A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
Av 24 5760
August 25, 2000
Issue number 287
PA Digs In; Barak Waiting for Answer on Obsolete Concessions
The Palestinian leadership convened in Ramallah Monday, and came up with a decision that seems to have placed yet another obstacle along the Oslo path. No final-status agreement will be reached with Israel, reads the decision, until the Jerusalem issue is resolved and until eastern Jerusalem is transferred to Palestinian control. The decision emphasized that the Palestinians negate any form of Israeli sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem.
Meretz party leader Yossi Sarid, who met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Monday, said that Egypt is not willing to take steps to moderate Palestinian demands on Jerusalem. "I saw no signs of Egyptian flexibility," Sarid said. "Mubarak told me that the Palestinians should insist on full sovereignty over all of eastern Jerusalem, except for the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall." Palestinian Television, in its Hebrew broadcasts Monday, announced that Arafat will not agree to give up even the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall. In addition, Arafat has said that he will not agree to declare the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "ended" until after the Jerusalem issue is resolved. The announcement was a disappointment to those who had hoped that the other remaining issues could be resolved while leaving Jerusalem for a later date.
Prime Minister Barak says he is still waiting for the response of the Palestinians on the concessions he offered them at Camp David. At Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting today, Barak said, "We are in a waiting period, since we have yet to hear from them about an openness and willingness to discuss the ideas which were raised at Camp David, especially those regarding Jerusalem. The limited amount of time is well-known, and in the coming weeks we will know whether Arafat is set on an agreement or an impasse." Arutz-7's Ron Meir notes that this conflicts with the speech Barak made to sum up the end of the Camp David summit. Barak declared then that all the concessions he made there were "null and void," and that future negotiations will not begin where the Camp David summit left off. (arutzsheva.org Aug 20,21,22)
PA Threatens Settlements
So far, it's only words - but the war continues. PA Cabinet Secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman threatened Sunday that the Palestinians "reserve the right to impose a siege on the Jewish settlements" in Judea and Samaria if Israel responds sharply to a unilateral Palestinian declaration of a state. Rahman, speaking on Palestinian Radio, said that the Jewish residents will find themselves in "genuine danger" when the Palestinian army isolates them from each other and from the rest of Israel. (arutzsheva.org Aug 20)
Three More Blows to Barak
The Prime Minister's Office appears to be falling apart. Following the controversial resignation of Deputy Director Shimon Batat last week, Director Chaim Mandel-Shaked and diplomatic advisor Tzvi Shtauber. made similar moves Monday In light of the resignations, the Likud, the NRP, and Shas have called upon the Prime Minister, also, to resign. "Barak has led the country to a dysfunctional state," reads a Likud statement. "He has no government, his Office is falling apart, and his aides are abandoning him."In addition, Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein ordered Barak Monday not to assign any further diplomatic missions to businessman Yossi Ginosar until the potential "conflict of interests" problem is conclusively examined. The decision follows a petition to the Supreme Court by MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu), who asserted that Ginosar's business ties with leading Palestinian figures disqualified him from acting as an Israeli diplomatic representative. In an interview published last Friday, Batat said that Barak "runs the country like a banana republic" and that his office "is run in an underground, unplanned manner... You can't run a country by checking the polls every night and then acting according to them… Barak works alone, runs everything himself. Nothing gets decided, nothing happens. Everyone around him is in despair…" (arutzsheva.org Aug 21,22)
Barak Promises Constitution Within One Year
Prime Minister Barak announced a proposal Sunday to legislate a Constitution into law within one year. Other ideas proposed by Barak in what some have called his "secular revolution" include the abolishment of the Religious Affairs Ministry, a civil marriage law, and a obligatory national-service law. Barak announced his plan at a meeting last night with government ministers. Although political commentators say that Barak does not have a majority in the Knesset for such a proposal - "He couldn't even pass a Gardening Law today," said Dekel - public reactions have been both intense and numerous. The Likud says that the idea is merely an election ploy. "Ehud Barak does not want a Constitution at all," said Likud faction head MK Ruby Rivlin, "but simply wishes to drive a wedge between the religious parties [which have been traditionally against a Constitution] and the Likud." Political scientist Dr. Asher Cohen of Bar Ilan University was asked whether he sees a linkage between Barak's political problems and his Constitution declaration. "I was very surprised to see that the papers and electronic media this morning did not make this connection, but to me, it seems obvious," said Cohen. "This is exactly what Shimon Batat [who resigned last week from the Prime Minister's Office] pointed out - that as long as information is flowing to the media, then all is well as far as Barak is concerned... It appears that Barak has concluded that Shas will not rejoin the government, and so he is introducing other issues with the hope of attracting a new coalition, this time without Shas. Each issue that Barak is now raising, though, is a major one in and of itself: the issue of a constitution has been debated over the past 50 years, and the closing down of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and the decision to work towards 'national service' for every citizen, have also been long debated... "
MK Nachum Langental (NRP) told Arutz-7 Sunday that the issues raised in the Prime Minister's proposals are crucial and must be resolved, but that Barak's timing and his "amateurish promise to legislate such fundamental issues within only one year" prove that he is simply "trying to change the public agenda, divert our attention from his failures, and cause a rift among the opposition forces." Langental said that the religious community must understand that it must not simply continue to object to any resolution of issues such as religion and state, conversion, marriage and divorce, and Shabbat, "because the status quo is constantly changing, to our detriment. It is in our interests to come to a clear agreement with those in the Likud and Labor to whom Zionism is still important, in order that the Supreme Court not continue to interpret religious laws against our interests." Langental further said that it is clear that those who encourage violations of the law by opening businesses on Shabbat "are engaged in a cultural war against the religious character of the country." Arutz-7's Ariel Kahane asked Hebrew University Law Professor Eliav Shochatman if it might not be advisable to attempt to reach some sort of agreement on religious issues to prevent further deterioration. Shochatman: "The question is whether such a deal would actually preserve a [desirable] status quo, or whether it would be subject to the interpretation of the Supreme Court. The Knesset may formulate the constitution, but the Supreme Court may come and interpret it in a different fashion... Even the idea of a special 'constitutional court' that will deal only with constitutional interpretation would have to be composed of representatives of various sectors of the populace, in which case it could work - but now, the notion is purely theoretical. The questions of who would appoint such a body and the like are very complex..." (arutzsheva.org Aug 20)
Sharon Will Wait
Likud leader Ariel Sharon, who had been talking recently of holding internal elections for party head within three months, has decided to wait until after the Knesset makes a final decision on advancing the national elections. For Binyamin Netanyahu, Sharon's main challenger at present, the original time span was too short, and his camp is therefore pleased that it now has an opportunity to get itself organized for the primaries. Attorney-General Rubenstein's decision as to whether or not to indict Netanyahu in the Amedi and gifts cases, it has now been learned, will be released only next month. Judicial sources claim that even if Netanyahu is not indicted, Rubenstein will still issue a detailed opinion, thus that the former Prime Minister may come out technically innocent, but not totally clean. (arutzsheva.org Aug 23)
Violence by Jerusalem Arabs
A routine visit by income tax officials to an eastern Jerusalem street turned into a clash with Israeli-Arabs Wednesday - the third of its type in three days. When the Arab storeowners saw the inspectors coming, they immediately began to block the road. The police intervened, but the Arabs refused to adhere to their orders, and a violent clash ensued. Three Arabs were detained for questioning. Tuesday, two policemen and two Arabs were injured when an eastern Jerusalem mob attempted to block one of the capital's major arteries, Route 1. The demonstrators, many of whom were wearing "Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state" T-shirts, began by calling for "another intifada," chanting, "We will sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Jerusalem," and waving placards reading, "No peace without Jerusalem." The police called on them not to enter Route 1, as it was outside the agreed-upon route of their march, but were compelled to used force to disperse them. (arutzsheva.org Aug 23)
Arab Murder Victim Receives Compensation
If an Arab is murdered in Jerusalem, and the murderer has not been identified, is he eligible for 363,000 shekels ($90,000) of state funds in compensation as the victim of a "nationalist-motivated attack"? The answer, according to Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein, is apparently yes. After the claim by the family of the victim was originally turned down, the family appealed, and Rubenstein decided to set up a special committee that would grant the money. Jerusalem Atty. Ze'ev Farber told Arutz-7's Yosef Zalmanson Wednesday that the award could not have been granted in the framework of the Law for Compensation of Terror Attack Victims, "since the murder was not categorized as a 'hostile act' according to the relevant criteria. For instance, the perpetrator had to have been part of an anti-Israel organization - but the murderer was never even found!" A police report on the attack noted that it was possible that the perpetrator might not have been a Jew, but rather an Arab attempting to provoke violence or to intimidate Arabs who work for Jews. Farber said that the decision is "strange" also because "in many cases, Jewish victims of terrorism do not succeed in receiving compensation because the authorities, using various claims, deny that the law applies to them." (arutzsheva.org Aug 23)
Israel to Help "Straighten Out" PA Choppers
Israel has threatened to intercept Palestinian helicopters, or force them to land, if they again deviate from their flight paths. Arafat's choppers, of late, have repeatedly flown over Gush Katif during their training exercises, and have even entered civilian airspace. The helicopters are part of a special formation under the direct control of Arafat. The Palestinians originally claimed that the problem lay in the narrow air-strip they were assigned, but when that contention was shown to be false, they said that the deviations were a result of human error. (arutzsheva.org Aug 23)
Palestinians Upgrade Shopping List
Palestinian car thieves have set their sights on a new target: ambulances. At least ten emergency vehicles have been stolen over the past several weeks. Police feel that the motive is either to bolster the PA's ambulance stock, or for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks. (arutzsheva.org Aug 23)
Easier on the Reserves
The army has decided to relax several reserve-duty regulations. Soldiers who are about to get married will not be called up, nor will those who have been married less than two months; a new-born baby will grant the father a three-month exemption; and a new job will grant prospective soldiers four army-free months. (arutzsheva.org Aug 23)
Barak's Multi-billion Dollar Gift to Arafat
Three oil companies demand that Israel actualize its legal rights and allow them to drill for oil off the Gaza coast. Their Supreme Court suit of Monday maintains that the government is refusing to take advantage of its Oslo-mandated oil rights there, in areas that contain billions of dollars worth of gas and oil.The three companies requested a permit to drill there as early as a year ago, and attached a legal opinion stating that according to international law, Israel - not the Palestinian Authority - is sovereign over the area and is authorized to grant drilling permits. Then-Infrastructures Minister Eli Suissa (Shas) agreed that Israel is sovereign, but in light of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, transferred the final decision to Prime Minister Barak. Suissa told Arutz-7, "I proposed to the Prime Minister, in writing, that we explore the waters jointly with the Palestinian Authority… I received no answer from him, despite further queries on the issue, and only later found out that Barak had given in and granted exclusive drilling rights to the PA. This was a clear surrender for no reason, and with nothing in exchange, of something that belongs to us - not to mention the loss of billions of dollars for the State. Barak simply made a decision by himself, without consulting me, or anyone else, exactly as he usually does..." Arafat wasted no time after receiving such a nice gift, and a British company immediately paid the PA millions of dollars for the privilege of preparing a seismological mapping of the area. The mapping has recently been concluded, and with the British company preparing to begin initial drilling, the companies could take it no longer, and turned to the courts. They demand that the government fulfill the Oslo agreement and jointly develop the potential oil fields, and prevent the PA-commissioned British company from drilling. (arutzsheva.org Aug 22)
GSS Blocks Bin-Laden
International arch-terrorist Osama Bin-Laden has set his sights on Israel, but the General Security Service has apparently nipped his attempts in the bud for now. Three Palestinian terrorists who trained in Bin-Laden's camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been arrested of late, as well as ten Arabs who were enlisted in the terrorist efforts by one of the three. They were in the midst of planning various mass attacks on Israeli targets, as the many explosives and weapons found with them attested.Palestinians in the Shomron have been asked by PA security personnel to refrain from shooting in the air at wedding celebrations. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the request was rooted not in the disturbance and fear caused to the neighboring Jewish residents, but rather - according to the Palestinians - in the "waste of precious ammunition, which will be needed in the future." (arutzsheva.org Aug 22)
Blocking The Road to Kidmat Zion
A new Jewish neighborhood called Kidmat Zion is under construction in eastern Jerusalem, adjacent to the village of Abu Dis. Aryeh King, who is active in the building efforts, told Arutz-7 Tuesday that although the new area is planned to house some 250 Jewish families, and although it has all the municipal approvals, Jews can no longer access the area by road. "The only approach road to our site is through a road that passes 100 meters into Abu Dis, which is presently classified as 'Area B' (Palestinian civil control). Oslo allows the Palestinian Authority to place roadblocks on roads in Area B. When we cleared away an Arab-set blockade last Friday, PA workers responded by constructing an even larger one. A situation has therefore been created whereby, even before the PA receives full control over Abu Dis, we cannot get to our lands, which are located within sovereign Jerusalem." King added that there is an additional approach into Kidmat Zion that does not entail entering Abu Dis, but that it is only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles. He noted that he does not attribute the placing of the barrier to Palestinian schemes to block Kidmat Zion, but because of the proximity of the planned Palestinian parliament building.
According to King, neighborhood planners are in touch with a top aide of Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, and are keeping the city posted on the latest developments. "Whatever happens with the Abu Dis entrance," King concluded, "we are certain that Kidmat Zion will become a reality - since the city is behind our efforts, and is likely to pave other roads from the western part of Jerusalem to Kidmat Zion." King said that planners are hoping that yet another Jewish neighborhood will be constructed nearby, directly linking Kidmat Zion to the southeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Talpiot. (arutzsheva.org Aug 22)
Israeli Rescue Force Stoned by Arabs
Israeli policemen who came to rescue Arab women from a burning building in Shuafat last Friday were stoned by neighboring residents. Despite the barrage of stones, the police continued their rescue efforts. (A7 Aug 18)
Footnotes Turn into Destiny By Charley J. Levine
The story is well known. IDF soldiers fought their way to the Western Wall in June 1967, Rabbi Shlomo Goren blew a triumphal shofar and the Star of David was hoisted high atop the Temple Mount.
Within days, defense minister Moshe Dayan ordered the flag removed. The status quo was intuitively opted for, deemed the path of least resistance.
Today, three decades later, Ehud Barak is reportedly negotiating to permit the Palestinian flag to fly over that same cosmic tract of real estate, considered to be the holiest site in the world to the Jewish people.
During the 1970s, a certain part of the Israeli people concluded that the single vital challenge facing their generation was to settle the internationally disputed areas of Judea and Samaria, Golan and the environs of Gaza.
Early government resistance to this program gave way eventually to grudging cooperation and even warmly embraced support as governments of different values came and went.
Today's leaders from the Left such as Yossi Beilin and even Yossi Sarid, take it as a matter of fact that any permanent peace formula will enable the vast majority of Jewish residents of the territories to stay in place, under Israeli sovereignty and security, even though most of the actual land in question will be turned over to the Palestinians. This position, ironically, was tacitly accepted by no less than Yasser Arafat, according to reportage coming out of Camp David II.
History is a funny thing. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., time is not sacrosanct; there is nothing inevitable about the "march" or "flow" of time. Time is nothing more than what we make of it. The decisions made in 1967 and 1977 unquestionably come back to confront us now, as we approach a final peace framework. Footnotes turn into destiny.
Sometimes A little what-if is helpful to sharpening our thinking.
What if Moshe Dayan had left that Israeli flag in place on the Temple Mount? The Arab world was never weaker. The PLO, three years old, barely existed as an organized force. World opinion was saluting heroic Israel, the spunky little David.
In time, the Arabs, supported by the Moslem world, would have challenged Jewish control of this, their third holiest site. They would have passed UN resolutions, threatened oil sanctions and perhaps even made the liberation of al-Quds as a leitmotif of the Yom Kippur War.
Ironically, most of those events came to pass anyway. The only thing that did not happen was free, unfettered Jewish access to these sacred grounds.
Israel the victor behaved as the vanquished, and our position of magnanimous conqueror shifted over time into a self-fulfilling prophecy of absurd timidity. Today, Jewish policemen physically prevent Israeli citizens from praying on the Temple Mount, even though the worshipers are backed by Supreme Court rulings in their favor.
Imagine the uproar were Jews to be banned from praying in a synagogue or any other property in Boston or Beverly Hills. And yet in Israel, successive governments have preferred equanimity to the assertion of essential Jewish and civil rights.
When the settlers began planting new communities, the outcome was far from given. They might have failed abysmally in their clarion calls and attracted mere tens of thousands. They might have succeeded wildly and drawn a half-million Jews to the territories. Or they might have done what did in fact happen: firming up a respectable but still small Jewish populace of 200,000 souls in the so-called West Bank.
Had Beilin and Yael Dayan today been handed a situation in which 500,000 Jews lived in these areas, the negotiating table at Camp David would have been a totally different configuration; and the Palestinians would have had no choice but to make even more far-reaching breakthrough concessions.
Deferred decisions, compromises of the moment, expedient band-aid solutions: sometimes they seem so tremendously appealing. Yet today's historical footnotes have an uncanny way of coming back to haunt us, many years later, many times magnified.
We must not fear clashes of destiny. The State of Israel exists today because its founders acted decisively. We must not shirk from momentous challenges. We must only be convinced of the justness of our position, and all the rest will come naturally.
And we must ask the ultimate question: How will today's decisions look in 2020? (Jerusalem Post Aug 18)
The writer is a Jerusalem-based public relations consultant.
Don't let his yarmulke fool you, Joe Lieberman is no great backer of Israel. His Senate record reveals a man who has trimmed his sails more than a little to satisfy Bill Clinton and his pro-Palestinian Jewish advisers in the State Department and National Security Council.
And Lieberman's plan to meet with Louis Farrakhan, who questioned his loyalty to America, plus his remark that Pat Buchanan is "not at all an anti-Semite" made some Jews stop kvelling in their tractates over the first Jew to make a major-party national ticket.
In the opinion of the Zionist Organization of America, Lieberman has been entirely too close to the American Muslim Council, which gave him a top award two years ago. On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post went front page with attacks from such as Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League on the Farrakhan-Buchanan business.
When I mentioned some of this to one of Joe's wealthy Jewish friends in this gorgeous Rocky preserve, he blanched and said: "And I thought it was the altitude that made me breathless."
Well, only in America could the Jews finally get one of their own for vice president who counts on anti-Semites as some of his best friends.
"I enjoy Pat Buchanan's company, he's a bright, interesting guy who's been misinterpreted," Joe said on Meet the Press. The few Jews who defend Pat drink with him. Sobriety Joe just likes him for himself.
Here's a touch of Lieberman's Senate record on Israel: In 1994, he voted to confirm Strobe Talbot as Under Secretary of State. Talbot, in his career at Time magazine, was a worthy challenger of Buchanan for the anti-Zionist of the decade award. He compared Israel to Saddam Hussein, and called the Jewish state "a nasty and bitter nation, expansionist, scowling and obsessed with the Holocaust."
Jesse Helms said no on Talbot. Joe said yes.
And Lieberman was all for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem - until Al Gore gave him the nod. Today, Joe shakes off the yarmulke and agrees that now is not the time.
He boasts about his friendship with Yasser Arafat, whom he used to regularly condemn. He stands silent while the Democratic convention has Maher Hathout deliver an invocation. Hathout is a leading Muslim who calls Hezbollah "freedom fighters" - no matter that it's on the official U.S. list of terrorist groups and is credited with the massacre of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983.
Put it all together, and the only people who shouldn't be worried about Joe Lieberman on Israel are the Arabs and the American anti-Semites.
Not because Lieberman is anti-Israel; of course not. I am sure he loves Israel. All I worry about is his back. Because like most Jews who end up in the highest echelons of our government, he stands the real chance of throwing out his sacroiliac by bending over backwards.
The only question is whether the U.S. Treasury or the Muslim Council should pay for the chiropractor.
Only in America.
Joseph. Lieberman. Spoke. So. Slowly. Last. Night. That. I. Expected. Him. To. Make. This. Promise: "No child should be left behind, and by the time I'm finished with this speech, no American should be left awake."
Lieberman was so dull that he was entirely eclipsed only 20 minutes later by the sprightly and loving performance of Karenna Gore Schiff. It's a mark of how unserious our politics has become that a daughter should second the nomination of her father.
And it's a mark of how much trouble Gore is in that he needed his daughter to remind Americans that he is not a block of wood, but a person who loves and cares for his children - as though that's a great accomplishment.
Even so, Karenna did her family proud. A star was born last night. Unfortunately for the Democratic ticket, the star wasn't Joe Lieberman.
The vice-presidential nominee, who has spent 10 days fleeing from his own convictions, last night fled from the eloquence of his speech on the Senate floor two years ago denouncing Bill Clinton's immorality.
Hanging around Al Gore seems to have reduced Lieberman to baby-boomer solipsism: In this speech, as in so many of his speeches these last 10 days, he treated his elevation not as the assumption of a solemn responsibility but like he won the Lotto.
He said marrying Hadassah had made him "the luckiest guy in the world," and said "Mom, thank you, I love you, and you and I know dad would be proud tonight."
Excuse me, but what does all this sentimental Oscar-acceptance-speech junk have to do with running the country? Precious little, and you didn't hear Dick Cheney blathering like this two weeks ago. Cheney went right at the Democrats, offered concrete details about the Republican alternative and preserved his personal dignity.
Lieberman actually said little that was concrete about exactly why America should choose his ticket over the Republicans and surrendered the affect of modesty that has always made him an uncommonly attractive politician for the drippy excesses of Clintonism.
He attacked Bush's stewardship in Texas and said Al Gore was good for the environment. He made a joke about how Republicans only want to put new calendars in old classrooms but failed to tell America why the Democratic plan was better.
Mostly, he praised Gore for being a nice person. He said that when his then-6-year-old daughter met Al Gore, she said, "He must be a daddy." Maybe his daughter said that, and maybe the Democrats think America needs to hear it because the nation feels so little for Gore - but it has nothing to do with governance.
He also insisted Gore was a brave person, which he proved by - how else? - choosing Joe Lieberman. He repeated a troubling refrain from last week by praising Gore's "courage" in selecting him.
At a campaign stop in Atlanta on Friday, Lieberman said of Gore: "This is a man of courage! He showed it by picking me to be with him!"
See, because in case you haven't heard, Lieberman is Jewish. And in case you hadn't heard, his wife is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. And if you haven't heard by now, you will.
The flaunting of Lieberman's ethnicity is beginning to get tiresome - no, not only tiresome, but offensive. It's no wonder Lieberman has flip-flopped on affirmative action, because Lieberman has now decided to present himself to the Democratic Party and the nation as an affirmative-action pick.
The last thing American Jews need in 2000 is for the most prominent Jew in the country to assert his right to special privileges because of his (and my) people's troubled history.
He is a holy martyr. He will attain Paradise." We are used to hearing such sentiments voiced by Arab families from Samaria only to glorify the names and memories of slain terrorists. Most recently, however, they were uttered following the death of 24-year-old Omri Jada, a father of two whose wife was pregnant. Jada recently jumped into the waters of the Kinneret to save a Jewish child, but unfortunately drowned himself.
This is not an isolated case. In June of this year, after Ahmed Frej died in a traffic accident, his family donated his organs; they were transplanted to eight recipients. The deceased was named after his grandfather who was murdered in the Kfar Kassem massacre of 1956. His other grandfather, Mahmud, who was wounded in the same incident, said, "Despite all that our family has experienced, we didn't take the past into consideration. We just wanted to make many Jewish families happy. We have no desire for vengeance. This will lead to rapprochement between Jewish and Arab hearts."
In 1998, the family of yet another traffic accident victim - this time from the El-Burej refugee camp in Gaza - donated his organs, and explained: "This will foster better relations between the two peoples. Our blood is identical."
In a special file in my archives, entitled "Light," I found yet another case, and there are probably many others. Veteran Kiryat Arba residents, including myself, can recall from personal experience the assistance which Arabs render Jewish travelers in distress on the roads. Only two weeks ago, an Arab neighbor surprised us by passing on through the fence a sack of cucumbers that he had just harvested from his field, accompanied with his blessings.
I have noted these items not in order to depict a non-existent idyllic state of relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Amidst the personal and human relations which each of us has probably experienced, there is the familiar terror: rocks, Molotov cocktails, hostile acts, and more. These very days, we are readying defensive measures to counter violent Arab forays into our communities, while at the same time these communities are filled with Arabs in building, services, trade and industry. Along with the examples of light that I have cited, one can juxtapose many cases of "darkness." For example, not a few times have Jewish ambulances rushed to rescue of Arab victims, only to be simultaneously targeted by Arab stone throwers.
This, then, is the true picture - a mixture of light and darkness. As someone once said, "It's impossible with the Arabs, and it's impossible without them." Undoubtedly there are Arabs who say the same thing about us. Reality mocks all the theories.
Ehud Barak, implementer of the program of "Peace Now," himself makes use of the expression made famous by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane: "They will be there - we will be here." Here, then, is proof that the principle of separation is common to the extreme left and the extreme right. At the junction of theories that cannot be implemented in reality, the extremes meet.
Many theories were shattered at Camp David. The left wing's assumption that the "Palestinian problem is the heart of the conflict" is but one example.
Barak - and those who foolishly idolize him ? take pride in his "courage to place everything on the table" at Camp David, and to dare touch upon the "exposed nerves", including Jerusalem ? the real heart of the conflict with the Palestinians. What emerged from that summit, however, is that the very heart of the conflict is not Palestinian, but Pan-Arab. Mubarak, and the Arab world as a whole, will not grant Arafat a free hand to compromise on Jerusalem. Arafat, too, admitted at Camp David: "I am not the boss of this house…"
Let us recall a dialogue between two Arab rulers at the Amman Conference of 1987, cited by Ma'ariv (Nov. 30, 1987):Assad of Syria: "Palestine is mine, part of Syria. There was never an independent state called Palestine." Hussein of Jordan: "The appearance of a distinct Palestinian national personality emerged for the purpose of rebutting the Israeli argument that Palestine is Jewish..."
It emerges, then, that the attempt to bring about the end of the conflict with the Arab world by turning Jerusalem over to Arafat - and the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians, in spite of an apprehensive and antagonistic Jordan - was merely rash and almost childishly naive.
Another fundamental and axiomatic assumption of the "Peace Camp" was that one could induce the Palestinians to waive their demand for the "right of return." Here, too, Barak managed to expose an unusually raw and sensitive nerve, but to what avail? It was merely demonstrated once again that Arafat and his establishment do not exercise exclusive authority over the problem. It emerged that Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the refugees themselves are also direct parties, and they are also partners to the sacred myth of dispersion and return - material, spiritual and ideological assets that they will not forfeit. Arafat explained this to Clinton in the following way: "If I do concede on the matter of the refugees, they will put a bullet through my brain. "
Once upon a time, the late Yitzchak Rabin visited the military government headquarters in Hevron. In an ensuing discussion, I told him that the rocks that often hit my car on the road to Jerusalem near the Dahaishe refugee camp were not targeted at me ? since the Arab residents of Dahaishe are not interested in my home in Kiryat Arba. They desire only the places from whence they came, such as Jaffa and Haifa. They want, for instance, the site in Tel Aviv where Rabin's house stands. The rocks were hurled at me, I explained, simply because I chanced to pass by at that particular moment - but it was he, Rabin, rather than myself, who was the true target.
Indeed, the Israeli government once offered the residents of Dahaishe adjacent (Jewish) land for building; they would not even be required to waive their demands for their former original places. The reply was negative. Rabin heard; he didn't respond and he didn't internalize the message.
"So what?" asks the Peace Camp. "Will the sword forever feast? (i.e., will there never be an end to war?)
As long as we are strong and exude determination and confidence in the justice of our cause, there is no necessity for war to erupt. But at the same time, there is not the slightest chance to attain "Peace," and there will not be Peace - at least not in our time… On the contrary, the "exposure of sensitive nerves" in order to obtain peace, the irresponsible attempt to bring about a "solution" at any price, is a sure recipe for war.
The leftist sages seem to have never considered another, simpler notion, namely, that we can live without peace and without war - in other words, without a "solution." Have we not - without a "solution" - grown 100-fold from the 50,000 residents of eighty years ago to a Jewish population of 5 million - without "peace"?
Where would we be today if the boundaries had been fixed and frozen in the year 1937 according to the Peel Commission map giving us only the Sharon, the Jezre'el Valley, and a slice of the Galilee?
And what would have happened had we been confined to the 1947 UN partition boundaries without Nahariya, Acre and Nazareth; without Jaffa, Ramle and Lod; without Be'er Sheva, Ashkelon and the Jerusalem corridor; and with an internationalized Jerusalem - even the western half?
And where would be in Yesha and Jerusalem without the results of the 1967 Six Day War?
We didn't want these wars, and we wouldn't have voluntarily sacrificed the lives of our children by initiating them. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the fact that in the absence of peace, we have established a strong state, we have begun ingathering our exiles, and we have built a flourishing economy. And why wasn't there peace? Precisely because the Arabs opposed such growth!
The converse is also true: Our growth would not have been possible and our very existence would have been in doubt had we been prepared to pay the real price for peace - strangulation boundaries, a halt or drastic reduction of Jewish immigration, and the Arab "right of return".
The Left loves to slay sacred cows. In fact, not a single "national" cow has survived the left's slaughtering knife, and the left has still not satiated its desires. Maybe the time has come to slaughter also some sacred cows of the opposing side? For example, the cows named "Peace", "Solution", and "End to the Conflict"?
Is it not, perhaps, more sensible to seek a "modus vivendi" - which means to live, even without a "solution" - precisely because one wisely ignores "the raw nerves?" To live, by overcoming the childish impulse to disassemble the watch at any price, even at the cost of breaking it. Maybe our Prime Minister's great expertise in disassembling watches is a liability, rather than an asset?
An absence of peace is not necessarily war. The peace on the Golan, which has lasted since Yom Kippur, 27 years ago, demonstrates this. We live with the Arabs and they live with us - without peace. Who fills our hospitals? Who mans the reception tables in the hotels? Who prepares and serves food in our restaurants and cafes? How many Arab doctors and academics do we employ? Why do over 80% of the Arabs in Um El Fahm and most of Jerusalem's Arabs refuse to separate themselves from us? It is the necessities of life that speak, the economic benefits as well as the advantages of living in a democratic regime, despite all the sometimes-justified complaints.
All of this, the "Peace Camp" is attempting to destroy attaining a "formal peace" at any price, including a terrible war where the blood of the casualties, ours and theirs, will erase even that measure practical co-existence which exists today - and will extinguish the few points of light such as Omri Jada's sacrifice and the noble words of his family. (arutzsheva.org Aug 18)
The writer, a former Knesset Member from the Techiya party, is a frequent contributor to Arutz-7 and Yediot Acharonot. He lives in Kiryat Arba.