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
August 3, 2001
Issue number 338
Another Israeli Teenager Falls Victim to Arab Terrorism
Another Jewish teenager was murdered by Arab terrorists in the Jerusalem area last Thursday night, the second such incident last week. Ronen Landau, 17, was driving home with his father and brother to Givat Ze'ev, just north of Jerusalem, when terrorists shot at his car from a passing truck. Bullets struck his head and/or back, and he was pronounced dead on the scene by an emergency medical team. The terrorists had fired at children in the nearby community of Givon immediately before continuing north to Givat Ze'ev, but no one was hurt. Ronen Landau was the 138th Israeli victim since the start of warfare on Rosh Hashanah. (arutzsheva.org Jul 27)
IDF Retaliates Against Terror, Rejects Condemnations
On Tuesday, the IDF struck Hamas headquarters in the PLO-controlled city of Shechem. The IDF fired direct hits on a seven-story structure used to house the terrorists who were operating with the assistance of the PA. Two of the terrorists who were killed, Jamal Salim and Jamal Mansor, were known to be senior commanders in the military ranks of the Hamas. As the IDF retaliation continues, Minister without portfolio Danny Naveh told Arutz 7 Tuesday that military pressure on Arafat must be increased and must be accompanied by a forceful Israeli campaign to uncover Arafat's true part in the terrorism. However, "Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is acting against those two goals," Naveh said. "Even though our public relations suffer when we are in a defensive posture... the Foreign Ministry has decided that delegitimizing Arafat is not their business." On Monday, helicopter gunships launched an attack against a weapons factory in PLO-controlled territory along Israel's southern coast. The aerial assault followed two waves of mortar attacks against Jewish communities in the same region. Shrapnel in one of the shellings lightly injured a small child in the Jewish community of Kfar Darom. Referring to Monday's retaliatory raid in Gaza, Minister of Communications Ruby Rivlin told Reuters News Agency that not only was it Israel's prerogative to respond to attacks, but "her obligation to do so," adding that the PA must be aware that attacks would be met with Israeli reprisals. The IDF Spokesman said Tuesday that the Hamas terrorists killed in that day's missile attack in Shechem were involved in the Dolphinarium attack - which claimed the lives of twenty-one Israeli youths - as well as a series of Netanya bombings and other atrocities. According to Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, they were responsible for the deaths of 37 persons and the injuring of 379. Ben-Eliezer says that the liquidation saved countless innocent lives. Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer added that only a few are aware of what the terrorists had been planning and were capable of doing in the future. "We tried talking to the Palestinian Authority (PA), we submitted [wanted] lists, but there was no response." Government spokesmen, responding to the international criticism of the Shechem operation, explained that the policy of targeting terrorists involves a minimum amount of force, prevents unnecessary injuries to innocent persons and is effective in preventing terrorist attacks. The IDF will continue its policy of killing wanted terrorists in the ongoing effort to thwart terrorism. Reacting to the deaths of Hamas operatives, Hamas leader Abed el- Aziz Rantisi announced that his terror organization would target a host of Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. Palestinian television is broadcasting direct calls by Palestinian Arab leaders for attacks on Jews throughout Israel (see item below). In a phone call made to a French news agency, a Fatah member threatened American and Jewish targets in Israel and abroad. (A7 Jul 31, Aug 1)
Clashes at The Temple Mount
Tisha B'Av Sunday saw tens of thousands of Jews of all stripes visit the Western Wall and other Old City sites. As many of them were reciting Tisha B'Av prayers and the traditional Kinot (lamentations) at the Wall, Arabs up above on the Temple Mount - Judaism's holiest site - began hurling large rocks at the Jewish worshippers below. The Jews were evacuated, some of them against their will, from the Western Wall plaza, while police blew open the nearest gate to the Mount, stormed in, and arrested some of the Arab attackers. Additional stoning attacks continued, prompting the police to forcefully enter the Mount in response; several policemen and Arabs were hurt. Police officials said that Arab MKs present on the scene incited the mobs to use violence against the Israelis. Islamic and PLO groups began inciting Palestinians as early as Friday to "physically protect" the Temple Mount from Jews planning to conduct a symbolic cornerstone laying ceremony for the Third Temple this morning. Despite Israeli assurances that the ceremony would not be held near the Mount, but rather at the parking lot outside the Old City's Dung Gate, the calls of incitement - what Prime Ministers Sharon's spokesman Raanan Gissin termed "Palestinian vilification and lies" - continued up through today. Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy had earlier informed Islamic Waqf officials that no Arab disturbances would be tolerated. (arutzsheva.org Jul 29)
Al Ahram: Arafat Approved Fatah Strikes
The latest issue of the official Egyptian weekly Al Ahram, discussing possible successors to Arafat, discloses that the PLO leader insisted on approving in advance every terrorist attack carried out by his Fatah organization. The paper said that Arafat's intention was to demean Marwan Barghouti, who heads Fatah in Judea and Samaria. (arutzsheva.org Jul 30)
Increase in Violent Broadcasts on Palestinian TV
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports that effective Tuesday the official Palestinian Authority TV increased its broadcast of clips which incite the viewers to anti-Israel violence. The clips include pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting at rioters, throwing tear gas grenades and graphic pictures of Arabs wounded or killed in confrontations. The pictures include close-up photographs of dead and wounded, of hospitalized children, funerals, bitter crying, screaming, and fearful children and elders. In many pictures the emphasis is on the activity of the masses in the riots, especially that of children. Some of the clips are staged, and actors take part in them. In one, a child is seen throwing a stone that shatters the Israeli flag. Young viewers are taught that their rocks have significant power. In another scene, subtitles convey Israeli soldiers' thoughts, portraying them as sadists wanting to kill Arab children. Another shows a young boy assuring an even younger child: "Don't be afraid, Don't be afraid, Allah is with them. The stone in their hand has turned into a Kalachnikov [assault rifle]." In a statement released Wednesday by the Prime Minister's office, Israel's leadership called on the international community to demand that Arab leaders immediately halt all terror, violence and incitement, and arrest terrorist elements. "The international community must make it clear to the Palestinians that they alone will bear the consequences of their actions and deficiencies." Since the Tenet understandings of 13 June, there have been some 850 Palestinian terrorist attacks resulting in 17 Israeli deaths and 94 casualties. (A7 Aug 1)
Chief of Staff: Arafat Giving Orders for Terrorism
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, speaking at an army induction center Tuesday, reviewed the events of the current terrorist war against Israel and described his assessment of the situation: "Over the last few days, there has been a sharp escalation in terror attacks under the direction of the Palestinian Authority. Since September, in my opinion, Arafat has given a 'green light' to mass killings in Israeli cities - this trend is being accelerated. There is now an unprecedented number of assaults against Israeli targets... Isaid beforehand that at least 57 of the Israelis murdered [in the current warfare] were victims of terrorist activity perpetrated by the various security arms of the Palestinian Authority and [Arafat-controlled] Fatah... We must erect an 'iron wall' to protect the citizens of the State of Israel and annihilate terrorism." The Chief of Staff related to the PA's obligation to apprehend Arab terrorists: "The Palestinians arrest wanted terrorists just for showŠthe 'arrested' terrorists are kept in safe remote houses and depart from there to carry out terrorist attacks. In short, there is no serious attempt to end the violence on the part of the Palestinians." Since September 2000, according to the Chief of Staff, there have been more than sixty terrorist attacks inside the pre-1967 lines of the State of Israel alone, with a sharp increase in warfare since February. At the same time, the IDF and other security services have apprehended more than 1,000 Arab terrorists and killed or injured tens of others. (arutzsheva.org Jul 31)
U.S. State Department Adds Palestinian Murderers to List
Testifying before the U.S. House International Relations Committee's Middle East panel last Thursday, William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said the State Department is going to rectify an official website which offers rewards for foreigners who murdered Americans abroad, but which omitted Palestinian murderers of US citizens. State Department policy has been not to offer rewards for the death of Americans killed in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza because it "would be detrimental to ongoing efforts to capture" suspects "and could increase the danger to American citizens and facilities overseas," according to a department report released in March. Morton Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America, said he was pleased by the decision. "It's the most explicit and direct answer we've ever gotten to the question of rewards," said Klein, who has been the driving force on the issue in the Jewish community. "It's the first time there has been a clear and public declaration that rewards will soon be offered for the capture of the several dozen Palestinian Arabs who have murdered 18 American citizens." Klein said it is still unclear whether the administration is going to offer rewards or just post the information on the Web site. (arutzsheva.org Jul 31)
Baby Born to Pass Family in Hevron
A baby daughter was born last week in Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem to Yitzchak and Oriyah Pass. Palestinian snipers in Hevron murdered their first child, ten-month-old Shalhevet, three months ago. The new baby's name: Renanah (Joy) Nechamah (Solace). (arutzsheva.org Jul 26)
Reviving a Yesha Town with a Yeshiva
An artists' village in the Northern Samaria region, surrounded on two sides by PLO-controlled territory, is about to experience a major population growth: Sa- Nur, now home to only eight people, will soon incorporate a yeshiva and possibly many new families into its landscape. Semyon Rabenko, security officer of Sa-Nur, told Arutz-7 today that before the outbreak of the current warfare, the "lively settlement" boasted tens of members, most of whom were artists. However, he said, personal hardship and a "feeling of siege" caused almost all of them to move to more convenient locales. "There is no public transportation," he said, "and in fact, there is nothing here at all!" The tide may be changing, though. Rabbi Uriel Gurfinkel of Kedumim told Arutz-7 of a new initiative to start a yeshiva in Sa-Nur, with the hope of bringing new life. "As part of our Chabad House activities," he said, "we were involved in making food deliveries to settlements in the area, including Sa-Nur. When we saw the situation there, we turned to the Secretary of the town, and he suggested that we open a yeshiva there and make it the focus of our Beit Chabad activities. We talked about it, and with support from many sources, both inside and outside Chabad- Lubavitch, we decided to go for it." The yeshiva, to be opened on the first of Elul [the beginning of the academic-yeshiva year; this year it falls on August 20], will have approximately 12-15 students. More far-reaching plans include bringing families from throughout the country to live in the settlement. In the words of Rabbi Gurfinkel, "The place deserves to be a yishuv [community], not just a yeshiva." Rabenko and the other residents of Sa-Nur are "very happy about the idea, and we are trying to support the yeshiva students as much as we can... We have high hopes for the new project." The remaining residents of the artists' village and the rabbis and students of the yeshiva have "already established a positive chemistry," said Rabenko. Rabbi Gurfinkel, for his part, said that Chabad, Sa-Nur and everyone involved in the renewal project have common goals: "To make the yeshiva a success and the village bloom, and to ensure that the Northern Shomron will remain settled, and that those who left will return." (arutzsheva.org Jul 26)
Psagot Celebrates Twenty Years
Twenty years ago, a group of pioneering Jews, primarily affiliated with the National Religious Party (NRP), went to the top of an empty hill north of Jerusalem in the Binyamin region and transformed a small military outpost into a Jewish civilian community. Psagot celebrated its twentieth anniversary Monday. Psagot has been one of the most embattled communities during the past ten months of the terrorist war on Israel, with shots regularly fired at the city from neighboring El Bireh (Ramallah). But, says Professor Amos Ehrlich, one of the founders of the city, "when people hear the shooting, they no longer get excited. When we heard the shooting last night towards the end of the [anniversary] party, some people applauded a bit when they heard the return fire [of the IDF]. There was an announcement on the loudspeakers not to disperse in large groups in the direction of the homes which face El Bireh. But agitation? Not at all." Professor Ehrlich explained to Arutz 7 the importance of a Jewish presence on the hills of Psagot, which overlook the Arab town of El Bireh: "You can't hold on to the Land of Israel unless you control the important and centrally-located areas." "With the Arabs of El Bireh," Professor Ehrlich recalled, "we definitely had good, friendly relations. We would shop thereŠŠ. There were not a lot of mutual visits, but certainly good relations." Professor Ehrlich concluded saying, "Psagot will remain large and strong -- El Bireh will come to accept our existence. The fact that it might not happen tomorrow afternoon, that it might take ten years, is okay. We have the patience." (arutzsheva.org Jul 31)
Not Arafat's Fault? By William Safire
The negotiators of the process that led to the terrorist war against Israel have independently reached consensus on how to protect their posteriors: because everybody was responsible for last year's failure at Camp David, nobody can be held accountable.
"Many Now Agree," read the front-page New York Times subhead, "That All the Parties, Not Just Arafat, Were to Blame." As house contrarian, count me among the many who do not agree that the blame for the current hostilities can be so soothingly divvied up.
Certainly Ehud Barak's eagerness for a final peace led him to make concessions far beyond what the people of Israel would have accepted. And surely Bill Clinton's trust in his own persuasiveness or desperation for a Nobel Peace Prize drove him to intercede too aggressively. But it is absurd to buy an Arab spinmeister's notion that the Camp David talks collapsed because Barak offended Arafat by paying more attention to Chelsea Clinton at dinner, or President Clinton was too solicitous of Arafat's ambitious younger aides.
The overriding reason for the war against Israel today is that Yasir Arafat decided that war was the way to carry out the often-avowed Palestinian plan. Its first stage is to create a West Bank state from the Jordan River to the sea with Jerusalem as its capital. Then, by flooding Israel with "returning" Palestinians, the plan in its promised final phase would drive the hated Jews from the Middle East.
Ah, but my distrustful judgment is simplistic, according to the nuanced line being peddled by rejected Clinton negotiators, shell-shocked Barak aides and a glad-to-be embattled Arafat. It is in their common interest to portray the abrupt Arab rejection of Barak's too-generous offer at Camp David a year ago as merely a misunderstanding of each other's psychology, compounded by the unfortunate pressures of democratic elections.
According to the tripartite instant revisionism, the underlying reason for the failure of the Camp David meeting last July was the visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount. That is a tricky point to make because Sharon's visit did not take place until late September. Here is how the imaginative bashers of the "simplistic blame game" surmount their calendar problem: The Oslo peace process did not come apart at Camp David at all, say the revisionists. Contrary to every press report at the time, Barak did not "offer the moon" to Arafat ‹ he offered only 93 percent of the West Bank, including the strategic Jordan Valley, and a state with East Jerusalem as its capital. That may have been more security risk than the Israeli public would have accepted, but it fell short of "the moon" that Arafat sought. Not until a meeting in December at the Taba Hilton, run by Israeli superdove Yossi Beilin, with Arab terror attacks in full swing, did Barak offer "the moon": 97 percent of the West Bank, air rights that would lead to denial of Palestinian air space to Israeli aircraft, and a payoff from the U.S. to Palestinian claimants who agreed not to migrate to Israel. But that pie in the sky came too late as the aroused Israeli electorate threw Barak out of office in the most resounding landslide in its history.
In months to come, as Barak, U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk and the Palestinian crew sell their books, we will be bombarded with the revisionist if-onlys. If only Barak had offered the whole moon at Camp David; if only Clinton had forced Barak to stop all building within settlements; if only Barak had made Sharon the first Jew to be barred by Israel from the Temple Mount; if only those foolish Israeli voters understood the frustration motivating suicide bombers and had re- elected Barak; if only Clinton could have had a third term...Do not swallow this speculative re-writing of recent events. By arguing that peace can be made only by someday adopting Barak's extreme concessions, revisionists send the unintended message: struggle on, Palestinians! Violence will wear down the Israeli will and the full "moon" will shine again. That empty promise invites unending violence.
Blame is not a game; judgment is not to be avoided or disapproval diluted by pointing fingers in every direction. Nor is conventional wisdom always unwise. The leader predominantly to blame for the campaign of killing was and is Yasir Arafat. (New York Times Jul 30)
Uncle Sam as Arafat's Social Worker By Daniel Doron
Those who framed America's foreign policies (and probably still do) made the world's only superpower act like a nanny. But acting like a nanny in a brutal Middle East is dangerous. Former US ambassador Martin Indyk concedes as much, but blames US problems on "É a fundamental failure of Arab leadership ... bad timing ... a million and one reasons."
When people blame "a million and one reasons," there is usually one major reason they evade. In this case, it is the crucial question of how Arab leadership, bad timing and "a million reasons" managed to thwart a superpower. What rendered US policy impotent, and who was responsible?
Why did it take US negotiators eight years to realize that "you can't have one environment at the negotiating tables, and a different reality on the ground," in the words of former US special Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, or that "given the makeup of his policies ... [Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser] Arafat [never] really gave up violence as a tool to achieving his objectives," as Indyk confirms?
Why were the warnings that the Oslo process was a wild conceit of deluded Israeli leaders afflicted by messianic longings ignored? Why, at the least, was it not implemented with greater caution, but rashly provided Arafat, a consistent breaker of agreements, with a terrorist base and the means to implement his destructive anti-Israel and anti-American agenda (Arafat remains a fervid supporter of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein)?
When asked by The Jerusalem Post's Herb Keinon and Jeff Barak whether it was "...realistic to think Arafat could turn from terrorist to statesman," Indyk amazingly replied: "...it was realistic to try...." "Realistic" to take such a huge gamble with Israel's security by recklessly planting in its midst a terrorist entity whose very raison d'etre was Israel's destruction? "Realistic" to give Arafat so much before he fulfilled any commitments?
Indyk reveals how woolly the Clinton administration's thinking was when it "came in with this sense [sic] that there was a real opportunity to transform [sic] the Middle East" (into "The New Middle East," perchance?). The US knew, Indyk explains, that the demise of the Soviet Union deprived the Arabs of their military patron and made it the sole and strongest player in the region, a point reinforced by the abject defeat of Saddam Hussein.
But instead of asserting its power and forcing Arafat to negotiate peacefully as he undertook in Oslo, the US kept rewarding his aggression by making ever more demands for Israeli concessions. The Clinton administration essentially viewed the conflict as a social worker, and therefore "empathized," "accommodated" and "pacified" Arab aggression rather than confront it. In his recent book Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy Thomas Lippman, a groupie of Clinton's secretary of state, describes the mentality that animated US foreign policy.
Lippman relates how Albright arrived at the startling insight that "real security depends on real peace," and saw the Arab-Israeli conflict as "an unbreachable psychological border," "a crisis of confidence." This was to be overcome with "the kind of grandmotherly understanding that has been one of her most appealing traits," by "genuine understanding" for "what was the Palestinian problem in a nutshell, the rage and humiliation of a proud people long abused by history, fate, Israel, and the incompetence and corruption of their own leaders." History and Israel aside, it is really the Arab leadership's "corruption and incompetence" that provokes Arab rage and militancy, that is skillfully directed against the West, chiefly Israel. Even Lippman realizes this. Yet US policy did nothing to alleviate the miserable poverty and lack of human rights under these corrupt leaders. It apparently found it more convenient to pacify Arab rage by offering repeated Israeli concessions.
The Israelis who "had just been traumatized" by terrorism also "needed reassurance," Lippman concedes. Only later could the secretary castigate former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu for "snatching the vision of freedom and independence" that "inspired" the Palestinians (though they let Jordan rule them until it was ejected by Israel). To make "a symbolic jab at Netanyahu," Lippman reveals, the secretary wore a dove-of-peace brooch she received from Leah Rabin.
Wow! When Arafat was not mollified by "understanding" and violently broke the putative "peace process," "the ever image-conscious" Albright decided to at least create "an illusion of progress" by "communications with many audiences through a combination of "conventional diplomatic discussion, symbolic public events, communication with local people, chats with students, frank talk, evasive indirection...." In all these events, Lippman admits, "the media layout was more important than the substance of the conversation."
Instead of facing hard realities, then, US policy created illusions. The conflict was consequently made worse, America was weakened and Israel endangered. But secretary Albright could pose "as a leader of compassion," and US president Bill Clinton as the great peacemaker. So who cares if the Oslo process failed? (Jerusalem Post Aug 2)
7 Questions for Colin Powell by Michael Freund
What has the Bush Administration got against Israel? At every turn, regardless of what Israel has done to defend itself against intensifying Palestinian terrorism, Secretary of State Colin Powell or one of his underlings has been quick to launch a verbal broadside against the Jewish state. Whether it is the use of economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority (PA), the pinpoint targeting of wanted terrorists planning attacks, or even the demolition of buildings used to carry out armed assaults against soldiers and civilians, Israel, it seems, can do nothing right in Secretary Powell's eyes.
Indeed, hardly a month seems to pass without some form of rebuke being issued by the Bush Administration.
Shortly after assuming his post, Secretary of State Powell told a press conference on February 25 that it was time for Israel "to lift the siege as soon as possible to get economic activity restarted" in the Palestinian areas. The "siege" to which Powell was referring was Israel's decision to limit the entry of Palestinian workers and to encircle Palestinian cities to prevent the smuggling of suicide bombers and to punish the PA for sponsoring terror. So it would seem, then, that the Secretary of State is adamantly opposed to the use of economic sanctions against a recalcitrant foe. And yet, America itself imposes such sanctions when it comes to rogue countries that sponsor terror such as Iraq, Iran, Libya and Afghanistan.
This raises an interesting question worthy of being addressed by Mr. Powell: Why are American economic sanctions against terrorist regimes justified, yet Israeli economic sanctions are not?
On April 17, after Palestinians fired mortar rounds into sovereign Israeli territory, hitting the southern city of Sderot, and Israel responded by entering Palestinian-controlled Gaza to halt the attacks, Powell described the Israeli move as "excessive and disproportionate". It was a stunning rebuke of Israel, one of the sharpest to emerge out of Washington in recent memory. Here, then, is another question for Mr. Powell: If sending in troops in response to a mortar attack on an Israeli city is "disproportionate", what would constitute a "proportionate" Israeli response? Perhaps the Secretary believes proportionality would require Israel to fire mortar rounds back into Palestinian-controlled cities?
On July 2, as the shaky cease-fire brokered by CIA Director George Tenet was crumbling, Israel once again came in for criticism from the State Department, this time over its policy of "targeted assassinations", in which leading Palestinian terrorists are eliminated before they can carry out additional atrocities. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters that, "We remain opposed to Israel's policy of targeted killings". This leads us to question number three for Mr. Powell: If Israel knows that a terrorist is preparing to carry out an attack, what would the Secretary suggest that Israel do to prevent it? Wouldn't the elementary rules of selfdefense justify Israel's policy?
On July 10, the State Department again found fault with the Jewish state, this time after Israel demolished 17 buildings in Gaza that had been used as the staging grounds for gunfire and sniper attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. In what the BBC termed "unusually harsh criticism of Israel", State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "Actions such as these demolitions are highly provocative. They can only make it much more difficult to restore calm".
Of course, the United States itself has periodically bombed Iraqi airdefense sites after the latter fired upon American aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq, so it only seems natural that question number four for Mr. Powell should be: If Israel's actions to eliminate the sources of hostile fire are considered "highly provocative", then why does the American air force respond similarly in Iraq? As a former general, what would you suggest Israeli troops should do when coming under fire repeatedly from Palestinian snipers?
The sad fact is that Israel now finds itself in the absurd situation of "condemned if you do, condemned if you don't". When Israel employs forceful action to defend itself, the State Department quickly issues a denunciation. And even when Israel adopts non-lethal measures to fight terrorism, such as barring entry to Palestinian workers or demolishing several buildings, the State Department nevertheless condemns the Jewish state.
Hence, questions five and six for Mr. Powell: If America finds the variousmeasures Israel has adopted thus far to be objectionable, could the Secretary of State please specify exactly what he thinks Israel should do instead to fight terror? If economic measures, military reprisals, deterrent strikes and punitive raids are not acceptable, then what, pray tell, is?
And, since Secretary Powell has now entered the world of politics, it is only fair that we close with a political query for question seven: If this is how the Republican-led Bush Administration treats Israel, is it any wonder why so many American Jews will be ready to vote for the Democrats?
The writer served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999. (Jerusalem Post Aug 1)
War Is Not Criminal Justice By Evelyn Gordon
Israel's policy of "targeted killings" - i.e. assassinating terrorists - has been widely criticized both at home and abroad. The criticism divides into two categories: practical and moral.
The practical argument - that assassinations provoke violence rather than deterring it - is an empirical question, and the jury is still out. Any deterrence policy takes time to have an impact, and it is thus too soon to know whether this policy will reduce terrorism in the long run. But the moral argument - that "targeted killings" are unjustifiable extrajudicial executions - stems from a fundamental misconception: that a military conflict can, or should, operate according to the rules of criminal justice.
Targeted killings would certainly constitute an appalling criminal justice system. A proper system of justice requires the suspect to have a chance to refute the evidence against him, and it requires the evidence to be judged by someone other than the accuser. Assassinations obviously meet neither requirement.
War, however, operates by very different rules. In war, you are not required to wait for enemy soldiers to shoot at you; it is legitimate to open fire first. Nor are you required to prove that a given soldier has either shot at your troops in the past or intends to do so in the future - his membership in an enemy force suffices to make him a legitimate target. And this is precisely the rationale for "targeted killings": they target known members of enemy forces in the context of a military conflict.
It must be remembered that this is how Hamas, Islamic Jihad and most Fatah organizations see themselves: as armed soldiers fighting a war. All of these groups have openly declared that they intend to continue terrorist attacks until Israel either leaves the territories or disappears entirely, depending on the group's orientation. And reality on the ground supports this view - a 10-month-old conflict with no end in sight, which has produced a steady two to three Israeli deaths a week (and more on the Palestinian side), is not a problem of law enforcement, it is a war of attrition.
Most civilized countries agree that even war should be governed by certain ethical guidelines. Perhaps the most important is that, in so far as it is possible, each side should attempt to kill the other's soldiers rather than civilians. Palestinian militants blatantly ignore this principle, preferring to target Israeli civilians. But "targeted killings" represent an attempt to apply this code - and they have proven reasonably successful in this regard. More than any other Israeli tactic to date, targeted killings have minimized civilian casualties. Shooting Back when shot at, for instance, is generally considered morally legitimate. But since Palestinian gunmen frequently operate from built-up areas, Israeli return fire in such situations often kills more women and children than terrorists. In contrast, targeted killings have produced very few civilian casualties, precisely because they are targeted: High-precision missiles are used to take out certain individuals at times of the IDF's choosing, with the timing generally selected to minimize the presence of civilians in the area. It must be stressed that the "targets" themselves are usually not innocent civilians. In some cases, the killings are clearly justified, as in the assassination of Mohammed Bisharat and two other Islamic Jihad activists on July 1. Subsequent investigation revealed that the car in which they were riding at the time of the IDF's assault had been heading toward the Green Line laden with 50 kg. of explosives. Since Islamic Jihad holds the record for suicide bombings during the current intifada, those explosives were probably not meant for peaceful purposes.
But even if the intelligence information that prompted a given assassination was wrong, and the target was not on the verge of carrying out a major attack (the usual pretext for these killings) - or indeed, even if the target was never involved in an actual terror attack at all - all of the victims of targeted killings are, at the very least, known members of militant organizations that have openly declared a terrorist war on Israel. And as such, they are legitimate military targets - far more so than the innocent women and children who are merely unlucky enough to reside in an apartment building that Palestinian gunmen are using as a base.
Does all this mean that targeted killings are not ugly?
Of course not. War is always ugly. But short of doing nothing at all in the face of murderous assaults on its own civilians - which is hardly a tenable moral option, as any government's first duty is to protect its citizens - targeted killings are far less harmful to Palestinian civilians than any of Israel's other alternatives. And in a war, that is the best that can be hoped for. (Jerusalem Post Aug 1)
What If this Was Ground Zero: Put Yourself in Shoes of Israelis and Palestinians,
and Know Fear By Lorne Gunter
What are your kids doing for the summer? Are they taking in a sports camp, perhaps honing their skills at soccer, hockey or swimming? Perhaps they're at scout, church, science, computer or math camp. Yes, camps seem to be all the rage this summer.
They are in Palestine, too. The BBC reported a week ago that the Islamic Jihad is openly, boastfully running four ``Paradise Camps'' in the Gaza Strip to teach eight- to 12-year-olds how to construct and deliver suicide bombs so they can get to paradise by martyring themselves while taking a few dozen Israelis with them.
The area constantly in the news in Israel -- the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv -- the region of bombings, mortars, terrorist attacks, shootings, stone throwing, aerial bombardments and tank invasions is at most 100 by 160 kilometres. In other words, it would fit from Namao to Lacombe, and Elk Island to Stony Plain.
In this tiny area, since the ceasefire between the Israel Defence Forces and the Palestinian Authority on June 26, there have been an average of 23 terrorist attacks a day against Israelis. Seventeen Israelis have been killed and 80 or so wounded; 36 Palestinians are dead and close to 180 wounded. Now imagine all that was happening here. The comparison is not ideal. Thankfully our little corner of the globe does not share the Mid-East's history of bitterness, hatred and war. Still, to understand how close-to-home events are for residents of Israel, what if our evening news carried a report of a terrorist bomb found in a school in Clareview? If another had gone off, killing three fourth graders at a Leduc elementary?
Imagine if this paper's headline tomorrow was ``Explosion kills 20 at southside night spot: Partiers were celebrating after grad ceremonies.'' And such stories were commonplace since last September when the latest round of violence and terror euphemistically called an intefadeh began.Then, on top of the beating deaths of two adolescent boys who got lost playing in some caves near Sherwood Park, three rookie police officers took a wrong turn in Beverly. A rabid mob bludgeoned them until they were dead, then bludgeoned their bodies until the limbs tore away. The attackers drenched themselves in the blood and paraded the dismembered bodies triumphantly for TV cameras. How would we react then?
What if rampaging fanatics started sacking churches just because they were someone else's holy places, and one night they blew the gold dome off St. Basil's on 109th, and another ni
ght it was the exquisite woodwork of St. Joachim, just west of downtown? Then in order to restore order, the army sent tanks into Norwood, where a lot of suspected terror boot camps are located, and into Westaskiwin and Spruce Grove where caches of thousands of machine guns and mines and grenades had been uncovered. And now police had orders to shoot-to-kill anyone caught on the streets of those two towns after sundown. Highways are frequently blocked off. And your kids' bus gets a military escort to and from their school. And identifiable minorities are confined by force of arms to their neighbourhoods for security fears.
And last Sunday, while you walked along the river valley trails near Hawrelak, gunfire whizzed over your head; it didn't hit you, but it terrified you, your spouse and kids. You probably have a co-worker, friend or cousin who has been killed or wounded in the past 10 months, and if you don't, you know someone who does (or several someones).
That's pretty much the way life has been for Israelis for most of the last year. It's been no better, perhaps even worse for Palestinians, with one difference: It grows increasingly obvious that their leaders deliberately began this conflict and are ruthlessly perpetuating it.
In the most stunning interview I have read on the current conflict, Ehud Barak, who offered to give Yasser Arafat everything he had ever demanded and more at Camp David last summer, and lost the Israeli prime ministry as a result, told Newsweek last week, that Arafat has orchestrated the ``violence (so he) could ... once again create world sympathy.
``Arafat believed that pictures of young Palestinians facing Israeli tanks would compensate for his failure. His indifference to Palestinian casualties and loss of life is a kind of a Palestinian tragedy. If they were a democratic society they would replace him.''
There is little remarkable about Barak's charges, except that he made them. He is no hawk, indeed he is the ultimate Israeli peacenik. He offered to deal with Arafat as an honourable equal, to divide Jerusalem and hand over many strategically important territories.
And still Arafat has brought down nearly 1,000 deaths on both sides because he doesn't have it in him to negotiate in good faith and live in peace. (Edmonton Journal July 29)