Israel News

A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto


27 Sivan 5760
June 30, 2000
Issue number 279


Barak Willing to Give; Arafat Unwilling to Take

Prime Minister Ehud Barak confirmed Tuesday that most of the media's speculations about his planned concessions to the Palestinians are correct. In his first in-depth briefing to his government on the state of the negotiations with the PA, Barak said that he has agreed to:

* the establishment of a Palestinian state on close to 90% of Judea and Samaria;

* leave 20% of the Yesha residents under Palestinian control;

* transfer the Jordan Valley to the PA and lease it for several dozen years;

* allow limited resettlement of displaced Palestinians within Israel.

The Prime Minister's office announced that displaced Arabs will be allowed to return only on a humanitarian basis and for the purpose of "unification of families." Barak expressed confidence Wednesday that a vast majority of Yesha residents would support the agreement in a national referendum. Yasser Arafat is unimpressed with Barak's generosity, however. He continues to demand nothing less than 100% of Judea and Samaria, total return of all Palestinian refugees, and more. Leading American officials participating in the talks - Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, Special Envoy Dennis Ross, and his assistant Aaron Miller (the three of whom also took part in Barak's briefing of the ministers Tuesday) - see the gaps between the PA and Israel as very large, and are presently not in favor of holding a Barak-Clinton-Arafat summit in the near future. After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Albright Wednesday, Arafat called a press conference in which he demanded all of Judea and Samaria and the evacuation of all settlements "just as was done in the Sinai Desert." Albright said that the decision on holding a summit would have to wait until she consults with U.S. President Clinton upon her return to Washington. ( June 28)

Levy The Hawk

Foreign Minister Levy, for his part, began this week to play the role of a "security hawk" in the Barak government. He told reporters Wednesday that if a summit is held and does not produce results consistent with the high expectations of the Palestinians, it could lead to a dangerous security situation. "A process in which the other side continues to talk of the pre-1967 borders, Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital, and the like is not a peace process - it is a process of capitulation!" Levy thundered. "Israel refuses to capitulate!" Tuesday, Levy was more harsh in his public critique of Ehud Barak when he called upon the Prime Minister to "wake up" in his negotiations with the Palestinians. The Foreign Minister joins Housing Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Levy and Interior Minister Natan Sharansky in their opposition to the Barak concessions. Y. Levy and Sharansky have threatened to quit the coalition if Barak leaves for a Washington summit based on his current plan. MK Dr. Yuval Shteinitz (Likud) called Levy's comments an indication "that the voice of reason may still be heard in government circles. Barak's concessions would strip Israel of important security zones in the Jordan Valley, and perhaps more importantly, in the western Shomron region." MK Shteinitz called Barak an "excellent military man, but a weak political strategist, much in the same way the late Moshe Dayan was a superb Chief of Staff but was instrumental in leading Israel into the nearly-failed 1973 Yom Kippur War. Barak is mistaken in thinking that Israel can preserve its security interest without being sovereign in the region. If the PA is the sovereign, it will be very difficult for us to have the necessary tanks in place, as well as training areas..." ( June 28)

Coalition Whip Calls Settler-Abandonment Plan "Irresponsible"

Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz has begun a campaign against Palestinian sovereignty over Judea and Samaria communities. In a letter to final-status negotiator Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, Pines-Paz writes, "I understand the desire to avoid forcibly evacuating settlers, but I feel that leaving them - some of whom are extremist in their political opinions - in the heart of a Palestinian population, under the control of a Palestinian state, will endanger their lives and the quiet in the region...and appears to me to be a running away from taking responsibility over the difficulties in their evacuation. The State of Israel and its various governments are the ones that sent the settlers to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and it is the government's obligation to maintain their security, even if this may be at the cost of a conflict with them..." ( June 28)

Hizbullah Calls Time-out

Hizbullah leader Sheikh Nasrallah instructed his men not to shoot at Israelis "until further notice." He emphasized, however, that the "liberation of Palestine" is one of his organization's main goals, and said that the Palestinians must not be left alone in their struggle. ( June 28)

Condemning Conservative Synagogue Torching

Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Israeli Society and World Jewish Communities Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, and Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau were among those who strongly condemned the arson at the Conservative Kehilat Ya'ar Ramot synagogue in Jerusalem early this week. Prime Minister Barak noted that setting fire to a synagogue is an awful act which causes every Jew to shudder. Minister Melchior said, "Such persecution is inconceivable, especially against a religious background." Chief Rabbi Lau told Israel Radio that he condemns in the strongest terms attacks and violence aimed at persons and/or buildings, regardless of the synagogue's affiliation, and said that violence in all forms must be uprooted from our society. ( June 28)

Congress Confounded by Barak

Former Israeli attache in Washington Yoram Ettinger commented on Arutz-7 Wednesday on the tensions between Israel and the American Congress regarding the Israeli sale of aircraft systems to China. Ettinger: "The problem is that Barak does not understand the U.S. Congress. The present sad situation is a symptom of Barak's narrow understanding and non-strategic thinking, his arrogance in not listening to others, and his misunderstanding of what is going on in Washington. This is causing an unprecedented depression in our strategic alliance with the U.S. - there have been political problems between us before, but not regarding strategic issues... For a quarter of a billion dollars, or even $2 billion, Barak is willing to sacrifice our 52-year-old relationship with the U.S...What Congress cannot understand is an Israeli Prime Minister who shows weakness regarding his own country's interests - in the Golan, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria - but takes a strong stand against the U.S. in something that it regards as its security interests. For instance, former Prime Minister Shamir was very tough when it came to Judea and Samaria, and even if the Americans didn't agree, they understood him - but in the Persian Gulf War, Shamir figured that that was something he could give in on [and did not retaliate against Iraqi Scuds], as this was something that the Americans saw as vital to their own interests. Barak is now acting in the opposite manner: he is giving in on Israel's own vital interests, but is standing tough against what the U.S. sees as its important interests." (A7 June 28)

Palestinian Violence in Gush Katif

A busload of 30 Jewish high school boys arrived at a beach area within the borders of Neve Dekalim on Wednesday for a day of recreation. Arab teenagers soon arrived on the scene, and began pushing and provoking the Jewish students; the Arab teens were quickly followed by the arrival of a unit of the PA paramilitary police. Gadid resident Avi Bornstein, whose son was part of the group bullied by the Palestinians, said that at the height of the incident, PA forces cocked their guns and aimed them at IDF troops that came to restore order. "It was a miracle that the trigger wasn't pulled during those minutes... It could have been the scene of major tragedy!" While returning home later in the day, the Jewish students' bus was the target of a shower of rocks. Gush Katif residents protested by blocking Palestinian traffic at the Neve Dekalim junction. At one point, a PA soldier rushed to the group of Jews and jabbed the butt of his rifle into the stomach of a protestor, causing him to faint. ( June 29)

IDF Returns Body of Terrorist

On Wednesday the IDF transferred to the Palestinian Authority the body of a suicide terrorist who perpetrated the Bus #26 attack in Jerusalem in 1995. The body transfer was made possible after the Supreme Court accepted a petition submitted by the terrorist's family. Thursday, the PA conducted a full-honors funeral for the suicide bomber. The Yesha Council released the following statement: "The order to return the body of a terrorist who murdered and maimed many people is a prize for terror. It makes Israel's pledge to crush terror laughable." ( June 29)

Barak Preserves Moslem Status Quo

Prime Minister Barak's office declared on Thursday: "The Prime Minister has approved the Israel Police and GSS recommendations on what measures are to be taken or avoided regarding the Temple Mount, in line with the principles of maintaining the status-quo and not damaging archaeological artifacts, while recognizing the importance of the site for both Jews and Moslems." Writing in today's edition of Ha'aretz, journalist Nadav Shragai reports that Barak rejected the advice of both Atty.-Gen. Elyakim Rubenstein and the Antiquities Authority to halt or limit the recently begun Waqf tiling of 200 square meters of the Temple Mount. Barak also decided to forbid actions that would prevent the entry of heavy machinery, trucks and tractors to the Mount. According to Shragai, "he directed the relevant officials to maintain 'reasonable supervision' of the traffic entering and leaving the compound through the Lions' Gate." Barak did, however, instruct that Antiquities Authority archaeologists be allowed into the area to prevent the tiling work from developing "into more extensive construction activity." Israel television reporter Benny Liss indicated that a level of coordination exists between the Waqf and Israeli law enforcement authorities regarding the illegal construction. Speaking with Arutz-7 on Thursday, Liss said that on Monday, he hired a helicopter to fly over the Mount in an effort to capture an aerial view of what was actually taking place there. "Shortly before the flight, I got a call from the helicopter company saying that the Waqf had learned of the flight, called the police; the police in turn called the air traffic tower in Atarot, which then informed the pilot that he had no permission to fly over the Mount. The Waqf has an interest in ensuring that photos of the area do not reach the public." (A7 June 29)

Golan Is Growing

A new wave of construction has begun in the Golan Heights capital of Katzrin. Some 350 new homes are slated to be built in the area in the months ahead; to this end, regional leaders are launching a new public relations campaign stressing the significance of living in the Golan. Katzrin Mayor Sammy Bar Lev told Arutz-7 Thursday that he is pleased with the current lull in the Israel-Syria diplomatic track, and that he is not overly concerned with the "trial balloons" released this week by figures such as Justice Minister Yossi Beilin. (Beilin told Israel's "Meet the Press" program this past weekend that Israel would be interested in a compromise solution on the control of the north-eastern beachfront of Lake Kinneret.) Bar Lev observed that the new regime of Bashar Assad will have its problems consolidating its hold on Syria in the months ahead, "and I don't see how he is going to be able to engage in serious talks with Israel." (A7 June 29)

Northern Border Heats up

In light of threats to the safety of local Jewish civilians, farmers along the northern border have begun to carry ammunition while working on their fields. Dubi Amitai, Chairman of the Metullah Farmers Organization, said that contrary to public reports, "it is not quiet here, tourists are not arriving, Metullah is practically empty, stones and firebombs are being thrown - a firebomb was thrown on me personally. Now they have slingshots with metal balls, and there are some 2000 dunams of land that our farmers cannot farm because the Hizbullah-backed Lebanese in the area don't let us. I have no choice but to go out with my weapons in order to protect myself and my livelihood." Amitai attempted to explain why he and his fellow farmers have not made more noise in the media: "I was not brought up to think that the only way to have basic security around my home is by running to the media. But I then began to think that I might be mistaken, and so I'm now trying, via the media, to tell the politicians that the situation is unbearable. We'll see if the headlines of today regarding the IDF's new decisions have any effect." He said that the army has promised to distribute weapons to some of the residents, "but this is not the solution. The solution is the IDF."

Hizbullah terrorist cells have entered Israel several times in the past month to plot kidnappings of IDF soldiers. Yediot Acharonot reports that Hizbullah hopes to use the soldiers as ransom for the release of Sheikh Obeid and Mustafa Dirani from Israeli prison. The report was confirmed Monday by Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh. ( June 26,27)

SLA Sources: 3 SLA Men Tortured to Death

Senior SLA commanders in Israel claim that they learned Tuesday that three of their comrades have died in Lebanese prison. The three were arrested immediately after the Israeli withdrawal last month, sentenced to long prison terms, and died after being tortured in prison. Col. Sharbal Barakhat, currently in Israel, says that the Israeli government is fully aware of the deaths, having received the information from the same sources as did Barakhat. The SLA officers in Israel further claim that seven of their comrades have received death sentences in Lebanese courts. ( June 27)

Former MK Shapira Buried

Avraham Shapira, the long-time political leader of Agudat Yisrael, was laid to rest last night. Shapira, who served as head of the Knesset Finance Committee under Prime Ministers Begin and Peres, died yesterday at the age of 79. He was best known for spearheading legislation that saw El-Al airlines halt its Sabbath flights. Thousands participated in his funeral. (A7 June 27)

Privatization of Gov't Companies Continues

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) announced that the government's sale of 17.3% of Bank Hapoalim for some $510 million earlier this month was the largest public offering ever on the TASE. According to the Bi-Weekly Economic Update, the sale of the shares of Israel's largest bank highlights two important trends in the Israeli market: the government's privatization policy of state holdings and the increasing participation of international investors in the Tel Aviv market. TASE officials hope that the offering's success will prompt the government to sell additional blocks of its remaining shares in Bank Leumi and Discount Bank. In recent years, the Israeli government has made a priority of divesting itself of its holdings in the stock market. The government's holdings as a percentage of the market capitalization on the TASE have dropped sharply from 16%, 11%, 9% and 8% in the years 1996 to 1999 respectively, to only 6.2% after the Bank Hapoalim offering. ( June 26)

Israeli Jews Agree

A Gallup Israel poll of a representative sample of 503 adult Israeli Jews, commissioned by IMRA, has found that only 13.7% believe Israel should carry out an additional immediate withdrawal in excess of 1% of Judea and Samaria. Some 69% oppose additional withdrawals until there is a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, while 12% oppose additional withdrawals under any circumstances. According to the poll, Ehud Barak lacks support from his own voters for a hefty third withdrawal. Among those who voted for him last year, only 22.4% support a withdrawal in excess of 1%, while nearly 68% oppose additional withdrawals until there is a final arrangement with the Palestinians. IMRA's Dr. Aaron Lerner notes that the country does not support additional withdrawals - nor would it support withdrawals if a Washington summit concludes with an additional interim, rather than final, agreement. (A7 June 26)

The Latest Sharansky Letter

A pre-election chess match between Natan Sharansky and Ehud Barak last year may have foreshadowed the present stage of their coalition partnership. In his second letter to the Prime Minister within a month, Sharansky offers an analysis of the Barak strategy for securing an agreement that would earn the approval of the Israeli public. After reviewing the latest reports of far-reaching Israeli concessions, Sharansky writes: "It is clear to you that the elements outlined above are not acceptable to a number of coalition partners, I among them. At the same time, you believe, and rightly so, that without these partners, you do not possess the broad public support necessary to attend a summit in America. Therefore, you have attempted to include the coalition partners in a summit they oppose by claiming that 'in fact, there is not yet an agreement, and in any case, any difference of opinion that will be found among us at the time of the summit will be addressed there... To bridge the wide gaps between you and your coalition partners requires patience, time and discretion, none of which are afforded by the atmosphere of a summit. Quite to the contrary - the disagreements between us will be deliberated under the glare of the cameras. In the end, we will be left with only one choice - to agree to an accord to which we are opposed, or to reject it and return home. ... The option to reject an agreement is unrealistic and would lead to the disgrace of Israel beforethe world....The agreement will then be brought to a referendum... After the worldwide ceremonies and celebrations... a rejection [by the public] would result in Israel finding herself in the most isolated international position since the founding of the State. The fear of this possibility will silence many of the agreement's opponents from voicing their opposition - which perhaps is precisely what advocates of your current strategy are counting on." Sharansky concludes by congratulating Barak for his "clever strategy," but warns him that it is an inappropriate way to relate to both coalition partners and the Israeli public, "particularly .. with an issue that may determine the fate of this country and the fate of the Jewish people in this generation and for many generations to come." ( June 25)

Threat of Golan Retreat Re-Surfaces

Israel's "Meet the Press" program this weekend hosted Justice Minister and Oslo-architect Yossi Beilin. Beilin called for a compromise agreement with Syria on the control of the northeastern beachfront of the Kinneret Sea. One of Beilin's main considerations, reports Ha'aretz today, "is the belief that it would be best to reach an accord with the northern neighbor during the tenure of the outgoing U.S. President Bill Clinton. Beilin believes that it is possible to reach agreements with the Syrians and the Palestinians in two months, and bring the agreements to a 'double referendum' for a total peace." At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Ehud Barak admitted that he was prepared to withdraw from the entire Golan Heights. In what some felt was the first sign that he is open to Beilin's compromise, Barak said that he would insist on preserving a strip around the Kinneret under Israeli rule, but that "the width of such a strip, depends on the security arrangements agreed-upon with the Syrians." Alarmed by the latest statements, the Golan Residents Committee issued the following response: "The Prime Minister has not learned anything from the previous round of talks with the Syrians. Barak continues to prove that Israel's last concession in a given round of talks turns out to be its opening position in the next set of talks, in preparation for the next concession." ( June 25)

Unwelcome Palestinian Agriculture

Residents of the Gush Etzion community Neve Daniel protested last Friday against illegal Arab agricultural works on adjacent lands. The Jewish residents are concerned, among other issues, with the danger a Palestinian presence there would pose to Israeli vehicles traveling the nearby highway on a daily basis. As a result, police and military authorities declared the area a closed military zone and promised that the illegal Arab farming would be halted. However, on Saturday morning, it became apparent that the works were continuing apace. Two hundred Neve Daniel residents quickly organized a demonstration and within minutes, a large contingent of police and soldiers arrived to once again declare the area a closed military zone. ( June 25)

Palestinian View of Final Status

Just what is the Palestinian vision of a final peace pact with Israel? A special dispatch of the Middle East Media Research Institute ( helps answer the question, via its translation of a June 9th article in the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. In the piece, "To Whom does Haifa belong?" columnist Kheiri Mansur expands on Palestinian accusations that Israel forges history and archaeology to "falsely establish its right to the Land of Israel." Following are excerpts from the article:

*"The latest historical forgery committed in the Hebrew state is a new book called 'Our Haifa,' published by the municipality of Haifa... The authors of the book stole Haifa [from the Arabs] educationally and tried to record their [alleged] historical ownership of the city... "

*"The question we ask after more than 50 years of occupation in Palestine is this: to whom do Haifa and her sister cities belong? What determines this ownership - the weapon and the military reality, or the memory, the national conscious and the dream?"

*"Jewish authors and poets wrote about Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and even Jerusalem, but it was all ideological imagination - no more, no less… Analogies [made] between Arab texts and Hebrew texts about Palestine reveal that the Hebrew ones are filled with forgeries and phony anticipation… [whereas] the people who lived for centuries on their own soil and under their own skies [i.e. the Arabs] were necessarily created with the components of the venue. Their breath was mingled with their ancestors' sigh and each relic brings back the echo of the past…" ( June 23)

Egyptian press: Hafez Assad killed by Mossad

An article in the Egyptian weekly "Aharam al-Aravi" claims that the Mossad is directly responsible for the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad, the Israeli newspaper "Yediot Aharonot" reports. According to the article, Mossad agents stationed on Mount Hermon managed to intercept Assad's last-ever phone call with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, and somehow used the phone link to transmit dangerous radioactive rays to Assad, who died as a result. Assad was killed because of his refusal to concede the Golan Heights to Israel, the article claimed. Israel's Foreign Ministry responded to the article calling it a "bad joke" and saying that no serious individuals would take such imaginary tales seriously, the "Yediot" report says. (Jerusalem Post Online June 28)

Quotes for the Week

"We tell them we cannot be threatened. We remind them of al-Karameh battle, the Beirut battle, and the seven years of the Intifada. If they don't like it, we will scratch the past and begin anew...Palestine is ours, ours, ours!''
- Yassir Arafat in a speech to members of his Fatah faction in Shechem (Nablus). (Reuters, A/P June 25)
"Of course it could slow down the negotiations but at least it would make them much more real, much more connected to the what is possible and not what is impossible. You cannot simply go Washington to build a coalition with President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Dennis Ross and all our great friends and then impose this coalition on us."
- Natan Sharansky (Yisrael b'Aliya) advising that he would leave the coalition if PM Barak goes to a summit without detailed discussions in the Cabinet. (Reuters via Ha'aretz June 26)
"I greatly admire what Sarid has done as minister of education, especially here in Kiryat Shmona, except for the idea of replacing Bible lessons with Arabic. That's what is irritating about him."
- Rina Golan, a 25 year old English teacher at Danziger high school in Kiryat Shmona. (Ha'aretz June 23)
"We are fighting over the substance of Zionism. Does Zionism consist purely of high-tech and the sale of start-ups, or does Zionism embrace the roots of the nation of Israel, in the Land of Israel? We must explain to people in Ramat Aviv that we are fighting for the education of our children and for the country's image."
- Shaul Goldstein, head of the regional council of Gush Etzion at a recent rally. (Ha'aretz June 25)
"If a child wakes up in the morning and the Land of Israel does not flow in his veins, the end result is that that child will move to Los Angeles. Look at what happened to the kibbutzim and you will understand what happened to those for whom Zionism has become depleted...The man (PM Barak) grew up in a kibbutz, in a system whose ideals are bankrupt. He does not understand that we built this country because it's ours, not just to make peace."
- Aron Tzur, head of the Jewish communities in Chof Aza. (Ha'aretz June 23)
"You promised, Mr. Barak, clean government, public decency, resistance to the narrow-interest politics, consistent rule of law, and social reform. Where did all these disappear to, Mr. Barak?... You promised to establish a government that places [social needs] at the top of the agenda. A year has come to pass and the ailing old lady is no longer stranded in the hospital hallways - she has been thrown out of the stricken hospital. These [issues] are not 'other,' they are central. Forget about the peace, Ehud Barak. Now peace can wait. There is no window of opportunity now that will not be open next year, or two or three years from now. But Israeli society cannot wait. The Zionist enterprise, Mr. Barak, is experiencing an existential danger not from Arafat, not from Dr. Bashar Assad, and not even from the Hizbullah. The threat [to the Zionist enterprise] is internal: if we cannot be a good civil society, we will not be at all. [We will simply] cease to exist. Stronger societies than ours have disappeared..."
- Sever Plotzker, Yediot Acharonot commentator, June 24


The House of Israel Should Mourn

By Shlomo Riskin

My synagogue was set on fire this past Saturday night, and it appears to be an act of arson. I call it my synagogue, even though I would never pray there because it is a Conservative synagogue and I am an Orthodox rabbi. Nevertheless, it is my synagogue too because "every Jew is responsible one for the other" (BT Shvuot 39A), and every Jew is linked by a common destiny. I call it my synagogue because the Talmud teaches us that, even if a human being with whom God himself disagrees is caused pain, the Almighty cries out, "my head has been cursed, my arm has been cursed" (BT Hagiga 15B), because every Jew is a part of God and God is a part of every Jew.

How much more does God cry out if a person who is searching to find him is caused pain!

I call it my synagogue because if my friend's synagogue is vandalized today by anti-Conservatives, a religious Zionist synagogue can be vandalized tomorrow by anti-religious Zionists. My synagogue was set on fire this past Saturday night, and the entire House of Israel should mourn.

I understand very well that there are those who would argue the necessity of crying out against infractions of Jewish law as they understand them, and even the importance of preventing such infractions whenever possible. After all, our Bible commands, "you shall surely chastise your colleague so that you do not bear his sin" (Vayikra 19:17). However, our rabbis have also insisted that "just as we are commanded to chastise those who would listen, so are we commanded not to chastise those who would not listen" (BT Yevamot, 65B).

If one chastises an individual who is not ready to listen, one will only drive him further away. This is probably the real meaning of the text in question, "you

shall surely chastise your colleague" - but in such a way that you will not alienate him to an even greater extent - because then his added sins will only alight upon your shoulders.

Indeed, this is precisely how our sages have understood the responsibilities of the observant Jew. One of the most important Biblical commentaries and legal arbitrators of the modern period, the Malbim (Rav Meir Leibush, 1809 - 1879), explains the word "colleague - amiteha" to mean one who is committed to the commandments in the same manner in which you are; to attempt to chastise any individual who does not accept the same religious axioms as you do is an enterprise in futility and can only bear negative results. Hence, the eminent authority Vilna Gaon maintains that the commandment to chastise does not apply to any individual who clearly professes that he/she is not an Orthodox Jew (Arukh Orakh Haim 608).

It also must be remembered that as far back as 2,000 years ago, the great Rabbi Tarfon declared, "I would be amazed if anyone in this generation is worthy of chastising others. After all, if the chastiser insists, 'Remove the flint from between your teeth,' the chastisee can always respond, 'Remove the beam from between your eyes'" (BT Arakhin 16B).

Now, if all of these sources relate to verbal chastisement, how reckless and irresponsible becomes an actual act of vandalism which purports to be "for the sake of heaven?"

The Talmud declares, "the entire world is brought to convulsions because of the transgression of 'Thou shalt not take the name of God falsely'" (BT Shvuot 39A). The sages are teaching us that while false and immoral acts are sinful and harmful to society, they can be forgiven once the wrongdoing is understood and atoned for; however, if the false and egregious act is somehow attached to the name of God, if the act of vandalism and arson is purported to have been perpetrated in the name of religious piety, then there is no room for repentance.

Are we not enjoined to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and might, which is interpreted by our sages to mean: "to act in such a way which will cause the Almighty God to be loved by all the inhabitants of the world" (BT Yoma, 86A)? This is kiddush Hashem; what happened last Saturday night is hillul Hashem. (Jerusalem Post June 28)

The writer is dean of the Ohr Torah institutions and chief rabbi of Efrat

Remember the US

By Zalman Shoval

The 'Phalcon' deal would enhance Israel's qualitative military edge, but the US is more important than that.

Within the span of only one year, the present Israeli government has brought relations with the US Congress to the lowest point in Israel's history.

Even with regard to the "Phalcon" deal with China, it might have been possible to diffuse the matter, had Prime Minister Ehud Barak and his staff treated it seriously when there was still time. Unfortunately, this didn't happen.

I have served as ambassador under four Israeli prime pinisters and represented Israel during two American administrations, one Republican, one Democrat. In all these years, in good times and bad, the US Congress was a staunch and reliable friend of the State of Israel. It still is, but the present Israeli government must ask itself why even good and trusted friends like conservative Senator Helms, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or liberal California Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, have now come out against us.

The "Phalcon" deal would enhance Israel's qualitative military edge - especially at a time when the US is stepping up arms supplies to potential enemies in Israel's neighborhood - and the US concern for China's angerous potential may be exaggerated, but Israel's strategic and political relationship with the US is more important.

The "Phalcon" deal is only the tip of the iceberg, but it has aggravated the already shaky relationship between the present Israeli government and parts of Congress. Indeed, the present deterioration did not start with the "Phalcon" deal. Its roots can be seen in the dismissive manner with which Barak seems to treat some members of Congress, apparently not fully appreciating their importance in the context of US-Israel relations. It is therefore imperative that he take urgent steps to resolve the crisis - even if an unpalatable price will have to be paid for that. Indeed, the Prime Minister should have immediately and forcefully distanced himself from some of the ill-timed and ill-informed statements made in his name.

The present situation is potentially dangerous, both to the strategic interests of the US, and to Israel. Both nations face common dangers and challenges around the world; neither should be distracted by quarrels with each other.

In spite of everything, I do hope that our friends in Congress will see the broader picture - as the present disagreement can only hearten the enemies of both Israel and the US. (Jerusalem Post June 27)

In Arafat's Pocket

By Uri Dan

Arafat's salami method for eliminating the Jewish-Zionist state has finally paid off.

Even if Prime Minister Ehud Barak is prepared to withdraw to the borders of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, there is no chance that Yasser Arafat will sign a peace agreement with him. And even if Barak manages to get Arafat to sign a document proclaiming the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will not be worth the paper it's written on.

Already in September 1993 Rabin and Peres boasted in the White House that they had brought to an end "a hundred years of conflict." Now Barak is trying to recycle the rotten merchandise.

Arafat is threatening him with an intifada and Barak continues to retreat. Arafat threatens, and Barak immediately sends him the minister of internal security, Shlomo Ben-Ami, in order to persuade him to travel to Washington. No wonder Radio Palestine mocked on Monday afternoon both Barak's government and Israel: "The Israelis aren't prepared to suffer even a single casualty," said their commentator, "but we are prepared for thousands of victims. If there will be a confrontation, the settlements and not the Palestinian towns will be under siege," he boasted.

President Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem in November 1977 because he was afraid of what seemed to him to be a tremendously powerful Israeli government, headed by Menachem Begin. This image, added to his defeat in the 1973 war, caused him to sign a peace agreement with Israel.

King Hussein of Jordan was prepared to come out of the closet and sign a peace agreement since Israel, even when headed by weak Yitzhak Rabin, was still considered to be proud of its strength. Hussein wanted Israel to control the Jordan Valley, according to the Alon Plan, and thus protect the Hashemite dynasty from the threat of a Palestinian state.

Arafat agreed to sign the Oslo Accords only as a stratagem, because he was politically bankrupt. In contrast to France's failure in its war in Algeria, up till the summer of 1993, the IDF had defeated and subdued the intifada. The PLO faced financial and moral collapse.

Consequently, when Yossi Beilin and his envoys proposed an agreement to Arafat by which the road would be paved for him to come from Gaza to Judea and Samaria and to the very gates of Jerusalem, this was an offer he couldn't refuse. His salami method for eliminating the Jewish-Zionist state has finally paid off. The day is not too far off when Beilin and his friends will be condemned by the new Jewish history.

Things have gone full circle for Arafat. This is not the same strong and proud Israel with which Sadat and Hussein signed peace treaties. This is an Israel whose defense leaders are creating nightmares for the Jews, telling them that if they don't retreat, violence will break out.

Afterwards its ministers and journalists call for fresh concessions, even in Jerusalem.

An Israel whose prime minister is ready to retreat to the shore of the Kinneret, and doesn't mind uprooting the inhabitants of the strategic Golan Heights.

An Israel in which Barak is already at this stage ready to evict about 40,000 Jews from Judea and Samaria and to hand over to Arafat most of the Jordan Valley.

An Israel in which pride belongs to the gays and lesbians in the Ibn Gvirol ghetto, and rabbis are not ashamed to give up the suburbs of Jerusalem for financial advantage.

A state which, even if it still demands dollars from the US, has already become bankrupt in all its values as a Jewish state, or any kind of state.

It therefore comes as no surprise that even Arafat, who symbolizes the quintessence of Arab deceit and whose hands drip with the blood of thousands of innocent Jews, is not prepared to sign a peace agreement with such a weak state.

It's not that Arafat is so bright. But with his deceitful-murderous experience he is head and shoulders above Ben-Ami and Barak. After all, what experience of negotiations has been acquired by these two, into whose hands the fate of the Jews and their state has fallen? We have already seen how Barak negotiated with Shas and Meretz.

And so, in his obsession to enter history, like Moshe Dayan, Ben-Gurion, and Rabin, Barak may even agree to retreat to the 1947 borders, but peace will not come of this, not even for a moment. (Jerusalem Post June 29)

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