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February 14, 1989 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-02-14

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OPINION
Tuesday, February 14, 1989

Page 6

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 96 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
Hof the Daily.

Perspectives on

Palestine

Up in the air?

PAN AMERICAN Airlines flight 103
captured front-page headlines when, on
December 21, 1988, the passenger jet
disappeared from radar screens, and
crashed in a ball of fire in Lockerbie,
Scotland. The days and weeks follow-
ing the air disaster- which took the
lives of all 259 passengers and crew,
as well as 11 Lockerbie residents-
were filled with feverish speculation as
to possible causes.
.Investigators had barely begun sift-
ing through the wreckage, spread
across hundreds of square miles of
Scottish bog, when U.S. government
spokespeople and network newscasters
pinned the blame on "terrorists," pos-
sibly Palestinians.
Although it now seems certain that
Pan Am 103 was brought down by a
sophisticated explosive device, no
leads as to those responsible for the
apparent murder of the 270 innocents
have been made public.
No leads, that is, with the exception
of a recent CBS News report,
"conclusively" placing the blame on
Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine-
General Command (PFLP-GC), a non-
PLO, Palestinian political/military or-
ganization.
CBS asserted that Jibril's motivation
was a desire to discredit PLO chair,
Yasser Arafat, by conducting a cam-
paign of worldwide terrorism, which
would result in a U.S. pullout from
talks with the PLO.
According to CBS, this "scoop" was
provided by, "Reliable sources within
the international terrorist community."
In an age when "objectivity" is touted
as 'the cornerstone of journalistic in-
tegrity, it is suspiciously convenient for
a major network to about-face and refer
to a "terrorist" as "reliable".
It is unclear who constitutes the
'"international terrorist community."
. From the very first reports regarding
flight 103, the U.S. public has been
barraged by most of the mainstream
media with the age-old myth of the
Palestinian/Arab as terrorist while re-
sponsible, accurate investigation has
gone by the wayside.
How else can it be explained that
CBS failed to mention that the PFLP-
GC has no history of such activity, and
has aimed its armed actions almost ex-
clusively against Israeli military targets
inside Israel?
It is the duty of the news media to
publicize information regarding such
events as the downing of flight 103.
However it is certainly not within our
mandate to make dangerous specula-
tion, and present as fact stories based
on questionable sources.
. If CBS felt it possessed sufficient
evidence to broadcast the PFLP-GC
story in such a manner, the network

was certainly duty-bound to investigate
another angle which was considered by
the Israeli newspaper, Al-Hamish-
mar, organ of the Zionist Mapam party.
"Faced with the U.S. decision to
open a dialogue with the PLO, Israel is
falling into a position where terrorist
attacks on U.S. targets would be in its
interest, an alternative to [opening] its
own talks with the PLO." (Al-
Hamishmar, 12/29/88.)
If the Mossad (Israeli equivalent of.
the CIA) or other Israelis were indeed
responsible for the crash, the reasons
for South African Foreign Minister,
Pik Botha, (a close Israeli ally), and a
group of Hassidic Jews' cancelling
their reservations on flight 103 at the
last moment, may be understood.
A direct informational link between
Israel and Pan Am involves Arik Arad,
former head of security for El Al Israel
Airlines, who, along with a Mossad
operative, conducted a survey of Pan
Am security in 1986, in which he
warned of a possible midair explosion.
The survey was conducted in part at
Frankfurt airport, the point of origin of
flight 103.
Of course any ties between Israel and
the explosion remain, as yet, spec-
ulation lacking hard proof. But such
speculation is certainly as news-worthy
as a report gleaned from "international
terrorist sources."
In addition, the Israelis have good
reason to specifically want to discredit
Jibril and his guerillas.
For many years, the PFLP-GC has
been conducting some of the most ef-
fective attacks against the Israeli mili-
tary.
In 1987, a lone member of this group
flew under Israeli radar in a hang
glider, penetrated an army base, and
killed 6 soldiers, spreading panic
throughout the country.
More recently, a scantily-reported in-
vasion of Naameh, Lebanon, by one
thousand Israeli troops was thwarted
by Jibril's fighters who shot down a
helicopter gunship and captured eigh-
teen Israeli soldiers.
Branding a Palestinian organiza-
tion- which is opposed to Yasser
Arafat's policy of talking to the U.S.-
as ruthless, anti-peace terrorists, can
only covertly further Israel's already
overt effort to undermine the PLO-
U.S. dialogue, and discredit one of its.
most troublesome enemies.
Notwithstanding, if circumstantial
evidence does indeed exist hinting at a
PFLP-GC role, this information should
be exposed as speculation, in addition
to the Israeli angle.
In either case, the issue must be ap-
proached with extreme caution in order
to avoid perpetuating fallacies about
one party, while glossing over the his-
tory of another, whose record, to say
the least, is far from spotless.

Prof. Norman Finkelstein teaches at
Brooklyn College in New York. He re-
ceived his doctorate from the Princeton
University Politics Department for a the-
sis on the theory of Zionism. He is widely
credited with exposing Joan Peters' From
Time Immemorial as a hoax. Finkelstein
is speaking today at 4 pm at Rackham
Ampitheater. He spoke yesterday with
Daily news staffer Jonathan Scott.
Daily: A growing body of original re-
search has come out of Israel the last three
challenging many accepted "truths" about
the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian con-
flict. You've been involved in some of
this research. Could you explain the nature
of it?
Finkelstein: So far as what's now
called the revisionist scholarship is con-
cerned, I think one of the most important
features of that scholarship is that it's in
effect punctured some of the most endur-
ing myths about the origins of the con-
flict.
To take one, which has been promoted
relentlessly for the past 40 years, is the
question, what happened to the Palestini-
ans in 1948. The general view has been
that, in 1948, the Palestinians fled on or-
ders from the Arab governments - they
fled because of what were called broadcasts
from the Arab radio, calling on them to
leave Palestine. The literature now shows
that there wasn't a scratch of evidence to
support the claim that there were Arab
broadcasts.
Now I want to make two comments.
First of all, the fact that there weren't
broadcasts had already been proven almost
20 years ago... Even though all the evi-
dence showed, as long as 20 years past,
that there were no Arab broadcasts, this
fact had absolutely no impact on the
literature and the discussion of the topic. It
was only recently, when the Israeli scholar
in particular - there are a couple - but
in particular, Benny Morris, had published
his book, namely, The Origins of the
Palestinian Refugee Problem, that it was
accepted these broadcasts had never oc-
curred.
So first of all, one interesting fact is
that it required a sort of an imprimatur of
an Israeli scholar before this fact would be
documented. And as I say, it was already
known 20 years ago.
The other interesting point is that here
comes an Israeli scholar and he totally de-
molished the most enduring myth about
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, namely
that the Palestinians had fled of their own
volition in 1948, and his book had virtu-
ally no impact in the U.S. And that is, I
think, a very revealing insight into the
whole nature of intellectual discourse in
the U.S. on the Middle East conflict...
Serious scholarship on the Israeli-Pales-
tinian conflict has absolutely no impact
on discussion in the U.S. What has im-
pact are either threadbare hoaxes like Time
Immemorial, potbroilers like The Siege,

or coffee table items like Bernard
Avishami's, The Tragedy of Zionism.
Among the important insights that the
whole revisionist literature provides, this
is a rather interesting one.
What the revisionist scholarship has
also revealed is that, first of all, Israel was
not the underdog - was not the kind of
underdog we imagined it to be in the 1948
War. And secondly, that the claim Israel
has been forever searching for Arabs for
whom to negotiate a settlement to the
conflict - that they've never been able to
find these negotiating partners - is sim-
ply untrue.
A settlement of the conflict was avail-
able almost immediately after the '48 War,
but a settlement required some sort of res-
olution of the refugee problem; and also,

Nowadays what you hear Palestinians
and the PLO saying is, they want to de-
mocratize the Israeli state. And I much
prefer that formulation, the idea of democ-
ratizing the Israeli state, because the fun-
damental ideological underpinnings of the
Israeli state are indeed not democratic. In
particular, the founding claim of the state
of Israel that it is a state of Jewish people
and not of its citizens. That's clearly not a
democratic formulation.
D: So one can be anti-Zionist on the
principle that a Jewish state is undemo-
cratic, and not be anti-Jewish?
N.F.: Right - If you identify Zionism
with the principle of a Jewish state. And
one of the points I wanted to make was,
there are many people, at least at one

6
6

6
6

Finkelstein (right) with his
Mousssa was imprisoned in
camp, soon after Finkelstein

West Bank host Moussa, August, 1988.
Ansar III, an Israeli desert concentration
departed, apparently for hosting him.

it required some sort of Israeli withdrawal
from the territories it had conquered in
violation of the U.N. Partition Plan.
And these two issues - namely the
refugees: allowing them to return or com-
pensating them, and the question of
returning to the borders designated by the
U.N. Partition Plan, or at least making
some sort of territorial adjustments - on
those two issues, Israel was adamant.
D: Those critical of Zionism - those
who call themselves anti-Zionists - are
often accused of being anti-Jewish because
Zionism, they say, represents Jewish na-
tionality and embodies Jewish ethnicity.
So if you're opposed to Zionism, if you're
against what it stands for, you're, in ef-
fect, anti-Jewish -
N.F.: - Well, my feeling is, there was
a time that the PLO and its supporters
talked about de-Zionizing the Jewish state,
and it was a phrase, besides being
'unsolicitous, there seemed to be some-
thing bothersome about the phrase.

time, who called themselves Zionists but
were opposed, I mean radically opposed, to
the idea of a Jewish state, but called
themselves Zionists.
There was a time when many Zionists
recognized thatathe idea of a Jewish state
was undemocratic. As a matter of fact,
some Zionists identified the principle of a
Jewish state with, at that time, the Ger-
man principle of an Aryan state. They
recognized that in certain fundamental
ways it resembled the kind of exclusivist
state that European anti-Semites were
championing at the same time.
Now the point is that those elements -
the ones who recognized these facts -
were totally marginalized. And now what
you have is individuals who were at one
time clearly identified as Zionists, now
being accused of not only being anti-
Zionist, but anti-Semitic for saying the
same things now as many Zionists said in
the early 1930s and 40s.

a
6

r.h ed__

Don't
publish
rumors
To the Daily:
I would like to comment on
the article which appeared in
Monday's (1/30/89) edition of
the Daily. The piece reports the
opinion of several members of
the community concerning the
issue of CIA involvement with
the Peace Corps. Nowhere,
however, is there any factual
evidence cited to support the
contention that there is any in-
teraction between the two
agencies. At first glance the
article might be taken as an
unsupported editorial which had
strayed off from the op-ed page
of the paper. The sort of
groundless conjecture which
appeared in the piece cannot be
simply dismissed as silly and
inconsequential, however, as it
can impose a very high cost on
the Peace Corps volunteers.
I am aware of several in-
stances in which Peace Corps
volunteers have been threatened
nr harmeA hv nenlewhn he-

people often believe that their
hearsay could be supported by
the facts if only their govern-
ment would permit them to
know the truth.
If the CIA is involved in the
Peace Corps, there would be
none more interested in uncov-
ering this fact than those who
have been volunteers. I believe
that a great majority of those
who join the Peace Corps do
so in order the serve the basic
needs of the poor who find
themselves very much at odds
with the objectives of the CIA
in the third world. From my
experience, I know that Peace
Corps volunteers are aware of
each other's affairs to an al-
most unpleasant degree; I can-
not imagine the CIA being
able to use a volunteer without
he or she being rapidly ex-
posed. I would also point out
that the CIA has not been very
successful in keeping its
operations concealed for a long
period of time. If the Daily or
any of its readers know of any
facts concerning CIA involve-
ment in the Peace Corps over
the last twenty years, please
inform us.
T e.t..n~l P ....n.ratlP th

Update on
the S.B.E.
To the Daily:
On behalf of the Student
Book Exchange, we would like
to thank all of those students
who participated in the Winter
Book Rush 1989. We would
also like to congratulate those
same students on the money
they saved by taking advantage
of the services offered by this
first book rush.
The Student Book Exchange
was extremely successful in its
attempt to offer students the
opportunity to sell used
textbooks to other students at
reasonable prices. The prices
the students asked for the
books were generally more
conservative than those set by
some commercial book stores,
while still surpassing the
amounts these other stores
might offer the seller. Approx-
imately 1,000 students patron-
ized the event, bring
$10,000.00 with them. All of
this money, minus 15% for
sales tax and overhead, went
Af.: n-V ^sit ^ thnc t. nrt

efforts and said they would
support such an endeavor in the
future. There is a future for the
Student Book Exchange. We
will return again next term to
offer you unbelievable savings
at the expense of no one.
We would like to thank Al-
pha Phi Omega, the honorary
service fraternity that supplied
a majority of the labor required.
Without these hard-working
people, Winter Book Rush
1989 would have been impos-
sible. We would especially like
to thank Brad Borland from the
S.O.D.C. and all of the people
who were so willing to make
this event a success.
Many students obviously
benefitted from this event. We
did not. We are a non-profit
organization. A portion of af-
ter-cost proceeds are donated to
Friends, a local A.I.D.S. sup-
port group.
We are very open to any
suggestion or comments about
how we could make this orga-
nization more beneficial to the
student populace. Please ad-
dress all correspondence to
S.B.E. World Headquarters,
1520 Hill Street, Ann Arbor,
MT A21(4

'101

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