A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
A collection of the week's news from Israel
February 1, 2002 - 16 Shvat 5761
Issue number 364
Quotes for the Week...
" Without doubt, I am fortunate to have survived the two incidents. It is imperative to strengthen the bond and support for Israel particularly at this time. This is the Jewish homeland and we mustn't be afraid to come here. We must trust in God and believe that this is our Land. My family and I will continue to come and visit and to feel at home." - American tourist Mark Sokolow, who survived the terror attack on the Twin Towers, last September, and was lightly injured in Sunday's incident in Jerusalem, in discussion with Minister of Tourism Binyamin Elon during the latter’s visit of the Sokolov Family in the hospital.
“Well, if I were Yasser Arafat, I would begin looking for a new place to live, perhaps, because the U.S., I mean, naming Hamas and Hezbollah and the terrorists of the Middle East and Palestine. For the first time I think, if I'm not mistaken, I don't remember it ever mentioning them by name in a speech like this, certainly not in the October speech. It's very pointed and I think it means a lot in terms of U.S. policy.” - Paul A. Gigot, editorial page editor, Wall Street Journal, on the CNBC Roundtable discussing President George W. Bush’s reference to terrorism of Hamas and Hizbullah in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night. (Opinion Journal.com Jan 31)
From the PA Media...
Arafat on PA TV: “Jihad, Jihad, Jihad, Jihad, Jihad!”
Gaza TV: Arafat Addresses Hebron Delegation, Notes People Opt for 'Jihad'
(Announcer-read report over video, FBIS Translated Text)
“President Yasir Arafat has stressed that we would march side by side and together until we reach holy Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state. Addressing a popular delegation from the Hebron Governorate that came to express solidarity with his excellency and reiterate loyalty to him, the president said: God willing, and despite Sharon's arrogance, we will have a meeting like this one in holy Jerusalem. The president praised the steadfastness of our people in Hebron, who are not only defending Hebron, but everywhere in this homeland. He also praised the steadfastness of our people in Jerusalem, who are maintaining its Arabism.”
[Begin Arafat recording] “And we wished to be gracious to those who were being depressed in the land, to make them leaders (in faith) and make them the heirs [Koranic verse]. Brothers, beloved ones: I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are showing heroic and legendary steadfastness in Hebron. It is a splendid legendary steadfastness, which we respect and glorify. It is an example for us, the people of exceeding strength, who are defending the first qiblah and the third holiest place, the place to which Prophet Muhammad, God's peace and prayers be upon him, made his night journey, and the cradle of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him.
“This is our destiny, brothers. This is our destiny. They will be ready to defend this land until the Day of Judgment. Their martyr equals 70 martyrs. [reference to a saying by Prophet Muhammad] [Words indistinct] This is our destiny, brothers. This is a grace from God that we we will defend this land until the Day of Judgment. They [the prophet's companions] said: Apostle of God, where and who are those people? He said: In Bayt al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] and around Bayt al-Maqdis. They will defend it until the Day of Judgment. Yes, brothers, we are sticking to this land.
“We are in the land of steadfastness. Our heroic martyrs, represented by Faris Awdah, who was martyred [applause] while carrying a stone to throw it at an Israeli tank [words indistinct]. [chants of "With our souls and blood we redeem you, O Abu-Ammar"; Arafat asks them to chant "with our souls and blood we redeem you, O Palestine" and repeats it three times]
“Yes, brothers, with our souls and blood we redeem you, O Palestine. This is the decision of the people of exceeding strength. This is a sacred bond. We are up to this duty. You know I am saying this because I know our people. I know what it means that in the midst of this economic (?not only military) crisis [words indistinct], yet none of them complained. However, they said: God is great! Glory to God and his prophet! Jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad! [Appluase]
“We take pride in my brothers the people of Hebron, who do not [words indistinct]. They defend all parts of the homeland, especially those holdingfast in holy Jerusalem, holy Jerusalem, holy Jerusalem [applause]. This is what has maintained the Arabism of Jerusalem, the steadfastness of Jerusalem, and the steadfastness of the people of Jerusalem. We are defending this land until the Day of Judgment. You are the people of [word indistinct] in this land of steadfastness, in holy Jerusalem and the peripheries of Jerusalem. They will be defend it until the Day of Judgment.
“We are not defending Palestine as Palestinians. Rather, we are defending it on behalf of the Arab nation, the Islamic nation, and the Christians of the world, based on [Muslim Caliph] Umar's covenant.
“Yes, this is our mission. It is a huge one, but our shoulders are huge enough to carry it [applause]. God willing, God willing, whether they like it or, we will have a meeting like this in holy Jerusalem, in holy Jerusalem, in holy Jerusalem [applause].
“God willing, a boy and a girl will raise the flag of Palestine over the walls of Jerusalem, the churches of Jerusalem, and minarets of Jerusalem.
“They see the day indeed as a far-off event, but we see it quite near. [part of Koranic verse] Indeed we are telling the truth. And to enter your temple as they had entered it before [part of Koranic verse]. God does not break His promises. God does not break His promises. Brothers, we will march together and side by side until we reach Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem .” [applause, End recording]
(IMRA / MidEastWeb / Gaza Palestine Satellite [Official PA TV] Jan 26)
"America Is Enemy of All Peoples" Says Palestinian Official in Mosque Speech, Urges Re-conquering "All of Palestine"
An official of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority today unleashed a harsh attack on the United States, calling it "the enemy," and Israel, urging Arabs to re-conquer "all of Palestine"-a clear reference to what is pre-1967 Israel. While Palestinian mosque speakers have frequently criticized the United States, today's oral assault on America was unusual for two reasons:
"America is the enemy of all the peoples," ((Arabic: "Amrika 'udu kul al-shu 'ub,")) intoned Sheikh Ismail Nawada in the broadcast address from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. “What is happening in Palestine is something that could happen to any people," declared Sheikh Nawada, linking the "plight" of Muslims in Afghanistan and Palestine and the "aggression" of America and Israel. The sheikh, whose salary is paid by Arafat's PA, also called for the re-conquest of "all of Palestine" because it was part of "Dar al-Islam"-"the house of Islam." It is classical Islamic theology to contend that any land conquered by Islam must be retained within Islamic sovereignty, rather than under the "kufr" or "infidels" in Arabic. During his half-hour speech Friday, Sheikh Nawada referred directly and obliquely to Israel and the United States as powerful "infidels" whose defeat would not be achieved easily. Sheikh Nawada counseled patience, citing a famous verse in the Quran, Islam' s holy book: "Allah ma'a sabriyyeen"-"God is with the patient." The broadcast of the virulently anti-American and anti-Israeli mosque address on Palestinian state radio came only three hours after the Voice of Palestine reported that "diplomatic sources say that the American administration is not moving forward with calls to cut relations with the (Palestinian) National Authority." (IMRA / The Media Line Jan 25)
On the Brink By Boaz Ganor
A terrorist attack is a function of two variables - motivation and the terrorist organization's capability of perpetrating an attack at a given time.
Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, its chairman, Yasser Arafat has adopted a policy in which he has avoided harming the military infrastructure of the Islamic-fundamentalist terrorist organizations in his region. Despite this, Arafat has, in the past, prevented terrorist attacks against Israel when, in his opinion, this served Palestinian interests.
However, even then, these attacks were prevented only by a temporary reduction of the motivation of these organizations to perpetrate an attack, using the "stick and carrot" method, and not by significantly affecting their terrorist capabilities. Arafat made it clear to the organization heads that a terrorist attack was liable to harm Palestinian national interests (i.e. the removal of Israel from the territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state whose capital would be Jerusalem), and that he would consequently be forced to take action against the perpetrator of such attacks.
However, Arafat consistently avoided harming the military and terrorist capability of the terrorist organizations. He did not destroy the sabotage laboratories or the bases; he did not arrest their military arms, did not collect the enormous quantities of illegal arms (in contravention of all the specific agreements with Israel), he did not prevent the transfer of money to the organizations, and avoided educating his people towards a peace recognizing the existence of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state. On the contrary, Arafat permitted these organizations to become stronger and establish themselves within the authority.
Arafat's strategy did not result from his apparent inability to directly face up to the Palestinian terrorist organizations, but from the belief that he must preserve their terrorist capabilities and use them as a bargaining counter against Israel at different times during negotiations.
The Palestinian terrorism initiated by Arafat since late September 2000, represent the direct result of Arafat's evaluation that violence is worthwhile and serves the Palestinian national interest. These attacks are intended to persuade the decision makers and the Israeli public to make political concessions and give up territories in return for Arafat's worthless promises to halt terrorism, all made under cover of such attacks.
The various Israeli governments failed to understand Arafat's double-talk over the years and time after time fell into the trap of Palestinian violence. Arafat succeeded in convincing the decision makers that the Palestinian nation should be divided into "goodies" who support the Oslo process, headed by him, and "baddies" - opponents of the process, headed by the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. This division enabled him to allow the perpetration of terrorist attacks, while demanding concessions from Israel that would strengthen him against the enemies of peace.
IN THE current situation, there are three possible scenarios: first is the best case scenario. Following an analysis of his numerous failures since September 2000, Arafat decides to halt the violence and return to the negotiating table in an attempt to achieve an additional intermediate agreement that will improve the PA's conditions.
In the second one, Arafat, who understands that this time violence will not force additional Israeli concessions, tries, by means of terrorist attacks, to cause the world to intervene in the conflict and impose an agreement on the parties. Such an agreement would naturally be based on a "compromise" in which Israel would be required to make further concessions to the Palestinians over and above those offered in Camp David and Taba.
In this way violence and terrorism will, in the end, prove worthwhile to the Palestinians, regardless of the number of Palestinian or Israeli victims.
The third scenario is the worst of all - Arafat decides to make use of all the military means at his disposal, including missiles and mortars that will be fired against the suburbs of Tel Aviv and the center of Jerusalem, in order to cause Israel to reconquer the PA territories and remove the threat of Katyusha rockets and mortars from densely populated regions. An IDF operation would enable the Hizbullah to fire massive volleys of Katyushas against northern Israel, thus causing an Israeli reprisal against Syria, making the path to a regional war a very short one.
Worst of all, the key to these three scenarios, for the first time in its history, is not held by Israel, and not even by the PA, but lies in Arafat's irresponsible hands.
What can be learned from recent experiences? Arafat chooses, time after time, to present himself as the underdog who wants to act against terrorism but is incapable of doing so, in order to reduce the external pressure applied against him, and in order to achieve concessions and aid that will apparently improve his capability of acting against the terrorist organizations.
There are two possible reasons for Arafat's reluctance to destroy the terrorist infrastructures: Either he is incapable of doing so, or he doesn't want to do so. If he is incapable of doing so, then the decision of the Israeli government that "Arafat is irrelevant" was correct, since he is incapable of supplying the sole thing that Israel demands from a partner to peace talks - preventing violence against Israel. If he doesn't want to halt the terrorism, this means that the level of international and Israeli pressure on Arafat and the PA has not yet reached a value affecting his cost-effectiveness balance, and therefore must be increased.
Only intensive pressure applied by the US, the European Union, the moderate Arab countries, and Israel, can be effective. Arafat loves to walk on the brink and he has in fact brought our region to the brink. Israel and the world must now use all their capabilities against Arafat in order to make sure that he does not push himself, his nation, and the whole region over the brink. (Jerusalem Post Jan 28)
The writer is the director of the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.
There They Go Again Jerusalem Post Editorial
At the close of their meeting in Brussels on Monday, the foreign ministers of the 15-member European Union issued a declaration on the Middle East that was both decidedly unbalanced and remarkably obtuse. That the EU is neither sympathetic nor favorable to Israel's position hardly comes as a surprise. After all, it has never shown itself to be a fair or balanced body when it comes to adjudicating the Arab-Israeli conflict. But what was truly disappointing about the document was the willful delusion evident in it regarding Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, by bestowing an unwarranted diplomatic prize on the PA, the EU has only served to encourage Arafat to continue his lethal obstinacy.
Although Arafat has done nothing to curb the rising tide of violence, the EU ministers persist in spreading the myth he is a viable peace partner. In their declaration, they said, "Israel needs the Palestinian Authority and its elected president, Yasser Arafat, as a partner to negotiate with, both in order to eradicate terrorism and to work toward peace. Their capacity to fight terrorism must not be weakened."
This statement is especially ludicrous in light of Fatah's open involvement in several deadly terror attacks in recent weeks, which hardly suggests they are suitable candidates to "eradicate terrorism." And the EU position is even more difficult to understand given that just two days before it was issued, Arafat gave a speech in Ramallah to a delegation from Hebron in which he said, "Yes, brothers, with our souls and blood we redeem you, O Palestine. This is the decision of the people... They said: God is great! Glory to God and his prophet! Jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad, jihad!" That is hardly the rhetoric of a man interested in peace.
Even more preposterous was the EU's approach to the Karine A affair, in which Arafat was caught red-handed trying to smuggle illegal weapons from Iran. Despite the overwhelming proof of his direct involvement, so compelling that it precipitated Washington's public change of tone vis-a-vis the PA, the EU fell for Arafat's transparent ploy of establishing a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter. In its declaration, the EU "urges the speedy completion of the work of the investigative commission established by the Palestinian Authority to clarify the circumstances of the Karine A affair. The European Union would also welcome international involvement in the work of the commission." And so, the EU made itself into an active partner in Arafat's little charade, allowing him to continue to assert - with a straight face, no less - he had nothing to do with the smuggling operation.
Of course, when it comes to Israel, the EU ministers were far less inclined to give Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the benefit of the doubt. Rather than expressing support for Israel in its battle against Palestinian terror, the EU chose to sharply criticize the government, saying it should "withdraw its military forces and stop the extra-judicial executions, lift the closures and all the restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people and its leadership, and freeze the settlements." The EU ministers even had the gall to suggest Israel should pay "reparations" for having damaged EU-financed infrastructure projects, such as Gaza International Airport.
As Minister without Portfolio Dan Naveh rightfully pointed out, "On principle, we should tell the Europeans all claims should be directed to the Palestinians, who started the war and continue to wage it. We are the victims of the terror. All we are doing is employing the use of self-defense guaranteed under international law. We have to defend ourselves, even on their territory."
The EU statement came just days after US President George W. Bush expressed his public disappointment with Arafat and even accused him of "enhancing terrorism." By breaking with the American position, the Europeans have regrettably chosen to undermine the diplomatic isolation and international pressure brought to bear on Arafat in recent weeks. In doing so, they have sent a dangerous message to the Palestinians that they can continue to act with impunity. Though the EU ministers did urge Arafat to act against terrorism, such pleas are unlikely to move him, if only because he knows the brunt of European criticism remains directed at Israel. By issuing a statement no fair-minded observer can take seriously, the EU has only served to remind Israelis precisely why it cannot be allowed to play a central diplomatic role in the region.(Jerusalem Post Jan 30)
Israel's Right to Defend HerselfBy Linda Chavez
Lightning isn't supposed to strike twice in the same place, but tell that to Mark Sokolow. Mr. Sokolow survived the attack on the World Trade Center in September, barely escaping from his 38th floor office when the second plane hit and the building collapsed. Then on Sunday, Sokolow and his family were shopping in Jerusalem, where they had gone to visit a daughter studying there, when a suicide bomber, a Palestinian female, detonated a device that killed her and one other, and injured scores, including Sokolow, his wife and two remaining daughters.
Americans are not used to this type of vicious attack, despite the September 11 experience, but Israelis are all too familiar with it. In the last two weeks alone, there have been four attacks in the heart of Jerusalem, one only days earlier on the very block struck Sunday. Merchants had just replaced the broken windows when they were shattered once again in the latest attack.
No people -- no country -- should have to live like this, where every day brings new terrors and bloodshed, where it is impossible even to go shopping with your daughters to buy a pair of sandals without nearly being killed. But what is Israel to do?
The United States has declared war on the terrorists who attacked us, following the Bush Doctrine: Anyone who aids terrorists, harbors or funds them is an enemy, subject to our wrath. President Bush has vowed, "The enemy hopes they can hide until we tire. But we're going to prove them wrong. We will never tire, and we will hunt them down."
Should we expect Israel to do any less in defense of her people?
The Israeli military is far superior to any of its Arab neighbors. It has fought four wars against the united forces of the surrounding Arab nations which attacked Israel -- and won every time. Does anyone doubt that Israel could crush the Palestinians and defeat any countries that came to their aid today? And perhaps that is the only way to prevent innocent Israelis from being murdered one by one by fanatics willing to take their own lives so long as they can drench themselves in the blood of Jews.
An all-out war against a known enemy would be preferable to the war of attrition they are fighting with terrorists now. At least it would be soldiers facing each other in combat, not suicide bombers blowing up babies, teenagers, mothers and old men, as the murderous terrorists have been doing for the last year and a half.
The Peace Process has been a farce from the beginning -- fostered by a Clinton administration that was more interested in a Rose Garden ceremony that would rank up there with the Camp David Accords than it was in achieving a genuine peace.
But unlike former Democratic President Jimmy Carter, who helped bring together the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli President Menachem Begin to the bargaining table, President Clinton was never able to get Yasser Arafat to agree to change his ways, despite inviting Arafat to the White House more often during his presidential term than he did any head of state. Once a terrorist, always a terrorist.
Thankfully, the Bush administration shows no interest in accepting Arafat's charade as peacemaker. Vice President Cheney came very close to calling Arafat a liar on ABC's "Sunday Morning." When asked about Arafat's denial of PLO responsibility in an Iranian arms shipment intercepted by Israel on its way to Palestinian terrorist groups a couple of weeks ago, Cheney said simply, "We don't believe him." Refreshingly straightforward talk in an area where politicians are usually more politic than honest themselves.
Palestinians and Moslem terrorists have declared war on the people of Israel. Israel must be allowed to defend itself -- and if that means a full scale assault on the West Bank and Gaza, so be it. Just as the United States did all in its power to root out the Taliban and al Qaeda from Afghanistan while not harming innocent civilians, Israel should do the same. But those who take up arms against Israel should not be surprised when Israel matches force with force, and Israel's is much superior to her foes'. (TownHall.com Jan 30)
The writer is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity.
Hatred and Faith in the Shadow of Auschwitz By Michael Freund
It was fifty-seven years ago today, on January 27, 1945, that Soviet troops entered Oswiecim in southern Poland and liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps. Ostensibly, one might have thought this would bestow today's date with some uplifting significance, if only because it marked the end of one of mankind's darkest chapters. But, given what befell our people within the gates of Auschwitz, and the legacy it has left for future generations, solemnity seems the only appropriate emotion worth considering.
When the German killers who ran Auschwitz-Birkenau fled in the face of the advancing Red Army, they left behind overwhelming evidence of their horrific crimes against the Jewish people: 348,820 men's suits, 836,255 women's coats and untold thousands of shoes, all of which had been taken from the victims of the Nazi inferno.
The Soviet troops who freed the camps also found several hundred emaciated and starving Jews, people who had somehow managed, against all the odds, to survive the suffering that had been inflicted upon them. Sadly, my grandmother's first cousin, Isaac Kottler, was not among them. The Nazis had sent him to Auschwitz, where he, along with over 1 million other Jews, were murdered en masse.
Though I know virtually nothing about him, I often find myself wondering about Isaac Kottler - how he lived and how he died, and why the world did nothing to save him. Several years ago, while visiting the memorial at Auschwitz-Birkenau with my father, we entered the room where hundreds of pieces of luggage taken from the victims are on display behind a huge glass window. The names of the suitcases' owners are evident on some of the bags, suggesting perhaps that those who owned them may have nurtured the hope that they too would survive. As we glanced through the window, my sadness quickly turned to despair when I saw the name "Kotler". I have no way of knowing whether the suitcase belonged to my grandmother's cousin Isaac or not, but even the thought that it might have is enough to leave me wracked with emotion and grief.
Greater men than I have already grappled with the vexing questions posed by the Holocaust, and its lessons continue to haunt the Jewish people to this day. In the Talmud, when a dispute arises which defies resolution, the matter is occasionally left open with the Hebrew acronym "Teiku", which roughly means that when Elijah the prophet comes to announce the onset of the Messianic era, he will resolve all unanswered questions. Somehow, I imagine that at the top of his list will be the events which took place in 20th-century Europe.
In light of recent events, it is hard to escape the ominous feeling that there are plenty of people today who would be more than happy to continue what Adolf Hitler began. From Iran - whose former President recently threatened to use nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the map - to the Palestinian Authority - which has been waging a relentless campaign of organized murder against Israel for the past 16 months - the lust to spill Jewish blood sadly continues to endure.
Many Jews choose not to recognize this, preferring to suggest that Israel's current enemies are motivated solely by political rage. While that no doubt is one factor, it is naïve to think it is only the factor. When Palestinian terrorists carry out attacks on innocent Israelis, they do not stop to check what the political views of their targets are, nor whether their victims support or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state. Instead, they open fire or set off an explosion with one overarching aim in mind: to murder as many Jews as possible.
A recent case in point was the January 15 terror attack near Givat Ze'ev, in which Yoela Chen, a 45-year old mother of two, was shot to death by Palestinian gunmen. According to media reports, the terrorists stopped Chen's car and then spoke with her and her aunt in Hebrew. Since the car bore yellow license plates, the terrorists knew its passengers were Israeli, but wanted to be certain that they were Israeli Jews, not Israeli Arabs. Only once they were sure of Chen's Jewish identity did the two terrorists open fire, killing Chen and wounding her aunt. Hence, it was not the victim's Israeliness that prompted the assault, but her Jewishness. Had Chen and her aunt been Israeli Arabs, the outcome would likely have been far different.
It should therefore be clear that while the impetus for the atrocities committed by Palestinian terrorists may have a political aspect to them, the impulse behind them is far deeper. It is an age-old impulse known as anti-Semitism.
To suggest or even imply that the Palestinians are Nazis would be both incorrect and inappropriate. It would be far more accurate to conclude that the anti-Semitism which accompanied the Jewish people throughout 2000 years of exile continues to plague us today, even in our own land, the Land of Israel. Indeed, hatred of the Jews has found many enthusiastic practitioners among the Palestinians, whose leadership has sadly decided to join history's black-list of those who would destroy us.
But of one thing we can all be certain: like those who preceded them, the Palestinian Authority will fail in its shameful mission. Auschwitz may have killed Jews, but it did not destroy the Jewish people. And neither will a modern-day gang of terrorists. We have outlived history's greatest villains, and we will outlive the intifada too.
And the proof of that is quite simple: 57 years later, both the Soviet Union, which liberated Auschwitz, and the Nazi regime, which created it, are no more, yet the Jewish people endure.(Jerusalem Post Jan 27)
The writer served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999.
The Vitality of Anger By David M. Weinberg
A grotesque sort of quiet has taken root among Israelis in the Promised Land: a passivity that stems from depression and acquiescence; from the feeling that little can be done about "the situation"; from the paralyzing conclusion that there are no easy solutions in our war with the Palestinians.
And you have to wonder: When will we learn, finally, to harness the vitality of anger - anger that has built-up inside of us all - instead of wallowing in woe?
It is almost as if Israelis have been lulled into a stupor by the intractable nature of the conflict. No matter how hard Yasser Arafat's terrorist gangs hit us, we fail to rise up in appropriate rage and demand that our government take even harsher action to shut Arafat down.
No matter how many times Palestinians violate their treaty obligations, Israelis, it seems, just settle back into the living room armchair to sigh and cluck in sadness. No matter how horrific the latest terrorist outrage, we are wont to sorrowfully cry with the widows and orphans on TV, or mournfully mutter "how terrible it is" around the coffee-maker at work. To release some bottled-up bitterness, someone will make a sarcastic remark about feeble Israeli leadership or crack some black humor about the situation.
How weak and how sad.
Immediately upon discovering the next Palestinian transgression, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer will emerge to tell us for the umpteenth-thousandth time that he views "this dangerous escalation with the utmost gravity." He will comically convene "urgent consultations" at the Defense Ministry, from which he will emerge hours later to inform us that "the IDF will respond at the time and place of its choosing."
Undoubtedly, these pronouncements have Arafat shaking in his boots.
And the people of Israel? We cluck and groan and murmur our discontent, and then get on with our daily business as best we can. Because we have no choice. Right?
I ask: What has happened to our determination and sense of national responsibility? Where are all the activists, the pioneers, the suffering victims, and all those who sympathize with them?
Even after the Dolphinarium, Sbarro, Ben-Yehuda, Haifa, and Tel Aviv bombings and the Hadera bat-mitzva massacre - are we too afraid or tired or too downcast to take to the streets and to demand real action from our government? It is almost as if we are embarrassed to demonstrate; ashamed to let the blood get to our heads and make us really angry.
Anger, writes Maimonides, is a treacherous emotion to be avoided in most situations, as is hate (Codes, The Book of Knowledge, 2:3). Except when faced with evil. Then, anger is the appropriate, necessary, energizing, response. It is a mitzva to hate those who seek to undermine the morality of society or to destroy the nation.
Does anyone have any doubt that the Palestinian regime established alongside us over the past eight years is evil, malignant, and destructive? And if so, are we forever going to sit back and sigh?
The neutralization of Arafat's regime is not unthinkable nor impossible. It requires national will. Hundreds of thousands marching in the streets to say "Enough!" might supply our government with the necessary spine.
Otherwise, our inaction and apparent indifference could yet be mistaken by enemies without and within as resignation and acceptance of the situation. The Beilins, Alonis, and Avineris among us will continue running to smooch with Arafat, to lobby against our national interests abroad, and to broadcast their corrosive messages on national radio and TV.
Two thousand years after the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth and only one generation after the Holocaust, the Jewish people has returned to Zion to reclaim its homeland, through much sweat and sacrifice. Despite a few post-Zionist intellectuals and a defeatist press, Zionism and patriotism is alive and well among large majorities of Israel's varied sub-societies. Doing what is needed to improve our personal and national security does not require any apologies. We ought not weakly whimper away.
Time to angrily shake the trees and rustle-up the troops, I think. Even US Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer wants Israelis to pressure their government.
Well, let's take his advice and show him just what we think. The "national unity" government much more manifestly should feel that it has the overwhelming backing of Israelis for decisive, seismological action against the Palestinian Authority. (Jerusalem Post Jan 27)
The writer is coordinator of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
Peace Now Is a False Messiah By Yossi Olmert
The Israeli left wing can claim credit for one of Israel's most successful political slogans, "peace now," which first appeared following Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's historic visit.
However, the movement using this slogan had nothing to do with the visit and the subsequent peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, signed due to the vision and courage of Sadat and then-prime minister Menachem Begin. Since then, the slogan continues to be on our political agenda, even though when the political parties close to Peace Now were in control, they tried and failed to achieve a meaningful and lasting peace treaty with the Palestinians.
Under the pressure of Peace Now, Israel signed the disastrous Oslo Accords and under the continuing pressure of the same people, prime minister Ehud Barak went to Camp David in 2000, and we all know what has followed since then.
In fact, the last calamity brought about by the knights of Peace Now, aka "the Aksa intifada," still takes its toll from us all, leftists and rightists alike, but the inventors of Peace Now are still in pursuit of their false messianic goal. They are unrepentant even when ordinary Israelis, and not only dedicated supporters of the right wing, understand clearly how distorted and dangerous the entire concept of "peace now" has been since the late 1970s.
Yet, as much as these people are never tired of pushing for Israeli concessions and capitulation "now," they are also never tired of calling upon Israeli governments to refrain from any significant action against Palestinian terrorism "now."
Demolition of illegal buildings in east Jerusalem is bad, because "now" is not the time. Allowing Jews to exercise their historic, God-given right to visit the Temple Mount is to be forbidden, because "now" - what else - is not the right time. Eliminating a notorious terrorist, Raed Karmi, who was in the midst of planning another outrage, is, surprisingly enough, unwise and provocative, because "now" is not the time, and so it goes on and on.
Terrorism continues, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat provokes religious hatred, and Israeli leftists - whether Zionists, non-Zionists, or anti-Zionists - pursue their shameful pilgrimage to Ramallah, to visit the notorious chairman/terrorist and let him know that he is not alone.
He still has many comrades in Israel, those who are eager to "explain" him, to make amends, and to put all his excesses in "proper" and "contextual" perspective. They cause double and inexcusable damage. First, they subvert Israel's war effort, and secondly, they signal to the master terrorist that not all is lost insofar as Israel's public opinion is concerned.
Part of Arafat's initial strategy was also about causing friction in Israel's public opinion, so, if he were made aware that he is left with no important friends in Israel, while it may not necessarily bring about a change in his strategy, it could surely weaken him.
If our leftist leaders, such as Yossi Beilin, Yossi Sarid, Zehava Gal-On and others, were to explain to him that "now" is the time to unconditionally put an end to terrorism, or face the inevitable punishment - the complete demolition of his authority and his own demise from the political arena - they would be ultimately more useful to the national interest of Israel, than what they are saying and doing now.
When such demands are being made of him by the American administration, is it really too much to expect the same, at least, from the responsible leaders of the Zionist Left?(Jerusalem Post Jan 27)
The writer, a former head of the Government Press Office, is an expert on Syria.