Response to Unison

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From Gerald Steinberg:

UNISON – is a major UK trade union with 1.5 million members, specializing
in healthcare related professions. Its recent general membership
publication includes the attached highly offensive article on the
“wailingwall”, which cites a notoriously anti-Israel NGO known as MAP. We
have been asked to submit replies as soon as possible for publication via
Doreen Gerson <[email protected] > (cc to “Malke Borow”
<[email protected] >, “Orna Cohen” <[email protected] >).

Note that MAP has been profiled recently on the NGO Monitor – see
http://www.ngo-monitor.org/editions/v2n09/v2n09-2.htm

Thanks for the help on this one,

Gerald Steinberg

Response 1:

To the editor,
In reference to the assertions made in “Wailing wall”
http://www.unison.org.uk/features/features/0404wailingwall.asp, all people
of good will cannot help but be distressed by the suffering of the people of
the Middle East, including the Palestinians. As they noted in describing
the sixty-year-old war with Israel, this “is a politically driven
catastrophe and poverty has arisen because of it.”
They ignore, however, the roots of the Palestinians’ suffering. Since
the end of the Second World War, tens of millions of refugees in areas from
the Indian subcontinent, to Europe, to the 820,000 Jews who fled persecution
in Arab countries have been resettled.
Of all of the people displaced by the political upheavals following
that war, only the descendants of the Arabs residing in what became Israel,
initially estimated by the UN Mediator on Palestine at 472,000 and by census
data as high as 650,000, were denied resettlement. Rather than finding them
permanent homes where they could raise their children in peace and security,
an elaborate international apparatus was established to maintain these
unfortunate people in camps, including the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency (UNWRA), whose mandate was to ensure that refugees and their
descendants remained trapped in camps as a tool in the war against Israel.
It is these camps that misguided organizations like Medical Aid for
Palestinians (MAP) help support, rather than demanding a genuine and
achievable political solution.
For over fifty years, the Arabs have rejected every permanent solution,
beginning with partition in 1948. For nineteen years, Gaza and the West
Bank were under the administration of Egypt and Jordan. There was no effort
to create a Palestinian state. To the contrary, the Palestine Liberation
Organization was founded in 1964 to destroy Israel, not to develop an
independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, then under Arab control.
For nearly twenty-five years, following the 1967 war, Israel helped
provide medical care to Palestinian Arabs. There were no checkpoints, and
there was no mention of a wall. It was only after Yasir Arafat again
rejected a state in 2000, choosing to further abuse his long suffering
people by turning their children into human bombs, that Israel was forced to
take measures to protect its people from Arafat’s campaign of ethnic
cleansing.
As we recently noted in the Lancet, a British medical journal,
Palestinian Arabs and other terrorists throughout the Middle East have used
hospitals, ambulances, and woman disguised to appear pregnant as weapons of
war
(http://www.thelancet.com/journal/vol363/iss9419/full/llan.363.9419.correspo
ndence.29466.1). The results are the tragic circumstances that MAP laments.
But, the answer does not lie in unswerving criticism of Israel. Prior to
the most recent chapter in the war to destroy Israel, Palestinians readily
traveled between towns and received care in Israel’s hospitals, among the
best in the world.
The answer is also not in improving refugee camps. The camps they
describe in Lebanon are all too typical. That country, under Syrian control
has what was characterized in “Wailing wall” as a “community of about half a
million refugees, who are barred from working in 72 professions in Lebanon,
due to fears they will take jobs sway from the Lebanese and then demand
citizenship.” One need not have much imagination to visualize the outcry if
Israel so abused its Arab citizens. To the contrary, Israel’s Arabs enjoy a
full range of civil rights, some serving in Israel’s parliament.
The answer lies in a political solution that recognizes the rights of
all of the people of the region to live in a safe and secure environment,
including the Jews. With 21 member states, not counting the never existent
Palestine, the Arab League covers a landmass ranging across Africa and the
Middle East. If tiny Israel could resettle the hundreds of thousands of
refugees from Arab states, surely the Arab league could find real homes for
Palestinians now in refugee camps. With a genuinely peaceful solution,
there would be no need for a wall, as there was no need before 2000.
Unfortunately, real relief for the suffering of the Palestinians does
not appear to be on the Arab League’s agenda. It is the destruction of
Israel they seek. The Palestinians remain pawns in this battle, with Israel
routinely denounced by a broad coalition of the Palestinians’ increasingly
vitriolic “friends”. Of course, with friends like the Arab League, UNRWA
and MAP, who needs enemies?

John R. Cohn, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Medicine
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-923-7685

Response 2:

May 16, 2004

Nick Sigler
International Department

UNISON

1 Mabledon Place
London WC1H 9AJ

Response to article (“Wailing wall”) at http://www.unison.org.uk/features/features/0404wailingwall.asp

The Arab-Israeli conflict has a long and painful history, and the combination of offensiveness and simplistic analyses in the article entitled “Wailing Wall” is neither constructive nor honest. The use of the term “Wailing Wall” in a one-sided attack on Israeli policy designed to defend citizens against terror attacks is highly offensive. This term was coined by Christians to refer to the Jewish practice of mourning at the remnant of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem and destroyed 2000 years ago (known to Jews as the Western Wall of the Temple Mount), and refers to a sacred site. Just as UNISON would no doubt not promote abusive references to the sacred sites of Islam, Christianity and other religions, the editors of this publication have a moral obligation to respect the Jewish heritage.

On the substance of the security barrier which is referred to in this article, one immediately notes that there is no reference to 42 months of Palestinian terror attacks, in which over 900 Israelis have been murdered and thousands more have been wounded. Similarly, there is no mention of the hatred and incitement in Palestinian textbooks, media and other sources, as well as the pervasive anti-Semitism that exists in many Arab and Islamic countries that fuels this terrorism. (This incitement and promotion of terrorism is documented in detail at www.pmw.org.il ). The fact that the portion of the separation barrier that has been constructed has already led to a major reduction in terror attacks against Israelis, including far fewer bus bombings and café attacks is omitted from this article, reflecting a highly selective presentation of the information provided to UNISON’s readers.

Instead, the article and accompanying material present a highly one-sided politically biased analysis of the conflict and the separation barrier, based entirely on the Palestinian perspective. The analysis of the separation barrier does not even attempt to present the perspective of the actual and potential victims of terror attacks, and ignores that fact that the most basic human right is the right to life. Instead, the presentation is based entirely on Palestinian victimization, from a highly politicized and notoriously unreliable source. MAP’s exploitation of healthcare and human rights issues to promote this pro-Palestinian agenda has been documented in detail at http://www.ngo-monitor.org/editions/v2n09/v2n09-2.htm.

In the accompanying historical summary, Israel’s efforts to achieve a just peace based on the two state-solution are ignored, including the acceptance of the 1947 UN Partition resolution (181, adopted by a two-thirds vote on November 29, 1947), the adoption of the “land for peace” formula following the 1967 war, and numerous other instances. In addition, there is no indication of the fact that the wars of 1948, 1967, 1973, etc. were forced on Israel by an Arab coalition that explicitly sought its destruction. Israeli settlements and the absence of agreed borders are not the cause of this violence, as political organizations such as MAP contend, but rather they are a symptom.

It is possible to argue that the particular approach taken by the Israeli government (which, in contrast to Palestinian and all other governments in the region, has the advantage of being democratically elected and subject to parliamentary checks and balances) is not the best one, and other options should be considered. Indeed, in response to different analysis and considerations, the separation barrier has been moved to reduce negative impacts on Palestinians and Israelis while still preventing terror attacks. However, the approach reflected in the article published in UNISON fails to appreciate the complexity of the issues involved.

Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg
Director, Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation
Political Studies, Bar Ilan University
Ramat Gan, Israel
Tel: 972-3-5318043, Fax: 972-3-535-4389; [email protected]

Response 3:

May 16, 2004

Nick Sigler
International Department

UNISON

1 Mabledon Place
London WC1H 9AJ

RE: “Wailing Wall” http://www.unison.org.uk/features/features/0404wailingwall.asp

Sir:

Nothing is more disingenuous than a deliberate misrepresentation of facts in order to prove a point.

UNISON’s recent publication of a piece by Helen Taylor is a prime example of publishing material without checking out and verifying the truth. In fact, some of her assertions are so overtly false as to raise serious questions regarding Ms. Taylor’s journalistic integrity.

After more than 55 years of almost non-stop Arab violence and terror against the Jewish state, Israel has reluctantly decide to erect a barrier separating itself from an Arab population that has failed to control terror. This barrier however, is actually a combination of fence, wall, various earthworks and security apparatus. Only small parts of the fence are made of concrete wall – 8 miles around Qalqiliya and around parts of Jerusalem where shooting attacks have claimed the lives of Israeli civilians. Helen Taylor, however, blatantly misrepresents the barrier, describing it as a “concrete…wall” that is “116km wide and 100m wide”.

In referring to the 1982 Lebanese Christian killing of fellow Arabs at Sabra and Shatila, Ms. Taylor again falsely refers to this as an “Israeli massacre”, despite the fact that not one Israeli was involved in the Arab-on-Arab killings.

In quoting Belinda Coote regarding the security barrier that “is doubtful it will achieve the security Israel wants”, Taylor fails to account for the drastic drop in terror attacks against Israel in those areas where the barrier has been completed.

As to the mental health needs of the population, what has taken place under the leadership of the Palestinian Authority would meet the definition of child abuse in any free society. Instead of educating children for peace, the Palestinian Authority has encouraged, funded and glorified acts of terror, referring to them as “martyrdom”. Children are taught to handle weapons and to pray to be able to sacrifice themselves by turning themsleves in human bombs. Clerics preach anti-Semitic hate from mosques on a regular basis and provide religious justification for acts that any civil society would consider barbaric. The resultant terror is the only reason Israel was forced to adopt measures that include the building of a security barrier.

UNISON’s sidebar that highlights “History” of the conflict is no less misleading than Ms. Taylor’s unfortunate article. The history UNISON presents omits the fact that 78% of the original Palestine mandate became the Arab state of Jordan, that the 1948 Arab war against Israel also created over 750,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were totally assimilated into Israel, that the 1967 Israeli takeover of territory was precipitated by Arab aggression, that the Palesintians officially and formally refused to recognize the right of Jews to live in Palestine, and that unlike Israel, where every 5th citizen is an Arab, the future Palestinian state proposes to expel all Jewish residents.

Ms. Taylor may be correct when she states that “There is no cruder symbol of the failure of cultural co-existence then the erection of a wall or security fence”. The fence, however, may be being built by Israel, but the architects are clearly the Palestinians.

Sincerely,
Irwin J. Mansdorf, PhD
Director
Jerusalem Project for Democracy in the Middle East
www.JPDME.org

Response to Unison

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AUTHOR

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Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is not-for-profit [501 (C) (3)], grass-roots community of scholars who have united to promote honest, fact-based, and civil discourse, especially in regard to Middle East issues. We believe that ethnic, national, and religious hatreds, including anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, have no place in our institutions, disciplines, and communities. We employ academic means to address these issues.

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