A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
28 Iyar 5760
June 2, 2000
Issue number 275
Prime Minister Ehud Barak has made yet another concession to the Palestinians in the Stockholm talks. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that despite Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami's return to Israel, the negotiations are continuing: "Barak now agrees to a Palestinian state on 92% of Judea and Samaria - instead of the 80 to 90% that he agreed to two weeks ago. About 2/3 of the remaining 8% is comprised of Jerusalem areas and Yesha settlements, while the remainder is a narrow strip along the Jordan River. To compensate the Palestinians for these areas, Barak has agreed to give up sovereign Israeli territory, either in the Wadi Ara region (between Hadera and Afula), or near Gaza, or both." Huberman said, "When he ran against Yossi Beilin for the leadership of the Labor party, Barak sharply criticized the Beilin-Abu Mazen plan, and said that he would never 'give up the sands of Halutza [near Gaza] in exchange for settlement blocs.' Now it appears that not only has he agreed to give up Halutza - he will not even insist on keeping settlement blocs in exchange! Most of the Yesha communities - including Beit El and Ofrah, which he explicitly promised more than once that they will remain Israeli - will be included within Palestinian territory, with some sort of security arrangement." Barak has also agreed to a direct connection between the Palestinian entity and Jordan; all previous Israeli governments had insisted that Israel would retain exclusive control over the borders. "This means that the entrances to the Palestinian entity will not be supervised by the IDF," Huberman explained, "but rather by an international force, and that Israel will have no way of enforcing the demilitarization of the Palestinian state." Government sources said that the PA has rejected Barak's offer. The PA's rejection of offer of 92% of Yesha was predictable, says Huberman: "This has consistently been the Palestinians' position. They refuse to concede even one meter. In fact, during the Eilat talks a few weeks ago, the Israeli negotiators were told by the Palestinians, 'Your calculations - 6.1%, 13%, 92%, etc. - have a basic error: The 100% we are demanding is not of the entirety of Judea and Samaria, but of the entirety of Palestine! Our agreement to take all of the West Bank is already a great concession - in that we are agreeing to take only 25% of the entire land!'" Huberman said that the Palestinians are prepared to agree to such a deal, however, if it is not called a "permanent-status" agreement, and if the topics of the status of Jerusalem and the so-called "right of return" are postponed to a date to be named later. "That way, Arafat can tell his people that the 92% is not a final-status deal..." Huberman described as "impractical" the transfer of Israeli-Arab villages to the PA in compensation for the remaining 8% "because the Arab population in Israel is opposed to giving up all the benefits that come with Israeli citizenship. In addition, Barak needs their support. The other sovereign Israeli area that Barak may forfeit is in Halutza, near Gaza in the Negev..."
Yisrael B'Aliyah will leave the government if and when the reports on the scope of Barak's concessions are confirmed, says party leader Interior Minister Natan Sharansky,. In a letter to Barak Tuesday - reprinted below - Sharansky detailed the various Israeli concessions thus far, and wrote that the agreement would "affect the standing of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, weaken the people, and reduce their ability to identify with the State." Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who participated in the Stockholm talks, called Sharansky's information "irrelevant and imprecise." Sharansky spoke to Arutz-7 Wednesday, and said: "It's not that Barak is avoiding me personally, but rather all the government ministers - we hear of developments in the talks only if there something dramatic happens. So I try to find out on my own - if I can't hear the news because I'm a minister, I'll hear it as someone who has some connections... The question is not whether or not to quit the government, but rather how to prevent this dangerous plan of Barak's. Our party leadership gave us the mandate yesterday to decide at any given minute whether we can influence more from within or without - but as of now, our party will engage in activities to protest and try to prevent this move...I would like to make it clear that I'm in favor of territorial compromise, but just not on such essential interests such as the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem..." In light of the reports from Stockholm, the Likud Knesset faction submitted a no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Barak. Likud faction leader MK Ruby Rivlin said, "It is becoming increasingly clear that the negotiations being conducted by Ehud Barak endanger the security interests of Israel. What is taking place is a total collapse of the red lines established by all Israeli governments in their positions until now." (A7 May 29,31)
Civil Conquest of Yesha Planned
Thousands of Palestinians will attempt to "conquer" Jewish Yesha communities upon the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state on September 13. So claims a Saudi Arabian newspaper, quoting a "Plan for Liberation of Lands" authorized by the Palestinian Authority. This report jibes with a statement made recently by leading PLO official Feisal Husseini, who said that on the day after the declaration of a Palestinian state "on all its lands," the Palestinians living in refugee camps will "march" towards Israeli cities and villages. Husseini acknowledged that violence during such a march would be likely, and that it could lead to a Palestinian conquest of Jewish towns in Yesha. Residents of the Binyamin community of Nachliel sent an urgent letter to IDF Binyamin area commander Col. Gal Hirsch this week, warning that the IDF will be unable to reach Yesha towns in the event that the Palestinians carry through with their threats to overtake the communities. Bet El Mayor Uri Ariel related to these threats today, and said, "We have raised these issues with the army and government, who are responsible for these matters. They are aware of the issue and are organized to deal with it." Ariel also said that the towns already have weapons that, in the opinion of the army, are sufficient to deal with external threats. "The plan to have Palestinian civilians march towards and penetrate Yesha towns will pose a serious dilemma for Israel's security forces, in terms of firing on civilians," Arutz 7's Haggai Huberman explained. "The Palestinians would like to emulate the tactic they saw in southern Lebanon... The IDF officially says that it is prepared for all possible scenarios, but Yesha residents aren't convinced. In the letter sent to IDF officials from Nachliel, the residents note that a full day may pass before reinforcements arrive to defend the yishuvim. 'With no offense intended to the IDF,' wrote the residents, 'the PA could dispatch hundreds of skilled, armed Palestinians before the IDF has a chance to respond. Thus, a danger would exist even if roads to the settlements are not blocked by Arab snipers and ambushes..." (A7 May 31)
Ben-Ami Reveals Deep Barak-Clinton Connection
Minister of Public Security Shlomo Ben-Ami said Wednesday that there are only a few weeks left for Israel to either come to an agreement with the Palestinians, or miss the opportunity for a long time to come. He explained that Clinton's term as U.S. President is coming to an end, and he will soon not be able to broker an agreement, and the same with Congress, which will soon be unable to approve the large aid packages needed for the agreements. Yossi Ben-Aharon, who headed Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir's office, reacted with alarm to Ben-Ami's words: "I don't think that Ben-Ami himself realized the severity of his words. He has now revealed the true intentions of the Barak government. I have said from the beginning that Barak has tied his time schedule and his planning of the entire diplomatic process with Clinton... Clinton has his own interests - he wants to end his career with the attainment of an agreement between Israel and her neighbors, and so he and [Secretary of State] Albright and the others are heavily pressuring Barak to complete the talks before the end of Clinton's term. Clinton, in turn, promised that he would pass the aid package through Congress, which will also include much money for the Palestinians, Syria, and Lebanon. This shows that whoever believes the denials of the Prime Minister's office regarding these concessions and 90% of Yesha is simply mistaken... I say this with great trembling, but what Ehud Barak is doing is very frightening: He is knowingly gambling on the future and the security of the State of Israel. He is ignoring the history of the Palestinian Authority which has not lived up to any of its commitments, and is giving away all the land, and then - after more intifada and more violence - he will wake up one day and say, Woops, we made a mistake." (arutzsheva.org May 31)
Palestinians Celebrate - and Learn from - Lebanon "Victory"
A celebration of the liberation of Lebanon" was the theme of Tuesday's gathering at Bir Zeit University, sponsored by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Culture. University President Dr. Hanna Nasir said, "The victory in Lebanon proved that continuous struggle is the only way to defeat the enemy. We realize that our conflict is not a difference in opinion, but a conflict with an enemy who occupies our land... We should remember that Israel withdrew from parts of Palestine as a result of the Intifada." Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish - whose poems are part of the new Israeli high school curriculum - said, "We are happy for the south of Lebanon, [our northern brother]. Arabs have never felt as thirsty for freedom as they do now. Hope replaced shame while freedom unified hope within us. This is a victory of hope." (A7 May 31)
Yesha Council Activity
Yehoshua Mor-Yosef, the spokesman for the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, spoke to Arutz-7 Tuesday: "First on the agenda will be the very worrisome reports emanating from [the talks in] Stockholm. We have information, which we have found is true, that the government's intention is to withdraw from almost 100% of Judea and Samaria, and to abandon close to 100,000 settlers. We know that Barak's concessions have reached 92% of Yesha, and we have partially-confirmed information that the number is already 96%. I am holding in my hands three newspaper reports - one from Apr. 11, which reports that Barak has agreed to give away 60%, another one from May 11 which states that he has agreed to 80%, and another one from a week later that says 90%. For some reason, our own people are not aware of what's going on, that Ehud Barak is prepared to return Israel to the pre-1967 days, to abandon and/or uproot 100,000 people, and to keep only a few settlements under Israeli control - Maaleh Adumim, Givat Ze'ev, and some of Gush Etzion. The only thing stopping him is Arafat, who is not willing to settle for less than 100%, and who is not even willing to discuss the proposal to receive Israeli territories in exchange for the other 4 or 8%." Regarding the future of the settlements in Yesha, Mor-Yosef said, "We understand that there is an internal government dispute whether to uproot the settlements or leave them in place surrounded by Palestinian territory. Ben-Ami and Beilin are pressing Barak to leave the communities in place, and are looking for some sort of formula that will allow them to remain within the Palestinian area - but in practice we know our neighbors, and they will never agree to allow us to exist there. We are attempting to explain to the public that although the immediate problems will be caused to the settlers, [Barak's plan is] really of great urgency for the entire nation, which will be forced to return to what Abba Eban called the 'Auschwitz borders'... Politically, we are trying to convince the NRP to resign now, and not wait for the actual transfer of Abu Dis, so as to cause a snowball effect - Yisrael B'Aliyah would almost certainly follow suit, as would Shas at some point, thus toppling the government and sparing us the government's plans to abandon Yesha." The Council has sent out a mailing to all Yesha residents which includes a map of Barak's planned 90% withdrawal - "but in light of the increase to 92% that has already occurred, we have included a brown marker in the envelope so that the readers can mark in more brown [Palestinian] area as Barak's further concessions become known..." (A7 May 30)
PA Police Take Israeli Weapons, Allow Robber to Escape
Palestinian para-military police took the weapons of Israeli policemen and an IDF officer who mistakenly entered Area A Monday, and allowed the driver of a stolen car to escape. The incident began when an Israeli car was stolen in the Atarot industrial zone, north of Jerusalem. The Israel police received word that the car was found in Kfar Akab, a village under Israeli security control. Policemen, accompanied by an IDF officer, identified the car at the edge of the town, in an area defined as Area A (full PA control). They arrested the driver, but then the PA forces arrived and aimed their weapons at the Israelis. They forced the Israelis to give over the keys to the car, which they gave to the thief, who quickly escaped; they then took the Israelis' weapons, and took their "prisoners" to the DCO Israeli-Palestinian joint headquarters in Ramallah. (A7 May 30)
"From bitter came sweet." Hateful and offensive remarks by a Kibbutz member to a visiting yeshiva group three weeks ago culminated Monday in a friendly dialogue session at the Kibbutz. Rabbis and students of the yeshiva in Shilo were lunching on the grass of Kibbutz Kfar Haruv in the Golan when a member of the Kibbutz yelled at them to leave, cursed them, accused them of being the source of all the country's troubles, and even spat at them. Kibbutz secretary Iris Shoval publicly apologized at the time, said that such sentiments were not representative of feeling on the Kibbutz, and said that she would invite the yeshiva for a return visit. Shoval was happy with Monday's get-together, and said that there was a "very nice atmosphere, and both sides were interested in ensuring the success of the meeting. We conducted a positive dialogue on various issues, and we saw that this could be a model for other meetings of this sort, which I hope will be held." Head of the Shilo Yeshiva, Rabbi Michael Brom, told Arutz-7, "It was originally intended to be a meeting of appeasement, but it turned out to be much more than that - there was a real 'uniting of the hearts,' there was singing and music, and by the time it was over, you could see that both sides were truly interested in perpetuating the bonds between us." (arutzsheva.org May 30)
It's Katzav vs. Peres For President
President Ezer Weizman announced Saturday night that he will resign by July 10, thus launching the election campaign for the next President. The election by the 120 Knesset Members will be held shortly thereafter. The two contenders will be MKs Moshe Katzav (Likud) and Shimon Peres (One Israel). (A7 May 28)
Hesder Students Left Behind
Five IDF Hesder soldiers remained in their Lebanese outpost for over seven hours after the IDF had already withdrawn the rest of its forces from the region. Arutz-7's Ariel Kahane reports: "At approximately 2 PM (last) Wednesday, some seven hours after the army announced that the last soldiers had left Lebanon, the yeshiva students - who were left on their outpost without a senior officer - finally received their orders to leave Lebanon. They telephoned their yeshiva from the Sachlav outpost, in the western sector, and asked what should be done with the holy books that had been left behind. They were instructed to bury them... The soldiers then made their way to the border, 300 meters away. It's not yet clear whether the soldiers were forgotten or not... There were apparently other cases of soldiers who were left behind for several hours, including one group who was left behind 'deep' in Lebanese territory." (arutzsheva.org May 28)
Two-year-old Shalev Shabbat, who was severely injured by a terrorist-thrown firebomb in Jericho last week, awoke this morning for the first time. Shalev's mother Segal reports that the doctors are optimistic. (A7 May 28)
Knesset: Barak must Place Pollard at Top of Agenda
The Knesset unanimously adopted the following resolution on behalf of Jonathan Pollard last week: "The Knesset sends blessings of strength and courage to Israeli citizen Jonathan Pollard who has been incarcerated in an American prison for 15 years now. The Knesset calls upon the American President to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard at once and to release him from prison. The Knesset calls upon the Prime Minister to place Israel's request for the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard at the top of his agenda in his contacts with President Clinton. (arutzsheva.org May 26)
Letter by Minister Natan Sharansky to Prime Minister Ehud Barak
Mr. Prime Minister,
In the last few days, disturbing news has reached me regarding agreements that you made or were made in your name, in the framework of the negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian Authority, in the current round of negotiations.
It pains me that you do not tend to share the developments in the negotiations with the members of the government or at least the members of the security cabinet and the heads of the parties that are coalition partners. I am thus forced to learn about these developments from personal friends.
From my sources I learn the following things:
1. Israel is willing for Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem to be under the municipal responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.
2. Israel gives up on the idea of physical separation between Jerusalem and the territories under Palestinian control, and thus allows the free and unsupervised entrance of people into Jerusalem.
3. Israel gives up on the idea of setting the final status of Jerusalem within the framework of this agreement.
B. Judea and Samaria
1. Israel retains 5-8% of Judea and Samaria in dense settlement blocs, only.
2. The Palestinian Authority demands, in return for these areas, compensation in Israeli territory within the borders of the "Green Line".
3. Israel relinquishes the Jordan Valley and Northern Dead Sea
4. Israel will uproot the settlements that according to the agreement will remain within the territory of the Palestinian Authority.
5. Israel will re-settle between 40,000 and 50,000 settlers, who will be uprooted from those settlements.
C. Border and border passages
1. Israel relinquishes the border with Jordan that runs from the north of the [Jordan] Valley until the northern Dead Sea, including the control of border passages.
2. Israel will allow a border between the Palestinian Authority and Egypt in the south-west part of the state.
1. According to the agreement, the Palestinian Authority can bring into its borders and give citizenship to any person who wishes to. Consent to this opens the door for the entrance of millions of people to the territory of the Authority.
2. In this agreement it is not established that there is no "right of return" to Israeli territory within the borders of the "Green Line" for Palestinians who claim that they or their relatives lived in the past in settlements within the borders of the "Green Line."
3. The "right of return" will be given to refugees to within the borders of the "Green Line" within the framework of "family reunification".
From the agreement being developed, a dangerous reality is being created according to which Israel relinquishes, in advance, all of its assets, without insisting on the setting of the final status of Jerusalem, the refugees, and the borders.
Honorable Prime Minister, just as the struggle for the independence of Israel, that reached its peak in the Six Day Way, strengthened the people of Israel and deepened the feeling of its identification with its State, so, to my sorrow, the developing agreement, instead of increasing these feelings, will challenge the standing of Israel and turn it into a state that relies on the benevolence of the nations of the world. There is no doubt that this change will affect the standing of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, weaken the people, and reduce their ability to identify with the State.
This is a dangerous process, and I believe that the overwhelming majority of the Jewish people living in Zion and outside of it cannot agree to it. In light of this, I ask for an urgent meeting of the security cabinet to consider the matter. Likewise, I ask to raise the matter at the next cabinet meeting.
Respectfully, Natan Sharansky (IMRA May 30)
"A clear and bad example was the administration's attempt to take sides in the most recent Israeli election. America should not interfere in Israel's democratic process, and America will not interfere in Israeli elections when I'm the president." - Texas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate, George Bush, speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington. (New York Times May 23)
"When we negotiated the coalition with Ehud Barak, he asked us not to include the word 'reciprocity' (in the negotiations with the Palestinians) in the text of the coalition agreement. It was associated too much with Netanyahu. I said, 'OK, forget about the word, but will the principle of reciprocity be preserved?' I was assured that this would be so. Unfortunately, there is no reciprocity in the negotiations. We offer them Abu Dis, and they shoot at our soldiers." - Interior Minister, Natan Sharansky, (Yisrael B'Aliya) commenting on some of the recent events. (JTA May 21)
"Just like the last helicopter on the roof of the American embassy in Vietnam, we saw a bunch of images that will be engraved negatively in our collective conscience. There are no happy withdrawals. We have also learned, there are no free pullouts, and the smell of humiliation is in the air.'' - Political columnist Chemi Shalev, commenting on the withdrawal from Lebanon, in the Ma'ariv newspaper. (Reuters May 23)
"[They are] traitors who committed crimes. They should be tried in Lebanon." Arab MK Taleb A-Sana demanding that Israel not provide help to the fleeing SLA soldiers. (Arutz 7 May 23)
The frantic sudden withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from Lebanon will be taken correctly throughout the Muslim world as a humiliation for Israel, and, right again, as a startling new military threat to the country: Iran at its borders.
The governments and public of hostile Muslim countries will decide that for the second time in a month they proved armed violence is still the best way of getting what they want from Israel when the payoff through negotiations runs a little slow.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak will either have to change some of his government's basic strategy or forfeit the goal of peace and the safety of Israel's people. To make those changes, he will have to sacrifice political capital by trying to changing the current mindset of his people and some of their illusions, which he and his political partners encouraged.
The willingness - eagerness really - to give the Hezbollah guerrillas control of the Lebanese southern border was just one of them. The Israeli Cabinet did not know the Hezbollah would move in right away instead of obediently waiting the six more weeks Mr. Barak wanted. And nobody told the Israeli public that the Hezbollah now is armed with Iranian missiles that can reach Haifa and other Israeli cities. More are on the way to Lebanon aboard the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah arms passage. Short of an unthinkable war of mass destruction, that could help tip the balance of terror in favor of the Hezbollah guerrillas. It causes them no tears that Israel might retaliate against Beirut and Damascus.
Among other things the Israeli government and public were willing to do:
And both Israeli government and the public somehow convinced themselves that these sacrifices by Israel would not encourage the Palestine to go ahead, after a peace treaty, with what so many consider their duty and destiny - the destruction of the Israeli state.
The Israeli public had plenty of support in their illusion. It came from Shimon Peres, now a candidate for the presidency, who tells Israelis that the world has gone from "a world of land to a world of science, so borders lost their importance." That thought unhappily never entered the Hezbollah mind.
Support comes too, according to the zesty Zionist Organization of America, from the former consul general in New York, Collette Avital, now a member of the Knesset. She tells Israel radio that she sees Israel giving up "some of its sovereignty in the entire country" and becoming part of a "larger entity incorporating Israel and a Palestinian state." Both bits of wisdom have the aroma of the "post-Zionist" movement that contests the idea that Israel should remain what it was created to be, a Jewish state. It revises Jewish and Israeli history, downward of course. Read the new classic "The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul" by the impressive Israeli, Yoram Hazony (published by Basic Books).
The victory of the Hezbollah and its suppliers is not apocalypse for Israel or its Zionist character. But Israel's enemies believe both are weakening in spirit. Israel's true friends would be false if they denied they felt it themselves.
Peace cannot be attained passively. Peace cannot be achieved by counting too heavily on a powerful ally that one day may measure its friendship against other interests. Peace can be achieved by an Israel willing to make important concessions, but not without important returns, and not at the risk of making enemies believe it has confused peace with suicide. (Washington Times May 29) The writer is the former executive editor of the New York Times.
Too Little Too Late By Aaron Lerner
Last year a local weekly reported that a group of youngsters in the Sharon area like to drink on Friday nights and drive the wrong way on the old Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road. The kids saw nothing wrong with their fun since, after all, no one had gotten hurt. So far. Unfortunately, the attitude of these thrill-seekers is endemic to Israeli society. We ignore our mistakes until something happens and then appoint yet another commission of inquiry.
Ehud Barak's team is going full throttle with the "not one scratch" theme.
And the IDF certainly deserves credit for taking various measures both before and during the hasty retreat from Lebanon to minimize casualties. Unfortunately, the technical management of the actual retreat of its soldiers (equipment may be another story) from Lebanon may be the only thing Israel did not mismanage in the redeployment.
Had the retreat turned out differently, Israel's decision to transfer control of the Taibeh outpost to the SLA on May 14 would certainly be subject to the close scrutiny of a commission of inquiry today. Taibeh fell a week later and the die was cast for the rapid collapse of the entire system.
The Taibeh episode resulted from a combination of an over-optimistic appraisal of the SLA's ability to hold the line and a complete failure to anticipate, monitor, or react to a brilliant Hizbullah ploy. Hizbullah took the area under the shield of a human wave of "returning villagers" that easily broke through roadblocks manned by UNIFIL.
While a retreat's success may be judged solely by the immediate lack of casualties, the ultimate test of a redeployment is the quality of the new position.
It is common knowledge that the new line has serious holes in it because Barak, ignoring the repeated pleas from Chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz and others, declined for the bulk of his first year at the helm to start construction. Now we are dangerously exposed and the director-general of the Defense Ministry said on Sunday that, under the best of conditions, the "critical parts" of the security fence will be completed in two months, the outposts and fortification of civilian settlements "some time in the future."
When a television reporter asked Mofaz after Barak's victory press conference last week if the line is sufficiently secure, he replied that "the IDF will do the best it can under the circumstances" - a standard meaningless response, since the sufficiency of these "circumstances" themselves is the issue.
The holes in the border are an open invitation to the various terrorist groups. Each team can claim to be from an organization no one ever heard of before (Fatah was a master of this ruse) and even claim they did not come from Lebanon. Rather than the swift retaliatory response the Barak model relies on, Israel could quickly find itself engaged in long drawn out debates over who, if anyone, should take the blame. So the terrorists can continue their campaign to drive the Jews out of Palestine by crossing over and killing Jews in their homes and schools while leaving the arguments over Lebanon's responsibility to the debating societies of world diplomacy. This is why the line was so important. This is why it was criminal not to build it in time.
Barak also frittered away a year without coming up with anything close to an honorable resolution of the fate of our SLA allies. This Sunday, his team cynically launched a new spin, with Communications Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer blaming the SLA men for failing to look out for themselves after Barak started his withdrawal countdown. That Israel now sees fit to attack its former ally for failing to save their own skins, when the easiest way to do this would have been by turning against Israel, could have a profound impact on the viability of any future relations with potential allies.
One can either learn from one's mistakes or repeat them. So far it appears that Ehud Barak is determined to ignore them. I fear that, bolstered by his good luck, Barak may repeat the same errors on other fronts. And we will pay dearly.
One of the key precepts of Judaism is not to rely on miracles. Our challenge is to get the message through that the policies of the future cannot rely on a repetition of the miracles of the past. Otherwise one day that oncoming car may just hit us. (Jerusalem Post May 31)
Our Battle for Jerusalem By Benny Elon MK
We have reached the heart of the issue: Jerusalem. The same Jerusalem of our prayers: "Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem"; that same Jerusalem that is not yet rebuilt, and for which we must fight. And this must be a true battle ,fought with our hearts and souls.
I am not sure if Barak is tricking the public or trying to sway our attention with his announcements about Abu-Dis, Azariyah and Sawahrah. It is possible, as was the case with Anatah, that Barak will change his mind and state that A-Ram and Dhiyat-el-Barid are not negotiable. These areas are an extention of Anatot and the airport in Atarot, also within the municipal borders of Jerusalem. Perhaps Barak will expand his plan to include El-Jib and Bidu, located on the way to the prophet Shmuel's grave - essentially cutting off Ramot, Pisgat Ze'ev, Atarot and Neve Yaacov from the rest of Jerusalem. If this is the plan, we may be able to understand Barak's statement that "Ramot will be left in our hands". Maybe Barak specifically mentioned Ramot because he intends to hand over neighboring areas of Ramot - El-Jib and Beit Ichsa - to the PA.
But perhaps in the end the target is the cemetery on the Mt. of Olives. Abu-Dis is divided, with part inside Jerusalem's boundaries and part outside. The latter is now Area B, and Barak intends to award it the status of Area A. It is my assertion that the PA parliament itself is built mostly within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, with just a portion in Area B, slated to become Area A. According to the official response I received from the Ministry of Defense, only a small part of the parliament building lies within Jerusalem's boundaries, with the majority in Area B, soon to become Area A. Regardless, all agree that the building's status is divided.
Barak and Ben-Ami say that "we do not pray towards Abu-Dis". Mr. Prime Minister, towards where do you pray?! To Rechavia?! Is this what decides what is Jerusalem and what is not? Do you even know where Abu-Dis is located - on the Mt. of Olives! Perhaps the Prime Minister prays towards Kiryat HaMemshala - the government buildings complex. Perhaps this was his latest prayer, which has been answered meanwhile.
The Arab names for these areas are being used to fool us. Silwan instead of David's City, Ras-el-Amud rather than Maaleh Hazeitim. Arab names sound further from us, yet these areas are adjacent to us, just a few meters from Jerusalem's municipal borders, just tens of meters from the Temple Mount. Nothing will stop Arafat and other troublemakers from coming up to the Temple Mount.
Ramallah and Bethlehem lie adjacent to Jerusalem from the north and south, in a pincer-like hold. According to the Government's plans, the circle will be closed and Jerusalem will be squeezed not only at these two points, but will find itself actually besieged. Ramat Shlomo will become an isolated island, following the transfer of the areas from French Hill to Atarot to direct Arab sovereignty - under their control, with the type of weapons unlike those used in the pogroms of 1929. Now it's a whole new ballgame.
This is an issue that addresses our very soul - there is no greater danger, or pikuach nefesh. Suddenly, the deciding factor has become whether we pray towards Abu-Dis or not. This is complete demagoguery. I hope they completely fail to 'make progress' in the negotiations, and do what should have been done before the mistake of Oslo - raise Jerusalem as our issue and demand that the Palestinians tell the truth about what they are and are not willing to accept in a final settlement. We cannot continue to let them eat away at our State at their own whim. If they declare a state, parts of the State of Israel and of Jerusalem will be cut off from themselves, and we will be forced to erect metal walls similar to those that were in Jerusalem in the not-so-distant past. Each and every neighborhood in Jerusalem will be forced to erect giant walls. Ramot, because of Bet Ichsah; Armon Hanatziv because of Jabel Mukabar; Pisgat Zeev because of Hizmah and Anatah; Neveh Yaacov because of Dhiyat-el-Barid and A-Ram; and Gilo, which could be besieged from all sides. Two hundred thousand Jews live in these Jerusalem neighborhoods. We must remember the Jewish soul, and the Israeli sovereignty we still enjoy. We must not forget the flag, and our independence; we must not let Barak dismantle all of that.
I pray that the meetings between Barak and Arafat will be met with complete failure, and that they will be thwarted in their attempts to threaten Jerusalem's welfare. We must be completely committed to the battle for Jerusalem our capital, Yerushalayim our holy city. (IMRA/Arutz 7 Apr 30)
Drug Abuse Hits Home Jerusalem Post Editorial
Elisha Brand wanted to live. To his friends, the tragedy of his death is compounded by the broad brush with which the "drug culture" is painted, and the assumption that anyone within it is lost - a "junkie." The power of Elisha's life was shown by the impact of his death, which led five of his friends to enter drug rehabilitation programs.
Elisha, 18, was a "kikarist," one of the kids who congregate in Jerusalem's Kikar Zion. The square in the city's center can hardly be described as a bad part of town, and most of the young people there come for the nightlife, not for drugs. Yet drugs are part of the kikar scene, both for youth from native Israeli and Anglo (English-speaking) backgrounds. Since his death two weeks ago, apparently from a drug overdose, the kikar has become a place to remember his short life.
According to his mother, however, remembering Elisha's life is hardly sufficient. "Tears are nice," Chaya Sara Brand told The Jerusalem Post last week, "but what Elisha would want is the tears to reach ground level and fertilize the growth of the kind of programs that will bring people together in the spirit of acceptance and love." The first sign of such an impact would be ending the denial that is the first impediment of any solution to the drug problem.
Though denial is a common, in some ways natural, response for almost any parent or community, the national religious and haredi communities in general - and Anglo immigrants in particular - seem more vulnerable to this danger.
A religious upbringing and economic stability do not provide immunity from drug abuse, any more than a secular orientation or poverty are automatic risk factors. If anything, the perception - both within the community and by social agencies - that Anglos were above such problems has produced a dangerous shortage of attention and resources.
As Raquel Sanchez of the Rose Institute observed, "The only reason it got so bad on the kikar is that Americans in general were seen as a population that did not need any help." According to Sanchez, this is true even among Anglos, who give generously to help other immigrant communities, but are sometimes blind to needs on their own doorsteps.
Such attitudes are slowly changing as public agencies, such as the capital's Kidum Noar, are recognizing that there is a drug problem in the Anglo community that desperately needs more attention. Once the problem is recognized, the solutions lie both in applying tools that have been used for some time in other sectors, and in recognizing the special risks associated with Anglo immigrants.
Regardless of the community, for example, experts on drug abuse agree that working with parents as well as children is critical. Many parents assume that the child alone must be treated, when changing their own relationship with the child can be half the battle. Other parents sense that they could play a larger role in addressing the problem, but feel helpless and without tools to begin.
In addition to tapping in to existing drug abuse programs, the Anglo community would do well to learn from the Diaspora communities that are a step ahead, both in terms of recognition and treatment of the problem. In Brooklyn, New York, for example, youth centers designed to combat drug abuse have opened in Orthodox communities, and parent support groups such as Mothers Aligned Saving Kids (MASK) are spreading.
In addition, less savory aspects of the Israel-Diaspora connection cannot be ignored. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Russian and Israeli organized crime groups have become major transporters of the drug Ecstasy into the United States. A physician who runs a substance abuse program in Elizabeth, New Jersey, recently told US News and World Report that reports of children in Orthodox communities abusing drugs "have skyrocketed." In the face of the danger of a worsening drug problem, illusions of immunity are perhaps the worst enemy. Both in Israel and the Diaspora, the Jewish community needs to greatly increase its support for drug rehabilitation programs and youth centers.
Educational efforts to prevent drug abuse are, of course, necessary for children, but perhaps even more critical for parents, for whose role in prevention and treatment no institution can be a substitute. (Jerusalem Post May 29)