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Open Features: Understanding The Middle East - Part Three

In the hope of providing a clearer perspective of current tragic events, Bill Sykes outlines and questions what has gone before.

"I absolutely hate continuing month after month writing about the terrible events that are happening in the world on a daily basis but consider that if sufficient unbiased information is disseminated to the public, the sane people of this world will somehow exert enough pressure on their Governments to say enough is enough, the bloodshed has got to stop,'' Bill wrote in 2002.

His words are as relevent today as they were then.

NOTE: Bill wishes readers to know that he is not anti-Semitic/Pro-Arab/Anti-Muslim, or whatever, and does not have any particular racial or religious prejudice and above and beyond that he does not have any political axe to grind. He has always tried to present the news items as accurately as possible without fear or favor and also without prejudice or malice aforethought"

The Israelis at last realize their goal to take over the West Bank.

Ever since the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel in 1948, the Israelis have commandeered not only the fertile coastal strip from Haifa in the north to Tel Aviv in the south, but have also coveted the Arab hinterlands from Nazareth in the north to Beersheba in the south, including the West Bank.

Now Mr. Sharon and the Israeli Government have achieved their long sought after objectives and have taken over Arab lands with impunity, which I’m afraid will take a lot of political maneuvering and military power to remove them. The Israeli settlements on Arab territory on the Golan Heights, (captured from Syria in the 1967 war), overlooking the Sea of Galilee, (Lake Tiberias), have always been regarded by Israel as prime defensive positions and a matter of national security.

What next Mr. Sharon, another attempt to take over Lebanon?

Mr. Bush’s initial mild chastisement of the Israeli take over of the West Bank makes no mention of the total withdrawal from Palestinian Arab lands to the 1967 borders as stated in Crown Price Abdullah’s peace proposal, but instead refers to the Tenet and Mitchell plans and the only reproach given by Mr. Bush at that time was for “Israel to stop new settlement activities.”

Stronger words from Mr. Bush followed when the Israelis totally disregarded United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338, calling for the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Arab lands. In fact Sharon and the Israeli Government went further and occupied the cities of Jenin, Tulkarm, Nablus, Qalqilllya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and cities in the Gaza strip.

I would suggest that there is only one way to stop the complete take over of Palestine by the Israelis and that is the cut off of all financial and military aid to Israel and the establishment of a United Nations Peace Keeping Force in the Holy Land.

The Jewish people have always recognized the power of monetary wealth, and the complete cut off of American funds, which have been handed over on a yearly basis to the tune of several Billions of Dollars, for the last fifty odd years, would certainly bring to their notice that America means business and that this is “NOT a business as usual approach”.

What action, (If Any), is being taken by Mr. Bush and the White House?

Mr. Sharon appears to be dictating the terms of the pullout of Israeli Forces from Palestinian Arab lands, much to the embarrassment of Mr. Bush and the White House. Sharon has already told Bush that a separate meeting of Secretary of State Colin Powell with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat would be a tragic mistake and demanded that the United States refrain from pressurizing Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian lands.
The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, demanded a immediate halt to the Israelis current offensive and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli Forces, and urged both sides of the conflict to work towards peace.

The Secretary of State Colin Powell’s mission appears to be a high level attempt at negotiating a peaceful solution to the escalating Arab/Israeli conflict.

Apparently Mr. Powell received a cool reception at his first stop on the Middle East mission in Morocco. It was reported that in a meeting with King Mohammed VI Colin Powell was asked why he hadn’t made his first stop in Israel as that is where the conflict is occurring.

The press of several countries suggested that Mr. Powell, was buying time in order to allow the Israelis to make token withdrawals.

Statement of neutrality.

One more time I must state unequivocally that I have no axe to grind with respect to either Arab or Jewish politics, military aims, or the actions taken by either side to accomplish their objectives. I do state however that I do not support, and totally deplore, the actions of either side in the terrible slaughter of civilians, both Arab and Israeli.

My aim is to provide reasonably accurate factual reporting of incidents in the Middle East, gathered from Local and International news sources, and virtually combine the reports into a composite news letter by adding personal comment on the events affecting the people of that region and the people of the United States.

Therefore the following paragraphs may not please all the readers. It is not meant to please or displease. It is meant to indicate the futility and brutality of the actions being taken to achieve aims, which are totally unacceptable to civilized nations.

I absolutely hate continuing month after month writing about the terrible events that are happening in the world on a daily basis but consider that if sufficient unbiased information is disseminated to the public, the sane people of this world will somehow exert enough pressure on their Governments to say enough is enough, the bloodshed has got to stop.

Unfortunately bloodshed creates bloodshed, the human animal has got to realize that the future of the human race is at stake and find some way of preventing the escalation of the violence, which is spreading worldwide.

Yasser Arafat had latent terrorist tendencies from his College days, but as a statesman lacked administrative government capabilities. He is well matched in the field of terrorism by his prime adversary Ariel Sharon.

As I have said previously, I personally would have no particular grief if both of them disappeared from the Middle East political scene and were replaced by moderate statesmen, (or stateswomen), who could, would, and should, take on the responsibility of forging a lasting peace treaty beneficial to both the Palestinian Arab and the Israeli Jew.

The current Middle East situation.

Today the 11th of April 2002, the American secretary of State, Colin Powell is in Israel and will meet with Ariel Sharon and later will travel to Ramallah to meet with Yasser Arafat. Let me state right now that I have little respect for either of these men and wish that two different individuals could be found who would respect human rights and the right of the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Jews to live side by side in peace in a United Holy Land.

Unfortunately Colin Powell has an insurmountable task ahead of him, as Mr. Sharon is determined to continue the targeting of Arab towns and refugee camps against the objects ions of the moderating countries. Israeli activities have intensified, and damage to the infrastructure has caused much death and destruction. It has been reported that doctors and ambulances have been prevented by Israeli troops from traveling into the Palestinian Arab towns to treat the wounded and the dying.
I would suggest that Israeli actions targeting a civilian population are not based upon the security of the Israeli nation but are plain acts of retribution for the suicide bombings that have taken place.

Mr. Powell apparently did not have much support at the EU meeting in Madrid following his cool reception in Morocco.
I have a distinct feeling that Mr. Powell will have a very difficult time during his meetings with two very difficult people and will come home with very little accomplished. He may get some concessions, but as soon as he leaves for home, whatever concessions given will be reneged upon and as the American WW2 soldiers used to say it will be a SNAFU situation.

International news crews have been refused entry by the Israelis into most area s of their incursion into Palestinian Arab Territory to prevent them reporting on violence being committed against civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip towns. Violation of basic human rights in the Arab refugee camps has been reported. If the International Press is refused entrance into the Palestinian Refugee camps by the Israelis, in order to be able report on the death and destruction that has occurred they have the option of refusing to report on the effects that the suicide bombings have had on the Israel towns and people.

This is not a one sided struggle, and the world at large has the right to know what is happening on both sides of the conflict.
By the way, it has been reported that Mr. Bush has stated that the United States has not considered suspending or punishing Israel if they do not comply with the dictated pullout of the Palestinian Arab territories. The White House and some of the American Press, are at this time are putting the usual political spin on the Powell visit and trotting out the usual upbeat positive statements whilst downplaying the negatives. That will maybe change as more is known about the situation. !!!
It may make for good press, and raise American public moral, but as I have said previously, having been in the region some fifty plus years ago under similar circumstances---(different protagonists of course)---I still believe that the situation will not improve any time soon, especially if Lebanon and Syria get involved, which I believe is a foregone conclusion.

Nobel Peace Prize.

Bet you don’t remember that on the 5th of September 1993 the PLO and Israel reached a peace agreement granting the Palestinians the West Bank and Gaza Strip territories, and in 1993 Yasser Arafat, Shimon Perez and Yitzhak Rabin shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

Relevant information.

The three main signatories to the 1993 Oslo peace agreement were Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres.
The background of Yasser Arafat has been discussed previously.
Yitzhak Rabin, (1922-1995), was the first native-born Israeli to become Prime Minister of Israel.

Mr. Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli student, who claimed that it was his religious duty to prevent the return of Biblical Lands to the Arabs, at a peace rally in Tel Aviv in1995.
Shimon Peres was the Prime Minister of Israel from 1984 to 1986. He lost the leadership of the labor party in 1992 to Yitzhak Rabin who subsequently became Prime Minister and Peres was appointed Foreign Minister.

How things have changed. (Or have they?)

In September of 1993, at the Oslo peace conference, the PLO reaffirmed Israeli’s right to exist in peace and security, and in return Israel pledged to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.

In a 1995 agreement, the PLO renounced the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and committed itself to resolving the conflict with Israel through peaceful negotiations.
Also in the same agreement, Israel agreed to withdraw from rural areas of the remaining West Bank territories.
In the last few years, radical branches of the PLO have increased their acts of terrorism against the Israelis, and Israel has continued to build an ever increasing number of Jewish settlements upon Arab land, whilst at the same time making many incursions into Arab West bank territories in the name of Israeli security.

Who can one believe these days? Can any politician of either faction be considered trustworthy?

Suicide Bombing is not a new phenomena.

I’m not fully conversant with all the suicide bombings that have taken place in Israel, but have seen records of Suicide bombings in 1996 which were carried out by militant Palestinian Arabs terrorist attacks against the Jewish population of Israel.

This was followed in mid-1997 by suicide bombings carried out by Hamas.

As I said, suicide bombing is not a new phenomena. Many WW2 American sailors will vividly remember, and confirm, the
actions of Kamikaze Pilots when United States Warships came under attack in the Pacific theatre of war.

Squadrons of Kamikaze pilots were formed by the Japanese Air force during the latter stages of World War Two. The pilots sacrificed their lives by flying their aircraft, which were heavily loaded with explosives, directly into United States Naval vessels and sank around 40 United States ships, with a great loss of American lives.

The end product.

I firmly believe that Mr. Powell’s peace mission in the Middle East will come to no avail unless he can convince Sharon to remove all Israeli Troops from the Palestinian lands back to the1967 demarcation line, as stipulated in Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia peace proposal, and convince Arafat that the suicide bombings and other terrorist act have to cease immediately.

Mr. Powell has shown a remarkable amount of restraint in his dealing with Sharon and Arafat, and must be congratulated on political skills in his endeavor to produce a “temporary” peace. Unfortunately Sharon refuses to provide a scheduled pull out of Israeli troops from the Palestinian Arab towns and refugee camps, and Arafat refuses to condemn suicide bombings.
Mr. Powell returned to the United States yesterday the 17th of April and reported that a “Cease fire is not a relevant term at the moment, and Israeli incursions into West Bank Palestinian Arab towns must end before any cease fire could hold”.
Mr. Powell stopped off in Cairo on the way back home and apparently was rebuffed by President Mubarak as the meeting between the two was cancelled because President Mubarak was indisposed. Read into that what ever you will.

The Morning after. (18th of April 2002)

President Bush congratulated Mr. Powell on his efforts to attain a peaceful solution, and stated that the mission was a success.
Not a tremendous success---not a meaningful success---just a plain success.

It would appear that the only success attained, (if any success was attained), was the Israeli Troops take over and destruction of several Palestinian Arab towns with the subsequent loss of lives on both sides. The World Press, have recently been allowed into the refugee camp in the town of Jenin and the destruction shown in their photographic footage is reminiscent of cities destroyed during World War Two and is “horrific beyond belief”. It was reported that United Nations Envoy Terge Roed Larsen said “Israel’s refusal to allow rescue teams into the ruins of the Jenin refugee camp is “morally repugnant”.
The loss of lives has yet to be accounted for, but from the destruction shown I would think that it will run into the hundreds.

Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of UNRWA was said to have stated that an International investigation should be convened to determine if the Palestinian Arabs claim that in excess of one hundred people were massacred in Jenin, (and the Israeli claims that the Palestinian Arab number of dead is exaggerated), are accurate estimates. It has been suggested that this was not a battle by Israeli Troops to strengthen the security of the Jewish people and their towns, but was more a battle of retribution and revenge.

The only one to come out of this situation with any degree of distinction appears to be Mr. Powell, who apparently conducted his meetings and discussions with the prominent leaders of the region that he visited with diplomacy and honor.


Many people, who survived World War Two, may still remember the story of the small village of Lidice in Western Czechoslovakia.

Lidice was destroyed in a retaliatory raid by the German Army in revenge for the assassination of powerful German administrator Reinhardt Heydrich in May of 1942. In response to the assassination, the German forces stormed Lidice in the early hours of the 10th of June, 1942 and killed 173 men of the village by machine gun fire. The women and children were sent to concentration camps and the village was raised to the ground.

United Nations Proposal.

Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, proposed in the past few days that seeing that Israel and the PLO are so far apart in their philosophical and territorial aims, the chance of negotiating a lasting peace is practically non-existent. He therefore considered that the only way to control the situation, would be for the United Nations to dispatch an International Force with a robust mandate to create security, restore law and order, normalize humanitarian aid, and restore the Palestinian Authority. President Bush, meanwhile declared his opposition to the world call for an International investigation into the brutal attack by Israeli Forces in Jenin, and other Palestinian Arab towns, which have been described by the people of those towns as a massacre of civilians. The Palestinian Arabs claim that as many has 500 people were massacred in Jenin, a figure that the Israeli Government strongly disputes.

Wonder what President Bush would have had said if the shoe had been on the other foot and heavily armed Palestine Arab Troops, equipped with Modern Tanks and Aircraft, had destroyed several Israeli towns and massacred large numbers of Israeli Jews.

By the way, our President was reported as stating that “Mr. Sharon was a man of peace and the Israeli action was legitimate”.

Perhaps he was misquoted and really what he said was “Mr. Sharon is a man of “piece”. Mr. Sharon appears to have indicated by his actions that “This is my piece and sooner or later I will take over your piece”.

As Rudyard Kipling said with great foresight, “East is East and West is West and nair the twain shall meet”.

The thought then occurs, should we compare Attila the Hun, (circa 433-453), who devastated the whole region between the Black and Mediterranean Seas, Genghis Khan, (1167-1227), founder of the Mongol Empire who defeated the Tatars and ordered mass executions, Ivan IV Vasilyevich, (1530-1584), (Ivan the terrible), one of Russia’s most brutal and notorious rulers, and of course our twentieth century Dictators, as being men of peace, or men of piece,.

Question: Have we the current day prerequisites for another Sodom and Gomorrah incident where the two cities were said to have been destroyed by fire and brimstone because of the wickedness of their inhabitants?


Some of the information gathered for this news letter is gleaned from American and International media sources, (including the Internet), and as such is quoted as accurately as possible. I try to obtain confirmation on each subject from several outlets, so the text is a mixture of composite news items and personal comment and therefore the reader must make his/her judgment as to the reliability and degree of accuracy of the subjects discussed.

Note: To view the complete May 2002 edition of “View from America” go to the www.huddersfield1.co.uk website.

June/July. 2006.


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