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March 4, 2010
Israeli-Palestinian talks could start as early as Sunday

Yesterday the Arab League gave the green light for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to engage in four months of indirect peace talks with Israel.

Today, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that the talks could begin as early as Sunday.

Few people know the Middle East as well as Martin Fletcher, a former NBC News correspondent who spent nearly 20 years as the Tel Aviv bureau chief. Daljit Dhaliwal speaks to Fletcher about the latest developments in the peace process.

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…that for some reason was stricken. It is Worldfocus’ privilege to do so, and if I can only hope that Worldfocus will contact me directly via e-mail in order to clarify any possible error on my part.

In the meantime I want to thank you for your conversation. Your heart is clearly in the right place, and as you learn more history, your opinions will grow. I also must correct you on one or two important matters.

Firstly, we do not agree that the 1967 borders should be made permanent, nor do we agree that Jewish Settlement should cease at that border. Israel’s historical borders include the Golan, Sheba Farms, and Judea-Samaria (commonly called the “West Bank”). In King David’s time Israel included Lebanon, Syria, and the “East Bank” of Jordan. If there were a restoration of Israeli hegemony inclusive of all of what was once the Kingdom of King David, that might in modern political discourse be regarded as a “Greater Israel”. Of course in the propaganda that pervades the media today, the term “Greater Israel” is misused to refer to Israel today inclusive of the disputed territories (commonly propagandized to be illegally occupied territories).

I strongly believe that peace in a secular sense will come to much of Palestine (which today already has many Muslim nations such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq), when Israel — with or without international approval — annexes the disputed territories and separates out the “salt from the pepper”. The “salt” is the third of the Arab Palestinians residing in Israeli controlled territory, whether as citizens or not, who prefer to be Israeli and practice peace. The “pepper” is the two-thirds of the Arab Palestinians, who are egged on by their Arab brethren and Muslim brethren in other nations, to wage “Holy War” against Israel.

You are right, that in no way have the Palestinians been given a fair shake.
Do you include Jews in your definition of Palestine? Palestine is the name given to the territories of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Sinai by the ancient Roman Empire during their imperial occupation of these lands. Modern day Britain, France, and Germany imposed the name “Palestine” on these lands as well and then proceeded to carve out satellite nations by the names they are known today, with the exception of Israel, which only achieved begrudging UN approval on the heels of the Holocaust.

My point is that the world denies, that Jews are Palestinian by definition, as is much of the Arab world beyond Israeli controlled borders, as are of course the Arab Palestinians within those borders. This is not a trivial semantic distinction, as it enables the world to incorrectly attempt to process the Arab-Israeli Conflict as an ‘Arab-Palestinian’ conflict. When an issue is framed incorrectly, the issue is misperceived and failure to resolve the issue peacefully and rightly is inevitable. A unified “Palestinian People” never existed in history, ancient or modern, nor does such a unified People exist today, as should be obvious by the violent divisions amongst the various Palestinian Arabs throughout the MIddle East. The attempt to fabricate a State of Palestine is a European idea to enable Europeans to divide and conquer. Like Hitler, they repeat this Big Lie ad infinitum in the media to the point that in the majority the world today perceives David to be Goliath and vice-versa!

Jews, who seek to live in their historical homeland, where they can be protected and retain their own language and customs, are looked at as if they were squatters (the euphemism is “[illegal] settlers”). If there is a jaundiced view, it is that view that fails to see the justice of Jews living in their own homeland. If there is an even more jaundiced view, it is the extortive view that Israel should accept “half a loaf” and not a “full loaf”.


They can talk directly or indirectly till the cows come home. There will be no peace till 56 Muslim states recognize the RIGHT of the Jewish state to exist in peace, and that Jerusalem is its undivided capital. Let them blow all the hot air they want. Israel is there by RIGHT and its capital is as united as Berlin is today. Just as there is no longer an East Berlin and a WEst Berlin, there is no longer an East Jerusalem and a West Jerusalem. Only Jerusalem, the singular united capital of the Jewish state.



Sorry for the typos. I am rather lazy and there should be a “spell check” on this site. Sometimes I think faster than I type




Fiar enoug,

I will certainly |look-up” the info on Wikipedia. Frankly, I enjoy Wikipedia. Any increase in knowledge is welcomed, from my perspective.

A few things: I see you are “both secular and relgious,” sounds good, BUT your argument appears to be weighted overwhelmingly on the “relgious” end of the spectrum.

I certainly don’t fault you for your “religiosity,” but IF we were to remove relgion from the equation (on both sides) MAYBE something could get accomplished (for the better) in the Middle East? You say, “The most compassionate way to make for a non-violent peace requires that Israel maintain it’s historical borders.”

I beleive THAT is the issue: What are the borders that can be agreed upon? You argue from an historical perspective that holds little evidence> You say “archaelogical,” I would disagree with the amount of “evidence” supposedly ascertained thus far. Much of the “evidence” is either conjecture, theoretical, based upon a bias, or edownright disputed (check the evidence).

So…The “border issue,” we agree on. I think there has been uniersal agreement that the borders should be pre-1967, and that ALL settlement activity should stop? THAT is the issue.

As far as equating today’s issues with the Holocaust, THAT is also erroneous. I am an historian, (amateur), but THERE IS NOTHING on this planet that compares with the tragedy of the SHOAH, nothing.

My heart BLEEDS when I see the photos or read the history of THAT inhumanity.

Thus said, let us not use the Holocaust as a rationale or a leverage tool.” Two different time periods and situationsl.

Zionism, from my perspective, is not a bad thing, although the subjugation of a people by another, particularly coming from a “tribe,” with a history of victimization, SHOULD NOT and WILL not be justified.

IF any people know suffering, it is the Jewish diaspora over the centuries. Jews, as a whole should cringe at the thought of oppressing others.

From my perspective, that is what being a Jew is all about. Any Jewish person, for that matter, PERSON cannot tolerate any the EVIDENCE (unbaised) that supports a history (recent) of discrimination, abuse, neglect, and downright obfuscation of TRUTH when it comes to Israeli vis-avis the Palestinians.

Religion, again removed from the equation, thus preventing a “jaundiced eye,” disallows any discussion that suggests the Palestinian people are getting a “fair shake.”

You appear to be educated. There is NO way a person who has read the history of the region, could argue against the FACTS that PROVE Israel is guilty of abuse of privilege.


Let us all pray the God guides these talks and that this is yet another small step towards peace. Amen



I have no problem acknowledging my own bias. But “jaded” and “myopic”?
Certainly not. Also, I dispute the claim that Ashkenazic Jews are not of the original seed of Israel. There is propaganda being perpetrated that all Ashkenazic Jews owe their unique origin to the medieval conversion of the Khazars. For a starting reference on Ashkenazic Jewry, I point you towards the Wikipedia article in which there can be found the following quote: “The theory that the majority of Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of the non-Semitic converted Khazars was advocated by various racial theorists and antisemitic sources in the late-19th and 20th centuries, especially following the publication of Arthur Koestler’s The Thirteenth Tribe.[34][35][36] Despite recent genetic evidence to the contrary,[1] and a lack of any real mainstream scholarly support,[37] this belief is still popular among antisemites.[38][39]”

If the only book I was willing to consult was the Torah, then the dispute would not be about which territory was specified by The Lord as His intended Homeland for the People of Israel; the dispute would be about whether or not any political state of Israel is permitted to exist as a secular state independent of His Ultimate Redemption. This is a real dispute today amongst religious Jews, has been since and prior to the recognition of the modern State of Israel in 1947, and causes great strife between religious Jews, many of whom regard modern Israel as no different or little different than the any other foreign occupation of the Holy Land. My personal belief is that the Holy Land belongs to The Lord, and the He permits as “sojourners” only those, whom He allows. I believe that He allows a Jewish State of Israel today as a long overdue compassion towards Jews. This is a personal belief, not a revelation nor a credo.

You surmised my background, hitting the target but not the “bullseye”. I am both religious and secular in my approach towards Israel and the world, as I am both secular and religious in my education and lifestyle. What breaks my heart the most about the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the daily conflict in the Holy Land specificaly is that millions of Arabs including at least tens of thousands in the Holy Land are probably genetically Jewish owing to both voluntary and forced conversions to Christianity and Islam. More than most realize, the Arab-Israeli Conflict is as much a civil war as it is a war of conflicting cultures. In three thousand years of history there has been much intermingling of the blood of Ancient Israel with all the nations of the world including the Arab nations. The most compassionate way to make for a non-violent peace requires that Israel maintain it’s historical borders as a matter of national viability and that the more extreme amongst the Arab Palestinian population be well paid to resettle amongst their native Arab nationalities from the other Palestinian nations: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. This viewpoint of mine is neither jaded nor myopic and is very focused on our contemporary times. I challenge anyone to bring forth a more realistic, compassionate, non-violent pathway to peace in the Holy Land.

As to the historical factuality of the Tanakh: the historical soundness of the Tanakh is proved again and again by new archaeoligical discoveries. The greater issue goes to how much history is lost [due to the common practice by invading empires’ attempts to destroy the faith, language, history, and culture of the peoples they conquer] by book burning. Neo-nazis and Jew-haters today are hard at work around the globe denying that the Holocaust ever happened, seeking to revise the historical record and seeking to create a fabricated characterization of the State of Israel modeled after Nazi Germany. There is nothing wrong in harkening back to history ancient or modern, only in failing to learn. May the eyes, hearts, and minds of the world be open to expressing compassion for the Jews and Arabs of Palestine.


Andrea Brett,

You certainly have a right to feel taken aback by the suggestion that that “we aren’t sophisticated enough to understand foreign affairs or care to know about international news,” but I believe you (and your husband), as you say, ARE “unusual Americans.”

There is NO reason for you to take the above comment personal. You know, as well as I do that many if not most Americans are just plain misinformed, not concerned, oblivious and downright dumb when it comes to history, politics, and international relations. Heck I doubt you would disagree that many people in this country don’t have a CLUE about domestic issues, let alone what is happening in other parts of the world.



No offense, but you are obviously talking from a biased perspective, and your opinion is rather jaded and myopic.

I would say you are an orthodox American Jew who is unwilling to consult any books beyond the Torah that would disprove your lame position that “the chosen people,” have some right to so-called Judea and Samaria.

I think you must first realize that ther are 3-4 million Ashkenazi in a total population of 8 million!! Many of those people are NOT related to the origianl tribes of Israel.

Check your own history. So try not to harken back to “ancient times.” We are talking about now and in the future.

Besides we really do NOT know how much of the Old Testament (Tanakh) is factual.
Please stop using your religion as a argument to solve this REAL dilemma.


RE#18 – THE SO-CALLED “WEST BANK” IS A DELIBERATE MISNOMER BY WHICH THE WORLD SEEKS TO DIVIDE ISRAEL FROM IT’S OWN HISTORICAL LAND AREA OF “JUDEA-SAMARIA”. Instead of calling for harsh sanctions against Israel — Lord knows, Israel has suffered inhumane ‘sanctions’ for millenia — it is time that the world gave a whole-hearted blessing to Israel. The Cold War gave us the Berlin Wall. It came down and all of Germany was reunited. Israel was never a Nazi Germany. If historical Germany can have the world’s blessing in reunification, then by what calculus (other than a distorted calculus) can the world refuse to call for Israel to once again be completely whole and sanctified as such? The world conversation about the middle east should focus on finding the best ways to officially restore Judea-Samaria to the State of Israel.


Israel is intent on making the West Bank as part of Israel unless the rest of the world says no. Impose biting sanctions on Israel. The talks are a charade.


Solution to end the convolution. Palestinians should convert to Judaism. So simple and yet..


Why talk? We already know that the difference in scriptures cannot be fixed. Also, the scriptures do not explain why it is unacceptable to cause pain and suffering to other living beings. Talks are useless, all parties should admit that they are pit bulls and God is Michael Vick. You can fix stupid and you can’t fix dogma. (no pun intended)



#3 seeks to assassinate the character and integrity of Martin Fletcher and is unmistakably written by a hater of Jews. The alleged “superficial” answers to Daljit Dhaliwal’s questions is more a reflection of the ignorance and bias from which #3 listens. Bias is normal; but, when the bias is wedded to dogma and ignorance, the opinions that result can be ugly, contributing nothing to conversation nor understanding.

#11 also speaks from ignorance and would equate the “ethnic cleansing” perpetrated by Hitler’s Germany with alleged “ethnic cleansing” by Israel of “Palestine”. There is no comparison and #11’s opinion is repugnant, even despite the recognition that the ethnic cleansing of Hitler’s Germany is justly condemned. The Israeli’s have not enslaved, raped, gassed, murdered, nor cremated even one Arab village (Hitler did these things across multiple continents). The majority of the land of Palestine is now known as Jordan, an important Arab nation. Tiny Israel — surrounded by continents of Muslim nations, where in the majority of those nations it is prohibited to be a Jew and live — is yet a democracy, 20% of it’s voting citizenry are Arab Muslims free to be Muslims. One wonders at the sources that #11 chooses to respect as history worth reading. One wonders as well at the light source by which that reading is done. [The Nazis were famous for strapping tightly — during labor — the legs of Jewish women they had raped and impregnated in order to harvest their stretched belly skins from which they then manufactured fine lampshades.]

It is a wonderful thing that the right of freedom of speech — which we enjoy in democratic nations such as Israel and the USA, and which rights are denied in totalitarian societies such as those of Hamas and Fatah — makes it possible for ignorance and blinders to be lifted from the eyes of such as #3 and #11, should they choose to listen and open their eyes, their minds, and their hearts.


To Harrson Picot

Poland and Germany did not give land back to Jews or families of murdered Jews. The much publicized cases of paintings and stolen gold are simply a few notable exceptions. If Israel has any stolen paintings or gold from Palestinians, they should be returned, as should any paintings or stolen gold from Jews who forced out of the Arab countries after 1948.


I agree that America is one of the relatively FEW countries that automatically confers citizenship for just being born here. However, my friend and I are both children of Holocaust survivors born shortly after the war and who were brought to the US a few years later. I was born in a refugee camp in Germany, so I am NOT automatically a German citizen. My friend was born in Italy, and so not only IS he an Italian citizen, but was arrested there while on a honeymoon trip he to Italy many years later. Luckily, he was able to prove that he was a Vietnam veteran from the US military. Otherwise, he might have remained in an Italian prison for not having registered for conscription years before.
Nonetheless, I cannot understand how the 21 Arab countries who actually caused the Palestinian refugee situation in the first place by attacking Israel would not take responsibility by at least granting citizenship at least to those born on their soil! Most of them are Muslim ARABS! It is the responsibility of the Arab states to absorb the bulk of them once and for all.

As for the rest of your post, Israel, like Ireland and Germany, have right of return laws for those of Jewish heritage, just as Ireland has for people of Irish heritage. Israel is the NATIONAL homeland of the Jewish people, not the Arab or any other people.


More of the same nonsense. Showtime.


Martin Fletcher tells what a nice place Israel to visit, but has no comment on the 70 years of ethnic cleansing of Palestine. How about Wrorld Focus interviewing author Llan Pappe (“The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”)? Interviewing Fletcher is like having the KKK 1960s say that Memphis is great place to visit. We justly abhor the ethnic cleansing of Germany, why have World Focus gone soft on it when it is done by the Israelis? The Palestinians can not put up a building without Israeli approval. Treat Palestinians with the same respect you want for yourself. 90% of the land of Israel was acquired by ethnic cleansing. Why would World Focus support returning land a paintings (often not stolen but sold at low prices) to Jews, and not support the return of land to people driven off by rape and murder?



America is one of the few, possibly only, country to extend citizenship to simply being born within its borders. So Lebanon, Jordan, and other Arab countries not extending automatic citizenship to Palestinians born inside their borders is not surprising. As for Israel’s desire to keep families together, that is a courtesy extended only to its Jewish citizens. Israeli Arabs or Palestinians who marry a foreigner have to jump through many hoops to gain residency for their new family, and whether they can ever qualify for Israeli citizenship is another matter.


It is estimated that 30% of the nearly 1 million immigrants were non-Jewish spouses and non-Jewish children because of Israel’s policy of keeping immediate families united.
But the real question never asked is why most of the Palestinians born in Lebanon and most other Arab countries are DENIED citizenship and work rights, and kept in camps which have become their neighborhoods. Why doesn’t Lebanon give citizenship to hundreds of thousands of children of Palestinian refugees? How can people born 62 years later after the fact still be labelled as refugees? I can understand the term Exiles or Diaspora, but “refugee” is a total misnomer. But in fact, many non-Jewish people chose to use Israel as a temporary stop off on their way out of the old USSR to get to Europe or the United States. Some have returned to Russia. In the final analysis, people will go where they feel they have the best opportunities.


Mr. Fletcher briefly mentioned something that I wish he or Ms. Dhaliwal delved into further – the immigration of nearly 1 million Russians (and other Eastern Europeans) into Israel. A substantial number of these immigrants are not Jewish, or forge Jewish papers to gain entry to Israel. Why should they get favorable treatment when compared to the Israeli Arabs or Palestinians, who have lived there for generations? Given that the Jews of Eastern Europe and their gentile neighbors have so much in common, it is seen by the Jewish majority as a handy way of combating the Arabs in a numbers game.


To Tom Ricks
About the role of women in Israel All young women must serve two years in army; men serve 3 plus one month a year (or more) in the reserves up to around age 43 or thereabouts. Arabs, married women, and ultraorthodox seminary students are exempt from conscription, but anyone can enlist from any community. Women have always had FULL equality since day one, and all men and women have had the vote (including Arab men and women) since 1948 when the state was born. Golda Meir was one of the first female heads of state. Every citizen has a vote regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, etc. Christian children of Russian Jewish men whose wives were Christians are citizens under the Law of Return which was amended to include non-Jewish spouses and their non-Jewish children of wives of Jews a long time ago. Some Christians may feel a degree of imaginary discrimination because under Jewish law, a non-Jew cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetary. There are certain minor things that may cause a degree of alienation, but then, what minority anywhere does not feel a degree of alienation in any society where they are not the majority? Jews have felt a degree of discrimination everywhere they have lived, no matter how liberal the society was, because just the fact of being a minority is always a bit unsettling. It only takes one minor slight, real or imagined, to make one feel like an outsider. Otherwise, Israel is as liberal society as it gets.


It’s interesting though, that Warren Buffet, America’s wealthiest and most respected investor felt Israel safe enough to invest $4 billion dollars into an Israeli company Iscar, his only major foreign investment. ANd he’s neither Jewish nor a zionist. Bill Gates and Intel and IBM and a host of other hi-tech companies seem to feel Israel is safe enough and worthwhile enough to run some of their most important R&D centers in Israel. I guess they must know something many Americans don’t. That is, the reality of actual life in Israel which has little to do with the constant “hit” propaganda pieces constantly aired by most international media outlets who pander to vast Muslim audiences in the Middle East and dare not say anything that might put a positive spin on anything that is Israel.


But anyone who is SERIOUS about genuinely knowing what life is like in Israel can ask me. I’ll be more than happy to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


Gee, sorry if anything POSITIVE said about Israel makes so many people uncomfortable. SO anyone who dares say anything positive about Israel is a paid Zionist shill eh? I’ll tell you this. From personal experience, having lived 50 years in New York and ten years in Israel, on a day to day basis, from the point of view of personal safety, Israel was generally much safer. Of course, not if you live near where the rocket fire is coming in. Yes, I also lived there when Saddam’s Scuds were coming down, but thankfully, by God’s grace, there was only property damage in Tel Aviv and only one person died from a heart attack. Israel might not be so lucky next time. But otherwise, in terms of personal safety, I felt much safer most of the time in Tel Aviv than in New York City at that time. New York has gotten a lot safer though since the mid-1990s I must admit.


Martin Fletcher’s 16 years as a newjournalist for NBC has not helped his understanding either of Israel or of Palestine. His very bland and superficial answers to Daljit’s questions gave me absolutely NO insights into how Israel runs on a daily basis (its industries, role of women, the Christian Russians’ now living as a minority of minorities) or Israeli views of the Palestinians, themselves and where most Israelis would like to seen or known as. His comments were only on Israel and then only as touristic comments on how ‘safe’ it is in Israel. Too bad Martin is such a lousy newsman and so obviously a spokesman for Israel; I do hope he is paid by zionist org. for his efforts to airbrush a very troubled and violent society.


I took offense, as an American, to the statement, in effect, that we aren’t sophisticated enough to understand foreign affairs or care to know about international news. Maybe my husband and I are unusual Americans, but we seek out information about what is going around the world, and from sources other than our canned, egotistical and self-centered “top 3” stations available to most folks here. I’m sorry for how most people around the world view Americans. Thank you.


First of all, the international news business was long ago (in the 1940s and ’50s) mostly a serious and sober news REPORTING enterprise. But then it became part of the entertainment business in order to draw wider audiences to make money. And so news reporting began to focus in “human interest” (sob) stories to draw in emotional, unsophisticated viewers. So, from my POV, the contraction of the news BUSINESS is welcome news. Maybe it will become so unprofitable that news reporting will get back just to reporting solid facts instead of focusing on the endless sob stories that all tragedies bring in their wake, thereby stirring up heat rather than shedding actual light on what is going on.

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