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Underlying issues scuttle Camp David summit

  • Faced with a daunting task, oppressed Palestinians were unable to deal with their oppressors at the Camp David summit which ended without an agreement.
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By Martin Mann

For all the hoopla about the expected "promise" -- and now the failure -- of President Clinton's Camp David summit, there has been no public acknowledgment of the underlying facts of the Mideast "peace process." This latest round of talks brought together an iron-fisted, insatiable, internationally condemned aggressor power -- Israel -- for "negotiations" with the victims it has subjected to decades of military occupation and brutal "ethnic cleansing," the Palestinian people.

"Americans seem constantly astounded at our Mideastern policy failures," commented Richard Curtiss, a retired U.S. career foreign service officer and a respected expert on Middle Eastern affairs. "This stems from a profound ignorance of the history and background of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, resulting from the mainstream U.S. media's failure to report on it objectively."

One of the myths many Americans have come to believe is that the initial war between the Arabs and Israelis broke out in May 1948, when the British withdrew and troops from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria entered Palestine.

"In fact, the fighting began almost six months earlier. By the time the Arab armies intervened, 750,000 Muslims and Christians had been driven at gunpoint from towns, villages and homes to which the Israeli forces never allowed them to return," said Curtiss.

The Arab military forces were on a rescue mission to halt the terrorizing and expulsion of Palestinian families from their historic homeland by means of brutal public beatings, arson, looting, the murder of local Arab leaders and scattered massacres, said this seasoned American diplomatic observer.

The Israeli lobby and its subservient allies in the mainstream media have never allowed Americans to learn about such pivotal events of Mideastern history. But in Israel, they are being increasingly acknowledged by a new school of revisionist historians such as Simha Flapan.

Flapan's book, The Birth of Israel, details eight specific massacres perpetrated by Israeli militias and terrorist gangs in villages and townships designated as Arab areas by the UN partition resolution.

This murderous campaign of ethnic cleansing culminated in the massacre of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, in which hundreds of unarmed Arab civilians were slaughtered by gunmen, striking terror into Muslim and Christian Palestinians, who fled by the thousands before the advancing Israeli execution squads, Flapan said.

To this day -- to the very collapse of last month's Camp David summit -- Israel has flatly refused to recognize any moral or material responsibility for the plight of the exiled Palestinians, whose number has grown by now, in the wake of repeated waves of Israeli atrocities, to 3.6 million UN-registered homeless refugees.

Nor are Israeli officials willing to even discuss an accounting for the billions of dollars' worth of land, real estate and personal property seized from defenseless Palestinian civilians at gunpoint and subsequently distributed among Jewish immigrants, while demanding huge "re parations" for the losses its co-religionists claim to have suffered in World War II.

The mainstream U.S. editorials following the summit breakdown blamed it largely on the refusal of Palestine Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to abandon all of Jerusalem to Israeli rule. What none of these commentaries noted was that in recent years no less than 11 UN resolutions have condemned the Israeli occupation of this holy city as illegal and a "reprehensible violation of civilized standards."

That harsh censure by the world forum -- a judgment in which the United States officially concurs -- refers to the fact that over the years successive Israeli governments have used a number of tyrannical and inhuman tactics to "cleanse" Jerusalem of its majority Arab inhabitants. Arabs are arbitrarily stripped of their identity documents and forcibly expelled to make room for newly arrived Israeli settlers.

Even State Department memoranda have repeatedly deplored this Israeli strategy as "the quiet deportation of Jerusalem's Palestinian population," a re view of relevant diplomatic documents by this populist newspaper has found.

In the face of this devious, violent and lawless Israeli record, the underlying reality of the Mideast crisis -- which Americans are never allowed to examine, although it is by now recognized by most civilized nations -- Arafat was in an im possible position.

It was, in the view of most impartial observers, personally and politically impossible for Arafat to surrender all of Jerusalem to Zionist occupation or to abandon the cause of the millions of Palestinian refugees whose fundamental right of return to their homeland is still categorically denied by the Israeli government.

Congress also contributed significantly to the summit's fortunate failure by refusing to assure negotiators that Clinton had a blank check to bribe both sides into reaching an agreement.

Congressional staffers and reporters covering the summit said the administration, in numerous telephone contacts, tried and failed to get some word that negotiators could be assured that Congress would approve the promised funds -- which could run to $140 billion in the years ahead.