Saturday, April 29, 2006

A piece I wrote with a colleague a few years ago but still applies today-enjoy:

November 9, 2003

It is another evening with light breezes off the Mediterranean Sea, clear skies and warm temperatures as we walk along the tayelet (promenade) in Netanya Israel. As we walk briskly we pass and are passed by hundreds of fellow exercisers, of all ages, sizes and fitness levels. Both genders and a multitude of ethnicities are participating in this daily evening ritual of walking and jogging. There isn’t a better or more beautiful setting to engage in such activity and this continues all year long. It is not unusual to find dozens of would be travelers up and about as late as11 pm-in the summertime folks are just beginning to walk at this hour due to the heat and humidity of the day.

As an American Professor of Kinesiology living now part time in Israel, I often find myself engaged in a comparative analysis of activity levels between both peoples. Eitan, born in Jerusalem and raised here, understands the beauty of this evening activity. He is the Director of the School of Education at Zinman College, Wingate Institute in Israel. We met many years ago here in Israel and I have been invited to join his pedagogy research and development team. Eitan still remembers his early school days when there was no television and all of the children played outside and had ample social interaction opportunities. Likewise computers were only part of American science fiction movies, televisions were few and far apart, and thus no time was spent in front of a lifeless monitor. Drugs were something you only took when prescribed by a doctor for a significant illness. Alcohol was something “those older people drank” at parties. These were the days that sport was played on the fields, in the streets, everywhere that kids could run, jump, and freely move-these were the days of made of games and “u pick ‘em teams” and the rules changed daily. During the early years of this country a culture developed that through social design and necessity embraced sport and being physically active. For purposes of this article, Eitan and I will discuss the nature of Physical Education in Israel where a significant cultural, political and social change is taking place.

For most of the article the status of Physical Education is viewed through the eyes of an American Professor who has a unique perspective of Israeli life and institutions. I have lived here, off and on, approaching six years. I live in a local neighborhood and am one of those evening strollers along our beautiful sea. With this in mind, allow us to share how physical education has responded to the economic, social, and political conditions of these times.

Israelis of all ages seem to move more frequently and for longer durations. Where does this begin? Certainly its geographic location, weather and lifestyle play an important part in the creation of an active culture. What should not be overlooked are their Physical Education programs contributions as well. An examination of these programs from a fitness, social-cultural, and programmatic perspective might offer important insights into life in Israel, home of a unique social operation-Jews and Arabs living together in the same country.

First, some basic information:

Israel is a country that belongs to the Asian continent. Its western border is the Mediterranean Sea. To the north it is bound by Lebanon and Syria, to the east by Jordan and to the south by the Red Sea and Egypt. Long and narrow in shape, Israel is about 290 miles long, 85 miles across at its widest point 9 miles wide at its narrowest point and thus contains about 7,886 sq. miles. The State of Israel is less than half the size of San Bernardino County in California and it fits easily within the borders of New Jersey. Its population is about 6,640,200 (roughly 5 million Jews, 1.5 million Arabs), and its population by ethnic group is as follows:









Education is highly valued within the state of Israel. In the year 2002, there were roughly 118,000 university students studying in seven different universities. Public education is also offered to all children age 6-16.

There are over 3660 public schools serving elementary through high school populations. On any given day 1,330,000 students are scheduled to attend class. The numbers of students are increasing every year across all of the grade levels. The average class size is 27/class. In addition there are religious schools of several persuasions operating across the country. If you observed from the outside any school in the country, it looks like many of our public schools in the USA. However, go inside the grounds and things appear different in many respects. Aside from a different curriculum, a different set of social-cultural rules seems to exist. Common to many Israeli schools is a mixed ethnicity, varied socio-economic population and this adjusts itself dependent upon location inside Israel. It is useful to know that public schools in Israel are divided into a variety of groups. Israeli-Arabs typically have their own separate schools, teachers, administrators and the classes are taught in Arabic. This is not to say that in the larger cities Israelis and Israeli-Arabs alike participate in the same school with common teachers and curriculum. There are also religious schools that are physically separate and engage in their own curriculum. There are additional schools found on Moshavs and Kibbutz's that have yet another standard of educational requirements. Funding comes from the state of Israel on a per student basis that is then matched by the local communities in which the schools reside. The result is funding level varies from school to school as does the level of academic programming.

It is important to remember that as a country Israel is but 55 years old and its population came from all over the world. Yes an indigenous population was here for thousands of years and millions of people from all of the world’s continents have also settled here during these same 55 years. Israel was established as a homeland for Jews and while today the majority population is Jewish, a substantial population is Arab who are also Israeli citizens with the same requisite rights. This presents a unique socio-cultural experience, especially here in the Middle East. Additionally, the Jewish population consists of many different ethnic and cultural groups from around the globe-the common denominator being their Jewish heritage. However, it is important to understand that not only do you have different cultural beliefs; there exists a varied difference in religious orientation. For example, there are multiple sects within the Jewish faith and they have different sets of beliefs that transcend into quite different lifestyles. Couple this with about 50% of the population living a secular lifestyle and you have the ingredients for many interesting socio-educational situations in public schools. Add to this a growing Arab group that practices the Muslim faith; add in some Arab Christians and life is never dull.

Why provide all of this as a lead in to our article? Without this very basic information it makes it nearly impossible to understand what students bring to their Physical Education classes. An Israeli teacher sees many different kinds of students every day and often has to transcend multiple cultural points of view. This makes curriculum and methodology choices critical at all times. Before we discuss the nature of these teachers’ programs, who are the Physical Education teachers of Israel and what does Physical Education look like?

They are typically graduates from one of five Physical Education Colleges in Israel. Each of these five colleges produces 30-35 graduates every year and Zinman College at Wingate Institute produces 200 teachers annually. Teachers of physical Education then find jobs at K-12 grade public schools. As in America, the number of teaching days and minutes provided varies across grade level. For example, in elementary to high school, students receive instruction for 2 hours every week, about an hour two days per week. It is recommended to have an additional hour each week. During fifth grade all students are taught swimming lessons across the country. One final common activity performance in all schools is fitness and sport testing beginning in grade four. Special Education Physical Education typically permits all students to be engaged by a PE teacher daily (30-45 minutes/day).

The following description of Physical Education curricula is the result of onsite visits and teacher interviews currently in the field. Just as in the USA, Israel has a quality special education program designed in a similar manner to the USA program. The Physical Education programs for Special Education and for Regular Physical Education differ not only in content, students served, but also in frequency of contact minutes with the students as previously noted.

Let us begin with Elementary Physical Education. All schools have their own physical education specialist. The curriculum focuses upon physical fitness, motor skill development, gymnastics when possible and introduction to games similar to those found in the USA. Each teacher develops his/her own curriculum keeping in mind the National Physical Education Standards that recommend certain activity groups. Although I observed many single standard game designs it was refreshing to witness multiple adaptations of game structure throughout the country. It is gratifying to know that our book, Changing Kids Games, Morris and Stiehl (1999), forms the basis for first year study programs at colleges like Zinman. The application of the principles outlined in our work can be seen throughout Israel-children included rather than excluded, standard game designs adapted to fit the local needs of the students.

Briefly we now mention the curricula found in grades 7-12. Each Physical Education teacher designs his/her own program using the National Standards as a guide. The curricula address the preponderance of non-coed classes-most classes are gender specific loaded. A primary focus is upon fitness, games development (skills and concepts), gymnastics, rhythms, invasion-type games. At this level emphasis is placed upon the theoretical aspects of fitness-something akin to our comprehensive health/nutrition programs.

Going beyond the specifics of what is taught, it is useful to understand the issues that Physical Educators face daily in Israel. Teachers do not complain about lack of resources, movement space or equipment, they simply make do with what they have. Depending upon school location these resources vary in quantity and quality-regardless, this does not seem to them to be a problem. However, there are concerns. Support for Physical Education by the local administration and by classroom teachers is a large concern at many schools. Without a strong Principal (Manager is English translation for Hebrew title) Physical Education is lightly regarded. Yet, if the Physical Education teacher(s) is/are highly competent, operate a well-managed program, Physical Education is considered as important as all academic subjects. Time and again, physical education teachers indicated that it is a constant battle to retain Physical Education’s status among academic courses. In high school, Physical Education, particularly the fitness components become important-why? All Israelis must serve their country, primarily in the military services beginning on their 18th birthday. The students must have a particular level of fitness in order to succeed in the army (generic term for armed forces). This is quite different from the USA. The security of Israel is fundamentally based upon its army and its ability-one can imagine the impact this has upon secondary-aged students as they approach age 18.

Another issue that almost every teacher expressed to me was behavior management in Physical Education and in academic classes. Before I expand on this, allow me to refresh the stage for you. Please recall that Israel as a Jewish state is but 55 years old and has a substantial Arab population coexisting within the country. Its national organizations and its social institutions are still maturing. Israeli citizens are a mixture of many different cultural and ethnic groups, arriving from countries around the world. The common thread is their Jewish heritage and desire to live peacefully in a country free of anti-semitism. Remember also that 50% of this diverse population is secular while the remaining 50% is comprised of multiple religious Jewish groups and Arab groups. This is clearly demonstrated in the separate synagogues for Aschenisem and Sephardim Jews. Now realize that 1.5 million Arabs possessing Israeli citizenship with all of the requisite rights also live within Israel. The Arab population also has several religious sects; the most notable are Muslim and Christianity. It is beyond the scope of this article to share all of the social behavior descriptions or attempt to offer explanations for the nature of these interactions. One might, rightfully, assume that this very important social experiment is unfolding before the world’s eyes complete with its warts and blemishes paraded in front of the world’s media.

Keeping this in mind, the problem that is constant across all of these schools and all of the groups and in most subject matter classes is behavior management. The concerns begin in grade 5 and decrease by grades 10/11. Does this sound familiar? It may be no surprise to understand that violence in many schools is now considered one of the schools’ largest issues. Violence comes in many forms and includes abusive language among students and between students and teachers as well as physical invasion of one another’s space. Often the immediate explanation for this, particularly by the media, is the behavior is due to the ongoing political and war-like confrontations that exist in the Middle East. Upon inspection one discovers that this is not true. Rather, there is growing support for belief that rapid social changes are producing an abundant number of social issues within all social groups. It is as though Israel is experiencing social growth and development within a time frame that is moving forward at laser speed. I leave the social explanations to our social scientists. Our behavioral observations and analysis indicates that today’s Israelis, regardless of cultural, ethnic or social group they belong, are less likely to have their behavioral actions held accountable to consequences. In other words, discipline seems to be a major issue in the schools rather than clashes resulting from co-mingled ethnic groups.

Our interviews of Physical Education teachers and School Principals pointed to the problem of lack of discipline. Every teacher interviewed indicated that the management team at his or her respective schools understood that this problem exists. The teachers indicated that many of the Principals did not support the teachers behavioral consequences set forth by these same teachers. Additionally, several teachers indicated that the Principals did not possess the tools to deal with this behavior. The lack of discipline manifests itself with inappropriate language among students, tardiness to classes, failure to complete homework-again, sound familiar? This appears to be magnified in schools where Israeli and Israeli-Arabs go to school together. In Physical Education classes, name calling and pushing and shoving is the extent of the violence.

I want to take moment and briefly share a personal story with you. There are many of these stories across this country, but the following begins to address the Israeli-Israeli-Arab issue. In Jaffo, the world’s first seaport, is an elementary school comprised of Israelis and Israeli-Arab students. The Arab students choose to go to school here even though they have an Arab-only school within walking distance. Two years ago there was not a climate of peace at the school. A new Principal arrived- Limor Bermann. A young Israeli, first-time Principal who recognized that repeating what had always been simply produced the same results. She thought “outside the dots” and is transforming the school. Yes, there was conflict between the Israeli and Israeli-Arab students, especially at Physical Education time. The normal inappropriate language, pushing, shoving occurred but in the upper grades it manifested into racial epithets which in turn led to physical violence. However, enter Ms. Bermann with a multi-phase plan. The plan is currently in phase two and has only started its second year. Here are the outcomes so far: Israeli parents have ceased saying “I want the Arabs out of this school”; almost all, 95% of the teachers are excited, hopeful and they support the plan completely; academic scores have improved; and best of all, violence has just about ceased. More needs to be done and it is “in process”. We shall share the plan upon its completion, for now, it is a work in progress.

I mention this vignette for several reasons. First, a common myth in the world today is that Jews and Arabs cannot peacefully co-exist. Further, in a Physical Education setting it must be impossible to engage in competitive activity and/or group activities without the “issue” presenting itself daily-this could not be farther from the truth. Second, one person can make all of the difference as evidenced with the preceding brief story from Jaffo. If a problem is not confronted, than what is probable will occur and repeat itself time and again. If one chooses to see this situation as a possibility for something else, and acts in accordance with that possibility, social magic happens. Third, Physical Education can easily serve as the venue for teaching social life-skills. Our final thoughts present just such programs. My colleague Eitan Eldar has been successfully engaging these situations around Israel for some time now.

As a country built on immigration, each bringing their own social values, with the potential for facilitating integration with Arab students, with the potential to therefore teach personal and social values as well as self-control, physical education can best serve as the school venue to teach and live in peace.

At Zinman College we have developed and implemented successfully in various Israeli schools a program based on Physical Education as a context for presenting and promoting social skills.

Physical education lessons are characterized by intensive activity, teacher-student and student-student cooperation, stress, frustration, anxiety, joy, and much more. All of these characteristics are presented in a natural highly reinforcing context of movement and games. This is in essence, a special controlled framework, which can be molded for the purpose of achieving pedagogical and social goals. Thus this concept offers the design of situations analogous to other contexts in the behavior of the student population. We offer our pre-service teachers lessons tailored for achieving educational goals-we call these scripts.

For example, in order to help students practice inhibition and self-control the teacher may design a soccer game in which the success (i.e., scoring) becomes less probable (i.e., by prearranging team members). The gradual increase in task difficulty requires students’ higher levels of self-control that are rewarded by an immediate specific feedback. Students are taught to delay their reactions and convey their feelings and difficulties in an appropriate way (i.e., suggesting to better match the teams next time). Therefore, we teach our students alternative communication skills that promote non-aggression during the game. Students are given many opportunities to experience success during the program. A similar context is applied with cooperation and other social skills.

Another example is relating to an individual skill such as goal setting. Students are asked to set a simple goal (i.e., distance in a long jump). They are taught to self-record their performance, to set an appropriate goal and to practice towards achieving this goal. The teacher provides feedback relating to the goal set, to the steps taken to achieve the goal and to the procedures used in recording the performance.

The Applied Behavior Analysis Program at the Zinman College has developed a series of stages implemented in a yearly Physical Education program. The program is first shared with Zinman pre-service Physical Educators. Next, from the very first year at our college, students engage public school students on and off our campus. Following an incremental plan during the next three years of study, our students practice and learn how to successfully deliver the program with a variety of student groups, e.g., autistic children, other special education students, at-risk youngsters, and yes, regular education youngsters. The program requires reaching proficiency in each of the following steps in order to proceed to the following one:

1. Complying - Adhering to teacher’s instruction.

2. Attending - Focusing on relevant stimuli. Effective use of all senses.

3. Rules and routines - Learning to cooperate with class procedures.

4. Waiting - Practicing patience.

5. Demand - Confronting cognitive tasks.

6. Don’t give up - Persisting in task fulfillment.

7. Activity termination - Coping with a termination of reinforcing activity.

8. Cooperation - Collaborating in a team.

9. Self control - Coping with aversive situations.

10.Self-management - Assuming accountability for one’s own learning.

11.Peer teaching - Assuming accountability for a peer’s learning.

12.Generalization - Performing in contexts different than the clinical one.

We are fortunate to have many success stories. One of those stories focuses upon yet another population of students in our public schools- there is a significant number of students with severe behavior problems that also participate in one of our specially designed programs. Within a year they were able to reintegrate into the regular school successfully. Learning to apply the model is relatively simple. Teachers gain effective and alternative teaching strategies enabling them to reach students with special needs and concerns thus helping them to integrate with their fellow students. This is an important goal in light of implementing the concepts of inclusion and integration found in many education systems around the western world and now in Israel. Zinman students have managed to learn how to teach during their time with us on campus. They report that their student teaching experience proceeds with fewer “bumps in the road” compared to their student mates in other Colleges. At Zinman, theory is essential and practical application of the theory under the guidance of our professors is crucial and helps produce quality physical education teachers thereby strengthening physical education in schools.

In summary let us say that Israel is portrayed in many ways in the media. Having lived here, taught here and performed research here, our perspective is authentic. A young country, attempting one of the world’s greatest social experiments, is alive in a land with a population of very different peoples most of whom are here to celebrate their Jewish heritage. The people are comprised of many different nationalities, ethnicities; and have different values and cultural backgrounds. Their social institutions are still in the infancy stage and they live in a part of the world full of constant danger beyond Israel’s borders. Inside this country 20% of the population is of Arab descent. Yet, there is relative social harmony within this small country. The institution of education is working reasonably well given these conditions. A perceived and very real social change across all groups is taking place causing some emerging behavioral challenges within their school system.


People still go for evening walks and enjoy one another’s company while pondering what tomorrow will bring.


Eldar, E. (2001, August). The role of confrontation games in the assessment, prediction and reduction of violent behavior patterns among Elementary School students. Paper presented at the conference: Teaching Games for Understanding in Physical Education and Sport. Plymouth State College, New Hampshire, USA.

Morris, GSD, Stiehl, Jim, Changing Kids Games, second edition, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. 1999

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hamas Double-Speak-sound familiar?

April 25, 2006

Attack in Egypt (April 24, 2006): Hamas condemns the attack that took place in Egypt, calling it '' a criminal action that dishonors our region''. ''This attack destabilizes the national security of the Palestinians and works against the interests of the Arabs'' said the spokesperson of the terrorist movement.

Yet, this very next day, Tuesday April 25, 2006, Jordan announced that it had arrested several Hamas activists on suspicion of planning to execute a terror attack in the country. A government spokesman said that the alleged operatives received orders from the Hamas leaders in Damascus. During their interrogation, the suspects confessed that they were planning to attack senior members of the Hashemite kingdom.

This is the same Hamas who said last year, August 17, 2005, “The armed struggle is the only strategy that Hamas possesses."

A Hamas who operates in disputed territories, notice where: In recent months a Hamas terrorist cell was uncovered in Shia'h, a village north of Hebron. The cell was responsible for planning and perpetrating terrorist attacks in the region over the last few years. The Hamas leadership in the Hebron area ensured that the cell received weapons and operational instructions. This cell was comprised of a large number of people who had been trained in firearms and the use of explosives. The commander of the terrorist cell is Mussa Hala'akia, 37, married with nine children and a resident of Shia'h. Hala'akia was responsible for recruiting and training most of the cell's members.

Just in the last 4 years Hamas’ history for use of terror speaks for itself. Here are but a few examples:
· On February 10, 2002, cell members Khaled Tal and Muhammad Batat opened fire at the entrance to the IDF Southern Command base in Be'er Sheva, murdering Lt. Keren Rothstein, 20, of Ashkelon and Cpl. Aya Malachi, 18, of Moshav Ein Habesor. Four others were wounded, one critically. One of the terrorists was killed at the scene; the second, wearing an explosives belt, fled in the direction of a nearby school, where he was shot and killed by a soldier and police officer.

· In recent months a Hamas terrorist cell was uncovered in Shia'h, a village north of Hebron. The cell was responsible for planning and perpetrating terrorist attacks in the region over the last few years. The Hamas leadership in the Hebron area ensured that the cell received weapons and operational instructions. This cell was comprised of a large number of people who had been trained in firearms and the use of explosives. The commander of the terrorist cell is Mussa Hala'akia, 37, married with nine children and a resident of Shia'h. Hala'akia was responsible for recruiting and training most of the cell's members.

· On August 28, 2005, during the Tahdia, Rahman Kaisiya attempted to perpetrate a suicide bombing at the Be'er Sheva Central Bus Station. Two security guards were seriously wounded preventing Kaisiya from blowing himself up in a crowded area.

· As recently as last month, March 28,2006 “Yes we did suicide attacks, but we are not terrorists’, stated by Dr Dweik, a longtime Hamas member and leader, studied for his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania

· On April 1, Siyad Siyam, the interior minister of the Hamas government, announced he was appointing Jamal Abu Samhadana , head of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), as general supervisor of the interior ministry and police. He also ordered the formation of a security force which, he claimed, would assist the Palestinian police to restore public order. The new force would be composed of members of the various terrorist organizations and would be directly responsible to the interior minister. The appointment set a precedent by being the first time the new Hamas government appointed to a senior position a self-declared terrorist leader with a long record of attacks against Israel and with Israeli (and possibly American) blood on his hands. In addition, after his appointment Samhadana gave interviews to the media and made it clear that he had no intention of giving up his position as head of the PRC and that he would continue carrying out attacks against Israel . He also stated that there was no contradiction between his continuing as head of a terrorist organization and his new appointment. This is the kind of logic that leaves one shaking his head!

· And yes, the Islamic Covenant still calls for Israel’s destruction. Hamas defines the transition to the stage of Jihad "for the liberation of all of Palestine" as a personal religious duty incumbent upon every Muslim. At the same time, it utterly rejects any political arrangement that would entail the relinquishment of any part of Palestine.

I submit for the reader’s consideration that you have once again a leadership that says one thing and its actions are the direct opposite of its words. Arafat was infamous for his double-speak, have we learned anything? To the media Hamas stresses that they are anti-terror, yet their covenant and as recently as today, their behavior tells the truth. The West should not "fall" for moderate-sounding statements the Hamas leadership will likely issue in the near future to gain international legitimacy and financing. Who and what will you choose to believe speaks volumes about your understanding of terrorism as it is practiced.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Understanding Israeli Checkpoints

January 23, 2005

The sun has risen; it is cold this morning for everyone standing at the Qualandia checkpoint, it is two degrees above zero C. A light drizzle begins to fall and many of those waiting to cross into Israel proper are becoming physically uncomfortable. The soldiers face another tense day. Imagine serving 10,000 people a day, 8-16 hours every day and always having to make life and death judgments about who to believe and who you must question. Each soldier knows the facts, the so-called data: 98% of those passing through the checkpoint are hardworking individuals who cause harm to no one. They, too, endure this cold dreary weather and tolerate the questions as they pass through the checkpoint turnstiles without ever displaying inappropriate behavior. Wanting to also provide for their families, desiring security at their homes and wanting to sit at an outdoor café talking about life's events without fear of interruption, these Palestinians are likely wishing the same thoughts as the 19-year old soldier. The nature of the soldiers and the Palestinians circumstances, events, and situations differentiate one from the other.
This is not an easy life for the soldier or the Palestinian waiting in line. Let us be clear about a few things before passing any judgments. If you are an Israeli you know that checkpoints are necessary in order to save lives-anyone saying this can't be true doesn't know what is really going on here. Yet, these same checkpoints are inconvenient for Palestinians and less than tolerable especially on this cold day. It is an unfortunate moment in the world's history that has human beings having to endure this type of action. However, it is the intention of other humans who want nothing more than terror, destruction and the disruption in two different cultures to continue. If this was not so, we would not even have this daily occurrence.
So much has been written about these checkpoints-an internet search alone yields over 176,000 hits. With very few exceptions there is always something missing in these pieces-context and perspective! Most of the reports provide only a snapshot of the phenomena called checkpoint behavior and intentionally do so to support a political position. This kind of reporting clearly misrepresents ongoing daily activity and it also misses reporting the rationale for the existence of the checkpoints.
One's reality is the result of his/her perception of events even if not supported by the facts or by truth. Unfortunately this is precisely what has occurred in this part of the world. Perception can be managed, even altered by intentionally framing any circumstance, situation or event in a manner that supports an individual or a group's position. Then, all involved act/behave in accordance with this perception, even if facts do not support the actions. Delivery of only event snapshots without providing context and perspective will perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian problem for future generations-in other words, this kind of reporting adds to the problem and does nothing to help solve it. I, for one, call into question the motives of those choosing such action.
Let us examine the context within which Israel has created the checkpoints. Israel did not create checkpoints to humiliate Palestinians but in reaction to an increase in terror attacks. Beginning September 29, 2000, Israel has been under constant state of terrorist attacks. During this time frame, there have been over 20,100 attacks on Israeli targets, killing over 920 and wounding over 6,000, many horribly. Over four hundred and thirty of those killed died in homicide bombings. Terrorists have used ambulances to smuggle themselves and weapons into Israel, they have hidden explosive belts inside computers, musical instrument cases, and clothes chests. They have exploited women and children by using them to also execute terror attacks. Faced with the threats posed by these and other activities, the IDF had no choice but to build and operate checkpoints designed to prevent terrorists from penetrating into Israel's home front. Most Westerners would be surprised to know that prior to this latest Intifada, Palestinians moved freely inside the territories as well as inside Israel Proper. These checkpoints did not exist!
To understand the existence of checkpoints one must know some historical facts. Did you know?
From 1517 until 1917, the West Bank and Gaza, along with the land that is now Israel and Jordan, were ruled by the Ottoman Empire, whose leaders were Muslims but not Arabs. After World War I, Britain was given a Mandate to rule the land. In 1947, the United Nations Partition Plan divided the land of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. The Jews accepted their half of the land, and the Arabs rejected theirs. The Arabs attacked the new state of Israel, attempting to gain 100% of the land. Egypt gained control of Gaza and Jordan gained control of the West Bank. So Egypt and Jordan (not Israel) were in control of the land meant for a Palestinian State.
In 1964 the Arab League, a loose confederation of fourteen Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, met in Cairo and established a political body to deal directly with the problem of the Palestinian Arabs. They called it the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It assumed leadership for the ÒPalestinian people. The PLO soon began carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel and against Israeli targets worldwide. Keep in mind that the PLO was formed before Israel had gained control of the West Bank and Gaza. They were not protesting Israel's so-called occupation of the West Bank, but Israel's very existence. It was not until May 4, 1994, when Israel and the Palestinians signed the Gaza-Jericho Agreement that the Palestinian Authority was established. It was at this time true nation building for the Palestinians began.
In 1967, the Arabs once again attacked Israel, attempting to gain control of 100% of the land. As a result, Egypt lost control of Gaza, Jordan lost control of the West Bank, and Syria lost control of the Golan Heights. Israel offered to give back the territory in exchange for true peace. The Arab League responded with the Ò3 No's: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.
From 1967 until the present time, Israel has been empowered by the United Nations and thus the world community to administer these same two territories as outlined in UN resolutions 242 and 338. These same resolutions did not envisage the creation of a Palestinian state. To the contrary: since the Palestinians were still not viewed as a distinct nation, it was assumed that any territories evacuated by Israel, would be returned to their pre-1967 Arab occupiers-Gaza to Egypt, and the West Bank to Jordan.
The years from 1967 through 1991 were a difficult and dangerous period reaching from the end of the Six Day War through the beginning of the Oslo Peace Process in 1991. Arab countries waged war on Israel (1973 Yom Kippur War) and the Palestinian Arabs fought using terrorism, surprise attacks and political maneuvers.
In 1993 the Oslo Accords were signed and they provided an opportunity for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On September 28, 1995 Israelis and Palestinians signed yet another deal known as the "Interim Agreement" or "Oslo 2." This agreement allowed for a second stage of autonomy for the Palestinians, giving them self-rule in the cities of Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Tulkarm, parts of Hebron and 450 villages, while allowing Israeli-guarded Jewish settlements to remain.
The Oslo 2 agreement divided the West Bank and Gaza into three areas, each with distinctive borders and rules for administration and security controls: Areas A (the Palestinian Authority now has full responsibility for internal security and public order, as well as full responsibility for civil affairs), B (Israel maintains overriding security authority in order to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism), C (Israel retains full responsibility for security). This agreement, signed by the Palestinian leadership, gives Israel overriding security authority in order to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism.
To this day, the agreed upon stages of the Accords (Interim Plan) have yet to be realized. A second Intifada is currently being waged against Israel.
What has this brief history lesson to do with checkpoints? It provides the context enabling one to better understand why Israel has legally developed border- crossing sites along its current border with the territories. Using legal international resolutions agreed to by both Israel and the representative Palestinian Authority, one finds that contrary to public belief only one sovereign country (Israel) exists empowered to administer the territories. Curiously most Palestinians and I might add most Westerners do not know these facts. For many years there has been an intentional misrepresentation of these events by the Palestinian leadership. Almost two complete generations growing up inside the territories have been taught revisionist history about the sovereignty of the disputed land. Thus, their perception or understanding of truth is based upon misleading information and they do believe these misrepresentations as fact and act accordingly. Consequently, the justification for terror is based upon false premises. Keep the truth from a population and you own their thinking and their behavior-since the mid 1960's several generations have been so indoctrinated. This has fulfilled the leadership's political and social agenda.
So, what is really an accurate presentation of Israel's notorious checkpoints-the truth may surprise you. There are two types of checkpoints operated by Israel. Israel operates 7 permanent border-crossing sites between the West Bank and Israel Proper (I acknowledge that the final borders are still yet to be determined. As stated in UN Resolution 242, final borders will be determined through negotiations.) These are similar in nature to other country's border crossing points such as exist between the USA and Mexico and the USA and Canada. As a sovereign nation, Israel has the international legal right as well as mandate of its citizens to regulate the human flow of traffic into the country; therefore, it has border crossings along its border with the West Bank territory. Additionally, Israel operates 12 checkpoints around selected West Bank cities such as Nablus. Finally, from one day to the next, Israel operates a varying number of temporary checkpoints and seam zone checkpoints inside the West Bank territory. All of these checkpoints are legal and are part of the jointly agreed Oslo Accord (I&II) agreement. The temporary checkpoints respond to the terror threat status inside the West Bank territory and are dismantled as soon as the threat subsides. As previously stated, Israel has, by mutual agreement with the Palestinian leadership, security authority in all of the identified parts of the West Bank. Inside this territory there are also physical barriers that prevent total freedom of movement by Palestinians upon existing roadways. Without question these barriers are a source of upset and daily conversations. They do indeed cause travel difficulties for the local population.
To summarize the preceding discussion, a clarification is offered to provide a perspective that reflects facts on the ground. For me it is a misnomer to call the permanent border crossings into Israel Proper checkpoints. As a sovereign nation, Israel is entitled to have border control crossing sites identical to all other international countries border controls. There are however, two properly named checkpoint types inside the West Bank territory: those currently in place around 12 cities/villages and those temporary sites placed in operation when a terror alert presents itself. Contrary to popular opinion that these checkpoints are meant to harass the Palestinian population as expressed in the media, these checkpoints are necessary because the Palestinian territorial leadership has not taken action to prevent the actual terror activity. Thus a cause and effect situation exists. Terror activity leads to temporary checkpoints-stop terror and there are no temporary checkpoints. The data supports this statement; however, it is not presented in the media. Read on as suggestions are made explaining the reason this information is with held from the Palestinian people.
Finally it is important to mention that Israel's checkpoints are highly visible political and social flashpoints. The ongoing world opinion making strategy, since the late 1960's, is to portray the Palestinian people and their cause as victims. The history of this strategy is indeed an article unto itself; suffice it to say that victimization has yielded high returns on their energy and time investment selling this concept to its people and the rest of the world community. You can see it, hear it and read it daily across all forms of the media. Note online the specific victim stories that appear regarding the treatment of Palestinians at the checkpoints. No context is ever provided, no perspective offered, rather a snapshot in time, often played to the cameras and reporters by the Palestinians themselves. I have spent a great deal of time at many of these same checkpoints and I offer anecdotal data indicating that the usual activity at the checkpoints is contrary to what is reported. Did you know that at the Kalandia checkpoint the average passage time is down to five minutes? Many people likely experience longer lines at USA airport security check lines (aka checkpoints)? At these American checkpoints have you been inconvenienced by having to take off your shoes, other garments and waiting patiently to cross through the metal detector? Have you ever been asked to step aside and embarrassed in front of strangers, friends and even family when you are selected for a more thorough random screening? You know, when they open your suitcase, rummage through its entire contents, when they ask you personal questions as to the nature of your trip, have you had this experience? Did you have to show identification proving who you are? Have you ever been physically examined for carrying concealed weapons? Ever missed a flight because of this action or otherwise had your daily plans inconveniently altered? In today's world, not only at Israeli checkpoints, we all have to pay a price for the sake of security. Most of us don't perceive these inconveniences as humiliation or ourselves as victims. Unfortunately, the Palestinians feel otherwise. They have been taught and therefore learned to be victims. Victim behavior and belief leads to a sense of powerlessness. This in turn leads to irresponsible behavior that is justified by oneself and by others with an agenda to promote.
I have watched kindnesses shared between soldiers and Palestinians at these same checkpoints. You think the following story ever makes it to the media? A man approaches the gate, offering apologies and with a look on his face that begs for understanding, the man tells the soldier he has forgotten his ID. You see, he is a known doctor, in his hurry to get to a local Israeli hospital to serve one of his quite ill patients; he forgot his id card-a simple human error. The soldier must make a quick decision, and after conferring with another soldier who recognizes the doctor, the soldier immediately ushers the doctor toward the hospital, without his ID card being present.
With no context, misrepresentation of the truth sells to the media. A classic example of this occurred recently. A Palestinian was said to have been humiliated at a checkpoint because he was made to play his violin. Here is what actually occurred. The man approached the soldiers, carrying a violin case. Mind you, soldiers have found bombs inside similar cases. He was naturally asked to take out the violin so they can make certain that the case did not contain explosives, but they did not ask him to play. He just decided to do that himself. He certainly embellished his story, once he was informed that he was a cause celebre. It seems that there was an activist with a camera who was so far away that she couldn't even hear the conversation between the Arab and the soldier, and since it was in Arabic, she wouldn't have even been able to understand it anyway. Later, the investigation clearly indicated that the Palestinian who played his violin apparently did it of his volition; he was not asked to do so by soldiers. The PR damage was done, even though proven incorrect, no correction was ever forthcoming from the media outlet-this misinterpretation played around the world. What is the normal USA working citizen to believe when all that is shown is this kind of untruth?
I have also witnessed the abrupt change in behavior of Palestinians in line when a camera crew or a Peace Now type of group arrives. Calm, decent and even cordial behavior transforms in a matter of moments. Everything returns to this state of calm after the cameras leave and the reporters drive away.
I have a caution for everyone reading or viewing reports on the Israeli checkpoints. Become aware of loaded words and phrases: segregated, through concrete lanes resembling cattle chutes, humiliation, and dehumanizing- these and so many others are used by groups meaning to reinforce the victimization of Palestinians at border crossings and checkpoints. Words are important, as are photographs and video. They attempt to describe behavior and provide meaning for our world. Used intentionally incorrectly, without context or perspective, the truth can be misrepresented thus only sharing a revisionist version of the truth to the world. If standing in a line for a long time, if made to wait inside the territory, if having to open your belongings is interpreted only as an act of intentional harassment or humiliation is to misrepresent truth. It has been my experience over several years that these same actions are the result of terror warnings. They are in response to direct terrorist behavior. Need anyone be reminded that there is a consequence for one's actions?
I will not leave you with the notion that mistakes are not made, that misbehavior has not occurred or will not in the future. However, I will share that the IDF and Border Police do their best, day after day, to respect and honor the dignity of all Palestinians and they do so knowing that there are individuals taking advantage of this behavior as they mean to kill the soldiers, the police and innocent civilians. The IDF has been developing educational and ethical instruction programs for checkpoint personnel? New technological advancements have been studied and implemented, e.g., carousels for ease of transitioning to the other side. The IDF instructs all of its personnel in performing their duties ethically. Special courses are given to IDF personnel that give them tools for dealing with moral issues and other predicaments that may arise when manning a checkpoint. How many of you were aware that the IDF also conducts inquiries and holds dialogue sessions on all levels to continue to improve the effectiveness of checkpoints? A special program of humanitarian soldiers has been present at selected checkpoints for a couple of years. These are seasoned, older reservists who volunteer to assist hands on to model behavior for younger soldiers.
Watch and listen carefully to the next story you read or see on television about the Israeli checkpoints. Did the reporter provide all of the details for the snapshot you are watching, was the event placed into proper context for you to then make your own judgment? If these are absent, be leery of the message. Perhaps it is time to notice how victimization has hijacked an entire people-change is in order. Let us resolve the issues so Palestinians and Israelis can all sit comfortably at their respective cafes enjoying the company of friends without fear!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Understanding Israeli Occupation

March 31, 2003: It was 3:30 am in California (I was back in the states for work) and received a phone call-now we all know to receive such a call in this hour usually means bad news, the following is what I was told: at 12:40 pm Israeli time, members of my family headed to our weekly group brunch at our favorite outdoor café, the London in Netanya, Israel. It was simply another day, the weekend had arrived, Spring was in the air and the sun was warmly shining upon everyone. Soon a good meal and lots of laughter with our group was to begin. For some reason that morning, as she exited our bank (part of our Friday morning routine) my mate decided to call the group and suggested they move to another outdoor restaurant. Twenty minutes later eyewitnesses reported that a soldier saw a suspicious-looking Arab attempting to enter the crowded London Cafe in Independence Square, and prevented him from doing so. This terrorist then turned to a group of soldiers walking close by the London, and blew himself up adjacent to them. Dozens injured, many who severely suffer to this day. Intuition saved my mate's life and those of our friends. So much pain, so much destruction, all done on a beautiful Spring day-no one thought as they awoke this morning that a few hours later they would be lying in their own blood and that of many others. How did we arrive at this barbaric act?

The justification for the preceding act of terror and horror is Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. No matter who speaks on behalf of the Palestinian people, its leaders, its terrorist groups or its people, we are told that the illegal occupation by Israel is THE cause of the problems in the area. Before addressing this issue, let the preceding vignette into your mind's eye that one group justifies attacking and murdering innocent civilians as well as soldiers because they say that Israel is illegally on their land. This is normal human behavior? Furthermore, the international community has assisted this kind of thinking by accepting a particular point of view not grounded in fact or truth. If you question Westerners, really quiz them about the context and the perspective surrounding the occupation you discover that many do not know the history, nor do they have a basic understanding of this region of the world. However, they do feel comfortable repeating revisionist history, misrepresented legal statements, and manipulated news stories.

So much has been written about occupation-an internet search alone yields over 2,100,000 hits. With very few exceptions there is always something missing in these pieces-context and perspective! Most of the reports provide only a snapshot of the phenomena called occupation and intentionally do so to support a political position. This kind of reporting clearly misrepresents historical facts and legal documentation.

A gentle reminder before proceeding: reality is a person's perception of events. It does not matter if this perception is supported by the facts or by truth. This is precisely what has occurred with the concept of Israeli occupation. Perception can be managed, even altered by intentionally framing any circumstance, situation or event in a manner that supports an individual or a group's position. Much of the world leadership has acted in accordance with the misperception and misrepresentation of facts-their motivation is self-interest.

Dore Gold1 suggested the following reasons why distortion of the truth serves the Palestinian cause: Three clear purposes seem to be served by the repeated references to "occupation" or "occupied Palestinian territories." First, Palestinian spokesmen hope to create a political context to explain and even justify the Palestinians' adoption of violence and terrorism during the current intifada. Second, the Palestinian demand of Israel to "end the occupation" does not leave any room for territorial compromise in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as suggested by the original language of UN Security Council Resolution 242. Third, the use of "occupied Palestinian territories" denies any Israeli claim to the land: had the more neutral language of "disputed territories" been used, then the Palestinians and Israel would be on an even playing field with equal rights. Additionally, by presenting Israel as a "foreign occupier," advocates of the Palestinian cause can de-legitimize the Jewish historical attachment to Israel.

Let us put into context two primary arguments supporting the idea that Israel illegally occupies Palestine: history of the region and international law that purports to sanction Palestinian positions.

For purposes of this paper the historical timeline begins 1947/1948 and yet what occurred prior to this date is also necessary as it provides an expanded context for events that took place after 1948. Let's begin by agreeing that Jews and Arabs resided in what is known today as Israel Proper as well as in the territories called Gaza and the West Bank during this time.

History tells the tale:

On November 29, 1947 Palestine's Arab leadership rejected the United Nations' plan to partition the country into a Jewish and an Arab state.

On May 14, 1948 Israel became a sovereign country recognized by the United States and many other countries as a member of the world community of nations. The British (recognized legal controlling agents of this area) left the country- Five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded Israel.

The Arab countries were defeated and then they signed armistice agreements with Israel in 1949, starting with Egypt (Feb. 24), followed by Lebanon, Jordan and Syria (July 20). None of the Arab states would negotiate a peace agreement.

Roughly 650,00 Arabs left Israel and around 650,000 Jews were expelled from surrounding Arab countries during the War of independence (numbers vary depending on your political connection). The Jews were absorbed into Israel while the abandoned Arabs were intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands they ran to in spite of the vast Arab territory adjacent to Israel.

Crucial to note two distinctions: the Arabs were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders who promised to rid the land of Jews while the Jews were expelled, they lost everything, homes, monies, clothing, books-everything. Fleeing Arabs lost as well. Please note that 68% of the Arabs left Israel never seeing an Israeli militia or soldier. Second distinction to note is that of the 100,000,000 refugees created since WWII, the Arab (Palestinian) group is the ONLY ONE in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples' lands. Please also note that 150,000 Arabs did remain inside Israel Proper (now numbering 1.2 million) and they were granted Israeli citizenship. These Arabs have their own political parties, are members of the Israeli Knesset, and have all the citizenship privileges as Jews in Israel. The freest Arabs live in Israel!

An observation by a Palestinian who was a child in 1948- Sarah El Shazly2: The fact is that the Arab world warned us against staying with the Jews. They also warned us that Arabs were going to fight the Zionists and that Palestinians should leave to avoid getting hurt. Many trusted these Arab leaders and left as instructedÉmy family stayed homeÉJews begged Arabs to stay and live with themÉthe ones who remained still live there today and prosper.

Her next remark bares repeating and remembering: Palestinians have gotten the short end of the stick in Arab society. It suits Arab leaders to keep this group in a state of poverty and conflict and to channel all resentment toward the Jews. You don't believe me? Ask yourself why Jordan or Egypt or Syria never gave the Palestinians a country?

Up until 1948, Gaza and Judea and Samaria (West Bank) were part of the British Mandate. Let's get history correct-both Egypt and Jordan illegally occupied the respective territories of Gaza and the West Bank from 1948-1967. Jordan illegally annexed this territory-neither international law nor the Arab countries recognized Jordan's annexation.

From 1948/1950 until 1967 Egypt and Jordan controlled and ruled over their respective territories. They established refugee camps for the fleeing Arabs, never developed an infrastructure for them and life was difficult.

Another observation by Sarah El Shazly: Let's go to the refugees ... (the Arabs) they stuck Palestinians in camps with deplorable living conditions. Why didn't they (Jordan and Egypt) leave them alone in their homes? Why promise them refuge and reward them with nothing more than prison camps? And most of all why didn't they provide Palestinians with homes in the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights when Arabs had control over them?

It is crucial to note that not once, during this occupation by Arab states was there a move toward Palestinian nationalization. Not until 1967 did Arab refugees begin to identify themselves as part of a Palestinian people-this is 20 years after the establishment of the state of Israel and under the administration of fellow Arabs.

In 1967, after the six-Day War, these territories (originally meant for the Jewish nation's homeland according to the British mandate charter) returned to Israeli control.

Yes, Israel has been inside the two territories from the 1967 War until today. A reminder, Israel was attacked by Arab nations; all sovereign countries-Israel defeated them in six days. This gets us to the legal myths that surround these same territories.

International Law explains why Israel is allowed into these disputed territories:

If one uses international law and/or resolutions to justify its claim, then one must be prepared to accurately clarify his/her position given the provided documents. In addition, when others or I call into question the interpretation or truthfulness of the use of these same documents, be prepared to defend the position rather than misdirect the conversation to another topic. Policy based upon lies, revisionist history and misrepresentation of the truth is illegal, immoral and unethical. In order to truly understand the rationale for a law or resolution you must also place this within the historical context of the time; there is a cause and effect relationship.

Former Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court3 wrote in the 1970s that there is no de jure application of the fourth Geneva Convention regarding occupied territories to the case of Gaza or of the West Bank. Why? Illegal occupation is based upon the assumption that there had been a sovereign who was ousted and that he had been a legitimate sovereign. Thus, those who use the Geneva Convention to justify Palestine's current status are incorrect; if they continuously use this argument they are lying. Why? There was and currently is no such country known as Palestine. It is important to understand that in many other cases in recent history (Cyprus, Kurile Islands, Abu Musa) in which a country's border was crossed due to armed conflict and had its sovereign territory seized, the term of occupation was never used-it seems only when it comes to Israel that the stigma as Israel the aggressor has gained wide spread acceptance.

From Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian spokesperson and darling of CNN to Mustafa Barghouti, Marwan Barghouti (jailed head of PLO Fatah), university professors and TV's commentators, they all repeat the mantra of illegal occupation as the root cause of the problems. Curiously, if you listen carefully or read with due diligence you are often hard pressed to learn which international law they are referring. If they do refer to some international law they either talk in generalities, never addressing the specific part of the law that justifies their position or they misrepresent a document as being international law, e.g., UN Resolution 194.

I am not an international lawyer so read my comments as one who examines the world critically and carefully after having thoroughly examined the presented material. It is safe to say that international jurists make a clear distinction between situations of aggressive conquest and territorial disputes that are the result from a war of self-defense. The noted former Head of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Stephen Schwebel4, wrote in 1970: Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title. This statement requires an accurate accounting of historical events in order for the truth to be told. There is a direct and binding relation between international law and facts on the ground. Historical sequence of events is critical to understand resultant legal documents. For Judge Schwebel's statement to matter, understand that June 5, 1967, Israel only entered the West Bank after repeated Jordanian artillery fire as well as ground movements across the armistice borders. Jordan began their action at 10 am, Israel warned Jordan via the UN at 11 am, the attacks continued. Therefore, at 12:45 pm Israel took proper military action. Jordan's actions had revoked the validity of the armistice signed with Israel. This alone gave Israel legal right to enter the West Bank.

The most abused resolutions used against Israel are UN Resolutions 194 and 242. Palestinian leaders, its people and other supporters use these documents regularly to claim that these resolutions give Palestinians the right of return to Israel and right of the land in the territories. These claims are inaccurate, incorrect and baseless. Those who say otherwise are ignorant, intellectually lazy or intellectually dishonest, or have a political agenda contrary to Israel's rights in these same territories.

UN resolutions fall into two categories: those emanating from the General Assembly and those coming out of the Security Council. Resolutions from the General assembly are not binding legally and serve only as recommendations, e.g., UN 194. Those resolutions exiting the Security Council are binding, e.g., UN242/338 and the international membership of the United Nations have agreed to honor such resolutions. For specifics on each of the afore-mentioned resolutions much has been written-go to the internet and you will find hundreds of thousands of sites.

UN Resolution 194

Created December 11,1948 to address the refugee issue which was the result of Israel's War of independence-it was a non-binding document.

It recommended that the Arab states and Israel resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations

The UN recognized that Israel could not be expected to repatriate a hostile population that could endanger its security. Thus, the suggested solution to this problem, like in all previous refugee problems, would require at least some Arabs to be resettled in Arab lands.

At this moment in history, Israel did not expect the refugees to be a major issue; Israel thought the Arab states would resettle the majority of the people and that compromise on the others would be forth coming.

Arab states rejected this UN resolution!

Interesting that at the time in history when this resolution was created, Arabs flat out rejected it. Now, it is the resolution they hang their hat on when it comes to justifying their actions.

The current dispute over the territories is allegedly the result of Israel's decision to occupy, rather than as a result of a war imposed upon Israel by the coalition of Arab states in June of 1967. However, UN Resolution 242, which serves as the basis for the 1991 Madrid Conference, precursor to Oslo, and the so-called 1993 Declaration of Principles, gave Israel rights within the territories. I know this is contrary to what is common knowledge and accepted belief. This resolution has been the corner stone of the PA's stance toward occupation. To put this politely, the PA and almost all other Arab nations and some Western nations have intentionally misled the public with regards to what the resolution said and required of all parties.

UN Resolution 242

Created November 22,1967 to serve as guidelines for a peace settlement to the 6-day war.

The most controversial clause in UN 242 is: Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict-this is THE portion of the resolution that Palestinian and other Arabs use to justify that Israel is illegally occupying their land.

It is worth repeating that the words the or all and the June5, 1967 lines were not used in the language of this resolution. The history of this document is a paper unto itself and the topic is worth re-visiting to best understand my words. Thus 242 only speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of the withdrawal-this according to Arthur Goldberg, American Ambassador to the UN in 1967. This implicitly indicates that Israel has rights in these same territories.

Clearly stated in this resolution is the notion that Israel would not be required to withdraw without prior agreement of peace. In other words, the resolution does not make Israel leave as a prerequisite for Arab action.

UN 242 does not specify how much territory Israel is required to give up

The resolution clearly requires Arab states to make peace with Israel and demands secure and recognized boundaries.

Finally, it is important to remember that Palestinians are NOT mentioned anywhere in this resolution. Nor does it require that Palestinians be given any territory or political rights. On Oct. 15, 1968 the PLO rejected UN 242.

Fact :the use of the generic term refugees. This was used to deliberately acknowledge there were two refugee problems-the Arabs and the Jews.

These are but the highlights of a few of the legal arguments used to falsely claim that Israel is illegally occupying the territories. It is true that Israel had taken up occupancy in the West Bank and Gaza territories as was and is their legal right to do so. Israel is well within her legal rights to be in these areas according to the UN resolutions I have presented as well as some documents I have not shared due to limited space. Couple the documents with historical statements and behavior (context), and you can better understand the truth. How do today's PA leaders, media analysts and university professors reconcile the following examples of occupancy discourse with their own justifications? The PLO's first leader an Egyptian, Ahmed Shukairy is remembered for saying on May 31, 1956, to the UN Security Council: It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.

Is this not another disconnect from the revised history you have learned? I find it amazing that using the PLO's own words of record, using their own published documents that the world has remained so gullible.

Additionally, upon examination of the PLO Charter, Article 24, the claims that the West Bank or Gaza are part of "historic Palestine" are nonsense-here is, in part, what their own document says: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, [or] on the Gaza Strip...

There is ample international legal evidence, legal opinion and legal testimony that has established Israel's legal rights to these territories. From the 1922 League of Nations mandate, to the United Nation's Article 80 of its Charter, to UN resolution 181, through to UN 242. As interpreted by a multitude of legal scholars, Israel has justification for its case concerning the territories of Gaza and the West Bank. I do find it most interesting that the international community has chosen to look the other way or use other self-serving interpretations for events that have happened in the following locales: Kashmir, Azerbaijan, Western Sahara, and many others.

Oslo Accords (I & II)

Signed September 13, 1993 the Oslo Accords were signed and they provided an opportunity for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Accords clearly gave Israel permission to be in the territories that are in dispute to this day.

It is crucial to understand that the Oslo Accords were yet another attempt to develop a peace agreement with the Palestinians -these accords are a continuation of decades old process that had their start after the 6-day war in 1967 with continuation after the 1973 war-two wars in which Arab countries attacked Israel.

On September 28, 1995 Israelis and Palestinians signed yet another deal known as the "Interim Agreement" or "Oslo 2." This agreement allowed for a second stage of autonomy for the Palestinians, giving them self-rule in the cities of Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Tulkarm, parts of Hebron and 450 villages, while allowing Israeli-guarded Jewish settlements to remain.

The Oslo 2 agreement divided the West Bank and Gaza into three areas, each with distinctive borders and rules for administration and security controls: Areas A (the Palestinian Authority now has full responsibility for internal security and public order, as well as full responsibility for civil affairs), B (Israel maintains overriding security authority in order to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism), C (Israel retains full responsibility for security). This agreement, signed by the Palestinian leadership, gives Israel overriding security authority in order to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism.

Furthermore, on Oct. 26, 1994, Jordan relinquished West Bank control to Israel and just with this fact alone, one cannot authentically argue that Israel is an occupier.

Note that 98 per cent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has come under Palestinian jurisdiction and has also transferred 40 spheres of civilian authority to the PA. With these agreements Israel was granted legal rights to the territories and was and continues to be legally allowed to be inside these same territories.

International law (Geneva Convention, article 6; Hague Regulations) land is considered occupied when it is under the actual control of the occupier. Even the most reluctant observer must admit that since Oslo, Israel has not occupied the territories

To this day, the agreed upon stages of the Accords (Interim Plan) have yet to be realized. A second Intifada is currently being waged against Israel, Road Map not withstanding.

You can't abuse and misrepresent international agreements to justify your position and then turn around and dismiss these same agreements as anti-Arab and/or as anti-Muslim when we challenge the Palestinian interpretation and contradictory use of these same agreements.

We live in a world committed to co-existence. For this to occur we either all live by a set of common agreements or we live in anarchy produced through terrorism, fear and war. I understand that today's generation of Palestinian youth and young adults as well as much of generation X in the West believe that Palestine has been illegally occupied by Israel-why? There are two reasons: the Palestinian leadership made a conscious decision to teach and preach revised history, they made Palestinians victims, they distorted the legal facts and have intentionally misled two generations; it is time for the truth to be told. For politicians to act as they do, this is another story, well worth an explanation!

Additionally the press has not served as the critical voice the public deserves or expects from its media and it accepted revisionist history thereby erroneously creating an improper context of events as they have unfolded here in our area of the world. Although true that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion; however, you are not entitled to make up your own facts!


  1. Gold, Dore, From occupied Territories to disputed territories, posted Jerusalem Letter, Jan.16, 2002
  2. El Shazly, Sarah, What Really happened in 1948?, posted Front Page magazine, December 28, 2004
  3. Shamgar, Meir, Former Chief justice of Supreme Court argued in contrast to President Carter's position subsequently the Reagan and Bush administrations changed the legal determination in the 1980's
  4. Schwebel, Stephen, International Court of justice, as reported by Dore Gold, Jan.16, 2002