Palestine Children’s Relief Fund Banquet Fundraiser

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Southern California chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) held its annual “Healing Hands” banquet/fundraiser this past weekend at the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, Ca. Internationally known and acclaimed Canadian-Palestinian attorney, Diana Buttu, was the keynote speaker.

During her address Ms Buttu exposed the fallacy of the so-called Peace Process. The 1993 Oslo Peace accords were a ploy by Israel which gave the Palestinians nothing and permitted Israel to triple its illegal settlements in the West Bank and in Arab East Jerusalem.

While the Palestinians suffer under the continued yoke of occupation, Israel, using the illusion of a peace process, has tricked 34 other nations into establishing diplomatic and economic relations leading to considerable economic benefit to Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), the successor to the pre-Oslo Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has become Israel’s surrogate, subcontracting for Israel in imposing the occupation and doing Israel’s all around dirty work. This has often been called “outsourcing the occupation.”

Ms Buttu said that there were advantages and disadvantages to submitting an application for statehood to the United Nations. For example, of course it would bring renewed attention on an international scale to the suffering of the Palestinian people. But she asked her audience to consider as a considerable disadvantage the wording of President Mahmoud Abbas’ application in which he used the tern “Jewish State”. Is this de facto recognition?

Ms Buttu suggested the following remedies: We need to demand better representation; we need to demand democratic representation so that our leaders are not tools of the occupation and represent the will of the people. Useless negotiations should be replaced with world wide boycott and divestment of Israel.

Ms Buttu is a Fellow at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. She currently resides in Palestine and served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team. In 2004 she was part of a legal team that successfully challenged Israel’s Apartheid Wall before the International Court of Justice. She holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Queens University, Stanford University and Northwestern.

Ms Buttu has appeared on television news shows and is valued for her knowledge, experience and sense of fair play.

Nurse Asma Taha of Loma Linda University Hospital received the Huda Sosebee award for her humanitarian work. She has made numerous trips to the Middle East with the PCRF and has supported the PCRF in the United States.

Huda Sosebee, the late wife of PCRF CEO Steve Sosebee, was the lead social worker for the PCRF and one of its leading humanitarians during her all too brief life. She was known as the “heart” of the organization.

The Southern California chapter’s  leader, Lily Karam, spoke movingly of the children who have been helped and of the need to continue PCRF’s work.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is an internationally known and acclaimed children’s charity, specializing in the Middle East. PCRF is perhaps best known for its medical missions which send teams of doctors and associated medical personnel to countries in the Middle East to treat needy children there. The teams also train Middle Eastern doctors on site.

If a child cannot be adequately treated in his or her home site, the child is transported, at no cost to the parents, to a country where optimum medical care is available.

PCRF announced at last year’s banquet that it would enter the field of pediatric oncology. Plans are progressing in that arena.

PCRF also runs summer camps; has a Woman’s Empowerment Project; has distributed eyeglasses and wheelchairs to children, and does emergency relief.

The accomplishments and projects of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, of which the foregoing is but a brief part, can be found at their web site: <www.pcrf.net.>  The web site also has provisions for making donations.

13-40

Sovereignty and a New Reality

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Palestinian Recognition at the U.N.

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Washington–Your reporter has devoted much time to the (progressive) Israeli position on any possible peace discussion with the rightful Arab claimants to the Holy Land.  The Palestine Center, housed in the American capital city, has given your narrator the opportunity to voice the opposing Palestinian position on their march to recognition towards their legitimate status at next month’s meeting at the United Nations.

“Ambassador” Maen Areikat gave a formal speech on his “country’s” formal position on a potential declaration next month of his country’s independence in New York City a month ago here in the District of Columbia with the most knowledgeable legal expert on Ramallah’s right for national agency, Professor John Quigley.  

This, presented in July, was part of the Palestine Center’s public examination of what they termed “The Arab Spring becomes the Palestinian Autumn” — something your scribe does not as yet subscribe.

“Ambassador” (your raconteur only puts parenthesis around his title because Areikat represents a stateless State, and his credentials may not be officially recognized here in D.C.) Mean Areikat is the main PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) representative in the U.S. officially commissioned with the rank of Ambassador by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority (PA). 

He has held high positions in negotiating teams and delegations with the Israeli occupiers.   Maen, also, served as Desk Officer over English-speaking powers within the PA’s Orient House’s International Relations Department.

From your author’s recent research on Israel, the attitude of the Palestinians going directly to the U.N. on Manhattan’s River for an official acknowledgment of their natural entitlement is anathema to Tel Aviv.  As John Quigley pointed out, the Israeli parliament (or Knesset) recognized the PLO as  representing a State by recognizing the legitimacy of the Oslo Accords or the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arraignments or more succinctly the Declaration of Principles (DOP) of September 13th 1993.  Further, under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, the Turks under their then Ottoman Empire ceded their former territories (including Palestine) as States to the (former) League of Nations who gave them in trust to the victorious (post-)World War I European Empires as temporary Mandates. 

Erekat noted, whatever,  the Security-Council does not have the right to recognize or deny nationhood, but it must be passed by two-thirds of its members to be sent on to the General Assembly (GA) , but, if it does pass the initial hurdle, it will most likely be bureaucratically shunted into a Committee.  Here, this Committee can be slowed down in referring it to the General-Assembly. 

The leading legal expert on this process this process is Professor John Quigley of Ohio State University in Columbus.  Besides the law, Quigley’s interests includes human rights; and, thus, Palestine.

Professor Quigley simply states that, after the matter has been referred to the General-Assembly without obfuscations, the Security-Council has to defend their position on whether to grant Statehood or not to the G.-A.   This can actually go back and forth between the two bodies for some time.

The Ambassador showed that it is only the G.-A. that can bestow the legal status of Statehood, and that standing can have several different levels.  Under the U.N. Charter the U.S. can’t say  “We don’t like it [our bid], or give Israel more time to make peace.”  Both of these are invalid under the United Nations’ Charter. 

There is a question of what exactly is legally binding because the Charter is ambiguous here:  It is not clear whether the General Assembly has the authority to admit a country into the U.N. without the Council’s approval to do so, and there has been no precedent to establish it one way or the other.  To continue the pun we are proceeding on uncharted ice.

Only Israel is claiming that this move is unilateral.  It is not so, as the Ambassador declares, “ We are going for full admission into the United Nations to be acknowledged as a sovereign entity!”    In the General Assembly the Palestinians only require a plurality of fifty (percent) plus one.  Debate is proceeding back home in Ramallah on which course to proceed.  According to the District of Columbia, the U.S. insists that Palestinian State’s status should only come through negotiation, but negotiations for Tel Aviv denotes the avoidance of the two-country agreement whereas Palestine advocates a dual realm resolution by fighting against the unjust Settlements.  The real cost of the Occupation is borne by the international commune.  This is “Not an effort to isolate Israel,” for “We are committed to non-violent peaceful resistance, but we shall not tolerate the Occupation!”

The Right Honorable Maen Areikat continued, “The only way we shall reconsider [this bid for recognition] is if the community of nations can guarantee our security; then, discussions can go on in good faith.”

Quigley, further, adds that, if Palestine achieves its place amongst the family of sovereign states, the War Crimes committed against the Canaanites can be brought before the International Court under the Treaty of Rome of 2003.

If Palestine would be welcomed into that august body on the Hudson, then, as a sovereign nation, “We would have [to have] responsibilities,” too, Areikat stated.  “We would [then] have to follow the U.N. Charter,”  Conversely, “The Quartet [the  nations acting as interlopers between Tel Aviv and Ramallah – the United States, the United Kingdom (U.K.), the Russian Federation, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations  as a coordinator] is concerned about [this forthcoming] September[‘s confrontation], for [it is bound] to be more favorable to the Arabs.  It is a foregone conclusion that Ramallah will gain the fifty plus one in the General Assembly guaranteeing a Palestinian nation, but alternatively, they can merely grant Observer  Status; but, thereby, we shall gain international legality,” also.

Areikcat said, “We may just be headed for New York  as a rouse..[but we have the ]the right to tell…people our options!”  Concluding, “We can move towards independence!…We have rights under the U.N. “  Then, “We can move forward towards [true] Independence…We’ll have our rights under the U.N.!”  There “will be a change in international relations.  In 1948,Israel agreed to be a neighbor of a bordering Arab State.  The PLO’s position is a two-State solution!”  Ultimately, the agreement will be made between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Although there is EU support, His Excellency felt the European vote is in question.

13-33

US Envoy Writes of Israeli Threats

April 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Courtesy Barbara Crossette

john_gunther_dean In the wake of the accusation by Chas Freeman that his nomination to lead the National Intelligence Council was derailed by an “Israeli lobby,” a forthcoming memoir by another distinguished ambassador adds stunning new charges to the debate. The ambassador, John Gunther Dean, writes that over the years he not only came under pressure from pro-Israeli groups and officials in Washington but also was the target of an Israeli-inspired assassination attempt in 1980 in Lebanon, where he had opened links to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Dean’s suspicions that Israeli agents may have also been involved in the mysterious plane crash in 1988 that killed Pakistan’s president, General Mohammed Zia ul Haq, led finally to a decision in Washington to declare him mentally unfit, which forced his resignation from the foreign service after a thirty-year career. After he left public service, he was rehabilitated by the State Department, given a distinguished service medal and eventually encouraged to write his memoirs. Now 82, Dean sees the subsequent positive attention he has received as proof that the insanity charge (he calls it Stalinist) was phony, a supposition later confirmed by a former head of the department’s medical service.

Dean, whose memoir is titled Danger Zones: A Diplomat’s Fight for America’s Interests, was American ambassador in Lebanon in August 1980 when a three-car convoy carrying him and his family was attacked near Beirut.

“I was the target of an assassination attempt by terrorists using automatic rifles and antitank weapons that had been made in the United States and shipped to Israel,” he wrote. “Weapons financed and given by the United States to Israel were used in an attempt to kill an American diplomat!” After the event, conspiracy theories abounded in the Middle East about who could have planned the attack, and why. Lebanon was a dangerously factionalized country.

The State Department investigated, Dean said, but he was never told what the conclusion was. He wrote that he “worked the telephone for three weeks” and met only official silence in Washington. By then Dean had learned from weapons experts in the United States and Lebanon that the guns and ammunition used in the attack had been given by Israelis to a Christian militia allied with them.

“I know as surely as I know anything that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was somehow involved in the attack,” Dean wrote, describing how he had been under sharp criticism from Israeli politicians and media for his contacts with Palestinians. “Undoubtedly using a proxy, our ally Israel had tried to kill me.”

Dean’s memoir, to be published in May for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Memoir Series by New Academia Publishing under its Vellum imprint, has been read and approved for publication by the State Department with only very minor changes, none affecting Dean’s major points. Its underlying theme is that American diplomacy should be pursued in American interests, not those of another country, however friendly. A Jew whose family fled the Holocaust, Dean resented what he saw as an assumption, including by some in Congress, that he would promote Israel’s interests in his ambassadorial work.

Dean, a fluent French speaker who began his long diplomatic career opening American missions in newly independent West African nations in the early 1960s, served later in Vietnam (where he described himself as a “loyal dissenter”) and was ambassador in Cambodia (where he carried out the American flag as the Khmer Rouge advanced), Denmark, Lebanon, Thailand (where Chas Freeman was his deputy) and India. He takes credit for averting bloodshed in Laos in the 1970s by negotiating a coalition government shared by communist and noncommunist parties.

He was sometimes a disputatious diplomat not afraid to contradict superiors, and he often took–and still holds–contrarian views. He always believed, for example, that the United States should have attempted to negotiate with the Khmer Rouge rather than let the country be overrun by their brutal horror.

As ambassador in India in the 1980s he supported then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s policy of seeking some kind of neutral coalition in Afghanistan that would keep the American- and Pakistani-armed mujahedeen from establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. For several years after the Soviet withdrawal, India continued to back Najibullah, a thuggish communist security chief whom the retreating Soviet troops left behind. After the mujahedeen moved toward Kabul, Najibullah refused a United Nations offer of safe passage to India. He was slaughtered and left hanging on a lamppost.

It was in the midst of this Soviet endgame in Afghanistan that Dean fell afoul of the State Department for the last time. After the death of General Zia in August 1988, in a plane crash that also killed the American ambassador in Pakistan, Arnold Raphel, Dean was told in New Delhi by high-ranking officials that Mossad was a possible instigator of the accident, in which the plane’s pilot and co-pilot were apparently disabled or otherwise lost control. There was also some suspicion that elements of India’s Research and Analysis Wing, its equivalent of the CIA, may have played a part. India and Israel were alarmed by Pakistan’s work on a nuclear weapon–the “Islamic bomb.”

Dean was so concerned about these reports, and the attempt by the State Department to block a full FBI investigation of the crash in Pakistan, that he decided to return to Washington for direct consultations. Instead of the meetings he was promised, he was told his service in India was over. He was sent into virtual house arrest in Switzerland at a home belonging to the family of his French wife, Martine Duphenieux. Six weeks later, he was allowed to return to New Delhi to pack his belongings and return to Washington, where he resigned.

Suddenly his health record was cleared and his security clearance restored. He was presented with the Distinguished Service Award and received a warm letter of praise from Secretary of State George Shultz. “Years later,” he wrote in his memoir, “I learned who had ordered the bogus diagnosis of mental incapacity against me. It was the same man who had so effusively praised me once I was gone–George Shultz.”

Asked in a telephone conversation last week from his home in Paris why Shultz had done this to him, Dean would say only, “He was forced to.”

Barbara Crossette, United Nations correspondent for The Nation, is a former New York Times correspondent and bureau chief in Asia and at the UN.

She is the author of So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1995 and in paperback by Random House/Vintage Destinations in 1996, and a collection of travel essays about colonial resort towns that are still attracting visitors more than a century after their creation, The Great Hill Stations of Asia, published by Westview Press in 1998 and in paperback by Basic Books in 1999. In 2000, she wrote a survey of India and Indian-American relations, India: Old Civilization in a New World, for the Foreign Policy Association in New York. She is also the author of India Facing the 21st Century, published by Indiana University Press in 1993.