Since the UN Security Council first demanded Israel return turf captured in her 1967 war, separating the Jews from illegally-seized land has presented problems.
In the negotiations at Camp David under President Carter's rather awkward but determined tutelage, Israel agreed to withdraw from Egypt's Sinai and give up those illegally-constructed Jewish homes. The Geneva Convention, which Israel had signed, forbids building on seized land. The cost to the American taxpayer of Israel's withdrawal was not insignificant. According to the B'Nai B'rith Messenger, West Coast on March 8, 1985:
Each of the 51 families in the Moshav Ogadan received $435,000. The 40 families of Moshav Dikla each received $558,000. Each eight families in the Moshav Zahron were paid $358,000. All of the 19 families in Naot-Sinai received $445,000. Sixty-three families in Moshav Sadoit received $650,000 each.
U.S. taxpayers paid out a total of $96,672,000 for these homes which U.S. taxpayers had helped fund in the first place. Following this buy-out, Israeli military removed the Jewish settlers, many by brute force. Their army blew up and then bulldozed the houses just to guarantee that no Arab could ever use them.
American's understanding of the Mideast has been constantly distorted by the media in cooperation with Washington. On President Clinton's October 1994 tour of the Mideast, the coverage in American papers was, as usual, a bit skewed. An exchange between our President and Syria's President Assad at their press conference brought this into somewhat humorous focus. On October 28, the Associated Press reported: "Assad was vague, officials said we did not hear any explicit words about his vision of peace..." Prime Minister Rabin...sounded plaintive in a newspaper interview: "I am not sure what Syria sees in peace. I am not sure when they are prepared to normalize relations with us, if at all." Reported the New York Times, "Clinton... did not get from the Syrian leader a message that aides had hoped might soothe an anxious Israeli public."
In sharp contrast (as reported on page A-5 of the SAME paper) was President Assad's public statement at a joint news conference with Clinton which left no doubt as to Syria's position: "I stressed to President Clinton the readiness of Syria to commit itself to the objective requirements for peace... in return for Israel's full withdrawal from the Golan Heights on the line of June 4, 1967, and from the south of Lebanon... in conformity with Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 425." Just how more precise could anyone be?
Neither the Associated Press, the Times nor Israeli officials wanted to acknowledge Assad's commitment to peace, since Israel's position backed by Washington has revolved around delaying any withdrawal from any occupied areas as long as possible, and then, incomplete withdrawal. To accomplish this hidden agenda of non-peace, Israel's friends exaggerate that country's vulnerability, picturing the displaced and brutalized Arab as a terrorist, i.e., demonizing the victim.
The New York Times, October 24, 1994, lead story also reported: "Sensitivity over terrorism confounded their efforts to show common cause," but on page A-5 Syria's President, when asked by a reporter from an Israeli paper, "Did you in this discussion promise not to sponsor terrorism anymore?" Assad replied: "When I asked [a senior American official], he was not able to mention one single incident in which Syria supported terrorism." Hiding the real issues from the American public has been the goal of the Israeli lobby since day one. The New York Times is as guilty as other papers in this coverup.
Along his 1994 Mideast journey, Clinton was exposed to interrogation by foreign reporters in open meetings where the deferential climate of the Washington newsroom was absent. At King Hussein's Presidential Palace in Amman, Jordan (King Abdullah's father was still alive in 1994), two interesting questions were posed to our President by foreign reporters. I quote from the New York Times, October 28, 1994:
"Mr. President, in your speech today you emphasized the significance of security for both sides, i.e., Syria and Israel. On numerous occasions Israeli leaders have sought preferential and rather advantageous security arrangements as a precondition for any peace pact with Syria. It's common knowledge that Israel possesses a huge arsenal of both conventional and mass-destruction weapons, and refuses to sign the nuclear arms non-proliferation treaty. How do you explain your endorsement of any future package of security arrangements in view of Israel's illogical and unacceptable pre-conditions?"
"Mr. President, on a number of occasions the United States has stressed commitment to Israel's security and has provided Israel with all forms of financial and military support. How would you reconcile your role as an honest intermediary in the peace process with your different way of dealing with Syria, who since the onset of the peace process has confirmed her seriousness and positive attitude to make the process successful?"
Such questions revealed that both the European and Mideast peoples clearly understood that the United States, despite all its "Honest Broker" talk, was both biased and dishonest in these very sensitive Mideast negotiations, and furthermore, that our own people were badly served by a media that habitually censored and distorted information. Has anything changed since 1994? Let's see.
In Israel's "peace" with Jordan, signed on October 26, 1994, by the now-deceased King Hussein, rather than being able to return to his Jordanian farmers that land seized by the Israeli forces during the 1967 war, under pressure from Washington Hussein was forced to allow those Jewish farmers to keep farming on his Jordanian soil, "without any discriminatory taxes or charges." Just how those U.S.-enforced, 25-year renewable leases will work out is anyone's guess, but the arrangement is an affront to every Jordanian.
In recent weeks our papers have emphasized the strategic military importance to Israel of Syria's Golan Heights, seized in the 1967 war, and referred to repeated military assaults from Syrian forces across the border against Russian immigrant farmers (Kibbutzim) as another reason for taking that Syrian land. However, with the Israeli-Syrian "peace talks" again on the front pages, Americans should be made privy to what everyone in the Mideast has known at least since 1997:
Moshe Dayan, Israel's General and Minister of Defense during the 1967 war, gave an extended interview to Rami Tal, an Israeli reporter, in the 1970s. (Dayan died in 1981.) That interview was kept secret at his request. In June, 1997, his daughter Yael, a member of the Knesset, released her father's statements to the Israeli press.
In the interview, Israel's Defense Minister admitted his ordering the Golan Heights' seizure was an error. Dayan added that the Golan held "no significant defense capability to Israel," but was seized from Syria in response to political pressure from the Kibbutzim block in the Knesset, whose Russian immigrant farmers had longed for that rich Syrian farmland with its access to Jordan River water. Dayan added that the "Kibbutzim farmers were responsible for 80 percent" of the pre-1967 cross-border incidents.
On January 18th, 2000 NY Times, columnist Susan Sachs reported from Damascus, Syria, that the week before "when an Israeli newspaper published a working paper prepared by United States officials on the status of the talks-and that paper outlined an Israeli position in favor of allowing some 17,000 Israeli settlers to remain in the Golan after the peace dealings, the reaction in Syria was anger."
The talk in Washington this week is that the "peace deal" between Israel and Syria will cost the US taxpayer at least $17 billion. It might be cheaper for all of us if Clinton were content to be remembered only for that spot on Monica's dress.