A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
26 Adar Aleph 5760 Events...
March 3, 2000
Issue number 261
Sunday March 5, 11:00am
Herut-Likud presents a live telephone hook-up with Likud Party leaders entitled "Can Syria Be Trusted?" in the Haifa Room at the Toronto Zionist Centre, 788 Marlee Avenue (at Lawrence).
Knesset Passes "Special Majority" Golan Bill
The Israeli Parliament voted 60-53 Wednesday to approve a bill determining the required majority for the passage of the Golan referendum. The bill, submitted by Likud MK Silvan Shalom, stipulates that a majority of registered voters - an estimated 60-65% of those actually voting - will be required in order to approve Israel's retreat from the Golan. The vote was merely a preliminary approval, and the bill will still have to undergo further votes, contingent upon Law Committee deliberations. Despite this, the vote is considered a clear signal to both Ehud Barak and Syrian President Assad that a peace treaty involving the giveaway of the Golan will not be easily approved by the Israeli public. Within the coalition, three entire factions - Shas, the NRP, and Yisrael B'Aliyah - voted for the bill, as did MKs Maxime Levy (One Israel), Chaim Katz (Am Echad), and Victor Breilovsky and Modi Zandberg (Shinui). Centrist Party MK Roni Milo abstained, and former coalition member party United Torah Judaism voted in favor. Breilovsky explained to Arutz-7 that what pushed him to vote for the bill was largely the extensive anti-Semitism prevalent in the Syrian press. The vote is considered a significant blow to Barak, both in terms of his prestige and his control of the coalition, reports Arutz-7's Haggai Seri. After the vote, Barak said only, "I do not take what happened here lightly, but on the other hand, let's not read things into it that do not exist. Some 1.8 million people voted me into office, and no parliamentary trick will prevent me from continuing on my path to strengthen Israel with diplomatic agreements. I am determined to see to it that the agreement that I achieve with Syria will be brought for the approval of Israel's populace in which the majority of the participating voters [in contrast with today's Knesset decision] will determine the result." The Golan Residents Committee called the vote "a clear message to the citizens and government of Israel, Assad, and the international community that [there will not be a majority] in support of a withdrawal from the Golan. Israeli sovereignty on the Golan and its 33 Jewish communities is irreversible." The GRC congratulated MK Shalom on his "determination and commitment for the bill," and wished him "strength in the upcoming three votes needed to make this bill into a binding law."
MK Yuli Edelstein, who heads the Golan Knesset lobby, vehemently denies the claim by Justice Minister Yossi Beilin that the Silvan Shalom bill is racist and against the spirit of democratic countries. "Beilin is quite aware that Canada's Supreme Court recently approved a similar law," Edelstein said. Beilin said today, before the vote, that if the bill passes, the government will have to cancel its plans to hold a Golan-withdrawal referendum. Observers noted that Beilin's intention is apparently for the Knesset to pass a bill overriding the current law, passed by the Netanyahu government, which states that sovereign Israeli territory cannot be ceded to a foreign entity without a referendum. Dr. Asher Cohen of Bar-Ilan University's Department of Political Science, speaking with Arutz-7, related to the question of special majorities in democratic societies. "Such a requirement is customary in many nations throughout the world," he said, "although not necessarily in the framework of a national referendum. Nevertheless, on issues of principle and fundamental legal issues, complex processes that are even more demanding than a special majority are also often required... In the case at hand, the status of the Arab minority in Israel is also at issue. The left therefore claims that the proposal is 'racist,' while others stress the democratic legitimacy of a special majority, and also emphasize that when it comes to the forfeiture of sovereign territory, international peace deals, and the uprooting of Israelis from their homes, the Arab vote must be neutralized. These points are not totally without logical foundation." Dr. Cohen noted that today's vote was just a first reading of MK Shalom's bill: "More than anything else, it has symbolic meaning. It could also create greater coalition tensions, and may send an international message. As far as its actual legal effect, after a bill's first reading, anything can happen..." - an apparent reference to One Israel's option of "burying the bill in committee."
Coalition whip MK Ophir Pines-Paz is already making plans to "get back" at the "rebellious" coalition members, and will submit two or three bills next week known to be opposed by the religious parties. Spokesmen for the NRP and Shas did not seem concerned, however. Housing Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Levy (NRP) said, "I would advise [One Israel] not to threaten, because threats can go both ways. Ehud Barak has a great interest in maintaining and preserving his coalition." Infrastructures Minister Eli Suissa (Shas), speaking with Arutz-7 today, spoke bitterly against Barak: "The Prime Minister must now realize that even though peace is a great goal, not all ends justify the means - if there is no security, then the goal has been lost" There are too many unanswered questions about the agreement with Syria - who will succeed Assad? Why should we rebuild Assad's economy? Why should we help Clinton's political legacy and his wife's political career? There is no commandment in the Torah for us to sign an agreement that will worsen our security situation..." (arutzsheva.org Mar 1)
Hizbullah Kills Five SLA Soldiers
Five Southern Lebanese Army soldiers were killed early Wednesday in the security zone in southern Lebanon. Their jeep drove over a Hizbullah-planted roadside bomb in the middle of the village of Ein Kinya, killing them instantly. Hizbullah then bombarded SLA and IDF outposts throughout the security zone with mortar shells and fire. Three SLA soldiers were injured in the attacks. The Hizbullah fire also killed a Lebanese civilian. Twelve SLA fighters have been killed by Hizbullah shells this year. (arutzsheva.org Mar 1)
Barak Postures for Golan Withdrawal
Prime Minister Ehud Barak has begun providing "background" on his willingness to cede the entire Golan Heights to the Syrians. At a nearly eight-hour-long Cabinet meeting Sunday, Barak said that four of his predecessors had agreed to forfeit all of the Golan: "Both the U.S. and Syria understand that this is our position, and I'm not planning to erase the past." Ha'aretz reported that Barak told the Cabinet that Shamir, who began the talks with the Syrians at the Madrid Conference in 1991, accepted UN Resolution 242 calling for an Israeli withdrawal "from territories," which the Syrians understood to mean an Israeli withdrawal from the entire Golan. After Shamir, Rabin gave the Americans a commitment, which they in turn passed on to the Syrians, that Israel would be ready to return the entire Golan if certain demands are met. Next was Peres, who confirmed Rabin's commitment, and then Netanyahu, who, according to Barak, conducted negotiations based on the June 4th lines, "seeking control two miles east of the line at one point along the border, and along the rest of the line at a significantly lesser distance eastward." "Clinton's political clock is ticking," Barak said, "and he needs an agreement by May. We have to conclude an agreement with Syria by then so that a wave of Islamic extremism does not take over the region." Ministers Peres and Ramon said they doubted that it would be possible to reach an agreement with Syria within the current timetable. They and Minister Ben-Ami said that progress on the Palestinian track should take precedence over the talks with the Syrians. In a surprising move, Shimon Peres registered his protest of Barak's Golan position by saying that the Syrians must not be allowed to share the Kinneret with Israel. Peres said that in any event the Israeli public would not approve such a deal in a referendum. Shamir issued a strong denial today that he had ever implied that he would agree to withdraw from the Golan. Netanyahu, too, denied Barak's claims in an interview with Arutz-7. "There was no agreement between Assad and myself on any border, and this is why the negotiations were halted," he said. "Assad demanded a withdrawal to the June, 1967 border - he didn't get it." The former Prime Minister, visiting in Los Angeles, said that he was prepared to accept a border east of the Kinneret - "but only on top of the Golan Heights, and not below them." Netanyahu said that if Barak wishes to give in to the Syrian demands, "it is his right to do so - but he doesn't have to offer misinformation about previous leaders' actions. Let him just say it straight - that he has agreed to Assad's demands." Netanyahu rebuffed Barak's statements regarding former Prime Minister Shamir, as well. "As someone who was intimately involved in the 1991 Madrid peace conference [Netanyahu gained world-fame there as Israel's spokesman], I know that Mr. Shamir was not prepared to withdraw from the Golan," he said. The former Director-General of Prime Minister Shamir's office, Yossi Ben-Aharon, agrees. Speaking with Arutz-7's Ron Meir, Ben-Aharon said that the Israeli negotiating team, which he headed, "didn't even mention the word 'withdrawal' in the six months of intensive negotiations with the Syrians... I refused [to do so] because I said that we first have to get the Syrians to accept Israel's existence... This went on and on for months." When asked if he was suggesting that territorial compromise would have been considered if Syria had recognized Israel, Ben-Aharon responded: "Oh no, we had a number of pre-negotiating demands... they were holding hostage the remnants of the Jewish community. [We insisted] that every Jew who wants to leave Syria must be given the right to do so; we also demanded that any agreement with the Syrians include a removal of their army from Lebanon, and we rejected UN Resolution 242 regarding the Golan." (arutzsheva.org Feb 28)
French Premier Stoned by Palestinian Mob
Television stations around the world broadcasted the near-lynch of French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin by Palestinian university students in Bir Zeit Saturday. The students attacked his car - loaned to him by Yasser Arafat - with rocks, while other protestors kicked and banged on the car doors and windows. Contrary to official reports, Jospin was injured lightly in his head. Jospin raised the ire of the Palestinians by terming the Hizbullah attacks on Israel "acts of terrorism." Circles close to French President Jacques Chirac have attacked Jospin for his statements against Hizbullah. Jospin made the anti-Hizbullah remarks at a press conference in a Jerusalem hotel last Thursday. A French official accompanying the Prime Minister was moved to advise him that he was departing from official French policy, but Jospin responded that he wished to speak freely. The Premier also praised Israel for its policy of restraint in southern Lebanon. Le Monde newspaper in Paris said Sunday that "the voice of Lionel Jospin should be heard... [He] has relaunched the debate over France's Arab policy by casting aside some taboos." Journalists present at the university yesterday reported that preparations for the "ambush" on Jospin were evident an hour before he arrived, such that the Arafat's PA security forces were negligent at best in not preventing the assault. Official French sources, however, have blamed Israel, as Bir Zeit is under Israeli military control. Jospin's visit has been called a "failure" in France, while Israel views it as a success. "France is beginning to recognize the complexity of the situation here," Israeli sources said. The violence was somewhat embarrassing to Bir Zeit University, the new law school of which was financed by the French government. (arutzsheva.org Feb 27)
Hizbullah Wants Parts of Galilee
Hizbullah will not be satisfied with an IDF withdrawal from the southern Lebanon security zone, says the organization's Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. He declared last Friday that when and if Israel signs a peace deal with Lebanon, Hizbullah will demand the "return" of seven Jewish "settlements" in the Galilee "situated on the lands of Palestinian villages." One resident of Kibbutz Manara, Rachel Yaakov - the sister of Yitzchak Rabin - called the Hizbullah claim "baseless." She observed that the lands of Kibbutz Manara, one of the settlements referred to by Nasrallah, were legally purchased in the 1940's from a resident of the Lebanese village of Taibe. (arutzsheva.org Feb 25)
Arab Unity Against Israel
Syria's government-backed Tishrin newspaper continues its Nazi imagery rhetoric, this time with the help of Israeli MKs. In its ongoing response to Foreign Minister David Levy's Knesset speech, Tishrin writes: "Whatever the cruel and crazy motives that may be behind it, Levy's threat against Lebanon was an unconscionable crime; of all the flood of questions and condemnations that it raises, the fundamental one is this: Isn't it a crime in itself that goes far beyond Nazism?" The paper also quotes Arab MK Azmi B'shara as "asserting Israel's responsibility for putting obstacles in the way of peace negotiations on the Syrian track." Speaking to Sawt al-Arab Radio, B'shara said that any freeze on the negotiations "stems from Israel's refusal to carry out UN Resolution 242 that calls for Israel's withdrawal from Golan to the June 4th, 1967 lines." In related news, Tishrin calls for "Arab unity to deter Israeli aggression... Egyptian Mufti Dr. Farid Wasel [who called for international sanctions against Israel] has asserted the need for providing all forms of support to Lebanon in its confrontation with the brutal Israeli aggression..." The Arab League will in fact hold its next convention in Lebanon later this month, instead of in Cairo, as a sign of solidarity with Lebanon against Israel. "Israeli aggression in Lebanon will be the main point discussed there," said an Arab League senior official. (arutzsheva.org Feb 25)
PM'S Office Denies Secret Talks With Syria
The Prime Minister's Office denies that secret negotiations with Syria are underway, but Foreign Minister David Levy said, "The diplomatic process with Syria has not died." (arutzsheva.org Feb 24)
Egypt Preparing Long-Range Missiles
Sources in the U.S. and Israel are very concerned with some recent military deals conducted by Egypt - specifically, the transfer by Cairo of U.S. missile technology to North Korea. So reports Steve Rodan in a recent edition of Janes Defence Weekly. The technologies in question are allegedly being sent by Egyptian government-owned companies to Pyongyang, where they are then adapted and returned to Egypt as advanced components for Egypt's medium-range ballistic missile program. The same Israeli sources add that although Egypt currently has Scud C missiles with a range of 500 kilometers, Cairo is now developing missiles with a range of nearly twice that. With chemical and biological warheads, Rodan notes, these missiles would pose a serious threat to Israel. Speaking with Arutz-7, Rodan added that a 1,000 km range would permit such missiles to be fired from deep within Egypt, where its launchers would be virtually inaccessible to Israel Air Force bombers. According to the Janes article, the Clinton administration has not put a stop to Egypt's technology transfers, "since Israeli and U.S. officials differ over the extent of Egypt's missile program and its threat to the region." A senior Israeli defense source told Rodan that the U.S. does not see Egypt in the same light as Israel, and is simply unwilling to jeopardize its alliance with Egypt. Israel has even been specifically ordered by the U.S. administration not to go public with the story, Rodan told Arutz-7. (A7 Feb 24)
Solidarity among Yeshiva Soldiers
Some 25 hesder yeshiva students in the Golan Heights have asked the IDF to allow them to serve in southern Lebanon.. (arutzsheva.org Feb 28)
David Bar-Illan Hospitalized after Heart Attack
Jerusalem Post columnist David Bar-Illan suffered a massive heart attack at his Jerusalem home last Friday night. He was rushed to Shaare Zedek Hospital, where he is in the intensive-care unit. Bar-Illan, 70, was executive editor of the Post between 1992 and 1996, when he became director of policy planning and communications for then prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He returned to the paper as a columnist last year. His Hebrew name is David Yaakov ben Tzila. (Jerusalem Post Feb 28)
Analysis: A Ticking Time Bomb? By Sarah Honig
The erstwhile Netanyahu coalition stirred at least briefly back to life yesterday and returned to haunt Prime Minister Ehud Barak with vengeance and vigor, which it sorely lacked in its first incarnation.
This might not necessarily spell inevitable disaster for Barak's parliamentary majority, but it does send out loud warning signals, which he should not belittle - as he has the habit of doing in all too many domestic political crises.
The most significant damage to Barak was the breaking down of psychological barriers among some of his more problematic coalition partners. With these demolished, Netanyahu's former allies will be emboldened despite their present formal tie to Barak.
In many ways what Barak just suffered is not far different from what happened to former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in July 1998. At the time, MK Haim Ramon's early elections bill squeezed through its preliminary reading, because Dan Meridor crossed the lines for the first time. There were those on the then government's side who downplayed the vote.
But, in effect, it meant that a time bomb was primed and began ticking away ominously.
Yesterday, MK Silvan Shalom's bill also passed in preliminary reading.
As was the case with Ramon's bill, there can be no certainty now as to its eventual fate. But it can potentially constitute no less of a time bomb, unless Barak cleverly and carefully defuses it.
On paper, at least, Barak might reckon that Shas can be bought. If former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, with a far narrower and more fragile majority, could pass Oslo by enticing Alex Goldfarb away from his right-wing Tsomet faction, then anything is presumably possible in this country's parliamentary wonderland.
Barak could begin by forcing Education Minister Yossi Sarid to let his Shas deputy, Meshulam Nahari, have respectable responsibility and to let the Shas school system have its funds less grudgingly and more generously.
The palpable danger for Barak, however, is that this could be too little much too late. What might have worked a couple of months ago, may not be enough now to mollify Shas mentor Ovadia Yosef. The humiliations to which Shas has thus far been subjected cannot be entirely undone.
Though Yosef's embittered umbrage may be no more than a ploy for upping the ante, there is also the distinct likelihood that he has no other option. Shas is a party of outspoken ultra-hawks, even if its spiritual leader is not. He cannot turn against the overwhelming sentiment of his flock, especially with Aryeh Deri out of the picture, because Barak forced Yosef to ditch him. Deri's successor at the Shas political helm, Eli Yishai, must appear more hawkish than the most militant of hawks in order to score popularity points to shore up his leadership position.
But even the fabled Deri couldn't always perform magic. When terrorism spiraled in the wake of Oslo, he hastened to remove his party from Rabin's coalition. It is patently suicidal for any political movement to collide with the mood of its electorate. Deri couldn't do it then. Yishai is even less capable of doing it now. The course Yishai adopted is, moreover, the cleverest at his disposal. He played to his own political gallery while not slamming any doors on Barak. By supporting Shalom's referendum bill he hasn't committed his party to opposing whatever deal with Syria Barak may submit for Knesset approval.
However, Barak will then need an absolute majority of at least 61 MKs. The message the Knesset sent him yesterday cannot inspire Barak with optimism even if he does ever come up with an agreement for the House to ratify.
Assad, too, must realize that it will be very difficult for Barak to shove an agreement through the Knesset. This per force must affect Assad's attitude and stiffen his bargaining position. Barak is less likely to wrest any concessions out of the anyway intransigent Damascus regime if he is judged by it as unable to deliver the goods. It isn't for nothing that Assad already demands a written commitment to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 lines.
For him, this would be tantamount to a legal deed to the Golan.
The Syrians are as aware as anyone that the renascent Netanyahu coalition can foil a deal, though it probably cannot directly bring Barak down. It might, however, threaten him indirectly.
If Barak strikes a bargain with Syria but cannot secure Knesset approval for it, he could call early elections, or try and change the parliamentary odds by threatening to do so. If the Shalom bill passes its final reading, Barak may also advance the elections, as he will not dare risk defeat in a referendum.
But this is speculative. For now Barak promises to bury Shalom's bill in committee. This could win him time to come back with an agreement in two or three months and then rush to a referendum before the Shalom bill faces its second reading.
There aren't many who believe that the bill can be kept in deep freeze forever. If no quick deal materializes, Shalom is sure to threaten to go to the high court just as Ramon did a year ago. The sense of deja vu in reverse must severely unsettle Barak.
Regardless of his defiant attempt to downplay yesterday's vote, he must be alarmed by the rare mutiny in his own coalition and by the equally rare and meaningful absolute unity in the ranks of the opposition. Like it or not, a new reality was born yesterday. (Jerusalem Post Mar 2)
Watch Your Language By Karin McQuillan
Asking Jews to agree about the peace process is like asking Democrats and Republicans to agree about welfare and taxes. One man's peace agreement is another man's appeasement and recipe for war. Passions run high, because the stakes are life and death, and the level of discourse is frequently intemperate.
If there was a rare slip into hateful speech by fringe elements, itwould be regrettable. Unfortunately the norm American Jews have set for our level of discourse is shameful. It is time to hold ourselves and our leaders accountable to higher standards of respectable debate and honesty.
The Talmud teaches us that using denigrating labels, even if such labels are factual is deeply unethical behavior We have unwritten ethical rules as well, about group cohesion and loyalty that are crucial to our survival as a people. We must stop abusing one another for honest differences of opinion.
Neither side has the moral high ground in the way it conducts public discourse. Some American Orthodox protesters against giving the Golan to Syria called Prime Minister Barak a traitor at Shepherdstown. Mr. Barak's ideas of giving up land and Jewish homes in exchange for advanced military technology may be tragically misguided, may legitimately be criticized as suicidal, but even so, he is not a traitor. His intentions are to do what is bent for his country. These issues can and must be debated on their merits. To do less is to misrepresent the validity at one's own position.
The "pro-peace" initiatives coming from liberal Jewish political and spiritual leaders in recent weeks are equally slanderous and hostile in characterizing Jews who disagree. An open letter from leaders of the Reform movement's Union of American Hebrew Congregations-affiliated ARZA /World Union and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism calls fellow Jews who are opposed to giving away the Golan "voices of hatred and intolerance and" "enemies of peace,. who want to "deprive another generation of normal. peaceful existence," and it links them to the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin.
Sadly, there seems to be an assumption that Orthodox-bashing is effective in rallying Reform troops, since the Orthodox are set up as the villains in this scenario. Stirring up ange r against the Orthodox as a way to buildup a Jewish peace movement is morally appalling, I call on all Reform Jews to express a loud and sustained zero. tolerance for Orthodox-bashing rhetoric from Reform rabbis and political leaders. Even if they were attacking a "handful" of opponents as the ARZA/World Union/Religious Action Center claims, their rhetoric is false and destructive.
Some polls show that 62% of Israelis and 72% of American Jews are against giving away the Golan. The motivations of these individuals are varied, of course, as is their level of Jewish observance, but are generally recognised as the desire to preserve peace through secure borders, belief in the proven policy of containment instead of appeasement of violent enemies, Israel’s legitimate historical and moral right to its current boundaries and so forth. Their intention is to act morally and sustain peace and security for Israel. Such opinions are not limited to any movement within Judaism.
In an effort to further delegitimie and disenfranchise Jews who disagree, the same Reform movement letter proclaims that "we, not the opponents of the peace initiatives, represent the majority of North American Jewry. We represent more than 885 synagogues and 1.5 million Jews" What a claim: Is this the democratic process? We all know that Jews choose a synagogue for religious and community reasons, not as a political endorsement for any party line. Affiliation with the Reform synagogues is not the same as representing the views of their members on negotiating with Syria. Such claims harm the campaign the campaign to bring unaffiliated Jews into the Reform fold: Is there a litmus test for wanting to join a synagogue?
When confronted with the inappropriateness of the Reform letter’s rhetoric, the director of the Religious Action Center, Rabbi David Saperstein, who is one of the authors of the letter, made the unapologetic concession to the Jewish Advocate Newspaper in Boston that "when you go quickly you can always make it better."
This level of discourse is not good enough. What a quick leap we make from what should be advocacy for one’s favored policy to tarring fellow Jews as traitors or assassins. This is politics on the level of vaudeville, but it is not at all funny. It is dangerous, it is divisive, it is ugly. It leaves no possibility for listening and learning from one another, for formulating policies that take all viewpoints into account We need 1eaders to support Jewish unity in dealing with the deadly problems that face us. We are all in this together, and we an want peace and security. Now let’s listen to one another about the best way to accomplish our goals.
The writer is a member of the Sisterhood at Temple Isaiah, a Reform synagogue in Lexington, Mass. (Forward Feb 18)
Iran's Elections - a Cause to Rejoice? By Stephen M. Flatow
The Western world did headstands and cartwheels this week as Iranian election results indicated that "reformers" easily won a majority of seats in Iran's parliament. According to news reports, "the Clinton administration is "welcoming" election results as "as pointing toward a stronger hand for reformers who seek more freedom and engagement with the world."
Calling State Department statements "warm," the Associated Press reports that "the balloting was a historic event, with the Iranian people showing they want policies that give them more freedom."
Does "more freedom" for the Iranian people mean a different way for Iran to conduct business in the world?
While Iranians have come to expect major changes in society since their "reformer" President Mohammed Khatami began widening individual freedoms, freeing the press and reducing the clergy's interference in the government, the legal system and daily life, does it mean there is reason to expect the US to drop Iran from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism?
I think we must take a wait-and-see approach to the true impact of the Iranian elections before we jump into Khatami's arms and proclaim more than 20 years of Iranian hostility to the US at an end.
HERE ARE some facts: Just a few months ago it was revealed in the US press that Iran was rebuffing American efforts to warm up relations with Iran.
President Clinton even went so far as to secretly ask the Iranian government for help in uncovering evidence behind the bomb attack at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Instead of assistance, he received a stone cold silence from Iran, notwithstanding Iranian statements condemning terrorism.
Apparently expressing its frustration with Iran, the Clinton administration then let be known that Iran may have had more than a passing role in the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, and possible involvement in the Khobar Towers attack.
Last summer, Khatami met in Damascus with the heads of Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, the group that killed my daughter Alisa in 1995, and other terrorist groups intent on destroying the State of Israel - not to dissuade them from terrorism, but to support them. The meetings must have paid off, as Hizbullah has obtained weapons (some of US origin) that have wreaked havoc in the Lebanon security zone, causing Israel to rethink its position in southern Lebanon.
Islamic Jihad has attempted several attacks within Israel but due to good security work by Israel and the terrorists' ineptitude, injury and damage were kept to a minimum.
In addition, what of the 13 Iranian Jews who have been arrested and charged with treason? If not for the loud outcry from the rest of the world, these unfortunates would most probably have gone to meet their maker by now. Will Iran's reformers now release them?
Let's hold off on the optimism until we see real results from the elections in Iran. Let's wait for the cessation of financial, moral, and material support for terrorist groups in the Middle East. Let's wait for Iran to recognize and admit its role as the sponsor of death in Lebanon, Israel, and around the world. Let's wait for Iran to stop development of weapons of mass destruction.
But let's not hold our breath until that happens. (Jerusalem Post Feb 25)
The writer has obtained a $247.5 million judgment against Iran for its role in the terror attack that killed his daughter, Alisa, in 1995.
Destroying Peace By Uri Dan
The weakness portrayed by the Israeli government endangers the peace agreements signed with our neighbors and the cold, fragile peace already achieved.
Certain actions taken by surrounding Arab nations against Israel point to this:
A sadistic comedy is taking place: The harder Barak tries to present Assad and Damascus with the entire Golan Heights in return for a scrap of paper, the more the threats and anti-Israeli incitement increase on the part of the Arabs.
This is a kind of orchestrated hate and incitement that we have not heard for many years. Even poor Lebanon is challenging and threatening Israel.
SOME Israelis are prepared to explain any Arab abomination against their country and to understand it.
Itamar Rabinovich, professor and ex-ambassador to Washington, who prides himself as being an expert on Syria, was quoted this week in Yediot Aharonot as saying: "Comparison of Israel with the Nazis is an accepted form of slur against us in the Arab world. The Syrians do not like the large number of Jews in the Clinton administration and respond in a distorted manner. They feel hurt and choose to use the most offensive form of imagery."
The professor, who sounds like a neutral UN observer, reaches the conclusion: "In my opinion Israel must accept the situation as it is, and take into account that one cannot make the transition from a conflict to a peaceful, loving relationship overnight. There is a need for a period of transition."
Clearly, the Arab campaign of hate and incitement from Damascus to Cairo which compares Israel to the Nazis is intended to provide legitimization for destroying the Jewish state, using a combination of force and diplomatic moves.
The professor, who is known to support giving the Golan Heights to Syria, says: "Israel must accept the situation as it is." This response is similar to that of Jews who lived in Germany and Poland in the Thirties, most of whom, when Hitler and Goebbels screamed that they must be annihilated, said: "This will pass." This is more or less what Rabinovich is saying. The professor and those sharing his opinion among the politicians and ministers in Jerusalem do not wish to understand that an Arab hate campaign of this kind has a momentum of its own.
The words of incitement are sure to be followed by acts of belligerency.
The greater the territorial concessions Barak makes to the Syrians and Palestinians "for the sake of peace," the more fragile the relations between Israel and the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Palestinians.. Jordanian King Abdullah and his ministers are being forced to adopt anti-Israeli positions in order to support their Arab brethren in Syria and Egypt. This is a dangerous turn of events. Someone seems to have forgotten how Abdullah's father, King Hussein, was dragged into the aggression of Egypt and Syria before the 1967 Six Day War because of the momentary weakness radiated at that time by Levi Eshkol's government.However, the 1967 government now appears as ferocious as a lion compared to our current government, which is begging for a less-than-peace agreement with Syria, and which is undermining real peace, as far as it exists.
This is an extremely dangerous situation which should remind Israel of an iron rule: Peace between Israel and the Arabs which has already been achieved and which will be achieved in the future can only exist if Israel is capable of protecting it. (Jerusalem Post Feb 24)
Defense Pact? JINSA Report
In 1979, JINSA published a "quick reference guide" to Israel as a security asset for the United States. It noted that Israel is stable, pro-Western and democratic; has a strong defense infrastructure and Western military orientation; an educated, technologically sophisticated population with language skills including not only our language, but also those of potential adversaries; and occupies a strategic location. All still true.
Today, the United States and Israel face threats that are being considered in tandem -- the proliferation of ballistic missiles and WMD being the most important. On a recent trip to Israel, a JINSA group was told intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and Israel regarding the threats posed by Iran and Iraq is so close that "there is no daylight between us." Excellent.
But -- and this is a HUGE "but" -- trying to transform the strong and mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel security relationship into a formal alliance is a terrible idea. The U.S. floats it periodically when it is trying to tempt Israel to offer to do something that should only be done in response to concrete changes in Arab behavior. The idea this time is that a defense pact can give Israel the "confidence" to vacate the Golan Heights even if Syria remains a threat. It is the wrong premise. If Israel and Syria conclude a broad agreement that includes changes in Syria that turn Damascus into a good neighbor, an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan might be included as well. But right now the Syrians aren't discussing anything with Israel, so continuing discussions of a defense pact amount to a bilateral negotiation about how the U.S. could protect Israel from the results of a unilateral Israeli decision to withdraw from the high ground. Why?
Then what about a "mutual defense pact" in which an attack on Israel would be responded to as an attack on the U.S.? Two mutual defense pacts in which the U.S. participates are NATO and U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK). Israel more closely resembles the latter; a small country protecting itself by using the threat of American retaliation to accomplish the deterrence that the threat of its own retaliation cannot. In exchange for its American troops, the ROK has given up the right to unilateral action, to preemption, to a piece of its independence. Will Israel?
And "mutual" means both ways. But Israel has already made it clear that it wants to be excluded from such American commitments as Yugoslavia, while it wants the benefits of technology cooperation at the level of Great Britain and an assured level of military aid.
The idea appears to have been shelved temporarily, as the State Department announced that it prefers to pursue mechanisms for strengthening Israel's own capabilities. We always prefer an Israel able to defend itself. For 21 years the sine qua non of JINSA has been the belief that a strong and secure Israel is an asset to be relied upon by American military planners; and conversely, a weakened Israel, regardless of how it is weakened, is less of an asset. A formal defense alliance will take us in the wrong direction. (JINSA Feb 28)
US Will Demand Post-Assad Concessions from Israel By Aaron Lerner
Supporters of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's scramble to complete a deal with Syrian President Hafez Assad before his demise argue that his successor won't be able to make the security or other concessions necessary to seal the deal.
These "deal now" proponents, however, choose to ignore the very serious possibility that if Barak signs a treaty with Assad now that Israel will be pressured, after Assad's demise, to allow Post Assad Syria (PAS) to renege on the very security and other concession that enabled Barak to agree to leave the Golan in the first place.
Israel will be expected to accept significantly increased PAS force deployments in the nearby Damascus area to protect the regime against its enemies - both foreign and domestic.
America can be expected to accelerate weapons supplies to PAS, arguing that the additional weapons and training will both appease the potentially rebellious army and allow America to develop closer relations with the new generation of Syrian military leaders. As always, America will maintain that the additional weapons and training will not disturb the balance of power in the Middle East (a Department of Defense tautology: since sales are only permitted if they do not disturb the balance, any sale proposed does not disturb the balance since otherwise it couldn't be proposed).
The Israeli presence in Syria - diplomatic, commercial and otherwise - will be reduced to a bare minimum in order to placate PAS opposition forces.
In a repeat of the Oslo experience, Israel will be expected to ignore Syrian noncompliance since requiring compliance would undermine an already weak PAS regime.
Additional PAS demands against the Jewish State will also be accepted with understanding as part of PAS leadership's efforts to shore up their position in the Arab world.
"Deal now" proponents argue that Israel would never be expected by America to jeopardize its security just to keep PAS stable, but they ignore the "salami" nature of the concessions Israel can be expected to make for the sake of PAS. As Israel's short history has shown, concessions that only recently were considered unthinkable can quickly become derigueur.
And, as President Clinton has made clear, the only relevant Israeli "sacrifice for peace" is the one it hasn't yet made. (IMRA Feb 27)