A Collection of the Week's News from Israel

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

15 Elul 5759    August 27, 1999    Issue number 232


NEWS

Waiting for Madeleine

The talks with the Palestinians continued this week in the King David Hotel, amidst what it is generally considered to be an impasse. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that many issues have been resolved, but the disagreement over the release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners is holding thing up. "Although Israel's official position remains the same," Huberman said, "there is a thick fog of obscurity hovering over this issue, and Israel may well take major steps towards the Palestinians on this issue." Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will depart for the U.S. tonight, where he will meet with Albright. Yediot Acharonot reporter Roni Shaked explained to Arutz-7 that the Palestinians feel very strongly about the matter of the prisoners' release: "Almost every family is affected by this, and it is really a part of their milieu. They feel that if the Israelis are talking with Arafat and [other big-time former terrorists], then certainly the ones who were sent by them should be set free - or at least the 750 that Netanyahu promised!" [ed. note: In Nov. '98, then-Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh said that Israel emphasized during the Wye Plantation talks that of the 750 prisoners to be released, no more than 250 would be security prisoners. Israeli officials have consistently stated that this was clear to Clinton, Arafat, and others at Wye. Naveh was then conducting negotiations on the release of prisoners, on behalf of the Likud government, with Saeb Erekat.]

Arutz-7's Ariel Kahane asked about the hunger strike of Arab prisoners in Ashkelon - "Is it spontaneous, or guided from above?" Shaked responded, "Nothing in the PA is spontaneous any more. Gone are the days of the intifada - everything now is done purposefully and with forethought. This strike - which is not a hunger strike, as they have plenty of food in their rooms, but rather a refusal to receive meals - didn't just break out on its own, but was coordinated specifically for now, during this artificial crisis that the PA has created. The PA feels that Albright's visit next week will place more pressure on Israel. But I think they're not reading the map correctly: The Americans, by Barak's request, are backing down a little from their active role. Albright's visit to Israel will be very short, and with much emphasis on Syria. The Palestinians are upset at this, but they don't realize that the age of little gestures and delays is over - Barak is sincerely interested in conducting real negotiations leading to a genuine agreement..." (Arutz 7 Aug 25)

Israelis Rescue 3-year-old Boy after Six Days

In the Turkish town of Cinarjik, where ten Israelis were killed by the quake, Israeli rescue workers pulled a three-year-old boy - alive - out of the rubble Monday. He had been buried there for six days, and his condition is now considered satisfactory. The Israeli team was called to the site after a Turkish crew noticed signs of life under one of the collapsed buildings. Sunday, the Israeli team, with the assistance of Turkish and Bulgarian volunteers, saved a 54-year-old woman from under the ruins in the same town. A small sampling of quotes from newspapers in Italy regarding the Israeli rescuers in Turkey:

Turkish authorities have called off rescue operations, and are now dealing with hauling off the rubble and housing the homeless. (Arutz 7 Aug 23)

Arafat Honors Murderer

Yasser Arafat awarded the highest Palestinian decoration yesterday to terrorist murderer Halil Al-Ra'i. Al-Ra'i was convicted 25 years ago of killing Israeli policeman Moshe Carmeli in Gaza, and has sat in Israeli prison ever since. This week, in a gesture to the Palestinian Authority, Israel released him from prison. Arafat informed Al-Ra'i that he was receiving the "Jerusalem Decoration" in recognition of his "struggle." (Arutz 7 Aug 20)

Foreign Minister Levy: Palestinians Want to Quit Oslo

Foreign Minister David Levy accuses the Palestinian Authority of having no intention of coming to an Oslo-mandated final-status agreement following the Wye withdrawals. He cited the recent public Voice of Palestine radio statements of Palestinian senior figure Yasser Abed Rabbo, who said that after Wye, there will be no final-stage agreement unless Israel agrees to return to the pre-Six Day War borders. Abu Mazen recently made similar threats. Levy said that the present impasse in the talks has been artificially created by the Palestinians. (Arutz 7 Aug 19)

Safe-Passage for Who?

The so-called "safe passage" route for Palestinians between PA-controlled areas in Gaza and Judea/Samaria is still mired in controversy. So reports Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman. "Israel is attempting to stand firm on whatever security issues are still salvageable after the Wye negotiations," he said. "Until Wye, Israel insisted that all Arabs travelling along the route require advance security clearance. Israel dropped this demand at Wye. Another concession made by Israel relates to security checks: Until Wye, the IDF demanded that it conduct the checks on incoming Palestinian cars. At Wye, the Israeli negotiating team agreed that PA paramilitary policemen would search the cars and passengers, under Israeli supervision. This means that Palestinians will be able to freely traverse Israeli territory, without being checked by Israeli security." Members of the security establishment told Huberman this week that, after the above two concessions, Israel cannot withstand any more 'safe-passage' compromises. Israel is therefore standing firm on the issue of the location of the northern checkpoints. Two roads are slated to reach PA territory from Gaza, Huberman explained - one from the Erez checkpoint through to Bet Guvrin in the northern Negev towards Hevron, the other from Erez to Latrun, through Beit Horon up to Ramallah. "Regarding this second, more northern road, the Palestinians want their checkpoint to be located under the Latrun bridge, in close proximity to the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. They argue that since this the official location of the 'Green Line,' this is where Palestinian territory begins.

Israel, for its part, first insisted that the checkpoint be located near Ramallah, and has now compromised on Mevo Horon - only a few kilometers east of Latrun." Another issue of dispute, Huberman reports, is what traffic will be permitted to travel on the new road. Israel wants a gradual opening of the route, first to convoys of buses, then to convoys of private cars, and only later to individual private vehicles. Huberman noted, "As it is, the movement of lone vehicles along the route is fraught with security risks: When a vehicle leaves Erez, it will be given a sticker to put on its window. Officials at Erez will call ahead to the checkpoint at the other end, and the car will have a certain amount of time to reach the final destination. If the car does not arrive within that time, Israeli security forces will begin a search - but it is obvious that by the time a search begins, a car bomb could already be in Ashkelon or Tel Aviv." (Arutz 7 Aug 25)

PA Will Demand Right of "Return"

The Palestinians will demand the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel in the framework of the final-status talks. So said terrorist leader Naif Hawatme Tuesday in Qatar , adding that he and Yasser Arafat came to an agreement on this point during their meeting Sunday. (Arutz 7 Aug 24)

Eyewitness: "Sarid Stood by While His Driver Beat Man"

Education Minister Yossi Sarid's driver is under police investigation for assaulting a mentally-unstable hareidi man. The incident occurred last Tuesday, in the Shmuel HaNavi neighborhood of Jerusalem. Arutz-7 heard the following eye-witness account: "I was driving along Bar Ilan Ave., when I saw a hareidi man - whom I later realized was psychologically unbalanced - hitting a non-religious woman. I stopped my motor scooter, and pulled him away and stopped him from hitting her. Suddenly, Sarid's car pulled up, and the driver got out with cruelty on his face. He came over to us, where I had the man on the floor, in my hands, and certainly no longer touching the woman! - and the driver threw him against the barbed wire fence and started hitting him mercilessly. He was bleeding from his mouth, and nose, and his back was cut... I said to Sarid, 'Why don't you stop him? What is this violence? Why is he acting like an animal? You saw that I stopped him already from hitting her! Stop him!' Sarid didn't answer, and after a while they just drove off." The witness filed a complaint with the police. (Arutz 7 Aug 24)

Lebanese Journalist to Be Punished for Covering Israeli Event

Lebanese authorities are attempting to deal with a crisis caused by a Lebanese Broadcast Corporation reporter Monday. He covered Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy's press conference after the dedication of a new bridge over the Jordan River, and his LBC microphone was clearly visible during the television broadcast. Lebanese Information Ministry officials convened Tuesday for urgent deliberations on the incident, and will decide what disciplinary actions to take against the reporter. LBC aired an apology for the reporter's behavior, and assured the public that an appropriate punishment is being considered. (Arutz 7 Aug 24)

Israel Not Sufficiently Ready

The Knesset Audit Committee held a session Monday on Israel's readiness for a possible earthquake. The discussion was called in light of the catastrophic quake suffered by Turkey last week. Arutz-7's Yehoshua Mor-Yosef summed up the meeting by saying that on paper, Israel is ready, but in practice the building codes are not sufficiently enforced or implemented. The last major earthquake in Israel was in 1927, and experts say that as more time passes, the greater is the likelihood that a major quake will occur here. Avi Shapira, head of Israel's Seismographic Institute, told the Knesset committee today that a future quake could reach 7.5 on the Richter scale - approximately the same as the quake in Turkey. The most likely spots for an earthquake to hit Israel would be from the Kinneret area to Kiryat Shmonah, the Jordan Valley, and in the Carmel (Haifa) region. "The committee is expected to make a decision today - not to establish another committee to look into the matter, as might have been expected, but rather to appoint a specific body to deal practically with the problems," reported Mor-Yosef.. (Arutz 7 Aug 23)

Arutz-7 Ruling Pushed off for Another Three Months

Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak acceded to a request by the State Attorney's office Monday, and will push off a final ruling on the Arutz-7 law for at least three months. Barak, who called the special session, said that he had read in the newspapers that the coalition was planning to pass a new law to regulate special-interest radio stations. He said that he needed to verify this, since the Court was busy at work on a ruling on the appeal against the already-existing law legalizing Arutz-7. The government representative said that there is in fact such a proposal, and asked for a delay of three months in the ruling. Arutz-7's legal counsel, Dan Sela, asked that the ruling be handed down at once, and that the coalition's future legislative plans not be taken into account. Atty. Renato Yarak, representing the current law's sponsor - former Knesset Member Tzvi Hendel - said that he did not object to a delay, as he was confident that the government would not succeed in passing a new law. It was emphasized at the session that Arutz-7 is presently legal, even if the implementation of the licensing is being delayed by the court appeal. Arutz-7 Executive Director Yaakov (Katzele) Katz said that, "The Supreme Court is in the uncomfortable position of not wanting to invalidate an existing law, and also not wanting to go against the State Prosecution. Putting off a final decision is a convenient, if temporary, way out for him." (Arutz 7 Aug 23)

Barak Appoints Yeshiva Draft Committee

Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in his capacity as Defense Minister, appointed a public committee Monday to make recommendations on an arrangement for the drafting of yeshiva students into the IDF. The committee will be headed by former Supreme Court Judge Tzvi Tal, an observant Jew, and will be comprised of nine other religious and non-religious members. Barak instructed the committee to propose agreed-upon legislation to enable the Defense Minister to grant deferments and/or exemptions to full-time yeshiva students. The committee was also requested to make recommendations for the development of frameworks for the integration of hareidim into the IDF, and examine the possibility of lowering of the existing exemption age to enable more members of this sector to enter the labor force. Barak said that he has "high hopes" for the committee. (Arutz 7 Aug 23)

Peres Still Idle

Prime Minister Ehud Barak has still not found a solution for Shimon Peres. The areas of responsibility of the new Ministry of Regional Development, which Peres now heads, have still not been formulated. (Arutz 7 Aug 22)

Said Not What He Said

Leading Palestinian-American intellectual and Columbia University Professor Edward Said may not really be a Palestinian refugee after all. So says a recent article by Dr. Justus Reid Weiner in Commentary Magazine, an article given extensive coverage in this weekend's UK Electronic Telegraph. Weiner, scholar-in-residence at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, writes that though Said has often claimed that he spent most of his "formative years" in Jerusalem, and has suggested that he was made to leave the city under Jewish threats prior to the War of Independence, three years of research have led to the conclusion that Said falsified his life story. "The young Edward Said resided in luxurious apartments, attended private English schools, and played tennis at Cairo's exclusive Gezira sporting club, as the child of one of its few Arab members," writes Weiner. "He [Said] has served up - and consciously encouraged others to serve up - a wildly distorted version of the truth, made up in equal parts of outright deception and of artful obfuscating." Telegraph journalists Alan Philps and Daniel Johnson report that Said was not available for comment late last week, "but is said to be working on a revised version of his childhood, entitled 'Out of Place,' which correctly places his childhood in Cairo, but offers no explanation for his past claims." As an example of Said's political activities, he delivered a Rice University (Texas) President's Lecture on "The Tragedy of Palestine" in March 1998. A Rice University billing of the talk wrote, "For Edward Said, the Middle East peace process is not just an ongoing news story about a faraway place. It is about the salvation of his homeland..." Said is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and served from 1977 to 1991 on the Palestine National Council, the Palestinian "parliament in exile." (Arutz 7 Aug 22)

Captured Terrorists Carried out at Least Four Shootings

A terrorist cell was captured last week. The seven terrorists, from the Palestinian-controlled village of Araba, operated in the Jenin area, between Shechem and Afula. In the past eleven months, they carried out four attacks: the shooting of Eitan Vaknin of Mevo Dotan two weeks ago; a similar assault on an IDF patrol a month ago; the wounding of Carlos Vasales of Ganim nine months ago; and the shooting on Arkadi Turtsinsky a month before that. The murder of Edvard Berdichinsky in his torched car in the same area has still not been solved. The commander of the cell, Ma'id Muhammad Na'if Hardan, engineered the murder of policeman Meir Alush in Kfar Bidiya in 1996, and directed the bungled Machaneh Yehuda car bomb attack in Jerusalem in November 1998. He remains in Palestinian Authority prison in Shechem, from where he issued orders to the just-captured terrorists. The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza praised the security forces for apprehending the terror cell, adding that this further proved that transferring more area to the Palestinian Authority will only broaden the base for increased terrorist activity. Shomron Regional Council head Bentzi Lieberman noted that residents of Samaria rely on the IDF to seek out and capture Arab terrorists. (Arutz 7 Aug 22)

Arab Traffic Allowed Alongside Jewish Homes in Hevron

King David St. in Hevron, known as the Shuhada, was opened to Arab traffic last Thursday for the first time in five and a half years - despite the Hevron Jewish Community's warnings of the inherent dangers. It had originally been closed for security reasons. Several Jewish families live in Beit Hadassah and other buildings along the street, and it is feared that they will be vulnerable to attacks by drive-by terrorists heading into Arafat-controlled territory. "Is this the reward Arabs receive for terror?" asked a Hevron Jewish Community announcement. "Less than two weeks ago, two Hevron men were shot at by Arab terrorists [outside Hevron, and] earlier this week a booby-trapped car exploded in the Arafat-controlled part of the city. According to security reports, Arab terrorists intended to explode the car inside the Jewish Quarter." Hevron's Jews say that their warnings before the implementation of the Hevron agreement "have, unfortunately, become reality. Hevron has become a haven for terrorists... Again, we have no choice but to warn of the consequences... We call on Prime Minister Ehud Barak to halt the reopening of King David Street and to stop awarding prizes for terror!" In protest of the decision, several Jewish residents of Hevron, led by spokesman Noam Arnon, attempted to drive along Shuhada, towards old Jewish sites currently in PA-controlled Hevron - Kikar HaShoter (Police Square), the old Bank Leumi building, and the Slobodka Yeshiva. Upon reaching the border-straddling Beit Romano, however, the motorcade was stopped by a large contingent of police and soldiers, who called the Jewish actions a "provocation." Arnon explained that the group was on its way to "visit historic Jewish sites, and that there is no intention of provocation. If this street is open to both Arab and Jewish traffic, then the continuation of the street should also be open to everyone." The police officer ticketed Arnon for interfering with traffic. The Hevron Jewish Community reports that Prime Minister Barak was described as being 'determined to reopen the road,' and rejected all attempts by certain ministers to prevent or postpone it. The Hevron Jewish community plans further actions in protest of the opening of King David Street to Arab traffic. (Arutz 7 Aug 19)

Investigation into Barak Campaign

Three months after the elections, the Non-Profit Associations Registrar in the Interior Ministry, Atty. Amiram Bogat, has ordered an investigation into various such associations that worked on behalf of Ehud Barak's election. Barak's One Israel party, according to the suspicions, violated the election-funding law by activating many of these associations to raise illegal funds for the campaign. In addition to two organizations that were established legally for this purpose - "Leadership 2000" and "Barak for Prime Minister" - another 15 organizations were created that ostensibly worked on behalf of educational and social goals, but are accused of working for Barak's political goals. In addition, the members of many of these new groups were close colleagues of Barak and top Labor party officials. The law limits campaign contributions from associations for political purposes to 10,000 shekels. Likud MK Michael Eitan warned of this phenomenon several days before the election, and called upon Ehud Barak - "whom I assume is not involved with this" - to uproot and not to whitewash these illegal activities. (Arutz 7 Aug 19)

The legal counsel of the Labor Party is refusing to cooperate with the Non-Profit Associations Registrar, Atty. Amiram Bogot, in the latter's investigation of some of Labor's campaign funding practices. Bogot had asked Labor for various documents connected with the activities of several non-profit associations that supported Ehud Barak's Prime Ministerial election bid. Bogot suspects that nine of these organizations enabled Barak and Labor to skirt the campaign-funding law. The Labor party counsel claims that Bogot is associated with the Likud, and that this is a political investigation. Bogot rejects these allegations outright, and insists that the claims against Labor are well-founded. (Arutz 7 Aug 20)

Author: Peace Process May Hit Israel Water-wise

A new book called "The Politics of Water in the Middle East," written by Dr. Martin Sherman of Tel Aviv University and the Ariel Center for Policy Research, claims that Israel cannot afford to give up the Golan Heights, even if only for its water value. Speaking with Arutz-7, Sherman said that the Golan affects some 1/3 of Israel's water supply, as the entire Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) is dependent upon the Golan. "If we forfeit the Golan, we lose the drainage basin and have effectively lost control of the Kinneret... Those who wrote that the Golan has only 10% of Israel's water supply are probably referring to the amount of water physically present there at any given time." News Editor Haggai Segal noted that the working assumption of those supporting a peace deal with Syria is that "the Syrians will commit themselves not to disrupt the flow of water from the Golan to the Kinneret." Sherman responded: "If I would tell you that you are about to sign a contract with a cruel murderer and drug dealer who pledges that he will guard your precious resources - would you sign it?" Segal said, "Well, let me rephrase the question: Syria is also dry and in need of water. If Israel does not forfeit the Golan, Syria's problem will intensify, ultimately leading to a war between the countries." Sherman: "There is a certain contradiction in what you're saying: Now you are suggesting that Syria may go to war with us if it faces a water shortage, while you previously said that Syria could be counted on to guard Israel's interests in a peace deal between the countries. If Syria finds itself in trouble at any time, why should it prefer Israel's water interests over its own? In any event, the Golan's water is not what will cause Syria to go to war - if anything, it will be Turkey's control over the Euphrates River waters... Incidentally, Syria has already shown that it does not abide by water deals. In the past, it failed to honor all sorts of joint arrangements it signed with Jordan involving dams on the Yarmuk River." The Oslo process, too, threatens Israel's water supply, says Sherman. "The mountain plateau of Judea and Samaria also provides 1/3 of the country's water, in very rough terms. in addition, the plateau plays a critical role in national water management, as a place where surplus Kinneret water is stored during particularly rainy years. This function becomes crucial in dry years. If we give up on the mountain plateau, this system simply breaks down." (Arutz 7 Aug 19)


Commentary

Hateful Lies in Israel's Schools By Eric Fettmann

Last Saturday's infuriating front-page New York Times story about new Israeli school textbooks that deliberately set out to shatter the "myths" of Zionism and "replace them with facts" brought to mind, surprisingly enough, the classic World War II movie,"Bridge on the River Kwai."

The new texts for Israel's state-sponsored schools are the result, the Times reported, of a little-publicized five-year campaign by Michael Yaron, an Education Ministry official. The books teach that the long-accepted view of Israel's founding is grounded in myths designed to hide the nefarious "machinations" of early Zionist leaders to build an "iron-walled Jewish state" at the expense of the Arab population, which did not flee in fear but was forcibly expelled by Israeli soldiers

Consider this the greatest triumph of Israel's so-called "new history" movement (which began, not coincidentally, with the start of the Palestinian intifada in the late '80s). Indeed, says the author of one of the new textbooks, Israelis must face up to these "facts" just as "Americans deal with the Indians and black enslavement."

It's true that all nations, societies and political movements contain myths that can't always withstand close scrutiny. History is rarely black and white; recognizing the gray areas usually lends a fuller understanding of our past. But the "new historians," whose dubious scholarship has been rebutted by serious scholars, don't merely suggest that Israel's history contains myths. They contend - just as Israel's enemies have for the past half-century - that the foundation of the Jewish State is a mammoth lie, rooted in immorality, injustice, deception and war crimes.

As Princeton University history professor L. Carl Brown wrote last year in the academic journal Foreign Affairs, "the common theme running through all this new history" is that, from the beginning, Israel's "Machiavellian" leadership "did not draw away from violence when that seemed warranted and was in no hurry to move toward peace, but preferred to hang on to every gain achieved while keeping an eye peeled out for more."

The new historians, like Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim, argue that Israel is strong enough and mature enough to confront these so-called realities. That's where "Kwai" comes in: They're much like the film's Col. Nicholson (Alec Guiness), who believes he can strengthen his imprisoned soldiers' discipline by having them build a bridge that's even better and more sturdy than their Japanese captors have designed - even though that bridge will be used to help the Japanese kill more Allied soldiers.

The Palestinians have every reason to be delighted with Israel's new historians. "Israelis are now saying that the Palestinians are right and we are wrong," historian Ephraim Karsh has argued. "It's self-flagellation. They're pawns in the hands of Arab propagandists."

Sadly, it's even more than that. A controversial documentary series shown last year on Israeli television was based on the same "new" history - denigrating the achievements of the pioneer generation by portraying leaders like David Ben-Gurion as manipulative, war-hungry liars, while simultaneously ignoring Israel's miraculous achievements in absorbing massive immigration and (to use a phrase that is no less true for being a cliche) rebuilding a country and making the desert bloom.

Instead, the documentary, called "Tkuma," which means "rebirth," stressed Israel's alleged brutality in war and its "theft" of Arab lands. It even subtly defended the Palestinians' use of terrorism to reclaim lands lost in the 1948 War of Independence. As Ariel Sharon correctly argued, the series "distorted the history of our redemption, abandoning every moral basis for the establishment of the state of Israel and its continued existence."

That, in fact, is the key to the "new history." Born at a time of violent Palestinian opposition to Israel, its strength is peaking even as many on the left suggest openly that Jews no longer need a state of their own. If the Jewish State was born in moral illegitimacy, what justification can there be for maintaining it?

And make no mistake - this is exactly the argument that these historians use. "How one perceives [the events of] 1948 bears heavily on how one perceives the whole Zionist/Israeli experience," Morris has written. "If Israel was born tarnished, besmirched by original sin, then it was no more deserving of [Western] grace and assistance than were its [Arab] neighbors."

Moreover, they understand precisely the implications of these argument and the uses to which they can - and will - be put. "You're undermining things basic to the identity and statehood," Morris told the New York Times last February. "It goes to the heart of the nature of Zionism."

The Arab world is quick to pick up this theme. When Haifa University sociologist Ilan Pappe argues that "if Israel wants to reconcile with the Arab world, it will have to come to terms with its colonial past,"

Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi responds that "questions of restitution, atonement, of someone taking responsibility for what was done to the Palestinians, could be affected by critical history."

Israelis need not wear moral blinders to be justly proud of their history, which is unparalleled in modern times. Historians such as Martin Gilbert and Conor Cruise O'Brien have written copiously of the nation's achievements without ignoring some of the Jewish state's less-than-shining moments.

But the "new historians" prefer to tear away at Israel's moral legitimacy. And here is where life no longer imitates art. Unlike Col. Nicholson in "Kwai," don't expect to see Benny Morris or Michael Yaron destroy the tainted bridge they've built by detonating an explosive with the plaintive cry, "What have I done?" (New York Post Aug 18)


Guilty Even When Proven Innocent By Aaron Lerner

The demonization of the settlers has been a key feature of the Palestinians' propaganda program, to which their Jewish fellow travelers have certainly made their contribution.

"Where are the Israeli Jews. . .who will stand up to these thugs? The settlements and the settlers are a daily threat to me," declared top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, in reaction to the acquittal of Nahum Korman last week.

The human rights organization B'Tselem also criticized Jerusalem District Court Judge Ruth Orr's ruling, which exonerated Korman of involvement in the October 1996 death of 11-year-old Hilmi Shusha in the Palestinian village of Husan. The group claimed it was part of a characteristic trend of negligent handling of cases involving Israeli citizens who injure Palestinians.

Unfortunately, it came as no surprise that immediately after the incident occurred, the dovish, religious group Netivot Shalom, putting appearances ahead of justice, made efforts to discourage fund-raising for Korman's defense, arguing that while "we are not saying that Korman does not deserve legal defense like all other citizens...an appeal like that at a time like this is tantamount to giving support for his action."

Rabbi Haim Druckman defended his appeal for funds for Korman, noting that "I want to make it possible for him to defend himself ... I am not saying who is right or not, I want the court to determine. But I don't want people to already determine that he is guilty."

Now that Judge Orr has found the case against Korman relied heavily on false testimony and a pathology report revised to jibe with those depositions, former Netivot Shalom leader Yitzhak Frankenthal told me that "in retrospect there was no need to intervene" to block the fund-raising. Small comfort when one considers what might have happened if others had heeded his group's call.

And the reaction of Erekat's so-called "settler thugs" to the news? Relief, yes. But they are not celebrating that Korman got away with murdering a Palestinian boy. Instead they rejoiced that, this time, the legal system worked and an innocent man was set free.

Hilmi Shusha's death is not reenacted at mass rallies by masked settlers and the settler's schoolchildren are not taught that Korman is a hero in the struggle to liberate Greater Israel from the Palestinians. Most don't even know who he is.

And what of B'Tselem's charges of unequal treatment? Take a look at the methodology they used to make their case.

Tomer Feffer, B'Tselem's spokesman, explained that for their study they looked at the 113 Palestinian deaths in which Israelis were involved and 90 Israeli deaths in which Palestinians were involved, since 1989 in the territories.

"I am not going into if the action was justified on the grounds of self-defense or anything else. I haven't a clue. I only say that these are the numbers. I then look at how the cases were handled - how many cases were opened, prosecuted, guilty judgements handed down and sentences."

Feffer is confident that the settlers get off easy because the courts found 32 Palestinians guilty of murder but only four Jews (the four do not include Baruch Goldstein, whose massacre of Palestinians in Hebron wasn't adjudicated since he was killed by the Palestinians on the spot).

But when one compares the background of the bulk of the Israeli cases to the Palestinian ones it becomes clear why Feffer avoids going into details.

The typical case against an Israeli hinges on whether the Palestinian death resulted from an excessive use of force in self-defense. In sharp contrast, Palestinians typically planned in advance to attack their Israeli victims.

Why is the B'Tselem report limited to deaths?

Take a look at page 167 of the Shamgar Commission Report that appeared following the Goldstein killings. It notes that from the start of the intifada to April 3, 1994 alone, there were 154,754 stone-throwing incidents, 5,655 firebombs, 2,979 assaults and knifings and 256 hand grenades thrown by Palestinians against Israelis. And many a stone has been thrown since 1994.

When one considers that in the typical Palestinian attack against civilians, the Israelis on the receiving end were armed, one can only marvel at the tremendous self-restraint that they have shown in the face of life-threatening situations.

The future of the settlements may be subject to debate, but the rights of the settlers to justice and security, as unambiguously guaranteed by the Oslo Accords, should be beyond dispute. (c) Jerusalem Post


A Murderer Is a Murderer By Evelyn Gordon

Could anyone believe that blowing up buses or planes full of innocent people is justified in name of a "national interest?"

With another mass release of Arab terrorists growing increasingly likely as a "good-will" gesture to the Palestinians, right-wing circles have once again raised the demand that in the name of "balance," Jews who murdered Arabs be released as well. Justice Minister Yossi Beilin has rightly concluded that acceding to this demand would be a grave error - but for all the wrong reasons.

Beilin's reasoning, in fact, is even more detrimental to the cause of justice than the demand he is opposing, as it would actually justify the commission of additional murders. But ironically, it also provides the best possible illustration of why the Arab prisoner release he does favor creates a travesty of justice.

The correct reason for opposing a release of Jewish murderers alongside Arab ones is simple: Any decent society ought to favor having as few murderers on its streets as possible. The more murderers of any nationality are

released, the worse off the rest of us will be. If the government does decide on an unjustifiable release of Arab killers, the situation will not made any better by an unjustifiable release of Jewish killers as well.

But Beilin was not content to leave it at that. Instead, he tried to draw a distinction between Arab and Jewish murderers: The former were justified - or at least consolable - while the latter were not.

"There is no connection between Palestinian security prisoners, who acted in the service of organizations which have [since] signed an agreement with us, and Jews who were sent by no one, who did not act on behalf of any Israeli national interest and who acted on their own to kill Arabs," Beilin declared last Wednesday.

There are two egregious flaws in this argument. The first is the implication that murdering at the behest of an organization is somehow more justifiable than murdering on one's own initiative. One would have thought that the "I was just following orders" excuse had been laid to rest for all time by the Nuremberg trials following World War II. To see it being revived by an Israeli justice minister, of all people, is little short of tragic.

The second flaw is the implication that any act, no matter how foul, is acceptable as long as it was committed in the name of a "national interest."

This, too, is a blatant contradiction of the lesson of Nuremberg: That some actions are simply crimes against humanity, no matter what the perpetrator's motive.

Does Beilin truly believe that blowing up buses full of schoolchildren or planes full of innocent tourists is justified in name of any "national interest?"

If the monstrosity of this assertion is too difficult for Beilin to grasp, perhaps he should try a universal application of this principle.

For instance, one must certainly find the Serbs' ethnic cleansing in Kosovo unexceptionable by this standard. They, too, were sent by their leaders in the service of a declared national interest: restoring the greater Serbia that had been lost in the fourteenth century. American southerners who enslaved blacks must also be acquitted under this standard: They were serving the national interest of building up their weak young country's economy.

Indeed, there is virtually no horror that could not be justified under this standard - including, incidentally, the actions of those Jewish murderers whom Beilin so despises.

They, too, will claim that they were acting in the national interest: trying to rid the country of hostile Arabs, or trying to ensure Israeli control over the

historic Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria.

Beilin is not the only one in the current government who erroneously tries to present the release of Palestinian terrorists as a natural consequence of Israel's peace agreement with the PLO. Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami made a similar statement last week. All peace treaties are followed by an exchange of prisoners, he said. Why should the Oslo Accords be any different?

There is only one flaw in this analogy. Ordinary prisoner-of-war exchanges cover prisoners who were shooting at the other side's soldiers. Under the rules of modern warfare, people who deliberately target civilians are considered not POWs but war criminals. They are not set free to go to home to a hero's welcome; they are tried and punished accordingly.

If the government wants to say that Israel's agreements with the PLO justify releasing Palestinians who killed Israeli soldiers, this would be understandable under the POW model. But there is no justification whatsoever for releasing those who murdered innocent civilians.

Like their Jewish counterparts, whom Beilin justly favors keeping in jail, these Palestinians are nothing more than the lowest type of criminal. (Jerusalem Post Aug 24)


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