A collection of the week's news from Israel
Issue number 297
IDF: Tanzeem Position Themselves near Churches in Hopes Return Fire Will Damage Them
OC Operations Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland said Wednesday that, "The Tanzeem uses buildings in Beit Jalla as cover for attacks on Jerusalem. The gunmen position themselves near churches, with the hope that Israel's response will damage a church, thus setting the Christian world against Israel. This is a cynical and deliberate method to involve a population that is not interested in conflict." (IMRA / IDF Spokesman's Office Oct 26)
Ma'ariv wrote on Wednesday, "There is considerable justice in the call for increasingly harsh retaliatory measures by Israel to stop the continuous shooting at the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo - but... massive firing at Bethlehem's Christian suburb [of Beit Jala] is liable to arouse the Christian world against us. This is exactly what the Palestinians are striving for... The dilemma attests to the quandary in which Israel is caught: Continue to abandon a Jerusalem neighborhood to opportunistic shooting, or order a forceful response that could very much worsen Israel's international standing. The Palestinians are laying a trap for us in Beit Jala, there may be no choice but to enter it." Arutz 7 added: Some security sources have suggested that the recent firing from Beit Jala into Gilo homes has been purposely orchestrated by external PA elements in order to lay the above trap; there have been reports that the firing is not carried out by local residents, but rather by outsiders who use threats to force the residents to allow them to use their homes. (arutzsheva.org Oct 25)
Violence May Last a Year
The IDF General Staff estimates that the Palestinian violence against Israel will last about a year. There will be ups and downs in the intensity of the violence; the events are termed "Rise and Fall," because even if there is a drop in intensity - for the sake of diplomatic talks - a quick rise is foreseen by the intelligence reports. Violence is also expected on the Lebanese border in the near future, according to the IDF. An American CIA report to U.S. President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak states that Arafat has decided that the violence will continue until a Palestinian state is declared. (arutzsheva.org / Yediot Acharonot Oct 22,24)
Israel Keeps on Paying PA Millions
Despite Prime Minister Barak's declaration of a time-out in the talks with Arafat, many aspects of the Oslo process continue as usual - including the monthly transfer of between 30 million and 50 million shekels to Palestinian Authority coffers. Israeli negotiator Oded Eran told the Jerusalem Post Monday that there has been no directive to stop these payments. The money stems from Israeli taxes on PA-bound goods delivered via Israel, and tax revenue on the tens of thousands of Palestinian workers employed in Israel. The Post also reports that Israel also transfers millions of cubic meters of water to the PA each year, as well as all of its electricity. (arutzsheva.org Oct 24)
Hamas and PA Working Together
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, quoted in Wednesday's Washington Post, said that representatives of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority meet daily to coordinate their activities. The paper writes that Arafat is working closely with leaders of both the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations - leaders whose release from prison Arafat ordered at the beginning of the current violence almost a month ago. Arutz-7 has learned that some of the released terrorists are being hidden in PA buildings. The Associated Press similarly reported Wednesday that representatives of Hamas and other Palestinian groups have been directing the Palestinian protests. "The existence of the steering committees... would undermine Arafat's contention that the Palestinian protests of the past month have entirely been a spontaneous outburst of anger against Israel," reported the AP, continuing, "'We are all Palestinians,' Palestinian Parliament Speaker Ahmed Qureia told reporters when asked about the committees, and refused to discuss it further." (arutzsheva.org Oct 25)
Mt. Eval Fiasco Findings
The findings of a preliminary investigation into the army's military and rescue operations on Mt. Eval last Thursday have been released. It will be recalled that some 30 hikers on an army-approved trip to Mt. Eval were attacked on Thursday by Palestinian gunmen, and one of the hikers, Rabbi Binyamin Herling of Kedumim, was shot and killed while waiting for the IDF to rescue him; four others were hurt. The rescue was completed about seven hours after the attack began. Two main points were noted in the findings, which were prepared by the Ayosh Brigade Command: First, the military helicopters that arrived on the scene did not fire on the source of the Arab shooting because they could not identify it precisely. They knew, based on cell-phone reports provided them by the hikers, that the firing originated in the first row of houses of the nearby Arab village - "but they could not pinpoint the exact window," Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reported, and thus the army did not want to take a chance on hitting "innocent Arab civilians." A second point noted in the findings was that no explanation could be found why the tanks that arrived were not utilized for the purpose of silencing the firing so that the rescue could proceed. "None of the IDF forces that arrived on the scene received the simple order to silence the Arab shooting," noted Huberman. "The Arab attack continued without a stop, and when the army saw that no rescue could be carried out under such circumstances, it was decided to wait until dark. Yesha Commander Benny Ganz arrived at 4 PM, and took charge... The tanks arrived late, and stopped at Elon Moreh. They could have kept on going towards the attacking village without going through Shechem, and could have identified the origin of the shooting, and then silenced it. But no commander was willing to take upon himself the responsibility for the possible killing of women and children.
We see here that the army is headed by officers whose thinking is based very much on Oslo considerations, and not only on military considerations..." A company commander and a platoon commander will be relieved of their commands pending the outcome of the investigation, Army Radio reported. Col. (res.) Mordechai Yogev told Arutz-7, "The army commanders work hard,and they deserve all of our praise. But I feel that they are stuck in a mindset, and some of them don't want to leave it. They must remember that their primary job is not to ensure that diplomatic talks succeed, but to save lives..." Yogev said that a change must be made: "It is now time for us to carry out whatever we need for security needs, even if they are against the Oslo agreements, such as taking over certain areas from where and near where the Palestinians shoot at us. There must be sanctions, including no more transfers of money and gas, and sanctions against incitement broadcasts... We must also react offensively to terrorist attacks and plans." (arutzsheva.org Oct 25)
Unity Government Unlikely at Present
Chances for a national-unity government took a further dive Wednesday when Acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said that if the violence ceases, "it will be possible to revive the diplomatic process along similar lines as before." National Religious Party head Rabbi Yitzchak Levy said in response that Ben-Ami's remarks "effectively bury any chance for a unity government." Levy said, "Ben-Ami's statement shows that the time-out Barak announced only two days ago has apparently ended." Likud leader Ariel Sharon emphasized again Wednesday that he would not join a government that will simply continue along the path of Oslo and Camp David. A short-lived national emergency government now seems more likely than a formal unity government. (arutzsheva.org Oct 25)
A Palestinian Attack, Blow-by-Blow
An article by Jack Kelley in USA TODAY, Oct. 23, 2000, describes how Palestinian police, snipers, children, and ambulances are part of a well-oiled team fighting "organized warfare" against Israel. The article describes, in play-by-play fashion, the battle that took place at Ayosh Junction between Ramallah and Beit El this past Saturday. Excerpts:
"…Laughter and singing coming across the… radio is suddenly interrupted. ''Snipers! Snipers!'' screams an Israeli Army scout atop a nearby building. A second later, a barrage of bullets shatters the windows of an Israeli Army Jeep, inches from the head of Lt. Erez Winner, 31, who controls the Israeli ground forces in Ramallah. More bullets ricochet off the side of his Army Jeep, the street and a nearby building. Simultaneously, 200 Palestinian youths, yelling '' Allah Akbar,'' charge down the street throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. One of the fiery explosives lands under the hood of a Jeep and appears to set it on fire. The Israeli soldier reverses the Jeep so fast that another soldier, leaning against the side of the Jeep for protection, is knocked to the ground. About 60 Palestinians, who are within 25 yards, pelt him with rocks. He is hit in the forehead and starts to bleed. Still another soldier jumps from the Jeep to help him, but he is shot in the right hip by one of the Palestinian snipers. He limps into the back of the Jeep, bleeding. The crowd of Palestinians cheers…
"Palestinians have begun attacking Israeli soldiers in what appear to be well-planned and coordinated ambushes involving not only youths but Palestinian Authority policemen and civilian ambulance drivers. Ambulances are delivering stones, and sometimes fighters, to the front lines, despite official denials. The Palestinians are not only throwing rocks at the soldiers but are shooting at them. Israeli officials also say, though there is no confirmation, that Palestinians have begun bringing heavier artillery, including hand-held rocket launchers, to the front lines…
"[Winner] adamantly denies international claims that IDF troops are being too aggressive. His rules of engagement are straightforward, he says in English: Soldiers on the front lines are to shoot only tear gas canisters, stun grenades and, if they feel their lives are in danger, rubber-coated steel bullets. And they are always to shoot below the waist, preferably at the knees, he says. Only the Israeli snipers on the rooftop of the nearby City Hotel can shoot live ammunition, and their shoot-to-kill orders must come from Winner, a 13-year IDF veteran…
"Winner disputes reports that Palestinians are throwing only rocks by pointing out bullet holes on the hood of his green Jeep that he says were shot by Palestinian snipers last week. ''These weren't made with BB guns,' Winner says. ''The Palestinians are starting to engage us in full-scale war. That's why we're firing back.'
"…A soldier from inside the one of the Israeli Army Jeeps fires six tear gas canisters in the direction of the youths. Another fires at least three stun grenades that explode with a loud noise but do little else. But the youths pick up the tear gas canisters and lob them back at the soldiers. They also continue to throw more Molotov cocktails and rocks. There are so many rocks hitting the Jeeps that one [Jeep] nearly disappears from view. Also, the Palestinian snipers are firing with such intensity that bullets can be seen bouncing off the street.
"…Palestinian ambulances, their horns blaring and lights flashing, begin racing toward the front lines to pick up the wounded. But before picking up an injured youth, one ambulance can be seen dropping off two buckets of rocks and a crate of bottles to be used as Molotov cocktails. Seconds later, another ambulance races onto a nearby hill, its horn blaring and lights flashing. But there are no youths on the hill. The driver gets out and fires two shots at the tank in a vain effort to hit the Israeli soldiers before jumping back in and driving off… Israeli soldiers have long claimed, and Palestinian officials have long denied, that ambulance drivers were being used to shuttle ammunition in the intifada.
"…Winner is then interrupted by an Israeli sniper atop a nearby hotel. ''Erez, Erez, they are shooting from atop four different buildings. One of them is the PA building,'' the sniper says. ''He is a policeman. I recognize him [but I can't shoot him because] I can't see them. They shoot and disappear…" Last week, several Palestinian policemen in the West Bank and Gaza said they would be joining in the intifada to defend their people. Then the Israeli military video cameraman and a sniper, both on different rooftops, radio in at the same time that a Palestinian man in his 20s appears to be carrying ''a missile.'' Through binoculars, the man can be seen removing what appears to be a hand-held rocket launcher from the trunk of a car and, with the help of some youths, hiding it behind a rock. Just then, automatic gunfire erupts from four buildings to the right as if to distract the Israelis. Soon after, six car tires and a Dumpster are set afire in an effort, Winner says, to block the view of the Israeli soldiers with the smoke. As the smoke builds, an Israeli scout atop one of the buildings reports that Palestinian cars are driving to the right of the frontlines to unload semi-automatic weapons… Then a pickup truck displaying the Hamas flag races toward the front lines pulling the first of several abandoned car frames. Palestinians youths untie the frames and stand them up to use as shields against the bullets.
''This is a coordinated attack,'' Winner says. ''First the snipers, then the kids, then the fires, then the cars. The kids and smoke provide cover for the gunmen." (arutzsheva.org / USA Today Oct 25)
Raising Children in the P.A.
The army has called upon the Palestinian Authority not to encourage school children to take part in clashes with Israeli soldiers (see "From the Media" below). Jerusalem resident Ronen Ben-David recounted the following
to Arutz-7 Tuesday: "We have an Arab maid from Bethlehem, and I called her a couple of days ago to find out how she was doing. She told me that she's having trouble getting food, and that one of her main problems is that she has to hide her children from people who keep coming around looking for children to take to the riots. She said that the men promise the parents that if
anything happens to their children, food will be brought to the families. She told me this without any ulterior motives, and I have no doubt that she was telling the truth. I didn't want to ask any further details, so as not to arouse suspicion, and I fear for her safety as well..." Another testimony of a similar phenomenon: Arutz-7 has received several reports of "a rock thrown at one of the Israeli checkpoints" being put up for auction on the internet auction site Ebay. The original proposal, which is no longer on the Ebay site, stated, "I am a schoolteacher here in the West Bank. One of my students, a 15 year old boy, was shot and killed as he tried to throw a fire bomb at an Israeli checkpoint. he was shot in the thigh and bled to death on the way to Hospital... I can sell these rocks and use the money For the AL-Hayatt medical relief effort... And if I have enough, I will pay every boy who stays at school instead of going to throw rocks... The boys are desperate to 'be men'. The boys are encouraged to throw rocks to draw out the soldiers, so that the soldiers can be shot at with guns..." (arutzsheva.org Oct 24)
Arafat Demands Partition, Jerusalem, and Refugees
The Arab League summit in Cairo, which ended Sunday, featured both calls for peace and severe condemnation of Israel for "slaughter of Palestinians" and similar atrocities. Some of the Arab speakers demanded that all ties with Israel be severed, but this demand was not accepted. PLO leader Yasser Arafat took an extremist position: "Israel should lift the siege on our cities and people, and withdraw from all the Palestinian and Arab territories, including holy Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state. I reiterate that our goals are the liberation of our land... and the return of refugees based on international legitimacy resolutions, especially Resolutions 181 [the original Partition resolution of 1948, rejected by the Arabs, and according to which Ashdod, Be'er Sheva, Nazareth, and other cities are not included in Israel] and 194 [calling for UN supervision for holy sites, special international status for the entire Jerusalem region, and the return of Arab refugees to Israel]." Arafat declared that his people's struggle would continue until the establishment of their independent state. He also blamed Israel for what he called "a massacre of the Palestinians," and pledged a continuation of the intifada until victory. (arutzsheva.org Oct 22)
The Barak Paradox:
The Most Pro-Peace Leader in the Country's History, and What Does He Get? War
By Charles Krauthammer
A most peculiar paradox hovers over the smoke and blood of the Middle East today. The current Palestinian uprising against Israel is aimed not at the government of Yitzhak Shamir or Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud leaders known for their hard line, but against Ehud Barak, the most dovish Israeli Prime Minister the Middle East has ever known. Indeed, Barak has gone so far that Yitzhak Rabin's widow said he'd be "turning in his grave" if he could see what concessions Barak had offered.
How is it then that the most pro-Palestinian, pro-peace Israeli government in history is the target of the most virulent, most frenzied anti-Israel violence in at least a half-century?
Call it the Barak paradox. Its answer is as painful as it is clear. For 30 years there has been an argument between doves and hawks in Israel. Said the doves: Assuage the other side's grievances--end the occupation; give the Palestinians land, a militia, their own state--and then we will have peace.
Said the hawks: The grievances are not satisfiable. They are existential. They don't just want their state; they want our state. After all, they were offered a state in 1947 (and autonomy in 1979) and turned it down. Why? Because they claim not just Ramallah but Tel Aviv as well. If you make concessions, lower your guard and show weakness, you invite war.
Accommodation or deterrence? Open hand or iron fist? Peace now or peace through strength? Rarely does history settle such debates as decisively and mercilessly as it has this one.
For seven years, the dove theory has been in command. In 1993 Israel brought the P.L.O. out of exile and gave it recognition, international legitimacy, self-government, foreign aid, the first elections in Palestinian history and an end to occupation for 99% of the Palestinian population. This July, Barak went the final mile, offering concessions so sweeping that even the U.S. negotiators at Camp David were astonished: giving up virtually all the West Bank (including the militarily crucial Jordan Valley), offering to divide Jerusalem, ready even to renounce Israeli sovereignty over Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount.
What happened? Yasser Arafat refused. He refused even to make a counteroffer. Then, finding no international support for his intransigence, he decided to reshuffle the deck: start a war that might give him the upper hand--a war that would bring enough international pressure on Israel to enable him to dictate terms.
Seizing a pretext, Arafat let loose his forces. Through all the days of stones and bullets and Molotov cocktails, he uttered not a word of restraint. On the contrary, his state-controlled media gave the war cry. Begged by President Bill Clinton and other world leaders to call a halt, he replied contemptuously, "Our people do not hesitate to continue the march to Jerusalem."
Under the doves' theory of accommodation, the transitional period of the "peace process" was supposed to give time to teach reconciliation and trust. The opposite happened. With control of TV, radio, newspapers and textbooks, Arafat has imbued a new generation with the most virulent hatred of Israel, descending often to pure anti-Semitism.<P>
The fruits of that education are now on display: the lynching of two Israeli reservists, a young Palestinian raising his bloodied hands in triumph to the cheering crowd; the destruction of the Jewish shrine at Joseph's Tomb, not just torched and desecrated but dismantled stone by stone.
In the fury, there is an exhilaration. In a dozen Middle East capitals, mass demonstrations call for death to the Jews. This euphoria, points out Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, has not been seen since 1967. It comes from the feeling that the Jews are on the run.
In May-June 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War, frenzied crowds in Cairo and Damascus and elsewhere called for the final battle to destroy Israel. Israel's swift and stunning victory deflated that enthusiasm quickly and for decades to come.
Until now. With Israel's myriad concessions, unilateral withdrawals, pleas for peace and general demoralization, the euphoria has returned. Israel's enemies sense weakness. The disorganized withdrawal from Lebanon has become the model. If the Israelis could be driven out of Lebanon, reason the Palestinians, we can drive them out of Palestine. The Palestinians see an Israel with no stomach for losses; an Israel crossing previously sacred redlines without getting anything in return; an Israel prepared to surrender sovereignty over Judaism's holiest shrine; an Israel bending to every U.S. pressure to keep giving with no reciprocity.
And now they see Barak giving empty ultimatums. Why shouldn't Arafat keep fighting? He has the Security Council, the Western media and the Arab world behind him. In front of him lies an Israel in shock, dazed and confused by the Barak paradox. No dove ever wanted or pursued peace more fervently. And what does he get? War. Neville Chamberlain was equally perplexed on Sept. 1, 1939. (Time Magazine Oct 23)
By failing to hold the Palestinians accountable, Clinton and Barak invited disaster.
by Tom Rose
History seldom renders such stark verdicts. What began seven years ago as a promise of peace in the Middle East has degenerated into one of the greatest failures in the history of American diplomacy. Never before has an American president invested so much in a man of whom he asked so little. And by demanding nothing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the Americans and Israelis, egged on by world opinion, actually impeded the single most essential precondition to peace: the political maturation of the Palestinians.
The famous handshake on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, was a lucrative gesture for Arafat. It transformed a guerrilla chieftain into a statesman. Bill Clinton lavished attention on Arafat, hosting him at the White House 13 times. Arafat got state dinners and over half a billion dollars in U.S. aid, plus land, an army, and all the trappings of statehood. And because no one ever thought to ask him not to, he used American largesse to create a corrupt and repressive regime that eliminates political opponents, tightly controls the media, and prevents the establishment of the free markets that could have produced lobs. events have revealed, he also set up heavily armed militias reporting directly to him.
All that was ever asked of Arafat was to renounce his decades-long crusade to destroy the Jewish state. But when it became clear that he would not get 100 percent of what he demanded in negotiations, Arafat did what he does best: He started a war en his own terms. Israel now faces one of its darkest hours. Already the belief-widely held lust weeks ago-that the Israelis were on the verge of achieving permanent acceptance by their neighbors has been shattered. Even the Israeli Left at last understands that its ten-year effort to win peace through concessions has been seen not as friendship but as weakness. Now, facing all-out war against Arafat's army, open rebellion by Arab citizens of Israel, and a dangerous resurgence of pan-Arab fury, the Israelis stand once again exposed to themselves and the world as a tiny, vulnerable enclave forced to fight for their very survival.
The question "Who lost Oslo?" can t be asked too soon. While Israelis don't completely agree on the answer, they universally accept that Oslo is dead. But official Washington wont let go. As of this writing, President Clinton still has not publicly laid any blame at the feet of Arafat, while Al Gore argued in the second presidential debate that the United States must remain neutral in the current conflict. The State Department line is that Israeli opposition leader Arid Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount on September 28 caused some if not all of the violence. Not only does this view invite further bloodshed, it epitomizes Oslo's fatal infantilization of the Palestinians.
By always allowing at to find cover for his violations, American policy only reinforced a racist view of Palestinians in particular and Arabs in general. By allowing Arafat to blame Sharon for the latest violence, policy makers are really saying that Palestinians are like children, incapable of exercising self- control, and therefore cannot be expected or required to uphold any acceptable standard of civilized behavior.
Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount wasn't the only message Palestinians received in the days leading up to Arafat's "Intifada for Jerusalem." First came a dramatic break from established U.S. policy, when American ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, in a speech delivered at Jerusalem's Hebrew Union College on September 14, publicly called for the re-division of Jerusalem Until then, Washington had always insist ed that the final status of the city must be negotiated directly by the interested parties. By urging that Jerusalem be "shared," Indyk sent an unmistakable signal that the United States now backed Palestinians claims to half of Israel's capital
To Palestinians, this meant the battle for Jerusalem was on All Arafat needed was a pretext When Prime Minister Barak himself finally broke the taboo and told the Jerusalem Poston September 27 that there would be "two capitals in Jerusalem, Arafat got what he need ed: Almost immediately upon hear mg Barak's statement, Sharon finalized plans for taking a contingent of Likud lawmakers to visit the Temple Mount to assert that Israel's capital would not be divided without a fight.
Subsequently, more than a few left-wing Israelis have actually been heard to thank Sharon for derailing the train rather than letting it race off the cliff Amid the wreckage of Oslo, it is plainer than ever that there is a grotesque symmetry between Israeli concessions and Palestinian rejection. The most sweeping concessions ever offered by an Israeli leader have elicited the most violent and well-organized Palestinian rejection of them.
Israelis want desperately to sup port their prime minister They elected Ehud Barak overwhelmingly less than two years ago; they like his personal strength and determined purpose. But their support has its limits. The Israelis did not elect Barak to permit their country to slide into chaos. Nor did they elect him to weaken the deterrent capability of Israel's armed forces-or, least of all, to relinquish national sovereignty by subjecting vital security decisions to the approval of the United States, whose grasp of their region's realities has proven so profoundly flawed.
Tom Rose is publisher of the Jerusalem Post.
(Weekly Standard Oct 23)
For me, the moment of truth came at the outset of the recent Mideast violence, when I read of the Palestinian officer who, during a routine patrol, turned his gun on his Israeli counterpart and killed him.
So much for the illusion of mutual respect, shared goals and partners in peace. The 40,000-man Palestinian police force (a euphemism for "army") was created and supplied with guns with Israeli help, supposedly to protect against Hamas fundamentalists. But it has turned on Israel, tolerating, if not participating in, the widespread violence.
Looking back, it's not as if the dream of Mideast peace became the nightmare of Mideast war overnight. We had seen the signs of trouble, almost from the beginning of the Oslo process seven years ago. But many of us, following Jerusalem's lead, chose to ignore or overlook the signals in the hope that the process of peace would prevail over the reality of rejection.
In effect, we were instructed and conditioned not to believe what we saw, heard and sensed -- that the Palestinians had not softened their hatred of Israel, only their means of undermining the Jewish state.
Front and center was Yasir Arafat, Israel's chief enemy for decades and whose PLO had committed countless acts of terrorism against Jews, being hailed as a partner in peace. Even on the day of The Handshake on the White House lawn, while Yitzchak Rabin spoke movingly of making peace -- "enough of blood and tears, enough," he said -- Arafat equivocated in his remarks.
Had he changed his ways, or simply exchanged his bombs of terror for the cloak of respectability to achieve his goal? In truth, he has been remarkably consistent. He has kept his military uniform, his talk of victory over the Zionists, his praise of jihad, or holy war, and his pledge to make Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state. But we were told to dismiss his behavior as the disillusioned -- even pathetic -- rantings of a man unwilling to acknowledge publicly what he knew in his heart -- that Israel had the upper hand in this diplomatic deal.
Since 1993, the architects of Oslo rationalized the Palestinian leader's words and actions as they sought to convince us, and themselves, that his goal was to live in peace alongside a Jewish state rather than seek its destruction. And so when Arafat continued to call for jihad, and told Arab audiences that the peace process was a subterfuge, citing a precedent set by Mohammed (who signed a peace treaty and later went to war), we were told by Israel's leaders not to worry. Arafat has to talk tough to his constituency, we were advised. Pay no attention. Or, it doesn't matter what Arafat says, only what he does.
But what he was doing was continuing to preach hatred of Jews and Israel to his people, through his rhetoric and media and schoolbooks and summer camps and preachings in the mosques.
The result was a parallel universe that came into creation in Jewish life. The Jewish right-wing, from Arutz Sheva, the Israeli radio station, to the Zionist Organization of America, kept up a constant barrage of statements indicating that Palestinian leaders never wavered in their anti-Israel sentiments and strategies.
But the governments in Jerusalem dismissed or ignored these citations, and even the endless violations of the Oslo agreements.
The only exception was the Netanyahu government, which hammered away at the need for reciprocity in adhering to signed agreements. But the combination of Prime Minister Netanyahu's arrogant style and territorial compromises to the Palestinians on Hebron and at Wye undermined his message, and he was soundly rejected by Israelis for Ehud Barak in the 1998 elections.
Some of us wavered in our views on the peace process, at times buoyed by a sense of real progress and the notion that economic stability is the best means of countering hostility. At other times, during the wave of terrorist bombings and violent demonstrations, we were overwhelmed and disillusioned by the feeling that nothing had really changed, that the Arabs still hated Israel and would never accept a Zionist state in the region.
Perhaps we allowed ourselves to be blinded by the idea of peace and the logic of cooperation. One of the pro-Oslo arguments was that Israel's superior military power and insistence that a future Palestinian state would be de-militarized assured security for the Jews of Israel. But we have come to realize this is an inverted war: For the Palestinians, defeat means victory. The more losses Arafat suffers, the stronger his support. The more damage Israel inflicts, the more it suffers in world opinion.
Pilots in airplanes and soldiers in tanks can't win a war against kids with slingshots and rocks. The lessons of the intifada -- that media images and international judgments are more powerful than armies -- have come back to haunt us. How could we have forgotten?
We wanted desperately to believe that the conflict could be resolved, that Israel would be rewarded for its painful compromises, that the world would recognize and appreciate the moral courage and commitment of a nation willing to risk its very security for peace.
But we have come to see that in the Arab world compromise is interpreted as weakness, the murder of Israelis is cause for elation, Jewish holy sites, like Joseph's Tomb, are desecrated, and Jewish history itself is rejected.
Whom, indeed, are we dealing with?
And yet even now, acknowledging Oslo's failure, we must recognize that the right has no solution beyond calls for resolve and predictions of endless warfare between Arabs and Jews. Despite our sadness, we hold out hope that someday, if not now, the reality and inevitability of sharing the same piece of real estate will lead the Arab world to come to terms with the State of Israel and put an end to the bloodletting.
But until then, even the current conflict is preferable to the prospect of Israel committing national suicide. (jewsishworldreview.com Oct 25)
The writer is editor and publisher of the New York Jewish Week.
Dear Mr. Arafat:
I couldn't help but notice that your recent rhetoric, as in your speech to the Arab Summit last week, suggests you are now not only a self-proclaimed spokesman for the "Palestianian people," but for Christian interests in the Middle East as well.
Here are some of the recent references that piqued my curiosity:
a.. "The blood that was shed in Al-Aqsa definitely unleashed the wrath in the hearts of our Palestinian masses everywhere in the homeland. The unarmed citizens rose to express their feelings in a legitimate spontaneous intifada to uphold Arab, Islamic, and Christian values in accordance with the Umarite Covenant. The Israelis canceled this covenant, by claiming sovereignty over Al-Haram al-Sharif and forging its history and reality and saying it is the place where the Temple was built, by licentiously attacking the worshippers in its mosques and those defending its honor and sanctity, or by attempting to Judaize holy Jerusalem and its Christian and Islamic holy places and imposing a siege on Bethlehem."
b.. "Our people of revolutionary struggle, the people of the glorious intifada, whose waves will only stop with victory, pledge to every Arab, Muslim, Christian, and friend to continue their struggle using all legitimate means to reach victory."
c.. "Let me tell you something. The issue of Jerusalem is not just a Palestinian issue. It is a Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and Christian issue."
d.. "Let us begin from the holy Buraq wall. It is called the holy Buraq wall, not the Wailing Wall. We do not say this. After the holy Buraq revolution in 1929 ... the Shaw International Committee said this is a holy wall for Muslims. This wall ends at the Via Dolorosa. These are our Christian and Muslim holy places."
I recently spoke out as an Arab-American in opposition to your tactics and goals, Mr. Arafat. Today, I speak out against them as a Christian.
Let me be blunt: Despite extensive travels throughout the Middle East, I have not met a single Christian Arab who did not have misgivings about you. I certainly have never met one who considered you a representative of his interests in the Holy Land. In the United States I have never met a Christian who thought you were anything but an anti-Jewish terrorist. That's the way I think of you.
You may indeed actually represent many of those rioting in the streets of Ramallah and Gaza and Jerusalem, but you will never speak for Christians anywhere -- not real Christians, not followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was, you might recall, a Jewish rabbi.
By definition, Christians must reject your agenda of hate and genocide.
In addition, Christians old enough to remember what access to the holy sites was like under Islamic rule are hardly eager to support your cause in Jerusalem. We know where that leads. Jews may be your No. 1 enemy today. We know Christians will be next.
Mr. Arafat, you may have fooled enough people in elite circles to have won yourself millions in U.S. taxpayer aid and even a Nobel Peace Prize. But all you have really managed to do with those victories is to diminish and corrupt the meaning of those awards.
Sincerely, Joseph Farah
The Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak does not really want to win this war. There is more than one piece of evidence on the ground supporting this tough conclusion, but the clearest proof of the crisis in Israel's political leadership comes from the government's own definitions of the situation, the aim and the opponent. For three weeks now, the Palestinians have been defining the new reality as a state of war. This can be heard from Palestinian generals and statesmen as well as from all of their soldiers and from the "man in the street," but our prime minister and cabinet ministers continue to squirm before the microphones. They describe the new reality as a "limited confrontation," a "campaign," a "struggle." Anything, just not a war.
The Palestinians also openly define us in recent weeks as an enemy, but our cabinet ministers, and especially the prime minister, are pondering over the possibility that the past partner for peace will also be the future partner, and console themselves with the possible temporary nature of the current situation. They describe the potential or past "partner" as someone who "is still not ready," and speak in the language of "meanwhile" and "at present." An enemy? God forbid you should mention it.
The forces ranged against us are for some odd reason still being called "the Palestinian police," when the truth is that it is an army to all intents and purposes, which we foolishly created and armed for the Palestinians.
As in war, so in war, but in this war the aim has been defined not as victory or trouncing the enemy, but as preserving its potential as our potential dialogue partner in the future. Israel's deterrent capability as a military power has declined significantly in recent years, but in this campaign it has almost crashed.
It seems that this will be the first war in the history of the State of Israel in which a government is avoiding, or if you will, is holding back from saving the lives of Israeli citizens only in order to avoid hurting Arabs. That was the case with Madhet Yosef, the Border Police officer killed at Joseph's Tomb. That was also the case with Rabbi Binyamin Herling at Mount Eval. That is how the government behaved in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood, that is how it behaved even in the heart of Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, just two weeks ago when a group of Border Police officers almost suffocated to death inside the police station near the Lions' Gate when a Palestinian mob set it alight.
On the road to Oslo and Camp David, something went wrong with the reasoning that should have been taken for granted: In times of peace all blood is the same, and the fate of a Jewish killer is the same as that of an Arab killer. There can be no argument about this. On the battlefield, the situation is different. No one is suggesting that the concept of purity of arms be erased from the moral code of the Israel Defense Forces, but what has happened to us is simply unbelievable: In a state of war, we prefer to avoid jeopardizing the lives of Palestinian civilians, even when there is a high or even total certainty that this avoidance will lead to injuries and deaths among Israeli civilians and soldiers.
This is the first time in the country's history that by instruction of the political echelon - or, perhaps even more seriously, not by its instruction - the IDF is not employing all available means to save Jews, only in order to keep Arabs from being killed. In this war, we have reached a state of absurdity with regard to our attitude toward world public opinion. Please excuse the bold (and intentionally exaggerated) question, but what do we prefer? A "good" picture of a wounded or dead Jew and sympathy in the world, or "bad" pictures of wounded and dead Palestinians next to the remains of their ruined homes and hostility in the media? Sometimes, that was indeed the cruel choice. And in a state of war, and that is indeed the situation we have today, the answer is obvious.
Like the Intifada, which the Palestinians won, this time too the IDF was ordered not to win this war. Two tanks decorating the outskirts of Gilo and a few pincer assaults from helicopters still do not determine the outcome and certainly do not create deterrence.
The Israeli public is as affected by the transmission of weakness and hesitation as the Palestinians are. You don't need a "morale meter" to determine that the national mood is very low indeed. Many Israelis feel shame and humiliation today. They know that the IDF has the ability to stop the hostilities, but are aware that at the helm of state there is no captain who will give the army the command to do so. (Haaretz Oct 22)