Thursday, December 30, 2010

Playing Make Believe

This was submitted to the Connecticut Post as a request for a correction, but instead was published as a letter to the editor.

Between the lines: Everybody's pretending that Mahmoud Abbas is the elected leader of the Palestinian Authority, with the authority to negotiate an agreement, but everyone also knows he's no longer "president" and, besides obviously having no interest in reaching any reasonable peace agreement - he's effectively pointed that out himself by repeatedly saying he'll never compromise and that an agreement would have been reached long ago had he any flexibility, he has no authority.

Palestinian president's time in office disputed

The news item "Quest for peace," published Monday, contained an obvious factual error that should be corrected.

The item incorrectly stated " Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' term expires next month." Abbas was elected to a four-year term in January, 2005 and his term in office legally ended January 8, 2009.

There are some who believe the Palestinian Authority's legislature had the authority to extend his term by one year, but that's highly disputable.

It's equally disputable that it was ever done since the legislature hasn't effectively met since the Hamas coup in Gaza, and even then his term would have ended January 8, 2010. (There are understandable reasons why various parties are pretending otherwise, but those do not change the fact that Abbas' term ended long ago.)

Alan H. Stein, Connecticut president PRIMER - Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting,

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Emek story: An Angry Girl and Her Bodyguard

Avital is a highly intuitive medical clown therapist – or Dream Doctor (known to all as Tila).  Amit is a ten-year old girl who was seriously injured in an automobile accident and lay in Emek’s Department of Pediatric Surgery.  One day she awoke in horror to find a fresh scar from her breast bone to her navel, from emergency surgery to repair her torn intestines and to save her life.  Amit … immobile, angry and mistrusting anyone who came near her was refusing infusions and anything offered – whether medical or of a personal nature.  The energy in her isolated room reeked of confrontation.

Enter Tila.  Within milliseconds (seeing the little girl’s angry face and no words having been spoken) she understood the forces overwhelmingly apparent in Amit’s room and she went into action.  Tila pantomimed extreme anger towards everyone in the room; Amit’s mother, a nurse and a physician – reflecting Amit’s behavior.  She stood between the girl and the others and blocked anyone from coming near.  Tila refused cookies or sweets and acted as if she wanted nothing from anyone.  Seeing her own anger being acted out by Tila, Amit cracked a smile.  The nurse noticed the change and mentioned it.  Big mistake.  Tila began ranting against the nurse and how dare she speak of a smile that was not hers to speak of.  Tila forced everyone out of the room and stood defiantly with her arms crossed in the doorway.  In those frantic moments she had become Amit’s bodyguard and a delicate ballet of trust was set in motion.

The doctor reentered and was immediately accosted by Tila who threatened him with a red and yellow plastic gun, demanding to know what he wanted and why he was there.  Amit saw this and the color returned to her face, her anger having been vented through Tila.  The doctor, fearing for his life, said that he was there to treat Amit.  Tila asked the little girl who still refused his presence and he was forced to again leave the room, followed by Tila who whispered for him to return in about five minutes. 

Tila defiantly returned to Amit’s bedside and asked the girl what she wanted.  Amit said that she wanted to leave, but she couldn’t move.  Tila pulled out a multi-colored note pad and matching pen and began drawing a map and explained how she knew of an escape route they could take to get out.  Amit then said that she wanted to go home, but without a hole in her stomach.  The little girl and her bodyguard then began a discussion about what needed to be done to fix the hole and Tila pretended not to understand.  She called the physician back in and threatened him with the gun as he explained what needed to be done so Amit could go home without a hole in her stomach.  The doc spoke only to the clown and was not allowed top speak directly with Amit.  Upon completion of his explanation, Tila threw him out of the room. 

The medical team soon returned to the room and was ordered by Tila to do exactly what needed to be done.  The atmosphere had changed dramatically as the little girl became self confident, felt that she was in control of her fate and that she was not alone because she had a bodyguard. 

When the nurse said that she needed an enema, Tila demanded that she too wanted one.  Tila complained that Amit got all the attention, was jealous of her impressive scar and that Amit was allowed to have an enema while she was refused.  Amit laughed that her bodyguard couldn’t get what she had.  

Amit was hospitalized in Emek for three long months, but she had a friend and protector.  They took walks together and Tila said to the girl’s mother (with a hidden wink), “We don’t want you to walk with us!”  One day the girl’s infusion vein clogged and she screamed in pain – refusing to let a new physician come near her.  Tila had the girl touch his hands to prove that he really was ok and only then was he allowed to reinsert the needle.  On the day of Amit’s release to go home, Tila made her a party complete with balloons and gifts for everyone.  Amit slowly walked, still bent over, from room to room with a bubble gun – shooting iridescent spheres into the air to make other children smile. 

As Amit was packing to leave, Tila was sad and complained that she had to stay.  She played it until the end.

Tila didn’t come to that little girl to tell jokes, act silly or to try and make her laugh.  Her mission was far more sophisticated. 

Tila (Avital) has a Masters degree in The Performing Arts.  When you support Emek 4 Kids, you also expose our children to the genius of the Dream Doctor.                                            

Thank you.

Larry Rich
Director of Development
International Patients & Public Relations
Israel's Emek Medical Center
Phone in Israel ... 972-04-649 4417
Mobile in Israel ... 972-0505-737 641
Phone in New York ... 646-546 5970
Fax in Israel ... 972-04-652 2642
Mailing address:
Emek Medical Center
Afula 18101

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Letter to the Hartford Courant

This letter was submitted to the Hartford Courant December 4, 2010, but was never published.

To the editor:

I had to laugh at the way, according to the article "Abbas: Self-rule at risk," published Saturday, December 4, the Palestinian Arab leader yet again threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority if the "U.S.-backed peace negotiations broke down."

There are no peace negotiations to break down, since Abbas refuses to engage in peace negotiations with Israel.

Through many years and through many governments, Israel has proven it is committed to peace, making many concessions and expressing the willingness to make even more.

Unfortunately, Israel can't make peace alone; it needs a partner prepared to meet it partway. Even Mahmoud Abbas has effectively said he is not that partner, recently admitting that if he was willing to show "flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago."


Alan Stein

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Helen Thomas’ Shameless Attacks on Israel and Jews

This was submitted as a letter to the editor of the Detroit Free Press. Additional letters may be submitted to

To the editor:

The letters regarding Helen Thomas in the Sunday, December 12 Free Press were very frightening because of the blatant anti-Semitism and excuses for Helen Thomas’ shameless attacks on Israel and Jews.

One-letter skirts around Thomas’ unashamed hate with “… Thomas' principled accomplishments over a lengthy period of time stand above the questionable, politically motivated attempts to dismiss her and diminish all the good that she represents.” Excuse me; what good does she represent except to those that gave her a standing ovation during her anti-Jewish, anti-Israel rant?

Another letter glosses over the bigotry that is alive and well with “She has been out in this world much more than a normal person, and she has been exposed to many more things than the average American, so she just may know more than many” Does her age and experience allow her to revile Jews to an adoring crowd?

Another “I have traveled to Israel and the West Bank, and what I witnessed was an anathema to my American values.” Rather than generalities like “anathema to my American values” let’s see the writer’s examples of an "anathema to my American values" in another letter and while he is at it some examples of the incessant anti-Jewish and Anti-Christian media and school frenzy in the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world that encourages Arab children to murder Jewish and Christian children.

These letters didn’t disguise the letter writers feelings. It wasn’t undercover – it was blatant anti-Semitism of the first order right there for all to see. Joseph Goebbels must be smiling.

Ed Kohl
West Bloomfield, MI

Netanyahu Simply Echoed U.S. Remarks on Jerusalem Status

This letter was published December 16, 2010 in the Waterbury Republican-American.

The Dec. 13 article "Israeli: Jerusalem ours," includes the opinion that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's affirmation of his government's commitment to continue Jerusalem's status as the united capital of Israel, open and shared by all, is "likely to increase friction with" the U.S. government.

Our president and secretary of State expressed the same commitment. I was in Washington, D.C., on June 4, 2008, and heard then-Sen. Barack Obama insist "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." A year earlier, his now secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, wrote "an undivided Jerusalem as (Israel's) capital ... must never be questioned." Israel's leader essentially reiterating the words of U.S. leaders should not cause any friction between the two countries.

In sharp contrast, we hear little of the repeated assertions of Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called "moderate" leader of the Palestinian Authority, that he will never make any concessions on any of the core issues pre venting an Arab-Israeli peace agreement. Abbas' statements go to the heart of the conflict and the reasons the Palestinian Arabs repeatedly have refused to establish their own state living in peace with Israel. They should not remain ignored.

Alan Stein

The writer is president of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting (

Monday, December 6, 2010

Abbas Threatens - Again - To Dissolve the Palestinian Authority

A recent Associated Press article reports that Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority he leads, forcing Israel to re-occupy the West Bank, "if troubled peace talks fail."

The article, like almost all others in a similar vein, fails to mention there are no peace talks to fail and that Abbas has often made the same threat.

During the last two years, except for a brief, three week interlude in September, there have been no peace talks for the simple reason that Mahmoud Abbas has refused to sit down with Israel and negotiate. That three week interlude came near the end of Israel's unilateral and unreciprocated ten-month moratorium on Jewish construction in the disputed territories and was proceeded by an Abbas threat to walk out in less than a month - which he promptly did.

That Abbas refuses to negotiate is rather curious, since a prime focus of negotiations is the establishment of the Palestinian Arab state he claims to crave. On the other hand, one wonders whether he really wants an Arab state, given that he spurned an offer from former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to establish one on the equivalent of all the disputed territory. He acts as if his true goal - as spelled out in the charters of both the Fatah and PLO groups he also leads - remains the destruction of Israel.

His threat to force Israel to re-occupy the Palestinian Authority governed areas serves as a reminder that, for all practical purposes, the so-called Israeli occupation ended in the mid-1990s with the formation of the Palestinian Authority and that Israeli leaders have repeatedly made clear Israel does not want to rule over the Palestinian Arabs.

Ironically, forcing Israel to resume governing the Arabs in the disputed territories, while unwelcome by Israel, would probably be beneficial to the Palestinian Arabs. People tend to forget how much better life got in Judea and Samaria when Israel captured those areas after being attacked by Jordan, which had occupied them from 1948 until 1967.

In what used to be recognized as the most benign occupation in history, schools, hospitals and roads were built. Colleges and universities were opened after none existed under Jordanian occupation. Living conditions improved and life expectancy soared.

These improvements abruptly ended with the outbreak of the first intifada in the late 1980s. Things got worse when the Palestinian Authority took over in the 1990s and then really nosedived in 2000 when Yasser Arafat rejected the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state and launched his brutal terror offensive.

The situation in the West Bank has improved slightly the last few years, after Israel broke the back of the terror offensive which, while aimed at terrorizing Jews, hurt the Arabs more than the Israelis.

One other highly pertinent piece of information was omitted from the article: Abbas doesn't even pretend to have any role in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist group even more radical than Fatah. Thus, even if Abbas had the will to negotiate peace (which he clearly doesn't) and the authority to negotiate peace (which he lacks, since he is no longer the legal leader of the Palestinian Authority), he clearly has no ability to implement a peace agreement.

Ultimately, these are just details which help illuminate the basic, underlying reason the Arab-Israel conflict continues to defy the most dedicated efforts of outsiders trying to help resolve it: peace requires the consent of both sides. While peace has been an overriding goal for Israel since its reestablishment in 1948, it can't make peace unilaterally. As Golda Meir sagely observed, peace will come when its Arab neighbors prize the lives of their children more than they hate Israel.