A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
7 Iyar 5760
May 12, 2000
Issue number 272
Thursday May 25, 8:00pm
Bnai Brith presents Yoram Hazony, speaking at Beth David, 55 Yeomans.
Shabbat May 27, 5:30pm
Yoram Hazony will speak at BAYT.
Yoram is the President of the Shalem Centre in Jerusalem and is the author of the article on Israel’s school curriculum published last month in The New Republic and featured in Israel News. See also the Jerusalem Post editorial on the topic in this issue.
News from the North
Northern Israel and Lebanon turned into a battlefield late last week. The hostilities began Thursday when the Hizbullah terrorists fired several volleys of katyusha rockets into Israel and Israeli outposts in southern Lebanon. An IDF soldier - Wt. Officer Shaked Ozeri, of Elyachin (a town just south of Hadera) - was killed when his jeep was hit directly by a katyusha; he was buried in Elyachin this afternoon. Over 25 Israelis were injured in the katyusha attacks, and five of them were treated in the hospital. Israel responded with air strikes on Lebanese power stations in Beirut and north of Tripoli Thursday, which left large parts of the country without electricity. The main Beirut-Damascus highway was also bombed in one spot, cutting off traffic. IAF planes also struck Hizbullah targets, including an ammunition dump in the Bekaa Valley, where katyusha rockets were said to have been stored. The terrorists then retaliated with additional katyushas on Israel, in the western and eastern Galilee, injuring another five people. Heavy property damage to cars and buildings was suffered. One rocket scored a direct hit on a building which was about to host a meeting of the leaders of the northern towns. Ma'alot Mayor Shlomo Buchbut said, "We all have to say HaGomel [a blessing of thanks for being saved]." Hadas Ochayon, 21, of Shlomi, said that one katyusha rocket fell only a few yards away from her home as she was about to leave the building: "Miracle is too small of a word to describe what happened. I was almost killed - but thank G-d nothing happened." She recounted how her mother dragged her into the security room and lay on top of her to protect her from the bombs. The IDF has returned fire, but a larger-scale Israeli response Friday was ruled out by the security mini-Cabinet. Many northern residents considered leaving the area, especially in light of Prime Minister Barak's statement last Friday that they will likely have to remain in their shelters for a few days. Invitations from the Golan, Jordan Valley, and Haifa were extended to the threatened northerners. Over 500 Kiryat Shmonah inhabitants were taken into 14 Golan communities.
The Southern Lebanese Army is being dismantled, according to a French News Agency report from Beirut. SLA Commander Antoine Lachad has asked Lebanese President Emile Lahoud for a general amnesty for his soldiers. The request for a pardon reportedly does not include Lachad himself. The above complements a Lebanese Foundation for Peace report yesterday to the effect that special U.N. envoy Terje Larsen concluded, after talking with Lebanese leaders, that the dismantling of the SLA "is a requirement of the [IDF unilateral] withdrawal." Larsen was reportedly "concerned" about the future of the inhabitants of the border zone, and said that he received assurances from the Lebanese about their safety. The report states that Lebanese and Hizbullah authorities "assured him that none of the border inhabitants and SLA family members would be harmed, but insisted that the SLA militiamen and commanders be arrested and tried if they remain in the security zone following the withdrawal." Housing Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Levy (NRP) visited katyusha-damaged Kiryat Shmonah today, after having spent the night with families whose homes were hit in the attacks a few days ago. Rabbi Levy persuaded municipal leaders not to carry through with their intention to cancel Israel Independence Day festivities in the town, in protest of the government's restrained response to the Hizbullah bombardment. "If Yom Ha'atzma'ut passes without celebrations, this will be a great victory for the terrorists," Levy said. (A7 May 5,8)
Jordan Valley Expansion
The 18 communities of the Jordan Valley - numbering some 3,500 residents - are in the midst of a wave of construction and expansion. A tender has just been issued by the Jordan Valley Regional Council for the planning and construction of 112 housing units in the region's lone kibbutz, Gilgal. Shulamit Kaminsky, the council's development and absorption coordinator, is optimistic about the future of the local moshavim, especially Yafit, and of the three religious communities - Shadmot Mehola, Kfar Mehola, and Hemdat - where housing construction and the settling of families continue apace. The future of the region remains uncertain, in light of the ongoing negotiations with the Palestinians - underlining the significance of the continued development of the valley. (arutzsheva.org May 8)
Two Injured in Jerusalem Terrorist Stabbing
Two brothers, 10 and 17 years old, were stabbed Sunday, in an apparent Arab terrorist attack in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon HaNetziv. The assailant knocked on the boys' house, asked for their father, and when they turned to get him, he stabbed them in their backs and fled in the direction of the adjacent Arab village. The boys were taken to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital, and are listed in moderate-to-serious condition. Jerusalem Police Chief Ya'ir Yitzchaki said that the attack was apparently carried out by an Arab, but that a possible criminal angle is being examined as well. Large police and army units are engaged in the search for the attacker, and the Palestinian para-military police have been asked to search for him as well. (A7 May 7)
Riots in Bethlehem and Ramallah
Palestinian Arab riots targeted IDF troops at both the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem and the Yosh junction at the northern entrance to Ramallah, just south of Beit El, Monday. Four Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets at the Tomb of Rachel. The reason cited for the violence: Israel's failure to capitulate to Palestinian demands for further releases of Arab terrorists. (arutzsheva.org May 8)
Ayalon Criticizes Use of Raviv
Outgoing General Security Service head Ami Ayalon says that he is satisfied with the decision to indict the organization's agent-provocateur Avishai Raviv. In an interview with Ma'ariv, Ayalon said that the use of Raviv in an unsupervised manner damaged the confidence of a large portion of the nation in the GSS: "This sector, which acted in legitimate opposition to government policies, was damaged and nearly relegated to the margins of Israeli society... There are certain things that we did that we should not do, because they were designed to protect those in power and not Israeli democracy." (A7 May 9)
Israeli-Arab Mayor Cites Arab MKs For Incitement
Israeli-Arabs rioted and clashed violently with police Sunday afternoon in Shfar'am, near Haifa. Hundreds of stocking-capped young Arabs waved PLO flags and threw stones, during what was to have been the traditional Independence Day reception there. Interior Minister Natan Sharansky, a guest of honor at the event, was the target of rocks on his way in and out of the hall. Despite clear orders not to react to the provocations, the police were unable to withstand the violence for long; five Shfar'am Arabs were injured by police-fired rubber bullets, and four policemen were hurt. Speaking with Arutz-7, Shfar'am Mayor Orsan Yassin boasted of the large crowd in attendance - some 1,500, compared to last year's group of 180 - but lamented the rioters' "extremism." "Many Arab municipal leaders even called me later to apologize, because they wanted to attend but could not penetrate the shower of rocks to get through," he said. "I warned the police about what was going to happen... We here in Shfar'am are really moderates; the rioters were mostly students brought here from the University of Haifa and Tel Aviv University - by Hadash MKs Mohammed Baraka and Issam Mahoul!" Yassin continued, "I don't know how a faithful Knesset Member, who has pledged allegiance to the State of Israel, can incite to violence like this against people participating in a state-run function!" Arutz-7's Haggai Segal asked: "Maybe they are not so faithful?" Yassin: "Yes, maybe this proves that they are not... it could be that they have their own political interests..." Segal: "What do you have to say now about the comments of Police Commander Alik Ron [about increasing extremism in Israel's Arab population] last week?" Yassin: "I say to all members of the government: Give us, the moderates, a chance, and we will uproot the extremists from our midst. I won 67% of the vote in the last elections, and next time, I could take 75%! I know what our residents want, and that's jobs...Only a minority is interested in incitement..." (arutzsheva.org May 8)
One Millionth Oleh - and the Character of the State
Prime Minister Barak and Absorption Minister Yuli Tamir were on hand Sunday at Ben Gurion International Airport to welcome the one-millionth immigrant to Israel from the former Soviet Union since the current wave of Aliyah began in 1988. Alla Levy, who heads the Jewish Agency mission in Russia, told Arutz-7, "Dozens of people are here in our Moscow offices at the moment, and hundreds are learning in our Hebrew-language 'ulpanim' [Hebrew-language classes] where they also take courses in Jewish tradition prior to their immigration." She explained that when the current wave of Aliyah started, "people went to Israel out of panic. The gates had just opened, and many of the arrivals were not particularly well-planned, even though the number of immigrants was high. These days, some 80% of olim [immigrants] have relatives or friends in Israel, they know pretty much where they are going to settle, and are familiar with the Hebrew language. While they are planning their move, we work on strengthening their Jewish identity and on that which will help them better integrate into Israeli society." Levy said that 31,000 Russians immigrated to Israel in 1999 - more than double the number in 1998. When asked what percentage of new immigrants are not Jewish, Levy answered, "The Jewish Agency is engaged in implementing the Law of Return, but we don't have any statistics on how many immigrants are Jewish or not Jewish. We are of course aware that there are non-Jews, as we see them at the ulpan programs and at the airports as we prepare them to leave Russia... The government determines the immigrants' eligibility for aliyah, while we just prepare them for the move. ..."
A vigil of former USSR refuseniks was held last week outside the Prime Minister's Jerusalem residence. They were protesting the increasing rate of non-Jews among the new immigrants from Russia and the danger to the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and demanded that the Law of Return be changed. Yigal Yehudi, head of the Association for the Preservation of the Jewish Character of Israeli Society, said that he is not happy with the policy of encouraging immigration even among non-Jews. "There are cities in Israel where you cannot walk without hearing anti-Semitic epithets," he said. "This is exactly what we hoped to leave behind in Russia - and now we find that it's following us here!... When an experimental half-Jewish, half-Arab kindergarten class opens in some far-off town, the whole country goes up in arms - but no one seems to care that even in public-religious schools in major cities, you can barely find a totally-Jewish classroom!" The group demands that the Prime Minister begin considering how to "adapt the Law of Return to the reality of the 2000's." The Law of Return currently allows non-Jewish relatives of Jewish immigrants to obtain automatic Israeli citizenship, as stated: "The rights of a Jew under this Law... are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who has been a Jew and has voluntarily changed his religion." (arutzsheva.org May 8)
Barak Meets Arafat
It is the threat of the NRP to quit the government, the uncertainty surrounding Shas' coalition demands, and Foreign Minister David Levy's objections that are holding up the giveaway of Abu Dis; so say sources close to Barak. Following the Prime Minister's meeting with Arafat in Ramallah Sunday - held because of heavy American pressure on both sides - the diplomatic negotiations resumed Monday on the third withdrawal and the final-status arrangement. (arutzsheva.org May 8)
Chief Yamit Evacuator: No More Evacuations!
Inhabitants of Gush Katif commemorating last Thursday the 18th anniversary of the evacuation of Yamit and nearby settlements. Leaders of the "Movement to Stop the Withdrawal in Sinai" participated today in a seminar on related issues. Former Gen. Chaim Erez, who, as O.C. Southern Command at the time, was responsible for the evacuation, was asked by Arutz-7's Haggai Segal, "Why did the IDF destroy Yamit? Couldn't it have left it and its homes standing?" Erez: "There were military considerations as well as political matters between Israel and Egypt. In addition, there may have been considerations of the uncertainty of who would live there afterwards." Segal: "How many soldiers took part in the evacuation?" Erez: "In the last days, in Yamit, it was a small number of thousands - I would guess it was between 2000 and 3000." Segal: "Were there soldiers who didn't want to take part, or who actually refused the orders to do so?" Erez: "I don't recall, but this is an interesting question, because we're a small nation, and there were cases of soldiers evacuating neighbors... There were many difficult feelings, and it was a hard experience for everyone. There were many mixed emotions, not only about the withdrawal itself, but even more about the idea of having to evacuate families and children from their homes in which they grew up. This was even harder than the withdrawal issue.... The most emotional and hard cases were the passive resistance of families, where we had to start taking out their belongings from their homes... and then start removing the people..." Erez said that the resistance movement was "an important phenomenon. We would have looked very bad, even to ourselves, if something so important as the evacuation of Sinai would have simply passed without a reaction. I thought this at the time, not only now. The two sides - the leaders of the anti-withdrawal movement and the military - had good and respectful relations, in which each of us understood what the other had to do. There was no personal acrimony." Regarding possible future evacuations of Jews from their homes in the Golan or Judea and Samaria, Gen. Erez said, "It should be forbidden. There must be no evacuation of people from their homes. We need peace, but a way must be found to leave the people in their homes." (arutzsheva May 4)
Arab Violence, Despite Dialogue
Two Meretz members of the Jerusalem municipal council, returning home recently from a condolence visit to the family of an Arab boy killed in a car accident, were stoned with concrete blocks by a mob of Arab youths. Meir Margalit, one of the two, told Arutz-7 that although he escaped only with scratches from the incident just north of Jerusalem, his colleague was injured and taken by ambulance to the hospital. When asked his opinion of the irony of the fact that he was treated in such a manner by those with whom he came to show solidarity, Margalit answered, "I know what you're asking, so I'll save you time: I don't for a second regret having gone there, and I plan to return whenever necessary. Just because there are some hooligans - and there are some Jews like that too - it doesn't mean that they will set our agenda for us... I agree that this shows that the Oslo process is not working, but my interpretation of this is not the same as yours. I say that as long as there is not a total separation of the two peoples, and as long as there is not peace, then of course things like this will happen." "You talk of separation," Arutz-7's Haggai Segal said, "but this happened to you in Israeli territory!" "Yes," responded Margalit, "but it was in an area north of the Atarot airport where there is no Israeli presence - all would agree that it is [not northern Jerusalem but] southern Ramallah." Margalit said that he was rescued from the incident when some adult Arabs recognized him and told the crowd, "He's from the peace camp!" "In other words, if you were a resident of Yesha, they would have continued stoning you?" asked Segal. "Most probably," responded Margalit. "In situations like this, it's better to be a member of the left."
A similar incident happened seven weeks ago. Eleven Jews, mostly women, from Maccabim-Re'ut and Ramle were in the midst of a "dialogue session" with Palestinian Arabs in a Ramallah restaurant, when thugs of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine accosted them, threatened them, and threw them out of the restaurant. The group was then attacked by a mob of stone-throwing Arabs outside, and barely escaped with their lives. Two of the women who were there later summed up: "Don't do this, this was foolishness, our lives were really in danger... If people want to conduct talks, no one should go there. Let them come here, here this won't happen." (arutzsheva May 4)
Arabs Set Sights on West Jerusalem
A new PLO database program has been developed to help residents of Arab refugee camps identify their pre-1948 homes within Israel. This should help the public realize the extent of the Palestinian demands, says Israel Resource journalist David Bedein, who broke the news of a new Palestinian "right of return" program. "If this becomes known to the Israeli public, a national crisis of confidence in the peace process would ensue," according to Bedein. The Palestine Liberation Organization released last week a multi-colored 40-page "Palestinian Refugee" brochure, in which is delineated the organization's demands for the "right of return" for Arabs who, before 1948, lived in what is now the State of Israel. Bedein told Arutz-7's Ron Meir of his visit last week to the Orient House in Jerusalem: "Their new computers help locate homes owned by Arabs before 1948, and make a connection between those homes and the Arabs in refugee camps... These neighborhoods, such as Katamon, Baka, and Talbieh, are in Jerusalem-proper - so proper that many of my friends and colleagues active in the Peace Now movement live there." (arutzsheva May 4)
"Please, please, we request from his Honor shlita, please do not let anyone endanger Jerusalem. Do not let anyone endanger the hundreds of thousands of residents of Jerusalem."- From a letter sent by Rabbi Menahem Porush, head of World Agudat Yisrael Movement to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef the spiritual leader of the Shas party. Rabbi Porush is encouraging Shas to block any attempt by the Israeli government to give neighborhoods, near Jerusalem, to the control of the PLO. (Arutz-7 May 4)
"I am now 54 years old and I am absolutely convinced that before I turn 60, my office will be located on Saladin Street [in Jerusalem], the present headquarters of the Israeli Justice Ministry."- Jamil Uthman Nasser, the Arafat-appointed governor of Abu Dis, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (JTA May 7)
"There are no added dangers, apart from direct gunfire at the houses that sit right on the border. It is true that those dozens of homes in 17 communities facing the frontier will be exposed to a higher risk but the entire idea of the withdrawal is to reduce the friction, because this greatly reduces the legitimization of operations against us."- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in an interview with Yediot Aharonot, discussing Israel's upcoming retreat from South Lebanon. (New York Times May 6)
"I don't listen even to the phone conversations of my wife. Israel does not spy on the United States.''- Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, responding to a report that Israel was eavesdropping in on the telephone calls of the White House. (A/P May 7)
"We hope that the absorption of one million immigrants will encourage another million to come to Israel. That would be the greatest gift of all."- PM Barak at a recent ceremony extending his thanks to all those who have worked to bring immigrants to Israel. (Jerusalem Post May 8)
The Deepening Peril of Israel By A.M. Rosenthal
One of the really good things about being a Jew is that you don't have to turn the other cheek. It seemed to me, even as a boy, a most peculiar thing to do.
The idea for us was: "Don't go looking for fights but if they" — instantly understood as anti-Semites — "hit you once, give it back twice." The trouble was, Jews usually were hit dead, before they struck back once.
Sometimes people ask, in the nicest way possible, of course, if I have a bit of a Holocaust complex? You bet, and I would rather have one than not. Having no anger and no smell for a likely enemy after the murder of 6 million of my own people is too ice-blooded for me and would be the biggest of my delusions.
But after Adolf Hitler made his final state journey to hell, and the creation of Israel gave Jews around the world a bit of a swagger —something they had to practice after all those centuries of pretending humility — we thought anti-Semitism was finished and we would never have to think of being hit dead, or hitting back.
No, I do not expect another Holocaust, not even a lesser one, although that is a contradiction in terms. But yes sirree, I do think that there are a lot of people who would like to kill a lot of Jews and that the best weapon against them is to know where and who they are.
Note I do not ask why they want to kill, because killers have thought up so many reasons to eliminate Jews that the why clearly is in the murderers' heads, not in sane reality. What counts is how to spot them early so they cannot spread their contagious madness as effectively as they would like.
Jews used to be killed because they did not have a country of their own. Now the world takes it as common-sensical that when they are killed it is because many Jews think they do have one. The killers, actual and would-be, are usually enemies of Israel in the Middle East, nationals of countries assiduously courted by much of the world, and terrorists they dispatch to or germinate elsewhere.
How to find them? Just asking means we have not learned the central lesson anti-Semites try so hard and long to teach us: They tell us themselves. In the Middle East as everywhere anti-Semitism has been fertilized, they shout their hatred from houses of worship, in newspapers and books, send it zipping around the world in broadcasts to places where Jew-hating has never been known. And official approval is deliberately made known. Formal agreements against "incitement" simply are ignored. Jews don't protest much about that, if at all.
In Arab-governed Palestine, attacks on the religion and hideous character of Jews are printed in official newspapers and broadcast on official programs of Yasser Arafat's regime, the same fellow who swore in Oslo to end incitement — lest it make true peace impossible.
In Egypt, the official press and the "intellectuals" positively stink with hatred of Jews; the peace treaty with Israel enfrenzies them. In Iran, the controlling ayatollah branches of government put Jews on sardonic secret trial for espionage while the elected government keeps its many mouths shut.
Hate propaganda carried by modern technology, familiar broken promises — and something new: Israel, the country openly slated for execution in the not-distant future, by the very governments with which it is negotiating, does not exact a price for the violation of the "anti-incitement" treaty clauses. Instead, it struggles harder to give more and more to the Palestine it has already created and to the Syrian chutzpah champion who won't take back the Golan without additional territory and bundles of American money.
President Clinton thinks he can persuade Syria's dictator, before the Clintons move to Westchester. He rewards the Iranian president's silence on Middle Eastern peace, and the Jewish prisoners, with permission to sell goodies in America; caviar in blood, a naughty Israeli called it.
Do I favor an agreement between Israel and Palestininians? That's moot. Palestininans have outfought and outstayed Israelis. Who would have thought it? They already have their state and have started the inevitable next "phase" in their war with Israel.
That is the 10 years or so when Arab dictators move anti-Semitism from schoolbooks deeper and deeper into the minds of the boys and girls who will fight the next armed struggle against Israel and commit the next murders of the Jews. It won't be another Holocaust, you understand, just murders, on a suitably large scale —until the phase after that. (Washington Post May 8)
Bequeathing Israel's History Jerusalem Post Editorial
Today the nation remembers its fallen soldiers, and tonight celebrates the renewal of Jewish sovereignty after two millennia. The annual juxtaposition of pain and triumph still means something to most Israelis, even if the emotional aspect may not be obvious through the languid haze of barbecue smoke.
Scratch Israelis, and you will find patriotism. The army reports that volunteering for combat units is up, and despite the constant drubbing of corruption and other scandals, most Israelis are proud of their country.
They have good reason to be, because they live in one of the few countries in history (the United States is another) that is the product of an act of will, not only an accident of geography.
The arrival this week of the one-millionth immigrant from the former Soviet Union is a fitting reminder of another way that Israel is more than simply a collection of people who live in the same place: It is the national home of the Jewish people. Though a young state, Israel inherits, for good and for ill, the long history of a tenacious people, from Abraham and Moses to the Kingdom of David, to the Sanhedrin, and through the Inquisition and the Holocaust.
The story of the last century of this saga, in which the Jewish people arose from the ashes of destruction to revive the Jewish state, could not be a more dramatic and inspiring national narrative, especially since it is still being written. Yet Independence Day is as good a time as any to raise the concern that our educational system is not only failing to transmit the power of the Zionist narrative, but is cultivating a combination of ignorance and embarrassment.
In a preview in The New Republic of his just-released book, The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul, Yoram Hazony documents the denuding of Israeli textbooks of much of what Israelis need to understand their own history, let alone be inspired by it. Hazony compared eighth and ninth grade history textbooks from the 1970s and today and found that a "change in emphasis, combined with the fact that the new schoolbook is far trimmer than the old ones, creates a perspective so 'universal' that the Zionists are simply lost."
In the new Education Ministry-produced textbook, David Ben-Gurion's 40-year career as leader of pre-state Palestinian Jewry is mentioned only once, and his picture is absent (though photographs of Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, Nasser, Freud, Salvador Dali, and the Beatles do appear). The roughly 20 pages previously devoted to each of the topics of Jewish armed resistance against British rule in Palestine and the War of Independence are reduced to a few sentences in the new textbook.
Nor is the Zionist struggle alone within Jewish history in getting the short shrift. Children who used to spend the first half of sixth grade on topics such as "From Tribes to a People," "The Kingdom of David," and "Jerusalem as a Capital," now are introduced to history with units on "The Polis, Athens and Sparta, and Greek Culture," and "The Conquest of the East by Alexander." According to Hazony, "the Jews are first encountered not as an independent people with an important civilization of their own, but as a subject people struggling to respond to Greek civilization."
Israelis, of course, need to learn about other civilizations, and should not be given an inflated impression of our particular history's place in a more universal perspective. On the other hand, every people - be they Greeks, Americans, or Israelis - not only has the right but the duty to devote special attention to its own history, the history that is as formative to a people as a family is to an individual.
Nationalism may be unfashionable, but depriving a people of the sources of pride in its history is to the national level the equivalent of neglecting a child's need for self-esteem on the individual level. The old textbooks, which ignored inconvenient aspects of Israeli history (such as the deliberate expulsion of some Arab villagers during the War of Independence), were not perfect. In fact, the cause of bringing history closer to the truth, warts and all, can actually enhance a sympathetic study of a people's own story.
The problem with the new history textbooks is not that they are brutally honest, but that they replace a sympathetic survey with a twisted attempt at neutrality that is, in effect, equally ideological. The history of Israel's establishment is bent to conform to the picture of "two nationalist movements that took root in the same land [and] struggled against one another," as one new textbook opines. Some facts that interfere with the formula of moral equivalence - such as the extent of Syrian, Jordanian, and Egyptian roles in precipitating the Six Day War - are simply omitted.
As Hazony puts it, "if yesterday one was not supposed to talk too much about injustices committed by Jews, today it is the justice of the Zionist movement that one is not supposed to talk about." The recent flap over Education Minister Yossi Sarid's support for the inclusion of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in the curriculum misses the point: The new texts are not just about including non-Israeli perspectives, they deliberately suppress Israel's case in its own history.
In so doing, they are imposing an ideology that an overwhelming number of Israelis would reject, while depriving our children of the appreciation of their heritage that they need not only to believe in their nation, but in themselves. They also diminish the sacrifice of those we remember today and those whose accomplishments we celebrate tomorrow. (Jerusalem Post May 9)
The Right to Live in Peace Jerusalem Post Editorial
Just after the government let it be known that it wants to send another NIS 1.8 billion to the beleaguered North, northern residents let it be known that they have had it. Northern mayors have joined a "strike," and residents say money is not the issue - but personal safety. The demand for safety must not be dismissed as a sign of weakness or an impossible request to fulfill; the safety of the North is a proper litmus test for the success of Israel's imminent Lebanon withdrawal.
The sometimes unspoken attitude toward Israelis living along the northern border is some combination of sympathy and resignation: yes, they deserve every effort; but every effort - financial and military - has been made.
Financially, the North has been showered with tax breaks and aid packages, and certainly with politicians promising the moon. In reality, the road infrastructure of the North remains substandard, despite constant pleas from public officials.
But the northerners are right that almost no amount of financial largesse can compensate for a lack of safety. First, because no one can live indefinitely in a place where their children must frequently spend hours and days in bomb shelters, seeking protection from rocket attacks. But also because no economy, particularly an economy that is heavily dependent on tourism, can survive a recurring threat of Katyushas falling out of thin air.
It is understandable that the hardest thing of all, at this moment, for the northern towns and communities is the fear that their situation not only will not improve, but could worsen. As Metulla Local Council Chairman Ya'acov
Katz said following last week's Katyusha attacks, "The question is: What is going to happen next?" The focus of yesterday's protests in Kiryat Shmona was not compensation, but retaliation. The government decision to hold off on further retaliation for now is interpreted by some as inviting further rocket attacks before the IDF withdraws, and perhaps after.
According to some military analysts, however, when Israel did retaliate early Friday morning for Thursday's attacks, the targets may have hinted of things to come. The Hizbullah arsenal that the IDF hit near Baalbek was reportedly close to a base of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Israel also targeted the highway from Damascus to Beirut, at a point reportedly close to a Syrian military installation.
The IDF's signals may have been too subtle, but the message should have been clear: The era of Iranian and Syrian immunity for attacks against Israel is drawing to a close. To the residents of the North, two more days of suffering and uncertainty are too much, let alone two more months till the IDF pullout. Indeed, the danger to the North during this period of uncertainty cannot be dismissed with calls for patience from those in safer quarters. The safety of the North during this transition certainly should carry more weight than the cosmetics of the withdrawal - Israel's desire not to look like it is being militarily driven out.
At this point, what matters most is not looks, but preparing the conditions for withdrawal on the ground. The exact timing of the withdrawal will not change the fact that Israel failed to defeat Hizbullah militarily, while operating under the political-diplomatic constraints preventing retaliation against Iran and Syria. Israel, for its part, should not be defensive about leaving an area that it never claimed and has been trying to leave, under the right conditions, for years.
What matters most is that Israel makes clear what conditions it requires, and the unpleasant alternatives that would ensue if those conditions are not met. Israel requires that the international border be secure and that the safety of its South Lebanese Army allies be ensured. In addition, it would be in the interests of both Lebanon and Israel if the quiet economic integration - including the flow of trade and workers - between the countries would continue.
In short, Hizbullah's war against Israel must end, and must not be replaced with a new proxy opponent, such as the Palestinians in Lebanon. Some of those Palestinians are armed and claim they will attack Israel regardless of whether Israel withdraws to the international border. The significance of Israel's withdrawal, however, is that the security problem becomes not just Israel's, but that of Lebanon and any other country that sponsors terrorism or fails to prevent attacks from its territory.
The people of the North have a right to expect that, after Israel's withdrawal, if not before, the proxy war against it will end. Either Lebanon, with the help of an enlarged UNIFIL force, accomplishes this on its own, or Lebanon, Syria, and Iran will pay a direct price for attempting to continue the war. The international community should understand that Israel will fully exercise its sovereign right of self-defense, to the extent necessary for the long-suffering citizens North to live in peace. (Jerusalem Post May 8)
Peace and Poison in the Middle East By David A. Harris
As Israeli and Palestinian negotiators move toward a much-awaited permanent settlement, there has been a shocking rise in vitriolic antisemitism across the Arab world. This extraordinary paradox of Israeli and Arab political leaders attempting to build peace while official Arab media, schools, religious leaders and intellectuals actively demonize the Jewish people is startling.
When the Islamic mufti of Jerusalem made deeply painful comments repudiating the facts of the Holocaust, they received wide attention in the Western world because they came during the remarkable visit to Israel of Pope John Paul II. Likewise, when the official Syrian government newspaper Tishreen recently asserted that "Zionists created the Holocaust myth to blackmail and terrorize the world's intellectuals and politicians," the editorial gained broad attention and condemnation because it appeared amid efforts to jump-start the stalled Israeli-Syrian peace talks. Less noted was the fact these two outrages are the rule, not the exception.
Across the Arab world the language of Holocaust denial has become common. Editorials and columns similar to the one in Tishreen can be found in Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gumhuriya, three of the official daily newspapers in Egypt. In recent weeks, Arab papers have stepped up their attacks on Israel--and on the Jewish people--by labeling in vile words and in gross caricatures Israel's prime minister and foreign minister as Nazis, and accusing Israel of the most bizarre machinations.
The official newspaper in Qatar, one of two forward-looking gulf nations to open commercial ties with Israel, has warned that Israel dispatches beautiful women to advance trade--and undermine the sheikdom. "Whether these women are from Israel or from Russia, they have one thing in common: the transmitting of disease and evil in order to cause the collapse of our economy," states Al-Sharq. The official Qatari paper goes on to quote from the notorious antisemitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," which is widely available in the Arab world and is often cited by papers in other Arab countries.
While the Palestinian Authority is obligated through signed agreements with Israel to work against incitement, its official news organs do not hesitate to join in the vituperation of Israel and Jews.
Arab schools are in dutiful step with the editorial writers and columnists. For example, a new study by the Middle East Media Research Institute reveals that Syrian textbooks for grades 4 to 11 are replete with antisemitism, Holocaust denial, demonization of Israel and, most appalling, an open call to exterminate Jews from the earth. Arab media extol the skewed and widely repudiated views of Holocaust deniers.
While the United Nations has declared antisemitism a form of racism that must be condemned, Arab intellectuals are preaching it as gospel. As the noted Johns Hopkins University scholar Fouad Ajami has observed in "The Dream Palace of the Arabs," "the custodians of political power" in the Arab world determined some time ago that "diplomatic accommodation would be the order of the day, but the intellectual class was given a green light to agitate against the peace." This has long been the situation in Egypt, where as recently as March 28 several Israeli diplomats invited to a conference at the University of Cairo were denied entry when they arrived.
But it also is true in Jordan, where, despite the Hashemite Kingdom's landmark peace with Israel, professional associations remain adamantly opposed to any interaction with Israelis.
When we raised our concerns about antisemitism in the Arab media during an American Jewish Committee mission to five Arab countries last month, our interlocutors proclaimed this the price of a "free" press and assured us that comprehensive peace would moderate the media.
At the same time, when pressed on improving their relations with Israel, government officials plead for patience because, after all, while the government is more than willing to deepen ties with the Jewish state, "public opinion" is not yet ready.
What a peculiar situation. Is there no acknowledgment of linkage between people's perception of Israel and the daily venom fed them through the Arab media and school curriculum--all sanctioned by the respective Arab governments?
Israel is prepared to take calculated risks to achieve peace. But the antagonistic posture of the Arab media, schools, religious leaders and intellectuals hardly contributes to the climate and culture that are desperately needed to turn the region from conflict to cooperation. (Washington Post 5/2)
The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee.