open reply from Maurice Ostroff to the 18 SA Jews
who signed the article reproduced in
the right hand column.
I don’t dispute your humanitarian motivation especially since your views are based on a report by the respected
Professor John Dugard. But it is always sad when intelligent people express views with best intentions, but based on misinformation.
Intellectual honesty demands critical analysis of the accuracy of this report that stimulated your protest. For those
of you, to whom facts which can be fully substantiated are important, the following information will be of interest. If however,
you are not open to considering views which may differ from your own, don’t bother to read further.
Without questioning Professor Dugard’s sincerity, his
sources are open to question. It is a pity he didn’t consult the like of
journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who has an intimate knowledge of the Palestinian terrain. An award-winning journalist and television
news producer, he has reported from the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than twenty years. An insider with an intimate knowledge
of the Palestinians, at one time he worked as editor of the PLO's newspaper Al Fajr.
Toameh told the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia on April 27, 2004 that the world receives an inaccurate picture of
what happens in the Palestinian region. The PA’s tyrannical approach and control of the media creates an atmosphere
of intimidation and fear among Palestinian journalists and foreign journalists allow themselves to be misled by some of their
Toameh is certainly in a better position to assess the actual situation than short-term visitors who can’t speak
Arabic and depend on Palestinians as guides and translators. He relates that when foreigners interview Palestinians through
translators, the translators often mistranslate and even reprimand interviewees critical of the Palestinian Authority.
There is another very disturbing aspect to Dugard’s report. His unbalanced mandate as special rapporteur on
Palestine, is limited to investigating only violations by Israel, not by Palestinians.
He has been faithful to this mandate, presenting the case of a prosecutor
determined to obtain a conviction while making no pretence of acting as a neutral investigator,
Your mandate is however,
unrestricted and natural justice requires that unlike Dugard, you must examine and weigh all available evidence including
the Palestinian provocations, which produce Israeli reactions.
The casualties to which
you refer, did not occur in a vacuum. They were the tragic result of operations in reaction to attacks by Palestinians.
The closures of crossing
points only take place to avoid terror attacks like the one by the female suicide bomber who detonated a bomb at the Erez
Crossing killing four Israelis and wounding 10. Hamas and the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed joint responsibility
I am not aware of Palestinians
seeking medical attention in Egypt as referred to by you, but last year some 80,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and 40,000
from Gaza came to Israel for medical treatment. All this despite the risk that occasionally bombs are discovered in ambulances
at checkpoints and despite the history of two suicide bombers who arrived in Israel by ambulance and then blew themselves
up at a hitchhiking station, killing 21 Israelis, See http://tinyurl.com/28cg8q
The real tragedy is that
Palestinian extremists have deliberately prevented a thriving cooperative situation with Israel. See http://tinyurl.com/2nsnmz
Before the uprising,
up to 100,000 Palestinians worked in Israel, A successful industrial zone was created at Erez employing about 5,000
workers in some 200 businesses half of which were Palestinian-owned. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial Estate (GIE),
slated to provide up to 50,000 jobs. A joint industrial zone was also planned south of Tulkarm intended to provide jobs for
more than 5,000 Palestinians and additional areas were planned for Jenin and the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.
Unfortunately the GIE
was forced to close when it became the target of deadly Palestinian attacks.
trend continues. Even as recently as last May, opportunities were lost when Gazan gunmen wantonly destroyed thousands of greenhouses
and other projects left behind by the Jewish settlers who had been evacuated; projects that could have provided income for
over 4,500 families.
* Bait Hanoun. Your reference to the November 2006 Beit Hanoun incident repeats
erroneous information. The BBC, which cannot be accused of favoring Israel, reported the total damage as 18 killed and 40
wounded. Your source exaggerates this to 82 killed and 260 injured adding 279 homes plus other buildings destroyed, though
even Palestinian sources reported only six adjacent structures damaged by the explosion.
Lacking in your letter is any reference to the fact that Israeli civilians are being bombarded daily by rockets fired
by Palestinians from civilian areas into civilian areas (a double war crime). No international law prevents Israel from responding.
In this instance shells aimed by Israeli artillery at a rocket-launching site hit the wrong target due to a malfunction. Human
errors and malfunctions do occur, even in the most highly disciplined fields such as space exploration.
The reaction of IDF soldiers was described by Steve Linde in the Jerusalem Post, on November 8, 2006. He wrote: "Can
you imagine how terrible the artillery troops who fired the shells at Beit Hanun yesterday must be feeling now? After serving
in IDF Artillery, I can only say that this is every gunner's nightmare scenario: killing innocent men, women and children."
Linde points out that, in response to Kassam rocket attacks, gunners
were ordered to "fire at the source" - which they did, firing a dozen or so shells. He adds that whereas the Kassams are intentionally
fired at civilian targets, hoping for maximum casualties and damage, the troops who fired at Beit Hanun were targeting terrorists,
not civilians. For the complete article see http://tinyurl.com/yhqzn3
*West Bank and the
wall: The wall (most of it is wire, like any other fence) to which you
object would not have been erected if it had not become necessary to prevent deadly suicide bombings and other terror. That
it has been successful in preventing untold massacres must be balanced against the regrettable, temporary discomfort of some
*Settlements, the Geneva convention and international law:
Your claim that 40% of land held by settlements is privately owned Palestinian land, is contradicted by a recent admission
by “Peace Now”, the most active opponent and monitor of settlement activity, that it has made serious mistakes.
For example in regard to the largest settlement, Ma'ale Adumim, it made a 15,900% percent mistake. Rather than 86.4% claimed
as Palestinian land, it now claims just 0.54% of that land as supposedly Palestinian.
For more details see http://tinyurl.com/2a84bh
Similarly your claim that settlements are in violation of the
Fourth Geneva Convention has been contested by eminent jurists like the late Professor Julius Stone one of the twentieth century's
leading authorities on the Law of Nations. See http://tinyurl.com/ypg9hg.
With regard to other claims of illegalities I refer you to http://tinyurl.com/2zvwfz
Obstacles to peace:
Incitement. Palestinians who are subjected to hate propaganda from their earliest years cannot be
expected to think of peaceful coexistence. Any report on the situation is incomplete if it fails to address the continuing
incitement by Palestinian state-controlled media which teach children to emulate suicide martyrs with video clips portraying
happy child martyrs in the after-world and while hatred continues to be spewed daily in mosques and schools.
In a typical sermon on
PA TV, Sheik Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Madhi, called for turning Jews and Christians into Ahl-Dhimma [protected second rate citizens]
under Muslim rule. Note that the hate is directed at Christians as well as Jews.
Certainly you cannot be unperturbed by the indoctrination of infants
as shown in the following excerpt from an interview by Duaa Amer with three-and-a-half
year old Egyptian girl, Basmallah, broadcast on Iqra TV
Amer: How old are you, Basmallah?
Basmallah: Three and a half.
Amer: Why don't you like them? (the Jews)
Basmallah: They are apes and pigs.
Amer: Because they are apes and pigs. Who said that about them?
Basmallah: Our God.
You can view a video clip of this interview at http://tinyurl.com/kz5of
other examples of incitement at http://tinyurl.com/35efkr
The PLO and Hamas Charters. Nor can
you justifiably ignore the inevitably of continued violence attributable to the PLO and Hamas constitutions. The official
Palestinian Media Center web site confirms that promised changes to the PLO Charter have not yet been made. Article 9 still declares plainly that armed struggle is not merely tactical, it is the overall
strategy. Article 19 rejects the 1947 UN partition, thereby rejecting the Quartet’s proposed two-state solution and
advocates destruction of the entire Jewish state. Article 20 unashamedly deems the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate
null and void.
The Hamas charter emphatically rejects peace. Article 13 states that peaceful solutions and international conferences,
contradict the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement and that the only solution is through Jihad.
Do you consider it possible to negotiate rationally with a party that generates hatred based on fantasies? For example
the Hamas Charter states that freemasons, Rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations stirred the French revolution (though
the latter organizations did not even exist at the time), that they were responsible for World War I and the Communist revolution
and that they formed the League of Nations. Hamas promises that these organizations will be obliterated when Islam takes control.
May I hope you will treat
this letter in the constructive spirit intended to engage in serious dialogue and promote mutual understanding? I respectfully suggest that it would be more productive to discuss how best to resolve the conflict than
engage in mutual recriminations
Your considered response
would be appreciated. Please use the comment form below to contact me