(en) More truth from the land of Israel and Occupied Palestain

Ilan shalif (gshalif@netvision.net.il)
Fri, 26 Sep 1997 01:05:25 +0200

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

Hi. Following is a post I got from ATS, which is relevant to more than the specific case of Ras El-Amud.


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||/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\|/\||/\|| || * -- SPECIAL -- * September 23, 1997 * -- EDITION -- * || ||\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/|\/||\/||






HANS LEBRECHT, Journalist P.O. Box 32277-61322 Tel-Aviv, Israel Tel: (972 3) 546 96 51 FAX: (972 3) 604 08 27 E-Mail: hlebr@compuserve.com - Saturday, September 21, 1997 -





By Hans Lebrecht


U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has hardly left Israel on her abortive peace broker tour, when a bunch of Jewish clerical right extremists provocatively squatted in a house and an annexed building in the all-Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood Ras-el-Amud, and thus incited another hot controversy which easily enough may lead to a new conflagration of Palestinian uprising, to another sanguinary Mideastern war. The squatters, three "families" from the ill-famed fundamentalist Atarot Cohanim Yeshiva known for many acts of occupying Arab houses and buildings in the Old City and other Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, as well as for numerous acts of violence against Palestinians in the city, "rented" a two-storey house and a proximate structure from a certain Irving Moskovitz, the official owner of these buildings. Only a short time ago, the same Moskovitz succeeded to attain a court order against four Arab families who lived in the said buildings, followed by an enforced eviction of these residents.

Who is this Irving Moskovitz who visits Israel and raises war clouds? He is a multi-millionaire mogul who made his wealth out of a chain of Bingo parlors with headquarters in Miami, Florida. This U.S. citizen acquired 3 1/2 acres of land in the Ras-el-Amud neighborhood, populated by 11,000 Palestinian Arabs. An observing Jew and passionate Zionist living in the U.S.A., far away from the land he thinks he owns, bought the real estate by no means from the indigenous Palestinian owners of the property. These lost the land at the beginning of the 'eighties by a confiscation order by the Israeli state and Moskovitz acquired the plot, together with the buildings on it from the national Israel Land Authorities. In fact, this makes him into a receiver of stolen property. But all of it is kosher according to the colonialist laws of Israel. The bingo parlor mogul does not intend to live on this land. Many in Israel, including members of the ruling establishment and "security" experts, warn that this Ras-el-Amud provocation may easily turn out to be the cornerstone to war and bloodshed. Sure enough, Moskovitz would not stay to fight. His intentions, covered up by high-phrased talk about an aim to contribute to the Judaization of "the eternal capital of Israel", he wants to draw profit from his investment in this real estate, paid into his Miami bank account, while others - Israelis and Palestinians - are slated to become martyrs on the battle fields, he was partner to set ablaze.

The Ras-el-Amud provocation was answered by the Palestinians in Jerusalem by fiery demonstrations, causing bloody clashes with the Israeli "security forces" which defended the squatters, as well as by massive protest actions by Israeli peace forces. Peace Now, Gush Shalom, Hadash Front (with communists), and others came to the scene and demonstrated across a police fenced-in "no-man's strip" of land in front of the besieged house. Gush Shalom erected a protest tent encampment, in which some of its central figures, led by the publicist Uri Avnery, held a day-and-night watch. On Friday afternoon, some of the Gush Shalom activists succeeded in entering the occupied house and glued on its doors huge placards, "Here igniting fuses for the next suicidal Hamas bombs are manufactured", was written on them. Only after several hours, the squatters, assisted by Israeli border police guards, succeeded in removing the placards. At the Peace Now rally, the well-known Israeli writer and poet Meir Shalev expressed the protesters' mood by calling over a bull horn: "Moskovitz - get lost! Don't play with the blood of Palestinian and Israeli war victims. Go and attend to your foul business in Florida, we don't need you here."

A Palestinian Jerusalem resident stated, applauded by many, that the whole set of provocations, some months ago at Jebel Rh'neim (Har Homa), and now in Ras-el-Amud, the many house demolitions in Palestinian eastern Jerusalem during the last few weeks, may have been initiated by Israeli right-wing extremists who hope to incite a new Intifada, followed by Israel's military force to return and conquer again the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip, aimed at perpetuating Israeli colonial rule over all of Palestine. But, he warned, what will be the price for it: another "few thousand" Palestinian and Israeli casualties and war invalids? Is this the peace Netanyahu and his followers have in mind?

Even the leaders of the sephardic ultra-clerical Shass Party, the second largest party in Netanyahu's coalition government, raised their voices against the Atarot Cohanim provocation, led by Moskovitz and the (mainly Ashkenazi) "National-Religious" Mafdal Party. Shass's spiritual leader, former sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Joseph, expressed, through his spokesman MK Ben-Nizri, that he and his party are annoyed over the Ras-el-Amud provocation. He warned that if the squatters will not be forced out of the premises, Shass may leave the government, causing it to be toppled.

Pressed by public opinion in Israel and abroad, Thursday, September 18, late at night, Netanyahu made a deal with Moskovitz and the squatters, falsely presented as a compromise, and blessed from afar by the "holy aunt" Albright, as if Netanyahu has shown his opposition to the provocation. What is the so-called much propagandized "compromise"? It is nothing more than a propaganda ploy to fool the world public opinion. According to it, the squatter families voluntarily left the occupied house, which was taken over by ten of the Atarot Cohanim Yeshiva "students", the task of whom was to maintain "Jewish presence" at the spot, and to revamp the buildings for a time, when the "families" will be allowed to come back and settle there. These ten "maintenance workmen" are allowed to be accompanied by at least another ten armed Atarot Cohanim hoodlums for "guarding the safety" of those "workmen" - i.e., the so-called "compromise", praised by most of the media in the U.S. as a gesture by Netanyahu to show he is in for a revival of the peace process, in truth is a big bluff.

Madeleine Albright blessed the bluff, expressing her "hope that yeshiva students who replaced the Jewish families would operate in shifts, but not live in the house...". What an illusion! If Albright's hope would materialize this would stand in utter contrast to all earlier similar "compromises" with the right-extremist settlers during the last 30 years of Israel's take over of Palestinian lands in the occupied territories - all of which have developed in new settlements and more land robbery.

Labor Party chair MK Ehud Barak stressed that the exchange of the first Atarot squatters by 20 or more armed Yeshiva students, the situation has not changed at all. It only shows that Netanyahu and his cabinet have caved in to the dictates of those extremists and their sponsor Moskovitz, which is very dangerous and may lead to a major bloody strife, causing enormous loss of human life and costing the chances for peace. Meretz chair, MK Yossi Sareed, called the deal to be "a rotten compromise which must not be accepted by the Israeli public." Sareed asked the State Comptroller to probe into the probability and amount of money Netanyahu, and/or Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert and (Third-Way party chair) Minister for internal security Avigdor Kahane, and their election funds may have received from Moskovitz in past years, in violation of the law. "It appears as though Moskovitz took a fortune out of his pocket so he could put the three of them into his pocket," Sareed said.

Faisal Husseini, the PNA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, said in front of the media that the exchange of the original right-wing extremist squatters by a still more militant group of provocative extremists, covered under the camouflage of a "religious seminar" was not a compromise, but a new provocation against the Palestinians, against the peace process and against human common sense. PNA President Yasser Arafat stated: "There is a limit to all patience". The newest provocation, coming on top of the one in Jebel Rh'neim a few months ago, will cause a very dangerous situation not only in relation to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, but in the entire region. The Ras-el-Amud provocation, if not all Jewish squatters and their radical Jewish substitutes will be evacuated, was another gross violation of the accords signed by Israel with the PLO. Arafat stressed. Many Palestinians, including many in their national leadership, point out the ambiguity of the U.S. rulers. With their tending to support, overtly or covertly, the Israeli colonialist aims, while putting heavy political and economic pressure upon the Palestinian Authority, they have long lost their role of being a neutral peace broker.

Most certainly, Netanyahu, Olmert, and their spokespersons and media mouthpieces, reject all the opposition to their policy of Judaization of Palestinian eastern Jerusalem. "Jews have the right to settle and to live anywhere in Jerusalem and in the whole of Eretz Israel" - any other outlook is called by them to be antisemitic. For them, the conquest of land and the eviction of Arab Palestinians who, by the way, like the Jews originate from Semitic tribes, is legitimate and certainly not antisemitic. They think they have the right to copy the example, the Americans set concerning their acquisition of land from the indigenous Indians during former centuries. True, all is made according to law - Israeli law, the law of conquerors and colonialist rulers. Confronted with this argument, we Jews should remember that the Nazis too, when robbing Jewish property and exterminating six million Jews, did it all according to laws - made by them for the purpose of massive robbery of Jewish property and of land and economic resources of the peoples of Europe, and to "legalize" the physical annihilation of millions of Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, handicapped people, Homosexuals, as well as political opponents at home.

If one asks me, whether the provocative Ras-el-Amud settling may cause a new Intifada, or war, I would answer in the negative. It might be the Ras-el-Amur incident, the beginning of house construction in Jebel Rh'neim (Har Homa) or any one of the next provocative step by the land robbers. The cause for a new sanguinary clash between Palestinians rising up against the continued occupation and rape of their homeland, against the atrocities committed by the occupation powers, or even a major Middle East war, has deeper roots. The Ras-el-Amud affair, or any other such incident can be only the burning match thrown into a barrel full of explosives. Behind the acute and grave danger that hectoliters of blood be spilled again stands the whole Israeli policy of territorial conquest and brutal military power. This is nothing new, and the Palestinians have risen also in the past, struggling a legitimate fight for national independence. At present, the principled policy of killing the Oslo, or any other peace process with the Palestinians, perpetrated by Netanyahu and his cabinet, the frustration over the escalated Zionist Jewish settling on ever more robbed Palestinian soil, has created a hotbed for the feelings among the Palestinians that their hope of ever achieving a just settlement with Israel by peaceful means only, was an illusion.

At present, it is Ras-el-Amud - the Israeli colonialists already re-named into "Olive Mountain Settlement" - that moves the emotions. Only a few months ago, it was Jebel Rh'neim (Har Homa) where the Israeli conquerors already have, in spite of world-wide protests, established accomplished facts, finished the creation of twelve urban roads and the infrastructure on the ground, and will start these days with building houses for the Jewish settlers. With the possible exceptions of the former owners of the land in Beit Sahour and its surroundings, no one, at the forefront the domestic and international media, speaks about that territorial rape anymore.

There is a pattern about these things. Was it not very similar, when, on the eve of the spring-time Passah holiday of 1968 - the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was not yet a year old - a certain Rabbi Moshe Levinger and some of his clerical- fascist hoodlums drove out, by force of arms, Palestinian families from a building in the city center of Hebron, and squatted their, claiming that this "Hadassah" building in the past had been owned by Jews? Not that one of those squatters belonged to families who lived there in the past. Also with these Levinger squatters, the then (Labor) government, forced by a public outcry from the side of Israeli peace forces and world public opinion, made a deal, supported by the right-wing in Israel and by political and financial sponsors in Brooklyn and Miami. They were "temporarily" moved out of the said building, to be guarded in their stead by Israeli occupation troops "until a solution would be found." According to that "compromise" the Levinger gang was allowed to celebrate the Passah Seder eve, and at least the week-long holidays in the police fortress in town, then occupied by the Israeli military governor. It took not long, and the squatters could return to the "Hadassah" building and other compounds in its vicinity. That 1968 compromise developed in the wake of time, into the ill-famed take-over of a growing number of buildings and enclaves in the inner city of Hebron occupied now by some 400 Jewish fundamentalist provocateurs, guarded by hundreds of elite occupation troopers. They did not come to live in peace with the 150,000 Palestinians in town, but openly propagate that "Arabs have no right to live" there. Moreover, at the outskirts of the town, the now about 6,000 resident numbering Kiryat-Arba settlement was established as a stronghold for the most radical right extremist Jewish fundamentalists, many of them of the "Kahane" follow-up terrorist gangs, out of which came the mass killer Baruch Goldstein who massacred 29 Palestinian Muslims at prayer in the Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron, and wounding dozens more. Kiryat-Arba has erected a luxurious memorial at the grave of this mass murderer, and made it into a pilgrim target for all right-wingers in Israel, and their supporters from the U.S. - all as an outcome of that "compromise".

Then, there is the so-called "Joseph's grave" in the midst of the West Bank town Nablus, acclaimed by the same kind of clerical-fascists to be a "holy site" for believing Jews. In truth, the mausoleum accommodated the grave of a 19 century Sheik, but the "settlers" claim this was the site where, according to the bible, forefather Joseph was buried in the 13th century BC., by the "children of Israel" when they fled Egypt and conquered Cana'an. The squatters of the "Joseph's Tomb Yeshiva" were at first not allowed to settle there, but, by the then "compromise" between them and the then Israeli occupation power, they were allowed to establish, and maintain a kind of synagogue at the place. Under the provisions of the Oslo DoP accord, the Yeshiva was allowed to continue their presence at the place in the inner city of Nablus also after it was turned over to the jurisdiction of the PNA, guarded by Palestinian police forces. During last year's riots, following the opening of the West-Wall tunnel into the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem, the Yeshiva squatters had to be evacuated under heavy loss of life among the Israeli and Palestinian forces, but were allowed to return after the riots calmed down. Well, I could muster a lot more such examples with similar "compromise" screen plays as the one now put into action in Ras-el-Amud.



Sometimes, I am asked by American friends what could be done in the U.S. about furthering Israeli-Palestinian peace. First of all, all possible means should be found and mobilized in order to tell the American public the truth about the causes and backgrounds of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the way to solve it once and for all by a mutual concerted just and lasting peace. It would be important to counter misleading reports and commentaries published by the mass media, manipulated by the Israeli propaganda machinery and the oil and armament monopolies which use the Mideastern tension for their own egoistic and hegemonial interests in a so-called "New Order" pax americana. The U.S. public opinion should be mobilized to put pressure upon the Clinton administration to stop the one-sided support for Israel's expansionist policy, for the continuation of the occupation of territories occupied since 1967. Instead of it, the U.S, administration should pressure the Israeli government to change its policy, to act for implementing the U.N. Security Council resolutions, to stop all oppressive measures and collective punishment against the Palestinian people. Such a change by itself would take the wind out of the sails of Palestinian extremists and terror gangs, as well as isolate Israeli radicals and fascists among the settlers' communities and the general public in Israel. I think that the idea of putting pressure upon the U.S. administration into changing its attitude, or at least to deduct from the annual financial and material "aid" (of 3.3 billion dollars) a sum equal to the budgetary spending by the Israeli government and other sponsors, for supporting the establishment of new settlements or expanding existing ones, on confiscated Palestinian soil and property, including the expenditures for strategic road construction in the occupied territories and employing army, police and other security forces, to safeguard such settlements and settlers. I reckon that this deduction should amount to some hundred millions of dollars of American tax-payers' money a year. This would make the Israeli rulers to reconsider their peace-killing and war- mongering policy.

Moreover, any sympathy and support, good people in the U.S. feel or extend towards Israel should not be addressed to inflate the resources of the aggressive colonialist and anti-peace politicians and groupings, but should be channeled to the progressive peace forces in Israel, acting in common with their Palestinian counterparts, for furthering true, just and lasting peace.


Hans Lebrecht is an Israeli journalist, a veteran activist of the Anti-Nazi underground resistance and the current chair of the Association of Antifascists and Victims of Nazism in Israel. He is also the Vice President of the International Federation of Resistance Fighters (F.I.R.), an organization with a membership of several million veteran antifascists throughout Europe and Israel.

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