A Collection of the Week's News from Israel

A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee
of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Congregation

Rosh Chodesh Elul 5759    August 13, 1999    Issue number 230


NEWS

Arab Terrorist Runs Down Soldiers, Injures 12

Arab terrorists struck Tuesday morning at the Nachshon Junction, between Beit Shemesh and Latrun. At approximately 8 AM, an Arab driver

from Palestinian Authority territory rammed into a group of IDF soldiers waiting for rides to their bases. A very few minutes later, the terrorist returned to the same location - minus one passenger in his car, who apparently had had enough - and attempted to drive his car into the crowd that had gathered, including those administering first-aid to the injured. First to be hit was a female soldier who lay injured on the road from the first attack. Police and civilians fired at the Arab, whose car collided with a cement truck. The terrorist was killed. The female soldier was reported to be in moderate condition, while eleven other soldiers were injured lightly in the two attacks. They were taken to Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot and Assaf HaRofeh Hospital in Tzrifin. Eight were released by early afternoon. The father of the dead terrorist came early this morning to the Beit Shemesh police station to report on his son's recent "strange behavior." While in the midst of talking to the police officers, the report on the attack was received. Prime Minister Barak called the attempted murders "the act of a cowardly criminal extremist," adding that the incident strengthens "our resolve to fight against terrorism, and also to tighten our cooperation with the Palestinian security services." Barak made the comments after meeting with the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich. MK Michael Kleiner (National Union) said, "The really unfortunate aspect of this is that Israelis look at such incidents and are blinded from seeing the reality for what it is. The Arabs want to take over the Land of Israel, and are utilizing a combination of military and political tactics to attain their goal." (Arutz 7 Aug 10)

A terrorist cell - and not an individual terrorist as first reported - was responsible for the attack. Arutz-7 correspondent Kobi Sela reports that the members of the cell arrived at the Nachshon Junction from PA-controlled Bethlehem and tried to ram their car into a group of soldiers. The car sped away, one of the terrorists got out and was soon caught by Israeli security services. Meanwhile, the driver, Ahram Al-Kam, returned to the intersection to carry out the second attack - at which time he was shot and killed. Various self-contradictory responses have been issued by Palestinian officials regarding the incident. First came the statement that Al-Kam was a "common criminal" and was not striking at Israelis for nationalistic reasons. Channel Two television reporter Moshe Nussbaum later quoted a Palestinian official as saying that what occurred was a mere traffic accident. Wednesday morning, the official Palestinian Press described the dead terrorist as "a martyr for the Palestinian cause." (Arutz 7 Aug 11)

Attempted Murder Outside Mevo Dotan

Arab terrorists struck again Tuesday night, this time by firing at Mevo Dotan resident Eitan Vaknin. Sources say that the Arabs reached the Shomron community from the Palestinian-controlled autonomous areas and found refuge there after the attack. In response, the IDF Wednesday morning placed a closure on Kfar Arava and adjacent villages. Speaking to Arutz-7 today from Ha'emek Hospital in Afula, Vaknin described last night's attack: "I was driving home from work around 9:30 p.m., headed in the direction of Mevo Dotan, when -- about 500 meters from the entrance to our community, on my left -- terrorists sprayed my car with bullets. I'd say they shot at me about 15 or 16 times. One bullet hit the door, and another smashed the clock on the dashboard. I crouched down when the shooting started, and one bullet just missed my head," Vaknin said. "I had a gun, but before I could return fire, a bullet struck me in the pelvis. I began bleeding profusely, and sped through the gate. Along the way, I signaled another resident who was headed in the direction of the highway, and told him that he'd better turn around, or risk being shot by the Arabs. I drove a little further, stopped the car and then lost consciousness. I remember being revived with some oxygen by a first aid crew." Vaknin said that the poor lighting near the entrance to Mevo Dotan played a major role in his inability to detect the terrorists hiding behind the bushes.

In response, IDF Jenin Brigade Commander Col. Pini met with a senior Palestinian paramilitary officer, to tell him that the army "looks upon the attack with gravity." Arutz-7 News Editor Ariel Kahane spoke to Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh about the deteriorating security situation. "Since last week's Arab attack on Jews in Hevron, there have been at least three more similar incidents," Kahane noted. "Would you say that we are facing a new wave of terror?" Sneh responded, "Your assessment is only partly true. Many planned attacks, of which the public is unaware, are thwarted by Israeli security forces. Terror has long been a fact of life for us in the State of Israel." Kahane then inquired as to why Israel does not halt talks with the Palestinians given the poor security situation. Sneh answered: "The Palestinian Authority is working diligently to prevent the attacks. More can always be done, but I don't think that any individual Hamas cell should be permitted a veto on the negotiations with the Palestinians, and we should not capitulate to others who want to use terror as a reason for holding off talks." Kahane then noted that some say that halting talks was used effectively by former Prime Minister Netanyahu to curb terror. Sneh was unimpressed: "Netanyahu's policies brought us to an empty trough and nothing else. We must now work on two simultaneous tracks: to speed up the process to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, and to uncompromisingly fight terror. So far, we are satisfied with what they have done to fight terror." Kahane asked whether Sneh thinks that Yasser Arafat's two calls last week for a "Jihad" (Holy War) on Israel may have prompted the increased violence. Sneh answered, "The Hamas terror cells are rivals of Arafat, and oppose the peace process, and I don't think that there is a connection."

Foreign Minister David Levy disagreed with Sneh today, saying that although the PA is making some effort to clamp down on terror, its efforts have proven insufficient. Head of the Shomron Regional Council Bentzi Lieberman was baffled by the Deputy Defense Minister's approach: "Mevo Dotan borders on Palestinian Area A," Lieberman explained. "The terrorist murderers leave Area A, shoot, return, and cannot be touched. This was not the case prior to the Wye withdrawal from the vicinity, when the army could respond by following the attackers' footsteps back to local villages, and conduct the necessary checks. Now, even with all of its good intentions, the army's hands are tied by government policy. This was the reason for the terror attacks immediately after the Wye withdrawal from northern Samaria, and it remains the key factor in last night's murder attempt and Saturday's murder, which took place 5 kilometers from here." Lieberman also rebuffed Sneh's claim that the PA was efficiently fighting terror, adding that from the Shomron Council's contacts with IDF officials, "it is clear that they understand their own severe limitations." Lieberman then challenged the pervading political theory that the closer Israel comes to a peace deal, the fewer the attacks: "What do we see? The more we appease Arafat, the more attacks there are. With the Arabs, it seems that the more you give, the weaker you are perceived to be, and the greater the Arab desire to strike at you to the bitter end." (Arutz 7 Aug 11)

Police Seal up Waqf Breach in Temple Mount Wall

The Jerusalem Police responded forcefully Monday night to a Moslem Waqf provocation on the Temple Mount. The Moslems attempted to break open an entrance to the Temple Mount at the Hulda Steps on the Mount's southern wall, but the police - fulfilling a decision made by Prime Minister Barak - sealed it up over the course of the night. Barak stressed at today's government meeting that police activity was merely an act of law enforcement, and that the law will be enforced on the Temple Mount in the future. The Prime Minister's Office accused the Palestinians of a blatant violation not only of local building regulations, but also of the status quo on the Temple Mount. The Jerusalem Police were deployed in large numbers in the Old City today, but all was quiet. Police Chief Yehuda Wilk stated this afternoon that police will be quick to respond to future similar incidents. Journalist Nadav Shragai told Arutz-7 that the Waqf has been consistently attempting to gain control of the entire southern-wall area, which may in the future be opened to Jewish prayer under the final-status arrangements with the Palestinians. "They have readied the area under the southern part of the Temple Mount for another prayer hall, and the government was very much aware that their next step would be to prepare an entrance from the southern wall. The government therefore showed them that it will not tolerate such a move." (Arutz 7 Aug 10)

Jordanian Professionals Against Normalization With Israel

The Jordan Times reports that the leaders of Jordan's 14 professional groups are considering strong sanctions against Jordanians who pursue their studies in Israeli universities. Jordan's professional associations have a strict anti-normalization policy, which prohibits members from conducting any activities with Israel or the Israelis. The presidents of the professional associations recently discussed a recommendation by the anti-normalization committee that would ban graduates from Israeli universities from becoming members in Jordanian associations. "[The presidents] will send a letter to the Higher Education Council, asking them not to recognize academic degrees from Israeli universities," said Ali Abu Sukkar, president of the anti-normalization committee. "We will call on families not to send their [children] to Israeli universities, and we will call on the students not to be involved in Israeli cultural activities." Members could face penalties ranging from a warning to expulsion for one year. Professional who are not registered as members in the appropriate association may not be able to practice their professions in Jordan. IMRA notes that several months ago, Jordanian Television showed the late King Hussein addressing the professional associations' leadership, and directing them to keep out of foreign affairs. (Arutz 7 Aug 9)

IBA's Porat Fakes Right, Goes Left

Israel Broadcasting Authority head Uri Porat has turned to "creative solutions" in his search for a Director of Israel Television: He has asked Michael Karpin to take the post. Karpin, a long-time IBA veteran, two years ago produced and directed "The Israeli Government Announces with Shock," a film whose thesis is that the Israeli political right was responsible for the incitement that led to the Rabin assassination. The film featured the swearing-in ceremony of the Eyal organization, despite the Shamgar Commission's finding that the ceremony was fake, and was staged by Avishai Raviv with the knowledge of the Israel Television film crew. "When we heard that he was planning to include the ceremony in his film, we wrote a letter to Karpin's production company," Yisrael Medad, director of Israel's Media Watch, told Arutz-7's Ron Meir today. "Our insistence that they either omit the piece, or that they include a caveat that police were investigating its authenticity, fell on deaf ears. Another problem we had with the film was that it makes no mention of GSS agent-provocateur Raviv's involvement in the incitement leading to the murder. Not only that, the book that Karpin wrote based on the film, 'Murder in the Name of G-d,' does not contain one proper reference footnote." Meir noted that Porat was appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu to introduce balance to the IBA, following a long period of perceived overly-left wing influence there. (Arutz 7 Aug 9)

Moslem Boycott of Burger King

A coalition of Moslem organizations has announced a worldwide campaign to boycott Burger King restaurants. A press release circulated by American Muslims for Jerusalem last week explained that "Burger King ignored Muslims' concerns over the opening of a restaurant in Palestinian-territory occupied by Israel." The restaurant in question, which is kosher, is located in a new shopping mall in Ma'aleh Adumim. The AMJ press release writes that the restaurant in Ma'aleh Adumim, which was part of the area captured by Israel during the Six-Day War, "makes Burger King a party to illegal occupation." In a second press release, AMJ proudly announces that the Arab League is due to convene in September to consider a resolution calling for the boycott, which would force the closure of Burger King locations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. (Arutz 7 Aug 9)

Yesha Sales Up

Some 1,000 new apartments were sold in Judea and Samaria in the second quarter of this year. Sales of the past two months were up approximately 25% over the previous two months, continuing a trend of the past two years. So reported Daniel Shukroun of Amana (Arutz 7 Aug 10)

Firebomb Attack on IDF Jeep

Arabs threw a Molotov cocktail from the Palestinian-controlled section of Hevron - Area H-1 - Satursday night at an Israeli jeep in H-2. The attempted attack occurred just before the IDF removed the closure from the city; the closure was imposed following last week's terrorist attack in which two Jews were injured. The Jewish Community of Hevron has submitted a protest to the IDF for not stationing soldiers at the site of the attack, where other similar terrorist incidents have occurred in the past. Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh and O.C. Central Command Maj.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon toured Hevron Sunday, but did not meet with the Jewish residents. Sneh said that there are more soldiers in Hevron than there are in the entire security zone in southern Lebanon. The Hevron Jewish Community rejected the remarks, saying that the high number of soldiers in the city is a consequence of the Hevron Agreement, and that the residents at the time warned against the agreement and the dangerous security situation that would result. (Arutz 7 Aug 8)

Police Suspect Terrorism

The suspicion that the murder of Edvard Berdinchinsky north of Shechem last weekend was committed by Palestinian Arab terrorists is growing. His barely-identifiable body was found in his burnt car very late Friday night along the Jenin-Shechem road, between the Jewish communities of Chomesh and Dotan, in Area C [Israeli-controlled territory]. Sunday the security forces arrested the Imam of the Shomron Arab village Um-Dar - Fayid Muhammad - in connection with the murder. Both theories regarding the killing - that it was of a criminal nature, or that it was a terrorist attack - are supported by various clues. An announcement has been distributed by Hamas claiming responsibility, but is suspected of being forged. Arutz-7's correspondent Kobi Sela reports that Hamas doesn't usually burn cars of its victims to the ground, nor does it use the type of Uzi bullets that were found in the car. On the other hand, the criminal aspect is negated by the fact that the victim had no criminal background, nor have any concrete leads been found in this direction. In addition, the owner of the Arab gas station near the site of the murder is under suspicion of passing on information to hostile elements regarding Israeli cars that pass by. (Arutz 7 Aug 8)

Yesha-Golan Cooperation

The mayor of the Golan's largest town - Sammy Bar-Lev of Katzrin - has joined the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria. He said today that the move is part of the struggle against the Prime Minister's intentions to uproot Yesha communities. Yesha Council leaders, hosted by the Golan Residents Committee, toured the Golan yesterday. The two bodies agreed to cooperate in their mutual struggles against territorial concessions by the government. (Arutz 7 Aug 6)

Thanks for Nothing

A Palestinian man from Gaza who lost his factory in a fire was forced by Palestinian Authority security agents to publicly thank the Palestinian fire-fighting forces for their help - even though there was none. Haggai Huberman reports in HaTzofeh that about a month ago, the Palestinian Liaison Office learned of the fire, and called for help from Israeli fire-fighters in nearby Ashkelon. The Palestinian police at the Erez Checkpoint, however, refused to allow passage to the Jewish firemen, saying that they would take care of the fire themselves. But they didn't - and the $5 million factory burned to the ground. The hapless owner was later interviewed in a Palestinian paper, and graphically and furiously described his feelings about the Palestinian security forces, under whom serve the PA fire-fighters. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested, and told that he must publish in the paper a letter of thanks to the PA security forces for the help they provided him during the difficult times he had recently undergone. Faced with no choice, the man did so - but was then told that there had been a mistake. "We meant a front-page announcement," he was told, "not something buried in the middle where no one will see it." Practically crying, the man pleaded that he had no money for the $5,000 ad - to no avail. He published the front-page "thanks," and was released from jail. (Arutz 7 Aug 6)

PA and Terrorism: Public Condemnation, Private Praise

A senior IDF official said last Thursday that while PA leaders were condemning terror attacks in their communications with the foreign media, they were praising those same attacks in the official Palestinian Authority radio, TV and newspapers. He accused the Palestinian Authority of transforming the areas under its control into areas of safe refuge for terrorists, while doing little or nothing to ward off terror attacks or confiscate illegal weapons. The senior IDF official questioned whether Yasser Arafat's tone and policies are those of peace, in light of Arafat's birthday celebration this week in which he called for "jihad" (holy war) against Israel and praised the "children of the stones" who fought the Israeli army. (Arutz 7 Aug 6)

Five New Ministers

Five new government ministers were sworn in last Thursday: Former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Matan Vilnai (Labor) is the new Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport; Kibbutz member Chaim Oron (Meretz) is Agriculture Minister; Former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shachak became the new Minister of Tourism; Former Chief Rabbi of Norway Michael Melchior is Minister without Portfolio, responsible for Diaspora Jewry; and Prof. of Political Philosophy Yuli Tamir - the second woman in the government - is the new Absorption Minister. Labor party MKs expressed criticism of Tamir's appointment, because she had ran in the Labor party primaries, but did not attain a realistic spot. She was one of the founders of Peace Now, but left the organization because she sided with then-illegal meetings with PLO leaders. Eight deputy-ministers will serve in the new government, and they are:

* Ephraim Sneh (Labor) - Deputy Defense Minister;

* Nawaf Massalha (Labor) - Deputy Foreign Minister;

* Nissim Dahan (Shas) - Deputy Finance Minister;

* Ya'ir Peretz (Shas) - Deputy Communications Minister;

* Meshulam Nahari (Shas) - Deputy Education Minister;

* Sha'ul Yahalom (National Religious Party) - Deputy Education Minister;

* Yigal Bibi (National Religious Party) - Deputy Religious Affairs Minister;

* Marina Solodkin (Yisrael B'Aliyah) - Deputy Immigration Minister;

Likud Chairman Ariel Sharon was the first to speak at today's Knesset session after the presentation of the new ministers. He said that the expansion of the government is in violation of Barak's promise to run the country in an open manner cc and according to the rule of law. The last-minute threat by Shas not to vote to approve the new ministers - the government does not have a majority without the party's 17 votes - was removed after Ehud Barak responded positively to three Shas demands. Eight million shekels will be dispatched as an advance payment to cover the party's educational network's deficit; the Deputy Education Minister - Shas' Meshulam Nahari - will soon receive specific authorities; and the giant electric turbine, with its accompanying police and security escorts, will not be transported on Shabbat, but on a weeknight. The 250-ton turbine must travel at 5-10 kilometers an hour from Ramat Gan to Ashkelon, normally a one-hour drive away, and will hold up all traffic behind it. (Arutz 7 Aug 5)

PA Police Commander Runs Stolen-Parts Store

The commander of the Palestinian para-military police in the Har Hevron village of Dahariye runs a stolen car-parts store. So reported a Palestinian youth who was arrested last week by the Hevron police. The youth said that Superintendent Abu Sabih's policemen help run the store and load the stolen parts onto the customers' cars. (Arutz 7 Aug 5)

Syrian Missiles

"Syria is developing new surface-to-surface missiles, with a longer range and greater warhead delivery capacity than its current missiles, Israeli sources said yesterday. Damascus has put the new missiles at the top of its national priority list, and is receiving massive developmental aid from Iran, the sources said. The most advanced missile currently in Syria's arsenal is the Scud C, which is manufactured in Syria with the aid of know-how purchased from North Korea. The Scud C has a range of 500 kilometers (300 miles), and is capable of hitting any target in Israel. It can be armed with either conventional or chemical warheads. The new missiles will enable Damascus to strike anywhere in Israel even from deep within Syrian territory. According to both Israeli and American sources, the Syrians are also trying to build underground silos for missile launchers, in order to protect the launchers from attack. By concealing the missiles in bunkers, Syria increases the nation's military strength and its ability to survive a war. Israel's assessment is that Syrian President Hafez Assad wants to achieve "a capability that will deter Israel from any military initiative, including entanglements arising from an escalation in Lebanon." The Israeli sources noted that Syria's ground force is a "serious force," and the only army in the region that teaches its soldiers how to mount a deliberate surprise attack. Syria actually devotes a significant amount of its training program to carrying out such an attack. Israel's intelligence assessment is that Syria has no plans to attack Israel at the moment, but wants to develop a military capability that would be ready for any eventuality. Despite Syria's economic difficulties, it has managed to increase the size of its regular army by three corps and carry out all its planned training exercises, the sources said..." (ZOA/Ha'aretz Aug 10)


Quote...

"The present Zionist state is by definition racist and will have to be dismantled."

- Peter Hain writing it The London Guardian in 1976. Hain has just been appointed in Britain as foreign minister with special responsibility for the Middle East. (JTA 8/5)

"We learned to love our homeland, defend our nation and hate Zionism."

Badia Sabra, a 13-year-old boy from the Druse village of Masadeh, describing his summer camping experience in the Druse village of Majdal Shams on the Golan Heights. (New York Times 8/9)

"The continuation of negotiations with the Palestinians and the Syrians needs to be contingent on the release of prisoners..."

Yonah Baumel, the father of missing Israeli soldier Zecharia Baumel, in a letter to PM Ehud Barak and Likud Chairman, Ariel Sharon. (Ha'aretz 8/8)

Commentary

Barak's Challenge Jerusalem Post Editorial

According to President Ezer Weizman, the terrorist attack yesterday at Nahshon junction was the work of a lone zealot. Prime Minister Ehud Barak called the perpetrator a "criminal and a coward." Yet yesterday's attack, when combined with the shooting incident near Hebron and the challenge by the Wakf on the Temple Mount, indicate that the new government of Ehud Barak is being tested.

In last week's attack near Hebron, Ephraim Rosenstein, 30, of Hebron, and Baruch Ben-Ya'acov, 37, of Kiryat Arba, were wounded when terrorists fired on their car. A hospital spokesman said Rosenstein lost two fingers of his right hand. In response, Barak's office stated that his "promises to do everything possible to bring a real peace to the region... take a back seat in the face of such attacks." Yesterday, a car deliberately plowed into women soldiers at the Nahshon junction and, 10 minutes later, returned in an attempt to run over the wounded and those tending to them. Police managed to shoot and kill the driver, preventing him from wounding or killing more people in his second pass.

According to security officials, the two incidents were not connected, but analysts point out that a series of incidents in close succession can encourage terrorism by others. Moreover, the two incidents closely followed Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's return to the rhetoric of jihad at his birthday celebration on last week.

Despite Arafat's dangerous rhetoric, the quick Palestinian condemnation of the Hebron shootings was a sign that Arafat really does not want terrorism revived. Over the past few years, Arafat seems to have come to the conclusion that terrorism mainly plays into the hands of his opponents - both among Palestinians and within Israel - so that he has a legitimate interest in stopping it. Yet correct intentions and desires are not enough when it comes to combatting terrorism, and there is still more that can be done. In the past, two distinct approaches have characterized Israel's attempts to elicit a more vigorous Palestinian opposition to terror. The Peres government tended to downplay incidents of terrorism and rededicate itself to the peace process under the rubric of "not rewarding the terrorists." The Netanyahu government, by contrast, attempted to put diplomacy on hold until the Palestinian Authority redoubled its efforts to combat terrorism.

Barak's approach seems to be somewhere in between that of Peres and Netanyahu. Barak clearly does not want to let security take a back seat to the peace process, but he also knows that fighting terror effectively depends on enhancing security cooperation with the Palestinians.

The third recent incident is probably unconnected to the terrorist attacks, or even to the quasi-crisis atmosphere created by Arafat, but it also was a test of the new government. In the past few days, the Wakf, a Moslem authority with responsibility for the Temple Mount, opened a gate in a medieval structure that is built against the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The gate had been virtually sealed for hundreds of years by loose stones, which were pushed out by the Wakf to create a large doorway. Though the Wakf claims the opening was made for ventilation purposes, it could have served as an entrance to the extension that is being built in the Second Temple period passageway that is under al-Aksa Mosque. According to the law, any such changes in holy or archaeological sites must have the permission of the Antiquities Authority. Since the Wakf did not seek such permission, the police, following a cabinet decision, moved Monday night to reseal the gate, in conjunction with the Antiquities Authority. Israeli concern regarding changes on the Temple Mount should not, however, be limited to when they can be seen from the outside. For months now, the Wakf had been extending al-Aksa into chambers that contain some of the best preserved architectural details from the Second Temple period. Though this construction is being carried out with Israeli permission, the Wakf has refused to allow the Antiquities Authority to monitor the building and ensure that unique artifacts are preserved.

Whether in regard to combating terrorism or preserving archeological treasures, enhanced Israeli-Palestinian cooperation is essential. Barak's challenge is to combine aspects of previous Israeli approaches and succeed, over time, in rebuilding cooperation without compromising Israel's requirements. (c) Jerusalem Post Aug 11)


Beyond the Peace Process By Mitchell G. Bard

If all you know about US-Israel relations was what you learn through the general media, you might think the ties between the countries were determined solely by progress in the peace process.

Fortunately, the relationship is much more robust: It is worth remembering some of the cooperative activities that are often ignored.

Let's start with economics. Trade between the two countries increased 18 percent from 1997 to 1998 to a total of more than $15.6 billion. Israel is now America's 23rd leading trade partner.

The story is even more dramatic on the state level. Thirty-one states increased their exports to Israel, some by huge amounts, such as Alabama (305%), Kentucky (97%), Illinois (89%) and West Virginia (80%). Notice that three of the four are not noted hotbeds of Jewish life.

The total value of exports from some of the states is also impressive: 12 states exported more than $100 million worth of goods to Israel. New York's total exceeded $2 billion, making Israel its fifth leading trade partner.

In addition to trade ties, 22 states have formal agreements for broad cooperation with Israel and several have ongoing exchanges in areas of education, culture and agriculture.

One of the most active is North Carolina, which, for example, adopted an Israeli education program introduced to officials there by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. This peer-tutoring program to help second graders improve their reading skills, known in the US as "Reading Together," was developed at the Hebrew University and proved so successful in North Carolina schools that it is now being tested in other states.

Since the early 1980's, strategic cooperation between the two allies has grown exponentially. Even as President Bill Clinton was seeking to undermine Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's reelection effort, Israeli and US fighter pilots began joint training and conducting simulated aerial combat. Squadrons of US Navy F-18 and F-14 jets and American F-16 aircraft based in Europe flew to Israel for week-long exercises.

After Ehud Barak was elected prime minister, one of the first things Clinton did when they met was to create a new strategic planning group. In addition, work continues on a variety of joint military projects such as the Arrow missile and the Tactical High Energy Laser.

Also at that first Clinton-Barak meeting, the two agreed to expand cooperation in space. A working group of NASA and the Israel Space Agency is being created to collaborate on scientific research projects, educational activities, and promoting the peaceful use of space. Clinton also informed Barak that an Israeli astronaut would fly on a shuttle mission in the year 2000.

Academics from both countries routinely collaborate on projects in virtually every discipline. More than 300 American institutions in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have received funds from binational programs with Israel.

Two binational foundations, the Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD), provide grants for joint research projects that have produced advances in everything from animal production to physics to life sciences.

BARD-sponsored research has led to new technologies in drip irrigation, pesticides, fish farming, livestock, poultry, disease control and farm equipment. BSF has documented no less than 75 new discoveries that probably would not have been possible without foundation-supported collaboration. A third binational foundation, the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), funds joint US-Israeli teams in the development and commercialization of innovative, nondefense technological products. Since its inception in 1977, BIRD has funded more than 500 joint high-tech R&D projects.

Products developed from these ventures have generated sales of $5 billion, tax revenues of more than $700 million in both countries and created an estimated 20,000 American jobs.

One of the great things about all three foundations is that their funding is insulated from the political vagaries that can affect other programs and therefore have continued to serve both countries for more than two decades.

It's a shame so little information about these positive aspects of the US-Israel relationship is disseminated to the general public. These "shared value initiatives," as I call them, reinforce the twin pillars on which the special US-Israel friendship is based: shared values and mutual interests.

It is this commonality of interests and beliefs that ensures the vitality of the friendship between Israelis and Americans, regardless of the state of the peace process or any other political dispute.

The writer is a foreign policy analyst in Maryland and author of "Forgotten Victims: The Abandonment of Americans in Hitler's Camps" (Jerusalem Post Aug 10)


Recasting History By Rabbi Berel Wein

Reconciliation won't occur by turning mediocre monarchs into saintly heroes and portraying brutal murderers as knights in shining armor.

One of the inherent problems in assessing past events and historic personalities is that we are forced to do so through the prejudiced view of present-day realities, values and political expediencies. As a result, mediocrities or even villains are turned into heroes, while worthwhile people and events are conveniently ignored. For example, there is probably nothing as beneficial to one's reputation as dying. In most cases, death erases all past sins and horrendous mistakes are overlooked.

The bathos and false praise that accompanied both Hussein of Jordan and Hassan of Morocco to their graves are prime examples of this tendency to trim the truth for the sake of current expediency. Both monarchs, who enjoyed long and cruel reigns, left their countries impoverished and devoid of true political or personal freedoms. Hussein fought unnecessary wars with Israel that cost Jordan dearly and upset any sense of balance that could have been created in our part of the world. Hassan protected the Jewish community in Morocco and dealt informally with Israel before other Arab leaders did so, but it is still difficult for me to place him in any pantheon of heroes. Ironically, I would venture to say that within a few decades, there will be more memorials, official and unofficial, to these two monarchs in Israel than in their own countries. There is a tendency among many Jews to beatify their former foes, give them the benefit of the doubt and explain away their faults, something that they often find it difficult to do for their fellow Jews.

A particularly disturbing exhibition of this whitewashing of history by Jews is the current display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem about the Crusader Kingdom that existed here in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. I took my grandchildren to see this exhibit. The oldest one, having had a yeshiva education in the US, remarked after viewing the exhibit: "But, Zeidy, I thought that the Crusaders were bad people!" And in truth, anyone viewing this exhibit, sanitized of any negative portrayal of those bloodthirsty sadists who destroyed dozens of Jewish communities and murdered thousands of Jews, would also be hard-pressed to reconcile these benign, constructive, heroic Crusaders with the traditional Jewish view of them. In the mourning prayers of Tisha Be'av, there is a special elegy composed in memory of the Jewish communities of the Rhineland razed to the ground by the Crusaders in 1096. The horrific brutality of those good Christian knights is graphically described in that wailing poem. But none of that historic reality is hinted at in the Israel Museum's Crusader exhibit.

Time magazine is currently considering Adolf Hitler as a candidate for its "Man of the Century" award. Robert Conquest, the great historian of the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union, recently wrote a bitter article about the "dispassionate" tendency of modern historians to overlook Stalin's destruction of millions and focus on his role as Soviet leader in World War II.

In our fervent quest for peace with the Palestinians and the Syrians, we no longer mention the events of recent history - Hebron, Ma'alot, Entebbe, etc. Certainly we have to attempt to make peace with our enemies - and peace is always a matter of dealing with enemies - but we should not be guilty of rewriting history to fit current policies and hopes. Only a good and accurate memory coupled with a healthy dose of realism can guarantee a secure and lasting peace. Forgetting who we are really dealing with is a disastrous mistake in judgment.

One of the faults of secular society the world over and especially here in Israel is its wondrous ability to forget, rewrite and even falsify history to meet perceived current needs. The secular loss of personal and historical identity the world over is due in large part to its willful ignorance of history. In its evenhanded scholastic coolness and condescending dismissal of morality, it eventually lumps the victims with the persecutors, the terrorists with the defenders.

As long as large numbers of Jews will still believe that Jewish history dates back only to 1897 or 1948 or 1967 or even 1994, we are in big trouble. Jewish memory encompasses almost 4,000 years. It remembers ancient Egypt and Assyria, Babylonia and Persia, Greece and Rome. It should not be allowed now to conveniently forget Christian Europe and the Moslem Middle East.

Unless we are honestly able to confront the Christian and Moslem worlds and make them (and us, too) clearly aware of their past behavior towards Jews and Judaism, all attempts at real reconciliation and mutual understanding will eventually founder.

Turning mediocre monarchs into saintly heroes and portraying brutal and bigoted murderers as knights in shining armor is definitely not the way to go. (Jerusalem Post Aug 8)


Back to Israel News {} Return to CAFI News {} Return to CAFI Home
Recommended Links
 
 
Powered By:NuvioTemplates.com