The Palestinian Issue

    This section of the book opens with the remark that relations between the PLO and Israel have changed recently. In the past there was no negotiation between the two parties but at the time the book was published, in 1996, the historical hand shaking between Rabin and Arafat had already taken place.
August 6th 1976
“The difference between Tal al Zaatar and the Warsaw ghetto”
Jornal da Tarde

In response to a letter sent to JT newspaper by a reader, identified as Mr. JB, Ben Abraham discusses the differences between the Warsaw ghetto and the Tal al Zaatar massacre during the Lebanon war.

          • The Jews in the ghetto were killed by those who considered themselves as the superior race, whereas in Lebanon Arabs were killed by Arabs;
          • The approval of the State of Israel by the UNO in 1947 was rejected by the Arab countries which decided to invade Israel in 1948. So who is to blame for the existence of that war’s refugees?
          • After WWII, thousands of German refugees were integrated into Western society, differently from what happened to Palestinian refugees killed in the Jordan’s Black September or in Lebanon’s war.

August 11th 1976
Letter from a Reader (R. Rigio)
Jornal da Tarde

A reader sent a letter to the newspaper commenting both the article by Ben Abraham and the previous letter by Mr. JB, which prompted him to write the article.

In this letter, Mr. Rigio says he agrees with Ben Abraham about the treatment given to Palestinian refugees by other Arab nations. He also agrees with Mr. JB about the fact that the solution for the conflict relies on Moscow’s and Washington’s hands.

Oct 21st 1977
“The Palestinian Issue”
O Estado de S. Paulo

Ben Abraham wrote a letter to OESP’s chief editor in response to an editorial published on Sept 14th. According to the editorial, Menachen Begin had said that “The Palestinians should be expelled from the limits of human civilization”. Ben Abraham says this quote is incorrect, and that what the Israeli prime minister had actually said was that the PLO should be expelled from the limits of human civilization. Ben Abraham assumes that this position is shared by “every person of good sense that is acquainted with the news”, mentioning the terrorist attack Israeli competitor in the Munich Olympic games and the killing of school children in Maalot.

Ben Abraham goes on to criticize the comparison between the Nazi crematories with a mistaken interpretation of an interview, or between the hangings in Damascus and Bagdad with the “inhumanity” of a country – Israel – that did not apply the death penalty not even to the perpetrators of the Maalot massacre, and between a state fighting to defend itself and the ones fighting to destroy it. He closes the letter by affirming the Jews have learned over the centuries that they cannot trust anyone.

Oct 10th 1981
“Coexistence: A Dilemma for Arafat”
Folha da Tarde

This article analyses the changes in the political scenario with the statement by Moshe Dayan that the PLO should be included in peace negotiations. It also quotes Yasser Arafat as saying that the PLO is willing to admit “coexistence” with Israel.

Despite this change of stance, the PLO, Abraham says, is composed by minor rival groups, namely the FPLP, the FDLP, the SAIKA, the FLA, the FPLP-CG, the ELP, the Black September and the Revolution Eagles. These groups could oppose any negotiation with Israel, as well as Moscow, who had struggled to keep Arafat away from the Camp David negotiations. Ben Abraham mentions that Israel would not oppose Arafat’s presence in Jordan and that Ronald Reagan had admitted the PLO could be included in the peace process provided they admitted Israel’s right to exist.

The article closes by questioning if Arafat would be able to start negotiating, despite opposition from Russia, Syria, Iraq and Libya, and despite the resistance within the PLO itself.

July 31st 1981
“Midle East: ‘in loco’ Analysis”
Folha da Tarde

This article addresses the issue of Palestinian refugees, questioning why they have never been integrated by the Arab countries. Differently from what happened to German refugees after WWII and to Holocaust survivors absorbed by Israel, both Egypt and Jordan never fully integrated the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, which remained respectively under their control between 1948 and 1967, but were purposefully kept in refugee camps during all that time. The fact they are not integrated in the Arab states’ societies’ fuels terrorist activities, which consequently draw reprisals from Israel.

The next part of the article comments USA senator Rudy Boschwitz’s declaration that the Palestinians cannot be ignored, although time has not yet come for the PLO to be included in peace negotiations. Senator Boschwitz also affirmed that Israel could not return to pre-1967 borders.

Dec 22nd 1988
“Arafat’s swan-song”
O Estado de S. Paulo

Ben Abraham weighs on the change of stance by Yasser Arafat, who had supposedly recognizes the existence of the state of Israel in December of 1988. He says that many representatives in the free world were relieved by that declaration, and became irritated with Israel because it had rejected the creation of a state in Gaza and the West Bank. However, the article says:

      • The Arab states never integrated the 650.000 Palestinian refugees of the 1948; whereas Israel fully absorbed 750.000 Jewish refugees from Africa, the West Bank and the Eastern section of Jerusalem.
      • Egypt controlled the transit of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, which was under its sovereignty between 1948 and 1968.
      • The PLO was born in the context of discrimination by other Arab states and with the sponsorship of the Soviet Union, aiming at the destruction of the state of Israel.

Ben Abraham closes the article by asking if Yasser Arafat and the PLO can be trusted after all the terrorist actions they have performed. He also questions if Arafat will be able to control all rival factions agglutinated around him. Finally, he compares the refusal by Israel to attend an international peace conference to the Munich Conference in 1938, when England and France agreed with Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia.

This article is followed by a brief note where Ben Abraham observes it is the Sherit Hapleita’s duty to assess if peace agreements can be trusted, even after the Oslo Conference.

June 1989

This article opens by mentioning an interview recently given by Yasser Arafat to Brazilian journalist Marilia Gabriel, during which, according to Ben Abraham, Arafat had the intention of confusing public opinion and changing the public image of the PLO, while trying to emphasizing a supposed division between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews.

The second part of the article states that, differently from what Arafat had been saying, the Intifada was not a spontaneous reaction of the Palestinian youth against Israeli occupation, but rather an insurrection prepared and organized by the PLO. According to the article, the Intifada had 3 main goals:

    1. Cause incidents between the Israeli army and Palestinian children, which would be used by biased media to damage Israel’s public image;
    2. The IDF was able to fight and defeat Arab armies, but it wasn’t able to fight children;
    3. Cause division of opinions among the Israeli public and world Jewry about how to deal with the Palestinian issue.