Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2000, Pages 3,74-76
Letters to the Editor
Greetings From Bruderhof
We continue to be very impressed with your magazine and wish we had more time to really dedicate ourselves to all you report. We are a small organization and so cannot do very much. However we did send a small team to Iraq this November, coinciding with the visit there by the Scottish MP George Galloway with his "Big Ben to Baghdad" double-decker bus which I hope you can report on sometime! With our member Krista Clement's permission, I send a report she wrote herewith.
We are from the same group of people pictured in your September '99 issue on p. 134, which we hope helped to free Nasser Ahmad.
Please Defend Suha Arafat
Enclosed is a letter printed in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida on Dec. 3, 1999 which I believe should be responded to by the Washington Report. I believe the "poison gas" and "contaminated water" issues were taken out of context. And the hospital and medical care, I believe, is totally false.
I am requesting that you respond to the Times issue because you must have more competent writers and facts available. The letter writer claims to be the president of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting. Is this a Jewish PAC or part of AIPAC?
Charles G. Chigas, Clearwater, FL
We are printing a fact-filled letter from Robert Nordlander to U.S. News and World Report on the same subject in this issue's "Other People's Mail" on p. 45.
Mrs. Arafat's Statements
During a recent telephone conversation with your executive editor, I asked about the possibility of your responding publicly (written or otherwise) about the recent statements made by Mrs. Suha Arafat in the presence of Hillary Clinton that have received such negative, national condemnation by supporters of Israel. Frankly, I cannot believe or accept the fact that Mrs. Arafat would make such critical, incriminating and condemning statements publicly without being able to factually support her charges. I therefore, respectfully, request that you forward me proven data that would support such claims for my personal use and that can be legally referenced. If information is not available, I would like to know that also.
Secondly, I asked if you had seen or read a recent column by Cal Thomas about Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Arafat and you indicated that you had not. Therefore I am sending you the column for your information and possible response.
R.A. Strickland, Greensboro, NC
Please see the useful letter by Robert Nordlander in "Other People's Mail" on p. 45.
Revisionist History Revisited
I have read with curious interest Mr. Rieder, Esq.'s informing the Washington Report that his firm represents the Zionist Organization of America and the exchange of the two letters between Robert Pisapia and Mr. Rieders Esq. (Washington Report, April/
May and June 1999 issues), in which the issues of revisionist history were raised!
An elaborate and detailed front page article from Jerusalem appearing in The New York Times on Aug. 14 may have highlighted the truth about the issue in question. The article was written by Ethan Bronner, and entitled "Israel's History Textbooks Replace Myths With Fact."
The writer suggests, "New, officially approved textbooks make plain that many of the most common Israeli beliefs are as much myth as fact." The article deals especially with the issue of Deir Yassin. The writer indicates, "One ninth-grade book is Passage to the Past by Kezia Tabibyan, which mentions the 1948 massacre carried out by radical Zionist forces in the village of Deir Yassin." Something Ms. Tabibyan says had never been done in a ninth-grade text before, but also engages in a kind of historiography by asking students to reflect on the use of myth in nation-building. Ms. Tabibyan said, "they [the students] must know that there was another people that had their life here."
The Israeli Ministry of Education has confirmed that the massacre at Deir Yassin did happen! I wonder if Mr. Rieders Esq. will bring litigation against the Israeli Ministry of Education? Or perhaps against Michael Yaron, who is in charge of the history curriculum at the Ministry? If the Washington Report had put out information reported by ZOA in "false light" under New York state law, the Israeli Ministry of Education did exactly the same thing!
It seems the Israel lobby and American Zionists have in fact formulated U.S. Middle East policy in the last 50 years through their dominant role over the successive administrations, the Congress and the media. Moreover, many professionals believe that Arab/Muslim Americans are neither well-versed in public information nor constitute a highly organized and well-funded community like the Israel apologists. Perhaps this notion may be partly true! However, Arab/Muslim-Americans have been blessed with the truth, which the Israeli apologists are lacking.
Perhaps in our revolutionary age of modern information Arab/Muslim-Americans would in the long run prevail, simply because the American public in general abhors the concept of disinformation and supports fair play and justice.
Mohamed Alwan, Annapolis, MD
History, truth and justice are in support of the Palestinians and the establishment in Palestine of a modern state which grants all of its residents equal rights regardless of religion or ethnicity. The only reason for the survival of Zionism, which is just Jewish nationalism exalted to the status of an ethnic ideology like Italian and Spanish facism, German national socialism, South African apartheid--all now passé--is that the U.S. media, and to a significant extent much of the British,German and French media as well, have persisted in obscuring the historical truth in Palestine. It's a huge crime, comparable to other war crimes, that perpetuates a struggle in which the U.S. actually funds and politically and militarily supports an Israeli state based upon exactly the kind of religious bigotry and ethnic discrimination that is now outlawed throughout the United States.
A Tax-Exempt Hate Group
I was shocked to see the enclosed FLAME [Facts and Logic About the Middle East] paid advertisement (p. 64 in the Nov. 22, 1999 edition of U.S. News & World Report) in what I have always thought to be a serious journal. Anyone who knows a little of world history knows that the history of Palestine dates back to the Roman Empire.
What further amazes me is that an organization such as FLAME is free to print and distribute at the taxpayers' expense such odious material inciting hate and misinformation to the public with such blatant lies. The attached article, "Arabian Fables (1)" is being used as a fund-raiser by this group that is a tax-exempt, non-profit educational 501(c)(3) organization. This should not be allowed by our government. It is a hate organization.
Gladys C. Collins, Laguna Hills, CA
Enclosure: U.S. News & World Report article, "Arabian Fables (1) dated Nov. 22, 1999.
Let us be the first to assure you that U.S. News and World Report publisher Mortimer Zuckerman is extremely biased on Middle East matters. His bias shows not only in his own writing but in the editing of his other publications, Atlantic Monthly and his recently acquired New York Daily News.
Alternative Travel Network
The Washington Report is invaluable in giving me information for speaking and writing.
I run an e-mail Network on Alternative Travel (to Israel and Palestine) for church groups and people. Our purpose is to encourage alternative and responsible travel on the part of Christians, including encounters with the indigenous (mostly Palestinian) Christians. Alison Hilliard and I are the authors of Living Stones: Pilgrimagewith The Christiansof the Holy Land (flyer enclosed). The University of Notre Dame published the book in March 1999. It came out in London and in Jerusalem at that time.
Find More Jewish Writers
I would like to read more commentary from Jewish writers (Israeli and especially American) with dissent from the currently acceptable Zionist line. I know they will be hard to find--perhaps they will agree to publish anonymously? Please keep my identity anonymous as well.
Neither American Jewish nor Israeli nor Israeli-American writers willing to tell the truth about Israel are hard for us to find. And those whose articles we print regularly all write under their own names, though we know it subjects some of them to personal harassment of the same kinds to which we are subjected. What's extremely hard to find is the space in our magazine to accommodate all of their useful articles.
Our Shared Feeling for Timerman
Well, your executive editor and I have something in common besides our love of truth (although your truth and mine often differ radically) and that is our admiration for Jacobo Timerman, one of the greatest journalists of our generation.
I wonder how extensive was your survey of the obits in the Jewish press? Of those you found, mine was the only one that mentioned his book on the Lebanon invasion. But instead of praise you disparage me and my obit. I gave the book only four paragraphs. Out of how many? And I am a "sometime liberal." What time was I not a liberal? When I disagreed with one of your polemical exaggerations?
May I wish you a good year, a year of peace, health and happiness.
J. Zel Lurie, Delray Beach, FL
The wishes are mutual and sincere, and we appreciate some of your hopeful opinions about Israel and the peace process. The only reason we referred to you as a "sometimes-liberal columnist" is that we believe you have a blind spot, or at least look through opaque lenses, when it comes to Israel's and Zionism's lack of respect for the human rights of Muslim and Christian Palestinians, who ought to have precisely the same rights and privileges, neither more nor less, enjoyed by people of Jewish faith or ethnicity living throughout the former Mandate of Palestine. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians, in Jacobo Timerman's words, "remain the same and we are stuck in the same place." So why shouldn't Israel abolish its discriminatory Law of Return and become a modern state mandating equal rights, privileges and duties for all? Surely every full-time liberal can agree to that. Or, if not, we invite you to explain why not in our magazine.
You Help With Balance
You are a voice in the wilderness. The mainstream press in America does a very shallow, one-sided job of reporting on the Middle East, and on the influence of the Israeli lobby on members of Congress. Tell us more about the mistreatment of Christians by Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land.
Fred Davis, Tehachapi, CA
There are Muslim-Christian frictions in Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and even in Ambon in Indonesia. But, frankly, Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land have a consistent record of mutual tolerance. They also have fought and are fighting side-by-side for Palestinian self-determination, just as Christians and Muslims work side by side in such Arab-American organizations as ADC, AAI and AAUG.
Just Hold On!
I have included you and several other organizations in my will (I'm 77 years old) and checked my choices with my friend, Pete McCloskey. Just "hold on!"
Robert H. Langner, Oakland, CA
Of our executive board, two are older than you are and the third and his wife are working so hard to get this magazine out on time every month that they claim they're gaining and may soon overtake you.
Spreading the Word
Enclosed please find my check for the October/November and December issues of the Washington Report. The magazine is extremely hard to find on Long Island.
I have written to the magazine several times indicating that I think you would get much more international exposure if you advertised in such mainstream periodicals as The New York Times. I feel that your readership is limited to a group of people who are very interested in the Middle East "Peace Process" and that it is not reaching the larger audience that it most definitely should. In my opinion, the average person is not well versed in what is taking place in the Middle East today, and more importantly, the origin of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
I am a non-practicing Catholic who became very interested in Israel and Zionism after befriending several Jews. The literature I initially read on Zionism erroneously led me to believe that Zionists were right and Arabs were terrorists intent on destroying Israel. It was not until I sent away for a pamphlet entitled "The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict" written by "Jews for Justice in the Middle East" that I became aware of the true origin of this problem. I saw an advertisement for it in the excellent pro-peace Jewish magazine Tikkun. To put it mildly, the article was numbing (I have attached a copy for your reference).
I think if the pamphlet (or "White Paper" as it is called in your catlogue) referenced above were published in its entirety in The New York Times, the world would know exactly what took place in Palestine in 1948 (namely, the intentional displacement and dispossession of an entire people, a situation that exists still). The Palestinian cause would garner much more international support. Without more international support, I am afraid that Chairman Arafat can expect no more than 50 percent of the West Bank with all Israeli settlements maintained under Israeli control, and without a Palestinian military to defend itself. This in addition to no right of return for the Palestinian refugees who currently reside in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, no East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, no control of its water supply or its own borders, etc. The list is, sadly, endless. To reiterate, I do not think that the majority of people know that Zionism's aims were to dispossess the Palestinians from their land and displace them in refugee camps in other countries, and, thus, do not understand the very core of the conflict. Each time I see an article in a New York paper about the Middle East peace process (a term I use lightly), I send the author a copy of this pamphlet. Can you imagine the impact it would have if it took up an entire page in the first section of The New York Times?
Michael Prinz, Great Neck, NY
It's a good idea but wildly beyond our budget. The cost of a full-page weekday advertisement in The New York Times is $91,061.00. Any takers? We also can prepare the referenced white paper as camera-ready copy for the hometown paper of anyone prepared to foot the cost of inserting it as a full-page advertisement.
Data on Arab Governments
In addition to all the obvious reasons for an appreciation of the Washington Report--the other voice in the U.S., etc.--I like the magazine because it provides me data and facts on the Arab regimes whose functioning is normally opaque and secretive.
Salim Adib, Kuwait
Which, of course, is why we're dependent upon our readers and advertisers, not foreign governments (or our own), for the wherewithal to keep on being the alternative voice about the Middle East in the U.S.
A Cyber Connection
I recommend that you set up a cyber connection with summaries of important stories and news items so that we can forward them to friends and associates who will, in turn, forward them. Also include your copyright and request for donations on every item.
Gary Pallone, New Kensington, PA
Everything except the photos and advertisements printed in the magazine is available on our Website <http://www.washington-report.org>, and all of the articles are available for distribution, copyright-free, unless otherwise noted.
Information and Currency
I find the depth of the information and its currency in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs unmatched by any other publication.
Paula Hajar, New York, NY
Now if we could just get our hands on some more of the green kind of currency, we could rest a little more easily that the magazine's quality is matched by its staying power.
Disappointing Kosovo Coverage
I was very disappointed in your Kosovo coverage, and concur fully with the sentiments expressed by Ralph Raico in his letter to the editor.
I wouldn't be interested in a journal that was just Islamic-chauvinist.
There are some tough questions--the reasons for Arab "stagnation"--that a brave magazine might address, though it is perhaps outside your mandate.
Scott McConnell, New York, NY
There are no aspects of U.S.-Middle East relations that are "outside our mandate." But there are so many Zionist-leaning publications dissecting the problems of Islamic nations and Islamic peoples already, and our space is so limited, that it would be a little silly to print things you can and do read anywhere in the U.S. at the expense of equally valid information that you can and do read nowhere else in the U.S. media.
Rather than renewing my personal subscription I am choosing a gift subscription to my son. As a scholar, perhaps he can glean more out of it than I've been able to in spite of your claims of progress, which are not unlike those made by other similar organizations such as CNI, AAI, etc.
Israel continues to reign supreme in the Middle East while leading America with a Zionist ring in its nose! Good luck at any rate.
Adib F. Tabri, Cincinnati, OH
You're a Potent Weapon
As an Arab-American, I have long come to realize that the Americans are a most just, fair and generous people once they become properly informed. Gross injustices were done not only to the Palestinian people, the images of Islam and the Arab people in general, but to the very best interests of America itself, all at the hands of certain pro-Israel activists and lobbyists who work so hard to deliberately keep the American public confused and misinformed about these causes. I cannot find any more potent weapon to fight these injustices than providing the American people correct and unbiased information on the Middle East. This is exactly what the Washington Report does. Every just and freedom-loving American, therefore, owes the superb, unselfish and hard-working staff of this publication his or her gratitude and a show of generous support. My enclosed donation is simply a token of my own gratitude and support, and to say thank you for a most noble and just endeavor.
Anonymous, San Bernardino County, CA
Your town, which we hope we placed in the right county, is so small that if we named it your anonymity would be violated. Thanks for your generosity.
You Help My Letter Writing
Your magazine provides me with useful information I can use in writing letters to the editor of my local paper. I have already had letters published in which I referred to figures given in the Washington Report. Although I've left Washington, DC, your magazine keeps me informed about Middle East-related events going on out there. It is essential reading for activists like me and I don't know what we would do without you. I wish I could help more financially. Keep up the good work.
Tamir Sukkary, Sacramento, CA
How about you keeping us informed on Middle East and Islamic-related events in your area? Write ups and photos of such events all over the country encourage others to be activists too.
Real Stealth Lobby Groups
I am writing to suggest that you might do an in-depth story on how two Republican Party Task forces (really stealth lobby groups) have systematically and willfully misinformed congressmen and senators on issues related to the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia. They have waged a long-term anti-Islamic campaign which can poison the atmosphere with intolerance. These are the Senate Republican Policy Committee (SRPC) and the House Republican Research Committee's Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare (TFTUW).
The latter is directed by Mr. Yossef Bodansky and patronized by Rep. James Saxton (R-NJ), both of whom, inter alia, went to Belgrade last May to visit Slobodan Milosevic.
Mr. Bodansky's general refrain is that "the Muslims are coming," and his reports are characterized by a reliance on unsubstantiated and often misinterpreted press articles with a transparent intent to convince readers of the existence of a pervasive world-wide Islamic conspiracy, including in the Balkans.
Mr. Bodansky sees all Muslims as terrorists or otherwise a threat, including Egypt's Mubarak, and is an alarmist in general. Most of his material is available on the Internet. On his general view, see his policy paper, also posted on a lobby group's Web site: "Islamic Anti-Semitism as a Political Instrument": http://freeman.io.com/m_online/sep97/bodansk.htm
For Bodansky's Mubarak policy paper, posted on the same public Web site, see: http://freeman.io.com/m_online/feb98/bodansk.htm
Later, he was claiming that President Clinton had agreed with Muslim "fundamentalists" to overthrow Mubarak in exchange for peace and quiet in Bosnia: http://freeman.io.com/m_online/feb98/bodansky.htm
Apart from the intended audience of lawmakers, all these unclassified reports by this task force (carrying a respectable GOP cachet) are distributed widely to Web sites, the media and political advocacy groups.
Conversely, these reports do not enjoy any credibility within the U.S. government community outside congressional offices, as they are seen as unreliable and meant to influence policy. In 1998, for example, Mr. Bodansky erroneously alleged that Iraq had transferred 400 Scud missiles to friendly countries, obliging the White House to publicly refute the story: http://archives.seattletimes.com/cgi-bin/texis.mummy/web/vortex/display?sto ryID=36d4d1901d&query=Bodansky
And, in a "leaked" December 1996 report, he was predicting a major Arab attack against Israel. This was posted on many bizarre Web sites, e.g: http://www.europa.com/~johnlf/og/leaked.htm
After the downing of TWA 743, he also readily came up with a new Islamic terrorist group as the alleged culprit.
Mr. Bodansky also writes on other policy areas, with equally blundering results: for example, he predicted the imminent invasion of Taiwan by China. This appeared as an article in a lobby-group voice, Defense & Foreign Affairs (see below), but probably first came out as a policy paper: "Right on the Brink; Beijing Finalizes Invasion Plans for Taiwan," Feb. 29, 1996, pp. 7-15.
And, there was Bodansky's prediction of China's grab for the Straits of Molucca in another policy paper, also posted on the Freeman Center site: http://freeman.ikocom/m_online/bodansky/beijing.htm
On Bosnia, he claimed that the massacres were self-inflicted ploys, etc., and again, he sees everything as an international Islamic conspiracy. See two reports "leaked" to Web sites:
"The Truth About Gorazde" www.suc.org/politics/papers/civil_war/gorazde.html and "Italy Becomes Iran's Base for Terrorist Operations" www.strategicstudies.org/crisis/balkans.htm#Italy
Bodansky has also participated in at least one Serbian Unity Congress (the major Serb lobby group in the U.S.) fund-raiser in 1996: http://www.suc.org/sucinfor/conventions/ninth/index.html
Mr. Bodansky is also retained as a "special consultant" for the Texas-based Freeman Center, a very extreme pro-Israel advocacy lobby group, run by his brother-in-law: http://freeman.io.com
The Freeman Center's director claimed on Bodansky's behalf that "Bodansky receives his information directly in its raw form from the Middle East, where he has extensive connections...Projecting into the future, Bodansky sees a grand alliance of Asian and Islamic countries confronting the West. In this alliance, priority was wresting Kashmir from India to open up land routes direct from Tehran to Beijing." Many of Bodansky's papers appear on the Freeman Center Web site. Bodansky writes often for the Freeman Center's newsletter, The Maccabean, on similar themes. See: http://freeman.io.com/m_online/bodanska.htm Samples at: Peres and the New Middle East http://freeman.io.com/m_online/dec.95/dec95d.htm
Bodansky has also taken money from the Freeman Center, at least $16,000 in 1994. An outline of Yossef Bodansky's professional record was provided by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: http://msanews.mynet.net/Scholars/Bodansky/aadc
Bodansky told a Serbian journalist that he receives his information from the CIA (extremely unlikely) and Mossad (very likely) in an interview with Bodansky by Ivan Miladinovic, "The Show Must Go On, The War Too" in Duga (Belgrade), May 28-June 10, 1994, p. 79.
As for the second source, The Washington Post recently raised some issues about James George Jatras, who writes on Islamic issues for the Senate Republican Policy Committee (SRPC) and is also Senator Larry Craig's aide (R-OR).
In fact, two recent articles on the Kosovo Liberation Army linking the latter to drug trading and to Islamic terrorists, which appeared in The Washington Times, seem to have been based almost verbatim on a report by the SRPC, entitled "The Kosovo Liberation Army: Does Clinton Policy Support Group with Terror, Drug Ties?" (March 31, 1999) www.senate.gov/~rpc/releases/1999/fro033199.htm
The publicly available report is a selective collage of unsubstantiated articles from the press rather than being based on U.S. government information. The analysis is marked by subjective interpretations and non sequiters, with unevaluated excerpts from newspaper stories as the basis for questionable conclusions.
The tendentious approach and shaky information base of this report are mirrored in similar SRPC reports on Islamic-related issues in the Balkans, all apparently written by a single individual with an undisguised hostility for Islam.
Mr. Jatras, as a Greek-American, apparently feels it is his duty to engage in a crusade to expose and counter an Islamic-Catholic-multicultural conspiracy against Orthodoxy, as he noted in The Christian Activist ("A Journal of Orthodox Opinion"): www.tcal.org/vol 13/Muslim.html. Mr. Jatras is also frightened by what he calls "multiculturalism": http/www.suc.org/news/bulletin/archives/119/1.html
Mr. Jatras is certainly entitled to his strong feelings, but they might disqualify him from producing objective policy assessments. He was also the keynote speaker at the last Serbian Unity Congress (1998) convention, where he provided "an electrifying address in defense of Serbian interests and values." On that occasion, he also "blasted the administration's whole policy toward Serbia, stating that it was criminal and worthy of being brought to the Hague Tribunal." Mr. Jatras says he makes sure that his papers reach "opinion columnists" and other media outlets.
The bottom line is that both of these unaccountable task forces (really one-man shows) are an unrecognized problem. Both these sources are not detached information producers basing their work on U.S. government sources, but well-placed promoters of personal agendas with the power to influence key decision-makers in the Republican Party.
It might be interesting to follow up on this, interview these individuals and get some reactions from them and from Congressman Saxton, Senator Craig and the Republican House Majority Leader, Congressman Hastert.
Norman Cigar, Vienna, VA
There is no way on earth that we could do a better job documenting the (poorly) hidden agendas of these two ideologues than you have done already. Consider yourself investigative reporter by appointment to this magazine. And please accept our admiration for such a thoroughly documented letter.