RABBIS PROTEST HALF BILLION $$$ TO P.L.O.
100 ORTHODOX RABBIS DEMAND P.L.O. COMPLIANCE TO COMMITMENTS OR NO MONEY FROM CONGRESS
No Dough for the P.L.O Until They Prove Compliance
The U.S. Can't Fill P.L.O Coffers While the PLO Fills Israeli Coffins
Article by Helen Freedman Senior Staff Writer
Terrorism must be fought, not bought," was the rallying cry of Rabbi Neil Winkler (of Young Israel, Fort Lee,New Jersey), chairman of the delegation of 100 rabbis from four rabbinical alliances.
The International Rabbinical Coalition for Israel, the Young Israel Council of Rabbis, the Rabbinical Council of America, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, and the National Council of Young Israel underwrote and sponsored the Rabbnical trip. Winkler spoke before a large gathering in the Senate Russell Office Building on Tuesday afternoon, June13, 1995. Seventeen different groups, making up the Coalition for Middle East Peace with Security, a broadbased group of Christian, Jewish and secular organizations, sent their representatives to Washington to demonstrate their strong support for Senator Alphonse D'Amato's Senate Bill 915, called the "Middle East Peace Compliance Act of 1995."
Congressional leaders are considering changes in the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act, which expired June 30this year. Senator D'Amato's Act is intended to "bolster peace in the Middle East by making any U.S. assistance to the Palestinians in Gaza and Jericho contingent upon the strict compliance of the PLO with both the letter and the spirit of the commitments it has made since the signing of the Declaration of Principles" [DOP].
The Bill,, written by Randy Fishbein, a consultant to government and industry and former Special Assistant for national Security Affairs to Senator Daniel K. Inouye, is a lengthy, detailed and brilliant statement of every area that must be considered when dealing with the PLO and its relations with Israel and the U.S. It begins with the fact that the PLO has not lived up to its commitments, despite a State Department report which Peace Watch, an independent, nonpartisan organization, called "an attempt to whitewash the continuing PLO violations."
Bill S.915 details the many failures of the PLO: its disregard for any efforts even to convene the Palestine National Council in order to amend the covenant, its failure to prevent terrorism, its failure to prosecute terrorists and its failure to prevent incitement to violence. Barring unauthorized forces, confiscating unauthorized weapons, extraditing terrorists and facilitating the release of Israeli POWs/MIAs are all areas, covered in the Bill, in which the PLO has violated the DOP by refusing to cooperate.
Financial accountability and accountability for past terrorism, where the PLO was responsible for attacks on American citizens, are also discussed in detail. Fishbein has spelled out everything so clearly that the flagrant violations of the PLO, along with it's refusal to meet minimum standards of compliance, should be crystal-clear to the members of Congress.
The Bill's bottom line is the belief that the PLO must be held to the same standards as any recipient of foreign aid. Congress cannot vote to reward terrorism with $500 million dollars of U.S. citizens' tax money. Senator D'Amato's Bill leaves no doubt about the truth of the situation.
Senator D'Amato has been circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to enlist support for his Bill. It summarizes the need for the new Compliance Act, stressing that U.S.assistance should be used only for humanitarian projects to benefit Palestinians living under the control of the Palestinian Authority, and that all assistance must be channeled only through U.S. Government agencies or private voluntary organizations.
After Fishbein's presentation, various rabbis rose to speak. Rabbi Yehoshua Balkany of Bet Yaakov in Brooklyn thanked D'Amato for his steady support of Israel. Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Teaneck, New Jersey, reminded the audience of Arafat's calls for Jihad and the creation of a Palestinian State. He also pointed out the PLO's violation concerning the size of its police force. Although the accords permit 9,000 policemen, the actual number is closer to 20,000. [Ironically,their soldiers are paid by the Israeli government. -Ed.]
The next speaker, Congressman Ben Gilman, was thought to be a backer of the Middle East Peace Compliance Actof 1995 until recently, when he requested a 90-day extension ofthe present Facilitation Act. At the conference, Gilman called the State Department report on the PLO a "whitewash" and said that "Peace in the Middle East cannot be established aslong as the U.S. continues to pretend that the PLO is incompliance." He then promised, "I intend to be there to oversee that compliance."
Esther Levens, head of Voices United for Israel, a group representing 40 million Christians and Jews, spoke pointedly against the $500 million to the PLO, the oppression ofChristians and minorities in Arab countries, and U.S. troopson the Golan. She endorsed the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Implementation Act of 1995, which provides for the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. This Bill, S.770, was presented by Senators Dole, Inouye, D'Amato,Helms, Kyl, Brown, Mack and Specter.
Richard Hellman, representing CIPAC and its 70 millions Christians for Israel, spoke about the PLO funds,amounting to millions, that have been diverted from the Palestinians and deposited into a secret Arafat fund pool. Hellman's rallying cry was "No U.S. Dough for the PLO." He called for a grassroots campaign for D'Amato's bill, and stressed that no U.S. contribution, given only after compliance is shown and after Arafat demonstrates that he can give a proper accounting, should exceed monies given by wealthy Arab nations.
Morton Klein, president of the ZOA, gave a strong review of the PLO's violations, its terrorist activities and its total noncompliance, which he believes "shows no intention ofliving in peace with Israel." Klein reminded us that"appeasement always fails," and finished with the cry, "The U.S.can't fill PLO coffers while the PLO fills Israeli coffins."
In addition to being able to hear the excellent presentations, I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to Rabbi Jay Schwartz, currently the rabbi of Congregation OhavShalom in Manhattan. He will become the rabbi of the Young Israel of Oceanside, New York, in September.
Schwartz filled me in on the activities of the rabbis prior to our 3:30 meeting: they'd all had appointments with senators and congressmen to lobby for the bill. They also had held a prayer meeting, led by Rabbi Hershel Reichman (of Yeshiva University) and Rabbi Moshe Faskowitz (President, Young Israel Council of Rabbis) at theLincoln Memorial.
I sincerely hope that their prayers, a-long with the hard work of Randy Fishbein, the many volunteer workers, Senator D'Amato, his colleagues, and the 20,000 signedletters, urging PLO compliance, gathered by Beth Gilensky and the Jewish Action Alliance, packed and delivered to the members of Congress, will all help to bring some sanity to the situation. The evidence is overwhelming.
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