Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Reverend Michael Fryer, Mold Christian Fellowship

RESUME

  1.  I have recently visited Israel during which time I obtained in the form of film and audiotape records, facts and opinions, which, of themselves, provide support for the following submissions. My visit was neither supported nor controlled by any Political or Interested groups. I acted independently and was supported only by my own congregation. During my visit I travelled throughout the country including Palestinian territories observing civilians of many religions. I also spent some time at checkpoints and other places of potential conflict. As Israel enters it's fourth year of terrorism I was able to view many situations first hand which has given me the ability to formulate opinions about the conditions in the region based on fact.

  2.  My submission takes the form of presenting my evidence of the events I witnessed and the attitudes and opinions of those Israelis and Arabs with whom I met. My assessments of certain situations and circumstances based on my experience and my research is presented in an effort to bring an understanding of the situation without a Political bias. The report concludes with possible resolutions.

EVIDENCE OBTAINED DURING MY VISIT

  3.  I visited a Jewish school in Lod near Tel Aviv. The School is in an area that is mixed, Jew and Arab. The area is an extremely poor area and government monies that are aimed to assist the community are simply being used to pay the debts of local government. Misuse of drugs, suicide and criminal activities are at high levels, indicating that poverty is a major problem. The current Intifada is blamed for the lack of resources to tackle these major problems, as it is clear that investment is being diverted to areas of defence to the detriment of ordinary people. The School targets those Jews who are living in poverty and attempts to educate 70 young men and women in order that they can be valuable members of the community. It has little financial support and this is evident by the building still having an asbestos roof, no windows and doors and substandard equipment. The staff are highly qualified in their field and they are dedicated to the students. They are paid little, however they do receive great satisfaction resulting from the high standards of learning by the students, many of whom are from dysfunctional families.

  4.  I spoke to volunteer workers from Ashkelon near Gaza who are working tirelessly to feed and clothe over 150 Jewish children from the area and who are unsupported by any other means. The current terrorist activity is blamed for taking away the focus from the needs of these underprivileged children as the defence budget rises in proportion with the numbers of those who are killed.

  5.  I visited the National Trauma Unit (NATAL) in Tel Aviv and interviewed staff. They spoke of the 19,000 terrorist attacks against Israelis since September 2000 that has created an atmosphere of fear amongst all Israeli civilians whatever their religion. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become such a major problem amongst Israelis that the effects for the future cannot even be imagined.

  6.  One member of staff explained that even though one may not have witnessed a bombing or terrorist attack, simply travelling by bus or visiting a restaurant can have traumatic consequences. She herself is fearful of travelling by bus, eating in restaurants and even visiting discothe"ques, all common targets of the suicide bomber. NATAL's records show that attacks on Israeli civilians include murder by lynching, drive by shootings, ambushes, stabbings, shootings and, of course, suicide bombings. These acts of terror are the root of the major problem of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which, at this moment, is measured amongst the Israeli population at 25% but is unquantifiable for the future. And yet, this is ignored by other Nations and organisations within whose remit these issues fall.

  7.  At Isafiya and Daliat Ha Carmel both on Mount Carmel, I photographed Christian and Arab villages that show the potential for intercommunal prosperity and peace. At these villages I photographed Arab homes, which were of a very high standard and Garage Forecourts that exhibited rows of new Mercedes motorcars and other high-class vehicles. I have examined Web sites of property developers who are selling high-class properties in the Palestinian controlled areas. Following on from this I began to examine Web sites of property developers, who are selling high-class properties in Palestinian controlled areas. For example: http://www.aqaria.com/almashtal.htm

  8.  I interviewed an Arab worker in Haifa who worked as a private security guard and general worker in the retail car trade. He is a married man with children. He told me that he preferred to work for the Jew he had worked for a number of years rather than for his new Arab boss because the Jew had been supportive of him and had paid him well and he trusted him. He said he was very happy living under Israeli rule, which gave him a reasonable standard of living. I spoke with an Arab waiter in a restaurant known as Maxim's, which was co-managed and run by both Jewish and Christian Arab families. This man was serving and working with Jews with whom he had a loving relationship. He, however, died when that same restaurant became the target of a suicide bombing only two days later. Twenty-one people died in that bombing and sixty were injured.

  9.  I later interviewed the injured from that bombing at Carmel hospital Haifa and was able to record them re-living that terrible event. I heard no cries of hate or demands for revenge from the Jewish survivors or from the doctors who treated the casualties, only a pleading for peace that they may live together with Palestinians. When asked how the rest of the world should respond to such incidents the director of the hospital Dr. Zilberg said, "Just try to understand us". One Jewish doctor whose parents were Holocaust survivors said that she is working happily with Arab doctors helping both Jewish and Arab patients. She cried out saying no one in the world wants Jews, Israel is the only place that they can live and she simply wants to live in peace with Arabs. Her cries of peace and offers of reconciliation are supported by the case of Yoni Jesner, a Scottish seminary student who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv. Yoni's organs were donated to an Arab. I am able to say that in Israel, Muslims, Christians and Jews take their place on a waiting list for organ transplantation. Whoever is at the top of the list is next to receive irrespective of religion. I spoke with a number of doctors in Carmel hospital who treat patients from Arab, Muslim, Christian and Jewish backgrounds all in exactly the same manner and with the same level of care. These doctors are simply highly motivated in saving lives and giving the maximum level of care to whoever presents themselves for treatment.

  10.  Also in Haifa I interviewed an American Philip Litle whose daughter Abigail was killed by a suicide bomber as she travelled home from school on the number 37 Haifa bus in May this year. Despite this terrible tragedy he displayed a concern for both Palestinians and Jews and stated that it was a change of heart that needed to take place rather than a just a change of mind. He had no hate or even or even a glimmer of revenge in his voice as he told the story of the loss of his daughter.

  11.  In Jerusalem I visited two soldiers, Ahron Tsabari and Roni Gozlan who had been mutilated by the actions of Palestinian suicide bombers. I filmed them and recorded their desire for peace. They displayed no hate or feelings of revenge. One of these soldiers, a father of four, saved the lives of a large number of civilians when he prevented a suicide bomber alighting a Jerusalem city centre bus. He is soon to have both legs amputated resulting from this action. His wife says that the Jews feel isolated by the rest of the world and she herself believes from reports she sees and hears that they are hated. This is the view taken by most of the survivors of terrorism that I spoke to.

  12.  I interviewed a bereaved father in Jerusalem, Arnold Roth, whose teenage daughter had been blown up as she was having a meal with her friend and UK National, who also died in the pizza restaurant. Mr Roth had been abused by the British press and had been humiliated by European officials. Yet he maintained his dignity and neither showed hate or retribution to either his daughter's murderer or to those who showed him little or no compassion.

  13.  I visited an army checkpoint in Northern Samaria and saw soldiers showing patience and respect when dealing with Palestinians travelling through. One Palestinian family, a father, mother and three-year-old boy were delayed due to father having no papers enabling him to pass. They were allowed to walk around despite the father being abusive to the soldiers. The heat of the day was affecting the child and I went to my vehicle to take my water in order to give it to the child. As I approached the family a soldier was already giving the family a drink of water to reduce heat, not only from the child but also the emotions of the father.

  14.  I visited a family in Hermish who had lost their 15 year-old daughter Hadas Turgeman as a result of a terrorist entering their village and shooting her as she walked to visit her friend. This family were living in debt due to the lack of work in the area resulting from the Palestinian threat. Their son has an eating disorder rooted in the fear that they are living under and the family are consequently dysfunctional. Mother is again pregnant. This family live in this particular community which originally housed 80 families but due to the activities of terrorists has now been diminished to a community of only 30. They expressed no hatred whatsoever towards their Palestinian neighbours, only a desire to live in peace.

  15.  On route to that community I had been delayed by IDF soldiers who had discovered a bomb on the road to the community, which they later dealt with allowing me access. This was one of many unknown incidents that occur in such areas without the knowledge of the rest of the world. There are between 20 to 30 such warnings per day of such bombs and unofficial figures estimate around a dozen foiled attacks per month.

  16.  The checkpoint I was delayed at was near Tulkarm and was attacked the following day by a terrorist, as a result three soldiers were injured.

  17.  The IDF soldiers I met are young men and women aged between 17 years and 21 years. They are from many backgrounds. Because of the need to defend their citizens they are being taken away from what should be a very special period in their lives. I also spoke to two reservists who were adult males with families who were carrying out their annual tour of duties. Both said their families were extremely worried about them during this period of national service although they realised the need to protect their nation. One of these men, a teacher, was realistic in giving an account to me that he would rather live in peace with Palestinians than be called away from his family, but he said that it was the only way Israeli's could protect each other from the onslaught of attacks. It was clear to me that these soldiers wanted a peaceful solution that would bring an end for the need to defend civilians in such a way.

  18.  I spoke to both Jew and Arab businessmen in Jerusalem whose main trade was tourism. One Arab was closing his shop due to huge decreases in tourism and a second was considering doing the same if the Intifada continued to affect trade. They both stated that terrorism was to blame for a huge decrease in tourists. These men, who live and trade amongst Jewish businessmen in the same area, could not understand why Palestinian Arabs could not take up the same opportunities to live and work amongst the Jews as they themselves do. Arabs make up 20% of the population and have historically carried out business together. One Arab trader recommended a Jewish business from where I should purchase a gift that he himself did not supply.

EVIDENCE GATHERED FROM OTHER SOURCES

  19.  IMF funding intended for projects that will enhance the quality of life for ordinary Palestinian people has been diverted and £560 million of that funding has been traced to accounts controlled by Yasser Arafat who has a reported personal fortune of $300 million making him the sixth wealthiest man in the World. These reports are supported by CBS, see www.cbsnewscom/stories/2003/11/07/60minutes/main582487.shtml and Forbes Magazine 17 March 2003 which states the following about the Palestinian leadership "they have feasted on all sorts of funds flowing into the PA, including aid money, Israeli tax transfers, and revenue from a casino and Coca-Cola bottler. Much of the money appears to have gone to pay off others [from] payments to alleged terrorists and $1,500 in "tuition" for security officers, to $10 million, reportedly paid by a company controlled by friends of Arafat, for a 50-ton shipment of weapons from Iran. Take the money out of his hands, reform a corrupt financial system and you could reduce the violence."This report makes a very interesting point and should make those who send funds to the Palestinian authorities extremely hesitant about the route that money takes. The reports that claim that Palestinian people are living on support calculated at $2 per day do make one concerned that either that figure is totally exaggerated or there is mass misappropriation of the billions of dollars given in aid as since the Oslo accords in 1993. The EU alone has given around

4 billion since that time but there is little evidence of it being received by ordinary Palestinians.

  20.  There is a mass of evidence pointing to the misappropriation of funding by those in The Palestinian Authority such as Nabil Sha'ath, the PA Foreign Minister who installed an expensive air conditioning system in his Ramallah home from the funds of the Palestinian Ministry of Finance. Muntar Al-Sharif, Deputy Minister of Health, was recently arrested on suspicion of embezzling $500,000. Abd Al-Rahman Hamed, Chairman of the Palestinian Energy Authority and former Minister of Housing, is involved in the importation of equipment for a power plant, financed by European loans. He has procured 100 dunams (Parcels of land) near Beit Hanun, total value is estimated at $2 million.

  21.  Funding by organisations such as Christian Aid who are using Non Governmental Organisations as partners is clearly being used to promulgate biased views and opinions. Such organisations fail to take into account any of the evidence pointing to the diminishing standards of living of the Israeli's, many of whom as already stated are suffering from increasing poverty, as well as rising mental health issues. Concerns such as these are highlighted by an executive order on the financing of terrorists number 13224 issued by President Bush on 24 September 2003. This order requests tax exempt organisations such as charities who partner Palestinian NGO's to include in their agreements a certification regarding financing which would ensure that none of their funding would be used in any way to support terrorism in whatever form whether directly or indirectly through propaganda or education. Palestinian NGO's have been outraged by this request, which in light of the evidence of misuse of funds is a reasonable request for any Government or organisation to make, and should naturally be a condition by all parties who send or receive financial support.

  22.  Evidence of an increase in prosperity amongst the Palestinian people under Israeli government as opposed to when they were governed by Jordon is clearly shown in statistics that infant mortality declined from 35 deaths per 100 live births in 1968 to 18.1 deaths in 1991. The ownership of washing machines per family unit rose from 3% in 1967 to 91% in 1992.

  23.  Poverty amongst the Palestinians since September 2000 when they came under the total control of the Palestinian Authority has increased despite world's sponsors sending them millions of pounds worth of aid annually.

  24.  Israel's economy is also affected by the current hostilities. The immediate future for the economy appears serious. Shuki Abaramovitch, the previous chief economist of the Israeli Manufacturers Association and currently a director of an Investment Bank, Ilanot Bituach, stated in July 2003 that Israel had lost some $8 billion since the September 2000. Tourism which is a former major source of income has deteriorated to such an extent that Hotels and businesses have been forced to close. The World Bank noted that Israel's GDP had fallen by 9%. Many Israeli's I spoke to state it was impossible because of financial restraint for them to travel abroad. Statistics to date show that fewer Israelis have travelled abroad in 2003. Imports of consumer goods have plummeted, along with purchases. Numbers in the construction industry have also fallen. Unemployment has risen by over 50%. The private sector alone has laid off over 100,000 workers, especially in the highly lucrative high tech industries.

  25.  Nothing justifies terrorism; however many naively claim that terrorism has its roots in poverty giving it some validity. With this in mind I have examined the suicide bombers themselves. The evidence shows that motives are not isolated to a concept of poverty and desperation, as we are led to believe by media, politicians and by many organisations here in the West. For example the bomber who murdered the 21 civilians, including a family of five of three generations in Maxims restaurant Haifa on 4 October, Hanadi Jaradat was a trainee lawyer. Her attack was rooted in revenge not from hunger.

  Her family praised the attack and encouraged others to act similarly. Sixty people were injured in that attack, two of whom I have kept contact with and who are suffering extreme Post Traumatic stress. The perpetrator of a bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem on 9 August 2001 was Iz-a-din Al-Masri, a 22 year old Arab from Akabe in Northern West Bank. He was from a wealthy Arab family and was assisted in the murder of 15 innocent Israelis, mostly women and children as well as the maiming of 130 others, by three accomplices. Ahlam Araf Tamimi, now 23 years of age, was the first female to be recruited by the Islamic Hamas movement. She planned the bombing and escorted Iz-a-din to the restaurant. The second accomplice was Abdullah Gamal Barghouti a 29 years old Jordanian. The third was Mohammed Douglas 30 years a student of Communications. Neither oppression nor poverty played any part in these most dreadful of attacks, simply hatred.

  26.  I have over the last three years studied misinformation and lies told about the Jews since 150 BC and teach on such matters. These range from propaganda and lies regarding the Jews religious activities to lies and misinformation regarding current military and security matters. Blood libels that can be traced back to England in 1,144 continue to be published in Arab newspapers even in England today. Lies and misinformation regarding such incidents as the battle at Jenin in April 2002 continue to prevail in the world press and in some cases in Political circles. That particular incident was reported amongst Politicians and the media that between 3,000 and 5,000 innocent Palestinians had been killed by aggressive IDF soldiers. This affected Christians in my own circle as well as many other groups and tainted their understanding as did the historic libels affect the people of their own day. When the truth was known as a result of the United Nations enquiry which proved that 52 Palestinians, mainly terrorists had been killed, it was too late; the damage against Israel was already done and perceptions about the IDF had been made.

  27.  Palestinian children are being abused as they are subjected to misinformation of a highly political nature within their educational system. This is illegal by UNESCO standards. Summer school training camps for school children are opportunities taken by the Palestinian Authority to teach hate to the Children. The evidence of the existence of these camps is readily available and shows abuses towards children by building aggression and simulating the murder of Jews to the extent of even physically abusing the child.

  28.  Teaching materials in schools indoctrinate children into a belief that Israel does not exist and that Jews are defiled and to be destroyed. The schoolbooks currently being used are tools to inspire hate and suicide bombing as well as misleading the child. These books are given credibility by including within the cover of each book an acknowledgement thanking such organisations as UNESCO and such Governments as Italy and Belgium for their financial support in producing this material. There are at least eleven books published in the last two years that have been introduced Palestinian children, which teach lies and misinformation bringing about a hatred towards their Jewish neighbours.

  29.  This teaching both in School and in the camps is financed to an extent by charitable giving from the West. It is the fuel that will keep hatred burning in the area at least until the end of the lifespan of the generation that is receiving it. Such is the concern throughout the world about the financing of Palestinian education that Ron Gray the National leader of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada has written to his own government this month to request that no more funding be given for education in Palestinian schools until such teaching has ended. Canada has since 1993 given over $165 million dollars to Palestinian education projects.

  30.  Terms, names and references used by officials, media and aid organisations have an important role to play in attitudes. The current references to the "Wall" infer a permanence and implant such pictures as the Berlin wall in the mind of those who read such references. The so-called wall I saw was in fact a fence. This gave me the understanding that this was a temporary structure and I was assured that was the case should acts of terrorism cease.

CONCLUSIONS

  31.  The ordinary Arab and Jew are desperate for peace. During the peace leading up to the beginning of these hostilities in September 2000 these groups lived in an environment that was ever increasing in prosperity and quality. The Arabs and Jews living and working at peace in Israel are evidence that this is possible even today after all the killings. Terrorism is without doubt the sole contributor to Palestinian and Israeli poverty.

  32.  Despite many of them being victims, the Jews are not vengeful and hold no hatred towards the Arabs. They express a desire to live peaceably in their own land alongside Arabs. They see the fence as simply the only protection they have against the terrorist. They do not look upon it as permanent but a means of protection until such time as the terrorist stop their aggression.

  33.  There is poverty both in Jew and Arab communities caused primarily by the activities of the terrorists and the resulting defence of Israel.

  34.  There is a culture of reporting and publishing of opinions by media officials and certain aid organisations in favour of Palestinians that is giving credibility to the cause of the terrorist and thereby encouraging a prolonging of the hostilities. Such reporting indoctrinates the reader and solidifies attitudes against Israel in the minds of not only of those in the Middle East but also in the West. This also causes a mentality of giving materially only to Palestinian needs when it is clear both Israelis and Palestinians are experiencing hardships and therefore funding should be directed towards both.

  35.  Publications which are incorrect and damaging such as the blood libel published in Al-Riyadh on 10 March 2002, the cartoon of Mr Sharon eating a child published by the Independent newspaper on 27 January 2003 and the articles of mass killing in Jenin all of which are clearly wrong and misleading are causing and encouraging world-wide hatred of the Jews.

  36.  The current terminology used by those who have an interest in the region is causing suspicion and a misunderstanding of the intentions of Israel government and its people.

  37.  Finances given by both Government and non-government organisations are being misappropriated by Palestinian Officials in such sums that there is increasing poverty amongst the Palestinians.

  38.  Finances from aid organisations who are, in some cases, using partner organisations to deliver them, are often diverted and are being used to fuel violence and abuse children by incorrect and inhumane methods of teaching.

  39.  The teaching in the schools and particularly in the summer camps is simply planting the seeds of hatred in the children of a nation and would never be accepted in Britain. Its intention is that, for the foreseeable future, there will be a hatred of the Jewish people by Palestinians.

  40.  Some of those finances are also being used to promulgate information, which is unbalanced and favours the Palestinians to the detriment of Israelis who are also suffering.

  41.  Finances from Muslim charitable organisations held even here in the UK are being directed towards such organisations as Hamas who are clearly responsible for the deaths of may innocent Israelis.

RESOLUTIONS

  42.  We should understand that terrorism is the key issue affecting poverty amongst the Palestinians and Israeli's alike. It should be made perfectly clear that neither suggestions of poverty or impoverishment will be accepted and that there is no vindication for acts of hatred. The teaching of such hatred should also be highlighted and openly condemned.

  43.  Both Jews and Arabs should be considered equally by those organisations charged with the responsibilities of helping the impoverished. To this end an enquiry should be carried out that looks at the issues surrounding the decline in the economy in Israel and its effects, in order to allow organisations to distribute finances in a more balanced and fair way.

  44.  All efforts should be made for monies that have been given to the Palestinian's to help fund their needs, but which have been misappropriated, to be recovered and reintroduced. There should be International condemnation of the perpetrators in an effort to deter such diversions occurring in the future.

  45.  There should be a close and detailed record of the actual use of finances given to the Palestinians by Official/Government organisations, Aid and partner organisations to prevent monies being used for the purposes of terrorism whether it be in training or teaching or propaganda. These finances should not in any way be used for bias or unbalanced reporting as is currently the case.

  46.  There should be tighter control on press publications and reports from organisations that are obviously incorrect and which stir up hatred. Every effort should be made to establish truth before a report is published and controls should be in place to prevent anything improper being introduced to the general public.

  47.  The question of terminology should be addressed and agreed. Terms that indicate the true situation should be used by all organisations seeking peace in the region and not terms that would mislead or give an incorrect impression.

  48.  Organisations who publish documents and articles to attract support from the general public should be examined regularly to ensure fairness.

  49.  There should be an enquiry to look specifically at child abuse among the Palestinians especially in the education system. The consequences of a continuance of such abuse should be severe. Any finances whatsoever that are currently used for Palestian education in this way should be withdrawn immediately. Such authorities who receive charitable aid should account for the teachings of their young people and if such teaching is found to be harmful to the child then these finances should be withdrawn. It may be considered that in the short term this will adversely affect the child's material wealth but in the long term it would ensure the child's survival and the survival of its neighbours.

November 2003




 
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