Dear Rabbi Ben-Chaim:

Ambassador Keyes sends his greetings from Jerusalem to you and all of your readers.

We had a very full first day in Israel. The morning started with a breakfast and press conference for the Israeli and foreign media in Jerusalem. The media had many questions about how Americans perceive Israel's war on terror in comparison to America's war on terror. As you have all heard the Ambassador do many times, he walked the media through the logic of the moral principle which undergirds the global war on terror. America and Israel are united in the struggle to defeat those who have crossed the line that sustains the hope of peace between the peoples of the world. By denying the common humanity and dignity that all men share, such men are the common enemies of humanity. That was the message. And that message resonated throughout the day in every meeting and interview.

Next, the Ambassador had a private meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at his residence. They met for half an hour. Afterwards, the Ambassador conducted a half-hour interview with the Prime Minister on camera. It was an in-depth look at the reasoning and logic that went into the decision to strike down a Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh in his home. They discussed the differences between conventional warfare and fighting terrorism. Cadre is the most valuable asset the terrorists have. You can take out buildings and material assets, but until you have destroyed the most important thing that the terrorists possess, the leadership that crosses the line and serves evil, they will continue to spread that evil.

And when those leaders surround themselves with innocents to shield themselves, the responsibility for the death of those innocents lies with those cowards who placed them in harm's way.

Up next on the agenda was a meeting with Member of Knesset Ahmed Tibi. Tibi is the most controversial of the Arab members of Knesset, having served as senior adviser to Yasser Arafat. He appears frequently in anti-Israel rallies and attempts to disrupt police activity. The Ambassador conducted an interview of well over an hour with Tibi. What an interview! It was a clash that I believe is still ringing through the hallways of the offices at Knesset!

In the afternoon, the Ambassador answered questions from the Israel Broadcasting Authority about the interview with Prime Minister Sharon, as well as a one-on-one interview with Yaakov Achimeir, Israel's main newscaster. Dr. Keyes answered questions regarding the trip and the interview with the Prime Minister.

Next, the Ambassador conducted an in-depth interview for Hadassah Magazine which will be available later this week.

We finished off the day with the Israeli Government Press Office's reception and dinner attended by invited media and government spokesmen. Ambassador Keyes became the first recipient of an award by the Israeli government in appreciation of his journalistic endeavors and his integrity in reporting. This was an unprecedented award and the Ambassador was most grateful and humbled by the honor.

All in all, it was a most memorable day with much more to come tomorrow.

Until then, we wish you all health and happiness.

Connie Hair

Alan Keyes meets with Prime minister Sharon

Alan Keyes shares a moment with Prime Minister Sharon during his interview.

Alan and Jocelyn Keyes in Israel.

Initial conferences

Yaakov Achimeir Interview

IBA Interview


Tibi Interview - Heated discussions, transcripts to come...

Awarded by Israeli Gov. for integrity in reporting,
Keyes addresses press at David Citadel Hotel.

(Transcript of press conference below)

Dr. Keyes
The Media Line Press Conference
David Citadel Hotel
Jerusalem, July 29, 2002

"I decided to come to Israel because one cannot know what is going on in the region without being on the ground and to see things personally in order for "the facts to be forcibly impressed on my mind."

Also because the future of this region is of interest to many because of ties "culturally, historically and as human beings."

"Peace cannot be purchased at any price. It is becoming clearer that it is far more difficult to achieve a durable peace than originally thought."

There is a huge difference between "terror" and conducting a war. Terror is the abandonment of the basic regard for human life. It is the conscious effort to target innocent people.

Terror is a terrible threat to peace in this region. The first prerequisite for peace must be the end of terror.

I am here to share these feelings as well as to learn from my meetings with Israeli officials and others.

Concerning charges made against the Government of Israel of employing "terror" against the Palestinians: "In any of these charges, after careful examination, it becomes clear that this is not terror. The Government of Israel does not target innocent people. Innocent people die in Afghanistan, too. The difference between war and terror is whether it is the aim of the policy to target innocent non-combatants, or not. Deaths are always tragic. But it is not the policy of the Government of Israel to target innocents."

"Terrorism ought to be unacceptable. I cannot accept when a (Palestinian) spokesman cites suffering as an 'excuse' for terror."

"We cannot apply to Israel a standard we don't apply to ourselves." (in Afghanistan)

Concerning the leadership of the terror organizations: "The leaders of the terror organizations inspire, inculcate others to take part in terror activities. They are a far more important element in the infrastructure, than a 'simple' terrorist who carries out the activity."

About Al Quaeda's claim that the 9/11 attack was carried out due to Middle East policy. "We can't ignore what they claim. They made an explicit point of it. We have got to take things at face value. However it's a lie that its only that. There is a deep implacable hatred ­ cultural, moral, religious ­ of the United States. They see us a 'Great Satan'."

About his TV show being taken off MSNBC ­ "I always speak my mind and take the consequences. Pressures exist ­ not everything I have said about the Middle East is popular with the media."

"For example, take what happened in Jenin. There were claims of hundreds of thousands of casualties. Good journalism, the one that digs for facts, was absent in the reporting about Jenin. Were there retractions? Is that responsible? I may differ from others in the media."

"I don't know why they took my show off the air. I did nothing to be ashamed of. There was not one moment on the air when pressures were going to change my views. We got bad reactions from Arab Americans, from liberal quarters."

"I was tough on Palestinian spokesmen when they used the occupation as an excuse for terror. There is no excuse for terror. When they step across that line its not justifiable."

"I can't accept when people ignore the historical complexity of the situation. Are we to forget the 1967 war? If we go back in history the Palestinians did get a bad deal. The real culprits were the colonial powers who left the region carved up in such a way as to maintain their influence. And the Arab countries who maintained the Palestinians in deprivation."

"I think the worst thing is to be ruled over by thugs. To trade a government that they believe is oppressive because it is foreign for your own people who are thugs, that's much worse."

About the Holocaust: "There is an historical context that creates a burden on society. The Holocaust ­ the wound was inflicted directly on the Jews, but human nature was itself degraded. Slavery is another example of this. We have an obligation, those who have not suffered, to heal the wounds to society caused by this. The existence of Israel is part of this process. The Palestinians see themselves as victims. Instead of seeing their common grievance they compete about who suffers more. Yes, the world bears a moral responsibility for the Holocaust."

© 2002
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