with whom they were dealing) at

    http://www.ict.org.il/ResearchPublications/tabid/64/Articlsid/434/currentpage/1/Default.aspx which made very interesting reading.

    Incidentally, there are very recent echoes of saying one thing in Israel and quite another in Arabic from Abbas and his government, see

    http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=2901

    http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=2709

    http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=2588 (note that this mentions the glorification of terror by the very Hanan Ashrawi who argues that Palestinians love their childen)

    http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=2543

    and particularly this: http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=2618

    As for Arafat, note how the profile devotes a whole section to his double talk and lies. He was routinely cognitively distorted and very prone to self serving bias and representing beliefs as facts:

    “..One gets the impression that Arafat tends to believe partial and unsubstantiated information when it supports his beliefs, accepting them—or at least presenting them—as hard facts. Sometimes it appears that he himself does not perceive his words as lies, but believes them completely. Thus, for example, after a terrorist attack in Israel, in mid-February 2001, Arafat claimed that it was only a traffic accident, despite the terrorist himself having acknowledged that it was a deliberate attack. ..”

    “One gets the impression that Arafat is not concerned with telling the truth (to say the least) and has no emotional difficulty with that; his prevarication is not accompanied by any external signs that could give him away. For example, in a meeting with General Moshe Yaalon on October 7, 1995, Arafat was presented with a list of 35 wanted men. When Yaalon reached Muhammad Deif, the number-one wanted man at that time, Arafat put on an innocent face, turned to Muhammad Dachlan, and asked him, “Muhammad Esh?” (Muhammad who?) Intelligence information in the Yaalon’s hands showed that this same Deif had been in Arafat’s office at a personal meeting only three days prior. From some of his utterances, one gets the impression that he assumes that everyone lies…”

  5. Picking nits again Pretzl?
    You know very well what Yohoho is saying but you want to discomfort him to parade your own neutrality. It doesn’t work because you’re neutral when the wind is Nor’Nor’East – by which I mean (for I know you’re predictable enough to ask) when it suits you..

  6. @ Greensleeves

    Your sole entry on the thread is to harrass me – and you laughably call me “nitpicking” and “predictable”!

    Anyway: mind your own business.

  7. pretzelberg, ask yourself what is the natural reaction of most parents in relation to their children and danger.

    You will have your answer then.

  8. @ Yohoho

    The answer to your question is obvious – but which question of mine are you responding to now??

  9. Give us the obvious answer then pretzelberg, and then leave it alone. You are like a dog with a bone.

    Incidentally now, as then, the Palestinian factions themselves set out to undermine any peace deal, or even talks about talks. Today Palestinian terrorists killed four Israeli civilians near Hebron in the West Bank. One of the women was pregnant. According to what I read earlier it was a well-planned attack and the terrorists made sure that everyone was dead before they left.

    Abbas is blaming Hamas, as if the constant anti-Israel/antisemitic broadcasts on PA TV have nothing to do with this.

    What sort of people prefer war to peace?

  10. Why do you bother responding to pretzel?

    I have read dozens of his posts on various blogs. Pretzel doesn’t contribute in a meaningful way. His trick is to reduce them to trivia by making himself the centre of the discussion.

    You must have twigged this by now. Why not just ignore him completely?