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
September 7, 2001
Issue number 343
Tuesday: Twelve persons were wounded, one very critically, in a suicide bombing attack Tuesday in downtown Jerusalem near Bikur Cholim Hospital. Three people are listed in moderate condition. Shortly before 8 AM, two Border Guard policemen were alerted to a suspicious bearded male wearing religious garb. As the two began to cautiously approach the suspect and arrived within 3-4 meters of him, he saw them, smiled, and detonated a powerful bomb inside a large bag he was holding. One of the policemen was critically wounded; after being taken for emergency treatment in Bikur Cholim, he was soon transported to the trauma unit of Hadassah Hospital. Doctors have been working throughout the day to try and save his life. His colleague is described in light condition, with shrapnel and puncture wounds from the bolts and nails in the bomb. Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy said that the two had prevented an attack "many times more grave." This attack occurred about one block from Sbarro Restaurant, the site of the August 9th suicide bombing attack that claimed 15 lives.
Monday: Early in the morning, one explosive went off under a parked truck in Ma'alot Daphna near Ramat Eshkol, while another one blew up close to midnight in a building in the northern neighborhood of French Hill. Around 8 AM, a car blew up in the French Hill shopping center, while at the same time in the south, a bomb was detonated in the trunk of a municipality vehicle in Gilo. Six people were lightly injured in all, and two were treated for shock. The police assume that one cell was responsible for all four bombs - including the car in Gilo, which had been parked at night in a nort hern neighborhood - and that their intention was to hit children on their way to school. In fact, an eyewitness to the second French Hill explosion said that it was a miracle that the bomb did not wound many children. "It was just a matter of minutes, or less, because that is where the #4 bus drops off many children on their way to school," he said. A group calling itself the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades took responsibility for the bombings. The group is named for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader slain by Israel last week. (arutzsheva.org Sep 3,4)
Israel-Arab Terrorist Cell Arrested
An "escalation" in the increasingly hostile relationship between Arab citizens and the country in which they live: A cell of 16-year-old Israeli-Arabs from a village in the Galilee has been apprehended on charges of placing a bomb at the Golani Junction, west of Tiberias, last week. The bomb was found by soldiers and was detonated in a controlled explosion, causing no casualties. The young terrorists were awaiting instructions for further attacks from their Fatah Tanzim handlers in the PA-controlled city of Jenin. (arutzsheva.org Sep 5)
Peres Explains Why Israel Left; Gush Shalom Has a Different Approach
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, explaining the Israeli decision to withdraw from the World Conference Against Racism in Durban Monday, said, "We regret very much the very bizarre show in Durban. An important convention that was supposed to defend human rights became a source of hatred, a show of unfounded accusation, a reverse to every responsibility on the international arena...In 53 years since the establishment of Israel, we were attacked five times with an attempt to overpower us and to bring an end to the State of Israel. We stand alone, outnumbered, outgunned, and we defended our lives. We won all the wars, we won a lot of territories. We gave back the territories, the water, the oil to Egypt. We gave back the land, the water to Jordan. We have withdrawn unilaterally from Lebanon in accordance with UN Resolution 425. We offered to the Syrians an exchange of land for peace. We have offered the Palestinians something that no Arab country did before us, because the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were under Arab control. We offered them an independent state. We offered them to withdraw from most of the territories. We offered them a position in Jerusalem. They have rejected it. Instead, there was the intifada, and even today there were four bombs in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. I want to thank the United States of America that took an extremely courageous position in favor to make the world look more responsible, more balanced, more truthful... I want also to express my thanks to 43 countries that took a clear position against this unbelievable attempt to smear Israel with false colors - among them, in addition to the United States: the Republic of Russia, India, the members of the European Union, the countries of East Europe, most of the countries in Latin America, many countries in Africa. We know there are two leagues which began leagues of hatred to Israel - the Arab League, which calls for belligerency, for boycott, for severing relations, for bringing an end to the peaceful efforts; and the Moslem League." Peres explained afterwards that the 43 countries to which he had referred did not officially vote, but rather "expressed themselves against the proposal." Only hours after the Israeli delegation walked out of the international conference in protest, the Gush Shalom "peace" organization announced its sympathies with the opinions of those who call Israel an "apartheid and racist state." Referring to the Durban conference's resolutions against Israel, Gush Shalom grudgingly admitted that "some of the formulations may have helped to present it" as if the resolutions were anti-Semitic - and then continued in the same breath, "Yet... a senior officer of the Israeli police [Alik Ron] is making abundantly clear that he considers 20% of Israel's citizens - the Arabs - as enemies..." The reference is to Ron's statements that he considers a threat to the State those Israeli-Arabs who call for Israel's destruction. (arutzsheva.org Sep 4)
What Could Have Happened
The recent arrest of six PFLP terrorists nipped in the bud a series of serious terrorist attacks and murders in Jerusalem. The apprehended Arabs admitted that they had been responsible for the car bomb near Jerusalem's main police station two weeks ago as well as the watermelon bomb found in a bus a month ago. Neither caused any casualties - but the terrorists also confessed to planning the following potentially catastrophic attacks: Bombs in a crowded theater, the French Hill junction, and a kindergarten on Bar-Lev St., as well a car bomb opposite the American consulate, kidnapping of soldiers, murder using silencers, and more. confess their plans, but their hopes were dashed with the killing of Mustafa and today's news. (A7 Sep 4)
Anti-Semitism in Palestinian Authority Textbooks
A German representative in the European Union Parliament who was recently shown an English translation of Palestinian Authority textbooks said that he intends to act to halt all EU funding of PA educational institutions and authorities "until all the Palestinian textbook passages antagonistic to Israel are removed." As an example of the texts that raised his ire, representative Armin Laschet of the Christian Democratic Party cited a passage from a PA textbook on Islam that calls upon high-school students to beware of the Jews, because they are "deceitful and disloyal," and another text that blames European anti-Semitism on Jewish greed and fanaticism. The official PA newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida was quick to respond, quoting Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Peter Hansen, as saying last week, "We cannot expect a people under occupation to have textbooks which idealize, praise and express love for their occupiers." Observers noted that Israeli textbooks do not "idealize, praise and express love" for the Palestinians, but neither do they malign them or disseminate hatred towards them. While PA Deputy Education Minister Na'im Abu-Humus denied the existence of the offensive texts, PLO leader Yasser Arafat confirmed that they are indeed in use in PA educational institutions - but he explained to Laschet that the textbooks are from the Jordanian school system and that the PA does not have the funds to replace them. Laschet countered by saying that the Palestinians receive 300 million Euros from the EU, "and they certainly can bear the cost of publishing new textbooks." (A7/PMW Sep 2)
"Today we are burying my brother Meir. It hurts us to no end, we simply cannot absorb it... All of Am Yisrael [the Nation of Israel] is in pain, every home, every party, a word that doesn't belong here at all. Am Yisrael - we are strong, we are strong. Let us not become confused by the tears and the pain. We are here. We will hold on to this Land, to this belief, as much as we need, as much as we can. We are all acting to the best of our understanding as to what is G-d's will......Mr. Sharon and heads of our state: Be strong, and go forward. Don't look at the other nations. They don't understand the essence of what Am Yisrael is. They are just waiting - yes, they are waiting for you to do what is right - justice, ethics, love of kindness - this is what is incumbent upon us, and incumbent upon you as the head of our state. Mr. Sharon, the nation is strong, don't be confused......Mr. Sharon, draw from the strengths that we are all granting you, all of Am Yisrael - with the residents of Gush Katif and Yesha, who are "more precious than gold," at the helm - they who are busy every single day, despite facing this terrible violence, with settling the Land, with Life in the Land of Israel. They have fears like every normal person, but with belief in the truth of their way, of our way...Mr. Sharon, and all Jews everywhere, and especially those living in Zion - Continue! Build life, build communities, bring children into the world, many many children......Meir, Abba and Ima always instilled in you and in us the values of love of people, love of land... faith in our way, the way of our forefathers. You always took pains to strengthen and encourage others... we will try to go in your footsteps as much as we can. You so much loved to study, to be next to holy people who are so very simple, but who are actually very great. Meir, you made it. You were worthy of it..." - Gila Lixenberg eulogizing her brother Meir, a father of five who was murdered by terrorists last week on his way home to Itamar. (A7 Aug 31)
Ten Reasons to Be Optimistic about Israel's Future By Avi Davis and Bennett Zimmerman
In the midst of suicide bombings that kill innocent citizens and sniper fire that takes the lives of pregnant mothers, it is difficult indeed to have hopeful thoughts. Yet despite the wave of pessimism that has washed over the country in recent months, there are nevertheless some very good reasons to believe that the State of Israel has a strong future, filled with promise. We would like to present a few of those reasons now.
History shows that Arab civil rebellions tend to exhaust themselves when the gains achieved from continued violence are no longer apparent. Both the Arab rebellion of 1936-39 and the first Intifada of 1987 -1992 degenerated into bitter blood feuds and honor killings. In fact, in both prior instances, far more Arabs died by Arab hand than by the prevailing government at the time - whether British or Israeli. Historically misled, exploited and extorted by successive regimes, the Palestinians have suffered devastation brought upon them by their own leaders. The first signs of cracking in the Palestinian veneer are now in evidence and internal collapse may be fast approaching.
With the final recognition that peace, at the level contemplated by the authors of the Oslo Accords, is not attainable, Israel still holds almost all its negotiating assets in hand. As great as the threat posed by terrorist groups with sanctuary inside Israeli borders, it must be remembered that Israel holds the majority of the territories including all borders and major access routes throughout the land. Therefore, the country does not face an existential threat from the PA and is in a position to eliminate the PA, if hostilities escalate. While no one can be happy with either the level of current hostilities, or the prospect of a war, Israelis should celebrate the fact that they arrived before any further withdrawals occurred, or any Israeli community was dismantled.
When Ariel Sharon took office he made a statement that the War of Independence had not yet ended and that Israel, despite its peace treaties was still in a struggle for its survival. This dose of realism, injected into a society that had become drunk on the vision of a New Middle East, was brought home by Arafat's murderous Intifada. And although very painful, it has given Israelis a sense that the ordeals of the past cannot be seen in isolation and that life must continue with a new reality. As difficult as this is to bear, its realization makes us stronger as a people and gives us strength to face the future with stoicism.
Yasser Arafat and his mini-war have united Israelis in a way the Palestinian leader could not have imagined possible. Those who promoted Arafat as a peace partner are progressively being rendered irrelevant as the Palestinians' leader's true nature and intentions have been revealed. In this way, a national unity government, reflecting a broad consensus will continue in power until the danger to Israelis is removed. In short, Israel is standing up, together, to face its moment of truth. And the nation of Israel will come out of this period stronger, and better, for it.
On the ground, 150,000 Palestinians have left the land for Jordan and beyond. Yasser Arafat can't leave Gaza for two days without riots and challenge to his authority. While the press always tips its hat to the supposed underdog, the Palestinian leaders are no closer to gathering international observers or achieving any concrete goal from months of conflict. Instead, they have brought death and devastation to their people. Reports from villagers all over the territories report disaffection with Arafat and an equal sense of despair. Sooner or later they will realize that their only path to a viable existence runs directly through the office of the Prime Minister of Israel.
Whoever predicts that the future has been predetermined by current demographic trends or the concessions already made at Camp David - is wrong. In 1987, during the first Intifada, who could have imagined that over one million immigrants would arrive from the former Soviet Union in a decade's time. Continued economic growth is likely to attract stream of immigrants dedicated to Israel. Nor can we even predict the demographic shifts among our Arab neighbors. Already, a record number of Arabs in eastern Jerusalem are choosing to apply for Israeli citizenship, rather than risk entering the domain of the corrupt P.A. The corrupt administration that is the P.A. will have a tough time holding its own people loyal to a constant state of conflict and poverty.
Rather than become a dirty word or a movement whose time has passed, we instead see a new embrace of the movement that has liberated the Jewish people. Israeli schools are once again alive with texts that celebrate and educate the nation's youth of Israeli remarkable history and the beauty of Israeli culture. There are other phenomena as well: the immense support enjoyed by the national unity government headed by Ariel Sharon; a dramatic lessening of religious, political, and ethnic tensions: the impressive endurance in the face of frequent suicide attacks, ceremonies, reserve soldiers demanding to be recruited, and even an attacks by stalwart founding fathers of the left wing academic establishment, such as professor Shlomo Avinery against Ha'aretz for being " post-Zionist."
Israelis living within the Green Line have learned that they can no longer make such stark distinctions between themselves and those living on the other side of it. When a bus traveling in the heart of Tel Aviv is as much a target as a minivan taking a family home from wedding in the territories, the borders - both physical and ideological have become blurred . In the meantime, the new confrontation line communities have not weakened and new families have signed up to move in and strengthen those communities. No matter which side of the green line they inhabit, their painful struggles have gained respect and support from those who once vilified them.
For the first time in this generation, many Jewish communities are finding that their own position is challenged when Israel is under attack. Jewish communities in France, Argentina, South Africa, and even some in the USA, face new outbreaks of anti-Semitism. There is a new realization that a world which respects Israel, will also respect the Jewish people. Over the past decade Diaspora communities could choose whether to involve Israel in their own communal identity. Today, it is clear that the health of each community is tied to the fate of Israel. While many might have tried, there is no Jewish community in the world that sleeps easily while Israel is under attack.
Israel has absorbed multiple shocks at once: the uprising, the crisis in tourism, construction slowdown, a worldwide economic recession and a once in a generation hi-tech meltdown. Yet this was not enough to destroy Israel'sfundamentally strong economy. Economic indicators reflect the possibility of economic stability in the private sector this year. Exports from defense industries have never been greater, the currency has held its own, and long delayed infrastructure projects are issued out for tender. Israel has its own successful multi-national companies that have maintained both their leadership and their profitability. With the recovery in the world economy, Israel will also prosper.
Although Israel is still in the throes of a terrible confrontation and struggle, it should be recognized that Yasser Arafat began his war against the Jewish state because he sensed moral collapse. But in doing so he unlocked within the Jewish people their greatest asset and its most formidable weapon - its hope. Hope is a commodity on which Jews have survived for millennia. It is the title of the national anthem. No one should believe that we do not have very good reasons for it today.
Moral Equivalency in Left's Condemnation of Israel By Don Feder
Moral equivalency is alive and well in the left's distorted vision of Middle East violence, where the targeting of terrorists is equated with the targeting of civilians, and those who send children into the streets to be shot are counted the same as those who are forced to shoot them.
During the Cold War, liberals excused Soviet atrocities with the most strained comparisons. Thus, when anti-communists complained about the treatment of Soviet dissidents, liberals replied that America had political prisoners, too. But our "political prisoners'' had committed real crimes (murder, robbery) motivated by ideology, whereas theirs had merely opened their mouths.
The same muddled thinking is regularly applied to Yasser Arafat's 11-month rampage. The death of Israeli children is balanced with the death of Palestinian children -- never mind how the deaths occurred.
The State Department is among the culprits. Last week, in response to a spate of bombings and continuing its policy of pinpoint strikes against terrorist kingpins, Israel took out Mustafa Zubari. "Israel needs to understand that targeted killings of Palestinians don't end the violence but are only inflaming an already volatile situation,'' complained State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. The "targeted killing of Palestinians''? Which Palestinians -- Palestinian accountants, Palestinian prima ballerinas? Zubari was the head of a gang called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an affiliate of Arafat's PLO. This year alone, he was responsible for car bombings in Jerusalem, Haifa and Or Yehuda. When the United States hit the Afghan bases of Osama bin Laden with cruise missiles in 1998, presumably, Boucher did not consider this "inflaming an already volatile situation." Would that we allowed our allies as much leeway in dealing with thugs. Boucher neglected to inform Israel precisely how it should respond to suicide bombs, car bombs and mortar attacks. Equating pre-emptive strikes on military targets with aggression against civilians is moral equivalence. But it's not the worst sort of moral equivalence. That was contained in a commentary by Jerry Long, who's syndicated by Knight-Ridder. In an especially nasty outpouring, Long rhetorically wondered what lessons Israel had learned from the Holocaust when it referred to its anti-terrorist policy as "liquidation.'' One must question the humanity, if not the sanity, of a writer who equates disposing of suicide-bomber dispatchers with the systematic slaughter of 6 million innocents. "If Arafat must exert greater control over his murderers, couldn't Ariel Sharon have come down from his perch above Sabra and Shatila to stop his people from bashing the heads of Palestinian children against stone walls?'' Long wondered. This refers to the killings at refugee camps outside Beirut in 1982 -- crimes committed by Lebanese militiamen. (Long apparently believes the Phalangists had converted to Judaism and joined the Israeli army.) When Time magazine implied that Sharon was responsible for the killings, the general sued for libel and was vindicated, not that this stops Israel-bashers from recycling a decades-old lie.
Arafat trains children to attack Israeli soldiers. He has them bused to flash points with stones and firebombs. Frequently, Palestinian gunmen stand behind human shields and fire on troops. As a result, children die. Arafat courts civilian casualties on his side for their propaganda value. Is this the same as: kidnapping two 14-year-old boys who are hiking near their homes, taking them to a cave and stoning them to death? Is it morally equivalent to looking through a rifle scope at an infant in its father's arms and deliberately blowing her head off? Is it comparable to ambushing a family on a highway, shooting up their car, killing the parents and wounding the children? Is it akin to walking into a crowded pizzeria at noon and detonating a bomb packed with nails that shred the flesh of toddlers? Those who excuse such atrocities with, "Oh, well, the Israelis fire rockets at Palestinian police stations (that harbor terrorists)," are only slightly less repugnant than the terrorists themselves. (townhall.com Sept 4)
Click on 'Send' By Michael Freund
Sporting a new determination to impose some order on my life, I finally began cleaning out my computer, erasing the hundreds of messages, unsolicited advertisements and other assorted clutter that fills up my e-mail system. So if you are still waiting for me to reply to a message you sent last February, don't give up hope - it should be coming any day now.
Cleaning out my word processor files has proven to be even more eventful, as I have found a couple of recent letters I wrote that I never got around to sending. But rather than going to the trouble of folding the paper and licking the envelope, I thought it would be easier to just click on the 'send' button, and let The Jerusalem Post do the rest of the work. So, here is a sampling of two letters from my "outbox":
Letter No. 1 - To Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat: It has been a while since I wrote a letter to an aging dictator, so I hope you won't mind if I am a little rusty.
I feel compelled to write because in the past year you have waged an unrelenting campaign of violence and terror, targeting innocent human beings in the streets, the malls and even in pizza parlors throughout Israel. You have killed a lot of people and destroyed many lives. But I want you to know one very simple thing: You will never break the Jewish people or its spirit. We did not survive two thousand years of exile, persecution, pogroms, Crusades, expulsions, forced conversions, martyrdom and Cossacks only to be defeated in our own homeland by a rag-tag band of cowardly terrorists. The Jewish people have come together like never before, united in fear but allied in fate, our determination to persevere fusing us all into a single entity whose will to live can never be crushed.
We are confident in the justness of our cause, unshaken in our belief that this land belongs to us, regardless of what your friends in Durban may think. The people of Israel offered you more than any other nation would possibly have been willing to give. Foolishly, you turned it down.
Yasser, you have no one to blame but yourself for the consequences. Your reign of terror will never be forgiven. You have earned yourself a place among history's most reviled figures. Many Israelis once sought to give you a state all your own. Now, most would prefer to see you put on trial for war crimes. You can travel the world as much as you like, bemoaning your fate and that of your people. But it won't make one bit of difference. For deep down, you know it as well as the rest of us: your time is up. History gave you an unprecedented chance, but you let it slip away. Israel does not want war, nor did we ask for it. But make no mistake, dear Yasser - if given no alternative, the Jewish people will know how to fight it. And win. The choice, as they say, is up to you. So stop now, before it is too late.
Letter No. 2 - To the Jews of Judea, Samaria, Gaza: For years, you have been abused by the media, disgraced and demonized at every opportunity. The world has assaulted your integrity, while our enemies have attacked you physically, accusing you of stealing their land and occupying their territory. Our own government, at times, has threatened you with forced evacuation, compelling you to live with unimaginable anxiety and incredible uncertainty. But I want you to know, I want each and every one of you to hear this: You are nothing less than modern-day heroes, sacrificing safety and physical comfort to reclaim the Land of Israel for the people of Israel. You are pioneers in every sense of the word, and do not let anyone convince you otherwise.
For the past few months, the Israeli media has been gleefully hoping and predicting that the start of the new school year would reveal that a mass exodus of Jews from the territories had taken place over the summer. The ongoing, daily grind of shootings, bombings and mortar attacks, they said, were certain to empty your ranks of all but the most faithful and committed. How wrong they were.
For not only has the number of Jewish students enrolled in schools in Judea, Samaria and Gaza increased, but so has the overall population, as Jews continue to build and settle all parts of our ancestral homeland. Some of you moved to the territories for religious or ideological reasons, others went because they were seeking a higher quality of life. But regardless of what brought you there, it is the fact that you are staying that is truly impressive. Despite the dangers, you remain resolute. At a time when heroes are few and disappointments are many, your courage and bravery stand out, inspiring us all.
Be strong, be strong, for through you, all of us are strengthened.
The writer served as deputy director of communications and policy planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999. (Jerusalem Post Sep 5)
The Price of Euphoria: Oslo helped disarm Israel and legitimize a terrorist regime. By Jonathan Tobin
On Sept. 13, 1993, history was supposed to have changed irrevocably. On that day, in a stage-managed photo opportunity, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat on the lawn of the White House while President Bill Clinton beamed in appreciation.Studying the famous picture of that event today, it's hard not to wince as we see the the skeptical Rabin lean forward reluctantly to take the hand of a murderer who looks like the proverbial cat who ate the canary. As Clinton is fond of retelling, Rabin insisted that there be no kissing, and the president prevailed upon Arafat to not wear a sidearm along with his military uniform. On such insignificant victories do the glowing memories of that day rest. At the time, newspapers were filled with the tearful quotes of those who believed the signing signaled the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict. American left-wing peace activists triumphantly embraced PLO leaders at parties as they congratulated each other on their victory.
Few, other than recalcitrant right-wingers, had any doubts that the peace would be permanent. Shimon Peres, then, as now, Israel's foreign minister, airily dismissed the doubters. And Israeli spokesmen were quick to point out that Israel could rescind any of its Oslo concessions if the Palestinians failed to keep their word.
One cynic was current Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who termed Arafat a "war criminal" in an opinion-page article in the Jewish Exponent on Sept. 17, 1993. Sharon termed the voluntary empowerment of Arafat "an act of madness." Several hundred Jewish dead later, the current prime minister looks to have been the smart one. Israel gambled a great deal in signing Oslo, but it's only recently that most Jews have awakened to the cost of just how much was thrown away in the historic blunder created by Oslo euphoria.
The Palestinian Authority created by Oslo reneged on its obligation to promote peace and stop terrorism. It has become exactly what the supporters of the accords said it would not be: an irredentist terrorist state whose heavily armed police work with heavily armed Islamic terrorist groups to attack Israelis. Instead of a peace partner, Israel finds itself alongside a junta run by terrorists. But along with all the dead and maimed from countless post-Oslo Arab terror attacks, Israel has lost something else: the ability to call its enemies by their right names.
Oslo didn't just give Arafat political and financial power; it also ennobled him with a fake moral legitimacy that he had not earned. Nor would it be justified by his subsequent conduct. And just like the territory that Israel gave up, this gift (as well as Arafat's comical Nobel Peace Prize) is not easily taken back. Years of cheerleading for a dead-end peace process by Israeli spokespeople and American Jewish organizations did not bring peace. But it did help encourage major media outlets to treat Arafat like a respected world leader. Media elites in this country increasingly slipped into a position that saw both Israel and the Palestinians as moral equals. The "peace education" so heavily promoted in Israel (and ignored by the Palestinians) worked to convince many Jews, as well as the media, that the Palestinian cause - and all that came with it - was just. As it turns out, this moral disarmament by Israel and its supporters had consequences that could be as serious as the more tangible retreats on issues like Jerusalem and settlements in the territories.
The dilemma is illustrated by the problems encountered by the readers of one of America's leading dailies, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Though pro-Israel media critics have bashed the paper regularly for years for what they perceive as a tradition of bias, the Inqy watch has taken an even more serious turn lately. After it published a vicious diatribe by self-styled satirist Jerry Long that questioned the legitimacy of Israel and Zionism , the paper was bitterly criticized by the local Jewish community.
But its editors could defend themselves by pointing to an even greater outcry -- this time from pro-Palestinian readers -- that occurred the following week, when they published a pro-Israel piece by JWR columnist Michael Kelly urging Israel to step up its counterattacks against the terrorists.
Employing the old "both sides attacked me so that proves I'm fair" defense, the Inquirer seemed to conclude that it had nothing to apologize for in the Long incident. The idea that the reasoned prose of Kelly was as incendiary as that of Long is preposterous, but it sums up the unfair standards now applied to the Jewish nation.
On Tuesday, this stance of moral equivalence was further emphasized by cartoonist Don Wright of the Palm Beach Post, who penned an illustration published in the Inquirer claiming that the Koran didn't justify suicide bombers any more than the Torah justified "assassination of Palestinians." In fact, Wright had it all wrong. The Torah explicitly does sanction self-defense against murderers. But infuriating as that cartoon may be to fair-minded persons, it must be recognized for what it symbolizes: the widespread belief that Israel is no better than the terrorists who still seek to destroy it. That notion wasn't created by anti-Semites. It was created and defended by those who brought us Oslo.
There are those who still defend Oslo as a good idea since, they claim, it eventually proved Arafat's unwillingness to make peace. They have a point. But unfortunately, the peace re-education process of the last eight years was so successful that it is now impossible for many people to go back to the pre-Oslo assumptions they had about Arafat, no matter what he or his minions do. As we observe the eighth anniversary of the signing of the peace accords, many of us will burn with anger about Arafat's deceptions and the way Israel has been misrepresented in the media. But save a little anger for another target. Remember the naivete and the foolishness that dominated the Jewish world eight years ago, and realize that, sadly, we were our own worst enemies. (www.JewishWorldReview.com Sep 4) The writer is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.
Fight the Durban Hijackers Jerusalem Post Editorial
At Durban, the United States has demonstrated that it leads the world not just in military and economic strength, but as a lonely moral beacon pointing the way out of a sewer of hypocrisy and hatred. Americans should be proud of their president and secretary of state, who have stood up unstintingly for an ally and for the values that America holds dear.
In announcing the US departure from the UN Conference on Racism, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, Secretary of State Colin Powell explained, "I know that you do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the days of 'Zionism equals racism' or supports the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust; or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel; or that singles out only one country in the world - Israel - for censure and abuse." The real question, however, is not why the United States and Israel have stormed out of the Durban conference, but why so many nations have not.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has noted with satisfaction that 43 nations - including Russia, the EU countries, Eastern European countries, most of the Latin American countries, India, Japan, Singapore, and a number of African states - have objected to the Arab hate campaign. If the language accusing Israel of racism, genocide, and apartheid, and the deprecations of the Holocaust are not removed, it seems that these nations will vote against the declaration. In this case, however, voting no is not enough. The democratic world must ask itself: When will it start fighting back against the perversion of the very concept of human rights?
The Jewish people has been likened to the world's canary in a coal mine. The canary is the first to be affected by dangerous gases, giving the miners a chance to work quickly to save themselves. The wholesale Arab attack against Israel is just a subset of radical Arab enmity of the West, and of the general attempt to scapegoat the West for all the world's problems.
Israel is only the most pronounced victim of the UN's automatic majority of dictatorships - the same majority that attempts to scapegoat Western democracies at every turn. The real victims of the UN's automatic anti-human rights majority are the billions of people who live under rotten and oppressive governments. What better way to divert attention from slavery in Sudan, terrorism from Iran, and brutality in Iraq than to dub Israel and the West as the font of all evil? Yet the world's democracies either participate in their own flagellation and distortion of their values, or politely disagree without standing up for their own standards of freedom and human rights. As author Elie Wiesel noted regarding the conference, "What is painful is not that the Palestinians and the Arabs voiced their hatred, but the fact that so few delegates had the courage to combat them." Where, indeed, are the voices who do not just diplomatically object to what the Arab world has done, but are outraged and willing to fight back?
In a moving speech that the Israeli delegation read in his absence, Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior reminded us that Israel is only the tip of the iceberg of Durban's victims. "Despite the virulent incitement against my country, I do not fear for Israel, which has the strength not just of courage, but also of conviction," Melchior stated. "But I do fear, deeply, for the victims of racism. For the slaves, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the inexplicably hated, the impoverished, the despised, the millions who turn their eyes to this hall, in the frail hope that it may address their suffering. Who see instead that a blind and venal hatred of the Jews has turned their hopes into a farce. For them I fear." The sad fact is that the United Nations has turned itself into a dictatorship protection club. If the democracies of the world are serious about human rights, they must fight to take back the UN, or form an alternative organization.
Israel and the Jewish people, in the meantime, should be set an example of how to stop apologizing and start fighting back. People who care about Israel and human rights should stop contributing to any non-governmental organization that was at Durban and does not specifically reject the resolutions adopted there. Countries that did not object to the Durban farce should be boycotted as tourist destinations. Egypt, which played a pivotal role in blocking European efforts to strip the Durban declaration of hate language, should be stripped of at least some of the many benefits it has received as a supporter of the peace process. The United States, which is the biggest contributor to the UN, should refuse to pay for a conference that represented the opposite of the United Nations' founding ideals. It is time to fight back. (Jerusalem Post Sep 6)