Thursday, February 28, 2013

Much controversy has surrounded Roosevelt's decision to not bomb Auschwitz continuing even today. I have presented as wide an array of opinions in discussing the issue and its implications for the relationship between the president and the Jews then, and now. I add my own wrinkle to the debate as well, offering a practical reason that might, in the end, have provided at least a military rationale for choosing not to bomb. Not the reasons offered by the military at the time, nor present-day military historians, but a plausible reason none the less.

The short answer for the impatient is that bombing Auschwitz was not only possible, but would have posed little or no risk to US airmen and their aircraft. To what degree the decision to NOT bomb was moral and antisemitism inspired is up to the reader to decide. My own speculation regarding the president's decision based on military considerations has nothing, in the end, to do with that other consideration, morality.  

1944 survey  found that 24.2% of Americans considered Jews “most dangerous” compared to 8% for Germans and 16% for Japanese. American soldier fighting Germany and Japan, but American Jews were considered “most dangerous”? 

Introduction: Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an anti semite. And perhaps a case could, based on his personal sentiments to explain his administration’s hands-off approach to the unfolding persecution, the unfolding Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. But he was also FDR, the president who invited more Jews to participate in government and the courts than any predecessor; who accepted criticism from a generally antisemitic country which earned him the label, “Rosenfeld” for his assumed control by “the Jews.” I write this not to suggest he is unjustly criticized for his and his administration’s inaction regarding the plight of Europe’s Jews, because I do hold him directly accountable. Rather my intention is to return focus to America, public sentiment, as a responsible agent in the failure to bomb “Auschwitz.” 


Picture of the Birkenau (Auschwitz II) extermination camp taken by an American surveillance plane on August 25, 1944. Crematoria II and III and the holes used to throw cyanide into the gas chambers are visible. (Wikipedia)

Background: In early 1941, drawn by the promise of free slave labor the German petro-chemical giant IG Farben, sister company to America’s DuPont, built an industrial complex at a site three miles from what would become Auschwitz I, the extermination center. While IBM keypunch machines sorted through the cards of the approximate 10,000 daily arrivals those designated suitable were assigned to work details at IG Farben where they were intended to die of their labor, while the remainder of the arrivals would be assigned a more immediate death. 

In late 1943 and early 1944, the Allies began bombing oil-production facilities, including the small-to-middling-size petrochemical plant at Auschwitz III. Auschwitz III, or Monowitz, was a satellite camp about four kilometers from the gas chambers at Auschwitz II, or Birkenau.” 

Soon after IG Farben began producing synthetic petroleum products and other war materiel Allied bombers targeted the site. There is some debate over when intelligence analysis actually identified Auschwitz I as a death factory. But this is a question apart from when and how the decision not to interfere with the extermination process was arrived at.

American policy regarding the unfolding Holocaust was apparent early in the 1930’s. If the United States would refuse temporary haven to 20,000 Jewish children left homeless by Krystallnacht; if FDR would respond to the pleas of the 900 Jewish refugees of the SS St. Louis by dispatching a Coast Guard cutter to secure Florida from a Jew desperately attempting to swim to shore; if the US State Department refused to issue even the paltry number visas permissible to Jews fleeing the Holocaust:: was there ever any likelihood that the president would seriously consider bombing the death camp or the rail lines feeding the gas chambers?

Layers of reasons were advanced by the government, excuses continue by present-day defenders. We will consider some of these below. But in the end this discussion is not about the logistics or feasibility of bombing the death centers, although personnel involved in bombing IG Farben have written that they could easily have dropped bombs on Auschwitz as they flew over the gas chambers en route to Birkenau three miles away. There was no realistic risk to airmen or aircraft at the time because by November, 1944, the Allies had air superiority over most of Europe, including these sites. 

But my discussion involves another question; that the decision to not target Auschwitz was consistent with a hands-off policy regarding the plight of the Jews beginning in 1933. I will speculate beyond even the antisemitic motive and suggest a more practical reason by the commander in chief serving another purpose. But that discussion is for later.

The decision to bomb or not the death camp at Auschwitz has been debated for decades, beginning in 1943-4 and continuing to present. And while the arguments pro and con are more or less plausible, in the end the decision was consistent with the president’s position evidenced by the 1938 Evian Conference; backed by five years of bureaucratic State Department actions trapping Europe’s Jews to face their terrible end. 

The Military Option

Former U.S. Senator George McGovern piloted a B-24 Liberator in December 1944, and his squadron bombed Nazi oil facilities less than five miles from Auschwitz. In 2005, he said “There is no question we should have attempted ... to go after Auschwitz. There was a pretty good chance we could have blasted those rail lines off the face of the Earth, which would have interrupted the flow of people to those death chambers, and we had a pretty good chance of knocking out those gas ovens.”

The most persistent and credible-sounding reason advanced for the decision against bombing the extermination camps and their railroad feeder tracks was the risk to airmen and aircraft. But all accounts indicate that the Allies had air superiority over Europe by March, 1944. According to Air Force Magazine by November, 1944, 

“as US Army Air Forces Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold recalled—American airmen were "roving at will over all Germany, and the Luftwaffe’s air and ground defenses [were] helpless to do anything about it." Oil and transportation attacks had robbed the Nazi air service of fuel and parts, even as steady attrition cost it pilots and airplanes. No safe airspace existed anywhere, and any German airplane faced the risk of Allied fighters striking any time out of threatening skies.”

Another reason advanced for not bombing the camps and rail lines was that it would divert air power from military targets and lengthen the war. And possibly had the military resources been diverted from bombing, for example, oil refineries supplying the Wehrmacht with fuel the war might well have been extended. But the assault on infrastructure frequently found Allied aircraft overflying the death camps and rail line known to be executing the Final Solution: 

On August 20, 1944, a fleet of U.S. bombers dropped more than one thousand bombs on the oil refineries in the factory areas of Auschwitz, less than five miles from the gas chambers. On September 13, American bombers struck the factory areas again; this time, stray bombs accidentally hit an SS barracks (killing fifteen Germans), a slave labor workshop (killing forty prisoners), and the railroad track leading to the gas chambers… U.S. bombers carried out similar raids on December 18, December 26, and January 19.” 

And, as Hungarian Jewry were boarding freight cars for delivery to Auschwitz, 

American bombers flew over all five deportation railways from Hungary on more than ten different days between June and October 1944 on their way to bombing missions, and they raided the Monowitz plant five times between August 1944 and January 1945… On their way back to Italy, the bombers regrouped directly above one of the deportation railways from Hungary to Poland (at this point no longer used for deportation of Hungarian Jews). Some of them dropped leftover bombs on a freight yard below and in doing so cut the rail line.”

And finally, and most bizarre excuse of all, was the “fear” that bombing the gas chambers would endanger the lives of the condemned! 

If we had bombed Auschwitz with the inevitable consequence of killing hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jewish prisoners, [theU.S. would have been blamed as] accomplices in the Nazi genocide. “

Numerous pleas/requests by Jewish groups were made to the War Department, particularly as news leaked out that Hungarian Jewry were being about to be sent to Auschwitz. Among these were, Treasury Secretary Morgenthau, Agudas Israel, the World Jewish Congress. When the argument that bombing “might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans” (more vindictive than the gas chambers?) failed to convince the War Department advanced the following argument: 

Proposed Air Action to Impede Deportation of Hungarian and Slovak Jews.
26 June 1944, reply to Mr. Morgenthau: 

"The War Department is of the opinion that the suggested air operation is impracticable… "The War Department fully appreciates the humanitarian importance of the suggested operation. However… the most effective relief to victims of enemy persecution is the early defeat of the Axis, an undertaking to which we must devote every resource at our disposal."

Thos. T. Handy,
Major General,
Assistant Chief of Staff 

War is an extension of politics, and politicians, dependent on popular vote, are more likely to follow than lead their constituents. The interwar years of the early twentieth century and The Great Depression were a time of anxiety and nativism in both Americaand Germany. I earlier mentioned the, 

“1939 Roper poll [that] found that only 39% of respondents felt American Jews should be treated like all other people – 10% even believed Jews should be deported.” 

Sixty-one percent of Americans polled responded that “American Jews should [NOT] be treated like all other people. Immediately following Krystallnacht “10% even believed Jews should be deported.” Regarding the Jews, at least, popular sentiment in Germanyand the United States was not that far apart. A 1944 survey found that 24.2% of Americans considered Jews “most dangerous, compared to 8% for Germans and 16% for Japanese. American soldier fighting Germany and Japan, but Americans viewed Jews “most dangerous”?


By late 1943, it was apparent that the Allies would ultimately defeat the enemy, so it became increasingly important to make high-level political decisions about the course of the war and the postwar future of Europe. (Wikipedia)

Roosevelt and the decision not to bomb: In The Conquerors, historian Michael Beschloss, 

casts new light upon Roosevelt's concealment of what America knew about Hitler's war against the Jews and his foot-dragging on saving refugees” 

In his book Beschloss referred to a 1986 interview Treasury Secretary Morgenthau’s son had with John McCloy in which the undersecretary for war in the Roosevelt administration seemed to reverse himself as decision maker regarding bombingAuschwitz. William vanden Hueval, co-chair of the Roosevelt Institute, attacks the book’s representation of the president and, by vanden Huevel’s tone, reflects the level of emotionalism continuing to revolve around the president and Auschwitz:

The principal marketing thrust for Beschloss's book centers on the issue of whether or not the Allies should have bombed Auschwitz and on "new information" that the man who made the ultimate decision not to bomb Auschwitz "may not have been John McCloy but Franklin Roosevelt himself.”

“Beschloss identifies this"new information" as a taped private conversation in 1986 between John McCloy and Henry Morgenthau III who was researching a family memoir. In his PBS interview, he says:" I came upon an interview, unpublished, that John McCloy did just before he died... where he actually conceded that he had taken this to Roosevelt and said 'do you want to bomb Auschwitz or not?' And he said that what Roosevelt said was, 'absolutely not...?'"

“I have read the transcript of the McCloy-Morgenthau interview. Nowhere does the above-cited conversation take place.”

In fact a transcript of the interview had been public for several years before vanden Hueval’s charge: 

“The 91-year-old McCloy told the junior Morgenthau that he of course had raised the issue with FDR. He said, "I remember talking one time with Mr. Roosevelt about it, and he was irate. He said, 'Why, the idea! They'll only move it down the road a little way.' One can take FDR’s meaning that the Nazis would have built other death camps and continue the killing.” McCloy recollected that FDR "made it very clear" to him that bombing Auschwitz "wouldn't have done any good." Moreover, Roosevelt said that bombingAuschwitz would be "provocative" to the Nazis and he wouldn't "have anything to do" with the idea. FDR warned Morgenthau that Americans would be accused of "bombing these innocent people" at Auschwitz, adding, "We'll be accused of participating in this horrible business!" 

An assertion by the Roosevelt Institute over many years represents David Ben-Gurion and the Jewish Agency as supporting the administration decision to not bomb Auschwitz, repeated in support of vanden Hueval’s critique of Bescholss:  

“Were David Ben-Gurion and his ten colleagues of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem immoral because they voted against asking the Allies to bomb the Death Camps?” [he asks] 

In this case the historian is only half-confabulating. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyan Institute challenges vanden Hueval’s misrepresentation of the facts. Two meetings of the Jewish Agency Executive met in Jerusalem in June, 1944 to discuss the possibility of bombing Auschwitz. At the first, 

“on June 11, 1944, JAE chairman David Ben-Gurion and his colleagues "voted eleven to one against the bombing proposal." What actually happened at the June 11 session is that Ben-Gurion opposed requesting an Allied attack on Auschwitz because "we do not know what the actual situation is in Poland.”

To this point vanden Huevel is correct, the assertion being that Ben-Gurion supports the administration policy. What he fails to mention is that a second meeting of the JAE took place eight days later to which, 

“Richard Lichtheim, in the Jewish Agency's Geneva office, sent the Jewish Agency leadership in Jerusalem a detailed summary of the first eyewitness account of the mass-murder process (the account was produced by two Auschwitz escapees… What the Vrba-Wetzler report revealed, Lichtheim wrote… was that in addition to the "labour camp in Birkenau" there were also "large-scale killings" in Birkenau itself "with all the scientific apparatus needed for this purpose, i.e. . . . specially constructed buildings with gas-chambers and crematoriums. . . .The total number of Jews killed in or near Birkenau is estimated at over one and a half million… Upon receiving this information, the Jewish Agency leadership promptly launched a concerted lobbying effort to persuade the Allies to bomb Auschwitz.”

Afterthought: By 1944 it was increasingly clear that the war was coming to its end. Faced with the choice to defend the homeland or pursue the war against the Jews, Hitler diverted limited rail resources from resupply of the Wehrmacht to delivering Jews toAuschwitz. 

Roosevelt is described as a hands-on commander in chief, intensively involved in all aspects of the conduct of the war. Which raises the question: What effect would bombing Auschwitz or rail lines feeding the factory of death fit in with the Allied war effort? 

If, as he clearly did, Hitler was consumed in killing as many Jews as possible before the end of the war, then Roosevelt as commander in chief might well have decided that it served American war aims to not disrupt that obsession. And while this may or not have been his primary reason not to bomb Auschwitz, it may well have contributed. 

Recent writings in this Series: 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The left's science deniers
By Glenn Garvin 2-28-13

If this column appeared under the headline, "Massive defeat for the anti-science forces," you would naturally assume I'm talking about some kind of setback for conservative Republicans, right? And you would be completely wrong.
The losers in this case are the luddite shock troops of progressivism like Greenpeace. And the winners are the children of the Philippines, thousands of whom will not go blind or die because the anti-science wing of modern liberalism finally is getting some pushback.
The Filipino government has finally approved the planting of genetically modified rice that contains vitamin A. "Golden rice," as the stuff is called, probably won't make a splash in the United States, but in the Third World, it will be a godsend. Between a quarter-million and a half-million children go blind each year from vitamin A deficiency, the United Nations says, and half of them die within 12 months. Some studies put the figure even higher.
As many as 300 million of the people at high risk for vitamin A deficiency live in countries where the staple food is rice. For them, golden rice will provide a quick, easy and cheap fix: eating just two ounces a day will provide 60 percent of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin A.
But that hasn't stopped Greenpeace and other luddite-left activists from fighting a scorched-earth war to stop golden rice. For more than a dozen years — or, if you prefer to keep score in the lives of children, 8 million dead — they've kept golden rice off the market by calling it Frankenfood and insisting that it will wreck the environment and spread dependence on Western capitalism.
What role does science play in the left-wing opposition to golden rice and other genetically modified crops? None. Study after study has shown no detectable deleterious effects on human health from genetically altered foods. And two studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that golden rice is an even better vehicle for delivery of vitamin A than spinach, the wonder vegetable.
Every time some lone Republican nut from Hooterville makes a jackass statement about rape or evolution, it's immediately ascribed as a doctrinal belief of the entire GOP and conservatives in general. But liberal resistance to science is far more organized, far more destructive and far less covered in the media:
—Millions of American parents refused to have their children vaccinated for diseases like whooping cough and measles after Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published an error-ridden tirade in Rolling Stone and the left-wing website Salon in 2005 linking vaccines to autism and other neurological disturbances.
Six years later, Salon retracted the article, yet many parents remain convinced of the linkage to this day — one of whom now sits in the White House. "We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate," Barack Obama said during his 2008 campaign. "Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included." Obama's spurious worries about vaccines led to manufacturing changes that caused a shortage of flu vaccine in the winter of 2009.
—Virtually no nuclear-power plants have been built in the United States during the past four decades, the result of continuous left-wing scare stories. Australian physician Helen Caldicott has become a folk hero — 21 honorary degrees and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize — for her anti-nuke campaign, the centerpiece of which is that the explosion at the Soviet Union's Chernobyl nuclear reactor led to nearly a billion deaths and countless hideous birth defects.
Actual death toll, according the U.N.'s scientific committee on nuclear radiation: less than 100. Actual birth defects: zero. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences says that the chances of radiation-induced changes in human sperm and eggs are so low that it has never been detected in human beings, "even in thoroughly studied irradiated populations such as those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." There may be good reasons for opposing nuclear power — mainly, that the industry is a bloated corporate welfare tick that cannot survive without massive government subsidy — but science isn't one of them, which is why a 2009 Pew Research Center survey showed 70 percent of scientists support it.
But scientific consensus, invoked like clockwork whenever lefty activists and their journalist friends talk about global warming, is mysteriously irrelevant when they're discussing nuclear power or genetically enhanced crops. In 2005, the International Council for Science — a coalition of 140 scientific organizations — reviewed more than 50 studies and declared flatly: "Currently available genetically modified foods are safe to eat."
There are a few million dead Third World kids who wish that somebody had listened.

Israel has been made an alibi for a new climate of antisemitism on the left.   By Norman Geras  1-29-13

In Marx’s essay On the Jewish Question, written in 1844, there are two contrasting sets of themes vis-à-vis the Jews. In Part II of the essay Marx deploys some well-known negative stereotypes, according to which: the mundane basis of Judaism is self-interest, egoism, or, as Marx also calls it, ‘an anti-social element’; the worldly religion of the Jew is huckstering; and the Jew’s jealous god – ‘in face of which no other god may exist’ – is money. The emancipation of the Jews is said by him to be equivalent to the emancipation of mankind from Judaism. Part I, on the other hand, presents a version of secular democracy in which the Jews, like any religious or other particularistic grouping, may retain their religion and their separate identity consistently with the state itself rising above such particularisms, and rendering these politically irrelevant.
Though Marx himself regards this – political emancipation – as an incomplete form of emancipation, he nonetheless articulates a genuine type of moral universalism: different faiths, ethnicities, peoples, have a right to assert their specific identities and shared beliefs within the free secular order of the democratic state. The distinctions between such groups just cease to have a political bearing. Marx does not extend this argument beyond the single state to the global arena (that not being part of the discursive context), but the correlate at international level of what he argues in Part I of On the Jewish Question is today embodied in the notion of a right of nations to self-determination, as affirmed in Article 1.2 of the United Nations Charter.
The contrasting themes of Marx’s essay may be taken as emblematic of the state of affairs obtaining today between Jews and the left. It is not difficult to understand the long affinity there has been between them. Common traditions of opposition to injustice, the commitment within liberal and socialist thought to ideals of equality (whether this is equality under the law or equality in substantive economic terms), opposition to racist and other similar types of prejudice – these things have long served to attract Jews to organisations and movements of the left, and they still do.
Israel as alibi
At the same time, that affinity has now been compromised by the existence of a new climate of antisemitic opinion within the left. This climate of opinion affects a section of the left only, and not the whole of it. But it is a substantial section. Its convenient alibi is the state of Israel – by which I mean that Israel is standardly invoked to deflect the charge that there is anything of antisemitism at work. Israel, so the story goes, is a delinquent state and, for many of those who regard it so, a non-legitimate one – colonialist, imperialist, vehicle of oppression and what have you. Similarly, diaspora Jews who defend Israel within their home countries are not seen as the conduit of Jewish interests and/or opinion in the normal way of any other democratic articulation; they are treated, rather, as a dubious force – the notorious ‘Jewish lobby’ – as if their organised existence were somehow improper.
These themes pitch those who sponsor them out of a genuine, and into a spurious, type of universalism: one where the Jews are special amongst other groups in being obliged to settle for forms of political freedom in which their identity may not be asserted collectively; Jews must be satisfied, instead, merely with the rights available to them as individuals. I call this a spurious universalism because people’s rights to live as they will (subject to the usual constraint of not harming others) is an incomplete right – a truncated and impaired right – if it does not include the freedom to associate with others of their own kind.
To repeat: Israel has been made an alibi for a new climate of antisemitism on the left.
But could it not be, perhaps, that there is no such climate? Could it not be that Israel’s critics are just what they say they are, no more and no less: critics of the policies of successive Israeli governments, just in the same way as there are critics of the governments of every country? Well, it could be. There has been enough to criticise, goodness knows – from the long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to the policy of permitting Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. It not only could be, it even in many cases is, since there are both critics and criticisms of Israel which are not antisemitic – such as the two criticisms I just made. Yet, if it both could be and is, it also in many cases is not. Much of the animus directed at Israel today is of a plainly antisemitic character. It relies (just as Marx did in Part II of On the Jewish Question) on anti-Jewish stereotypes. This can be shown with near mathematical precision; I endeavour to show it in the rest of what I have to say.

Antisemitism as epiphenomenal
A first form of the Israel alibi for contemporary antisemitism is the impulse to treat such of the antisemitism as there is acknowledged (by whomever) to be – in Europe, in the Arab world – as a pure epiphenomenon of the Israel-Palestine conflict. One instance of this was the statement by film director Ken Loach in March 2009 that if there was a rise of antisemitism in Europe this was not surprising: ‘it is perfectly understandable’ (my emphasis), he was reported as saying, ‘because Israel feeds feelings of antisemitism’. The key word here is ‘understandable’. This might just mean ‘capable of being understood’; but since more or less everything is capable of being understood, it would be pointless to use the word in that sense about the specific phenomenon of a rise in antisemitism in Europe. ‘Understandable’ also means something along the lines of ‘excusable’ or, at any rate, not an issue to get excited about. To see plainly the way in which Israel acts as an exonerating alibi in this case, one need only imagine Loach, or anyone else on the left, delivering themselves of the opinion that a growth of hostility towards, say, black people, or towards immigrants from South Asia, or from Mexico, was understandable.
Another instance of this first form of the Israel alibi is provided by a thesis of Gilbert Achcar’s concerning Holocaust-denial in the Arab world. Achcar is a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and a longtime leftist; he is editor of a volume of essays on The Legacy of Ernest Mandel. Holocaust-denial – as I shall merely assert and not argue here – is a prominent trope of contemporary antisemitism; it is indeed continuous with a practice of the Nazi period itself, when camp guards and the like would mock their Jewish victims by telling them that not only were they doomed to die, but also all knowledge of what had happened to them would be erased. They would be forgotten; the world would never know. Achcar accepts that Western Holocaust-denial is an expression of antisemitism. Much Arab Holocaust-denial, on the other hand, he puts down to such factors as impatience in the Arab world with Western favouritism towards Israel, a suspicion that the Holocaust has been ‘amplified’ for pro-Zionist purposes, and exasperation with the cruelty of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Whether or not these explanations are valid, a racist belief does not cease to be one on account of its having context-specific causes. No one on the left would dream of suggesting that a belief that black people were lazy, feckless or simple-minded, was less racist for being held by a certain group of white people on account of motives which eased their way towards that belief. But the Israel alibi is currently exceptional in its legitimating power in this respect.
No antisemitism without deliberate intent
A second form of the Israel alibi for antisemitism is the plea that antisemitism should not be ascribed to anyone without evidence of active hatred of Jews on their part; without, that is to say, some clear sign of antisemitic intent. A well-known case of this second form arose with Caryl Churchill’s play ‘Seven Jewish Children’, following upon Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008-9. This play puts into Jewish mouths the view that Palestinians are ‘animals’ and that ‘they want their children killed to make people sorry for them’; but that there is no need to feel sorry for them; that we – the Jews – are the chosen people and that it is our safety and our children that matter; in sum, that ‘I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out’. I will not insist here on how this echoes the blood libel; it is enough that Churchill ascribes to the Jews, seeing themselves as chosen, murderous racist attitudes bordering on the genocidal. On the face of it, one would think, this is a clear candidate for antisemitic discourse.
Churchill, however, disavowed that charge when it came from critics. She did so on the grounds of what one might call an innocent mind. No antisemitism had been intended by her. On the one hand, the blood libel analogy had not been part of her thinking when she wrote the play; on the other hand, those speaking the offending lines in it were not meant to be Jews in general, merely individual Israelis. Churchill is evidently innocent here of any memory of the figure of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, long thought of, despite his being only one character, as putting Jews in a bad light. She is innocent, too, of her own generalising tendencies in naming her play ‘Seven Jewish Children’ and then linking the broad themes of the Jews as victims of genocide and as putative perpetrators of it in their turn.
Contemplate, briefly, the idea of a sociology of racism in which racism was held to be a matter exclusively of mental attitudes, of what some given person or group of persons had in their minds and, most particularly, of hatreds explicitly formulated; but not also of a language that embodies negative stereotypes, or of unconscious prejudicial assumptions, or of discriminatory practices, and so forth. For no other kind of racism would such a narrowly-conceived sociology be taken seriously even for a moment.
A much more recent instance of the same thing is Günter Grass’s poem ‘What Must Be Said’. It imputed to Israel, on the basis of absolutely nothing in the way of evidence, a genocidal ambition against the Iranian people. Grass has been defended in his turn on the grounds that he is not personally an antisemite – as if this might settle the question of whether or not his poem contained antisemitic tropes.

Programmatic rhetoric
Grass’s poem may serve, also, to introduce a third form of what I am calling alibi antisemitism. For the poem contains a reference to the ‘loudmouth’ president of Iran – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – at once Holocaust-denier and lead spokesman for removing Israel from the page of history. Like others for whom this is a central goal, the loudmouth president sometimes has benefit of the consideration that such talk is mere rhetoric, and so not to be treated as
in earnest.
And you do not have to go far to find either journalists or activists of the left similarly playing down antisemitic elements within the programmatic objectives of Hamas and Hezbollah: not just their commitment to getting rid of Israel; also openly Jew-hating statements, as for example in the Hamas Charter. This latter document cites ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ as authoritative and as establishing a Zionist ambition to dominate the world. It has Jews hiding behind rocks and trees against the threat (which it celebrates) that Jews will in due course be killed.
Leftists and liberals of a would-be pragmatist turn of mind can appear remarkably untroubled by this sort of thing. Either the offending contents of the Hamas Charter are consigned by them to a receding past, or they are said not to represent the thinking of a moderate section of Hamas willing to contemplate a long-term (though not unlimited) truce with Israel. It is never explained by such pragmatists why, if the anti-Jewish components of the document are a thing of the past, no longer relevant, of merely rhetorical status, they have not been, or cannot now be, amended away.
I shall leave aside here the question of whether or not there are sound tactical reasons for Israel to consider negotiating with Hamas; it is not germane to my present concern. However, and as before, one should try to imagine a person of the left able to adopt so casual and indulgent an attitude to other openly racist discourses, able to treat them as merely rhetorical racism – while continuing to be held in respect within the left or liberal political milieu to which he or she belongs. It doesn’t happen. Only Israel provides a pretext in that milieu for the mere-rhetoric plea. By some convenient metonymy, people saying ‘Jews’ may be taken really to mean ‘Israel’. And Israel today is fair game for being hated.

A climate of complicity
The fourth and final alibi phenomenon I shall deal with is more oblique. It consists neither of the direct expression of antisemitic themes nor of attempts to explain these away, but rather of turning a blind eye. It is relevant to the case here, all the same, since prejudice makes its way more successfully when there is a certain tolerance of it by others, not actively hostile themselves but indulgent towards those who are.
I will take as my example of this the Guardian newspaper today. This once great paper of British liberalism now provides space on its opinion pages for the spokesmen of Hamas, the contents of its programmatic charter notwithstanding; provides space on its letters page for philosophers justifying the murder of Jews; and provides space on its website for people who deploy well-known antisemitic themes even while professing that they have nothing whatever against Jews. The Guardian is, as you would expect, on record as being vigorously opposed to racism: as, for example, when it referred in a leader of November 2011 to ‘a message that is not heard often enough… that racism is never acceptable, wherever it takes place’.
Instructive, in the light of that, is to examine how the paper reacted editorially to the Toulouse killings. On March 20 of this year, before the identity of the killer was known and when it was assumed he was from the French far right, the Guardian echoed the sentiment I have just quoted from its November leader, saying that ‘the [French] republic will come together in the face of such an assault on its minorities’. While cautioning against speculation about the killer’s motives, it nonetheless allowed itself to allude to Sarkozy’s lurch to the right, his claims of ‘there being too many immigrants in France’, and other such expressions of xenophobia. This may be seen as an instance of treating racism as unacceptable ‘wherever it takes place’. Two days later, once it was known that the killer was Mohammed Merah, an Islamist jihadi who had said he wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children, a second Guardian editorial endorsed Sarkozy in ‘condemn[ing] any attempt to denigrate the French Muslim community by associating it with the mad crimes of a terrorist’; and then added precisely nothing about the kind of ideas which might have been influential in Merah’s willingness – not as a Muslim but as an Islamist and jihadi – to slaughter three Jewish children. ‘Mad crimes of a terrorist’ was all, and not so much as a breath about antisemitism. But the killing of Jewish children, even if to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children, is antisemitism of the most unadulterated kind. Those children were guilty of nothing and were killed by Merah because they were Jewish.
A liberal newspaper, committed to racism’s never being acceptable anywhere, can find the words to name the poison that is rightwing anti-immigrant xenophobia, but not the word for hatred of Jews. Incomprehensible – but for that familiar alibi, Israel as cause.
It is a moral scandal that some few decades after the unmeasurable catastrophe that overtook the Jewish people in Europe, these antisemitic themes and ruses are once again respectable; respectable not just down there with the thugs but pervasively also within polite society, and within the perimeters of a self-flattering liberal and left opinion. It is a bleak lesson to all but those unwilling to see. The message of ‘never again’ has already proved to have been too sanguine. Genocides still occur. We now know, as well, that should a new calamity ever befall the Jewish people, there will be, again, not only the direct architects and executants but also those who collaborate, who collude, who look away and find the words to go with doing so. Some of these, dismayingly, shamefully, will be of the left.
This is not a hopeful conclusion, but it is a necessary one. The best of hope in politics must always be allied to a truthful realism. We need to know what we are up against.
This is the text of a presentation by Norman Geras to the YIVO Conference on Jews and the Left held in May 2012 in New York City.
Norman Geras is Professor Emeritus in Politics at the University of Manchester. His books include: Crimes against Humanity: Birth of a Concept (2011), The Contract of Mutual Indifference (1998), Solidarity in the Conversation of Humankind (1995), and Marx and Human Nature (1983). He now lives in Cambridge. His blog, normblog, is at

February 26, 2013, 

by Raymond Ibrahim*
Tunisia, one of the most secular Arab countries in modern times—and the first country to experience the “Arab Spring”—was also recently the first Arab country to experience a high level political Islamic assassination since the Arab Spring began. The BBC explains:
Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home in the capital, Tunis. Relatives say Mr Belaid was shot in the neck and head on his way to work. He was a prominent secular opponent of the moderate [sic] Islamist-led government and his murder has sparked protests around the country, with police firing tear gas to disperse angry crowds.
Although the BBC report states “It is not known who is responsible for the attack on the politician,” who Belaid was—a leader of the Democratic Patriots party, which has been at the forefront of challenging the Islamist-led government of Tunisia—speaks for itself. As French President Francois Hollande put it, “This murder robs Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices.”
The Islamist Ennahda party naturally denies any involvement—even as it, not to mention all Tunisian Islamists, had the most to gain from the silencing of Belaid. According to the Islamist party’s president, Rashid Gannouchi, “Ennahda is completely innocent of the assassination of Belaid.”
Neither the BBC nor the Ennahda party bother mentioning the fact that, mere days before Belaid was shot to death, fatwas calling for his death were publicly proclaimed. For example,one video shows a bearded Tunisian cleric, of the Salafi brand, publicly denouncing Belaid as an “infidel” whose must be killed—”not according to me but the prophet!”—even as those around him cry “Allahu Akbar!”
Just as Arab-Spring fever came to Egypt following Tunisia—and in both countries, saw the empowerment of Islamist parties, namely the Ennahda and Muslim Brotherhood—so too have Islamic fatwas to assassinate those opposing the Islamist agenda come to Egypt following Tunisia. Aside from the fact that, during the popular protests against President Muhammad Morsi and his Sharia-heavy constitution, his Islamist allies issued any number of fatwas permitting the spilling of the blood of those opposing him, some days ago, Dr. Mahmoud Sha’ban issued a fatwa on live TV calling for the killing of Muhammad el-Baradei and Hamdin Sabhi, leaders of Egypt’s secular National Salvation Front party for being openly critical of Morsi and the Brotherhood. He unhesitatingly pronounced that the “Sharia of Allah” demands their killing, basing his fatwa on the words of Muhammad—to behead those who oppose the leader—as found in the canonical collections of Sahih Muslim.
Then, a few days after Sha’ban issued this fatwa, an assassination attempt was made on Dr. Tawfik Okasha—the host of the TV show Misr al-Youm (“Egypt Today”) and one of the most vociferous critics of the Muslim Brotherhood. As he was leaving his home, cars with unknown assailants opened fire on him, though he was protected by his bodyguards—popular critics of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who can afford it, are often surrounded by personal bodyguards—who opened fire back on the assassins.
In other words, we are witnessing in Egypt the same exact pattern that took place in Tunisia, where Chokri Belaid, a leader of the nation’s secular party who was unabashedly critical of the Islamist-led government, was assassinated—all in accordance with the fatwas of the sheikhs.
None of this is surprising, considering the deep continuity of Islamic assassinations, which litter the annals of history. The very word “assassinate” and “assassin” are based on a Medieval Islamic sect, the Hashashin, which pioneered the use of political assassination in the name of Islam. Indeed, the prophet of Islam himself, Muhammad, ordered the assassination of several non-Muslims who opposed him, including women.
Nor is the calling for the assassination of those who oppose Islamic supremacism limited to the Islamic world. Most recently in Denmark, Lars Hedegaard, a seventy-year-old free speech activist and critic of Islam, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on his life right outside his home in Copenhagen:
According to Danish media, the gunman, in a postal service uniform, rang the doorbell of Hedegaard’s apartment building on the pretext of delivering a package. When Hedegaard opened the front door, the man pulled out a gun and fired a shot, narrowly missing Hedegaard’s head. Danish police say they are searching for the suspect, whom they describe as “a man of a different ethnic background than Danish.” He is believed to be in his 20s and has a “Middle Eastern appearance.” Speculation is that the assailant is a Muslim because of critical statements that Hedegaard has made regarding Islam.
Nor are front door assassinations on behalf of Islam limited to silencing criticism against the Islamist agenda; instead, they are regularly used to silence all free speech that threatens Islam. For instance, just last December 2012 in Pakistan, Birgitta Almby, a 70-year-old Bible school teacher from Sweden, was shot by two men in front of her home, dying soon thereafter. She had served in Pakistan for 38 years. Christians who were close to her had no doubt that “Islamic extremists” murdered the elderly woman: “Who else would want to murder someone as apolitical and harmless as Almby, who had dedicated her life to serving humanity?”
No doubt someone who thought she was breaking the laws of Allah by proselytizing to Muslims—as when American Joel Shrum was assassinated in Yemen for purportedly preaching the Gospel to Muslims; or when Russian priest Fr.Daniil Sysoyev was shot to death by Muslim assassins for proselytizing to and baptizing Muslims.
Assassination has long been a tool of Islamic supremacism, to the point of giving the English language the word “assassinate.” Accordingly, inasmuch as Islam grows in power and influence, so too will those who resist it be prey to the Islamic dagger, both at home and abroad.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Elaborate surveillance operation raises concerns about broader Hezbollah attacks
By Joby Warrick,  The Washington Post,  February 26, 2013
The Israeli tourists on Arkia Airlines Flight 161 from Tel Aviv could not have known it, but their arrival in Cyprus July 6 was watched closely. A pair of trained eyes counted each passenger as the group exited the plane and boarded a shuttle, headed for resorts that had also been carefully studied and mapped.
The bearded foreigner who silently tracked the Israelis had done his work well. He knew where the visitors would sleep, shop and eat. He knew how many security guards patrolled their hotel parking lots and how long it would take police to arrive from the station down the street.
But the watcher was being watched. When Cypriot police picked him up, the Hezbollah operative quickly acknowledged what he was doing, although he claimed not to know why.
“I was just collecting information about the Jews,” he told police, according to a sworn deposition. “This is what my organization is doing, everywhere in the world.”
The arrest of Hossam Yaakoub, a Lebanese-born Swedish citizen, on July 7 was all but forgotten 11 days later when a bus containing another group of vacationing Israelis was blown up in the Bulgarian resort city of Burgas . The attack, which killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver, was quickly blamed on Hezbollah.
Now, seven months after that attack, new details emerging in Yaakoub’s case are providing chilling insights into what investigators describe as a far broader effort by the Lebanon-based militant group to lay the groundwork for killing Israeli citizens and perhaps others in multiple countries.
Some details have come from Yaakoub himself, who made his first public appearance last week during his trial in Cyprus. But a much fuller account comes from legal documents summarizing the Swedish man’s statements to police during weeks of questioning last summer and obtained by The Washington Post.
The evidence echoes discoveries by investigators in Bulgaria and prosecutors in Thailand, India, Azerbaijan, Kenya and other countries hit by a wave of attempted assassinations and bombings linked to Hezbollah or its chief sponsor, Iran. U.S. officials characterize the plots as part of a shadow war directed by Iran in part to retaliate for Western efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program. Evidence uncovered by investigators portrays a professional, well-funded effort by Hezbollah to recruit, train and position European-based operatives for what U.S. analysts describe as preparations for future terrorist operations.
‘Calculated tradecraft’
While most of the attacks were thwarted or failed, the accumulated intelligence shows that Hezbollah is learning from its mistakes, employing the tactics of professional intelligence operatives to cover its tracks and expanding its threat, according to current and former U.S. officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing nature of the inquiries.
“In the beginning, they clearly emphasized speed over tradecraft,” said Matthew Levitt, a former counterterrorism official with the FBI and Treasury Department and author of the forthcoming book “Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.” An analysis of the more recent plots shows a shift in tactics, said Levitt, who said the Cyprus case in particular “underscores a very patient, careful and calculated tradecraft.”
Testimony and court documents in Cyprus also show that Hezbollah is expanding its network in Europe, recruiting European operatives, conducting surveillance and moving packages to various European cities in preparation for possible future attacks, Levitt and other analysts said.
In statements to police, Yaakoub spoke of “previous missions” that took him from Turkey into the heart of Western Europe. At one point, he said, he carried a mysterious package wrapped in newspaper. “I don’t know what it was,” he said in a statement read to the court last week.
Daniel Benjamin, who recently resigned as the State Department’s top counterterrorism official, said Hezbollah’s activity outside the Middle East has reached a level unmatched since the 1990s. Benjamin said the militant group is “not just doing one-off attacks but is right now involved in a campaign of terrorism,” in part to warn Western countries against allowing military intervention against Iran.
“Hezbollah already believes we’re in a conflict,” Benjamin told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “but they want to intimate to us how much more will be coming if the conflict sharpens.”
Scouting on Cyprus
Beginning in 2009, Yaakoub made numerous trips to Cyprus, a popular tourist destination and financial center in the eastern Mediterranean and a member of the European Union since 2004. Yaakoub told acquaintances that he was trying to establish a juice-importing business. But the dark-haired 24-year-old attracted suspicion because of his apparent fascination with the habits of Jewish visitors to the sun-drenched island.
For more than a week last summer, he crisscrossed the island, asking questions and staking out hotels and businesses catering to Jewish customers. He scoured the island for restaurants that served kosher meals.
“I was supposed to spot Israeli restaurants where Jews eat kosher,” he would explain later to investigators. “I was looking it up on the Internet and couldn’t find anything.”
When he was detained July 7, Yaakoub insisted he had only been looking for business contacts. But over a week-long interrogation, a different story emerged. His statements to police, contained in depositions that included his confession, notes, drawings and other artifacts, outlined his recruitment and training by Hezbollah for a series of missions. He said the ultimate objectives of his assignments were never revealed to him. He insisted he never knowingly supported a terrorist operation.
“I do not agree with terrorism,” he told police.
According to the account described in police depositions, Yaakoub was recruited by Hezbollah during business trips to Lebanon. His handlers appear to have viewed the young trader as potentially useful because he possessed a European passport and a job that justified foreign travel.
After undergoing training in Lebanon, he was dispatched on a series of low-level assignments as a courier. He delivered packages and messages to contacts in Turkey, France and the Netherlands. Yaakoub asserted that his key handler always wore a mask and insisted on strict operational security — no cellphones were allowed in meetings, and Yaakoub never knew what was in the packages he delivered.
Long-term mission
When Yaakoub first visited Cyprus in 2009, it was clear that Hezbollah was grooming him for a long-term mission. He registered his business with the government, the first step in building what he acknowledged was an elaborate cover story to justify his time on the island.
“They wanted to have Cyprus as a base, to be able serve Hezbollah’s purposes,” he told police. “I don’t know what the purpose was.”
His workload increased in late 2011, just as the wave of terrorism efforts attributed to Hezbollah and Iran was about to peak. Yaakoub received detailed instructions to monitor charter flights bringing Israelis to Cyprus.
Arkia, a small carrier, flew directly from Tel Aviv to Larnaca International Airport. The airline sometimes altered its arrival information for security reasons, so Yaakoub spent many hours staking out the airport, recording flight information and watching passengers board special buses to the island’s resorts.
Between flights, Yaakoub carried out a long list of tasks involving surveillance and data collection. He drew maps of the areas around the resort hotels, noting security stations and the proximity of police and rescue units. He took photographs of hotel entrances and parking lots. He purchased prepaid cards for local cellphones and noted the locations of Internet cafes. He inquired about renting warehouses for what he said were unknown purposes.
In the days before Yaakoub was arrested, he scouted beach locations near Larnaca and watched the passengers of an Arkia flight spill out of their aircraft and head toward waiting shuttle buses, scribbling coded details in a small red notebook.
“I took the initiative of writing down the registration numbers of the buses,” he said.
Will the E.U. respond?
Yaakoub’s statements and other evidence are being weighed by a Cypriot judge overseeing one of the island’s most politically explosive cases in years. A verdict is expected early next month.
At issue, analysts say, is not only Yaakoub’s guilt or innocence but also the broader question of whether Cyprus and other European Union countries will take a harsher attitude toward Hezbollah. While the United States designed the organization as a terrorist group, the E.U. continues to view it as a political party.
U.S. officials said they hope evidence linking the attack in Bulgaria and Yaakoub’s plotting to Hezbollah will persuade the Europeans to move against the group and restrict its movements and fundraising.
For the Americans, time is important. Current and former U.S. counterterrorism officials said Hezbollah’s ambitions and reach have expanded in the past two years, coinciding with tougher sanctions on Iran. At least a dozen plots linked to the group or Iran have been foiled, including botched bombing attempts in India, Thailand, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kenya.
In the most notorious plot — the failed attempt in late 2011 to murder the Saudi ambassador to Washington — Iranians financed a scheme to blow up a popular Georgetown restaurant using hit men from a Mexican drug gang.
Other targets have ranged from Jewish schoolteachers to U.S. diplomats. When arrests have been made, authorities have found evidence linking the suspects either to Hezbollah or Iran’s Quds Force, an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Western analysts have suggested a variety of motives for the attempts, ranging from intimidating Iran’s Gulf Arab rivals to exacting revenge for the assassinations of four Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010, which Iran has attributed to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.
No attempted attacks have been reported since the bus bombing in Bulgaria, but authorities in several countries have uncovered future operations against Israeli or Western targets. Last Thursday, security officials in Nigeria announced the arrest of three men who they say received training in Iran for terrorist strikes aimed at hotels popular with Western and Israeli tourists.
“It isn’t a declared war, but it was virtually that,” said a European diplomat whose country has been closely involved in investigating the string of attempted attacks. “Iranians see themselves under attack, and they  don’t differentiate between different international players, because they look around the world and see one big conspiracy against them.”

Who Really Cares About the Palestinians?
by Mitchell Bard, The Times of Israel, February 19, 2013
For decades there has been an international drumbeat of concern for the Palestinians, their victimhood, their welfare and their human rights. But how much does the world really care about the Palestinians? We are learning now they don't care at all as Assad slaughters them in Syria.
Where are the front-page headlines? Where are the UN condemnations? Where is the U.S. State Department? Where are the sponsors of flotillas to bring aid to the refugees? Where are the campus protests? Where are the Christian organizations? Where are the peace groups? Where are the pro-Palestinian organizations?
The answer is they are all silent.
Just two months ago, 180 countries voted in favor of Palestinian statehood at the UN, but they have not adopted a resolution condemning the brutal slaughter of Palestinians by Syria. Imagine if Israel were responsible for what is happening to the Palestinians. The UN would have acted immediately and all the groups mentioned above would be in an uproar.
How do we explain the difference?
The answer lies in a simple but inconvenient truth — no one really cares about the Palestinians – unless Jews are involved.
This is not new; you can go back to the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. The popular misconception is that the Arab states invaded to help the Palestinians. Actually, they intended to carve up Palestine for themselves, not to create a Palestinian state.
From 1949 until 1967, Egypt could have given Gaza to the Palestinians for a state, just as the Jordanians could have created a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Neither did, but no one in the world cared because the Palestinians were not interested in a state and the occupiers were Arabs.
The lack of concern for the Palestinians was also evident after the 1967 War when the UN adopted Resolution 242, which has been the basis for all peace negotiations, yet does not mention the Palestinians.
When the PLO tried to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein in 1970, the world did not show concern for the thousands of Palestinians who were killed by the king's forces. The exact figure is unknown, but the number may be greater than the total for all of the conflicts with Israel put together.
Yet another example of the disinterest toward the Palestinians occurred when Kuwait expelled 300,000 Palestinians for supporting Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. This made no headlines and generated no UN resolutions.
The world was only concerned with the killing of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon because Jews were in the vicinity. The murderers were Lebanese Christians; nevertheless, it was Israel that was blamed.
After more than 700 Palestinians have been killed in Syria, survivors are fleeing the country. Have you heard any concern for them or for how the Palestinian refugees have been treated for decades in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan?
Israel offered to allow some of the refugees from Syria to go the West Bank, but Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the idea.
Of course the Palestinians have controlled all the refugee camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for almost 20 years and done nothing to move the people into permanent housing and close the camps. They prefer to keep the camps as breeding grounds for terrorists and as examples of victimhood.
The Arab states are full of bluster on the Palestinian issue, but, besides rhetoric, the Arab states provide only token amounts of money so they can say they are contributing to the cause. They have repeatedly pledged aid to the PA, but not made the payments. And, given the wealth of the Gulf states, the amount of these pledges is embarrassing. On January 14, 2013, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said his government might not meet its obligations to its people because of the failure of Arab League members to deliver the $100 million they promised.
Another inconvenient truth is that the world is indifferent to Arabs slaughtering Arabs. We continue to see this in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and other Arab countries. The usual explanation is essentially a racist one; that is, Arabs are expected to behave in this way whereas Jews are held to a higher standard and that is why their involvement merits worldwide attention.
The irony is that the people who care the most for the Palestinians are probably American and Israeli Jews. In the United States, Jews are among the most vociferous supporters of the Palestinians. The Jewish establishment organizations are also pro-Palestinian, advocating a two-state solution that would give Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza the same freedoms Israelis enjoy, but are currently denied to them by their own leaders. In Israel, many Jews advocate for the Palestinians: Israelis represent them in the courts, join them in protests and speak out on their behalf in the press and the Knesset. The many Arab-Jewish coexistence projects are nearly always initiated by Israeli Jews.
With the slaughter in Syria, Palestinians can see who their real friends are, and most are not the ones they expect.


No. 594     March-April 2013
  • On February 11, 2013, on Israel’s Channel 10 television program “The Source,” it was claimed that there was not even an “iota of evidence” that the Palestinian Authority leadership, and Yasser Arafat in particular, planned and initiated the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000 and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis by 2005. 
  • Rather, it was claimed that this was a spontaneous popular uprising that ran counter to the interests of the Palestinian leadership. As a consequence, Arafat appears to be exonerated by the narrative presented. The program also reopened the old debate over whether the Second Intifada was ignited by Ariel Sharon’s September 2000 visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
  • Yet, extensive testimony at the time and in retrospect demonstrates the Palestinian Authority’s role in initiating and managing the Second Intifada as an extensive terror onslaught, designed to impose a unilateral, unconditional withdrawal upon Israel, and improve conditions in anticipation of the battle for realizing Palestinian demands for the return of the refugees.
  • The final decision to initiate the Second Intifada was made by Yasser Arafat immediately upon the conclusion of the second Camp David summit, which ended on July 25, 2000. Directives were disseminated to the national security forces, instructing them to prepare for the immediate option of initiating a violent campaign against Israel.
  • This study presents the handwriting that was on the wall, with statements referring to a return to conflict by Yasser Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, Sakhr Habash, Imad Falluji, Suha Arafat, Ahmed Ibrahim Hiles, Raed Muhammed, Jihad Al-Amarin, Yasser Khalil, and Nabil Shaath, as well as in official Palestinian Authority publications. The study concludes with the text of the first proclamation by the National and Islamic Forces, the umbrella group that coordinated the operations of Fatah and Hamas against Israel.
  • Yasser Arafat and important segments of the Palestinian leadership at that time were directly responsible for what happened during the Second Intifada and no amount of revisionist history can exonerate Arafat for standing behind one of the bloodiest periods in Israel’s modern history.
On February 11, 2013, on Israel’s Channel 10 television program “The Source,” it was claimed that there was not even an “iota of evidence” that the Palestinian Authority leadership, and Yasser Arafat in particular, planned and initiated the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000 and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis by 2005.
Rather, it was claimed that this was a spontaneous popular uprising that ran counter to the interests of the Palestinian leadership. As a consequence, Arafat appears to be exonerated by the narrative presented. The program also reopened the old debate over whether the Second Intifada was ignited by Ariel Sharon’s September 2000 visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Yet, extensive testimony at the time and in retrospect demonstrates the Palestinian Authority’s role in initiating and managing the Second Intifada as an extensive terror onslaught, designed to impose a unilateral, unconditional withdrawal upon Israel, and improve conditions in anticipation of the battle for realizing Palestinian demands for the return of the refugees.
Arafat: A Puppet Leader or an Authoritative Leader?
If the intifada “erupted” by itself,” then Arafat’s undisputed leadership of the Palestinian people and Fatah was purely a myth. In fact, this would mean that Arafat was a puppet leader who did not have the power, leadership, and authority to sign a political agreement with Israel in the name of the Palestinian people that would put an end to the conflict with the Jewish people over Palestine.
Furthermore, this would imply that the Israeli intelligence agencies failed strategically. They all failed to warn the Israeli political echelon prior to the 2000 Camp David conference about the frailty of Arafat’s leadership and his irrelevance as a partner to any peace agreement predicated on an historic compromise. Yet the evidence demonstrates the direct connection between Arafat and the intifada’s launch and management.
Fatah as the Prime Contractor of the Palestinian Authority
In the years preceding the intifada, the Fatah movement headed by Arafat functioned as the main pillar of the strategy to engage in a popular struggle against Israel. Key events in this struggle include the Temple Tunnel incidents in 1996, demonstrations against Jerusalem’s Har Homa neighborhood in 1997, and the Days of Rage and the “Prisoner Intifada” in May 2000. Each of these events helped to provide background for the Second Intifada in September 2000.
Arafat and Barghouti Threaten a Return to the Armed Struggle and Intifada
The initial signs indicating that a concrete decision had been reached to launch a major terror assault against Israel were discernible in the tough language employed by Yasser Arafat in meetings with the Shabiba – the Fatah youth organization – in Ramallah and Nablus during that year. A number of these meetings took place in April 2000, a few months prior to the second Camp David summit. As documented by the Gaza newspaper Al-Mujahid (April 3, 2000), Arafat called the young Fatah members “the new generals,” and threatened to “launch a new intifada” in order to impose the “establishment of an independent Palestinian state” upon Israel.
Marwan Barghouti, subsequently one of the intifada’s most prominent leaders, presented a revealing statement (Akhbar Al-Khalil, March 8, 2000) on the strategy of the Fatah movement at the beginning of 2000:
Whoever believes that one can reach a decision on the issues of a permanent agreement [with Israel] – for example, on refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, and borders – via negotiation is living under an illusion. On these matters we have to wage a battle on the ground in parallel to the negotiating framework….I mean a conflict. We need scores of battles on the model of the [1996] Al Aqsa Tunnel battle….One does not combat settlements with pleas but by force of arms….It is our people’s right to contend with Israelis in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem using all means and methods.
Two weeks prior to the second Camp David summit, at a meeting of the Fatah movement in Nablus on June 25, 2000, Arafat explicitly raised the option of officially reverting to the strategy of “armed conflict,” and implementing this strategy (and ideology) on an official basis and to its full extent (in other words, via the use of terror), which Fatah and the PLO had previously championed prior to entering the negotiating track:
We will sacrifice…our lives for Palestine….We are fighting for our land….Whoever forgot this should remember the battle of Karameh [an IDF operation against a terrorist base in Jordan in 1968 that is depicted as the first Palestinian victory over the Israeli Army], the Beirut Campaign [the battle for Beirut during the First Lebanon war], and the seven years of intifada [the First Intifada]. We are willing to erase everything and start everything afresh.”
The Final Decision Following the Camp David Summit
The final decision to initiate the Second Intifada was made by Yasser Arafat immediately upon the conclusion of the second Camp David summit, which ended on July 25, 2000. Once the die was cast, all that remained was to determine the timing and the immediate pretext for launching the intifada.
The immediate and overt signals were provided by Fatah, which organized “spontaneous” demonstrations of support for Yasser Arafat for refusing to yield to pressure to forego fundamental Palestinian positions, while expressing a readiness to continue the struggle for realizing “the national rights of the Palestinian people.”
In a detailed essay on the second Camp David summit published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida only nine days prior to the beginning of the Second Intifada (September 20, 2000), Sakhr Habash, who was considered Fatah’s official ideologue, noted that in response to the Israeli and American proposals, “brother Abu Amar [Arafat] spoke in the idiom of the believer who views the issues confronting him and the exalted Palestinian people, regarding the conflict option.”
Habash belongs to Fatah’s founding generation. He was a member of the Fatah Central Committee (Fatah’s supreme institution), was considered a very close confidante of Arafat, and took part in the consultations and contacts that Arafat conducted with representatives of the diverse Palestinian organizations during the course of the intifada. Habash was frequently appointed to speak on behalf of Arafat at various events.
The Palestinian Security Forces Prepare for Conflict with Israel
The message regarding Palestinian readiness to defend their fundamental principles was translated immediately following the summit into directives that were disseminated to the national security forces in Gaza, instructing them to prepare for the immediate option of initiating a violent campaign against Israel.
In July 2000, the monthly Al-Shuhada (issued on behalf of the “political guidance” apparatus and disseminated among Palestinian National Security forces and Border Guards in Gaza) contained an order of the day from the Palestinian leadership with instructions to prepare for the approaching confrontation with Israel.
Below are the main points cited by Ahmed Ibrahim Hiles, commander of “political guidance” for the Border Guards of the National Security forces, under the title: “The Battle Has Begun”:
A summons, a summons, a summons from the delegation to the negotiations headed by Commander Sergeant Abu Amar to our heroic Palestinian people: Be prepared, the battle for Jerusalem has begun. This is the meaning behind the Palestinian delegation’s return from Camp David to the soil of the homeland without abandoning the avowed fundamental Palestinian positions: No peace will exist without Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Palestinian state. There will be no stability or security for the entire region unless Israel accedes to the legitimate international demands that have set the principle of land for peace in accordance with UN decisions.
Major Raed Muhammed, an operative in the “political guidance” apparatus of the Border Guards of the National Security forces, notes in another article from the same issue that “the failure [of the Camp David summit] heralds the end of the political agreement, and that creates an opening for the option of struggle and confrontation. This is the beginning, the natural beginning, for the demise of political agreements as a method for realizing the Palestinian people’s goals on the path to its liberation.”
On August 5, 2000, only seven weeks prior to the beginning of the terror onslaught, the newspaper Falastin Al-Youm cited a Palestinian source in its main headline as saying: “In Order to Obtain Progress in Negotiations, Conflict Is Necessary.” The article states: “A Palestinian source disclosed to Falastin that the Camp David summit…failed as a result of the Israelis’ insistence on their positions concerning all issues….The Palestinian source believes that…a certain degree of conflict is necessary for the purpose of altering the existing equation.”
The pioneer inside the Palestinian security apparatuses was Jihad Al-Amarin, a senior Fatah operative and an intimate of Arafat who was smuggled into Gaza in Arafat’s car on the day he first arrived in Gaza following the Oslo Interim Accords. Al-Amarin, who served as the head of the Palestinian Police Operations Branch in Gaza, translated Arafat’s intentions into terror attacks against Israel even prior to the Second Intifada (in March, April, and June 2000) and after its outbreak he founded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in Gaza.
The Hour of the Intifada Has Arrived; the Hour of Jihad Has Arrived; the Hour of Jerusalem Has Arrived
A similar policy line supporting a new intifada against Israel and galvanizing mass protests was adopted by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Information. In August 2000, “Events and Topics,” published by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information, featured an article with the headline: “The Popular Aspect During and After Camp David”:
We stand at an historical crossroad at a most complex stage, in whose course the fate of Jerusalem, the refugees, and the state’s borders may well be decided. These issues demand the unity of all the forces in order to create a Palestinian state of readiness that will serve the national issues, and currently we must prepare the masses so they can prove capable of contending with what the ensuing stage has in store. We’ve all witnessed the broad mass support and its rallying around the Palestinian negotiating delegation upon its return from Camp David and we saw the sense of exaltation and victory of the Palestinian delegation following the reception it received….However, the escalation in mass activity mandates tougher activity in the stages that will precede victory and in a manner that allows the masses to fulfill their role in serving the national cause so they will not be merely eyewitnesses to the events relevant to determining their fate.
On September 11, 2000, about three weeks prior to the beginning of the Second Intifada, the handwriting on the wall was clear. In an article in the newspaper Al-Sabah, the official organ of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Khalil (apparently the pseudonym of the paper’s editor, Sari Al-Kidwa) announced the imminent timing and the expected pretext (Jerusalem) for the launch of “the intifada and jihad campaign” against Israel:
The defense of Jerusalem requires blood, we can only defend Jerusalem with blood, the time of victory and the fall of the martyr has arrived….The battle of Jerusalem is the mother of battles….We will advance and proclaim a comprehensive intifada for Jerusalem, the hour of the intifada has arrived; the hour of the intifada has arrived; the hour of jihad has arrived; the hour of Jerusalem has arrived and Jerusalem beckons.
Fatah Prepares for the Conflict with Israel
Due to the failure of the Camp David summit, the Fatah movement declared an emergency situation and began to make preparations for conflict on all levels, beginning with raising awareness of an impending major conflict and concluding with military training. Marwan Barghouti, who headed Fatah’s Supreme Council in the West Bank, was cited in the newspaper Falastinuna on July 31, 2000, as saying that the failure of negotiations opens the gates for the Palestinian people to realize “all the options.” He noted that extensive time existed to attain readiness and to announce a general mobilization in the ranks of the Palestinian people.
Barghouti’s statement was not made in a vacuum. In practice, the security apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority and the “political guidance” apparatus, in collaboration with the Fatah movement, conducted scores of summer camps during the summer months of 2000 for youngsters in all areas of the Palestinian Authority, in whose framework thousands of young people were trained in the use of arms and to attack soldiers and Jewish settlers using rocks and firebombs.
Falastinuna reported on September 17, 2000, on the eve of the Second Intifada, that the ranks of the Fatah organization were placed on high alert, as a preparatory stage toward the declaration of a Palestinian state.
The Palestinian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Dr. Nabil Shaath, said during a meeting in Khan Yunis one day prior to the outbreak of the intifada (Al-Ayyam, September 29, 2000) that the Palestinian Authority will work to restore the land via a peace process, and if the matter will fail, the Palestinians’ only remaining recourse is conflict. He clarified that the Palestinian people hope that the leadership will succeed in restoring their rights via a peace process. However, he noted the possibility that an agreement would not be reached in the course of the current negotiations and that the situation would deteriorate, and called upon the Palestinian people to “be ready and prepared for all alternative options.”
Arafat Orchestrates the Intifada Through the National and Islamic Forces
From the very first day of the Second Intifada, a coordinated front of the major power centers in the Palestinian arena operated under the name of the National and Islamic Forces. This front was loyal to Arafat and served as the supreme coordinating framework for managing the intifada, organizing joint activities against Israel, and resolving disputes between the organizations.
Additional Palestinian organizations joined Fatah, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA), the Arab Liberation Front, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, the Palestinian Liberation Front, and the Palestinian Arab Front. This coordinating framework was of vast importance in setting strategy for the intifada and it was set up in response to lessons learned from the divisions that had plagued the First Intifada.
Attesting to the direct involvement of the Palestinian Authority in managing and guiding the Second Intifada is the first manifesto issued on behalf of the National and Islamic Forces on September 30, 2000 (see Appendix for complete text). This proclamation bears the seal of the Palestinian Ministry of Information (an official ministry within the Palestinian Authority government), alongside a comment by one of the responsible parties in the Information Ministry with the directive: “disseminate [the proclamation] to everyone.”
In subsequent announcements of the National and Islamic Forces, directives were issued to continue activity against Israel, while noting special dates and occasions for escalating violent mass action.
For example, a proclamation of the National and Islamic Forces of October 3, 2000, called for continuing the “blessed popular intifada” and lauded the masses and forces of our people in the Galilee, in the Triangle, on the Coastal Plain and in the Negev for their brave stance [referring to the riots of October 2000 involving Israel’s Arab citizens]. “The National and Islamic Forces have set the days of October 4 and 5, 2000, as days of national mourning in memory of those who fell on the national soil in defense of Al Quds [Jerusalem] and Palestine,” and called on the Palestinian people “to continue escalating the organized popular actions of confronting the soldiers of the Israeli occupation and the Zionist settlers in Al Quds, the West Bank and Gaza.”
A proclamation of the National and Islamic Forces on October 27, 2000, set “October 29 as a day of general escalation, in which parades and demonstrations of rage would set out in all parts of the homeland with a demand to remove the occupation.” In this proclamation the National and Islamic Forces lauded the Palestinian people in honor of “the blessed intifada [entering] its second month.”
It should be emphasized that the announcements of the National and Islamic Forces were published in a prominent and accentuated fashion in the official Palestinian media that was totally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and they served as a manifesto for public action following a detailed plan, and enjoying the full support of the Palestinian Authority.
Moreover, Palestinian government ministries fully collaborated with the National and Islamic Forces and the local and regional committees, which they established to reinforce the steadfast Palestinian stand during the intifada. In its early days, calls by the National and Islamic Forces for mass demonstrations, which were for all intents and purposes violent and widespread riots, were synchronized with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and involved many schoolchildren.
The Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, made direct, personal use of the National and Islamic Forces in order to coordinate intifada activity, to ensure that the acts of violence and terror attacks would facilitate the attainment of the PA’s and PLO’s political and strategic objectives, as delineated by Arafat himself and his loyalists and fellow travelers in the leadership.
Thus, for example, after the suicide bombing in the Dolphinarium night club in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2002, carried out by Hamas, and as a result of the severe international pressure applied on the PA to desist from terror and act against terrorist organizations, Arafat convened the senior forum of the National and Islamic Forces and directed them to temporarily lower the flames of the intifada; in other words, reduce the level and severity of the violence on a temporary basis for purely tactical reasons. This act demonstrated the commanding ability of the Palestinian leadership to manage and direct the terror campaign against Israel and control the extent and intensity of the terror in light of changing circumstances. Their major considerations were how the international arena would react and the degree to which they feared an extensive Israeli military response.
The Intifada Was Not a Tactic But a Strategic Choice
The role of Arafat, the Palestinian Authority, and the National and Islamic Forces in the Second Intifada was revealed by Sakhr Habash, a key Fatah leader quoted earlier, who took part in meetings with representatives of the National and Islamic Forces. Habash told the Lebanese paper Al-Mostaqbal on September 29, 2001:
The intifada’s policy and its demands are determined by our brother Abu Amar (Arafat) and the Palestinian Authority, and more importantly, on the ground [policy is set by the National and Islamic Forces], in other words, fourteen organizations that are capable of continuing the intifada and the muqawama [resistance/struggle]….The intifada is not a tactic, but our basic strategic choice until the occupation has been removed, and liberty and an independent state free of settlements has been obtained. Even if we were to establish a state the intifada and the struggle would continue, perhaps via other means, because it is obligatory to realize the refugees’ right of return.
How the Decision on the Outbreak of the Intifada Was Taken
A year after the Second Intifada began, Mamdouh Nofal, one of Yasser Arafat’s advisers, described how the decision to launch the intifada was made (Al-Dirasat Al-Filastiniya, Summer 2001):
It [the intifada] is not a mass movement distinct from the Authority or something that erupted by itself. The reverse is the case; it began on the basis of a decision from above by the Authority before it turned into popular activity. The matter occurred immediately after the visit by Sharon to Al Aqsa. At that time the political and security bodies of the Palestinian Authority convened and made a decision to defend Al Aqsa. Arafat viewed Al Aqsa as the detonation point of the status quo that would suffice to ignite a conflagration not only on Palestinian soil but would also impact the situation outside the boundaries of Palestine. Decisions were made that dealt with practical preparations, and meetings were held by the forces that participated in the Authority, and it was decided to move them towards Al Aqsa on Friday. Likewise, security measures for the mosque were reinforced by bringing in additional guards and issuing directives to the security apparatuses to enter Al Aqsa and defend it.
This dovetails with the statement by Nofal in an interview with the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur (March 1, 2001), according to which Arafat planned to launch the conflict with Israel prior to Sharon’s visit on the Temple Mount. According to Nofal, “A few days before the visit by Sharon to the mosque, when Arafat asked us to get ready to initiate the conflict, I supported mass demonstrations and opposed the use of arms.”
Nofal noted further that the head of Preventive Security in the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, warned Arafat of the danger posed by a military conflict. But his efforts proved in vain, for Arafat was persuaded that within two or three days the situation would become insufferable to the point where the Americans and the Arabs would advise Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to renew negotiations.
Approximately five months after the outbreak of the intifada (March 3, 2001), Imad Falluji, the PA’s Minister of Communications, admitted that the Second Intifada was not a spontaneous uprising but planned by the PA following the breakdown of the Camp David talks in July 2000.
According to an AP report, in the course of a visit to Lebanon, Falluji remarked that it would be a mistake to think the intifada had broken out in response to Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount at the end of September. “It was planned since Arafat’s return from Camp David, and his rejection of the American President Bill Clinton’s proposals,” stated Falluji.
In a November 12, 2011, interview with Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, on Palestinian Television, she made reference to the date of Arafat’s decision to initiate the Second Intifada. “Arafat sent us far away before the invasion of Ramallah. He said: ‘You have to leave Palestine, because I want to start an intifada.’…He ordered us to leave because he had already decided to carry out the intifada following the Oslo Accords and the failure of Camp David (the Israeli-Palestinian talks in July 2000).”
In a Dubai Television interview on December 16, 2012, Suha repeated her version: “Yasser Arafat made a decision to initiate the intifada right after the failure of the Camp David talks. We met in Paris and he asked me to remain there. When I asked why he said ‘because I am going to start an intifada.’” As to Arafat’s motive for starting the intifada, Suha said: “He told me that during the talks he was asked to betray the Palestinian people, but he was not about to do so.”
Senior Hamas Official: Arafat Gave the Green Light to Terror Immediately After Camp David Summit
Mahmoud Al-Zahar, one of Hamas’ senior leaders, admitted receiving a green light to initiate terror attacks immediately after the Camp David summit. According to a report in Al Quds (April 9, 2005), Al-Zahar noted that the Palestinian Authority has reached the point that Hamas had warned about, namely the Israeli occupation’s renunciation of the signed agreements with the PLO, making it clear that “due to the failure of the negotiations at Camp David, the PLO began telling Hamas that the gate was now open for carrying out actions [terror attacks against Israel]. Hamas, however, didn’t place credence in these approaches, and despite this it carried out actions under the name of the Forces of Omar Al-Mukhtar.”
Asharq Alawsat reported on June 29, 2010, that Mahmoud Al-Zahar stated at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Second Intifada, that “Yasser Arafat ordered the Hamas movement to carry out a number of military actions in the heart of the Hebrew state, after he felt that the current negotiations with the occupation government had failed.”
In an interview with the official website of the Hamas movement ( in October 2010, Al-Zahar was asked about his comment regarding the permission that Arafat had granted to begin carrying out terror attacks on the eve of the Second Intifada:
[Question]: You said in previous comments that President Abu Amar [Yasser Arafat] instructed Hamas to carry out terror attacks while he was besieged in Ramallah. Can we expect that [current Palestinian President] Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] will reach such a stage in his conduct with the [Hamas] movement?
[Mahmoud Al-Zahar]: Abu Amar did not instruct Fatah to talk with Hamas about carrying out terror attacks as part of a concept that supports resistance, but because he desired to exploit terror attacks for tactical purposes. I remember that I participated in a popular committee [meeting] with senior leaders of the Fatah movement – Hani Al-Hassan, Abu Ali Shahin and Abdullah Al-Hourani – [that took place] in Al-Sheikh Al-Awad Auditorium at Al-Azhar [University in Gaza]. At that time the people attending the conference raised the necessity for Hamas to carry out terror attacks against the Israeli occupation, and this matter was no secret. Abu Amar wanted this as a tactical measure for pressuring Israel via Hamas. Abu Mazen has neither the courage nor the vision, and he is incapable of betting his life on such an issue. With these words I intended to put the idea before the public that resistance was employed at specific points of time for tactical objectives, and it departs from a concept that seeks to improve negotiating conditions. Therefore I’m not interested in a repeat attempt where we will make use of reconciliation and resistance in order to improve negotiating conditions, but it is necessary that they [reconciliation and resistance] be predicated on a strategic concept and perspective.
More than ten years after the outbreak of the Second Intifada, there are still journalists, former security officials, and pundits who raise questions about the role of the Palestinian Authority in the devastating violence during which suicide bombing attacks struck Israel’s major cities, leaving more than a thousand dead and many more permanently maimed.
Israel Channel 10 television’s “The Source” presented in February 2013 what appeared to be a debate between the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israeli Military Intelligence over this issue. But one does not have to be an intelligence officer to review the statements made by the Palestinian leaders themselves about the origins of the Second Intifada.
This body of material, presented here in an unvarnished way, reveals that Yasser Arafat and important segments of the Palestinian leadership at that time were directly responsible for what happened and no amount of revisionist history can exonerate Arafat for standing behind one of the bloodiest periods in Israel’s modern history.

The First Proclamation of the National and Islamic Forces Upon the Outbreak of the Second Intifada
In the name of Allah the merciful and compassionate,
Announcement on behalf of the National and Islamic Forces
Oh members of our grand people,
The premeditated crime that was committed by the Barak government, that found expression in yesterday’s firing [September 29, 2000] upon worshipers at Al Aqsa Mosque, and the protection extended to these provocative measures by the butcher Sharon who defiled the sacred place (Al Haram Al Sharif), represent the crossing of a red line, a flagrant escalation of the position of haughtiness and derision for our people’s sentiments, a denial of its rights, and an attempt to secure illegal Israeli sovereignty in Al Quds and the holy places.
The National and Islamic Forces, convening today [September 30, 2000] on the eve of this cruel act of slaughter, announce a summons to the masses of our people to continue the great popular action in protest over the criminal slaughter and the continued Israeli defilement of the sacred place, and other places holy to Islam and Christianity, and under the motto of the struggle to emphasize full Palestinian sovereignty over Al Quds and thwart any plan that stands in contradiction to this sovereignty. In this framework the National and Islamic Forces demand that the Palestinian National Authority refrain from any activity that will restrain the impetus of mass action, and call for:
A declaration of comprehensive readiness within the ranks of all the organizations to continue the mass activity, the immediate initiation of meetings by the National and Islamic Forces of groups and institutions in various districts and regions in order to pursue the activity. The forum made a decision that it views itself as continuously in session in order to monitor the mass activity.
An announcement that next Monday [October 2, 2000], the date marking the liberation of Al Quds by the hero Salah A Din Al-Ayoubi, will be a day for escalating comprehensive mass activity in order to liberate the holy city and emphasize Palestinian sovereignty over it.
A summons to the masses of our people to continue the protest activity in the Al Aqsa Mosque and formulate a plan for organized visits by college students and school pupils at the initiative of the National and Islamic Forces in the [diverse] regions in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Higher Education.
Congratulations to the masses of our people within the boundaries of 1948 and the masses who announced their steadfastness behind the Al Aqsa [Mosque] who displayed a readiness to sacrifice on its behalf, and who translated this position into unity with the blood that was shed on the soil of blessed Al Aqsa and activity to reinforce the unity of our people wherever it may be in the struggle for the defense of its holy places and on behalf of its legitimate rights.
The defense system for Al Quds requires measures to reinforce our national unity, the cohesion of our society, and the organization of our internal front, and first and foremost the release of all the political prisoners and a ban on political arrests.
A demand to halt the negotiations that are currently taking place as a protest against the bloody crime and the continued Israeli derision for our people, the denial of its rights, a matter that makes continued negotiations sterile and fruitless, given Israeli stubbornness and the blind American tendency to back Israel, that found expression in a law recently adopted by the American Congress that merits condemnation.
A demand for the immediate release of a fighter from the National Security [forces], who fired in Kalkilya at soldiers of the occupation in response to Israeli arrogance and the defilement of the places sacred to Islam, by the Israelis, who bear the complete political and moral responsibility for the explosion of a cycle of violence due to the continued occupation and its continued aggressive and intemperate activities.
A call upon the Arab and Islamic world, both peoples and governments, to take practical measures to defend Al Quds and its holy places, and express solidarity with our people and sustain its struggle on behalf of the holy city’s liberation, and to emphasize Palestinian sovereignty over it.
The National and Islamic Forces congratulate the souls of the martyrs [shahids] of the Al Aqsa massacre, and the other martyrs of our people, and we swear before the masses of our people to continue the struggle in fealty to their blood, until the occupation will be removed and the rights of our people to return and enjoy national independence speedily will be extracted by force.
Victory to our people that is waging a jihad and defeat for the occupation.
The Palestinian National Liberation Movement – Fatah
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Palestinian Democratic Union – FIDA
The Arab Liberation Front
The Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Palestinian People’s Party
The Palestinian Popular Struggle Front
The Palestinian Arab Front
Publication: Jerusalem Viewpoints
Filed Under:   Israel,  Israeli Security,  Palestinians,  The Middle East
About Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.