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Copyright 1998 by the authors and PEACE. All materials are the intellectual property of the respective contributors. Unless noted otherwise, they may be reproduced provided that credit is given to the authors, and to PEACE - a Mid-East Dialog Group. Email/Web postings should include these addresses:
Ami Isseroff;
Ameen Hannoun;
Mid East Viewpoints:


July, 17, 1998

House demolition/ What children think?


About Subscriptions - and PEACE

  Letters to Governments andLeaders  

Letter to the PNA

    House Demolitions - Ami Isseroff

What Children Think - Daoud Kuttab

   From a Friend of Peace - Hamid Farzanneh

  Call 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

The Editor



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.

The Editor


Letters To  PNA

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, and
     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 of
     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, day-after-day
     actions of those who try to take peace away from the people of the
     entire region.  I encourage you to reach out to the common Israeli,
     and the common Palestinian, with expressions of peace and
     non-violence, and actions of similar nature.  Violent rhetoric fuels
     fear and mistrust on the Israeli side, and damages the ability of the
     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 encouraged
     to continue on a path to peace.

     Salam, Ya'atik el-'afia,

     Eran Segev
     Missouri, USA

(Eran has received no answer as yet. Here is the
answer I received from 'MKA' -  who is apparently PNA Webmaster)

|Dear Ami,
|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
|touch and,
|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
H.E. Yasser Arafat
Abu Khadra Building
Omar Al Mukhtar Street
Gaza, Palestine
Fax Nos: 972-7-822365 972-7-822366
UN Ambassador Nasser Al-Kidwe Fax No:212-517-2377

House 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

Anybody who wants to find out more about how to help - including a newspaper advertisement initiative, should contact:
Or call 09-9523261 (97299523261 from abroad)
or visit the web site at
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 Palestinian friends.

Thank you.
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, arrests,
     trials behind closed doors... - those don't sound nice either.   But
     where else in the world is such a policy of demolition of family homes
     carried out?  And in such an arbitrary manner.  Three houses here, two
     houses there, and then a headline reading "There are another 1,000
     such illegally built structures".  All this, of course, in the context
     of economic and social poverty and oppression.  And then we complain
     that we are being portrayed in a negative way! What's more, it is pure
     stupidity.  Indeed, every time we destroy a house we earn undying
     The Israeli government claims it must allow for "natural growth" of
     the population of West Bank settlements.
     The Palestinians have natural growth too!

     I hope to hear about a change in policy.

     Eran Segev

     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
Sincerely Yours,
Peter Liatowitsch, POB 425, CH-4010 Basel, Switzerland

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
Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai Fax +972-3) 691-6940
Internal Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani  Fax: (+972-2) 584-7872
Justice Minister Tzachi HaNegbi      Fax: (+972-2) 628-5438 or 670-8722
Head of Civil Administration in Occupied Territoriess:
     General Mandi Or Fax: (+972-2) 997-7356
Legal Advisor to Occupied Territories:
     Adv. Shlomo Politos      Fax:   (+972-2) 997-7326
Spokesman for Civil Administration in Occupied Territories:
     Peter Lerner   Fax:  (+972-2) 997-7018

MK Shimon Peres (Labor)
MK Ehud Barak (head of Labor Party)
MK Benyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor)
MK Ran Cohen (Meretz)
MK Eli Goldschmidt (Labor)
MK Uzi Landau (Likud)
MK Alex Lubotzky (Third Way)  Fax: (+972-2) 691-8475
MK Haim Ramon (Labor)
MK Ruby Rivlin (Likud)  Fax: (+972-2) 675-4186
Likud Party  Fax: (972-2) 566-4838

Please save these addresses for future reference!

What Children Think - Daoud Khattab

(Daoud Kuttab is a journalist and producer of Israel/Palestine Sesame Street.  See his Web Site at )

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 concluded.

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 - Hamid Farzaneh

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 is born.

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.

Hamid Farzaneh

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.

Call for Papers - Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution

The newly founded OJPCR accepts quality contributions from anyone regarding conflict resolution, peace efforts and dialog experiences.

Visit their Web site at





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