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by Jonathan DeVore
08 March 2002 21:17 UTC
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Hello WSN,

As a recent student of the world, I have only recently begun to learn about
the "Israeli/Palestinian Conflict."  Much of the information I have received
(appreciably) from WSN has been critical of Israeli policy, and rather
recently (earlier in the week) a woman from Cincinnati (a former Lt. Colonel
in the Israeli Defense Force) came to our campus in order to speak to some
of these issues.  Accordingly, I went to hear the talk.  There were many
critical audience members attending.  A group of students were handing out
fliers at the door, which they had printed out from Global Exchange
entitled the "Top Ten Reasons to Oppose U.S. Aid to Israel".  The speaker
claimed that the information contained in the flier was full of "Palestinian
propaganda."  The flier claims, for example, that Israel is the "largest
recipient of US foreign aid in the world."  The speaker claimed this was
false, that in fact it was Egypt that was the largest recipient of US aid.
Could this be a methodological or definitional discrepancy between the two
claims?  Another example: in response to an audience member's question, she
stated that the claim that Palestinian's are treated as "second/third-class
citizens" in Israel is unfounded.

Unfortunately, I realize that I am approaching these issues with a very
limited and relatively ahistorical perspective.  The reason, then, why I am
writing WSN is so that I might gain some valuable insight from any concerned
members of the list: first, regarding the accuracy of the information
contained in the Global Exchange flier, second, regarding the information
contained in a reaction/response the speaker recently emailed to a friend of
mine (pasted below).  I look forward to any responses, suggested readings,

Thank you kindly for your concern,
Jonathan DeVore


Hi Nick,
I still didn't get the chance to find all the figures and info that I
promised to send to you, but I'll do it within the next few days.
Here are some points that I thought you may be interested to consider while
speaking up for one side of the conflict:

1. Palestinian Violence and the Israeli Response

         a. Today, the 'Tanzim' is the faction responsible for most
         acts of terrorism and violence. This faction is an organ of
         the 'Fatah', which, in turn, is associated with the
         Palestinian Authority. Regrettably, the PA, which is
         obligated to prevent and confront terrorism, has instead
         become an objective of Israeli counter-terrorist operations.
         Beyond interdicting terrorist attacks, and destroying the
         terrorist infrastructure, Israeli's counter-terrorist
         operations are also meant to send a clear message to those
         that are responsible for preventing Palestinian terrorism -
         that they must fulfill their obligations without delay.

         b. The activities of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are
         neither revenge nor retaliation. Rather, they are ongoing
         and continuous operations, which are now carried out with
         greater intensity in order to prevent terrorism and uproot
         its infrastructure. It must be stressed, that these
         operations are directed against terrorism, and not against
         the Palestinian people. Israel has no intention of
         'punishing' the civilian population, and certainly no desire
         of 'retaking' territories that has already been transferred
         to PA responsibility. The IDF is simply carrying out its
         mission to combat terrorism. While this occasionally
         requires Israeli entry into 'Area A', upon the completion of
         the mission, IDF units return to their bases.

         c. As far as Israel is concerned, the PA's capacity to fully
         control its territories is not the issue. Even if the PA's
         control is less than complete, the achievement of a
         cessation of terrorism is a direct function of the PA's
         resolve to confront it. This resolve is clearly lacking on
         the part of the PA. Should the Palestinians prove, in word
         and deed, that they are genuinely fighting terrorism, Israel
         believes that they will indeed succeed in eradicating the
         terrorists and their infrastructure. At such a stage, the
         parties will then be able to resume their process of
         dialogue under peaceful conditions, and return to the
         negotiating table. This then constitutes the answer for
         those who seek a political horizon in the present situation
         -- today, the political horizon consists of a cessation of
         terrorism, a restoration of calm and a return to the
         negotiating process.

         d. IDF Restraint - The Israel Defense Forces have taken upon
         themselves to limit their use of military force in the
         campaign against terrorism. This self-restraint is due
         to legal and moral considerations, as well as a desire to
         prevent harm to the Palestinian civilian population
         uninvolved in terrorism. As a result of this restraint,
         Israeli soldiers and policemen are exposing themselves to
         greater personal danger, and the State of Israel is taking
         upon itself a greater national risk. It would be hard to
         find any other army or nation in the world which would act
         as Israel does in the war against terrorism. Israel has
         shown restraint in the face of rocket attacks on its cities
         (ie Sderot), gunfire on the neighborhoods of its capital
         (ie. Gilo), and the intentional targeting of innocent
         mothers and their children on street corners, of youths at
         discotheques and malls and of guests at Bat Mitzvah
         celebrations and bridal receptions. Only an army which
         adopts moral restraints, and which operates out of a
         democratic mandate, can act in such as way -- even when
         fighting against indiscriminating terrorists and suicide
         bombers for which any and all targets are legitimate.

2. The Saudi Initiative

It is encouraging that Saudi Arabia has come out with a plan that in
effect represents a group of ideas predicated upon the conclusion of
a peace agreement and the implementation of normalization with
Israel. This in itself is a positive and encouraging development.
Naturally, the details of such an agreement must be determined in the
framework of the permanent status accords negotiated between Israel
and her neighbors.

3. The Israeli Internal Debate

There are those who present the internal debate now taking place
within Israel as a domestic weakness. However, quite the opposite is
true. The internal debate, and the diversity of views expressed, are
phenomena that demonstrate the open democratic nature of Israeli
society and bear witness to its inner strength. It is unfortunate
that no such openness is similarly visible on the other side. Indeed,
such candidness could be helpful in promoting understanding between
the two peoples.

Noga Maliniak
Community Shlicha
Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
4380 Malsbary Rd. Suite 200
Cincinnati, OH 45242
Phone 513-985-1520
Fax 513-985-1503

For 2000 years Jews yearned to go to Israel, how about this summer?
The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati offers grants of $3,000 - $4,000 for
students to travel to Israel. Ask me for details!

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