A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
18 Tamuz 5760
July 21, 2000
Issue number 282
Barak to Remain Until Monday
Ehud Barak's threat to leave Camp David lasted until 7 AM Thursday morning (Israel time) - only an hour before he was scheduled to depart - at which time he announced that, "at President Clinton's behest," he had agreed to remain until Monday. Clinton departed Thursday for Japan, and will return on Sunday. Arutz-7 has learned, however, that the Israeli threat to quit Camp David was coordinated with the Americans, in an effort to have Arafat soften his positions. Prime Ministerial media advisor Meirav Persky-Tzadok says that the crisis in the talks stems from the "illogical demands of the Palestinians." Chances for a final-status agreement appear to be nil, and attention now turns to a partial or interim agreement. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will conduct the talks until Clinton's return from Japan on Sunday. Prime Minister Barak reportedly insists that the words "end of the dispute" appear in whatever deal is reached.
Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the first week of the Camp David talks was spent in "acrobatical attempts to formulate some kind of wording that both Arafat and Barak could agree to and sign. Even after major concessions by Barak, Arafat was not willing to budge from his original position, namely, full sovereignty over all of eastern Jerusalem. If the agreement was only to be an interim one, of course, he would be willing to give in on certain aspects - but the question is whether he would agree to include the magic words that Barak demands, 'end of the dispute.' The fact is that no Palestinian spokesman or leader has ever given in even a bit on Jerusalem, except for the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement, which was repudiated by Arafat..." Likud MK Silvan Shalom does not accept the observation that Barak appears to be standing firm: "The damage he caused was great. First of all, he forced Clinton and Arafat to come to a summit before the time was ripe, and he will be blamed for that. In addition, in all future talks, Arab leaders will demand that they continue from where the point at which they left off - namely, the very major concessions on the part of Israel regarding Judea and Samaria, refugees, Jerusalem, and more..."
MK Benny Elon (National Union) was a bit more optimistic, and advised the right-wing parties not to rush to topple Barak from power or to push him to form a far-left government: "I do not rule out the possibility that Barak has carried out an end-of-Oslo test to check Arafat's true intentions, and has now concluded [as he wrote in his letter to the Americans yesterday] that he simply does not see Arafat as a 'partner' in the peace efforts. Neither am I sure that I agree with the claim that Barak has simply set a new opening position for the next round of talks - because none of the concessions have been officially confirmed, and the developments were shrouded in secrecy, etc. For instance, he has not given away Abu Dis [an Arab-populated neighborhood adjacent to Jerusalem], even though he faced tremendous pressures to do so. This means that because he has not yet received the 'end of the conflict' clause, he has not given up even a single centimeter of land [more than what was promised at Wye]; compare this with what Netanyahu gave up... It could be that when Barak wrote to Clinton that he does not see Arafat as a partner, he may mean something deeper than what people are used to thinking. I don't want to be only a 'wishful thinker,' and I am not taking a position yet, but I would recommend that we seriously consider not rushing to new elections, in which we may receive a Likud Prime Minister that may carry out all of our worst nightmares - and with no one to oppose him.
Of course, if it turns out that Barak agrees to an interim agreement, then all of the above is not true..." MK Ophir Pines-Paz told Arutz-7 Thursday that if the summit actually ends without an agreement, Palestinian-initiated violence would spin the region into chaos. Arutz-7's Ariel Kahane asked him, "It seems then that the seven years of the Oslo process have simply brought us to a dead end - and a war?" Paz responded: "I very much hope not, I very much hope not. If no deal is signed, we will face a new situation... If there is no decision to continue to talk at a later date, the situation will be dangerous..." Paz said that he still considers Yasser Arafat "a peace partner," but believes that Arafat now must take responsibility and "lead the process. He cannot continue to tell us that he cannot sign a deal on Jerusalem without a mandate from the Arab world. He must understand that he is not conducting negotiations in the name of the entire Arab world, and not certainly all of Islam; he is representing the Palestinian Authority, and as its chairman, has the mandate to sign a peace deal." Kahane: "Does Arafat's position indicate that all the Palestinians ever wanted was only more and more territory and power, and not true peace?" Pines-Paz: "No. I am certain that they want true peace; regarding this, there is not a shadow of a doubt. The question is what they want to receive in the framework of this peace, and what we are prepared to give. That they want peace there is not a shadow of a doubt... It's just that their conditions for peace are so far-reaching, that Israel cannot accept them - certainly not with reference to Jerusalem." (arutzsheva.org July 20)
Calling on Barak
Fifty Yesha rabbis have sent a letter to Barak in Camp David stressing that the Prime Minister is responsible for the safety of all Israeli citizens. Among the signatories is Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, dean of Yeshivat Har Etzion. Excerpts from the letter: "A policy that forces the residents of Yesha to choose between either the destruction of their life's work - dozens of flowering towns that were established with blood, sweat, tears, and the approval of Israeli governments - or living in constant danger to their lives and their families at the mercy of the terrorists, is seen by many as an impossible choice, one that stands in contrast to human morals in general and the Jewish conscience in particular... The government must recognize its moral obligation and tell the public the truth, no matter how bitter, in order that they know what options (if there are more than one) stand before them and so that they may prepare accordingly... The abandonment of Yesha settlers could undercut one of the pillars upon which the State of Israel was founded." The letter may have been written in light of an article released this week by the Ariel Center for Policy Research, warning that a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would lead to an international demand for a pullout of the Israeli army from Yesha - a demand that Israel would have neither the will nor the ability to withstand. Critics of the paper have stated that Israeli policy has long been that in the absence of an agreement with the Palestinians, the army will not leave Yesha under any circumstances. (arutzsheva.org July 20)
Congressional Objections to Aiding Israel-PLO Agreement
Republican whip Rep. Tom DeLay said Wednesday that he is greatly concerned over the peace talks. "It must concern everyone that the President is pushing this agreement mainly for the sake of his place in history," he said, and noted that Clinton cannot actualize his financial promises to the sides without the agreement of lawmakers of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Arutz-7's Haggai Segal asked Yoram Ettinger, Israel's former liaison to Congress, about the chances of securing the $15 billion-plus aid package to fund such a deal. "Somewhere between slim and nil, in my opinion," he said. "We have to understand that the Congress is currently preoccupied with domestic budgets, trying to lower taxes, expanding the funds available for social needs, etc. Asking Congress for massive funding for Israel, the PLO and maybe even Syria at this point, is not consistent with that body's present priorities. Furthermore, Congressmen are currently quite busy with their election campaigns. Their goal is to get elected come November, and the U.S. public does not particularly favor foreign aid - especially to the PLO and Syria, still viewed in most circles as terrorism-sponsoring entities..." "It is hard to imagine that after a deal is signed, with all the fanfare that can expected on the White House lawn, that Congress will say, 'No, we are not part of this celebration,'" Segal suggested. Ettinger: "Fifteen billion dollars is a conservative estimate of how much this will all cost - some estimates place the price tag as high as $100 billion for an Israel-PLO deal, including resettling and compensating refugees.
The price does not include an Israel-Syria package, which would call for another $30 billion for Israel alone! Congress simply will be unable to explain to its citizens why it is cutting domestic funding while funneling monies to Israel, the PA and Syria. " "If what you say is correct," Segal responded, "then it turns out that Barak's advisors are fooling him when they tell him that he will be able to secure the necessary funds. Barak seems to be quite confident that he will get the money!" Ettinger: "Yes, he was also confident that he could push through the Phalcon aircraft deal with China, but he received a rude awakening on that issue, and Israeli interests suffered greatly as a result. Ehud Barak is sorely lacking when it comes to reading the Washington political environment..." Ettinger added that US politicians do not understand why Barak would want to increase his country's dependence on foreign aid. "I have heard many Congressmen say that by taking this approach, Israel is digging its own grave in the Middle East," Ettinger said. (A7 July 17,20)
The Ongoing Palestinian Message
"Yesha settlers corner an Arab farmer in his home, demand his land, and when he refuses to give in - they beat him to death. With his last breaths, the Arab begs his son to protect his land from the Yesha settlers..." The above did not actual occur, but is rather a scene from a play produced by a Palestinian girls' summer camp and broadcast on Palestinian television last week. Itamar Marcus, of Palestinian Media Watch, says it is typical of the message being given to the Palestinian public. "This is not a lone incident," he told Arutz-7, "but one that reflects the ongoing educational message fed to Palestinian children and youth. Furthermore, these cultural activities complement actual military training provided to Palestinian youth." Marcus, whose organization researches the Palestinian press on a daily basis, said that the Palestinian papers are filled with daily threats of violence. A case in point is an announcement sponsored by the Fatah youth wing announcing special military training exercises for Palestinian youth in case of a 'potential clash with the conquerors.' "These messages continue to be published at an unprecedented pace - I would say that the PA papers [convey] an atmosphere of being on the verge of war," he said. Arutz-7's Haggai Segal noted that some of the Israeli press regularly call on Barak to "make peace, even at the expense of major concessions. Are there any similar calls in the PA press calling on Arafat to make compromises?" Marcus responded, "No, just the opposite... The Palestinian press consistently supports Arafat's stance in Camp David... I doubt that we will see a 'compromise' by Arafat on the issue of Jerusalem, for he would then be perceived by his population as a traitor... The PA has been stressing that just as Sadat received the entire Sinai, the Jordanians received all they demanded, and Israel has totally withdrawn from Lebanon, the Palestinians expect no less in their case..." (arutzsheva.org July 19)
Clinton and the Money
A full-page ad appears in The New York Times Wednesday against the plan by Bill Clinton to give $40 billion to the Palestinian Authority in the framework of the agreement being worked in Camp David. The ad features a large photo of Clinton and Arafat, and large letters blare, "Mr. Clinton, the American people would rather spend $40 billion to rescue Social Security - than to rescue your legacy." The ad, sponsored by Americans for Responsible Public Spending, can be seen on Arutz-7's website. Clinton and his wife are at the same time under strong attack for the anti-Semitic epithets used by Senate-candidate Hilary Clinton several years ago. Ms. Clinton has denied saying the offensive remarks, but several witnesses have said that they heard her. Hilary Clinton is eagerly seeking the Jewish vote in the New York State Senate race. (arutzsheva.org July 19)
What Will Be Israel's Response to a Unilateral P.A. Declaration
The Knesset, by a sizeable majority, passed five bills Wednesday sponsored by the Likud and the National Union parties regarding Israel's reactions to unilateral Palestinian initiatives. The bills must still pass their second and third readings. Among other things, the new bills require the nullification of the Oslo Agreements and the annexation of Jewish settlements to Israel in the event of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. The absence of many Labor party Knesset members on Camp David-related business eased the way for the opposition to pass the bills. Likud MK Limor Livnat said, "These votes send a clear message to the Palestinians, to the world, and to Prime Minister Barak: that if the Palestinians take unilaterally moves, Israel will not sit idly by." Her party colleague MK Tzachi Hanegbi said that today was a dramatic day in the Knesset - "the first time that the Knesset, with a significant majority, voted that if the Palestinians show that the Oslo agreements no longer exist for them, then we, too, will declare them null and void." Hanegbi played down the fact that the bills are unlikely to pass their second and third readings by Sept. 13 - the expected date of the declaration of a Palestinian state - and said that the message conveyed by the Knesset today has sufficient impact. (arutzsheva.org July 19)
Absorption Minister Yuli Tamir, acting as an Israeli government spokesman in Washington, told Yediot Acharonot Sunday that even if the Camp David talks fail, and even if the Palestinians declare a state unilaterally, Israel will recognize it. Tamir added that even after such a declaration, Israel will continue to negotiate with the Palestinians on the outstanding issues. This is the first time that an Israeli government representative has said that Israel would recognize a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state; Prime Minister Barak, in fact, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this month that Israel would annex Yesha areas in response to a unilateral Palestinians declaration. (arutzsheva.org July 16)
Army "Ready" for Palestinian Violence; Are Settlements?
The IDF claims to be "prepared" for Palestinian riots anticipated in Judea and Samaria should the summit fail. Senior army commanders have assured Yesha leaders and residents over the past few days that the IDF is ready to squelch the expected wave of uprisings. One issue of concern is the threat of mass Palestinian marches by unarmed Arab women and children on Jewish settlements - which the army now claims it has figured out how to "deal with." Until now, leading IDF officers such as Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Sha'ul Mofaz have said that such marches and attempts to penetrate Jewish towns would be treated as any other "threat to Israeli lives." However, the army has now formulated its plans for marchers who are still outside the settlements: Among other measures, a special unarmed force will be dispatched to form a human chain to block their progress. Ha'aretz correspondent Amos Harel reported Tuesday that the forces will be specially-trained in the dispersion of demonstrations. In place of infantry, policemen and female soldiers will be preferred. Nevertheless, the paper says, IDF snipers will be deployed behind the unarmed forces in the event that Palestinian gunmen placed behind the women and children open fire on the unarmed soldiers. Harel also reports that the army will utilize new methods of breaking up violent crowds, including water and dye-spraying tanks and giant nets dropped from the air.
Arutz-7's Kobi Sela reports that at least some Palestinian elements foresee a violent post-Camp David period ahead: Jewish drugstores in Jerusalem, Ofrah, and Michmash were robbed this week of almost all their medicines, while the money in the cash registers was ignored. Security has been beefed up around pharmacies, and instructions have been given to Yesha residents to be on the alert. Many of the Yesha settlements are simply not ready for that which the army considers to be a not-unrealistic scenario: the storming of their towns by Arab civilians or soldiers. Arutz-7's Effie Meir reports that measures that must be taken include: preparing the residents, gathering weapons and first-aid supplies; walkie-talkie equipment in case phone lines and cellular relay antennas are destroyed; water and food supplies; determining regulations for opening fire; coordination between neighboring communities; fortifying guard positions; and more. (arutzsheva.org July 18)
Largest-Ever Rally: Land of Israel, Security, Unity, Yoke of Heaven
Organizers' hopes for the "largest-ever demonstration in Israel" seem to have been fulfilled Sunday night, although the exact number of protestors appears to be a matter of dispute among various sources. Ha'aretz reported 200,000 participants, the Yesha Council gave a figure of 250,000, and the moderator of the event announced "close to half-a-million." Observers noted that over 4% of the country's population took part in the protest against the "peace" that Barak plans to bring back to them - the equivalent of an American protest involving 10 million people. Speakers at the event, ranging from an 8-year-old boy from Gush Katif to the Mayor of Emanuel, and from a mother of four residing in the Golan to NRP head Rabbi Yitzchak Levy, called on Ehud Barak not to give away Israel's strategic and historic assets, and to stand firm in face of Arafat's unyielding demands for all of Yesha and eastern Jerusalem. Tsfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu led the crowd in the recitation of "Shma Yisrael" (Hear O Israel, G-d is One) and the acceptance of the "yoke of Heaven." Other speakers included MK Rehavam Ze'evi, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, MK Natan Sharansky, MK Avigdor Lieberman, and more. Opposition leader MK Ariel Sharon told the Land of Israel faithful, "We all want peace - but the peace that Barak appears to be bringing us will lead to war!"
Golan resident Michal Raikin spoke emotionally of the ties that bind residents of the Golan and of Yesha: "To the people of Yesha: In the past months, when a thick black cloud hovered above us, when our dreams were falling apart on various negotiating tables, you were with us - and sometimes even ahead of us - in our most difficult hours, in our most torturous moments. You taught us a lesson in national unity, and in mutual responsibility, and in family ties, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. At the end of the day, you must have asked yourselves if we, those who live in the Golan, would be here for you as the sword nears your own throats. Well, we are here! We are here on behalf of all of our children! We are here, because we have no other land! We have no other land!" Hadera Mayor Yisrael Sadan, a Barak supporter, was pressured by government officials not to appear at the rally - he received at least one phone call from Camp David asking him not to do so - but decided to speak anyway. "I have come not to speak against anything," he told the crowd, "but rather to speak on 'behalf of' - on behalf of the Land of Israel and our continued dominion here, on behalf of the glorious settlement enterprise, and on behalf of a united Jerusalem under exclusive Israeli sovereignty forever!" MK Avigdor Lieberman (National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu) read aloud a letter to Ehud Barak: "425 days ago, you won the elections. From then on, I keep asking myself, who are you really? You ascended to power as Mr. Security - but you have turned out to be Mr. Panic [and] a Grade A Peace Now-nik. You promised no to divide Jerusalem, and to keep the Jordan Valley. You promised good government, but it turns out that you don't know how to differentiate between 'capital' and government.' The Knesset has voted no-confidence in you. You have left your top apologists at home, such as Chaim Ramon and Yossi Sarid, and your Foreign Minister did not accompany you, and you rely instead on a group of businessman, some of whom have chosen the 'right to remain silent' [in the police investigation against the illegal associations campaign scandal]. Is this the 'Prime Minister of everyone' that you promised?" (arutzsheva.org July 17)
Four Israeli Buses Torched by Arabs
Four Egged bus drivers made a wrong turn on their way out of Jerusalem Sunday night, and the Arabs of Calandia greeted them by torching their buses to the ground. The drivers, who were on their way to Beit El to pick up demonstrators for that night's giant rally, were attacked with metal rods, hammers, shovels, rocks, and bottles, but managed to gather together in one of the buses - itself half-burnt - and escape back to the A-Ram junction. A jeep escorted them to the nearest army camp, from where they were taken to the hospital, treated, and released. (arutzsheva.org July 17)
P.A. Revolving Door Policy Back in Full Swing
Palestinian terrorist Jamil Jadallah escaped from a Palestinian Authority prison last week, for the third time in less than two years. Arutz-7 correspondent Kobi Finkler reports that in this latest incident, Jadallah escaped together with a fellow Hamas terrorist from a Shechem jail cell. Jadallah - the murderer of Itamar Doron of Moshav Orah and Danny Vargas of Kiryat Arba in October 1998 - first escaped from jail last year, but was caught by PA agents after a month; he absquatulated again in February of this year, but turned himself over to PA authorities three days later. Although the other escapee turned himself in Sunday, Jadallah himself is still at large. Confirming the report, Israeli security sources voiced concern over the danger posed by Jadallah, and also condemned the PA jail system's "revolving-door" policy. (arutzsheva.org July 17)
Troops Called in to Quell Hevron Violence
IDF forces were deployed in Hevron Sunday, following an escalation in hostilities there between Arab and Jewish residents. Sunday's violence started with a fistfight between an Arab and a Jewish youth; within minutes, an Arab mob appeared on the scene and began hurling rocks and firebombs at the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. The violence began Saturday when a Hevron Arab assaulted a teen-aged Jewish girl, and Jews who gathered to protest the crime were attacked by mobs of Arab stone-throwers. The girl was nearly strangled by the Arab, but her screams scared him off. After she returned home and filed a complaint with the police, some 200 Hevron Jews gathered to protest - and were greeted by Arab-hurled rocks. A large scuffle ensued, and two Arabs, one Jewish resident, and an IDF soldier were injured. (arutzsheva.org July 16)
Letter From Former Supreme Court Chief
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Moshe Landau is against the planned concessions to the Palestinians by Prime Minister Barak. In a letter to Natan Sharansky, who recently resigned from the government in protest of Barak's policies, Landau wrote, "At this difficult hour for the State, I wish to encourage you for reaching the right conclusion as a public figure, in light of the dangers to the existence of the State caused by the concessions planned by the Prime Minister - whether the Camp David summit succeeds or fails. These concessions are a large step forward in our enemies' 'plan of stages' towards their final goal of liquidating the Zionist entity. Our enemies are again showing their true face and are continuing to act according to the Palestinian charter, mixed with diplomatic negotiations and violence... I view with concern the lack of willingness amongst our own people to stand up for the soul of the nation. This phenomenon is not new; the Prophet Jeremiah wrote, 'They have superficially healed the hurt of my people by saying, 'Peace, peace' - when there is no peace.'" (arutzsheva.org July 16)
Quotes, Misquotes, and Implications
An article by Associated Press Writer Ron Kampeas entitled, "West Bank Settlers Divided," quotes several Jewish West Bank settlers - who maintain that they were misquoted. The article claims that "a division has arisen in the settler movement between those who know they are likely to keep their homes, and those [who are likely to be uprooted]." Kampeas quotes "settler pioneer" David Zohar as saying, "The idea of one settlement movement is over… We're split." As an example of this "split," Kampeas quotes long-time Ma'aleh Adumim resident Shmuel Bar-Shalom as saying, "Small settlements, 10, 20 families, were created as provocations… They have no right to exist.'' Both of the above "spokesmen" deny the quotes attributed to them. Bar-Shalom told Ron Meir on Arutz-7's "Now Until Midnight" program last Thursday night that he "categorically denies" the quote, and that the word 'provocations' "never passed my lips." Kampeas, who also spoke with Meir last night, stood by his quote, but minutes later, the second "settler" quoted - David Zohar - also appeared on the show and similarly denied saying that which was said in his name: "I said that the nation is split - if he understood from this that the settlement movement is in trouble, then he is mistaken… he took the words out of context." Meir Indor of the Terror Victims Association - whose researchers brought the AP article to Arutz-7's attention - said today, "What made us sit up and take notice is that these two people [Zohar and Bar-Shalom] are well-known in the settlement movement, and we knew that they would not make statements of this nature. We can only wonder how many misquotes there are that we *don't* notice!… We have had bad experience with foreign news agencies who assume that Israelis don't read their foreign reports and don't check the accuracy of their quotes. Now, however, the internet helps us keep tabs on this much more easily." (arutzsheva.org July 14)
According to a ruling by the Rishon Letzion and former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the following special prayer should be added to the Shome'a Tefillah blessing in the daily Amidah: "Respond to us, O G-d, respond to us, and preserve the Land in the hands of the People of Israel; and all those who plan to give away even a small part of the Land to foreigners, thwart their plans and frustrate their plans, for You hear the prayers of all..." In addition, Rabbi Eliyahu said that two extra candles should be lit during pre-Shabbat candle-lighting, and the following prayer recited:
"May it be Thy will, our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that You will have mercy upon us and our children and on the nation that dwells in Zion and in the Holy Land, on the holiness of the People of Israel, on the holiness of the Land, on the wholeness and security of the nation and the Land - especially at this time, when a great danger hovers over us in the Holy Land. Master of the Universe: Act for Your sake, and not for ours. Act so that Your great and awesome Name shall not be desecrated among the nations, and bring us deliverance. And all those who plan evil against Your nation, the House of Israel - frustrate their counsel and spoil their designs, and may they be the subject of the fulfillment of the verse, "Fear and dread shall fall upon them, by the greatness of Thy arm they shall be stilled as a stone" (Ex. 15,16). And let the verse be fulfilled, "Scatter them, and a wind shall carry them away, and a storm shall disperse them, and you [Israel] shall rejoice in the L-rd, and be praised in the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 41,16). May our eyes behold Your return to Zion with mercy, Amen, may it be Thy will." (arutzsheva.org July 14)
Orthodox Conversion Programs Ordered Closed
Israel's Ministry of Education has decided to close Orthodox-Jewish conversion programs, and has fired the program's teachers. The stated reason for the move: budgetary constraints. The only conversion programs to remain operative will be those shared by the Orthodox with the Conservative and Reform movements. In the course of 1999, some 4,000 people - mostly citizens of Ethiopian descent - underwent conversion in Israel, 90% via the Orthodox conversion programs. (arutzsheva.org July 20)
Remaining True to the Ancient Pledge By Israel Harel
Prime Minister Ehud Barak has paid a fair amount of lip service to declarations of his deep love for the Land of Israel. But that has not prevented him from choosing the exclusive company of those who, from the very start, have wanted us to be uprooted from Judea and Samaria - better known as the West Bank. When he left for Camp David, he did so as their representative.
Barak's choice here was not peace versus the absence of peace, and there is the fear that, for most of those whom Barak represents, the uprooting of the settlers is but one of the means they wish to use in order to dispose of a burden - namely, the onerous burden of centuries-old Jewish tradition. In their eyes, the identity and roots symbolized by the "Mountain Ridge" in the territories and by the Land of the Bible are simply too heavy for them and are, in fact, superfluous. They have no further desire to identify with what is symbolized and demanded by the tradition of Bet El, Anatot, Hebron, Shilo, Eilon Moreh and Tekoa.
However, such territorial concessions are not considered at all essential in the eyes of those who regard these places and especially Jerusalem and Mount Zion as an expression of the very essence of their identity and spiritual being. "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither" was the vow that they repeatedly recited at the mass demonstration that was held earlier this week. From their standpoint, unless we remain true to this ancient pledge, the entire enterprise of the Jewish people's renaissance in the modern age will lose both its primary meaning and its primary rationale.
If the state of Israel is neither "the Land of Zion and Jerusalem" nor all that is connoted by this phrase, which appears in our national anthem, then our entire country is, as the Arabs claim, occupied territory that belongs to another people. If the state of Israel is like any other country on the face of the globe and if what we have established here is just one more state lacking any particular identity or uniqueness, we have no right, moral or otherwise, to be living here atop the ruins of Arab towns and villages.
Those who today possess the power to dictate the face of our moral, political and social geography believe that, if they can bring home a peace treaty, they will somehow manage to overcome most of Israel's domestic problems. They are wrong. Israeli Arabs, as their representatives are declaring, will never concede their right to return to the places from which they fled or were banished (just read the lips of the Arab MKs) nor will they ever concede their homeland - that is, all of it! - or any of the soil of that homeland. This aspiration will express itself in continual irredentist efforts to push us out of the last remaining footholds we still have here.
However, the major disaster, at least at the dawn of this new era of "peace,"will be felt in the Jewish homefront. Those who will feel that they have been betrayed and abandoned will carry out a tireless struggle - and this week's demonstration proves that the "troops" for that struggle do exist - just like wounded animals, fighting for what will remain of their home. And that remnant will be the absolutely uncompromising preservation and reinforcement of Israel - or what will remain of it - as a state with a clearly Jewish character. Evidence is steadily accumulating that those who argued that Zionism cannot survive without Judaism were right. Against the background of that evidence, this struggle for Israel's Jewish identity will, in its dimensions and intensity, far outstrip the cultural war we have been witnessing up to now.
Those who feel they have been betrayed have lost all faith in those who are spearheading the process of uprooting and abandonment. The fear that the concessions in Judea-Samaria, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem are but a prelude to the utter loss of both this land and our state will determine the actions of those who feel betrayed.
The fear and the distrust could have been somewhat reduced if those who have sought "creative solutions" for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount had minds with a Jewish orientation and if, in their breasts, beat hearts that understood both Jewish pain (in addition to the pain of another people) and Jewish taboos.
If they could only understand that many, many Jews draw the line at the idea of an Arab flag flying over the Temple Mount and would consider such a development to constitute in essence a casus belli. These Jews would regard an Arab flag over the Temple Mount as a desecration of Judaism's holiest site and as a symbol of the scorn and humiliation that this site has already experienced. They would regard that possibility, together with all its unavoidable practical consequences, as having the same symbolic importance as the sacrifice of a pig in the Temple in Jerusalem during the days of Matityahu the Hasmonean and his sons.
Therefore, a warning must be issued: There might be zealots who, in the spirit of this week's Bible portion, Pinhas, will be unable, like that individual, to tolerate what they regard as an abomination and a desecration. The persons who will bear responsibility for the consequences will not be those zealots but rather those who have callously and arrogantly chosen to totally ignore the feelings, pain and principles of faith of their coreligionists, of those Jews who perceive a foreign flag flying over the Temple Mount as an unthinkable contingency, as an act that would subject some members of the Jewish people to a test that they might possibly be unable to withstand, as a catastrophe that could lead Jews to emulate the zealots of ancient times.
The Shin Bet security service has almost always, especially when the subject was the Temple Mount, advised that concessions be made to the Arabs lest a "conflagration take place." It is interesting to ponder why this agency has not opposed the above-mentioned "creative idea" on the very same grounds. After all, the flying of an Arab flag above the Temple Mount might be an act that would also be regarded as illegitimate in the eyes of Jews who are not zealots. Thus, that very act could end up destroying any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Today, according to the Jewish calendar, is the fast day of the 17th of Tamuz, on which date the wall surrounding the Temple was breached, thus paving the way for the destruction of the Temple. Caution must be exercised lest the act of raising an Arab flag over the Temple Mount - even if the aftermath of a violent scenario is prevented - cause a catastrophe that we will live with for generations to come, namely, a split between those who have no respect for the Temple Mount and those who would consider such an act to be a disaster and a desecration. Should that act take place, not only can we forget about peace for generations to come, we can anticipate a deepening of the abyss, an intensification of Israeli society's polarization and chronic instability. That outcome might be the only fruit - the tainted fruit, in fact - of this imposed "peace. (Haaretz July 20)
It looks like the Middle East of the yishuv, where we relied for our defense on that famous farmer with his hoe in one hand and his gun in another.
If anyone wonders what life in Israel might look like should Prime Minister Ehud Barak return from Washington with an agreement, it might be instructive to look at our northern border.
The pullback from Lebanon, for those who may have forgotten, was supposed to effectively end our state of war with that nation. No agreement was signed, but it was common knowledge that the Lebanese had no real quarrel with us other than our presence on their soil. With that gone, there should have been no barrier to de facto peace, if not the de jure variety.
The reality looks a little different. On the Lebanese side of the border, throwing stones at Israeli troops has become the new national hobby. According to recent press reports, organized tours to the Fatma gate set out daily from the northern part of the country. About 300 people come in midweek, and about 1,500 on weekends. Tractors replenish the piles of stones when needed so that the tourists can do what they came for: throw them at Israeli soldiers.
Furthermore, this behavior is openly encouraged by Arab intellectuals. Even Columbia University professor and Palestinian intellectual Edward Said made the pilgrimage to the fence to throw stones.
But what is happening north of the border seems trivial when compared to the southern side, where the IDF has been recruiting and training volunteer "emergency teams" among Israel's northern townships. These volunteers receive strict open-fire orders: No shooting back at anything that comes over the border - even incendiary bombs - unless it results in Israeli casualties.
WELCOME to the New Middle East. Here, in all its glory, is that utopia which acquiescence to Arab territorial demands can obtain for us.
And it looks rather frighteningly like the old Middle East. Not the Middle East of the pre-Oslo intifada days, or even that of the early years of the state, before the Six Day War - but the Middle East of the prestate Jewish yishuv, where we relied for our defense on that famous farmer with his hoe in one hand and his gun in the other. Israel, we are told, has the strongest army in the Middle East: It can afford to take risks for peace. Yet now, that army apparently no longer believes it can defend our northern border. In the New Middle East, it has to train civilians to do the job.
Proponents of a summit deal might argue that the Palestinian situation is different. Unlike with Lebanon, we are aiming for a signed agreement with the Palestinians - one in which they will pledge to abjure violence. Unfortunately, most of the differences between the Palestinians and Lebanon point in the other direction.
To start with, we have never had a signed peace agreement with the Lebanese. One could therefore hope that if we had one, they might honor it. But we have had several signed agreements with the Palestinians over the last seven years - and this experience teaches that a Palestinian promise to abjure violence is not worth the paper it is printed on.
The Palestinians also pledged to abandon violence in the original Oslo Accord of 1993, and in every agreement they have signed with Israel since. This has not prevented armed conflict between the Palestinian Police and the IDF in the past, and it is even less likely to do so in the future, now that the 40,000-member "police force" has openly begun military training - ranging, according to press reports, from division-level exercises locally to sending senior officers overseas to train with foreign armies.
Even more important, our dispute with Lebanon is now truly of minor dimensions: a few meters here and there along the border. But the Palestinians are still claiming the right of return to Jaffa and Lod. This is a dispute of major proportions, which constitutes a far greater pretext for further violence - and no territorial concession in the West Bank will make it disappear.
Finally, if Barak does concede over 90 percent of the West Bank to an independent Palestinian state, the potential danger is much greater - because the new border, unlike that with Lebanon, would run on high ground directly overlooking, and directly alongside, our major population centers.
But perhaps, after all, that is wise: It creates more potential recruits for our civilian "emergency teams." (Jerusalem Post July 18)