A Collection of the Week's News from Israel

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

14 Tishrei 5760    September 24, 1999    Issue number 238


Yesha Council Says No to Remaining under Foreign Rule

Position papers circulating in the Prime Minister's Office recommend that residents of isolated settlements in Judea and Samaria remain in their homes - under Palestinian sovereignty. Yediot Acharonot reports that several settlements are mentioned by name, including Otniel, Beit Haggai, and Karmei Tzur south of Hevron, and Ganim, Yitzhar, Brachah, and others in Shomron. Bentzy Lieberman, head of the Shomron Regional Council, said that he knows no details of the above recommendations, but "we object to any form of this proposal. We did not return to our Land after 2,000 years of exile in order to live under foreign rule, but rather to be an independent nation in our Land." Regarding the apparent lack of response to the recent developments by the Yesha Council, of which he is a member, Lieberman said, "The Yesha Council is preparing a comprehensive program, including informational and protest efforts where appropriate. These must begin at once, in order to attempt to convince the public and the government that these agreements are a catastrophe for us. The end-goal is of course the referendum that Barak promised, but we know that we will only be able to succeed in the referendum if we begin now." (Arutz 7 Sep 21)

GSS Head: Terrorism on The Rise

General Security Services head Ami Ayalon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday that there were twenty terrorist attempts against Israelis over the past month. This represents an increase of 250% over the months before. Ayalon said that Hamas' ability to carry out large attacks is growing. Other points made by Ayalon: Hamas abroad controls the military arm of Hamas in Judea and Samaria, and its leaders feel that the attacks must continue... The terrorists in Judea and Samaria receive orders - including orders to kidnap Israeli soldiers - from their leaders still imprisoned in Israeli prisons... Members of the Islamic Movement in Israel do not recognize the existence of Israel. (Arutz 7 Sep 22)

Red-Letter Day for Golan

Wednesday was a big day for several Golan Heights communities. The 240-family community of Bnei Yehuda in the southern Golan laid the cornerstone of a new 52-home housing project - the first phase of a 1,500-unit program. Housing Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Levy (NRP) officially dedicated the new neighborhood, the construction of which will begin immediately after the Succot holiday. Rabbi Levy will also officially dedicate 24 housing/agricultural units at Moshav Kanaf, near the Sea of Galilee. Capping off the various ceremonies was a special gathering in the Golan Heights "capital" of Katzrin this evening, under the motto "Together we will preserve the Golan," with several government ministers and MKs from the Shas, Shinui, United Torah Judaism and Yisrael B'Aliyah parties in attendance. Chairman of the Golan Heights Regional Council Yehuda Volman told Arutz-7, "These events certainly present a reason to celebrate, but there is still much work ahead for those concerned with the Golan's future... The recent budget cuts to the settlement enterprise in the Golan are an attempt to further weaken us, in addition to the diplomatic contacts. But we have no intention of giving up; most Israelis still believe that the Golan is an inseparable part of the State of Israel and essential to the country's security." Volman said that the policy of "trying to 'dry us up' is difficult to comprehend. I proposed a plan to Prime Minister Barak by which the government could give a voice to the Golan's development and expansion, and provide itself with a much stronger bargaining position if and when negotiations with Syria begin." He added that coalition parties that support a strong Golan, such as the NRP and Yisrael B'Aliyah, "cannot simply sit by and vote against the 150 million shekels in planned budget cuts, and think that they have thereby fulfilled their obligations. This government could be toppled in a day, if there was only the will to do so." (Arutz 7 Sep 22)

Contributions to PA Slow to Come in

The Palestinian Authority says that donor nations are withholding hundreds of millions of dollars from the Palestinians. PA officials said that other world-wide concerns - such as the earthquake in Turkey and the resettlement effort in Kosovo - have apparently replaced the Palestinians. Out of $740 million the PA was to have received in 1999, sources said, "we received only $90 million." World Tribune.Com reports that privately, diplomatic sources blamed PA financial mismanagement for the delays in pledged funds... (Arutz 7 Sep 22)

What to Do with the Islamic Movement

Likud Knesset Member Ayoub Kara, of the Druze sector, calls upon the authorities today not to outlaw the Islamic Movement. Members of the Israeli-Arab organization were involved in several recent terrorist attacks and attempts. Kara claims that if the movement is outlawed, it will be harder for the police to supervise its activities. The Public Security Ministry today submitted its recommendations on the matter to the government. (Arutz 7 Sep 21)

Palestinian Show Host Arrested by P.A.

The host of a popular Palestinian television show was arrested last week by the Palestinian Security Service, after he allowed the mother of a prisoner held by the Palestinian Authority to speak against the PA and its chairman Arafat on the air. Maher al Dousouki, 38, was arrested in Ramallah, and reportedly began a hunger strike upon his arrest. PA security officials said that Dousouki was suspected of serious offenses against the Authority, and that his show had nothing to do with it. Ha'aretz reported that many viewers call in to Dousouki's show to express their opinion on various social issues, "something they cannot do anywhere else on Palestinian radio or television." A delegation of the Council of Palestinian Human Rights Organizations went to visit Dousouki in jail, but was not permitted to see him. (Arutz 7 Sep 21)

Barak Waives Oslo Requirement

The Barak government has waived its demand to reduce the Palestinian para-military police force, which had been one of the original conditions of the Wye Accords. Prime Minister Barak has decided that the list of the 30,000 Palestinian fighters - which he received last week - will suffice, and he has no plans to demand the names of 10,000 who were supposed to have been removed. Government officials told Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman that the Barak government believes that an abundance of para-military policemen is actually a welcome development, since it reduces unemployment in the Palestinian autonomy. (Arutz 7 Sep 19)

Israeli Arabs Make Themselves Heard

"With blood and fire we will redeem El Aksa [on the Temple Mount]!" So screamed out 35,000 Israeli-Arabs from Um el Fahm in a rally last Friday organized by the Islamic Movement. A leader of the group, Sheikh Kamal Hatib, said, "Whoever fooled himself into thinking that the Islamic Movement will show fear of the Israeli establishment because of the accusations against Israeli-Arabs [related to recent terrorist murders and attempted car-bombs] is greatly mistaken." Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Chaim Ramon met in Jerusalem last Friday with Feisal Husseini. On the agenda: the PA's recent diplomatic activity in the Orient House that took place in violation of an agreement reached several weeks ago between Husseini and Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami. The meeting took place in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. (Arutz 7 Sep 19)

Gush Etzion Head Appointed Barak Aide

Former Gush Etzion Regional Head Shilo Gal has been formally appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak as his Advisor on Settlement Affairs. Gal, 51, served in his recent post for 20 years, was a member of the Yesha Council, and served in other public positions. Sources close to Barak said that they hoped the appointment "at this sensitive period" would strengthen the bonds between Barak and the Yesha residents. (Arutz 7 Sep 19)

Terrorists Turned "Policemen"

The Palestinian Authority has recruited the 199 terrorists released by Israel two weeks ago into its paramilitary police force. In a Sept. 14 article, Middle East Newsline correspondent Mohammed Najib writes, "All of the 199 released Palestinian prisoners on Thursday were absorbed in PA security forces and were handed weapons 'in order to protect themselves,' a PA source said. Last Tuesday, PA Radio confirmed the report." Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein notes that the Oslo accords require Arafat to submit lists of potential police recruits to Israel for approval before hiring them, so that Israel can screen out any known terrorists, and that Arafat has repeatedly ignored this obligation. There is every indication that Israel's security and political establishment is aware of the situation. On June 6 of this year, GSS Chief Ami Ayalon told the outgoing Netanyahu cabinet that "many fugitives had been given posts in the PA police and security forces," and that "some of these posts include senior commands." Back in January 1997, former Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi revealed that "many of the terrorists wanted by Israel are serving in senior positions in the Palestinian Authority," including the police force. Hanegbi added, "the rank assigned to the perpetrators and organizers of a given terrorist crime are in direct proportion to the amount of victims killed in the attack." Last week, the Prime Minister's media advisor announced that the PA transferred to Israel a list of Palestinian police personnel, as required by the Wye and Sharm agreements, - and that Israel is now "examining the list." (Arutz 7 Sep 16)

Egged Targeted in Negev

Rock-throwers shattered the windshield of an Egged bus on the Be'er Sheva-Dimona highway last week, near Arorer. The company's drivers are now complaining that they are victims of almost nightly attacks in the area. Be'er Sheva Egged manager Tuvia Noam told Arutz-7 that the incidents have been going on for over a year, and have included not just rocks, but huge boulders, aimed at drivers. "Our sense, as well as that of the police, is that Negev Bedouins are responsible for the attacks. We don't have a real opinion as to the motive, and frankly, it doesn't really interest us. What really perturbs us is that our drivers and passengers are at risk and that our buses have sustained hundreds of thousands of shekels in damages." Noam added that the police are working diligently to put a halt to the attacks. In response to News Editor Haggai Segal's question whether Egged will consider using shatter-proof glass on the buses, Noam responded, "No. It's absurd to think that ten minutes away from the Negev's largest city, Be'er Sheva, we have to accept this violence as a part of everyday life." (Arutz 7 Sep 16)

Yom Kippur Service on Temple Mount

As in previous years, a special Yom Kippur prayer service was held yesterday on the Temple Mount, at the Temple Mount police station atop the Western Wall. Yehuda Etzion, one of the regular worshipers at the annual service, said that one of the rooms of the police station juts out onto the Mount. "Although Jewish Law [halakhah] forbids entry to the area of the Holy Temple," explained Etzion, "because we are 'defiled by contact with dead bodies,' this is in an area in which we are permitted to enter, after proper immersion beforehand in a mikveh [ritual bath]." Dozens of worshipers took part in yesterday's service, including Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, Meir Indor, and Rami Goren (son of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who originated the annual service after the Six-Day War). Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Levy also took part in the prayers. Meir Indor told Arutz-7 that there is an "amazingly elevating sensation in taking part in a Yom Kippur service so close to the holy spot where the High Priest used to perform the atonement service for all of Israel." (Arutz 7 Sep 21)

High Immigration Levels Not Welcomed by All

Michael Bavel, who immigrated to Israel from the Soviet Union in the early 1970's, has begun what is almost a one-man campaign against the high rate of non-Jewish immigration to Israel from Russia. Once a week he and several friends stand at Paris Square in Jerusalem with a petition on the matter. Deputy Minister of Immigration Marina Solodkin told Arutz-7 that current immigration levels from the former Soviet Union stand at approximately 60,000 annually, "but given the terrorist attacks in Russia, and the current and future warfare there, this number could grow to 70 or 80,000, and I have heard even 100,000." "The number of non-Jews arriving in Israel is not just a problem," Bavel told Arutz-7's Ariel Kahane today, "it is a downright danger to the State. A concrete threat to Israel's Jewish majority and character is being introduced into the country in the form of new immigrants. When I came here, the rate of non-Jews among the immigrants was 50% - it's about 85% now. Many of them don't even hide their anti-Semitism. The word Zhid [a derogatory term for 'Jew'] is frequently heard, as well as 'too bad Hitler didn't finish you off...'" Bavel said that he knows that decisions on this matter are not made by the public, "but we are trying to wake up the government." (Arutz 7 Sep 21)

UTJ and Shas Vote with Opposition

The Barak coalition suffered another embarrassing blow in the Knesset Finance Committee Wednesday when the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties voted with the opposition. A government request to transfer funds to various entities was thus turned down. "To say that it is difficult to pass motions in the committee is an understatement," summed up Committee Chairman Eli Goldschmidt (Labor). (Arutz 7 Sep 22)

Barak: Make Peace Only with Arab Old Guard

Israel should seek to strike peace deals with the old guard in the Middle East - PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and Syrian President Hafez Assad. It should not wait for a generational change in the Arab world since old leaders have a unique authority in their societies to "take big decisions today," while it will take younger leaders time to consolidate their power, Prime Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post this week. Barak declared that "the leaders who were there when their states were being established are the ones who can take the big decisions today. Assad is the symbol of the revolution there; he molded the state. And Arafat also in a way is the one who molded his people. Therefore these leaders hold the sort of authority and perspective that allow them to make the hard decisions. A new leader has to take a few years to gather strength and consolidate power." Some other highlights of the interview were:

* Barak believes Arafat realizes that he will not gain the entire West Bank in final-status negotiations. When pointedly asked if he thinks Arafat realizes this, the premier replied, "I am sure he does. Of course, he won't say that. If you interview him, there is no doubt that he will say he wants everything, but I am convinced that he understands." At the same time, Barak said that is possible that Arafat will not choose a final-status deal.

* He said that if a final-status framework deal does not succeed, a long-term interim set of understandings might be reached. "Even if we manage partially - that is, to identify those parts on which we can, in principle, reach agreement, and those parts that will require long interim agreements, or those for which we can see the permanent status but which will require a long time to arrive at - we will have done the right thing."

* Barak called for the immediate construction of a bridge linking the West Bank and Gaza, which he hopes will be completed within four years. "There needs to be some connection. I am for beginning to build the bridge right now, finding some big international contributors who want to participate and getting help from governments to do it. Build it within four years."

* Barak said serious Hizbullah attacks emanating from southern Lebanon could lead to a freeze in talks with Syria, marking the first known time that he has made a linkage between the two issues. "Terror from Lebanon could put a halt to the process with Syria, and therefore, Assad and I, so I think, have a common interest in stopping Hizbullah terror."

* He voiced hope that once peace is reached with Israel's immediate neighbors, this would diminish the threat emanating from Iran and potentially Iraq. " I don't see how Iran and Iraq will be able to to keep up that belligerency if we manage to reach peace deals with the Syrians, the Lebanese, and Palestinians." (Jerusalem Post Sep 23)


[Does this article by a left-wing commentator in Ha'aretz indicate a change in attitude on the left? We can only hope... -ed.]

Land for Land By Ari Shavit

Even the name is problematic. Even those who wish that the diplomatic process that was inaugurated by the Yom Kippur War will ultimately lead to an Israel within the borders of an improved Green Line must have reservations about the supposedly obvious label that the process bears: land-for-peace.The idea implicit in this title, which is seemingly innocent, is flawed. It is expressive of an attitude that is arrogant toward the Arabs and unfair toward the Israelis. It is an idea that in effect says that the Arab side wants land (and not peace) while the Israeli side wants peace (and not land) and therefore both sides agree on a sort of barter deal whereby the Arabs will give the Israelis the peace that they do not want to give, and in return the Israelis will give them the lands they are so keen to get.

The problematic nature of this formulation is not only semantic. It is structural. And it is tied up with the fact that the peace process that got underway right after the 1973 war is asymmetric. This is a process that has been shaped to a great extent by the state of weakness in which has Israel found itself ever since Egypt's second army crossed the Suez Canal on the afternoon of that Yom Kippur and conquered the Bar-Lev Line. And because in a certain sense the current diplomatic process is a continuation of that crossing of the canal, it does not define peace as a supreme goal for which both Israel and the Arabs must pay a high price. Instead, it relates to peace as if it were the suspension of some conditional conflict, for the prolongation of which Israel is required to pay with the handing over of another strip of land every few years. It therefore raises, of course, the question of what is going to happen on the day Israel does not have any more strips of land it can use to ransom the peace.

It may very well be that, up to a certain point, it was correct on Israel's part not to see the basic flaw in the process. It may very well be that a certain blindness was essential to allow the two sides to free themselves of the reciprocal demonization, to enable them to probe their way toward co-existence and to afford Israel those relatively comfortable 26 years it has had since 1973. Today, however, as the process is approaching the last leg of the journey, the most difficult and complex one of all, it is impossible to ignore any longer the absurdity implicit in land-for-peace. This is a deal whereby one side transfers assets to the other in return for no recompense at all of the sort that is customary in any simple real estate deal, but rather in return for the mere willingness of the other side to enter into that deal.

What characterizes this prolonged deal of land-for-peace is that it does not stabilize the peace as an all-embracing and obligatory structure, into which both sides enter in order to resolve the differences between them. Rather, it accepts as a given that peace is a means of payment whereby one side (the Arabs) pays the other side (Israel) for something (land). It accepts as a given that for the Arab side peace is not a goal, but a price. It has accepted a situation in which the Arabs are not required to give up anything in the context of the barter deal, as from their point of view the price of the deal is the deal itself. The price of peace is peace. The catch here is clear: It is precisely the side that wants peace that cannot agree to peace being part of the policy formulation, as peace must be the policy formulation itself.

Peace cannot be merchandise that one side provides the other grudgingly, without any alternative and for a limited period. If there is any chance of arriving a true peace, it exists only if both sides demonstrate that they are prepared to pay parallel prices for it. Land for land: a final separation of Israel from Hebron in return for a final Arab separation from Jaffa; Israel gives up most of what it occupied in 1967 in return for the Palestinians giving up everything they lost in 1948.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak will have to deal with this challenge now. And this is no simple matter, for at a fairly late stage of the process, he will have to change it from a one-way street to a two-way street. He will also have to cause his Arab partners to do something they would much rather not do: make concessions. To internalize absolutely the principle of the partitioning of the land. There can be no one-way principle for the Israelis alone.

It is not at all clear whether it is possible to achieve this goal. But if it is, the goal will be achieved only through a measured combination of a clear willingness to give and an impressive ability to demand. This is a combination with which the previous government of Israel was not blessed, and a combination with which Barak perhaps is blessed.

First of all, however, Barak must revise the definition of the process - but not in public. In public, it is already impossible to do so. But he, both himself and with his delegates to the negotiations, must operate from the knowledge that as long as the diplomatic process is defined as a process of land-for-peace, it will not succeed. Thus, the correct definition must be land-for-land. If this is not the definition, there will perhaps be ceremonies on the White House lawn in the year 2000, but there will not be true peace. Not in the long run (Ha'aretz. Sep 21)

The Pollard Test By Aaron Lerner

(One can only hope that this government will respond to his latest High Court petition with action, rather than arguments.)

The handling of the Jonathan Pollard case since his arrest in Washington on November 21, 1985, has tested the commitment of the Jewish state to those who risk themselves as agents in its service as well as American-Israeli relations.

The severity of Pollard's sentence as well as the refusal of President Clinton to respond to dramatic developments or to honor his end of a Pollard trade, along with the continuous smear campaign against Pollard by US intelligence organizations all point to a very disturbing element in American-Israeli relations.

Israel's handling of the Pollard affair - providing America the evidence to indict him but not to clear him of the most damaging claims; avoiding responsibility for Pollard (claiming it was a rogue operation until compelled

by the High Court of Justice to acknowledge he was an Israeli agent); and now taking the preposterous stand that the fate of an Israeli agent is an internal American affair - raises questions as to the inconsistency of Israel's efforts on behalf of those in its service who require rescue.

In complete disregard of a plea agreement to the contrary, Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment for passing classified information to Israel (he was never charged with harming the US, its agents or compromising America's codes).

At the time of Pollard's sentencing, American intelligence was reeling from the realization that their operations were seriously compromised by a mole. And while he was not actually charged with that crime, efforts to pin this crisis on Pollard by then-secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger, in a classified memorandum to the sentencing judge, cast his fate.

Yet when Russia's master mole in the CIA, Aldrich Ames (who apparently was in charge of the original damage report on Pollard's activities!), was finally uncovered, Pollard's sentence of life without parole was not adjusted nor did the American intelligence community tone down its campaign against him.

America's attitude towards Israel's spy goes beyond vindictive. Last year President Clinton agreed to include Pollard's release as a companion to the Wye package. Hours before the signing ceremony, with Israel already publicly locked into painful concessions, Clinton explained to the prime minister that he was not able to honor his pledge due to internal opposition.

A curious claim from a man who had no qualms about announcing plans to release Puerto Rican FALN terrorists despite similar objections from within his government.

When Pollard was arrested, Israel immediately provided the US with the key evidence against him: copies of American intelligence documents bearing his fingerprints. Yet to this day, Israel refuses to produce the master list of documents received from Pollard. That this exhaustive list does not include documents with the names of agents, codes or other cryptographic information would serve to lay to rest the spurious claims against Pollard.

The document list would also provide an important opportunity for Israeli intelligence and its American counterparts to come to grips with a problem that gnaws at Israeli-American relations: the US withholding of vital security information Israel was entitled to receive under a 1983 memorandum of understanding.

While Pollard was not on the prime minister's plane back from Washington after the Wye signing, there was a fallback understanding that he would be freed along with Israel's release of Palestinian security prisoners. This arrangement was derailed when Prime Minister Ehud Barak claimed in Washington that Pollard is "an internal American problem, best left for American internal deliberation."

Were the Mossad agents caught in the foiled Masha'al assassination "an internal Jordanian problem?" Did president Eisenhower regard Gary Powers' fate an "internal Soviet problem?"

Yet Barak claims that Israel is working "behind the scenes" for Pollard's release. But if this were truly the case, Barak's people would be in close contact with Pollard (as Netanyahu's were before Wye) to insure that Pollard does nothing that might frustrate Barak's efforts. Esther, Pollard's wife, tells me they have heard absolutely nothing from the Barak government.

Once again Jonathan Pollard finds himself with no alternative than to petition the High Court of Justice to order the government of Israel to do what it should be doing as a matter of course - including the supply of the master list. Pollard asked for an emergency hearing in light of his deteriorating health and the court has given the government until October 10 to respond.

One can only hope that the Barak government will respond with action rather than arguments. Otherwise the window of opportunity provided by Hillary Clinton's candidacy for senator in New York may be lost.

(Jerusalem Post Sep 22)

Something to Pray For By David Weinberg

The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Greece, the hurricane in the US, the shootings in Los Angeles and Chicago, the massive bombings in Moscow and the serial rapes across the Dan region are cogent reminders that life is unpredictable. We're not really in control. Our health, happiness and security are subject to whim, miscalculation, passion, the sudden, unexpected and absurd.

So as you settle back in the synagogue pew or your living room armchair to contemplate life, here are a couple of things to pray for this Yom Kippur: Pray that you never have to walk into a pediatric oncology hospital wing. Pray for friends and strangers alike who spend their days and nights in these tragic places. Ask God to keep you and your children out of emergency rooms, cardiac units, psychiatric wards, etc.

Pray that you do not become a victim of this country's more than 60,000 burglaries per annum; 25,000 traffic accidents; 20,000 cases of violence within the family; close to 200 non-terrorist murders; and brutal rapes that take place on average once every 12 hours.

Pray that classroom violence - experienced by one out of every two school kids - does not affect your son or daughter, and that they get to be part of the lucky 38 percent of Israeli kids who actually finish high school.

Pray for rain.

Pray for the 13 innocent Iranian Jews about to be tried by Teheran's mullahs for "espionage" and threatened with death sentences. Pray hard. Pray for all the Israelis who aren't praying: those off on organized sexual pleasure tours in Asia, those gambling the day away in Jericho, those getting themselves high at trance parties, or those who have been, unfortunately, simply turned off by this country's noxious mix of religion and politics. Pray for Jews who are in synagogue but who pray only for themselves. Think about others, and pray for state of the nation.

Pray for Zionism, now under assault by revisionist educators, post-Zionist politicians, a cynical media, and a public that is just plain tired. Pray that the "intellectuals" who would question Israel's morality and just achievements do not succeed in corroding our patriotism. Pray that we can reenergize our national spirit, to teach our children pride in the accomplishments of Zionism along with a sense of responsibility for its continuation.

Pray that Prime Minister Ehud Barak stays honest. Pray that he levels with us on the peace process, and sticks to his self-declared red lines in the coming final status negotiations. Pray that he lives up to at least half his campaign promises.

Pray that all the recent terrorist releases and the handcuffing of the Shin Bet by our Supreme Court do not come back to haunt us.

Pray for the residents of the Golan, whose homes could be uprooted at the drop of a smile by Syrian President Assad. Pray for the Israelis in Judea and Samaria, some of whom now have the PA Preventive Security chief Jibril Rajoub's heavies encircling their homes. And pray that Yasser Arafat's declaration of Palestinian statehood next spring doesn't lead to bloodshed and unending tragedy - for both sides.

Pray for Jerusalem; that it remain under Israeli control. Pray that we have the national backbone to reassert our sovereignty in the face of increasing Palestinian Authority encroachment throughout the city and on the Temple Mount - despite the expected international disapproval for whatever we do.

Pray for our soldiers lying in ambush in the Hezbollah-infested valleys of Lebanon. Pray for a quiet year.

Pray that we can halt the vulgarization of our society; the unbridled, untamed confrontation in which we all harshly judge and stereotype each other. Pray that we can successfully re-introduce honesty and good faith as behavioral standards in public and private life.

Pray, if you can, like the legendary Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav. "May it be your will, O Lord", he wrote, "that there be great affection and peace among all your people of Israel; that we should all be guided by brotherly love and compassion; that we should accept one another, and learn from one another; that we should appreciate all your living beings; and that the misfortune of one person should touch the hearts of all."

Amen. (Jerusalem Post Sep 19)

Assaulting Disney By URI DAN

The preliminary battle for Jerusalem as Israel's capital is being waged now, in far-away Florida.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, is leading the Arab fight against the Israeli exhibit at Disney's Epcot Center in Orlando. The reason: Israel dared to present its scientific, agricultural and cultural achievements on the backdrop of Jerusalem, the nation's capital.

The Gulf states, Iran, Egypt, and of course Yasser Arafat, who met at a conference of Arab League ministers this week, rushed to demand from the Walt Disney Co. that Jerusalem not be depicted as Israel's capital in the exhibit.

It should be clear that neither our Foreign Ministry nor Disney ever conceived this exhibit as a political display, but as a cultural presentation in the spirit of the popular entertainment that has made Disney World the Disney empire's undisputed capital, with tens of millions of visitors annually. But even a virtual display of Jerusalem under Israeli auspices is enough to raise any Arab's blood pressure, thus they tried to turn a molehill into a mountain. Disney officials were bombarded with letters of protest from obscure organizations, banding together under the presumptuous title "The Arab-American Committee for Jerusalem."

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and Arafat himself, pushed the Arab League to send a threatening message to Disney chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, demanding that he remove all mention of Jerusalem as Israel's capital from the exhibit, and allow an Arab team to inspect the display, which is due to open later this month.

This unmitigated Arab hutzpa comes at the same time this Israeli government has agreed to make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians in the name of "confidence-building measures," as the Barak government tried to prove that it is reconciling with the Palestinians, as opposed to the previous government, which was, ostensibly, always at war with them.

This whole thing would be as amusing as a Mickey Mouse cartoon, except for the seriousness with which the Arabs are pursuing their battle for Jerusalem. Even though six years have passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords, and despite the Sharm e-Sheikh Memorandum, the Arabs have not abandoned their offensive posture, not with regard to the refugees, not with regard to the 1967 borders and not with regard to Jerusalem.

On the contrary, they've intensified the battle to such a degree, that even Burger King got spooked by the threat of an Arab boycott and pulled out of Ma'aleh Adumim, a city that all Israeli governments regard as a suburb of Jerusalem.

Apparently, that bite of hamburger only raised their appetite further.

Recently, the US telephone company Sprint has quietly discontinued its "Call Israel" advertising campaign, that features a picture of Jerusalem facing west from the Mount of Olives, looking past the Dome of the Rock.

In other words, as the peace process "progresses" and Israel looks conciliatory, weak, and in retreat, thus the Arabs intensify their siege of Jerusalem. To this end, they even dusted off that old, rusty weapon - the threat of an Arab boycott. The fact that Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and an interim agreement with the Palestinians has apparently put them in a fighting mood, and prompted them to believe that they can besiege Jerusalem not just in Israel, but in Orlando.

The battle for the virtual Jerusalem at Epcot only emphasizes the virtual reality in which many Israelis, including senior government officials, are living.

Only recently people said, in the name of the government and intelligence services, that "if there is no progress in the peace process, there will be terror." Now, after ongoing warnings of serious terror attempts, following the car bombs in Tiberias and Haifa, these same people say that there's a danger of terror because of the peace process.

And they keep giving the Palestinians additional pieces of Judea and Samaria, even after it became clear that the car bombings were carried out by Israeli Arabs working with help and encouragement from the West Bank.

Unfortunately, too many Israelis (and their leaders) are confused; they don't understand that their lives are not a virtual display in Disney World. They don't know the old saying that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck - and not necessarily Donald.

If the Arabs are even now storming Jerusalem, and if there are serious warnings about terror attacks, than this is not peace, but a critical point in the Arab battle to uproot the Jewish state.

So if American Jews and other friends of Israel there want to help it in its battle for Jerusalem, they can do it at Disney World, by coming en masse to the opening of the Israeli exhibit at Epcot 2000 on September 29.

(Jerusalem Post Sep 16)

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