A Collection of the Week's News from Israel

A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee
of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Congregation

24 Adar 5759    March 12, 1999    Issue number 208


Arutz 7 Law Not Voided; Trial Postponed

The Supreme Court decided on Monday to recognize - with reservations - the legality of what has become known as the Arutz 7 law. The three judges ordered the Communications Ministry to refrain from assigning frequencies to Arutz 7 and the other stations involved until two weeks from now. The petitioners had asked that the law be nullified, but learned to their chagrin that it had already been registered on the official State gazette. The government, the Knesset, and MK Tzvi Hendel - the law's sponsor - have 14 days to respond to the petitioners' claims against the law. A larger Supreme Court forum of five to seven justices will be convened to hear the case. Constitutional law expert Mordechai Haller told Arutz 7, "The decision today was truly earth-shattering, in that the Court actually issued an injunction against the implementation of a duly-accepted Knesset law, without having heard any evidence against its legality, and without the petitioners having shown how the law causes them irreversible damages. The petitioners didn't even show how the law causes them *any* damages!" One of the petitioners against the law, Meretz MK Yossi Sarid, admitted earlier this morning to Army Radio, "I erred [several years ago] when I sponsored a special law to legalize Abie Nathan's ship-based radio station... However, there is a difference between then and now, in that there was a national consensus regarding Abie Nathan." Arutz 7 sources noted that its 500,000 listeners - far more than Nathan ever had - represent a sizeable national consensus in their own right. (Arutz 7 Mar 8)

The trial against the heads and broadcasters of Arutz 7 was renewed Tuesday in the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem. Arutz 7's attorney, Dan Sela, requested that the trial be put off until after the decision on the Arutz 7 law, and the judge in fact said that the next session will be held only after the Supreme Court decision is handed down. The station's Executive-Director, Yaakov Katz (Ketzele), addressed himself today to Monday's Supreme Court decision: "Some of the press reports about it seem a bit confused, but the more serious papers have it right: The Court froze the implementation of the Arutz 7 law, but the law itself remains in effect. This means that Arutz 7 is totally kosher, although the technical matters, such as the frequencies, are temporarily being held up." Katz explained that he is not concerned with the possibility that the law will be nullified at the next hearing. "Almost all of the top jurists in Israel deem it inconceivable that the Court would nullify a duly-legislated Knesset law. It has never happened before in Israel, and I don't think that it will happen with us. Most of the Knesset voted in favor of the law, and many opposition members voted with their feet by not showing up to the vote at all. The problem is that the petition against the law is officially against Communications Minister Livnat and Education Minister Rabbi Levy (in his capacity as the one responsible for the Second Channel), and they are allowing themselves to be represented by Atty.-Gen. Elyakim Rubenstein. Since he has basically allied himself with the most extreme-left elements in the Justice and Communications Ministries against Arutz 7, it is fitting that they should appoint someone else to represent them. How can they, who are associated with the Land of Israel camp and the nationalist camp, let themselves be represented by Rubenstein? Look at MK Tzvi Hendel [who sponsored the Arutz 7 law in the Knesset]: he saw that he was not being represented in the right way, so he hired someone else!" (Arutz 7 Mar 9)

Hareidi Efforts in Yesha

Something new on the Yesha [Judea and Samaria] political scene: an active campaign by Rabbi Meir Porush and the hareidi United Torah Judaism party to woo voters for the upcoming election. He acknowledged that there were differences of ideology between the religious-Zionist camp - which comprises a large portion of Yesha voters - and his party, but "what bothers Yesha residents greatly is that during the four years of Labor rule, there was little or no construction. When the Netanyahu government was elected, and I took over the Housing Ministry, we began building. I say straight out that what we did wasn't enough, compared to what the Palestinians have built during this time, but we built a considerable amount, and others have praised us for this." Arutz-7's Haggai Segal asked Porush if he thinks that UTJ's appeal to Yesha residents reflects a historical rapprochement between the hareidi and religious-Zionist communities. Porush responded, "Many Yesha residents are 'hareidi Zionists,' somewhat different than their representatives on the religious Knesset lists. Quite a few, for instance, participated in the massive prayer rally in Jerusalem two weeks ago." Segal asked Porush what his party's platform says regarding the "final status" arrangement with the Palestinians. "We feel the great pain of having to give up parts of our Land," Porush answered. "The Council of Torah Sages at the time of the Hevron agreement, and at other times, expressed this clearly... In fact, our big problem with the [political] left is the enthusiasm it displays when giving up land. We sat in the opposition for four years during the Labor government - which translates into fewer classrooms for our students, and less money for yeshivot - but we did this because we just couldn't join a Meretz-inspired government... There are those who would fight for every single grain of the Land... [but] what is important is to create facts on the ground - to settle another hill, and another, and another. I was quite cautious during my tenure not to speak too much about our activities, but rather just to act without talking." (Arutz 7 Mar 8)

Hizbullah Wants Jerusalem

"An IDF withdrawal from Lebanon is only part of what Hizbullah wants. What they are really driving for is the capture of Jerusalem." So said O.C. Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yom Tov Samiyeh, speaking yesterday before high school students in Be'er Sheva. Other sources confirm that the word Hizbullah literally means "Party of God," and the organization is committed, by its own - Arabic - admission, to the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in all of Israel. Regarding Lebanon itself, Samiyeh said, "If there was no security zone in southern Lebanon, it would have to be invented." Other high-ranking army officials have criticized Labor party leader Ehud Barak's call for a withdrawal from Lebanon within one year, saying it is "an unrealistic political gimmick, and distracting to the soldiers in Lebanon." (Arutz 7 Mar 5)

Caravans Held up in Hevron

The residents of Hevron prevented the entry of four new caravans (mobile homes without wheels) to Admot Yeshai (Tel Romeida) Tuesday. The caravans are scheduled to replace older homes in the neighborhood, and were promised following the terrorist-murder of Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan there last summer. In exchange, the army plans to open Tarpat St. - the only route to Admot Yeshai - to Palestinian traffic. It is for this reason, Hevron spokesman Noam Arnon explained to Arutz-7 today, that the residents object to the caravans: "The opening of this road to Arab traffic is simply life-threatening to us, and that's why the army has closed the road to Arabs until now. I don't want to be vulgar about this, but we already paid for these new caravans with the life of Rabbi Ra'anan; there is no reason why we have to pay again with the opening of this road, and there is no reason why every forward step in the development of Hevron's Jewish community should be accompanied by a gesture to the Arabs that endangers our security." (Arutz 7 Mar 9)

Itamar Hilltop Won't Be Evacuated

The threat of evacuation hanging over residents of a hill east of Itamar has passed. The Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria had ordered the ten residents of the Shomron community to evacuate the structures in which they have been living for the past three months on Hill #777. The army threatened to evacuate them by force, if necessary, and soldiers in fact began arriving on the scene. However, it happened that Education Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Levy also arrived on a visit to the area Tuesday, and this became a crucial factor in the developments. When he saw that the residents might be evacuated, he called Prime Minister Netanyahu, who then called Defense Minister Moshe Arens, who recalled the soldiers and cancelled the evacuation. Thirty families of the secular movement Chayil plan to move to the hill in the near future. Rabbi Levy, speaking with Arutz-7 from the site, said, "I'm not sure why the order to evacuate was given, but I hope that it was just a misunderstanding and that it won't repeat itself... We have only one concern: to ensure that the communities here remain..." (Arutz 7 Mar 9)

Senator Mack Accuses Palestinians

"The Palestinian leadership does not want peace," but rather a state it can use to "eliminate the State of Israel." So said Senator Connie Mack (R-FL), in the course of his address to the U.S. Senate last Wednesday. "While the Government of Israel makes good faith efforts to come to a peace agreement, the Palestinian Authority teaches children hatred. Our President's behavior [in criticizing Israel and supporting Arafat] must be labeled 'foolish appeasement,'" Sen. Mack said. The Senator delivered his speech in front of a poster-sized photograph of a scene from a PA television program for children - prepared by Peace for Generations - showing a child saying, "When I wander into the entrance of Jerusalem, I will turn into a suicide warrior in battledress!" The photo was accompanied by large-size excerpts from PA school textbooks featuring anti-Jewish statements. As well as urging the Clinton administration to pressure the Palestinians to accept Israel's existence, Mack called on the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue the capture of Palestinian murderers of American citizens. Senator Mack recently returned from a trip to Israel, where he met with Joyce Boim, Esther Wachsman and Yehudit Dasberg, whose children were just a few of the American citizens killed by Palestinian Arab terrorists. Mack also told the Senate of his encounter in Israel with Palestinian persecution of Christians. Palestinian supporters in the U.S. called the Senator's speech "another blow to the peace process." (Arutz 7 Mar 7)

German Aid to Palestinian Authority

Contacts are underway between Yasser Arafat and Germany regarding German sponsorship of a land passage connecting Gaza and Judea/Samaria. Under discussion is a highway or a railroad track. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that Jerusalem sources are fuming at the initiation of foreign projects within the State of Israel. (Arutz 7 Mar 5)

Shachak: Broad-based Agreement Is Necessary

The new centrist party will work to preserve Yesha settlement blocs in Israeli hands in the framework of a final settlement with the Palestinians. So says former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shachak, number two on the centrist party list. In an interview with Arutz 7, Shachak stated that he knows that the topic of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will definitely arise during the negotiations with the Palestinians. "We must come to an agreement with the Palestinians that has the broadest possible base of support within Israel," he said. Regarding Lebanon, Shachak criticized Labor party leader Ehud Barak's announcement that the IDF should withdraw from Lebanon within a year. "A withdrawal is not the answer. The key to the problem must be found in Syria. We must negotiate with them, and even though they will surely demand the entire Golan, we will make our own demands, and we will try to come to an agreement." (Arutz 7 Mar 4)

Molotov Attack near Western Wall

An unidentified Arab threw a Molotov cocktail onto a balcony in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem last Thursday. "I was attending a Bar Mitzvah lunch on a patio overlooking the Western Wall," said Arutz 7 correspondent Ron Meir, "when suddenly, a huge orange flame surged upwards from a balcony in a building opposite us and burned for about 15 seconds. Within minutes, two soldiers had taken up posts on the stone walls enclosing the balcony, while police 'crashed' our party in order to obtain eyewitness reports." The firebomb landed on the porch of a Jewish home across from the Western Wall, but caused no injuries. (Arutz 7 Mar 4)

Terrorist Activity on the Rise

Jerusalem Police Chief Yair Yitzchaki confirms that there has been an increase in Arab violent activity in the capital: "There has been a rise in firebombs, stabbings, and the like." Defense Minister Moshe Arens predicted a week ago that the Palestinians would step up their small-scale attacks on Israelis as the elections approach, just as they carried out major terrorist attacks before the previous elections three years ago. (Arutz 7 Mar 7)

Arabs Fail to Uproot Orchard

Some 200 Palestinian Arabs attempted to uproot an entire olive orchard of the Gush Katif community of Morag last Wednesday. The HaKol MeHashetach news agency reports that the marauders came equipped with five tractors. An IDF force intervened and dispersed the Arabs, but not before they blocked the Morag junction for a half-hour. (Arutz 7 Mar 4)

State Department Report Accused of Misrepresentation

The U.S. State Department's 1998 annual human rights report basically equates violent Palestinian Arabs with the Israeli residents of Judea-Samaria. So accuses the Zionist Organization of America. In its human rights report entitled "The Occupied Territories," the State Department states, "Israeli civilians, including settlers, continued to harass, abuse, and attack Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." Two sentences later, it uses the same language to refer to Palestinian attacks on Jews: "Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continued to harass, abuse, and attack Israelis, especially settlers." Referring to the attacks on Arabs, it lumps together cases where Arabs were killed either in self-defense, by unidentified persons, or pre-meditatedly. The ZOA comments that the report "makes it appear as if both sides are equally guilty of aggressive violence. In fact, the violence consists of Arabs throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli motorists or policemen [and subsequent Israeli self-defense]." The ZOA continues, "During 1998, at least 86 Israelis traveling in the territories or the Old City of Jerusalem, or soldiers or policemen serving there, were injured in attacks by Palestinian Arab rock-throwers," and provides a list of the cases. The State Department's human rights report makes no mention of these 86 Israeli victims, except to say very generally, "There were periodic reports of Israeli cars being stoned by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza," as opposed to the detailed list it provided of attacks on Arabs. ZOA President Morton Klein said, "It is appalling that the State Department report ignores the Palestinian Authority's ghastly human rights abuses against Christian Arabs, such as threats, arrests on trumped-charges, and torture, simply because they are Christians." (Arutz 7 Mar 4)

PA Doesn't Want to "Solve" Refugee Problem

The Palestinian Authority firmly opposes the absorption of Arab refugees from 1948 into the borders of a future Palestinian state as a solution to the refugee problem. MEMRI in Washington reports that in a press conference in Ramallah Sunday, As'ad Abd Al-Rahman, Chairman of the PLO's Refugee Department, said, "The refugees will not be satisfied with citizenship in the Palestinian State after its establishment... We are not willing to discuss any alternatives." Al-Rahman added, "The Palestinian state will be [just] one of the states hosting the refugees, who insist on returning to their homes and homeland." He said that his department will "protect the political rights of the refugees to return to their homes and to receive compensation for 50 years of suffering and loss of revenues from their property." (Arutz 7 Mar 4)


Netanyahu's Secret By Ari Shavit

Nearly six years have passed since Benjamin Netanyahu was elected the Likud's leader. Nearly three years have passed since he was installed as prime minister. Yet, apparently, his many distraught and steadily increasing rivals still cannot figure out the secret of his strength. They still cannot produce a logical explanation for why this figure whom they hate so much defeated them in May 1996 and might perhaps defeat them again this May. A partial answer has been found to this mystery. Some people have noted that one of Netanyahu's sources of strength is the fact that, to a certain extent, he is the member of a minority group, a semi-outsider who is "not one of us." The black prince, the illegitimate son, who has come in from the cold and from another world, and who has captured the palace and throne. In contemporary Israeli society - most of whose members consider themselves members of minority groups, semi-outsiders who are "not one of us" - the total outsider sitting on the throne can enjoy support whose emotional roots go very deep.

The more the "Tel Aviv clique" condemns Netanyahu, whom they find disgusting and completely reject, the more favor he finds in the eyes of many Israelis who themselves feel completely rejected. I am referring to the Sephardim, Russians and religious Jews who feel locked out of Israeli society's inner circle.

There is another, more important answer. Netanyahu is supported by wide segments of the Israeli public not because of his track record - which impresses very few - and not because he inspires trust or love - he is no Bill Clinton and no Menachem Begin - but rather because many Israelis regard him as the nation's ultimate braking mechanism, its last line of defense, the last real goalkeeper in the Jewish national soccer team, alone between the goal posts. Nearly all the other team members have become too tired and left the field, scattering in every direction, after having failed to understand the rules of the game.

Netanyahu's strength does not stem from any advice he has received from his well-paid consultant, Arthur Finkelstein. Nor is it based on his proven manipulative powers - Labor has its own Finkelsteins. Barak, Shahak and Mordechai are skilled manipulators. Netanyahu has one asset that all the retired generals trying to defeat him lack: the strategic asset of being identified with the Jewish national movement's struggle, with Zionism's fight for survival. Having developed a political style clearly distinguishable from both the post-nationalism of Yossi Beilin and his subcontractors and Benny Begin's and Hanan Porat's nationalistic dogmatism, Netanyahu has become an almost unrivaled political player.

He has transformed himself into someone regarded by half of all Israelis as the sole representative of a rational, national policy; the sole Israeli leader who really understands the cruel laws of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute and knows how to maneuver around them; the sole Israeli leader who, while driven by an authentic ideology, has those qualities that are indispensable to the leader of any national movement - pragmatism, cunning and survivability - and that frightening ability to be a wolf among wolves, a tiger among tigers, a predator among the jungle's predators.

The many Israelis in Ofakim, Dimona and Tiberias who tell pollsters that they forgive Netanyahu for his mistakes, failures and lies and that - despite everything - they will vote Bibi are not suffering from temporary brain failure nor are they illiterate, indecisive or brainwashed. They simply understand what many of the Tel Aviv clique do not: the Middle East's national struggles have not ended, but are actually reaching a climax, and Israel thus needs a nationalistic leader who grasps the contours of the saga we are all trapped in.

If the left wants to lose another election, it should continue with its hollow, pseudo-social propaganda that the real issue is unemployment and that Ehud Barak is an authentic, empathetic, kind-hearted leader whose eyes fill with tears when he thinks of our unemployed. If the left wants to win, it is not too late to change direction and to concretely prove - not through campaign slogans - that it offers a real, rational, nationalistic agenda; that it is committed to the creation of a Jewish national character that is enlightened, ethical and democratic; that it alone can safeguard Israel's vital interests; that the left, not Netanyahu, should conduct our national quest for peace; and that the left, not Netanyahu, should be the national goalkeeper in the difficult days that lie ahead after May. (Ha'aretz March 4)

Defeatism Is Their Trade By Amnon Lord

The history of the defense of the northern border is a reflection of political, sociological and psychological processes in Israeli society as a whole. At the start, any fighting on the northern border was a pristine, consensual affair, devoid of politicization in Israel. The majority of Israelis aged 40 or older can recall that this was a quiet border. Thus, when terror activity ensued in the north at the start of the 70's, there was no issue of political debate or high policy; no symposia were held in a country where everything is considered "politics" It was clear that all military activity designed to neutralize the terrorists would be axiomatic. The elementary duty of a state and its army is to protect the welfare of its citizens. Then things evolved, with an alliance forged with the Christians under the Labor government in the 70's. It appears that the turning point, after which this axiomatic situation converted to a political issue, occurred in 1982, when the Begin government deployed the IDF for the Lebanon War. When a left government came into power again, a consensus re-crystallized, concerning the dangers and risks that could be endured to protect the towns and settlements in the north. But during these long years, a process of collapse evolved among sectors of the population, particularly among the middle class and the upper class which are represented well in the media; today, due to this process, a psychological syndrome of defeatism is manifest. During the past decade, the IDF's situation in Lebanon has not altered; if anything, in the past year it has improved. There are no infiltrations of the border, and Katyusha fire in recent years really has been negligible. Many of the sons of these social classes, which include Ramat Aviv Gimmel, Ramat Hasharon, the kibbutzes, Rehavia, Baka, and so on, continue to serve in combat units and are deployed in Lebanon. Their reference groups continue to be the family, newspaper headlines, televisions, and demonstrators; and this population sector is unable to bear the war burden which the sons in the elite units actually engage heroically.

This paradoxical situation does not reflect Israeli society as a whole. Israeli society today, including the IDF, is much stronger than what it was in 1982, or 1973. But these same population groups, from which Erez Gerstein came, and from which veteran media correspondents come, are the ones who set the tone for the public debate, and they are empowered to set an agenda; meantime, positive parts of Israel's society, which are trying to get their message across, remain repressed, and have yet to make themselves heard.

The conflict which arose months ago between Erez Gerstein and the Four Mothers protest group symbolizes this crisis. Gerstein claimed just a few months ago -- and he was reprimanded scornfully by the media and political establishment for making this claim - that the protest group's activity does not derive from national interest calculations, but rather from self-interested and political motivations. He went out on a limb, arguing that the protest activity actually endangers the lives of IDF soldiers directly. This is how the picture looks: members of Erez's social sphere, who are not at the front, are prepared to cause the IDF's rout in Lebanon, the price of which their own sons will pay, because they have their own enemies, ones who are located within Israel's own domestic political system. They prophesied about how "we have tried everything," so as to dodge responsibility for their demands.

Israel's political leadership must take this situation into account, and it must be strong enough to disregard public opinion sounded by a few defeatist voices and their delegates in the political system. The soldiers who are fighting in Lebanon are defending, as MK Ori Orr put it correctly, the Golan Heights. To that I would add that they're also fighting for Kfar Saba and Ramat Hasharon. (Yedioth Ahronot Mar 7)

Weakness Won't Help Us By Dr. Aaron Lerner

Israel's reaction today to the situation in Lebanon will set the pattern for Arab - Israeli relations on every front. Ehud Barak has bluntly stated that the way to get safely out of Lebanon is to start negotiating Israel's withdrawal from the Golan. And what happens if the negotiations fail? Or even stall?

As Labor MK Ori Orr put it, the people killed in Lebanon didn't die defending Israel's presence in Lebanon. They died in the war for the Golan. You know it, I know it, Barak knows it and, most important of all, President Assad knows it: If the Jewish State doesn't have the stomach for casualties in Lebanon - and I don't for a minute minimize the gravity of the losses and the terrible strain and tension involved in maintaining our position there - and reacts to the situation not by repositioning for purposes of efficiency but rather withdraws from fear - then the best way to advance the interests of the Arabs at any stage of the negotiations is through renewed violence.

The 'Four Mothers' pushing us out of Lebanon will then push to leave the West Bank and Gaza. And it won't stop there. Because once the pattern is set, once the weakness is shown, only a fool would not continue to exploit it. And the Arabs are not fools. The mothers will push us out of the Golan and out of east Jerusalem. And when terrorists strike inside Israel to 'advance' negotiations over the return of refugees to Jaffa and Haifa, the mothers will press for the floodgates to be open. And when terrorists strike again because too many Jews are immigrating to Israel, the mothers will demand that the gates be closed. And when terrorists insist that the only solution is a Palestinian state from the river to the sea, the mothers, hoping that this finally will bring 'peace in our time' will press for this one last concession. And it won't be the last.

I have a message for Binyamin Netanyahu: Stop running after the polls. The public is confused and shifting attitudes like quicksand. If you think that you can win the game by convincing the public that you are everything for everyone you are doomed to failure. Your only chance in the 2nd round is to stand up and tell the truth. Don't tell the public that you are confident you can cut a deal with Syria without leaving the Golan. Tell them that you have red lines. That's right. Red Lines. And they aren't arbitrary or simply a matter of ideology. These red lines are a matter of reality. Tell us that you will make every effort to cut a deal with Syria, and Arafat, and the Lebanese (if there is someone to talk to there) but your red lines are real. You won't make a deal at any price.

Tell us to our faces that, at the end of the day we may find that the Syrians or Arafat make demands that simply cannot be accepted. Have the respect for the intelligence of the Israeli public to state that you cannot guarantee peace in our time or a deal with one of our neighbors in 12 weeks or 12 months.

Demographers tell us that for every identifiable Jew in the world today there are a large number of people carrying Jewish genes. Those others come from families that decided to take the easy route and convert - hiding and ultimately melting into their surroundings. We are here today because for two thousand years our forefathers had red lines and kept to them. And it wasn't easy.

I met last week with a group from America and someone asked me if Israel would ever reach the point that would longer need a standing army. I asked her when she thought the US or Australia would be in such a position.

Our situation is not unique. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that Israel is Sparta. Just that we're not in Paradise. And the sooner the politicians are honest about this painful reality the better off we all will be. (Arutz 7 Mar 4)

The Risk of Open Borders By Efraim Inbar

What might be the price of being able to eat humous in Damascus or shop in Beirut?

Israelis have always dreamed of open borders with their neighbors. For us, this has always meant being able to travel freely to eat humous in Damascus or to shop in Beirut. After being able to open an embassy in an Arab capital, this has been the litmus test for the type of peace we desire.

In contrast to Israel's territorial demands, the condition of free movement of people and goods across borders has the full support of the US, which accepts this Israeli interpretation of the quality of peace it expects in exchange for conquered territories. Free trade and open borders between states has always been the liberal recipe for prosperity and peace.

It is high time we reconsidered this emphasis on the free flow of people and goods, particularly if the differences in economic performance between us and our neighbors continues to grow.

Numbers are often boring, but instructive. The statistics provided by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies show that the disparity in the wealth of the average resident of Israel compared to his neighbors is very great. While the annual GNP per capita in Israel in 1997 was $17,800, the respective figures for Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Syria were: $4,400, $4,700, $4,800, $1,600, and $6,700.

The Israeli standard of living is thus nearly three to four times higher than that of our neighboring states and 10 times higher than that of the Palestinians. History has shown that an affluent country surrounded by poor neighbors generally elicits one of two responses from its destitute environment: immigration or conquest. Rome was conquered by much poorer hordes of barbarians. The Rome of today, the United States, struggles unsuccessfully to stop illegal immigrants coming in from Mexico. Prosperous contemporary Europe is inundated by waves of illegal immigrants from Third World countries. Germany alone has over five million foreigners on its soil.

Israel has gradually become a Western affluent society, which serves as a magnet for people trying to improve their economic lot. One clear reason for the Jewish immigration from countries of the former Soviet Union was the high standard of living Israel was offering.

Israel's economy has also attracted, however, at least 250,000 foreign workers, from Romania, Thailand, Turkey and Black Africa, ready to do the menial jobs Israelis are unwilling to take. Some of them have established families here, or brought their families from their home countries. The children of foreign workers constitute 40 percent of the pupils in some schools in south Tel Aviv.

Israel's workforce also includes tens of thousands of Palestinians, most of whom go back to their homes every day after working hours. Some, though, do not. There is increasing political pressure to allow Jordanian workers to commute to work in Israel. Jordan justly wants to show its population some peace dividends. Egypt could also become a source of cheap labor for the Israeli economy. There are already several thousand illegal Egyptian workers in our midst. Fortunately, there is a desert between Israel and the overpopulated Nile delta, or we would have long ago seen a stream of Egyptians trying to cross the border to find work in Israel.

Similarly, the state of war between Israel and Syria spares the Jewish state from an influx of Syrian workers trying to make a living in the Galilee. It should be noted that there are about one million Syrian workers in Lebanon. Many of them will probably stay, facilitating Syria's conquest of Lebanon.

In contrast to countries such as the US or Germany, Israel does not have the demographic critical mass to withstand the pressures of an internationally mobile manpower market. Our porous borders could prove to be an existential threat, because they could challenge the state's Jewish majority by mere immigration. Israel cannot afford to have too many foreign workers, because as history shows, many of them stay for good.

It is easier to close the borders to overseas job hunters than to our immediate neighbors, and while the responsibility for the economic conditions among out neighbors is with the Arab leaders, Israel has a clear interest in not having its neighbors be too hungry.

Simply put, such neighbors are dangerous. Our homes are already being burglarized and our cars stolen as result of the Green Line's permeability. This is an issue of internal security, which might be transformed into a severe external security challenge if not dealt with adequately.

Thus, our traditional demand for open borders with our neighbors is not necessarily in Israel's interest. (Jerusalem Post Mar 8)

The writer is associate professor of political studies and the director of theBegin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University

A "Quickie Trial" Palestinian Style By Ze'ev Segal

The story of the trial and execution of a Palestinian police officer, Ahmed Abu Mustafa, who was convicted of raping a minor and of the crime of harming "the honor of the Palestinian revolution in a manner which aroused the public against it", demonstrates that law and justice are very relative matters.

According to articles over the weekend by Amira Hass in Ha'aretz and Khaled Abu Toameh in the newspaper Tel Aviv, the "trial" - Palestinian Authority-style - was remote from even a semblance of justice. The published report had it that according to the prosecution's claim, a six-year old boy identified a senior Palestinian police officer as the one who cruelly raped him. The officer denied the charges against him. Hundreds

of Khan Yunis residents, demanding a "just trial", exploded into riots. To appease the agitated crowd, the officer was put on trial immediately, without his alibi being investigated and without the child being questioned about the statement he gave the police. The prosecution presented the court with medical reports which affirmed that the child had been the victim of a sexual assault, but which did not link the accused to the act. The defense attorney was not given an opportunity to question witnesses, nor was the relevant evidence presented to him for review. After a two-hour hearing, the accused was convicted of rape and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The death penalty was imposed on him since his act had caused agitation against the Palestinian Authority.

Two hours after the sentencing, which was approved by Yasser Arafat, the officer was executed. He was not given the right to appeal, considered a basic right and recognized, for example, by the Israeli administration in the territories upon the Israeli Supreme Court's ruling. Holding a criminal trial against an officer before a military court when the act is not connected to his position surprised a Palestinian legal expert, Dr. Ahmed Kharab, who wrote about the matter in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam. On the face of it, the conviction for the crime of inciting against the Palestinian Authority appears unreasonable, since proving the defendant's role in causing the riots appears impossible. The insubstantial investigation and the "quickie trial" did not prevent Palestinian police chief Ghazi Jabali from boasting in an interview about the Palestinian justice system and declaring that he "understands international law better than anyone."

The Palestinian Authority's trial deviated from all that is known as the "minimal international standard" by which an authority seeking to become a state is bound. The "trial", rendered a travesty, contravenes the Oslo Accords, which give the Palestinian Authority jurisdiction over crimes committed by Palestinians in areas under its control subject to an article in the agreement entitled "Human Rights and the Rule of Law." According to this article, the Palestinian Authority will exercise its jurisdiction "with due regard to internationally-accepted norms and principles of human rights and the rule of law." The security annex to the agreement states that the Palestinian police will act with due regard for accepted international norms regarding human rights and the rule of law, and will protect "human dignity". In the memorandum signed at Wye it states that the Palestinian Authority will conduct itself with due regard for accepted international norms.

That which is written in the Wye memorandum is the fruit of an American demand for the holding of fair trials. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's remarks in Beijing regarding the violation of human rights in China, reflect a policy that refuses to view such matters as "internal affairs." This policy should guide Israel and the donor countries which give to the Palestinian Authority. One can not ignore the obliteration of elementary principles.

The State of Israel has repeatedly expressed its readiness to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority on legal issues. The Joint Legal Committee, headed by Justice Ministry Director-General Nili Arad, formally exists as a result of the Oslo Accords, but it is inactive. The Legal Assistance Unit in the Justice Ministry, headed by Jean-Claude Nidam, is not called upon to do anything in this connection. Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein has expressed on more than one occasion his desire for maintaining contact with the Palestinian Authority on legal issues, but to no avail.

There will be those who will undoubtedly claim that the destruction of fundamental principles of fair trial proceedings in the Palestinian Authority is an internal matter. But this does not appear to be so at a time when there is a violation of the most elementary human rights, as opposed to deviation from the finer points of legal justice. The mention of the rule of law and human rights in the Oslo Accord and the Wye Memorandum was included in accordance with the widely-held philosophy in the international community, which states that one who seeks international recognition must accept upon himself, at the very least, the minimal standards accepted by everyone else. In particular, those who support a Palestinian state and seek to declare it and win international recognition for it must understand that a trial such as this does their cause no good. (Ha'aretz March 7)

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