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
December 7, 2001
Issue number 356
Expel Arafat By George Will
Coming from the territory for which Yasser Arafat is responsible, terrorists last weekend killed 26 Israelis, a portion of Israel's population that is equal to 1,240 Americans. America is projecting power halfway around the world to collapse the Taliban regime because it harbors terrorists.
It would be disgusting for America to call for Israeli "restraint" and to disapprove if Israel cleanses its back yard of Arafat's Palestinian Authority regime that welcomes terrorists except when, to distract America, it yet again promises to pass a few through the revolving doors of PA jails.
It is time for a novel approach to the war between Israel and Arafat's Palestinian Authority. The approach should begin with wisdom from a Donald Westlake novel mordantly titled "What's The Worst That Could Happen?"
Westlake's amiable crooks want to rob a Las Vegas casino, but don't know how. One of them says he has a lot of ideas, but Westlake writes: "A whole lot of ideas isn't a plan. . . . Ideas without a plan is usually just enough boulders to get you into the deep part of the stream, and no way to get back."
The latest U.S. idea is to send retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni to pick up the shards of the last idea, which was to send CIA Director George Tenet to implement former Sen. George Mitchell's idea for a cease-fire followed by a cooling off period followed by "confidence-building" measures.
The idea of the Mitchell plan is that neither side is to blame - neither Israel, which wants to exist, nor the Palestinians who do not want it to; neither the Palestinians who want to plant nail bombs on buses, nor Israel, which would prefer the Palestinians not do that. Rather, a mutual lack of "confidence" is to
There is this much truth in that idea: The Palestinian Authority lacks confidence in Israel's willingness to commit suicide, and Israel lacks confidence that the PA will stop insisting on suicide as part of a "peace" agreement.
The idea behind dispatching Mitchell was to pick up where Dennis Ross left off. Ross' task, which he undertook with the energy and wisdom of a beaver, was to oversee the Oslo "peace process," which turned on Arafat's renunciation of violence. That process has required lots of overseeing, considering that terrorists have killed more Israelis in the eight years since Oslo began in 1993 than in the 45 years of Israel's existence before that.
The idea behind Oslo was for Israel to "take a risk for peace" - as though getting on a bus, visiting a pizzeria or disco and walking down a street are not risky enough for Israelis. Israel would take a risk by yielding something tangible, control of land, for something intangible, Arafat's promises of peace. Israel did that. The current war refutes the Oslo idea.
The idea behind Oslo was to capitalize on the "spirit of Madrid," an Israeli-Palestinian conference convened in 1991, in the aftermath of the Gulf War. The idea behind Madrid was. . . . Does anyone remember?
You must remember this. On Aug. 31, Arafat, world's senior terrorist, did a star turn - at one point strolling with America's senior friend of terrorists, Jesse Jackson - in Durban, South Africa, at a U.N. orgy of hate directed against Israel and the United States and bearing an Orwellian title: World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
It was the kind of sewer of ideas that prepares the climate for the sort of things that happened in America 11 days after the conference opened, and what happened last weekend in Israel.
Now Israel should be as bold in its self-defense as America is being in its. In 1982, Israel drove Arafat and his thugs from Lebanon to Tunisia. He and his thugocracy have earned another expulsion from the eastern end of the Mediterranean.
If he cannot control his territory, it is in anarchy and Israel must subdue it. If he can control it but won't, he has earned expulsion under the principle America cites in expelling the Taliban from power.
If expulsion strikes the U.S. State Department as, well, immoderate, here is a moderate version of the idea: When next the peripatetic Arafat flies off to visit world capitals, Israel should not let him come back: He cannot land in PA territory if Israel does not let him.
That is more than an idea. It is a plan. (Washington Post Dec 4)
Strategy for Israel: a Real Peace Plan By Aaron Mannes
The pair of suicide bombings that struck Israel this weekend, leaving 25 dead and over 170 injured has come on top of 14 months of violent confrontation with the Palestinians producing daily Israeli casualties and several previous suicide attacks. But while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned Arafat as ultimately responsible for the terrorism — he did not call for an end to Arafat's regime.
Israel's Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer explains his opposition to toppling Arafat and the PA saying, "What comes the day after needs to be considered." Israel stares into the post-Palestinian Authority (PA) abyss and hesitates from taking the final step.
Israelis want an easy way out of the intractable Palestinian problem.
Consequently many have embraced the delusion that the right alchemy of concessions and threats will ultimately force Arafat to make a deal. Other Israelis propose separation, building a wall around a Palestinian state and waiting for a moderate Palestinian leadership to arise.
After eight years it is apparent that Arafat viewed the peace process as akin to the Trojans opening their gates and wheeling in the horse. Throughout the peace process, his official statements of his demands have not varied one iota. At the same time he created a fertile soil for Intifada by radicalizing Palestinian society. He destroyed the reasonably prosperous Palestinian economy through massive corruption. He founded an education system and media that spat vile, anti-Semitic hate. He governed by fiat and created a multi-tentacled security apparatus to destroy civil society and the rule of law.
Separation is also not workable. Mortars and artillery will fly over the wall, terrorists will get through it. An isolated Palestinian society will not produce moderates. The thugocracy will become even stronger. Israel will create a mini-Afghanistan on its borders.
The easy solution Israel seeks does not exist. There are no moderates in the PA hierarchy to succeed Arafat. The Palestinian opposition is Hamas, the radical Islamist terrorist organization. So, Israel sticks with Arafat — the devil it knows.
But there is another way, a difficult path. Israel must foster a moderate Palestinian leadership that can make peace. The first step will be to eliminate the PA which silences voices of moderation. Israel has a range of diplomatic, financial, and military options that could effectively eliminate the PA, without completely reoccupying Gaza and the West Bank. Legally, the PA exists through treaties signed with Israel. Israel has many grounds on which to abrogate these agreements. Financially it is dependent on funds transferred through Israel. Israeli military operations could end the PA within days — if not hours. This will be the easy part.
The hard part will be building a lawful, peaceful Palestinian society. Israel will have to identify and cultivate moderate local leaderships. It will have to consistently reward and protect those who cooperate and firmly isolate and punish those who do not.
It will be an awesome challenge for such a small country. But after World War II, the United States rebuilt Germany and Japan as liberal democracies. Israel's resources vis-à-vis the Palestinians are comparable to the resources possessed by the United States vis-à-vis Germany and Japan.
Israel's democracy is far from perfect. It is wracked by a range of social and economic problems. But the United States of 1945 was segregated and had interned hundreds of thousands of Americans of Japanese origin. Nonetheless, the core values of liberal democracy in the United States were strong enough to rebuild Germany and Japan. For all of its flaws Israel has been a democracy under the most trying circumstances and is committed to the values that underpin democracy.
These values may find a receptive audience among the Palestinians. Before the Intifada began, many Palestinians were asking provocative questions about Palestinian society and the future Palestinian state. Some spoke admiringly of Israeli democracy and lamented the absence of democracy in the Arab world. Many railed against PA corruption. A few Palestinians asked deeper questions about the mounting violence pervading Palestinian society. Palestinians were beginning to discuss problems facing Palestinian society without reflexively blaming Israel.
But eight years of Arafat have ravaged Palestinian society. The unending violence, grinding poverty, and chilling calls for child-martyrs have torn the social fabric of Palestinian society. The Palestinians need peace to recover from their self-inflicted wounds.
It is conceivable that, with Israeli guidance, freedom could take hold among the Palestinians. Proximity to Israel, a successful liberal democracy with a first world economy, is an invaluable asset for the Palestinians. This proximity also means Israel cannot ignore Palestinian development. Building a moderate Palestinian polity will not be easy. But it will not be possible until Arafat and the PA are removed. (National Review Dec 4)
'Israel or Arafat' By William Safire
After his meeting with President Bush and just before flying back to his stunned and bloodied Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon returned the call of a longtime supporter.
Is he depressed in the face of all the carnage? The latest reports were of nearly 30 Israelis dead, hundreds injured, in three suicide bombings over the weekend, coordinated by free-roaming terrorists to greet the latest American peacemaker.
"Not depressed but determined," Sharon replied. "We are in a war. It is a war. Our casualties in the past week, in proportion to the population of the U.S. — it is as if 2,000 Americans were killed. It all comes down to this: Israel or Arafat."
Did President Bush put on any pressure to refrain from retaliation? "I didn't feel any pressure. On the contrary, he understands the situation in the area and the need to put pressure on Arafat."
What about your requirement that no peace talks could be held until there were seven days of quiet — did Bush, who called for the breakup of Hamas, suggest you shorten that time?
"Nothing was said about the seven days; nobody raised that. We are in a life-and-death struggle and we will never negotiate under the pressure of fire and blood. Though we want peace, there can be no talks unless the terror organizations are dismantled, their heads arrested and put away."
In their talk, which Sharon twice stressed was "friendly," the president briefed the prime minister about the war in Afghanistan. Sharon, with a veteran soldier's feel for terrain, seemed genuinely impressed with Bush's familiarity with the details of the air and ground campaign to find and destroy al Qaeda. "He showed courageous leadership in going all out in his war on one of the centers of terror. It's clear to me he's determined to win." (Determination is evidently a central value for this Israeli.)
What happens next? "Monday night we will have a meeting of the whole cabinet. We will take the necessary steps to make secure the lives of our people. In the past," he admitted, "because we wanted peace, we did not do enough. I will urge the cabinet to take wider, harder steps to arrest the terrorists, to cause them casualties."
What about the idea of building a wall separating Israelis from Palestinians? "No. You can cross a wall. And we are not going to capture Zone A," the land Palestinians now control.
Can Israel make peace with Yasir Arafat? "Arafat has a strategy of terror. He has assembled a coalition of terror — the Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian police, his own presidential guard." Sharon does not see Arafat as the peace partner harassed by radical elements he cannot control. "They are all together now, acting to carry out the strategy of terror. Arafat provides them all the help and support and cover and money."
It strikes me that the only way to avert a full-scale war between Palestinians and Israelis — a war in which the terror coalition against Israel would suffer the fate of the Taliban in Afghanistan — is to await the outcome of the necessary civil war among Palestinians.
If Arafat or his successor wants to separate non-terrorist Palestinians from the coalition at war with Israel, let him use his formidable army first to discipline itself and then to crush Hamas and the rest of the terror coalition. If non-terrorist Palestinians win, the U.S. can facilitate peace negotiations; if they lose to the terrorists spoiling for a war, Israel will wage that war until it wins permanent security for its citizens and, as victor, sets the terms for peace.
No nation or international group can be an honest broker between a democracy under attack and a terrorist coalition on the march. The time for such misguided U.S. "evenhandedness" is long past. The time for Palestinians to decide their own fate is now — antiterrorism and a peaceful state of their own, or terrorism and defeat.
As he left for home, Arik Sharon made this final point to a nation that shares democratic values and, like Israel, shares the agony of having its civilians as the targets of suicide bombers: "You in America are in a war against terror. We in Israel are in a war against terror. It's the same war." (New York Times Dec 3)
The Heroes of Jerusalem By Naomi Ragen
We walk through the raining bombs, hoping not to get wet. We swim through the bodies of the fallen and dead, clutching hope to our breast that at least it is not one of our own, our child, our friend, our neighbor. At least, that.
And the morning after the ambulances, the fire, the explosions, the body bags, the blood that fills the holy streets of Jerusalem by those who in their arrogance assert their right to the holiest city in the world by slaughtering her peaceful, true citizens, I have seen heroes.
They are all around me.
The mother in Jerusalem walking her little girl to school, the morning after.
The nineteen year-old girl soldier in Jerusalem, leaving home with her green backpack, chewing bubble gum, waiting quietly for her ride back to her army base.
The high school students carrying books who stand at the bus stop, waiting to go to school.
The woman who owns the watch shop, whose glass was shattered by an exploding terrorist car, who opens the doors of her store to the public, the morning after.
The bandaged young girl in the hospital bed, struggling to breathe, to live, to overcome her terrible injuries, the morning after.
The young chassid, in his yellow Zakah stripes, who appears on television after a night of gathering human remains so that they may be buried with blessing in holy ground.
The bus drivers, who keep to their routes in Jerusalem’s streets.
The policemen, fatigue-plagued, who continue to scour Jerusalem’s streets, to put their lives on the front line, the morning after.
And my son, who answers me when I say: You don’t have to go to school this morning, with: “I know. I never have to go. I don’t have to live here either. I choose to.” Who takes his books, and heads into the center of our beloved Jerusalem.
Each act of normalcy, each tiny step, lays claim anew to this, the heart of the Jewish people; the capital of Israel, the city of David, the temple of King Solomon. For three thousand years, we Jews have honored her: praying in her direction, sitting in ashes and fasting on the day of her destruction, remembering her with longing , love, and mourning with every prayer we say, every wedding we consecrate, every new born child we welcome into our fold.
There are heroes all around me. Their courage, their willingness to sacrifice everything that is most dear on this earth to every human being in order to cling to her soil, her promise, her sanctity; to preserve this treasure for the Jewish people, is an act of heroism.
I honor them. I weep for them. I pray for their well-being and their safety and their victory over those barbarians without conscience or a spark of human decency who never cease to press their counter-claims to this city with their bombs, their exploding human flesh, their flying nails, their chemicals and sharp metal objects meant to penetrate soft human flesh, hearts, lungs, skulls. For them, it is so easy: Unlike our Jewish bible, which mentions Jerusalem 669 times, their Koran never mentions it at all. Like the false mother in the Judgement of Solomon, they prefer to destroy Jerusalem rather than allow those who truly love her to live within her boundaries. This destruction will be their victory over the G-d of Abraham, and his legitimate offspring, those who have chosen to follow in his ways. The blackened rubble, the fresh graves, will be a cause for their rejoicing, as they rejoiced at the unspeakable rubble of melting steel and human flesh they created in the heart of another great city, New York.
May G-d bring His blessings on the heroes and heroines of Jerusalem. May He comfort her mourners. And may He destroy her enemies - the enemies of all decent humankind- and all those who support them, understand them, plead their cause, and wish them victory. (NaomiRagen.com Dec 2)
Our Hearts Have Become Hardened By Nadav Shragai
It is a joke to ask the PA to combat terrorism - the PA is the terrorism.
Months of Palestinian terrorism have dulled the sensitivity of the Israeli public to blood and carnage. During the weeks between the major attacks at the Dolphinarium discotheque in Tel Aviv, the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, and the Ben Yehuda mall in Jerusalem, more Israelis have been killed and injured than in all of these three attacks put together. It is not by choice, but the people walking this endless, bloody road have become hardened.
How often can one experience horror and anger, and shed tears, and become emotionally upset by another casualty? Another two? Another three? It is not that the source of our tears has dried up, nor that our hearts are unfeeling - God forbid - for the mourning and loss of the families of those who killed, and the suffering of the injured and their relatives.
But the regular ritual has built psychological defense mechanisms in many people. An attack with "a small number" of victims makes do with a passing glance in the newspaper - crammed and flamboyant as the terror reports may be - and go on to other pages. In the past many stayed glued to the television or radio for hours, couldn't tear themselves away. Now many flee from the frequent reports of terrorist attacks, as they have always fled for decades from reports of road traffic carnage.
Such hardening of the heart does not come just from acceptance or denial, or from an unconscious buildup of defense mechanisms, but also from losing our way. At the head of the Israeli government stands a man who only a year ago was "Mr. Security" - a man who has failed the test of bringing results. The personal security of the nation's citizens has never been lower than it is today. Never - since 1948 - has the daily routine of so many citizens been disrupted for so long a period as since Rosh Hashana 1991).
This war, the Oslo war, is most like the 1948 War of Independence or the Arab riots of 1936. It is waged in the outlying areas and on the home front, at road junctions, on the way to schools, in buses, in cafes, in pizzerias, on the seam line, on the front line, along the length and breadth of the country. It is designed to make us disintegrate from within, and some Israeli Arabs and their leaders are not ashamed to join in. Some openly identify with the terror, and occasionally even take part in it.
The Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security forces, trying to run a policy of pinpoint prevention, deserves admiration and appreciation - but the method is pathetic. If Palestinian terrorism were an uncontrolled malignancy in a civilized environment, it would be possible to conduct a "tweezer war" against it, but the war is against an enemy whose natural environment is itself the uncontrolled malignancy.
The population, the media and the government institutions of the Palestinian Authority [PA] provide backing and support for terrorism. The distinction between the PA, and Hamas, and Islamic Jihad - which the Sharon-Peres government still preserves as a future partner - is a failure. It is a joke to demand that the PA combat terrorism - the PA is the terrorism. About 50 percent of the attacks have been carried out by its members and its apparatus, and many of the remaining 50 percent have benefited from its assistance or from the fact that it has turned a blind eye.
The PA media preach terrorism, PA Chairman Arafat and his associates praise the shahids [Islamic martyrs - the suicide bombers], and PA schools educate for hatred and murder of Jews. Despite all this, the PA has not been defined as an enemy, or as a "authority supporting terrorism." With his partner Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has totally failed to create any of the deterrence he has talked about so much. There is no strategy of transferring the fighting to enemy territory. Even the PA's official voices of incitement, its radio and television stations, enjoy immunity, although the differences between them and the broadcast station of the Hezbollah - which Israel did not spare bombing - have become blurred.
The solution to this cannot be political. A political achievement will only encourage terrorism to continue striking at us so as to chalk up additional political achievements. Anyone who tries to turn the PA into a state will quickly discover he has exchanged a terrorist authority for a terrorist state. The Oslo concept will look like a small failure compared to the concept of a Palestinian state. It will have access to better means of carrying out attacks and to more protection and immunity on the part of the world, and the obstacles to an Israeli military operation against it will only become even greater.
The unpopular solution, especially among those who still have a hard time letting go of the Oslo illusion, is a military solution - even at the price of "unity," which is becoming more of a liability than an advantage. That is an ugly, Afghanistan-style solution. War, after all, is an ugly business, but it is the Palestinians' choice, not ours.
The PA has to be overthrown, even at the price of a reoccupation of some of its territories. The Israeli public has found it hard to let go of the Oslo concept, and has paid a high price for it. It must understand that the more we delay making this vital decision, the higher the price we will pay in the future. (Ha’aretz Dec 3)
A Moment for Truth By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
In the wake of three murderous attacks on Israeli civilians last weekend, Secretary of State Colin Powell was moved to declare that "It is a moment of truth, Mr. Arafat." It would be more accurate to describe this as a moment for truth.
There really is no choice. It is not enough that the death and destruction meted out by suicide bombers intent on killing as many Jews — and, in particular, young Israelis — as possible has caused Secretary Powell and, his boss, President Bush to call on the Palestinian Authority's Yasser Arafat for a crackdown on the people surrounding and allied with him who are responsible for this terror. Similar demands in the past have never received a serious and sustained response. The absence of any penalties for such behavior has only served to reinforce the Arabs' contemptuous disregard of American injunctions to act.
Neither would it be sufficient if the Palestinians' latest bloodletting in Israel had the effect of granting a reprieve — especially if it is but a temporary one — for the Jewish State from the recently intensifying American pressure for more Israeli territorial and other concessions. To be sure, President Bush deserves credit for exercising restraint during Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the White House on Sunday.
Under the circumstances, however, Mr. Bush had no choice but to eschew Secretary Powell's campaign to euchre Mr. Sharon into abandoning his precondition that there be at least seven days without violence before committing to a renewed cease-fire with the Palestinians. In the same way, the president should dispense with any further loose talk about a Palestinian state and official declarations that Israel should facilitate its early creation.
Necessary as these steps are, they are no longer sufficient. Now we need the whole truth and nothing but the truth. These are some of the harsh realities that can no longer be ignored, that need now to be publicly acknowledged and made the basis of future Mideast policy by the Bush administration:
· The so-called Middle East "peace process," begun with secret Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Oslo, has materially contributed to the present, catastrophic situation. Successive concessions made in the name of advancing the "peace process" by both Labor- and Likud-led governments of Israel have not appeased demands for further concessions, only whetted Arab appetites for more.
· Thanks especially to the decision taken at Oslo to allow Mr. Arafat to return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to create what amounts to a proto-state there and to arm its tens of thousands of "police" with automatic weapons (and, covertly, with heavier armaments), Israel has made itself vastly less secure than it was prior to 1992. Converting the Palestinian Authority into a sovereign state, with internationally recognized borders, would do nothing to prevent suicide bombers from finding safe haven and launching attacks from its lands — just add enormously to Israel's costs in contending with that threat.
· The folks who brought us the Oslo "peace process" and its progeny have been thoroughly discredited by their handiwork. The last people President Bush and Ariel Sharon should be taking advice from in the present crisis are the likes of Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, State Department Policy Planning Staff Director Richard Haass, Arabists in the Bush administration who are holdovers from the Clinton era and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Britain turned to new leadership after the appeasers got it into World War II; President Bush must do the same, not allow their contemporary counterparts to compound the danger they have helped to inflict on American interests in the Middle East and her most important ally in that region, Israel.
· Yasser Arafat remains committed to the destruction of the State of Israel. This is evident in his speeches to his people in Arabic and the symbols (particularly the maps) he uses to describe his goals. He can no more be expected to end attacks on Israel by people who share his objectives than he can be relied upon to create a state of "Palestine" that will live, as President Bush put it recently, "side-by-side with Israel in peace and security."
· Arming some of Israel's neighbors to the teeth — notably, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose true colors are evident in the fact that their government-controlled media are allowed incessantly to broadcast venomous denunciations of Israel — is an inducement to renewed hostilities with the Jewish State, not conducive to a genuine and durable peace. The pending sale of lethal, land attack-capable Harpoon II missiles to Egypt is a case in point.
Of course, it will appear to be easier not to acknowledge these realities or other unpleasant truths. Too many people — including past and present senior U.S. officials — have much invested in the falsehoods that invest legitimacy in Mr. Arafat and his ilk and the "peace process" that has made the latter a far more dangerous threat to Israel.
Still, those murdered in Jerusalem and Haifa over the weekend will not have died in vain — and may even have spared many others from meeting their fate — if the terrorists who killed them really have compelled a moment for truth, one that gives rise to U.S. Mideast policies rooted in the hard facts as they are, not political expediency or wishful thinking.
The writer is the president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times. (Washington Times Dec 4)
Is Powell's Power Waning? By Lorne Gunter
His misjudgment of Israel suddenly seems out of step with Bush.
Is Colin Powell, the U.S. Secretary of State, another April Glaspie? Glaspie is infamous for just one thing. In July 1990, while she was U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Saddam Hussein allegedly queried her about possible American reaction to his planned invasion of Kuwait. Glaspie is reported to have replied "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab disputes like your border disagreements with Kuwait ... Kuwait is not associated with America."
With thousands of his troops already massed on the border with Kuwait, Hussein is said to have taken Glaspie's remarks as a sign the Americans would not be angered. Eight days later he ordered his army to attack.
Glaspie has always protested this version of events. But even if, as Tarik Aziz, Hussein's deputy prime minister at the time, later asserted, Glaspie "just listened and made general comments," rather than giving the green light usually ascribed to her, her failure to be frank and forceful likely contributed to the invasion, and to the subsequent Gulf War.
Did Powell recently do something similar? Did a speech he gave on November 19 at his alma mater, the University of Louisville in Kentucky, send the wrong signal to Palestinians? Did he contribute, if only in a small way, to the car and suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa this past weekend, bombings which have driven a stake through the heart of peace negotiations?
The Israeli cabinet, after months of demonstrating astonishing forbearance with ever escalating terror attacks and ever escalating death tolls, has declared the Palestinian Authority (PA) -- the thuggish government of most of the West Bank and Gaza, headed by Yasser Arafat -- a "terrorist supporting entity," and declared the Tanzim, the militia of Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO, and Force 17, his elite personal guard, to be terrorist organizations. Since Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, has also declared "war on terrorism" and those who support it, he is also presumably declaring war on the PA.
Almost no one in the West noticed Powell's speech, or cared if they did. The liberal magazine, The New Republic, reported that "the banality of Powell's address ... was breathtaking." There was an assurance of America's "enduring and ironclad commitment to Israel's security." And the usual paeans to a future in which the Middle East is peaceful, prosperous and democratic, "where all people worship God in a spirit of tolerance" -- all back-handed references to the inadequacies of the Arab states in the region.
Before condemning Israel for the deaths of "too many innocent Palestinians, including children," and demanding that "this, too, must stop," Powell balanced this by condemning the culture of violence that is spawned by the hatred of Israelis and Jews "that pours out of the (official Palestinian) media ... The incitement must stop." He chastised Palestinians for thinking they could achieve their goals other than through negotiations, and reminded them "real peace" would come only with full recognition of Israel's right to exist "free from terror as well as war."
But he also called the Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza an "occupation" no fewer than four times, and insisted it must end. He demanded Israel stop Jewish settlements in these lands, too, even though they take up less than two per cent of the area and are at least legal, if not justifiable.
Moreover, Powell called on Arafat to use his "moral authority" to persuade terrorists to desist. Moral authority!? From Arafat? And Powell reaffirmed his support for a Palestinian state.
Maybe all of this is insufficient to constitute a "green light" to Palestinian militants. But coupled with Powell's other statements and actions since Sept. 11, I can see where they might have overestimated his Louisville remarks.
Powell has repeatedly warned the Israelis not to retaliate against the heinous terrorist attacks they have suffered before and since the WTC and Pentagon attacks. He has fought to keep Hamas and Islamic Jihad off the list of targets in the war on terrorism, reasoning that their inclusion would offend Muslim coalition partners. He constantly criticizes Palestinian actions and Israeli reactions with equal moral indignation. He has sent his personal envoy to the Middle East to keep alive efforts of the last six months to broker a ceasefire, when only one side need to stop blowing up buses to get the other to stop shooting back.
Monday and Tuesday, though, George Bush, the U.S. president seemed to contradict his secretary of state, first by emphatically approving of Israel's right to defend its security, without reservation, and second, by shutting down an American fundraising front for Hamas. Significantly, Bush also did not entreaty Israel to use restraint when responding to this week's murders of 26 civilians. Even if Powell is not another Glaspie, let's hope his misjudgment on Israel will cause his influence to wane.
(Edmonton Journal Dec 5)
A Special Prayer for Chanukah 5762 From Aish Hatorah Toronto
This year, Chanukah comes at a time when the world is in upheaval and confusion. Our Chanukah prayers this year will echo the supplications of our ancestors when our Temple in Jerusalem was in jeopardy. This year we call for G-d’s renewed salvation. The premise of this call to action is that if we, the Jewish people, make a small effort to be closer to G-d and to each other, we can help spread the light of Chanukah - the light that expresses our deepest hopes for peace and security for our people and our land. This coming Sunday night, December 9, is the first night of Chanukah. By following these simple steps, you can be part of a communal effort to strengthen Jewish unity and show solidarity with our fellow Jews in Israel:
At dusk (or anytime after), place your menorah near a window, for all to see. Light one blue candle for the shammash, say the blessings for lighting the Chanukah candles and then light one white candle for the first night. Join together with Jews throughout the Toronto community, and recite this special prayer:
Dear G-d, Master of the Universe,
Humbled and frightened, we stand before You. As we kindle the Chanukah lights, we express our longing for peace. Help us bring light to the darkness and clarity to the confusion. Help us feel the pain of our nation and join together with all those who are suffering.
Through the kindling of our Chanukah lights, may we merit an end to our entire affliction. May the power and beauty of the candles’ glow awaken the light that is burning deep within us. May this light from within burst forth and spread to all corners of this earth until the whole world is enveloped in Your light of Peace, Your light of Joy, and Your light of Redemption. Amen.
As we gaze upon the warm glow of the blue and white candles, we pray that G-d will see our renewed commitment to Jewish brotherhood and peace, and favour us with the warm glow of Shalom.