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Media Watch

Bias on BBC Website: Profile of Israel/The Territories and their Respective Political Leaderships.

GERALD M. ADLER, LL.M., J.S.D.
geraldadler@onetel.net.uk

To the Manager
BBC Complaints
BBC Web Site
June 5, 2003

Sir:

I have read with care the text of the BBC website Country Profile which profiles Israel and the West Bank territories and have come to the conclusion that the text is inaccurate, biased, tendentious and therefore in need of correction. For your convenience I have first copied below in black font, the BBC website text, my comments thereon are then set out in red, followed by my suggestions for corrections which are in green font.

I regret very much that my comments are so extensive, but I believe it is necessary either to correct some misconceptions or to bring to your attention information of which you may either have overlooked or been unaware.

Yours faithfully,

Gerald M. Adler,
Hove.

Adjunct Professor of Law (1969-1983)
Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

 


Country profile: Israel and Palestinian autonomous areas
1.

The division of the former British mandate of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in the years after the end of World War II have been at the heart of Middle Eastern conflicts for the past half century.

Arab opposition to Jewish settlement has been well in excess of half a century and long before the creation of the PLO in 1964. Between 1921 and 1948 the British and Palestine Governments frustrated the terms of the Mandate granted by the League of Nations in 1920-22. Initially Churchill at the Cairo Conference in 1921 (White Paper 1922) effectively severed approximately 75% of the territory mandated by the League of Nations to Britain within which the Jewish homeland was to be established. It given to Emir Abdullah to administer: (i) in return for Hashemite support against Turkey in WW I.; (ii) to reduce Britain’s financial burden of the cost of the Mandate administration; and (iii) to prevent French political and economic influence extending beyond Syria.

In the remaining territory west of the Jordan, the local British Military Administration frustrated the League of Nations mandate by encouraging Arab violence in resistance to the policy of the Jewish National Home. This was accompanied periodically by the civil misadministration that chose the line of least resistance when presented with Arab violent opposition in 1920, 1929, 1936-39. (See Peel Commission Report Cmd 5479) The violence was orchestrated by Haj el Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, who in the early days of the British Administration received encouragement and strong backing from senior British Administrators. Colonel Watts-Taylor, Chief Secretary to the Civil Administration together with his wife, actively encouraged Husseini to initiate violent Arab opposition to the Mandate’s declared objectives. Later, in London, Sir George Rendel, Head of the Middle Eastern desk at the Foreign Office also played a significant role in frustrating the objectives of the mandate.
(see Meinerhertzhagen Middle East Diary 1917-1956, The Cresset Press, London 1959; Bentwich, Mandate memories 1918-1948 Hogarth Press, London 1965; E. Horne, A Job Well Done, PPOC, Leigh-on-Sea, 1982; John Marlowe Rebellion in Palestine, Cresset Press, London, 1946; Michael J. Cohen, Palestine: Retreat from the Mandate, Paul Elek, London1978)

I suggest therefore a more accurate description of the situation would be

"The indecisive British administration of the former Mandate of Palestine which, in 1921 called for the establishment of a Jewish National Home, leading ultimately to the creation of the State of Israel in the years after the end of World War II, have been at the heart of Middle Eastern conflicts for nearly a century"


2.

The creation of Israel was the culmination of the Zionist movement, whose aim was a homeland for Jews scattered all over the world following the Diaspora. After the Nazi Holocaust, pressure grew for the international recognition of a Jewish state, and in 1948 Israel came into being.

OVERVIEW

OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA

Much of the history of the region since that time has been one of conflict between Israel on one side and Palestinians, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Israel's Arab neighbours, on the other.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced, and several wars were fought involving Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Putting the above in the passive tense is tendentious and presents a false picture. The overview fails to indicate who was responsible for what-

Palestinian Displacement

The displacement of Palestinians was only partially caused by Jewish military action. The major cause of the displacement by far was the orders of the Arab High Committee directing the Arab population of Palestine to leave their homes in the expectation that the 5 Arab armies which invaded Israel upon its establishment would quickly conquer the Jewish population. A second influential factor causing Arabs to flee was the AHC propaganda broadcasts exaggerating civilian casualties and "atrocities" arising from the military action at Dir Yassin. The village was actually a legitimate military target overlooking the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, from where Jewish traffic was regularly attacked by Arab militia. (See Morton A. Klein, "Dir Yassin: History of a Lie” http://www.zoa.org/pubs/DeirYassin.htm.). In contrast, why do you make no mention of the fact that significant portions of Arab Palestinian population were persuaded by local Jewish leadership to remain in their homes in Nazareth and Haifa areas?

”Wars were fought”

This implies a moral equivalency. In each of the wars, Israel was acting in self-defence.

The 1948 War was fought to prevent the invasion of the 5 Arab armies annihilating the nascent Jewish State, the establishment of which was supported by a vote of over 2/3rds of the United Nations.

In the 1956 Suez conflict, Israel acted in self-defence to prevent incursions of “fedayen” murder groups into her territory. These were not isolated incidents, but military actions organised and implemented with the knowledge and cooperation of Arab Governments generally and with Egypt’s Nasser in particular

The Six Day War- June 1967- demanded pre-emptive self defensive action by Israel under Article 52 of the UN Charter, justified by the following causus belli:

(i) Egyptian blockade of the international Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, (ii) Egyptian demand for, and UN Secretary General’s acquiescence in the removal of the UN peace-keeping force from Sinai, (iii) the massing of Syrian, Egyptian and Jordanian troops on Israel- Arab cease fire lines established in 1948-1949 and (iv) inaction on the part of the UN Security Council to prevent the Arab aggression.

In particular, on the morning of June 5, 1967 Israel had notified Jordan through General Odd Bull, the chief UN observer in Jerusalem, and through British diplomatic channels, that if Jordan did not attack Israel, Israel would not attack Jordan. Persuaded by Arab pressure to join the conflict and by Egyptian propaganda that it was achieving military success, Jordan joined in the fray.
Along the winding armistice lines between the two countries, Jordan launched an artillery barrage against targets within Israel at 11.00 on June 5, 1967.
Israel- in self defence- retaliated and Jordan ultimately lost control of the “West Bank” including East Jerusalem within 36 hours- a cease-fire being accepted by both sides at 20.00 hrs on June 7, 1967.

Attempts by Israel to negotiate a peace with Arabs and the return of the West Bank to their control was rejected by the Arab summit on September 1, 1967 with Khartoum Conference’s three “noes”: no negotiation with Israel; no recognition of Israel; no peace with Israel.

Consequently, until the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israel retained total control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Yom Kippur War 1973- again initiated by Egypt and Syria. Israel was taken by surprise on its holiest day of the year, Israeli intelligence having mistakenly assessed Arab troop movements which had began some days before.

The Wars Against Terrorism: Entebbe - PLO in Jordan- PLO in Lebanon- (see Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1982)

Intifada 2000 following Oslo breakdown.
Arafat’s failed to obtain 100% of his demands at Camp David in July 2000 and resorted to violence in September, breaking his express undertakings to resolve the conflict by negotiation. In many Arab eyes, the Oslo Accords were considered as part of a long term strategy the ultimate objective being the replacement of Israel by an Arab-Palestinian secular state.
(See “Captured documents from Arafat's Compound, inciting Israeli Arabs to join the Intifada, Arafat unwilling to recognize Israel's right to exist”. IDF Spokesperson's Office April 13 2002 http://www.idf.il/gilui/site/english/main_index.stm . See also Special Dispatch Series - No. 515 June 3, 2003 No.515 Arafat's Nakba Day Speech www.memri.org

Time and again critics note that the PLO Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and notwithstanding the Oslo Accords, it has actually never been changed. In the report published in Dubai in Arabic, on October 7, 2002 PLO, Foreign Minister Faruq Qaddumi stated that the PLO no longer recognizes Israel and adheres to its national charter, which in Article 15 calls for "the liquidation of the Zionist presence." - a common Arabic euphemism for the destruction of Israel (http://www.albayan.co.ae (07 Oct 02)

Thus it is misleading to state merely that “ several wars were fought by…” I suggest the following text present a more accurate picture:

In 1948 as the nascent State of Israel defended itself against five invading Arab armies, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left their homes, displaced either by the exigencies of war or leaving upon the instructions of Arab leaders. Since then Israel has absorbed a comparable number of Jewish refugees, expelled from surrounding Arab states, and has had to fight several defensive wars against surrounding Arab countries - Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon


3.

In 1979 Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement, but it wasn't until the early 1990s, after years of an uprising known as the intifada, that a peace process began with the Palestinians. Despite the hand-over of parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to Palestinian control, a "final status" agreement has yet to be reached.

Notwithstanding that the majority of the West Bank territory was under Palestinian control (much of which has been retaken since 2000 due to Palestinian terrorism) over 95% of the Palestinian population came under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction by virtue of the Oslo Agreements which recognised PA control in over 40 areas of civil government- including an armed police force.

My suggested amendment in green to your your text is:

"In 1979 Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement, but it wasn't until the early 1990s, after ….an uprising known as the intifada, that a peace process began with the Palestinians. Despite the hand-over of the majority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip territory to Palestinian control and Palestinian exercise of civil jurisdiction (including policing) over almost all (95%) of the West Bank and Gaza Arab population, a "final status" agreement has yet to be reached."


4.

The main stumbling blocks include the status of Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees and the removal of Jewish settlements.

The Major stumbling block to peace is continued terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and Arab refusal to recognize that Israel- as a Jewish state - has a right to exist. For the Arabs, Jews may be permitted to reside in territory which is claimed to be part of the Arab world (dar Islam)- but only as second class citizens- dhimmi's. (see Bat Ye'Or, The Dhimmi:Jews and Christians Under Islam, Fairleigh Dickinson U. Press, London 1985; Bat Ye'Or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Associated University Presses Cranbury NJ, 2002.

“Dhimmitude” is a second rate status which Jews and Christians have in Islamic culture- and is unacceptable in contemporary international relations. The UN Charter, recognises the rights of all peoples to self-determination, expressed politically in the Nation State. Jews have the same right of self determination in the form of an independent state in the Middle East (the birthplace and cradle of Judaism) like Islamic and Christian Arabs. While the Arabs have 23 states, the Jews have only 1 (and even that is only the size of Wales).

Another Arab created stumbling block has been the failure of the Palestinians’ Arab brethren to permit their rehabilitation. Arab states- supported by the UNWRA- have kept the 650 thousand Palestinians in camps ever since 1948 and, apart from Jordan, have made no attempt to absorb them. A similar number of Jewish refugees were expelled from Arab states, leaving much valuable property behind and have been absorbed by Israel at its own cost

Even Israeli attempts to rehabilitate and re-house the Arab refugees in the West Bank have been frustrated by the Arab states and by the PLO. Israel was condemned by the UN General Assembly, in this regard for fear that such rehabilitation would undermine the Palestinian claim of repatriation - "Right of Return - into Israel. (See UNGA Resolution 41/69 E December, 3 1986, in which the Assembly reiterated its demand that Israel should desist from the removal and resettlement of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip and from the destruction of their shelters)

The Palestinian claim is based on UNGA Resolution 194 para. 11. This states:

The General Assembly …..
resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible; (note the plural)

Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations;

The following points should be noted about Resolution 194:

(i) The General Assembly has no power to grant any people any rights. It's resolutions are non-binding and only have the status of recommendations;

(ii) The Resolution is not expressed in terms of a “right”, but as a “permission”.

(iii) A careful reading of this clause (1 out of 15) does not give rise to an unconditional and general right of repatriation for all Palestinians refugees to return to their homes (within Israel).

(iv) Solutions other than repatriation included in the Resolution and have been ignored by the Palestinians and their Arab cousins

.

The omission in the website of the Arab-created stumbling blocks to peace is a clear bias against Israel..

May I suggest that your text be revised as follows:

The main stumbling blocks include the status of Jerusalem, the removal of Jewish settlements and the return of Palestinian refugees. This last issue is the most problematical. Palestinian negotiators insist that all refugees have a right of return to within Israel. Israel’s fear is the Jewish character of Israel would quickly disappear in the demographic changes which would inevitably result if such a return were to be realised.

If space on the website allows, you could add:

[ Palestinians contend that their right is founded on UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Israel argues that the Resolution is a non binding recommendation; the Arab states having rejected it at the time cannot resuscitate it; conditions have changed since the resolution was passed, and in any case it has been superseded by UN Security Council 242 in which the right of refugees to return is to be determined by negotiation]


5

FACTS

OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA

ISRAEL FACTS Population: 6.4 million (UN, 2003 estimate) Seat of government: Jerusalem

Why do you deny Israel’s capital city as being Jerusalem- Designation of a capital city is an act of a sovereign state. The BBC may not recognise Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, but even before 1967, that part of Jerusalem within Israel has always viewed and recognised as such as Israel’s capital by most nations. Your bias is clearly shown in that under "Palestine Facts" East Jerusalem is designated as the "intended capital". It is misleading to reduce the status of the capital city of a State to that of "Seat of Government" while designating East Jerusalem as the location of an “intended capital” of a territory which has yet to be recognised as a “state” among the Nations with all that it entails.

I suggest :

(a) in Israel Facts, the words "Seat of Government" be replaced by "Capital" and

(b) in Palestinian Facts, change the designation of East Jerusalem to read "intended Seat of Government" which is the reality of the situation

Alternatively consistency would permit “Seat of Government” in Israel Facts and “Intended Seat of Government” in Palestine Facts.

If you deny the State of Israel’s designation of Jerusalem as its Capital City- where then is its Capital? It certainly isn’t Tel Aviv!!


6.

, though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv Major languages: Hebrew, Arabic and English. Major religions: Judaism, Islam Life expectancy: 77 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN) Monetary unit: 1 new Israeli shekel (NIS) = 100 new agorot Main exports: Computer software, military equipment, chemicals, agricultural products, tourism (until the intafada) Average annual income: US $16,750 (World Bank, 2001) Internet domain: .il International dialling code: +972

PALESTINIAN FACTS Population: 3.5 million (UN, 2003 estimate) Intended capital: East Jerusalem (see note above: why not "intended seat of government" Major language: Arabic Major religion: Islam Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 74 years (women) (UN) Monetary unit: 1 Jordan dinar = 1,000 fils, 1 new Israeli shekel (NIS) = 100 new agorot Main exports: citrus Average annual income: US $1,350 (World Bank, 2001) Internet domain: .ps International dialling code: +970


7.

LEADERS

OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA

Israeli president: Moshe Qatzav

Prime minister: Ariel Sharon

Born in 1928 in Palestine when it was a British mandate, Sharon became prime minister in February 2001 after beating the Labour incumbent, Ehud Barak, in the prime ministerial elections.

He was elected in the midst of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising), which was sparked off by his controversial visit to al-Aqsa mosque in east Jerusalem, on a pledge to ensure total security for Israel.

This second paragraph is misleading. The Mitchell Report on the causes of the Intafada reject this point conclusively. Subsequent information disclosed that Arafat gave orders to start preparing for the Intifada when the Camp David negotiations failed in July 2000. There is also evidence to show that violence broke out a day before Sharon went onto the Temple Mount-Har Habayit.

The route Sharon took did not go near the mosque.

The real reasons Sharon was elected and Barak was defeated, were
(i) Barak’s failure to settle the Oslo "Final Status" issues,

(ii) Arafat presented no counter proposals and demanding the right of all Palestinians to return to within Israel and

(iii) Israel's realization with the outbreak of the Intifada immediately prior to the elections, that Oslo, in the words of the late Feisal Husseini, was "a Trojan Horse"; that the recovery of the West Bank under Palestinian control was the first step to replacing a Jewish Israel by an Arab Palestine in which (a) Arabic would become the official language (Draft Constitution Article 5); Islam, the official religion (Art 6); and the principles of the Islamic Shari`a law, the primary source for legislation (Art 7).

I suggest that your text be amended to read as follows:

"Ariel Sharon was elected in the midst of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising), -------on a pledge to ensure total security for Israel after having defeating his predecessor, Ehud Barak, who, failed to reach agreement with the Palestinians on his proposed solutions to the Oslo final status issues.


8.

Sharon had become closely identified with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 when, as defence minister, he sent Israeli troops all the way to Beirut .

You omit the cause of Israeli incursion into Lebanon- namely the numerous PLO attacks on Israeli civilian centres of population in Kiryat Shmone and in Ma’alot. The former town was subject to terrorist incursions and katusha attacks on an almost daily basis.

The latter town made world headlines on May 15, 1974 when a group of 11th grade school children on a field trip from Safed were attacked while sleeping in a school by three PLO terrorists disguised in Israeli uniforms, (perfidy in international law) who had infiltrated from Lebanon, killed the children’s guard and stormed the building. When the incident was over, all the terrorists were dead, but so were 21 children who had been murdered by the PLO.

I suggest that you add to the end of your text:

"Sharon had become closely identified with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 when, as defence minister, he sent Israeli troops all the way to Beirut in an attempt to suppress PLO terrorist incursions from Lebanon into Israel "


9.

He was removed from office in 1983 after an Israeli tribunal which found him "indirectly responsible" for the massacre of nearly 2,000 Palestinian refugees by Israeli-allied right-wing Lebanese militiamen.

(i) Sharon was not removed from office;

(ii) 2000 Palestinian refugees were NOT massacred;

(iii) You stress Sharon’s indirect responsibility but fail to state or even imply many other more important facts that surrounded the incident

As regards (a) Sharon resigned. “Removal” implies impeachment or dismissal- neither of which occurred.

In respect of (b), a review of the Kahan Commission Report www.us-israel.org/jsource/History/kahan.html shows the number of refugees killed in Sabra and Shatilla was in the region of 500- certainly not 2000 (see attachment extract from Kahan) and that number included both PLO combatants and Palestinian civilians- it being impossible to distinguish one from another.

As for (c) the following points need to be taken into account:

(i) Israel had no direct responsibility for the massacre of Palestinians;

(ii) the massacre had been conducted by Lebanon's mainly Christian militia, which also included the Phalangists;

(iii) although the Lebanese militiamen were considered to be Israeli allies, the leader of the Phalangists, Elie Hobeiker who was directly responsible for the atrocity, was later shown to be an agent of Syria and acting in its interests; and

(iv) the Phalangist killings of the Palestinians were perpetrated to avenge the murders of Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel and 25 of his followers, killed in a PLO bomb attack earlier that week. (see Elie Hobeika's Assassination: Covering Up the Secrets of Sabra and Shatilla in Jerusalem Issues Brief, Vol 1, No.17, January 30, 2002)

I therefore suggest that your text be amended as follows:

He resigned from office in 1983 after an Israeli tribunal---found him "indirectly responsible for failing to anticipate and prevent the Israeli-allied Lebanese Christian militiamen massacring some 500 Palestinian Arab refugees and PLO combatants, in retaliation for the PLO’s earlier assassination of Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel and 25 of his followers.


10.

A wealthy cattle farmer, Sharon has a house in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter.

What relevance does Sharons wealth have to the profile of Israel unless it impinges on its status and responsibility as a state? What relevance is the fact that he has a house in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter. If there is relevance why do you not comment upon Arafat's luxury villa at Ramallah and that fact that his wife and family is safely ensconced in Paris?

I suggest that this sentence be deleted.


11.

As housing minister in the early 1990s, he presided over the largest expansion of Jewish settlements since the 1967 war.

“presided” over an expansion is tendentious. As Housing Minister he was “responsible”

I suggest that the text be revised as follows:
".......Sharon ......as housing minister in the early 1990s, was responsible for the largest expansion of Jewish settlements since the 1967 war.


12.

Palestinian leader: Yasser Arafat

Born in 1929 and educated Egypt, Yasser Arafat ran a successful civil engineering business in Kuwait before setting up Fatah (Arabic acronym for Palestine Liberation Movement) in 1958.

You have described Arafat in somewhatheroic terms. However you overlook other characteristics which have a bearing on his political attitude and behaviour. In a book review by Abd Raham Koya, www.muslimedia.com/archives/book00/arafatbk.htm of Said K. Aburish’s biography on Arafat , entitled “From Defender to Dictator” (Bloomsbury Paperbacks. London, UK, 1999) the reviewer notes that Arafat came from an elite Palestinian background and his family has grown ever richer. He was not interested in studies, and barely managed to complete a civil engineering degree; in his youth he ran a gang of "neighbourhood children" who employed bully tactics; he had a difficult relationship with his father, whose funeral he did not attend and whose grave he never visited. Arafat was also close to Hajj Amin al-Husseini the revered mufti of Palestine, in the 1940s.

The book turns the popular western perception of Yasser Arafat upside-down from a heroic freedom-fighter who has kept the hopes of millions of displaced Palestinians alive to a narrow-minded operator, out of touch with reality, whose personal ambitions have led to a rule based on cronyism in which the people around him are rewarded with jobs and money despite their incompetence.


13.

In 1964 Arafat left Kuwait for Jordan, from where Fatah began guerrilla raids into Israel. In 1968 he was elected chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), in effect putting Fatah at the core of the PLO.

Arafat has survived numerous setbacks.

(The use of the word “setback” implies that his objectives were to be commended)

In 1970 he was expelled from Jordan.

Why? Because notwithstanding Hussein’s offer that he should become Prime Minister of Jordan, he tried to destabilise Hussein’s regime, and to use Jordan as a springboard from which to launch attacks on Israel- in the same way as he did in Lebanon.

I suggest the following:

In 1970 he was expelled by Hussein from Jordan for attempting to destabilize the Hashemite regime


14.

He redeployed into Lebanon, but was driven from there by Israeli forces in 1982. In Tunisia, where the PLO had set up its headquarters after leaving Lebanon, he escaped an Israeli air strike and Israeli death squads. He also survived an air crash in the Libyan desert and recovered from a serious stroke.

You mentioned Sharon's indirect responsibility for Sabra and Shatila, but your profile of Arafat makes no mention of the terrorist atrocities carried out under his direction or with his approval nor of his speeches in Arabic calling for the annihilation of Israel.
In particular you ignore Arafat’s direct responsibility as head of the PLO for its massacre of 582 Christian women and children at Damour and his attempts to destabalize Lebanon. (see www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/ Parliament/2587/damour.html; www.freelebanon.com/LFPNews/hobeika_damour/hobeika_damour.html; www.lebaneseforces.com/blastfromthepast002.asp); www.cdn-friends-icej.ca/medigest/feb97/letter2.html

I suggest that the following text presents a more accurate account of Arafat activities in the Middle East than appears on your website.

Redeploying into Lebanon, Arafat was responsible for a campaign of violence killing over 40,000 people including 582 Lebanese Christians massacred at Damour in 1976. In reaction to constant PLO attacks on civilian settlements within Israel, Israeli forces drove him from Lebanon in 1982 to exile in Tunisia where he set up the PLO headquarters. There he escaped an Israeli air strike and Israeli death squads. He also survived an air crash in the Libyan desert and recovered from a serious stroke.


15.

On 1 July 1994, after 27 years in exile, Arafat returned to Gaza to take up the post of president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to which he had been elected by the PLO Central Committee in October 1993 and confirmed by a plebiscite in 1996.

Arafat didn’t just “return” to Gaza. He was permitted by Israel to return to Gaza and the West bank on the clear understanding that (a) he renounced the use of terror as a means of resolving his conflict with Israel- which was thenceforth to be resolved by negotiation (b) that Israel’s right to exist was to be recognised (to be expressed in an amendment to the PLO Covenant which called for Israel’s destruction) and all the other undertakings given in the Declaration of Principles, 13 September 1993 (Oslo I)

After eschewing violence and agreeing to negotiate as the only means to attain Palestinian independence, on 1 July 1994, after 27 years in exile, Arafat was allowed to return to Gaza to take up the post of president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to which he had been elected by the PLO Central Committee in October 1993 and confirmed by a plebiscite in 1996


16.

Since you referred earlier to Sharon's wealth- which I believe is irrelevant- why have you not mentioned that of Arafat? Forbes Magazine this year rated Arafat as no 6 in wealth with an estimated $300 million! See: http://www.forbes.com/global/2003/0317/068.html Odd that Sharon appears nowhere in the Forbes listing, yet is deemed to be 'wealthy' by the BBC while Arafat is not.

If a State leader’s wealth is significance in that State's profile, then it should have some bearing on state policy or administration. In the case of Arafat, you don't mention his corruption and misappropriation of public funds- wealth factors which do have a direct impact on the Palestinians ability to organise and manage their internal affairs.

Perhaps you should introduce a one sentence comment on this topic


17.

But in April 2002 he faced one of his biggest challenges. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared him "irrelevant" and Israeli troops, who had been surrounding his headquarters in Ramallah for four months, battered and occupied most of his compound. However, he survived thanks to international pressure on Sharon to end his siege.

You imply that Arafat’s confinement and Israel’s action was without justification. Notwithstanding Arafat’s Oslo undertakings, your web page ignores completely not only his refusal to take action to curb the Arab terrorism which he had undertaken to do under Oslo, but his continuing support, encouragement and authorisation of terrorism – as evidenced by his direct involvement in the arms smuggling incident involving the Karina A.

Sharon declared Arafat as irrelevant in the sense that, Arafat’s actions and speeches of incitement in Arabic addressed to his own people- rather than his words in English addressed to the West- show that he cannot be considered by Israel as a partner for peace.

I submit the following to be a more accurate description of the situation.

But in April 2002 he faced one of his biggest challenges. Israel re-entered parts of the West Bank in order to quell the Intifada and route out suicide bombers. Arafat was confined to his headquarters in Ramallah where for four months Israeli troops surrounded, battered and occupied most of his compound. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared him "irrelevant" as a partner for peace. However, he survived thanks to international pressure on Sharon to end his siege.


18.

For many, Arafat has come to embody the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

His critics among the Palestinians, however, accuse him of running an over-personalised, corruption-ridden administration, of making too many concessions to Israel and of putting undue trust in the US which, in their view, had utterly failed to apply the necessary pressure on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories.

In March 2003 the Palestinian parliament approved the creation of the post of prime minister. The move had been demanded by the US as a condition to begin work on an internationally-backed peace plan for the region. Deputy PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas was appointed to the post.

The web text does not reflect the US demans of regime change untainted with terrorism as a precondition to a renewed US initiative and there is reason to believe that Arafat still retians control behind the scenes ( Arafat Remains in Charge, Palestine Media Centre, 22/05/2003 http://www.palestine-pmc.com/about.asp.)

I suggest the following:-

In March 2003 the Palestinian parliament approved the creation of the post of prime minister following a demand by the United States that a new government be formed untainted with terrorism as a precondition to begin work on an internationally-backed peace plan for the region. Deputy PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas was appointed to the post. There is doubt however as to whether Arafat has really surrendered control.


19.

MEDIA

OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA

ISRAELI MEDIA

Israel's press and broadcasters are many and varied, and account for differences in language, political viewpoint and religious outlook.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), set up along the lines of the BBC, operates public radio and TV services and is funded mainly by licence fees on TV sets.

Channel 2 and Channel 10 are the main commercial TV networks. Most Israeli households subscribe to cable or satellite TV packages.

Commercial radio arrived in 1995, but faces competition from a proliferation of pirate radio stations; some 150 were said to be on the air in early 2003. A proportion of these unlicensed stations carry ultra-Orthodox programme material.

All Israeli newspapers are privately-owned and several are available on the internet.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Frontiers reported in 2002 that although the Israeli government respected the freedom of expression of the domestic media, press freedoms had been violated during army operations in the West Bank and Gaza.

Why “violated”? Freedom of the Press is not unlimited. There are military situations in which the Press unintentionally (perhaps?) interferes with what is essentially a life and death situation. The Press does not have immunity in all cases- their presence in the field of battle distracts forces from persuing legitimate goals. Furthermore it is claimed that there have been instances where Arab militia have avoided attack by pretended to be Press reporters (bearing TV on their vehicles) while continuing to be involved in military activity- in a manner similar to Palestinian use of ambulances for the transportation of arms and explosives; abusing the purported neutrality of Red Crescent symbol.

Suggest replacing the word “violated” with “restricted” which reflects actuality or “limited” (the same term as you use for Palestinian control over its press, which is far far more repressive than that of Israel.)


20.

The Vienna-based International Press Institute reported in 2002 that "at least 81%" of violations against press freedom in the West Bank and Gaza since the start of the second intifada had been carried out by Israelis. Most of the "targeted journalists" had been Palestinians, it added.

Many of these “targeted” are not really journalists who seek to publicise what is really occurring in the West Bank and Gaza- but are PA “minders” who have appointed to accompany and “assist” foreign journalists in publicising prepared scenes of what the PA wants the West to believe. There is a very high degree of probability that the widely publicised al-Dura incident was in fact a “put up job”, in which the child- if he was killed at all- was killed by Arab fire. (see “Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura” The Atlantic June 2003”; Amnon Lord, Who killed Muhammad al-Dura? Blood Libel 2000 Jerusalem Letter / Viewpoints
No. 482; 15 July 2002; Alan Keyes -Reports from Israel: sees evidence of truth about Mohammed al-Dura story http://www.mesora.org/keyes/31.html 31 July 2002

The press
Yediot Aharonot - Tel Aviv-based daily Ha'aretz - Tel Aviv-based daily Jerusalem Post - daily Ma'ariv - Tel Aviv-based daily Globes - business daily

Television
Israel Broadcasting Authority - public TV, operates Channel 1 Channel 2 - national, commercial Channel 10 - national, commercial

Radio
Israel Broadcasting Authority - operates public radios, including speech-based Reshet Aleph, news-based Reshet Bet, music-based Reshet Gimmel, Arabic-language Reshet Dalet Galei Zahal - Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Radio, broadcasts news and music to mostly-civilian audience; also operates music and traffic news network Galgalatz Arutz 7 - unlicensed ship-based station, promotes views of ultra-Orthodox groups and Israeli settlers in occupied territories

Internet
Israel has a large IT industry and one of the world's most technologically-literate populations. Almost two million people had internet access by July 2001.

PALESTINIAN MEDIA

Television is the key medium for news and information in the Palestinian areas. Satellite dishes are common, and pan-Arab broadcasters, particularly Qatar's Al-Jazeera TV, are popular among viewers.

The official radio and TV stations of the Palestinian National Authority operate alongside dozens of private radio stations and a handful of private TV stations. Jordanian TV is widely-watched in the West Bank.

21.

The Palestinian authorities limit freedom of speech and the security services have regularly shut down media outlets, banned publication or broadcast of material, and harassed or detained journalists, including foreign reporters covering the second intifada. Self-censorship by Palestinian journalists is widespread.

NB Your text is tendentious. Palestinian Authorities “limit” freedom of speech yet Israel “violates” press freedom.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Frontiers reported in 2002 that privately-run and official media outlets had been "at the service of Palestinian Authority propaganda" since the start of the uprising.

Palestinian media outlets were badly damaged by Israeli military operations in the wake of the second intifada. Radio and TV stations were destroyed, including, in January 2002, the premises of the Palestinian National Authority's TV and radio stations in Ramallah. Israel has repeatedly accused Palestinian TV and radio of inciting violence.

22.

Your text is again tendentious: “repeatedly accused” implies allegation which may or may not be true. The reality is that Palestinian TV and Radio as well as sermons from the mosques do incite violence and hatred for Israel as do the school books provided by the Palestinian education authority.

The press
Al-Quds - Jerusalem-based, largest-circulation Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam - Ramallah-based daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah - Palestinian National Authority daily

Radio
Voice of Palestine - official station of Palestinian National Authority

Television
Palestine TV - official station of Palestinian National Authority Palestine Satellite Channel - Gaza-based, run by Palestinian National Authority Private TV stations include Al-Quds Educational TV, Al-Mahd TV, Al-Majd TV, Al-Nawras TV, Al-Sharq TV, Amwaj TV, Bayt Lahm TV, Shepherds TV and Watan TV.

News agency
Palestine News Agency - Wafa - in Arabic, English, French and Hebrew

Internet
Around 60,000 people were connected to the internet by March 2001.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/country_profiles/803257.stm
Published: 2003/05/24 11:26:21 GMT
© BBC MMIII


Dear Mr Adler

Thank you for your message. As your primary concern is to have text of a website entry changed, I have passed it on to the relevant editors. They will no doubt want to take some time to consider your detailed points. If their response is not to your satisfaction, please feel free to refer the matter back to me. I'd be grateful, though, if you would use the e-mail facility which can be accessed on the BBC website via <serious_form.shtml>.
I'm afraid my management of the in-box of my personal e-mail address is such that messages addressed to it are in some danger of languishing unanswered.

Your sincerely

Fraser Steel


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