About Subscriptions - and PEACE
Letters to Governments andLeaders
Letter to the PNA
House Demolitions - Ami Isseroff
Children Think - Daoud Kuttab
From a Friend of
Peace - Hamid Farzanneh
for Papers about Peace - OJPCR
About Subscriptions - and PEACE
Dear PEACE subscribers and participants,
In this space last week there was a tongue-in-cheek appeal to help bring new members to
PEACE - a 'subscription fee.' Most people understood - and several have helped us. Thank
you. One or two people did not. One person thought we were asking for money.
Any efforts that anyone puts into PEACE - bringing new members, writing articles, money
(we may ask for that too sometime) are VOLUNTARY. We want to reach as many people as
possible - if your time, convictions or pocketbook allow you to be a passive participant
only - we accept that. If you want your voice to be heard - we would be happy to hear from
you. If you help us grow by bringing new members - you are helping peace and PEACE.
PEACE belongs to you - peace is up to all of us
Letters to Governments and Leaders
Popular support for peace is effective only if leaders
know about it. Last week we published addresses of PNA and Israeli Government leaders (see
below for more addresses). I hope that many of you will write to them about the issues-and
help organize letter-writing campaigns. One person writing a letter may do as much good as
putting the letter in the wailing wall. If thousands of people write, we can deflect both
sides from the collision course on which they seem to have set themselves, and turn them
in the direction of peace. If nothing else, we will be
expressing our concern and compassion for our neighbors. If you do write, please tell
PEACE about it.
In this space last week there was a plea to write to the PNA
congratulating them on their success at the UN, and to express the hope that they would
serve the Palestinian cause by adopting a non-violent and non- belligerent stance, and by
democratizing their institutions.
I wrote and Eran Segev has written - Did you? Here are excerpts
from the letter written by Eran to Nasser Al-Kidwe:
July 14, 1998
Dear Mr. Al-Kidwe, Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations,
members of the Palestinian National Authority,
I would like to congratulate you on the recent upgrading of the
status of the Palestinians at the United Nations(...)
As an Israeli, I look forward to the day when Israel and
Palestine will be two states side by side, with peaceful and open
While it may appear hopeless from the actions of the Israeli
government and others who are ignorant and arrogant, I, and most
the Israeli and Jewish people I know, feel strongly that the
Palestinians deserve to be free to thrive as a nation.
I hope you will not be discouraged from the ongoing,
actions of those who try to take peace away from the people of
entire region. I encourage you to reach out to the common
and the common Palestinian, with expressions of peace and
non-violence, and actions of similar nature. Violent
fear and mistrust on the Israeli side, and damages the ability of
left to promote its beliefs.
I hope this letter will personally reach as many members of the
Palestinian leadership as possible, and that they will be
to continue on a path to peace.
Salam, Ya'atik el-'afia,
(Eran has received no answer as yet. Here is the
answer I received from 'MKA' - who is apparently PNA Webmaster)
|Thank you for your kind letter of support. A Palestinian nation will be
|born based on the principles of justice, peace and security. Keep in
|Best Wishes From Palestine,
To both parts of this greeting, I can only say:
If you will it is no legend - 'Im tirzu eyn zo agada'
If enough people write - they will begin to get the message -
remember, write out of sincere concern- gently but firmly:
PNA e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
H.E. Yasser Arafat
Abu Khadra Building
Omar Al Mukhtar Street
Fax Nos: 972-7-822365 972-7-822366
UN Ambassador Nasser Al-Kidwe Fax No:212-517-2377
Demolitions - Ami Isseroff
Israel is continuing its policy of house demolitions.
The government is demolishing houses that were built 'illegally' - not houses of
terrorists. But since they issue virtually no building permits, all Palestinian houses are
illegal. Anyone in Israel, and any friend of Israel, who is concerned about our image -
should help do something to stop these barbaric acts. They do not help security. They are
morally unjustifiable. They blacken the image of Israel. Anyone who thinks this is an
issue for 'leftists' - even if you do not care about your neighbors, should think of how
Israel looks to the world; what is being gained by this policy?
The latest victims are the Shawamreh family. Anyone wishing to express concern and
compassion for this family can do so by writing to Jeff Halper:email@example.com.
Anybody who wants to find out more about how to help -
including a newspaper advertisement initiative, should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call 09-9523261 (97299523261 from abroad)
or visit the web site at http://www.net-a.org/hdemol/update.
Text of the advertisement and details of how to contribute
are available on request.
I wrote to the Prime Minister's office about house demolitions, and received a reply from
Mike Stoltz. Mike Stoltz is Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the
Office of the Prime Minister. He wrote that it is government policy to destroy only houses
that interfere with security or are built on archeological sites or government property.
The reply was no doubt a stock reply. But if many people write, perhaps someone will
listen. This was my reply to his letter:
Dear Mr Stoltz,
Thank you for your letter. In a democracy citizens expect, and should have access to their
government, and you are to be commended in this respect.
I know the policy of the Israeli government. This policy is a joy both to the enemies of
Israel and to the enemies of peace. A major part of the policy, which you do not mention,
is that the government issues few if any building permits to Palestinians.
Another part of the policy, begun under the Shamir Administration, I believe, is the
large-scale nationalization of land by putting the burden of proof of ownership on the
people, rather than on the government. People were given 45 days notice to
prove their cases. This is why there is so little private land.
Please tell us why the Shawamreh family house was destroyed. As an Israeli citizen, I want
to know why my army was used to evict a family and trash their belongings. Was it over an
archeological dig? Was it on property of the government - when did it become property of
the government? Was it next to a road - a security risk?
Did the government offer an alternative site? Subsidized housing? A loan? If there is
anything that mitigates this action, I think the Israeli government should tell its story.
The policy you are defending was much less practiced during the tenure of the Labor
Government, and there did not seem to be much damage to archeology from Palestinian
houses. It is a policy that is earning us enemies throughout the world. It is inhumane.
How can we come to the Palestinians and say 'we want peace' and at the same time destroy
their houses. Every time we do this we earn undying enemies.
The houses defined as 'security risks' are often 'risks' because they are close to a
settlement or close to a road. If such a house is used for a terrorist attack it is
another matter, but it is not possible to completely isolate the settlers and other
Israelis from the Palestinians. All the houses in East Jerusalem are close to roads used
by Israelis. Can we destroy them all?
The law should be used as an instrument of peace and justice, not as a means of evicting
people from their homes.
Remember that the government represents all the people. I, and and all other Israeli
citizens are morally responsible for your actions. For this I must apologize before my
Ami Isseroff D.Sc.
(End of letter)
Eran Segev and Peter Liatowitsch of the Basle Palestinian/Israeli Dialog Group have also
written to PM Netanyahu and Mike Stoltz. Here are excerpts from their letters:
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,
Members of the Cabinet,
News about house demolitions is one of the most negative-sounding
pieces of news about Israel in the foreign media. Torture,
trials behind closed doors... - those don't sound nice either.
where else in the world is such a policy of demolition of family
carried out? And in such an arbitrary manner. Three
houses here, two
houses there, and then a headline reading "There are another
such illegally built structures". All this, of course,
in the context
of economic and social poverty and oppression. And then we
that we are being portrayed in a negative way! What's more, it is
stupidity. Indeed, every time we destroy a house we earn
The Israeli government claims it must allow for "natural
the population of West Bank settlements.
The Palestinians have natural growth too!
I hope to hear about a change in policy.
cc MK Shimon Peres
cc MK Ehud Barak
Dear Mr. Stoltz
As a Jew, I am highly alarmed with what I heard and read about the
demolition of the Shawamreh family house.
With me, a lot of my Jewish and non-Jewish friends are confused. So could
you, please, name and detail the very urgent reasons why this demolition,
appearing in our eyes up to now as a barbaric act, had to be accomplished.
I thank you in advance for your answer and remain
Peter Liatowitsch, POB 425, CH-4010 Basel, Switzerland
IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT ISRAEL'S IMAGE,
ABOUT PEACE, ABOUT COMPASSION FOR OUR
PLEASE JOIN THE ADVERTISEMENT CAMPAIGN OR
WRITE TO OFFICIALS ON YOUR OWN!!
Israeli Government Officials:
President Ezer Weizman
Fax: (+972-2) 561-0037
Prime Minister Netanyahu
Fax: (+972-2) 566-4838 or 651-3955 or 651-2631
Israeli Government Press Office email@example.com
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Internal Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani Fax: (+972-2) 584-7872
Justice Minister Tzachi HaNegbi Fax: (+972-2) 628-5438 or
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General Mandi Or Fax: (+972-2) 997-7356
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Peter Lerner Fax: (+972-2) 997-7018
MK Shimon Peres (Labor) firstname.lastname@example.org
MK Ehud Barak (head of Labor Party) email@example.com
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MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) email@example.com
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MK Uzi Landau (Likud) email@example.com
MK Alex Lubotzky (Third Way) Fax: (+972-2) 691-8475
MK Haim Ramon (Labor) firstname.lastname@example.org
MK Ruby Rivlin (Likud) Fax: (+972-2) 675-4186
Likud Party Fax: (972-2) 566-4838
Please save these addresses for future reference!
Children Think - Daoud Khattab
(Daoud Kuttab is a journalist and producer of
Israel/Palestine Sesame Street. See his Web Site at http://www.amin.org/pages/dkuttab/ )
One of the most difficult tasks journalists have to perform regularly is to attempt to
reflect what the "public" thinks. Short of accurate public opinion polls, a good
journalist has to master something intangible, "the feel of the street." In
order not to fall prey to unrepresentative opinions, I usually refrain from giving much
weight to the opinions of relatives and friends who might not reflect an average
Palestinian. But every now and then you hear something from someone close to you and you
say to yourself: "There is more to this than meets the eye." This is what
happened to me last Sunday. I was driving with my family and, as usual, I had the news on
the car radio. The first report that day on Israel Radio concerned a scuffle in East
Jerusalem. The news announcer read out the statistics as if they were sports scores: Four
Israeli settlers, four Palestinians and two Israeli policemen were hurt, the announcer
My nine-year old son, Bishara, who normally hates to listen to the news, shouted out in
happiness, as if his favorite basketball team had scored the winning basket. Surprised by
his reaction, I tried to find out from him why he reacted that way.
"Well," he responded matter-of-factly, "normally it is only the
Palestinians who are getting hurt or their homes being destroyed." His response upset
me. After all, Bishara last year starred in the Palestinian version of Sesame Street with
Israelis. The joint project was aimed at teaching tolerance and mutual respect.
But before I had a chance to speak, my oldest daughter Tamara retorted better than I could
have. "Why do you say that, they are humans and many of them are nice, you
shouldn't talk like that," she told him.
That was the end of the discussion. But while not an
objective public opinion poll, my son's innocent utterance spoke volumes to me. My
attempts to shelter my children and teach them tolerance seem to have failed. The
political atmosphere has penetrated even to children and even to those children from whom
one would expect a greater tolerance level.
Compared to the situation a few years ago, Palestinian confidence in the peace process has
deteriorated to a very low and dangerous level. If my unscientific poll is 50% accurate,
then we are destined to face many more upsets before we can expect any long-term change in
our situation and attitudes. The promises and goodwill of September 1993 seem so far
behind us. In many ways, one can paint the situation now blacker than it was then. True,
we have no more curfews, and fewer Palestinian boys are being shot to death by Israeli
soldiers, but the animosity that exists is very scary, considering that many of us have
said, and continue to say, that the peace process is irreversible. My unscientific poll
notwithstanding, proper research is being conducted as to the reaction of Palestinian and
Israeli children to the Shara'a Simsim/Rehov Sumsum television program. This local version
of Sesame Street which was broadcast by Israel
Educational Television and Al Quds Educational Television has shown the difficulties of
Israeli and Palestinian children in accepting concepts of tolerance with the other.
Research done by Palestinian educator Dr. Cairo Arafat has
shown that of all the Palestinian areas where children's attitudes were surveyed, the one
Palestinian city where the least amount of tolerance to Israelis was registered was in
Jerusalem. So maybe the reaction of my son, who lives in Jerusalem, does not deviate so
much from the other children with whom he goes
to school. What does all this mean? Should we stop peace education efforts? I don't think
so. But we must understand that a serious attempt to remove hostile acts that poison the
air is a prerequisite for a culture of peace. Without an improvement in the political
atmosphere, all the work for peace conducted by so many well-intentioned people, will
unfortunately go to waste.
The Editor's comment:
(Education for peace is difficult. But there will only be political peace if there is a
genuine will for peace on both sides - both political progress and education - of adults
as well as children - are vital.)
Letter from a Friend of PEACE -
I am a new subscriber to PeaceWatch and as an
ex-Iranian who fled zealotry, humiliation and repression, I find hope in the forum's
lively and vigorous perspective that contrasts with the otherwise depressing backdrop of
Israel's current relationship with Palestinians. History is clear: no minority
occupier or tyrant can forever stall the efforts of a majority to gain independence. The
examples range from Ireland to Eritrea, from South Africa to Chechnia. Serbia's
current efforts to keep Kosovo will be no more successful than Indonesia's with East
Timor. There is little doubt that some day Palestine will be independent.
The only question is whether the separation of Palestine and Israel will take place amid
great bitterness or soul-lifting goodwill.
Occupation is degrading to both occupier and occupied. Pictures in the New York
Times showing young Israeli soldiers harassing a Palestinian are terribly humiliating, and
more so for the Israelis than the Palestinians. The current Israeli Government
approach is so short of goodwill and generosity that it strengthens the position of
extremists by denying the most basic hope to the majority of
Palestinians. True, the current Palestinian leadership is neither democratic nor very
honest, but the Israeli Government's actions certainly give it plenty of excuses.
Faced with Netanyahu's deceits and self-serving policies, one can feel some sympathy for
Arafat. People like Hanan Ashrawi will yield little influence until a free Palestine
Israel has worked and fought hard to create a strong and proud country. It is now modern,
prosperous and stable. The biggest risk to its security comes from the desperate acts
of desperate people. Denied freedom, work and pride, young Palestinians will
be easy prey to extremists and fanatics. Treated with respect and given the example of
a democratic Israel, the Palestinians will stand a fair chance
to grow a civic society and prove Israel's best neighbor. The Economist dubbed Netanyahu
"the Great Bungler" and Israel's biggest security liability. He is probably
Hamas' best recruiter. It is most sad that a people that have known
repression under so many forms and during so many centuries would now have a lousy
politician bent at repressing, humiliating and exploiting another people.
Israel is, at least for Israelis, a democratic country, and one must hope that the
same democratic process will be able to correct this terrible mess and give it
a government that does it honor and justice.
The Editor's comment:
Amen to that. If Bibi is the best recruiter for Hamas, it is also true that PNA propaganda
was the best vote-getter for Bibi Netanyahu. Literally. Segments of speeches by Yasser
Arafat were shown in television advertisements by the Likud during the last campaign. My
best wishes for a democratic government in Palestine and Iran as well - for the sake of us
all in the Middle East.
Papers - Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution
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