A collection of the week's news from Israel
26 MarCheshvan 5760
November 5, 1999
Issue number 244
Saturday, Sunday Nov 13th, 14th
Beth Jacob Congregation hosts a conference on Tradition and Modernity featuring Rabbi Barry Freundel, Dr. Rivkah Blau and Rabbi Mayer Schiller and other local and visiting speakers and panellists. Call (416)638-5955 for further information.
Terrorists Attack on "Free Passage" Route
Two of the five people wounded in Saturday night's terrorist attack outside Kiryat Arba have been released from the hospital. Two others were also hurt lightly, while 72-year-old Yaakov Shpitz is listed in moderate condition. The security forces continue their search for the terrorists, who opened fire from a parked car on a passing busload of Ramat Gan residents on their way back from spending Shabbat in Hevron. Hevron spokesman Noam Arnon told reporters last night, "This attack occurred on the new 'safe passage road' from Gaza to Hevron which was opened only four days ago. Such violence was to be expected. We call on the government to close the road, to stop importing terrorists into Hevron, and to protect Israeli citizens." Knesset Members Nachum Langental (National Religious Party) and Tzvi Hendel (National Union) called upon the government to close the "free passage" at once. Gila Engelsman, one of the Israelis injured in the attack, spoke to Arutz-7 today from her hospital room. "We were a group of 15 families from Ramat Gan, and we had a wonderful Shabbat in Hevron," she said. "At 6:40 last night, our bus pulled out of Kiryat Arba. At one point, I suddenly felt a pain in my legs, even before I heard shots or realized that we had been fired upon. Very quickly we had everyone - including the 30 children with us - lie down on the floor of the bus. We tried to keep people calm until we reached the checkpoint." Fortunately, two doctors and a nurse in the group were able to administer emergency first aid. Asked whether she plans to return to Hevron, Engelsman responded enthusiastically, "We have to recite the 'Birkat HaGomel' (the blessing of thanks pronounced by one who has been saved from danger) at the Machpelah Cave!" (arutzsheva.org Oct 31)
Another Summit Planned - Maybe
The Oslo summit appears to have ended without substantial results. "We have infused new life into the process," summed up U.S. President Clinton, after meeting with Prime Minister Barak and Yasser Arafat for 40 minutes on Wednesday. It was agreed that another summit would be held in approximately three months, "if sufficient progress is made in the meantime," said Clinton. Negotiations will be held in the coming weeks in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Israel is enraged at Arafat for calling for the "end of the conquest in Judea and Samaria," despite an American request from Arafat not to do so. Barak refused the Palestinian demand to cease construction in Yesha, saying that if a permanent-status agreement is signed in another year or so, "the number of homes that can be built by then is insignificant."
The government has not yet issued a denial of an article in the British Foreign Report, which claims that an emissary of Prime Minister Barak is conducting secret talks with Yasser Arafat on the establishment of a Palestinian state. Barak is reported to have said that he wishes to sign a final-status agreement with a "state and not with a [Palestinian] Authority." The report claims that Barak wishes to concentrate the settlements around Jerusalem into three blocs, but that settlers who wish to remain in their homes will enjoy special benefits within the Palestinian entity. (A7 Nov 3)
Residents of Judea and Samaria continue to complain of noisy and frequent fireworks, weapon fire, and explosions near their Yesha communities. Binyamin Region security chief Avigdor Shatz told Arutz 7 today that the intensity of the phenomenon varies with the "wedding season," when local Palestinians celebrate outdoor weddings. "Some of the wealthier Arabs in Yesha spend upwards of 50,000 shekels for fireworks," Shatz noted. "But some of the noises are indeed weapon practice by Arabs. What is especially worrisome, though, is that it has become so commonplace that when someone hears actual weapons fire, he may ignore it, passing it off as another wedding celebration." Concerns have also been expressed by residents that the phenomenon may signal danger for the Israeli towns if a violent conflagration erupts in the future. Shatz explained that the IDF is permitted to enter the areas from which the explosions emanate, but "in practice, we rely on the Palestinian para-military police to take care of it. They have an interest in stopping this, too, since there have been quite a few deaths amongst them recently as a result of irresponsible use of weapons. At any rate, I think we have a greater interest in controlling the situation - so that the ammunition will not be used against us." (arutzsheva.org Nov 3)
Egyptian Army Struck Hard by Air-Crash
Reuters reports that more than 30 Egyptian military officers, most of them high-ranking, were on board the airliner that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean this past Sunday. An unnamed source said that 33 or 34 officers were visiting the U.S. on several different missions, and they included four air force officers, two brigadier-generals, a colonel and a major. (arutzsheva.org Nov 3)
In the Education Ministry
A controversial 9th-grade history text book has been submitted for review. Arutz-7's Chaim Jutkowitz reports that Chaim Mandel-Shaked, director of Prime Minister Barak's bureau, wrote to an American citizen that the book, "about which many complaints have been received," has been submitted by the Ministry of Education to a panel of experts for re-examination. The book, "The 20th Century," by Dr. Eyal Naveh, has been accused of presenting the War of Independence in 1948 in a "revised" fashion. "On nearly every front and in nearly every battle," according to Naveh's book, "the Jewish side had the advantage, in terms of planning, organization, equipment, and the number of trained fighters in each battle." (arutzsheva.org Nov 3)
Crime Is down
During the first nine months of 1998, reported crimes dropped 7% compared to same period in 1998, Police Commissioner Yehuda Wilk said, and property crimes decreased over 12%. Wilk appeared to be most proud of the sharp drop in stolen cars: 2247 in September of this year, compared with the record amount of 4430 in November 1997. He said that there is still insufficient cooperation on the part of the Palestinian police in this matter. (arutzsheva.org Nov 3)
Rabin's Daughter Has Doubts About Official Version
Yitzchak Rabin's daughter, MK Dalia Rabin-Pilosoph (Centrist party) has many doubts as to whether the official version of her father's murder is the full story. She told the latest issue of Woman's World magazine, "There are a lot of doubts about what happened [at the murder] and how it happened..." To the interviewer's question, "What kind of doubts?" Rabin-Pilosoph answered, "It's very involved, and I'm not sure I want to get into it. I don't want to accuse anyone as long as I don't have concrete proof. I don't want to be sued for libel. But we all [in our family] have the feeling that they simply closed the story by saying that it was a 'mishap.' This is too simplistic. There are so many question marks about the night of the murder... Somebody screamed "Blanks, blanks," and the Shamgar Commission did not determine who this man was who screamed that the bullets were fakes."
Q: "How do you know someone screamed that it was blank? Maybe that is just a rumor?"
DRP: "My mother heard it herself clearly. She called me right afterwards and said, 'They shot Abba [Dad], but don't worry, it wasn't for real.' I'll never forget that conversation with her. She was sure that nothing happened, that Abba was fine."
Q: "Maybe it was just wishful thinking on her part?"
DRP: "Maybe, but there were other people who also heard it. When she was driven to the hospital by the security people, they told her that it wasn't real. And when she asked questions, they were silent and didn't answer her. There are many questions about everything that happened right after the murder. How is it that during the entire ride with my mother, the security people didn't talk with anyone the whole way? Why did they separate between my parents, and take my mother in a separate car?... Why did they want to get her away from the scene of the murder as quickly as possible? Why did they tell her that it was an exercise? And what happened to the vital instincts that every bodyguard has? Why didn't they kill the murderer on the spot? How did they not shoot him? Look what happened now with Mubarak - why didn't the people whose job it was to protect my father not shoot and kill him? This must be very similar to what the Kennedy family felt when President John Kennedy was shot. Even now there is no clear answer as to who stood behind that murder. Then, they accused Lee Harvey Oswald, who was immediately killed, and now they accuse Yigal Amir - but it's not so simple, it's much deeper and much more complex... I won't say who I suspect, I'm just telling you the doubts that we in the family have. I know that our family will not know peace until we learn the truth... Doubts continue to arise, including for instance the contradiction between the medical report by the doctor who first saw Abba when he arrived at the hospital and the pathological report. The doubts never leave me..." (arutzsheva.org Nov 2)
Successful Arrow Test
The Arrow anti-missile missile, including all of its systems and components, was successfully tested today. The missile homed in on a simulated Scud target fired from a ship at sea. Preliminary analysis of the results show that all of the system's components, including the Arrow missile itself, the Citron Tree fire management system, and the Green Pine fire control radar systems operated properly and achieved all of their test objectives. The Green Pine fire control radar obtained the target and the Citron Tree calculated the intercept, upon which the Arrow hit and destroyed the target. An Israel Aircraft Industries statement noted that today's success is a critical step towards operational deployment of the Arrow missile. (arutzsheva.org Nov 1)
Natural Gas Discovered off Ashkelon Coast
Natural gas has been discovered off the Ashkelon coast. So declared a joint announcement by the Isramco and British Gas International corporations Sunday. Isramco's Director-General said Sunday that the amount uncovered could bring $80,000 a day in sales, and that the companies are optimistic that another natural gas field will be uncovered in the same region soon. Business correspondent Seth Vogelman reports that British Gas International recently finalized a deal to acquire a 50% interest in five offshore exploration licenses from Isramco for a total investment of $10 million. The investment includes British Gas' share of Isramco's drilling costs. Dr. Yechezkel Druckman of the Infrastructures Ministry told Arutz-7 Monday that he is very optimistic about the gas discovery. The Tel Aviv stock market also expressed its confidence when the shares of Isramco rose sharply in light of the news. Druckman noted that the $100-150 million invested by Isramco and British Gas in the drilling venture - which also includes a nearby gas field discovered this past summer - has the potential of producing a five-to-ten year supply of natural gas. He said that although the gas would be produced privately, the gas find holds major benefits for the State of Israel: "The main advantage will be the decreased Israeli dependency on foreign energy providers, and also massive saving of foreign currency reserves, tax revenues, and a share of the profits." The gas was found at a distance of some 36 kilometers (22 miles) from the Israeli coast. Both Israeli and international law permit the search for natural resources in the ocean up to a distance of 200 miles from its coastline. (arutzsheva.org Oct 31, Nov 1)
Gush Etzion Tenders Issued
The Housing Ministry Monday issued a public tender for the paving of a road connecting the Gush Etzion community of Efrat with the nearby Givat HaZayit neighborhood. The Ministry also issued a tender for the construction of nine government-financed housing units in the Gush Etzion community of Meitzad. (A7 Nov 1)
Israel Demonized in PA Press
Anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian press is on the upswing, according to evidence presented by Itamar Marcus, Director of the Palestinian Media Watch. Last Friday's Al-Ayam newspaper published a political cartoon blaming Jews for spreading pesticides throughout Palestinian areas in exchange for financial gain. Sunday, the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, printed a long article according to which Israel has begun counting down the hours until its demolition of the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Marcus says that the cumulative effect of articles and cartoons of this nature strengthens the image of Israel as the enemy of the Palestinians, and causes an increase in Palestinian hostility towards Israel. (arutzsheva.org Nov 1)
Barak Visit Leaves Residents Optimistic
Residents of Mitzpeh K'ramim, one of the Yesha sites slated for evacuation, have gotten mixed messages from Prime Minister Barak on their community's future. At a meeting with Barak Sunday - facilitated by the Yesha Council and Housing Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Levy (NRP) - Barak told them that the community would have to be dismantled. One of the participants at the meeting, Kobi Gur-Aryeh, told Arutz-7's Ron Meir Monday that, "Barak listened to us carefully, but insisted that we leave. Then he said that he would speed up the process of approving our site and even help with its infrastructures - all on condition that we cooperate by leaving at this juncture." Does Gur-Aryeh trust that Barak will carry out his new privately-delivered promise? "As far as we can see, it's a moot point," he said. "We believe that he won't evacuate us at all. In fact, he issued us no ultimatum, and did not specify any date by which we must leave." Mitzpeh K'ramim is situated 1.1 kilometers from Kokhav HaShachar - "in an area overlooking the Jordan Valley, and which, by all accounts, will remain under Israeli control in any final settlement. It's ridiculous to evacuate us." (arutzsheva.org Nov 1)
PFLP Head, Allowed to Enter Israel, May Be Linked to Attack
The Palestinian Arab terrorists responsible for Saturday night's attack escaped through back roads into Hevron. They didn't enter the adjacent Arab villages, which are still classified as Area B (under Israeli military control) and are open to Israeli army searches. Hevron is Area A (full Palestinian control), and although Oslo permits the IDF to carry out hot pursuit of terrorists - in practice, the army has not once done this since the implementation of the Oslo agreement. The attack closely resembles those of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Firing Kalatchnikov rifles from parked or moving cars is typical of the PFLP. The last such attacks killed Ita and Ephraim Tzur three years ago, and before that, Ofrah Felix. It's significant to note that just one month ago, Israel permitted the current PFLP strong-man, Abu Ali Mustafa, to enter Israel. Since arriving, he has been circulating throughout Judea and Samaria, talking about returning to the 'armed struggle' and the like. Just last week, he appeared on Palestinian television's 'Meet the Press' program, rejecting the annulment of the PLO charter calling for the destruction of Israel, and supporting the PLO's 1974 'Plan of Stages' for the destruction of Israel. A link between Mustafa's return and Saturday's attack has been suggested. In this connection, it should be noted that Prime Minister Barak has suspended his decision to allow DFLP terrorist leader Naif Hawatme to enter Israel, in light of Hawatme's recent remarks calling for violence against Israel. (arutzsheva.org Oct 31)
Shuhada Opened to More Arab Traffic
Another section of King David St (Shuhada) in Hevron, which passes by the Jewish homes in Beit Hadassah and others, was opened to Arab taxi traffic Sunday. Some 200 Jewish residents blocked the road in protest, and called upon Prime Minister Barak not to open it. "This is the least he can do after last night's attack," some said. The protestors distributed literature to the soldiers, recited Psalms, and explained that they, too, would like a "safe passage" road. The Palestinians, for their part, joyously celebrated the transit of the first cab on the street. Not far away, at the Husan Junction near Beitar Illit, a policewoman directing traffic was hit by an Arab driver and was wounded lightly. The Arab reportedly sped off towards the Arab village Al-Hader. (arutzsheva.org Oct 31)
Secret Talks with Syria
Prime Minister Barak has confirmed, in an interview with Newsweek, that Israel has held secret contacts with Syria over the past few weeks. He said that the "moment of truth is approaching," and that he believes that the negotiations between the sides will resume in the coming weeks. At the same time, a gathering of anti-Israel terrorist organizations - Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah - was held yesterday in Damascus. (A7 Oct 31)
Arab Taxi Driver Held in Death of Teenager
The body of 17-year-old Tal Reichman, who had been missing for three days, was found Sunday at the Nachshonim Park near Rosh Ha'ayin. He was killed by shotgun wounds, apparently inflicted shortly after he went missing. Police officials suspect that a disagreement between Reichman and one of the taxi drivers with whom he worked - Adnan Amar of the Arab village of Kfar Kasem - is behind the crime. Amar has been held under arrest in connection with the case, and the last phone conversation registered on Reichman's cellular phone was with Amar. (arutzsheva.org Oct 31)
PA Refuses to Pay Debts
The Finance Ministry announced that "differences of opinion" have caused the temporary halt of the Israeli-Palestinian Ad-hoc Committee sessions. The Palestinian delegation, headed by the PA Chairman's Economic Advisor, Muhammad Rashid, refused to recognize Palestinian obligations to pay debts, including debts by Palestinian insurance companies to Israelis injured in traffic accidents. The head of the Israeli delegation, Finance Ministry Director-General Dr. Avi Ben-Bassat, said that according to Article 9, sentences 7 and 8, of the Economic Protocol signed in Paris, the "Palestinian Fund" is responsible for paying compensation to Israeli victims of traffic accidents if Palestinian insurance companies do not do so, since the Palestinian Authority is the guarantor for all of these debts. Ben-Bassat said that he hopes that the Palestinians will meet their commitments in accordance with the Protocol. (arutzsheva.org Oct 31)
Road-Opening May Be Critical For Gush Katif
Gush Katif residents fear that their entire region may fall into Palestinian hands, following the decision by the IDF commander there, Brig.-Gen. Ya'ir Naveh, to remove all limitations from Palestinian traffic on the coastal road. The route in question connects the otherwise-isolated community of Netzarim from the other Jewish towns in the area. In addition to these security concerns, the road passes only meters away from the area's main hotel, and will thus adversely affect one of Gush Katif's major industries - tourism. (arutzsheva.org Oct 29)
Gush Etzion up in Arms
Close to 200 residents of Gush Etzion held a protest march last Friday against two farms established by the Palestinian Authority near N'vei Daniel. Some 15 Arab families live in the area of the farms, reports Arutz-7's Haggai Seri, who was one of four or five journalists covering the event. Gush Etzion Regional Council head Sha'ul Goldstein said that he does not believe the rumors that Prime Minister Barak plans to uproot four eastern-Gush Etzion communities, but that in any event the residents of the Gush will fight "with full force" to ensure that the entire area remains under Israeli sovereignty. Supporting the rumors is the freeze by Barak of the Biet Sahour-bypass road in eastern Gush Etzion. (arutzsheva.org Oct 31)
Two SLA Soldiers Killed
A Southern Lebanese Army soldier was killed by Hizbullah terrorist fire last Friday - the second such casualty in two days. In addition, a Lebanese civilian and an SLA soldier were wounded. Israeli and SLA forces returned fire towards the terrorists, and Israeli jets attacked Hizbullah targets in the Sujud area. (arutzsheva.org Oct 29)
Elon Moreh Road Razing
Residents in Elon Moreh are up in arms at what they call an IDF violation of an agreement made with the community. Arutz-7's Kobi Sela reports that two Civil Administration bulldozers arrived without warning last Thursday to destroy a road in Elon Moreh, detaching the town's Yeshiva neighborhood from the center of the community. Some 300 people, including families and students of the yeshiva and high school, live in the N'vei Ofrah yeshiva complex. Despite an agreement between the army and the residents that the road would remain a pedestrian thoroughfare, it was completely destroyed. The PA claims that the road passes through privately-owned lands. In exchange for the destruction of the road, the PA granted its consent to the continued paving of a southern Shechem-bypass road. One kilometer of the latter route, which connects Kedumim with other Shomron communities, passes through Area B (under Palestinian administrative control). Six IDF army bases in Judea and Samaria will be evacuated within two weeks, in accordance with the Wye and Sharm a-Sheikh agreements. The bases are located in Shechem, Tekoa, and other Yesha areas designated to be transferred to the PA. The cost of the bases' relocation: 300 million shekels ($70 million). (arutzsheva.org Oct 27)
Quotes for the week...
Quotes for the week...
"Israel must be ready to defend itself against Egyptian missiles, especially if Islamists come to power in Cairo." - Science Minister and former deputy chief of staff Matan Vilna'i. (Jerusalem Post Oct 29)
"This is a dark day for the enemies of Israel." - Uzi Rubin, the director of the Defense Ministry's 'Wall (Homa) Plan' to defend the country against ballistic missile attacks. Rubin was commenting on the latest successful test of the Arrow anti missile system. (Ha'aretz Nov 2)
"The council of the city of New York does hereby call upon the president of the United States to grant clemency to Jonathan Jay Pollard, currently serving an inequitable and incomparably harsh sentence in federal prison." - Recent statement of the New York City Council. (Jerusalem Post Nov 2)
Israelis Are Wary of Peace Process for Good Reasons
By Mortimer B. Zuckerman
Despite President Clinton's efforts to pump new life into the process, real peace in the Mideast remains a mirage.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has been following the path of his mentor, the late Yitzhak Rabin, whose assassination four years ago was commemorated in Oslo yesterday. Barak has turned over territory to the Palestinians, freed hundreds of prisoners and opened a safe-passage corridor between the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
What has Israel got for his efforts? Insults. From Yasser Arafat and those close to him, there continues a cascade of shameless anti-Jewish poison incompatible with a commitment to ending the conflict once and for all. Hatred is heard daily at every possible level of official communication, including schools, television, radio and the print media. Their maps of Palestine include the entire State of Israel. Children are encouraged to speak of the honor of killing Jews for Islam.
It is of a piece with the continued espousal of violence by Arafat and his senior aides. He gives the Palestine Liberation Organization's highest award to a terrorist convicted of murdering an Israeli policeman. He recruits into his security forces hundreds of former terrorist prisoners released by Israel. Is it any wonder the Arab street feels that the peace treaties are but a temporary truce rather than an end to hostilities?
Most of the Arabs refuse to consider themselves bound by the agreements. They feel they were made under the pressures of the Israeli superiority of power and the collapse of their support from Russia and Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.
A recent poll of some 1,600 people in the Arab world is stunning. Consider:
Real peace is made between people, not just governments. Assume that Arafat genuinely wants peace. Then why isn't he countering all this in every way he can instead of encouraging it? He is allowing an atmosphere to harden that makes the compromises needed for a real peace impossible.
And what does the world, and America, do to counter this hatred? Nothing. Arab threats of violence and the depiction of Jews and Zionists as enemies of Arabs and Islam are met with silence. The Wye agreement established an anti-incitement committee to end this campaign of vilification. But this panel has failed miserably. It has even failed to agree on a definition of incitement.
Israelis are doing no more than prudence dictates in insisting they can't rely on peaceful professions by Palestinians but must have the secure, recognized borders called for in United Nations resolutions to protect against such hostility. They know what real peace is. Real peace is the way leaders address their nations, teachers teach students, religious leaders inspire followers. Real peace means an end to threats of violence, an end to disdain and defamation.
Real peace is worth taking risks for; suicide is not. (New York Daily News)
Facing the Iranian Danger By David Bar-Illan
Every new government, regardless of its political hue, suffers from a severe case of victors' hubris. Election triumphs seem to convince the winners that their predecessors could do no right and that they can do no wrong.
This arrogance may provide one explanation for the government's apparent indifference to the Iranian threat. It may derive from the assumption that if the previous government gave it top priority, it cannot be very important. It may also be that the government wanted to please Washington, where the Iran issue is viewed with considerably less urgency.
But, whatever the reason, the fact is that only now, more than three months after assuming office, has Barak decided to press the administration on the issue of Iran's nuclear program and missile buildup.
To get Washington to act effectively on this issue is, admittedly, a daunting task. The way the administration sees it, this is one case in which Israel's agenda does not fully jibe with American interests. Not that the administration wants to see an Iran armed with long-range missiles and nuclear warheads. It does not. But the Russian involvement in arming Iran poses a seemingly insoluble dilemma for Washington.
The facts are as clear as they are worrisome. There is a steady flow of technology, know-how, spare parts and experts from Russia to Iran. It is intended to enable the Teheran regime to manufacture ballistic missiles that can reach Western Europe, and to develop a nuclear warhead within the next few years. Yet the White House is so eager to avoid doing anything that might undermine the Yeltsin regime that it has difficulty facing these facts, let alone taking vigorous measures to change them.
At first, the administration refused to believe Israeli reports on the scope and danger of these technological transfers. Only when the evidence of Russian complicity became incontrovertible did the White House assign Vice President Al Gore the task of persuading the Russians to desist.
Fearing that threats, sanctions and other tough measures would destabilize Yeltsin's regime, Gore preferred quiet diplomacy. Yet the Congress, more receptive to Israel's warnings and less given to the Yeltsin-at-any-price orientation, disagreed. It imposed sanctions on Russian industries and institutions helping Iran, threatening to take even tougher measures. The administration countered by trying to de-fang the existing sanctions and prevent future ones.
During his visit to Washington in July, Barak acceded to President Clinton's request to stop pressing for sanctions for at least three months. It was a puzzling gesture for the heir to the late Yitzhak Rabin's perception of the region's problems.
Rabin habitually cited the danger from Iran and Iraq to rationalize his change of heart regarding Syria and the PLO - a change which converted him from opposing withdrawal from the Golan and refusing negotiations with the PLO to agreeing to both. He thought a quick settlement with Israel's immediate neighbors would neutralize what he called the first circle of hostility, so that Israel could better cope with the looming danger from the second circle. He was convinced that such regimes as Iraq and Iran would pose a grave existential threat to Israel if they acquired the means to deliver non-conventional weapons.
Whether agreements with Syria and the Palestinians would actually prevent them from joining an attack on Israel is arguable. But there can be no argument to support making egregious concessions to the immediate neighbors (concessions Rabin himself deemed unthinkable in 1992) while doing nothing to frustrate the Iranian missile-nuclear buildup.
Long-range missiles with nuclear warheads in the hands of the ayatollahs threaten not only Israel but the whole region - and ultimately Europe and even the US. Russia, itself in conflict with Islamic fanaticism, should be particularly concerned about Iran developing into a nuclear power. But this is not the first time in history that the urgency of financial needs and the hope of appeasing a potential aggressor overwhelm reason.
Washington's timorousness in dealing with Moscow is even more incomprehensible. If nothing else, Russia's repeated crises should have taught the administration that turning a blind eye to Russian transgressions is imprudent. And surely Gore must know that being identified with a failed appeasement policy will provide priceless ammunition to his rivals for the presidency.
But myopia in Russia and the US is no excuse for Israeli inaction. Not only should Israel make its deep concern about the Iranian threat known to all its friends and supporters; it must actively encourage diplomatic and economic measures aimed at stopping Russia's contribution to the most immediate threat to world peace. (Jerusalem Post Nov 3)
On The Occasion of Our 18,000th by Hillel Fendel
The milestone occasion of the signing up of our 18,000th subscriber, which happened early this week, is an appropriate time to review what we have accomplished. Even more so, however, now is the time to prepare greater and more ambitious goals - together with you, our readers - for the sake of Israel's future.
Israel is a great country. At present, it is undergoing hard times - some of them self-inflicted, many of them not. One of the latter is its negative image as portrayed in the world media. The obvious political consequences of this problem are severe enough. But what may be even worse is that the false propaganda about Israel to which most of the world is subject helps perpetuate Israel's marginalization among world Jewry. As foreign as it may sound to most of our readership, the number of American Jews who have never even considered visiting Israel - let alone living here, or taking some form of public action on her behalf - would probably astound even the most jaded statistician!
This, then, is an important goal of Arutz-7: to make Israel relevant, alive, and an intrinsic part of the lives of Jews all over the world. Our readership encompasses a very wide range of individuals, with varying degrees of connection with Israel and the Jewish people. We would hope to inspire those who have never visited here, to do so; those who have visited, to come again, or to buy property here, or to send their children for a year of study; those who have done the above, to come on Aliyah; those who are here already, to bring others; etc. We - Arutz-7 and our readership - will have succeeded to the extent that this occurs.
We are thankful that we are able to reach 18,000 people daily via direct e-mail, thousands more on our website, and still more thousands through independent reprints, distribution lists, and weekly digests. We are aware that this is a tremendous opportunity, one that has not been granted to many others. Yet, "he who has 100, wants 200," our Sages tell us. We feel that our potential, and that of our readership, is tremendous, and still far from tapped. In addition to aiming for the quantity goal of ever-increasing readership, we are striving to actualize its latent energy in terms of what it can accomplish.
We are confident that many of our readers have already been moved to take some form of action - starting action groups, introducing Arutz-7 to friends and relatives, writing or faxing Israeli or foreign political leaders, paying visits to Israel, discussing Israel with friends, prayer, or other - directly or indirectly because of what you have read here. But we need more.
On May 25, 1986, millions of Americans stood hand-to-hand in a project called Hands Across America. Its purpose was to raise awareness of the problem of the homeless and poor. Millions of people! It was talked about in the papers and television for weeks beforehand. This unique endeavor succeeded way beyond expectations, both in the public awareness that it raised - it's still remembered, 13 years later! - and in the many individual cases of poor and homeless that were actually resolved.
Who arranged it? Who was behind that amazing project that required untold hours of work and coordination, and resulted in so many acts of kindness that will never be able to be traced back to their true source? Probably one or two or three people who sat down one day and said, "Let's do it!"
Isn't Israel worthy of a similar effort? Is it conceivable that among the 18,000-plus out there, there do not exist the same one or two or three who can pull off a comparable undertaking for Israel? Whether it be:
- we have the potential to carry it out! It simply requires the one or two or three, out of 18,000, who will take the initiative. (Arutz 7 Oct. 28)