A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
A collection of the week's news from Israel
April 6, 2001 (Erev Pesach Edition) - 13 Nisan 5761
Issue number 320
Sgt. Danny Darai Killed At Rachel’s Tomb
Twenty-year-old Shimshon Brigade soldier Sgt. Danny Darai was buried Tuesday in the Arad military cemetery. An Arab sniper yesterday shot and killed Darai who was in his army base in Bethlehem at the time. Heavy fire was exchanged in the town after the killing, with IDF tanks shelling the hotel from which the PLO sniper fired his fatal shot. (arutzsheva.org Apr 3)
IDF Soldier Killed Near Shechem
St.-Sgt. (res.) Yaakov Krenchel was killed Sunday by a Palestinian terrorist sniper while performing guard duty. Krenchel, 23, was at his guard post at the outskirts of the village of Salim - east of Shechem, between Itamar and Elon Moreh - when the terrorist's precisely aimed bullet hit him in the head. The father of one of the soldiers serving at the outpost told Arutz-7 Monday that the soldiers had been asking for certain improvements in the outpost - "and one of them, a special camouflage netting, could have saved the soldier's life..." Another of the precautions that the soldiers at the Salim outpost had requested was a road, instead of the footpath they must use to reach the site. Monday morning, the IDF began paving a road to the outpost. (arutzsheva.org Apr 2)
Peres Does Not Want Israel to Criticize "Peace Partner" Arafat
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said that the Israeli information system should not launch a personal attack against Yasser Arafat and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Peres said at a meeting of the Foreign Ministry "Information Forum" today that the Authority leadership is the elected body of the Palestinian People and future negotiating partner for Israel and thus should receive treatment that reflects that.Prime Minister Sharon also holds the position that material against Arafat and the rest of the PA leadership should be included in the information campaign. (IMRA Apr 1)
Voice of Palestine Claims Shalhevet Murdered by Her Mother
The Foreign Ministry has released the Hebrew version of the following excerpt from the radio commentary of senior Voice of Palestine commentator Youssef al-Kazaz, broadcast on the Palestinian Authority flagship radio station, Voice of Palestine, on 2 April 2001 at 8:39 AM: "On the matter of the baby settler who was killed in Hebron a few days ago, we already said that her death was a fishy action and there is information according to which this baby was retarded and it was her mother who killed her in order to get rid of her." Gideon Meir, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs division of public affairs commented that: "The things that were broadcast on Voice of Palestine are testimony to just how low the Palestinians are willing to go in order to win world public opinion. It would be bad enough if they used false material in their propaganda but to stick Israel with such a lie is such insolence and gall that it raises the contempt of any human being." (IMRA Apr 3)
The IDF retaliated against PLO targets in the Gaza region Tuesday night following a mortar attack on the Atzmona Jewish township . The IDF carried out a combined land and air assault on Force 17 targets in Rafiach and southwest of Gaza city. Force 17 is Yasser Arafat's personal "presidential guard," and it has initiated many of the recent terror attacks. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says, "The Palestinian Authority is not doing anything to prevent terror attacks, and they leave us no choice but to act consistently and forcefully to combat terrorism." IDF sources said that the retaliation was meant "to punish, to deter, and to convey a clear message that the State of Israel will not stand idly by when mortar shells are fired upon its citizens." Earlier Wednesday, Khan Yunis-based Arab terrorists fired three mortar shells on the Gush Katif community of Atzmona. Arutz-7 correspondent Kobi Finkler reported on several injuries, including a mother and her 15-month-old baby boy. The infant - Ariel ben Leah - was injured in his head and spinal column from the shrapnel, and underwent an emergency CAT scan at Be'er Sheva's Soroka Hospital to assess his condition and what medical treatment is advised. The child's mother was listed in light condition. She and her baby were in their yard when three 81-millimeter mortar rockets landed in the community. (arutzsheva.org Apr 3)
1,500 at Shalhevet's Funeral
The funeral of Shalhevet Pass - the 10-month-old murdered last Monday by a Palestinian sniper - left Sunday morning from the Machpelah Cave towards the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hevron. The funeral procession passed peacefully, except for one incident of rock-throwing by Arabs towards the procession; Israeli soldiers dispersed the attackers by shooting rubber bullets. More seriously, after the funeral, Palestinian snipers standing atop the disputed Abu Sneineh hills shot towards Israeli soldiers and residents in Gross Square. No one was hurt, and IDF soldiers returned fire. (arutzsheva.org Apr 2)
[See page 4 for an emotional account of the funeral by Harvey Tannenbaum.]
Terror on the High Seas
The General Security Service (GSS) has apprehended the Arab terrorist who planted the bomb in Netanya last week, an explosive that was detonated by police sappers before it was able to do any damage. In the course of his questioning, the terrorist, Abdul Rachaman Fouda, admitted to being a member of the Palestinian Authority "navy." While under interrogation, Fouda provided the name of another prominent PA figure - Imad Bilbali - who holds the rank of "Colonel" in the PA navy. Bilbali, was subsequently captured by Israeli security agents; he has reportedly played a prominent role in several other terrorist attacks in recent months. (arutzsheva.org Apr 3).
Jewish Housing Approved
Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has approved the construction of 19 permanent housing units in the Gaza Jewish community of Dugit. (arutzsheva.org Apr 3)
IDF’s Hevron Commander Speaks Out
IDF Hevron Commander Col. Noam Tivon told visiting MKs of the National Religious Party Monday that the Israel Police stationed in Hevron do not deal with Hevron's Jewish community in a 'fair' manner. He also stated that the Hevron Protocol signed by the Netanyahu administration with the PA was a 'bad' agreement, and added that the Jewish community lives under most difficult conditions that the majority of other citizens of Israel would not be able to endure. He further said "From our perspective, we are ready to reconquer the Abu Sneinah hilltops [the area from which Shalhevet Pass was shot to death last week]. I am convinced that the Palestinians must pay the price for any terrorist attack they conduct." In response to MK Zevulun Orlev's question as to why the army does not bomb PLO weapons facilities, Tivon answered: "There is no approval to do so, since the State of Israel has not yet declared the PA an enemy." Col. Tivon offered a similar answer when asked why the IDF was responding to shooting from Abu Sneinah with tank fire, instead of conquering the hilltop. (arutzsheva.org Apr 3)
The following are the results of a Gallup poll of a representative sample of 640 adult Israelis (including Arabs). Sample error +/- 4 percentage pints. In your opinion is Israel's policy towards the Palestinians too harsh, too easy or appropriate? Too harsh 20% Too easy 58% Appropriate 17% Do not know 5%
Do you support or oppose taking harsher military action against the Palestinians? Support 65% Oppose 29% Do not know 6%
Do you support or oppose the policy according to which there is no negotiations under fire, that is to say, as long as there is not quiet in the territories? Support 71% Oppose 25% Do not know 4%
In your opinion, is there a partner for peace on the Palestinian side?
Yes 27% No 67% Do not know 6%
Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the performance of prime minister Ariel Sharon in general? Satisfied 44% Dissatisfied 29% Do not know 27%
Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the performance of PM Sharon in the security area? Satisfied 34% Dissatisfied 43% Do not know 23%
Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the performance of PM Sharon in the diplomatic area? Satisfied 44% Dissatisfied 28% Do not know 28%
Theoretically, who would you prefer to see today as prime minister, Sharon or Peres? Sharon 56% Peres 31% Neither 8% Do not know 5%
The following are the results of a poll carried out by Dahaf of 504 adult Israelis (including 60 Arabs) Sample error +/- 4.5 percentage points.
Do you support the killing of Palestinian leaders tied to terror?
Yes 71% No 24% No reply 5%
Has your opinion of the Palestinians changed since the intafada broke out?
No 42% Negative change 58%
Have your political views changed since the intafada broke out?
No 49% More hawkish 37% More dovish 13% No reply 1%
Has your opinion of Arafat changed? No 34% For the worse 66%
Has your opinion about Israel Arabs changed?
No 44% For the worse 55% No reply 1%
In your opinion, is it possible to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians? Yes 36% No 63% No reply 1% (IMRA, Maariv, Yediot Ahronot Mar 30)
May "Land for Peace" Rest in Peace. By Robert L. Bartley
I've never counted myself a Middle East aficionado. In a kind of journalistic triage, my own avocation has been the middle group of countries--Turkey and especially Mexico--where I might be able to advance understanding and do a bit to promote progress. The Middle East fell among the hopeless cases.
I've been musing about the Arabs and Israelis, though, since joining the chat with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Seth Lipsky wrote up in The Wall Street Journal. We are clearly at some kind of turning point, with Mr. Sharon replacing Ehud Barak, George Bush replacing Bill Clinton, Yasser Arafat presiding over another intifada and the Arab League holding a landmark summit meeting in Jordan. If the moment looks no less hopeless, at least it promises to be clarifying.
In particular, the "land for peace" formula, the heart of Middle Eastern diplomacy for a decade or more, has been reduced to a heap of shards. Mr. Barak offered previously unimaginable concessions at the Camp David summit last July, but Mr. Arafat spurned them and instead chartered a new round of violence. (His information minister keeps having to retract statements that the new intifada was preplanned and had next to nothing to do with Mr. Sharon's Temple Mount excursion.) As a new formula Mr. Sharon offers the thought that Jews and Arabs first need to learn to live together as neighbors and after that have a peace treaty. In truth, "land for peace" was a pretty feckless notion from the first. An ingenious combination of concessions is seldom a key to anything. In this case, Israel is not about to abandon the fruits of a 120-year old Zionist enterprise. And despite his repeated promises, Mr. Arafat has not effectively renounced his ambition to occupy Israel, and never will.
Indeed, never could. "Do you want to attend my funeral? I will not relinquish Jerusalem and the holy places," Mr. Arafat told Mr. Clinton, according to the Palestinian rapporteur at Camp David. "Jerusalem is not a Palestinian city only; it is an Arab, Islamic and Christian one. If I am going to take a decision on Jerusalem, I have to consult with the Sunnis and the Shiites and all Arab countries." That is to say, the grievance here is much more than a dispute over land. Ultimately, too, it is also about much more than Israel. It's fed by Muslim resentment at being displaced in history by the West, currently embodied in the United States. Scholars such as Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami keep reminding us that to understand the contemporary Islamic mind, you have to remember that at one time Islam was the center of civilization and Europe a barbaric backwater. It is bad enough that Israel is a Jewish state, but even worse that it is an outpost of the West, powerful with industrialization and subversive with democracy.
This is why the Arab world has gone to such lengths to preserve the Palestinian grievance. In 1948, around 650,000 Palestinian refugees were resettled in camps; in many Arab nations they were legally banned from certain lines of employment. About the same number of Jews fled the Arab lands for Israel, where they were incorporated into society. Today, some four million Palestinians claim refugee status. And of course, Arab nations went to war to destroy Israel not only in 1948 but in 1967 and 1973.
Despite invocation of the Arab "street," it's not clear that the ordinary Palestinian or Arab puts this historic grievance above his personal well-being. All of the Arab nations are either traditional kingdoms or modern dictatorships. The interests of ordinary people are quite secondary, as when youths are indoctrinated to throw rocks at Israeli paratroopers. Objectively, the material interests of the Palestinian people lie in cooperation with Israel, indeed in evolving into an industrial democracy. But the myths of Arab history serve to entrench Mr. Arafat and strongmen from one end of the Middle East to the other.
For American policy, the lesson is that peace depends not on negotiation but on the reality of power. "The land-for-peace" formula asked Arabs to accept Israel not as a matter of realpolitik, but as morally legitimate. As former CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht wrote in the New York Times last October: "We have in essence been demanding that they in broad daylight forsake their history and their faith as they have come to understand them." By contrast, "If the United States had moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem at the end of the Gulf War, we would have sent a crystal-clear signal to both our enemies and our friends that America's writ and Israel's legitimacy are non-negotiable and indomitable."
Instead, the frenetic compromises of Prime Minister Barak and President Clinton have projected an image of weakness. So today, with Egypt receiving $2 billion a year in U.S. aid, a columnist for a government-sponsored newspaper there writes that Secretary of State Colin Powell has "the brain of a bird." An editorial in another Egyptian newspaper reads, "Don't be misled by your false power, because among us there are people who are not afraid of death. These are the same people who forced you to withdraw humiliated from South Lebanon, from Vietnam, from Somalia and from the Sinai."
The Vietnam-Lebanon-Somalia line was "a litany I encountered everywhere," Princeton's Prof. Lewis reports of a recent visit to the region. This is a "dangerous misreading of Israel and the U.S." Dictators have trouble understanding democratic politics, have convinced themselves that casualties will force withdrawal, and see concessions as weakness. "Their religion doesn't teach them to turn the other cheek."
The political understandings above are why The Wall Street Journal has long supported the Israelis. In 1981 one and all condemned them for bombing Saddam Hussein's atom-bomb plant, the Osirak nuclear reactor. We wrote: "We all ought to get together and send the Israelis a vote of thanks." Especially on behalf of the GIs, then in grade school, who met Saddam in 1990. The Bush administration has begun to assert self-respect, with the president rhetorically calling Mr. Arafat to account and with the veto of U.N. observers to succor the Palestinians. But before the image of weakness fades, more Palestinian youths and Israeli babies are likely to die.
The writer is editor of The Wall Street Journal. (Wall Street Journal Apr 2)
Educating Yasser By Doron Rosenblum
Say what you will about Yossi Sarid - a pedagogue of paternal descent in every fiber of his being, a politician with powerful educational impulses who represents a moralistic party that believes in reforming the world, or in its remedial education - he at least came honestly by his mission as the great and disappointed teacher of the Palestinians: the home-room teacher with the glasses perched on his nose and the resonant voice, a humanitarian, yes, but also a stickler for discipline, who is always scolding Yasser Arafat and the other Arab leaders. From the first Intifada and the Gulf War ("They needn't bother looking for me") to the current series of bloody events ("The time has come for Arafat to cease these grotesque, pathetic appearances and to start making order... By the way, Assad also gave a repulsive and grotesque performance yesterday, a childish performance ...").So say what you will about Yossi Sarid, he is at least articulate and authentic when playing his part. But what about all the others, from across the political spectrum? Are they - or all of us - different from him when it comes to our basic approach toward the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular - an approach that is pedagogic in every fiber of its being?
The truth is that when it comes to the Palestinians, we are all disappointed, sour-faced teachers who find ourselves in a crummy neighborhood school. It was enough to watch the performance of Minister Without Portfolio Danny Naveh to understand that in terms of the didactic impulse there is no substantial difference between "right" and "left," apart, perhaps, from the sourness of the facial features and the disgust felt for the students. Naveh too - upgraded to cabinet rank following a rich career as a finger wagger and vociferous reprimander against his eternal television partner Ahmed Tibi - taught the Palestinians a thing or two this week: "The Palestinian Authority has to get it back into its head that the first thing it has to do is to take concrete steps in the face of the violence and terrorism."
Differences of style notwithstanding, then, the message is basically the same: Certain things have to "penetrate into the heads" of the Arabs. According to the left, the way to do this is by dangling the carrot; according to the right, what's needed is the stick. And there you have it, the age-old difference between left and right. On the left: concessions, inducements, hear-to-heart talks, raising of the voice if necessary (remember the way Shimon Peres wagged his finger at the wayward Arafat in that bizarre ceremony of signing one of the interim agreements?). And on the right: unending punitive and reprisal operations on the assumption that what time ("which is on our side") does not do and common sense ("the Arabs have to know") does not do, will be done with a few good licks ("they understand only force").
Both methods rest on the same underlying assumption: the belief that we should and also can change the Arabs; that we can turn aside their hatred, melt the murderousness of their extremists, placate them, soften their approach. And not only for our good - for their good, too. From the days of the "Troubles" to the "reprisal raids" and the tension on the borders ("the notebook is open and the hand writes"), the great victories in the regional wars ("we are waiting for a telephone call from the Arabs"), to the Intifada and the peace process, everything on our side was geared to make the Arabs learn, to grow up; in short, to change.
The trauma of the current crisis derives from the fact that for the first time, perhaps, we are coming to the simple and incisive conclusion that in fact none of these educational methods can work. We simply can't change the Arabs, not by benign methods and not by malign methods, not by smooth talk, not by pleasant talk and not by raining blows on them. We have tried everything - blitzkrieg wars, closures, collective punishment, liquidations, retaliation, deterrence, agreements, semi-suicidal concessions - but it turns out that we cannot "penetrate their heads" with anything or in any way. They will never change. At least not by our hands.
So if there is one jolting conclusion from the current crisis, it is this: We have to despair, at last, of our pedagogical efforts to "reform" our enemies and neighbors. Yes, to despair; to drop our uncontrollable didactic impulses, which in fact have dictated our whole security and peace policy across the generations; to despair of this and to understand the hard, cold reality: that our enemies, like all peoples, are not acting simply out of wildness or personal caprice and are therefore subject to change and domestication by means of blows or caresses; they are acting on the basis of national interests, most of which run contrary to ours. Therefore, we have to cope with them as they are - at the level of vested interests - and abandon the hope that they will one day turn into others, adapt themselves to our values or become like us.
It was Ze'ev Jabotinsky who said, in the 1920s, that his instinctive attitude toward the Arabs was "the same as toward all the other peoples: a polite attitude of disinterest." That was before so many rivers of blood and tears, so much friction, so many disappointments, so much hatred and so many accounts of revenge - that nowadays it sounds almost scandalous, weird, irrelevant. But at the time, so did another of Jabotinsky's assertions that was ahead of its time, the one about the "iron wall" (meaning "deterrent strength") as the principal guarantee of acceptance of our existence in the region. On the face of it, this is a recipe for despair: how will the situation change if the Arabs don't change? But maybe it's not them we should be trying to change, but our approach: Maybe if we desist from our efforts to change and fashion them in our image, only then will we be able to strike some sort of cold, "polite and disinterested" deal with them; one that is based, as between all peoples, on stabilizing deterrent balances or understanding between conflicting interests. And as for our "pedagogic poem" - it's just a waste of time and energy. (Haaretz Mar 30)
Arab League Belligerence New York Times Editorial
The last time the Arab League held a summit meeting was more than 10 years ago, a reflection of the bitter divisions engendered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Given the angry tone and virulently anti- Israel content of this week's gathering in Amman, Jordan, Arab leaders would have been well advised to delay a reunion until they could set a more moderate course. The message of the meeting was that many of the hereditary rulers and civilian autocrats in attendance seemed consumed by old hatreds while the economic opportunities and democratic trends of the 21st century threaten to pass their region by.
Regrettably, the leaders in Amman seemed indifferent to the escalating violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, which included the sniper killing of a 10-month-old Jewish baby in Hebron and deadly bomb attacks in Jerusalem and central Israel. The government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday launched attacks against bases and training camps of Palestinian security forces in Gaza and the West Bank town of Ramallah that Israel said were linked to the recent attacks.
This week's gathering was supposed to repair the diplomatic breach between Iraq and Kuwait and provide economic relief to Palestinians. But the results were dishearteningly familiar. The 22 member states failed to reach agreement on Iraq. Little was done to help the Palestinian economy beyond an agreement to temporarily provide the Palestinian Authority with $40 million a month to make up for taxes being withheld by Israel and allow the payment of government salaries. Instead, Iraqi and Syrian leaders delivered diatribes against Israel. In the past decade or so, remarkable economic and political transformations have improved people's lives across Central Europe, East Asia and Latin America, while the Arab world of nearly 300 million people has lagged behind. A few years ago there was hope that a new generation of Arab leaders would lead the way to less rigid foreign policies, an opening of markets and expanded democracy. Only one of these new rulers, King Abdullah of Jordan, has lived up to his early promise. Among the most disappointing of these new leaders has been Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad. While he has experimented with some economic liberalization, he has been just as truculent toward Israel as his late father, Hafez al-Assad. In Amman, he characterized Israeli society as "even more racist than the Nazis."
In the face of such hostility and a series of terrorist attacks in recent days, Israel's reaction has been restrained. Mr. Sharon has made clear that he is willing to return to negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as Mr. Arafat orders an end to the violence. Israel would also respond positively to any serious diplomatic initiative from the other Arab leaders represented at Amman. Except perhaps for Saddam Hussein, every one of them has an interest in calming regional tensions and opening the way to more rapid economic progress for their people. Unfortunately, many of the leaders seem more intent on stoking tensions with Israel than tending to the needs of their own citizens. (New York Times Mar 29)
Letter From Efrat: Blue Blanket, Blue Flag Graveside
The blue blanket wrapped the baby from the heat outside the Maarat Hamachpela in Hebron. The blue blanket had a Star of David, blue and white in its corner near the head of Shalhevet Techiya Pass H"YD as the sole pallbearer carried her to the grave of the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron today. As thousands gathered outside the Maarat Hamachpela where Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Sarah, Rivka, and Leah, the original Jews are buried, Shalhevet Techiya,(Flame that will Live-translated)was clutched in the arms by her Mother, Nuriya. Yitzchak, the father was in his wheelchair, still recuperating from his bullet wounds in his legs.
When Shalhevet was passed to her father, Yitzchak rose on his crutches to receive his baby for the last time. Unlike the scene at the hospital 10months ago, when Nuriya, the mother passed the newborn baby girl to the proud father in joint celebration of their first child, the blue blanket that wrapped Shalhevet at her birth was warm with life and brightness as the parents stared down at their new offspring. The smiles that began to develop over the months that connected Shalhevet to her parents, the goo goos, and gaga gagas, were extinguished last week by the Arab animal killer.
Today the cold and limp body in the blue blanket of birth was walked to the freshly prepared 'crib of earth.' As the funeral procession joined in the customary shoveling of dirt of the earth being moved around during this shmitta (sabbatical) year of rest, supposedly, for this land of Israel, once again the land was being disturbed > to bury another Jew. Shalhevet will not celebrate a 1st birthday which amongst us parents is always a great day to celebrate for our babies.
As the governmental leaders joined by the Chief Rabbis, the generals, the foot soldiers all wept together while the Arab 'peace partners' of Rabin/Peres/ Beilin all laughed from above the hills at the crying soldiers and rabbis below, the kaddish of a father was very loud and clear. Instead of singing "Happy Birthday" in 2 months, this father and mother now have kaddish to say daily. As they try to think about the high chair that won't be used next Saturday night at the Passover Seder by Shalhevet, after their completion of shiva this coming Friday, the questions of Ma Nishtana that we all shall recite will be asked by Yitzchak and Nuriya Pass as to what will be different next week from all other nights. The difference will be a set of parents and a nation crying at night instead of the cries of a baby from the live crib in her bedroom. The cries of Shalhevet from her 'crib of earth' will be silent whimpers of a baby whose flame was extinguished by the children of Ishmael, Amalek and Haman, by the great grandchildren of Hitler.
One hour after the funeral as the Jews returned to the various cities from which they came throughout Israel to attend this day of tears, the PLO began shooting again from the hills above, from the same area that Shalhevet was murdered in to Avraham Avinu's Jewish quarter of Hebron. The Jews who were sitting at the shiva house of the Pass family in their first few hours of sitting shiva were on the floor for cover to try and say their condolences of "Hamakom Yinachem, and ShaLo Tedu M'tzar" to the parents with machine gun fire in the air above Shalhevet's crib of earth of her grave.
The tanks responded, the IDF did its thing, but the conquering and recapture with helicopters, parachutists, and whatever it takes is still being deferred. As G-d decided not to 'pass over' the first born girl of this Pass family, we seek his re appearance to the nation of Israel to give us some light back in memory of the Shalhevet flame. Harvey Tannenbaum
Yahrtzeit of Alisa Flatow HY"D. By Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Alisa was murdered by a suicide bomber in Azza on this date six years ago. [Alisa HY"D] was a young American student in Israel when she was murdered by a suicide bomber -- who also took the lives of seven Israeli soldiers, all of whom were, like Alisa, under the age of 21 -- in 1995, 10 Nissan 5755.
Since her death, her parents Stephen and Rosalyn Flatow have worked for two causes. One, they have promoted Torah, Judaism and Jewish learning, especially in Israel through the Alisa Flatow Memorial Fund. The fund provides scholarships on a need and scholarship basis to young men and women to study at yeshivos in Israel. And, second, they have not hesitated to point to those responsible. To the great discomfort of a U.S. government attempting better relations with Iran, the Flatows won a $274 million judgement against the Iranian government for harboring and funding the terrorists who took Alisa's life. Not because they hoped to see even a fraction of that sum, or even payment of their legal expenses -- but simply that the world should know that Iran remains a threat to civilized people and nations....
In 1993, Israel made a terrible mistake, which we mistakenly called a Peace Process. This process, as we all know, involved giving the PLO tens of thousands of automatic weapons as well as territory now under its Authority. This agreement came with the explicit precondition that Arafat swear off violence and that these weapons be used to maintain order and round up terrorists -- not, of course, that these weapons themselves be used for acts of terrorism. Today, the fact that the PA violated all of these promises is known to all. Even U.S. President Bush now places the blame for the current round of violence at the PA's doorstep, where it belongs. "The signal to the Palestinians is stop the violence," he said. "I can't make it any more clear." The Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Edward Walker, told a congressional committee that this Intifada was clearly pre-meditated, and that Arafat is both fully in control and is encouraging violence rather than acting to reduce it.
In Israel itself, the common word is that today, "there is no left." No one believes Arafat. Amnon Denker, a leading columnist with Haaretz, the paper of record for Israel's "intellectual left," has apologized for the headlong rush to "peace" and the demonization of Israel's right wing that accompanied it.
It is not true. The Meretz party remains adamant. And in America, where Meretz-style thinking has always been vastly more popular than it is in Israel, groups like Americans for Peace Now and the Shalom Center continue to assert, despite all evidence to the contrary, that further concessions to Arafat will return him to peacemaking and cause him to truly renounce violence. The New Israel Fund bestows millions upon organizations which condemn Israeli "apartheid," petition for the release of terrorists, and continue to support the Palestinian "right of return" which would quickly eliminate Israel as a Jewish state.
These activists continue to blame Israel, not to mention now-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, for the current warfare, and refer to "Israeli-Palestinian violence" as if this were somehow more apt than "Jewish-Cossack violence" would have been as a description of Russian pogroms. They condemn Israel for blockading Arab towns, as if any nation should be expected to maintain open borders with hostile territory. They condemn Israel for destroying the trees which sheltered terrorist gunmen. They condemn Israel for "extra-judicial killing" of Force 17 terrorists -- in short, there is not a single tactic for striking back at terrorism which they fail to condemn. In their view, the "Jewish" approach would be to approach Arab gunmen and invite them to take over Jerusalem.
Why, after avoiding talking about this ... for as long as it has existed, should I write about this now? Because, quite simply, it is too dangerous today to be silent. No one can blame anyone for seeking peace. It is a commendable goal. It is an expression of longing for the highest ideals of the Jewish soul. But it is certainly foolish not to acknowledge reality when the man holding the Nobel Peace Prize is sending his snipers out to murder babies in Hebron. It is those people who most ardently favored the "peace process" who should most furiously denounce Arafat today for violating his every word. Those who invite Arafat to speak, who continue to talk about the Israeli "causes" for this six-month battle, are inviting its continuation. They send the message that Arafat's methods are acceptable.
In 1995, Alisa's boyfriend, Alan Mitrani, wrote: "How many more casualties of peace must there be before things change? How many Alisa Flatows must be murdered before we realize that a real peace should not, must not, and would not have such a high price tag?" If he said that in 1995, what does the cold-blooded murder of Shalhevet Pass in Hebron tell us in 2001? At what point will these "Jewish leaders" do what honesty and Judaism demands: admit error?
This is unacceptable. Giving the PA machine guns was, in effect, handing them murder weapons. We know that now. But until now, those who favored this course could legitimately argue that they were attempting to make peace and save lives. Today, on the other hand, this can no longer be said. To continue to talk about Arafat as a dignitary, to say his "frustration" justifies his action, to recommend that Israel make new concessions, is to knowingly accede to his violent terrorism. To put it bluntly, to "dialogue" with Arafat now is to invite him to murder more Israeli innocents. That, unlike what came before, is a deliberate crime. And for deliberate transgressions, says [this past Shabbos'] Torah reading, no amount of sacrifices will atone. (www.torah.org Apr 2)
Let Us Assume That Israel Never Existed By Amnon Rubinstein
The tiny Jewish community of Greece, which today numbers less than 5,000, is currently in a crisis. Greece, where nationality and religion are not separate (very much like the situation in Israel), used to require that religion be indicated in both the population register and individual identity cards. The European Union demanded that Greece stop this practice - which is what Israel should do with regard to the registration of nationality - and the Greek parliament repealed the requirement for the registration of religious affiliation.
The Greek Orthodox Church - which has a long-standing dispute with the government over the payment of taxes on its immense real estate holdings - declared war, calling on hundreds of thousands of Greeks to demonstrate against the repeal of the registration procedure.
The head of the country's Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, raised a storm of controversy when he proclaimed that "the Jews" - invariably with the definite article - were responsible for the cancellation of the registration requirement. The Jews? They were the ones who pressured the EU in Brussels? In Strasbourg? Anti-Semites never allow facts to confuse them, and the assigning of immense influence to "the Jews" has always been a hallmark of anti-Semitism, whether Christian or Arab-Muslim.
It must be said to the Greek government's credit that it strongly protested this accusation. However, the Archbishop's words and the arrest of a Jewish member of Greece's business community on a charge of having artificially inflated the prices of stock market shares - a charge that is certainly not widespread in Greece - have generated considerable concern within the shrinking Greek Jewish community, the remnant of a once magnificent community most of whose members were murdered in Nazi death camps.
This affair should interest Israelis for two reasons. First, because it has once more been proven that anti-Semitism is a strange beast: Even when you think it has become a corpse, it has the capacity to resurrect itself. Israel's New Historians, in their formulation of an alternative world-view to the Zionist one, ignore the fact of anti-Jewish hatred, pretending that it never really existed.
It should be noted here, parenthetically, that Israelis are not deeply concerned for the fate of Greek Jewry. Greek anti-Semitism never generated pogroms and there is no cause for assuming that the lives of Greek Jews today are in jeopardy - although the reason why such an assumption does not apply is the fact that they can always seek refuge in Israel.
The second reason for taking a deep interest in this affair is more important. Many Israelis have developed a very pessimistic outlook, according to which the lives of Jews are in danger only in Israel, whereas Diaspora Jewish communities are thriving. The proponents of this outlook argue that Jews live securely in both the West and the East, whereas, in their own homeland, they are sitting ducks for murderous terrorists. The conclusion that these people draw could have far-reaching implications.
The truth is that the Diaspora today should be compared with a hypothetical situation in which (the very thought is frightening) Israel does not exist as a Jewish state. To understand Israel's importance, imagine what things would be like if the millions of Jews who have immigrated to Israel had been forced to remain in their countries of origin: The hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews after the Second World War, another million Jews in the former Soviet Union, and - worst of all - the millions of Jews who would have remained in Arab and Muslim countries in a period of ever-increasing Muslim fanaticism, which has led to genocide in Sudan, to the murder of Christians in Indonesia, to the extreme distress currently suffered by the Coptic community and the remnants of other Christian communities in Egypt, and so forth.
The Jews of the Diaspora can lead secure lives because the countries where Jews would be in jeopardy have few, if any, Jews in their midst - because most of the Jews live here, in Israel.
Even those who are familiar with Western Diaspora communities know that, despite their state of tranquillity and prosperity, the members of those communities always harbor the fear that the ancient spectre of anti-Semitism could come to life once more. This is the only explanation for the silence of American Jewry in the face of the ongoing injustice to Jonathan Pollard and this is the only explanation for the deep concern that is expressed from time to time for the fate of the Jewish state even by Jews living in the very heart of a tolerant Western culture.
Jewish journalist Barbara Amiel, the wife of Conrad Black, publisher of The Daily Telegraph and The Jerusalem Post, expressed such anxiety recently. In an article entitled "Without Israel, Judaism is pointless," (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23), she writes: "While organized anti-Semitism has been eliminated in the world today, the situation of the Jews hasn't fundamentally changed. Notwithstanding the moderating forces of liberalism and the fact that we can live peacefully anywhere, the same forces that turned Germany into Nazi Germany still exist. Any people such as the Jews, who do not have a country of their own, may forever be at the mercy of any virus that takes hold. We might live peacefully for the next five generations without Israel. After all, about five generations of Jews managed quite well from the time of the Hapsburg Joseph II until the end of the Weimar Republic..."
She ends her article with a statement that should reverberate in any place where the subject of Israel is discussed: "The Israelis will make their decision whether to carry on the draining struggle for a Jewish state, but all Jews, even the anti-Israel Jewish journalists in the West, may yet bear the consequences of that decision. The writer is a Meretz [!!!] MK. (Haaretz Apr 3)