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

July 6, 2001
Issue number 334

Events...

Sun Jul 8th after the 8 am minyan Avraham Hacohen of Tekoa will speak at BAYT.

News...

Security Cabinet Rejects Proposal to Expel Arafat

The security cabinet Wednesday rejected a proposal to take measures leading to the banishment of Yasser Arafat from the political leadership of the Palestinian Authority, Army Radio reported.  Labor and Social Affairs Minister Shlomo Benizri of Shas proposed voting on the idea immediately. The notion was rejected after Foreign Minister Shimon Peres claimed Israel has no other partner for dialogue.  One idea bandied about was to prevent Arafat from landing when he returns from a trip outside the country.  Benizri told Army Radio he does not accept Peres' reasoning.  "If Arafat would be expelled, a new and normal leadership will emerge," Benizri said. "Today, there is no difference between Hamas and Arafat."    (jpost.com July 4)

Three More Terrorist Victims

Rabbi Aharon Abadian, 41, father of four, was murdered Monday afternoon  within the Green Line near the northwestern Shomron while he was performing  his duties as Rabbinical Kashrut supervisor in the local Arab market. His friend Rafi Menat told Arutz-7 that Rabbi Abadian was a volunteer in the local Hatzalah [rescue] organization, and was one of the leaders in the Chief Rabbinate's new department of Kashrut Supervision in the Arab sector. "He had considered leaving the job several times," Menat said, "but he felt that he was fulfilling an important role for Israel." The police agreed to forego an autopsy, and many hundreds participated in his late-night funeral in his hometown of Zikhron Yaakov (between the seacoast and the Jezre'el Valley). 

While Rabbi Abadian was being buried, extensive night-long searches were underway for Ya'ir Har-Sinai (Ossenheim), 51, of Susia, who had not returned after a day of shepherding. The father of nine, his body was finally found with bullet holes to his head and back. Thousands attended his funeral Tuesday in Susia, south of Hevron. Among those who eulogized him were Rabbi Dov Lior, Deputy Minister Meir Porush, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Rabbi Benny Eisner, and others. Several Arabs in the vicinity were arrested, and IDF bulldozers destroyed a few temporary structures near the hostile Arab village of Yata, adjacent to the murder site.  Susia resident Akiva London told Arutz-7 Tuesday about his late friend: "Ya'ir was a unique figure in Susia. He lived with nature, was always with his sheep, refused to take weapons , with the idea that no one will harm him if he is 'clean.' For years we were afraid for him, and we always tried to get him to take at least a walkie-talkie. He was a man of great faith in G-d. He didn't want to use modern things, but rather electricity from wind-powered sources and water from a cistern; he lived in a stone house on the edge of Susia; he dressed in the way in which he felt that our ancestors dressed 2,000 years ago... He was very environment-conscious, and zealously guarded the state-owned lands. He had nine children, including one married daughter, one in the army, and a year-old toddler..."  London said that Susia, for which Har-Sinai has been its only terrorist  victim, has almost 80 families, with several more coming this summer.  

Katia Veintraub, 27, of the northern Shomron town of Ganim, was shot and killed by Palestinian terrorists at a junction near her home last Thursday; her 4-year-old son, who was also in the car, was not hurt. Another woman from Ganim, traveling in a separate car nearby in accordance with army instructions to travel in pairs, was also shot; she is listed in moderate condition. The two vehicles were at the entrance to the local bypass road intended to provide Israeli motorists a safe travel route, but which has now become almost a "sure shot" for terrorists who realize that most cars traveling there are of Jews.  Officials admitted that an ambulance was delayed in arriving at the scene; the army held it up because it was not bulletproof. The Yesha Council reports that there are only three bulletproof civilian ambulances operating in all of Yesha; Council spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yosef says the situation demands 18 armor-plated ambulances, but there are no funds available to acquire them.     (arutzsheva.org Jun 29, Jul 3)

UN Draft: Zionism 'A Movement Based on Racial Superiority'

Despite the threat of an American boycott, the latest draft of a declaration up for adoption at a UNconference on racism next month includes references to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians as a "crime against humanity" and revives the classification of Zionism as a "movement which is based on racial superiority."  A copy of the latest version of the text - which also refers to Arabs who suffered as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war as victims of "ethnic cleansing" - was obtained yesterday by The Jerusalem Post. The document is slated for final approval by the conference's preparatory committee when it convenes in Geneva on July 30 for the last time ahead of the late August "World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance" to be held in the South African port city of Durban. Israeli and American diplomats, as well as Jewish groups such the Anti-Defamation League, have been lobbying delegates to the conference to try to make sure the resolution does not include the clauses hostile to Israel. Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior, who will be representing Israel at the event and who is spearheading Israel's fight against the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist proposals, convened a conference in London yesterday of some 60 Jewish leaders from around the world to discuss the proposals and how best to lobby against them. The proposals, said Melchior, undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel and even the existence of Judaism. By using words like genocide in relation to settlements, and by criticizing the Law of Return as an absolute evil, the proposals cheapen what is truly evil," he added.  "If to build an apartment in Gilo is genocide, if the Law of Return is racism and apartheid, the expressions of absolute evil are watered down. If all is genocide, then nothing is genocide," Melchior said.  "It resurrects the Zionism-Racism issue in a way that brings back the bad old days, suggests that the deep hostility and hatred toward Israel is an ongoing feature of the international landscape," said Jess Hordes, director of the ADL's Washington office. "And it really hijacks a conference that should be devoted to addressing the real and serious problems of racism and xenophobia."   (Jerusalem Post July 4)

Syria Test Fires Scud Missile

Syria test fired a Scud missile Sunday.   The Israeli Arrow missile radar system identified the Syrian missile as soon as it was launched and followed its trajectory until it crashed in Syrian territory far away from the Israeli border, Army Radio reported.    (jpost.com June 2)

Hamas Martyr's Memorial Hosted By PA School

In a speech delivered by phone to a Hamas gathering that was convened last Friday in the Palestinian Authority Al-'Adawiya High-school in Tulkarm, Head of the Hamas Politibureau, Khaled Mash'al, stated: "Hamas has tens of martyrs who are willing to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. An operation of such Martyrs exceeds that of Arab armies who fought the Hebrew state. The importance of the weapon of such martyrs is no less than the importance of nuclear weapons. These initiatives and proposals [Mitchel's and Tenet's] are only meant to save Tel-Aviv and its Premier Sharon, after the rope of these Martyrs has tightened on his neck.  They are only meant to deal with Israel's security, not with the Palestinian people's rights. The ceasefire that was declared [by Arafat] is not accepted by Hamas neither in terms of principles nor considering the reality. In terms of principles what happens in the occupied territories is not [a clash] between two armies and therefore the principle of ceasefire does not apply to it. Also, it is not mutual violence. Rather, it is legitimate activity of the 
Palestinian people to defend itself against the aggression of the occupation. Realistically, the Intifada continues and will continue.  It did not stop because there is a consensus amongst the Palestinian people on all its factions to endorse the option of struggle and Intifada until all of the goals of the Palestinian people are achieved [namely]: the liberation of the land, and the expulsion of the occupation. The martyrs of Hamas are ready to carry out their duty and Sharon has no where to hide but to go"(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 24).

The PA organ Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published an invitation to join the gathering. The invitation mentioned that the gathering is convened to commemorate and honor the two martyrs of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Ahmad Umar Alayan and Mahmoud Ahmad Marmash. The invitation specified the location of the gathering in the PA high-school (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 21). Little children holding weapons participated in the gathering as well as future suicide bombers with their white garments and bandanas. Hamas activists distributed amongst the participants at the gathering posters of the last 10 martyrs in suicide operations.     (MEMRI Jun 28)

Bargouti Outlines True Goals

"The goal of the current intifada is a Palestinian state, but afterwards, there will be even greater things for which to strive." So says Tanzim leader Marwan Bargouti in an interview with the weekly New Yorker, explaining, "There is no room for more than one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean." Israeli security forces attribute most of the serious terrorist attacks of the past few days to Bargouti and the Tanzim.   (arutzsheva.org Jul 3)

Double Car Bombs in Yehud

A double car-bomb attack was perpetrated in the Tel Aviv suburb of Yahud Monday; six people were treated for shock. The two bombs, each about ten kilograms of explosives and nails, exploded within ten minutes of each other, and 500 meters apart. The two cars belonged to local residents, and it is assumed that the terrorists broke into the cars, placed the explosives, and then escaped.  Islamic Jihad assumed responsibility for the bombs. The enemy apparently placed the explosives somewhere inside the cars, and set the bombs to go off at a time when children and others would be passing by. Yahud Mayor Uzi Meir told Arutz-7, "We thank G-d for the great miracle He did for us today; we must truly recite the HaGomel blessing for having been saved from real danger."   (arutzsheva.org Jul 2)

Three Terrorists Killed on Way to Attack

The IDF admits having killed three Arab terrorists on their way to carry out an attack Sunday. A combat helicopter fired several missiles at a car traveling in the Jenin area, killing all three occupants. The cell's leader, Muhmad Basrat, was imprisoned by Israel from 1993-1997 for terrorism-related crimes. Over the past several months, he was directly involved in many attacks, including bombings in Hadera and Netanya and a suicide attack at Mechola Junction in the Jordan Valley. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports in the name of military officials that he was about to dispatch seven suicide bombers to Israeli population centers. Based on the tremendous explosion of the car when the missiles hit it, the assumption is that the car was full of explosives and was on its way to an attack against Jews. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher condemned Israel's action, saying on Monday, "We remain opposed to Israel's policy of targeted killings," and he appealed again to PM Ariel Sharon to restrain Israel's response to attacks on Israel. He also said, however, that the Palestinians were not doing enough to fight terror and to end violence. The bottom line of the American position is that, "In light of the violence, the first day of the projected seven days of calm had not yet arrived." Responding to Boucher's statement, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Sha'ul Mofaz, who was visiting in the U.S., said, "Everyone who brings up the issue of the right of self-defense has to ask what they would do if their country was exposed to 5,600 acts of terrorism. Our actions are very carefully considered."   (arutzsheva.org Jul 2,3)

Israel Strikes Back at Lebanon

Israel Air Force F-16 planes attacked targets in Lebanon Saturday and Sunday, in retaliation for the Hizbullah attack on two bases in northern Israel earlier last weekend. Sunday's raid destroyed a Syrian radar installation in Lebanon, in the heart of the Baalbek region, while Saturday's attacks targeted Hizbullah bases with artillery and later with fighter planes and helicopter gunships. Israel was retaliating against a Friday night Hizbullah mortar-and-missile attack that resulted in the wounding of three soldiers. One of the wounded, Marcelo Shtechman of Ma'aleh Ephraim, is unconscious and listed in serious condition in Rambam Hospital in Haifa.  Hizbullah responded Sunday with a barrage of dozens of mortar shells on Har Dov, and Israeli combat helicopters responded. No Israelis were hurt. Israel's security cabinet resolved that despite Israel's fulfillment of UN Resolution 425 and its deployment along the international border, "criminal aggression against Israel continues to take place against Israel." The Cabinet blames Syria for backing Hizbullah, allowing it to arm, and preventing the Lebanese Army from deploying along the international border. The list of violations of Israel's northern border by Syrian-backed Hizbullah since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon last year includes some ten incidents, including the killing of three soldiers in three separate attacks, several mortar shellings, the kidnapping of three soldiers (plus a fourth Israeli from within Lebanon), and more. (arutzsheva.org Jul 1)

Peres-Arafat Meeting Makes Waves

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres' meeting with Yasser Arafat in Portugal last Friday did not go over quietly in Israel. Sunday's Cabinet session began with a request by Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi to debate the matter and to hear Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's position. When Sharon turned him down, Ze'evi walked out in anger, saying that there is no point to participating in a government meeting if he can't express his opinion and attempt to have influence on government policy on matters of this nature. Ze'evi said that he was irked by photographs showing the look of happiness on Peres' face as he was greeting Arafat, but that he was particularly bothered by the fact that Peres "continues to seek ways to conduct dialogue with the murderer of my people."  Public Security Minister Uzi Landau said, "I have difficulty accepting Peres' behavior. I see a young mother being murdered a day before, in front of her 4-year-old son, and then Peres goes and meets with Arafat as if nothing happened... And then at the same forum, Arafat gives a speech full of invective and lies against Israel..." Speaking later with the press, even former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami had harsh words for the Peres-Arafat meeting. Ben-Ami said the meeting was pointless because Arafat continues to lie to Israel and it is impossible to reach an agreement with him at this time.  Others also said that the Peres-Arafat meeting went against the "no negotiations under fire" policy. Peres defended his meeting by saying this morning that it would be ridiculous if other countries' representatives can meet with Arafat while Israel's Foreign Minister cannot.  Labor MK Collete Avital, who accompanied Peres to Lisbon, defended the meeting. She told Arutz-7 Sunday that it was important because, "despite everything, Arafat is the head of the Palestinian Authority, and he is the one with whom we must reach a ceasefire agreement. As far as I know, no deeper diplomatic issues were discussed." Arutz-7's Haggai Segal said, "Arafat promised that he would not give a hate-filled speech, and even in this little thing he lied and did not keep his word. So what is the point in talking to him? Maybe we should just say that there is no one to talk to at this time." Avital: "It could be, but I have a different opinion, not because I trust them, but because we have to try to reach a ceasefire... From a realpolitik point of view, I know that if I have enemies, I have to try to lower the level of violence as much as possible..."    (arutzsheva.org Jul 1) 

Reform Movement Calls on Israel to "Show Restraint"

A forum of 1,800 Reform rabbis in the United States called on Israel last week to continue its policy of restraint and to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria. Earlier this month, the Reform movement decided to cancel its youth summer trips to Israel due to perceived security dangers. Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh said at the time, "The behavior of these Jews, who have talked to us for all these years over piles of bagels and lox about unity and solidarity of the Jewish people, is disgraceful…" A Shas party statement noted that the bonds between the Reform movement and the Land of Israel are weak, and "Israel must remember the Reform's desertion of the Jewish front during these times of trouble."   The resolution comes only a few weeks after Reform leader Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie said that the Reform movement had been "wrong about some very important things" regarding the Oslo process, specifying, et al, "We were inclined to focus overly much on the hard choices we had to make, and not enough on the hard choices that our Palestinian neighbors had to make."  (arutzsheva.org Jun 29)

Commentary...

Ariel Makes His Point to George    By William Safire

"The world is celebrating the cease-fire," Ariel Sharon told George W. Bush in the Oval Office this week, "but we in Israel are going to funerals." That pained remark came privately after the U.S. president had used the word "progress" 11 times in 13 minutes of the photo op before their meeting.

Why did Bush emphasize the slight reduction in terrorist murders since Yasir Arafat finally agreed to end the violence? Because he was too sensitive to criticism for "lack of engagement" by Europeans and Clintonites who still fail to understand that outside pressure was a cause of, and is not the solution to, Arafat's current war on Israel.

The pressure on Bush to go down the Clinton road of all-out arbitration led to his dispatch of George Tenet, the part-time C.I.A. director, to mediate a cease-fire. This gave the Bush administration an incentive to claim that its intercession was a success, and accounts for making much of "progress" in a slight reduction of mortar attacks, roadside bombings and settler murders.

But Arafat is a master of the art of limited terror. His tactic is to find that sweet spot between the "heavy" terror that slaughters 20 youngsters at a disco - which triggers international disapproval - and the "light" terror that he insists is beyond his ability to control, for which he is readily forgiven by Arabs and the BBC.   If he can maintain a level of terror acceptable to world opinion, he may be able to block forceful retaliation and thereby afflict Israelis with a decade of despair. Though he cannot ignite a pan-Arab attack, Arafat hopes to engender Israeli hopelessness with a guerrilla war of attrition.

In his meeting with Bush, Sharon explained that he had not been taken in by Arafat's calibrated violence. The veteran general knows that such promises of "100 percent effort" have always been meaningless.

That's because Arafat controls the media that incite teenagers to make martyrs of themselves, and the subsequent training of suicide bombers. Arafat controls the force that sets up the mortar factories and imports the rocket launchers from Damascus. Arafat controls the level of terror needed to infuriate Israelis while allowing his allies to demand that Sharon exhibit debilitating restraint.

Because he sees through Arafat's deceptive game, Sharon says he will accept nothing less than "100 percent results" in stopping the organized murder of Jews.  Let the Palestinian leader arrest the known ringleaders, close down the suicide training centers and bomb factories, confiscate the small arms illegally in the hands of his paramilitaries, stop his media incitement and publicly announce that no heaven awaits killers. Then would he soon approach "100 percent results," or close enough to "zero violence" to permit negotiations to resume.

To what end? Not to a grandiose "final settlement"; Arafat will not accept half the West Bank after he's already turned down all of it. And Sharon is not about to divide Jerusalem, especially after the Palestinian goal to occupy and overwhelm Israel was revealed at Camp David.

The most to be hoped for is a cooling-off decade of separation and non-belligerency. Outsiders can encourage a cessation of the propagation of hatred, an end to the rejection of Palestinian immigrants by wealthy Arab states, and economic cooperation between peaceful Palestinians and Israelis.

Sharon evidently got through to Bush, despite reports of initial disagreement. Colin Powell said yesterday in Egypt it was up to the parties, especially Sharon, to decide on "an adequate level of quiet."

"Let us not make the mistakes of our predecessors," Sharon told Bush, in tacit recollection of the intercessions of Bill Clinton leading to the appeasement by Ehud Barak and ultimately to Arafat's war. "Let us not let terror dictate our steps." Such Israeli resolution could not have been lost on the American president, especially since intelligence warnings of terrorist plans caused U.S. armed forces to temporarily withdraw from danger spots in the Middle East.

"I read that you said that you would not let Osama bin Laden dictate to the U.S.," Sharon told Bush, and then made the point he came to the White House to press home: "Everyone has his bin Laden. Arafat is our bin Laden."

(New York Times June 28)

 Awaiting a Miracle    By Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Five Israeli prime ministers have spent years negotiating with Yasser Arafat, despite a disturbing assessment from Israeli intelligence services of the Palestinian leader's true intentions. Behind the unshaven visage wrapped in the trademark checkerboard headscarf is an Arafat vastly different from the mien he presents to the world. Arafat's true face is revealed by the horror he sanctions. By the 21 youngsters killed by a suicide bomber in a seaside disco, and by the father of the murderer who wishes for still more carnage by the sons of other Palestinian families. It is revealed in nine months of atrocities in which Israeli soldiers have been lynched, children stoned to death, holy sites burned down. Americans have died. So have hundreds of Palestinians, victims of the violence Arafat has unleashed.

 But is it right to blame Arafat for suicide bombers and fanatics? Yes, emphatically. Arafat controls the Palestinian Authority's media, its schools, summer camps, and religious services. And what does the PA teach? Hatred-hatred with the clear aim of inciting violence. The Palestinians are raising an entire generation to despise Jews and to seek martyrdom by killing them. School texts contain phrases like this one: "A Muslim sacrifices himself for his faith and fights a jihad for Allah." TV commercials urge Palestinian kids to drop their toys and pick up rocks. A song called "I hate Israel" is repeated endlessly on the radio. Words kill. They lead to the hand wrapped around the stone, the knives, the gun, the explosive device. The Arabs are now so willing to believe the most shameful things about Jews-things invented and spewed around the clock by the PA's propaganda machine-that more and more are willing to kill themselves in order to kill Jews. Now 75 percent of Palestinians support terrorism against innocent civilians. The extent of the corrosion of the Palestinian soul is evidenced by the reaction of one formerly moderate Palestinian, Ziyad Abu Ziyad. Asked about the destructive consequences of a strategy of terrorism on the Israeli public, he replied: "It is only the first natural reaction to a state of shock. But after they get over the shock, they will be led to accepting our demands." Violence, in other words, will pay.

But pay what? The Arabs say they are fighting against Israeli occupation. Just last year the Israelis offered to end the occupation without bullets and violence. Arafat said no. The Arabs are not fighting about ending occupation or Israeli settlements. They are fighting about the very existence of Israel. Arafat, like many Palestinians, simply has not reconciled himself to the fact that the Jews have come home, that Israel is not conquered territory but a nation rooted in every aspect of the Jewish historical experience.

This truth was concealed by the Oslo agreement. Arafat's acceptance of it promised to transform the Palestinians from an enemy to a neighbor, to a partner. All things were possible. The last nine months of violence have shown Oslo to be a cruel illusion-a Trojan horse. Today, as a result, nearly 3 in 4 of the Jewish population in Israel feel that Arafat is untrustworthy, that terrorism and violence are his doing, and that it must be fought. Concession to Arafat, they see now, is repaid only in the blood of innocents.

For them, hell is truth seen too late. And their logic cannot be faulted. When Arafat calls for a cease-fire, Israelis cease while Palestinians fire. Even the recent reduction in violence illuminates Arafat's game: He can shut down virtually all of the Palestinian attacks, just as he can ignite them. He may pretend otherwise, but he has his hand firmly on the levers of chaos and violence.

A shroud of deniability. And this is so for a simple reason. Arafat is a revolutionary, not a statesman. He is also a dictator-the sole, uncontested leader of a coalition of terrorists. Rather than confront extremist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he uses them as convenient fictions to shroud himself in deniability. So be it, alas. But violence and terror have been carried out by the central organs of Arafat's PA, not just by the "extremists." The Force 17, the general intelligence apparatus in the West Bank run by Col. Tawfiq al-Tirawi, and Arafat's Fatah and Tanzim militia are all engaged in regular shootings of Israelis and have participated in joint terrorist operations. Fully 70 percent of the violence in the past nine months has been traced to groups directly subordinated to Arafat. Both American and Israeli intelligence recognize the blood on his hands. This, tragically, may be the true legacy of Oslo. All the secret-negotiations channel seems to have accomplished is to enable the Palestinians, now heavily armed, to establish a territorial base close to Israel's population centers and to exploit this advantage in order to victimize Israeli citizens. Oslo died because Arafat did not prepare his people for peace-and that was because he had not prepared himself for it. His stature was built on struggle and conflict. When the moment came to relinquish the struggle, he could not.

But he did have the choice. Last year, Israel offered the vast bulk of the disputed territory to Arafat. Had he accepted, his people would have had a state, independence, the beginning of a normal peace. It was not to be. As the scholar Fouad Ajami put it, Arafat "preferred the language of heroic resistance to a painful compromise."

And so here we are. Arafat is unwilling, perhaps unable, to make peace. He is willing only to make trouble. The truth is, he has never been ready mentally, or historically, to conclude a deal and seems now prepared to leave it to the next generation, so that his own legacy remains unblemished by compromise. That's why Arafat maintains a maximalist position on the right of return and on total control over Jerusalem. Even Dennis Ross, the long-time special U.S. envoy to the region, believes Arafat is not a man with whom Israel could conclude a peace.

Which means that the calculus the West sought for so long to impose on Israel-land for peace-was flawed in its very essence. Sure, Israelis were prepared to give the land, but the Palestinians were never even close to ready to grant the peace.

Blame game. Our own diplomacy has not helped matters. The Clinton approach was well meaning. The marathon mediation, the invitations to the White House, the millions of dollars of financial support-all were designed to lock Arafat in an embrace of peace and reconciliation. In most situations, that might have worked. But it failed, in large measure, because the Clinton administration made a huge error when it kept ignoring Arafat's continued support for the violence and imposed no penalty for failing to fulfill the other obligations under Oslo. In an attempt to stay in "the middle," Clinton and his aides blamed both sides equally, an immoral version of moral equivalency. This policy failed to end the cycle of violence because it signaled that violence does not cost-it pays.

Happily, the Bush administration is not seeking to blame both parties in the interest of being "evenhanded." The president and his advisers know the difference between the arsonist and the firefighter. The Bush team has wisely chosen not to follow the Clinton policy that failed to force the Palestinian side to implement the conditions. They know that only the deluded can expect the Palestinians to behave differently if they have no incentive to behave-and even then it is hardly a sure thing, since the Arabs' history is one of continual action against their own best interests. President Bush has stated that Arafat should hear "loud and clear" that violence and incitement must cease before talks begin again. He should stick to that.

It is an approach that has promise. When CIA Director George Tenet persuaded both sides to agree to a cease-fire and a working plan to restart negotiations, he made greater gains than his predecessors from the last administration in all of their meetings with the Palestinian leaders in Paris, Washington, Sharm al-Sheikh, and Taba. He made Arafat accept a plan, and to accept it in Arabic, speaking through his own news media to his own people. Arafat instructed his people to holster their weapons.

But not everywhere. In the first two weeks of the cease-fire, there have been more than 170 shooting attacks on Israelis, four dead and 27 wounded. And Arafat has failed to cease the incitement of violence and to arrest members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who perpetrate terrorist attacks against Israel. Arafat's plan seems to keep the violence below the level at which it arouses international concern, in the hopes that when Israel is ultimately forced to respond to protect its people, he will seek to blame them for the end of the cease-fire.

The Tenet plan, nevertheless, provides the first chance for transforming the crisis from the level of force to the level of diplomacy. However limited its chances for success, they are greater than the chances prior to his visit. In the days to come, Washington must make sure Arafat does not use this agreement, as he has so many others, like a protective screen to hide still more violence against Israel.

Even if the political negotiations begin again, a whole tree of olive branches and a flock of doves may not be enough to bridge the gaps between the parties. Arafat thinks that he should start from where former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak left off. Ariel Sharon's position, supported by the United States, is simple: Arafat rejected that deal last year, and it's no longer on the table.

We face a period of great tension in the Middle East. The news media will have a special responsibility to cover this period in a way that makes clear who has provoked the violence and who is responding to it. As Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says, "[Television] shows a picture. It does not tell a story."

The best hope for now may be to limit the points of friction between the parties, giving each side enough hope that after an appropriate period, a political solution may be possible. In a Land of Miracles, achieving merely that would be a miracle indeed.    (US News & World Report July 1)

No End in Sight   By Evelyn Gordon

If Abraham Lincoln had known Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, he would never have dared to utter his famous dictum that "you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Even after a decade of systematically violating every one of his numerous pledges to renounce violence, Arafat has managed to delude the world into believing his latest vow with awe-inspiring ease. For the past three weeks, the international community has been proudly trumpeting the so-called decline in the violence. Even US President George W. Bush chimed in last week, lauding Arafat's "progress" in stemming terror attacks. Yet the facts provide not a shred of evidence for this conclusion.

The first flaw in the "progress" theory is the fact that eight Israelis (as of this writing) - the majority of them civilians - have been killed since the "cease-fire" began on June 13. This is an average of one murder roughly every two and a half days. Not only is this a completely unacceptable figure by any civilized standard, but it is also virtually identical to the death rate in the months preceding the cease-fire. Thus it is hard to fathom how this figure constitutes a decline in the violence.

Equally problematic is the fact that there have been numerous violent incidents that miraculously failed to result in death. These incidents have apparently not registered on the world's radar screen at all - yet every such incident is potentially lethal. Consider, for instance, the roster of Palestinian violence over the past weekend (Friday-Saturday): seven mortar shells were fired at IDF outposts and settlements; a Molotov cocktail was thrown at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem; a bomb exploded in the Jezreel Valley; another bomb was thrown at a Border Police post near Efrat; 14 grenades were fired at an IDF outpost near Rafah; shots were fired into the houses of a Gazan settlement and at six army outposts; shots were fired and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli vehicles; and rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli soldiers in several locations in the territories. Miraculously, these incidents resulted in no deaths or serious injuries; though five border policemen were wounded, all of the injuries were light. In the world's eyes, this is defined as a significant reduction in the violence. But would any other country seriously tolerate a daily incident list like this?

Moreover, one cannot even say that the cease-fire has been merely ineffective: in many cases, it has actually made the violence worse. A good example is the case of a 27-year-old woman, Ekaterina Weintraub, who was murdered in a roadside ambush last Thursday. Until two weeks ago, there was a permanent IDF presence at the spot where Weintraub was killed. But as part of the cease-fire agreement, Israel withdrew its troops from that junction, as it has from many other locations in the territories. Had there been no "cease-fire," those troops would still have been there - and Weintraub would probably be alive today.

Indeed, the nature of this cease-fire was nicely summed up last week by the head of Military Intelligence's research division, Brig.-Gen. Amos Gilad. Asked what he thought of the truce, Gilad responded dryly: "I hadn't heard about it."

It is not hard to understand why the international community so desperately wants to believe that an end to the violence is in sight. What is puzzling, however, is why so many people seem to think that closing their eyes to the truth will further this goal. In fact, the opposite is the case: by rushing to declare that "progress" has occurred when it has not - and that Arafat should therefore immediately receive the diplomatic rewards that were slated to accompany an actual truce - they are encouraging the violence to continue. After all, if Arafat can obtain all the proffered benefits merely by mouthing the right words, what conceivable incentive could he have for tackling the much more difficult task of making those words a reality on the ground?

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon understands this well. That is why he has insisted that there must be several weeks of complete quiet, rather than merely a chimerical "lessening of the violence," before diplomatic initiatives resume. And the United States, though it initially lent its support to the bizarre idea that Arafat ought to be rewarded for his nonexistent "progress," deserves credit for reversing itself last week, when Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly backed Sharon's "zero tolerance" policy during his visit to the region.  

It is to be hoped that the rest of the international community will now follow suit - because only if Arafat is convinced that the world will truly not tolerate violence will he make the effort necessary to end it.  

 (Jerusalem Post Jul 3)

The Chronicles of a Guardian of the Land    By Nadav Shragai

Yair Har-Sinai, 51 a farmer was killed Monday night   

In a profile of "the outpost generation" published in the journal Nekuda, Hanoch Daum once described the young settlers who man new outposts in the West Bank as people "who dance alone." 

Yair Har-Sinai, 51, who was killed Monday night near Sussya, preceded the "outpost generation" by about 10 years. Har-Sinai cut himself off almost entirely from the trappings of Western civilization. He and his wife Dalia, disappointed by the materialism of the modern world, first isolated themselves in the village of Yodfat in the Galilee, where they sought solace in the culture of the Far East. Then they went to Keshet in the Golan Heights, where they became religiously observant. From there, they went to Jerusalem, to Beit El, and finally to Sussya.

At first, the couple lived inside the settlement, but soon established a farm a few hundred meters away - a major compromise for someone who once wanted to live in a cave. For water, Har-Sinai dug his own well. For electricity, he built a windmill on the roof. The family baked all its own bread, from whole wheat only. For money, they sold milk products from the 130 sheep and goats on the farm; they also cultivated figs and grapes. Har-Sinai insisted on always sitting on the ground, rather than in a chair; he always wore clothes made of unprocessed wool - even in summer.

In recent years, Har-Sinai saw himself as the guardian of the state lands around the settlement, protecting them from squatters. Moshe Deutsch, a close friend, said yesterday that Har-Sinai had personally created a kilometer-wide security zone around Sussya.  But while other land inspectors made their rounds by car, armed and well equipped, Har-Sinai made his on foot, with his flock. For years, he refused even to carry communications equipment with him; to the end, he refused to carry a weapon. Had he done so, he used to say, it would have seemed as if he wanted a conflict with the Arabs. For years, Har-Sinai saw the Arabs as "guides, not enemies." He considered the traditional Arab lifestyle a model for Israelis to emulate. His relations with his Arab friends were so close that some even proposed that he convert to Islam.  In time, these relationships cooled; and Har-Sinai was involved in a number of confrontations with Arabs in the course of his attempts to "guard the land." But he still refused to carry a weapon; he still unmistakably proclaimed his Jewish identity by walking about all day wrapped in a tallit (prayer shawl); and he still refused to install a front door in his house.

Har-Sinai's murder was apparently planned in advance. His wife said that on Monday, she had seen people trailing him; and Fatah has claimed responsibility for the killing. Only two weeks ago, he wrote to the head of the Israel Defense Forces' Central Command claiming that his life was in danger and that IDF officers did not understand the Arab mentality.

Thousands attended Har-Sinai's funeral yesterday. He leaves behind a wife and nine children. He was buried in Sussya, on the land he died trying to protect.      (Ha'aretz July 4)


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