A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto

January 12, 2001   -   17 Tevet 5761
Issue number 308

Events...

Wednesday January 16, 8:00pm

First meeting of the new BAYT Chug Aliyah, an association of people interested in aliyah, open to the community, at BAYT. For information call David Miller at (905) 305-6100.

Solidarity Missions to Israel

United Israel Appeal / UJA-Federation mission to Israel February 13-18, Cdn$1,500 (plus minimum 2001 donation to UJA of $500); Jerusalem Sheraton Plaza / Inbal (Laromme); Includes visits to Efrat and Gilo; One Israel Fund / Young Israel of Midwood / Orthodox Union Solidarity Trip to Israel January 21-29; US$1170 if 50 people, US$1270 if 25 people, from New York; Jerusalem Sheraton Plaza; Visits throughout Yesha; For further information contact Yedidyeh Hirtenfeld (718) 338-7702

News...

A Third-of-a-Million Pledge for Jerusalem

Between 300,000 and 400,000 people gathered for a mass rally Monday night opposing the division of Israel's capital. The theme of the rally was, "Jerusalem: I Pledge Allegiance." The huge crowds spilled over from Jaffa Gate all the way to the main Jaffa Rd. thoroughfare and into many of the adjoining roads. Traffic was diverted away from the area, and many thousands of people could be seen coming and going by foot in all directions throughout the event. Throughout the rally, pictures and photographs of Jerusalem - such as the City of David antiquities, the Temple Mount, and the liberation of the city in 1967 - were screened on the walls of the Old City near the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate. Speakers included Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Moshe Landau, Avital Sharansky (wife of Yisrael B'Aliyah Party head Natan Sharansky), Chairman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Ron Lauder, paratroopers such as Rabbi Yisrael Ariel who participated in the capture of Jerusalem in 1967, left-wing Rishon LeTzion Mayor Meir Nitzan, and organizer Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert.

The police have confirmed that they did not allow the rally's organizers to carry out their plan for a human chain around the Old City walls, as a result of an agreement with the PLO's Fatah. The Palestinians demanded that the police forbid the human chain between Damascus Gate and Herod's Gate [along the northern wall]. In return, Fatah promised that they would prevent Arab rioting and violence during the rally. Jerusalem's new police commander, Mickey Levy, agreed to the deal and canceled the approval he originally issued for the human chain. The rally was sponsored by an international organization called One Jerusalem, which is responsible for such efforts as an internet petition calling on the world community to recognize a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, and a powerful 30-second video clip depicting the Palestinians' endangerment of children and manipulation of children's minds in their current fight against Israel. The petition can be signed at www.onejerusalem.org. One Jerusalem was founded by a group that includes MK Natan Sharansky, Ambassador Dore Gold, Prof. Eli Pollak, Douglas Feith, and Yechiel Leiter. (arutzsheva.org Jan 9)

PA Officials Call For Barak to be Tried

Yasser Abed Rabbo and Hanan Ashrawi demand that Ehud Barak and several IDF officers be tried in an international war crimes court. The Palestinian officials accuse them of "cold-blooded murder" of the Palestinian terrorist leaders who the Israelis allegedly targeted and killed for the many terrorist attacks they coordinated. (arutzsheva.org Jan 10)

Fatah: No Agreement - Ever - Without the Right of Return

Marwan Bargouti, Secretary-General of Fatah in Judea and Samaria, declared Wednesday that Fatah - which is considered the "moderate" arm of the PLO - would never accept a final agreement that does not clearly stipulate the right of return for millions of Arab refugees from 1948. "Jerusalem and the refugees are our red lines," he said. "We prefer the peace option, but the way of armed struggle always remains." (arutzsheva.org Jan 10)

PA's Jerusalem Mufti: Kotel is the Wakf's

Jerusalem Mufti Sheik Arama Tsabari issued a religious ruling this week stating that the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and its adjoining plaza are all properties of the Moslem Waqf, and that "there can be no compromise on this matter." (arutzsheva.org Jan 10)

Hunger Strike

Tzvi Slonim, the organizer of a group of hunger strikers that has grown to 39, provided some background on the protest to Arutz-7 Wednesday: "We have been striking for eleven days now, at Jerusalem's City Hall in Safra Square. The group is quite varied, and includes army generals in reserves, professors, settlers from Judea, Samaria, and other areas of the country... Basically, we are saying 'yes' to true Zionism - we demand that Barak stop talking with the Americans and Palestinians, in light of the minority support he has in the Knesset and public, and especially when violence and shooting are still going on. Jerusalem, of course, is also a demand of ours: He must not touch it! " (arutzsheva.org Jan 10)

Mofaz Warns of Dangers

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Sha'ul Mofaz says that the Clinton-Barak plan endangers Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular. Appearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday, Mofaz enumerated the severe problems he sees in Clinton's plan, among them the fact that it totally ignores the issue of Palestinian terrorism, and does not deal with the security dangers that will be caused by surrounding Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods with Palestinian ones. Mofaz emphasized how critical it is that the airspace of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza remain Israeli, and that the entire Jordan Valley, too, stay under Israeli control. (A7 Jan 9)

Palestinian Authority Was Behind Tel Aviv Bus Bomb

A Jordanian citizen has confessed to placing and detonating two bombs on Dan bus #51 in the heart of Tel Aviv on Thursday Dec. 28. The terrorist reenacted the attack and told Israeli Shabak (General Security Service) agents that Palestinian Authority Intelligence officials based in Shechem drafted him and provided him with the explosives. He detonated two bombs on the civilian bus by use of a cellular phone. In the attack, two people were seriously hurt, one was moderately wounded, and another ten were treated for lighter injuries. The Jordanian man was arrested several hours after he perpetrated the attack, and reenacted it the same night. A gag order placed on the story prevented publication of his arrest until Sunday. (arutzsheva.org Jan 7)

Quotes for the Week...

“Don't be the first American President to raise his hand to divide Jerusalem! Jerusalem will not be divided! Don't be the one who enters history as the one who proposed it. We are a nation with a memory of thousands of years, we don't forget anything, and we don't forgive those who don't respect our deep feelings for our capital city... We never ever forget those who dare to raise their hand against our most precious assets.”
- Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert, at the rally in Jerusalem on Monday. (arutzsheva.org Jan 10)
"I was born in the Old City 13 years ago, in the building called Beit Reut. I would like to say to all of you, in the name of my friends who live in Herod's Gate, in Damascus Gate, in Zion Gate, in Jaffa Gate, and all over the Old City: We are not from the 'Moslem Quarter' or the 'Jewish Quarter' - we are from Jerusalem-Between-the-Walls, the undivided and complete city of Jerusalem. No more quarters and sections - only Jerusalem, that will has always been and will always be the pinnacle of the Jewish longing and striving, the heart and center, of the entire Jewish nation!"
- Yisrael Berko, a resident of the Old City, at the Jerusalem rally on Monday. (arutzsheva.org Jan 10)
"The Arabs may try to turn their mythology into history but we will never let them turn our history into mythology"
- Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Kehilath Yeshurun, New York, at a NY rally for Jerusalem and The Temple Mount on Monday.
“I feel if my holy father zt"l would have still been alive this, G-d forbid, would have killed him. Anyone who claims that my father would not have committed all his energy and his holy avodah to the sanctity and unity of all of the land of Israel, obviously never knew him at all. He would have been crying day and night, and screaming that Klal Yisrael better get their act together.”
- Neshama Carlebach, in a condolence letter to the Kahane children.

Commentary...

The Silent Majority

The Wall Street Journal Editorial

Reports differ on whether there were 100,000 or as many as 400,000 people present at Monday's protest before the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. But whatever the true number, one thing is clear enough from the enormous, but peaceful demonstration outside Jerusalem's old city: President Clinton's plan to divide the city, giving control over the Temple Mount to a Palestinian state, is too divisive a proposal to be implemented by a lame-duck U.S. president and an Israeli prime minister who has already resigned and faces almost certain defeat in an election next month.

The protest, in which both Israeli and diaspora Jews participated, was remarkable for its size, but also for its peacefulness. A sizable Israeli security presence was on hand, both to protect the protestors and to prevent them from extending their demonstration to the Damascus Gate, which lies in an Arab neighborhood of the city. But this police presence does nothing to diminish the fact that the demonstrators, unlike the Palestinian "demonstrators" that have sparked much of the violence of the last two months, came and went in peace.

That they delivered their message peacefully should not diminish but rather should increase the respect that is accorded to that message, if for no other reason than to show that violence is not the only course of action rewarded in the "peace process." Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Mr. Clinton are really in no position to proceed with any proposal to divide Jerusalem. If former Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon wins his election against Mr. Barak in February, he will not honor any agreement signed by the pair. There's little to be gained and much to lose in signing a peace deal at this point. When it is rejected by the Israeli parliament and people, the Palestinians and their friends will then blame the Israelis for the conflicts that are sure to come.

Palestinian strongman Yasser Arafat believes that time is on his side in the "peace" negotiations and that eventually his ultimate goal of destroying the Jewish state will be reached. But it is definitely not on his side in the short term. When Mr. Barak and Mr. Clinton go, there will be no more juicy offers from the Jews and Americans for a while. Arafat's demand for a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their descendants certainly will not be satisfied, as he no doubt knows. Israeli is not going to commit national suicide by trying to absorb four million descendants of one-time refugees. The Arab states have deliberately maintained these people in squalid conditions and denied their rights solely for their continued usefulness in pressuring Israel.

When Mr. Barak and Mr. Clinton are out of the picture, it will be time for new leaders to take a fresh look at the "peace process" to determine whether it has any future possibilities. The first question to ask will be whether Yasser Arafat has ever had any intention of bargaining in good faith and whether there is any other role for the Israeli people than surrendering more and more land.
(Wall Street Journal Jan 10)

'Peace Psychosis' In The Mideast

By George F. Will

Bill Clinton may have saved his very worst for last. With remarkable - even for him - self-absorption, as he tap-dances toward the exit he is pursuing as his crowning legacy something that only the cynical or delusional could call a “final” Middle East “peace agreement.”

In three weeks Clinton will be gone, leaving intensified Middle East chaos for others to cope with. Israel's Ehud Barak has resigned as prime minister, triggering Feb. 6 elections that polls indicate he will lose in a landslide. For him, the long term is five weeks. Yet by then he hopes to have achieved a “permanent” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is now in its sixth decade. Yasir Arafat founded the Palestine National Liberation Movement, committed to Israel's destruction, when Eisenhower was president and Ben-Gurion was Israel's prime minister. Through 14 Israeli prime ministries and nine U.S. presidencies, Arafat has remained so committed. It has come to this: Clinton has asked Barak—who has a negligible constituency, and who has never asked Israeli voters for a mandate for anything remotely resembling the dangerous menu of territorial and other concessions he already has offered Arafat—to dismantle Israel's capital by ceding to Arafat sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Clinton also has asked Barak to surrender to Arafat sovereignty over the holiest place in Israel's capital, the Temple Mount, location of the Second Temple, destroyed in A.D. 70.

Arafat is affronted by the offer because it is conditioned on his forsaking the “right of return.” That is the claimed right of up to 4 million people, who left Israel during its violent birth pangs in 1948, to return to their homes. Imagine identifying the possessors of this right, and the possible permutations of it.

Today about a million Palestinians remain in what are propagandistically called “refugee camps.” In 1945 there were many millions of refugees and other displaced persons in Europe, many in camps. By 1950 this problem was essentially solved. Why, 52 years after the failure of the Arab war to kill the state of Israel in its infancy, are there still camps populated by the children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren of people displaced in 1948? Because Arafat and other Arab leaders use these festering sores to foment irredentist extremism.

Acknowledging a “right of return” would be, for Israel, demographic suicide. That right is integral to Arafat's aim, the destruction of the Jewish state. Insistence on the right is tantamount to root-and-branch rejection of the supposed goal of the post-Oslo peace process—”two states for two peoples.” That process has been a fiasco because it has assumed that Arafat simply wants to govern a Middle Eastern Belgium—a small bourgeois nation located on whatever territories he, with American help, can extort from Israel. This assumption requires those who hold it to constantly deny that Arafat means what he constantly tells Arabic-speaking audiences—that “with our blood and our martyrs we will redeem Palestine.” Last Wednesday, taking time out from deliberations about the Clinton-Barak offer, Arafat expressed optimism about one day seeing “a Palestinian boy or a Palestinian girl raising the flag of Palestine over the walls and churches and minarets of Holy Jerusalem.” Which is to say, over all of Jerusalem.

Writing in the London Times Literary Supplement, Edward Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says, “It is not a rhetorical exaggeration to speak of a peace psychosis, for that is what psychotics do: they impose their own imaginings on others, persuading themselves... in this instance, that after a lifetime of struggle, Arafat wanted to end his days as a compromising negotiator, rather than as a conqueror.” As evidence that Arafat still sees himself as a conqueror, Luttwak reports that in 1998 a Palestinian editor of a newspaper published in East Jerusalem was kidnapped by Arafat henchmen, held for a week and beaten. His offense? He printed on page three rather than page one an article, written by an Arafat flack, comparing Arafat to the conqueror Saladin, who wrested Jerusalem from the Crusaders.

Barak's surreal 18 months of ignoring all such evidence has given Israel the worst governance in its history, as he has emboldened Arafat by making concession after concession in the hope that the recidivist liar would recognize Israel's right to exist. Until now Barak seems never to have met a concession he would not consider and soon offer, and evidently he seriously considered Clinton's latest and most reckless proposals for appeasing Arafat. But on Friday, in the aftermath of another terrorist bomb attack in Tel Aviv, and in the context of his plunge in the polls, he said Israel “never” would “transfer sovereignty of the Temple Mount—the anchor of our identity.” At last, a sticking point.

The United States has cast itself as “honest broker” between the only democracy in the region and those avowing their determination to destroy it. And the future of the Palestinian people is prefigured in the corrupt and violent thugocracy—the Palestinian Authority—that currently misgoverns the West Bank (per capita GNP, $2,300) and Gaza (per capita GNP, $1,000).

In Washington an Israeli diplomat who shares Barak's thinking stoutly insists he does not “trust” Arafat. But Arafat is utterly reliable. He can be trusted never to keep an agreement and always to be candid about his ultimate objective, possession of all of Palestine—meaning the annihilation of the “Zionist entity.” The diplomat serenely—and surreally—says optimism is integral to Zionism. Actually, Zionism was born of profound pessimism about the ability of European Jews to achieve fulfillment or even safety without a national homeland, and the Zionist state was born of history's severest instruction in pessimism—the Holocaust.

Pessimists are realists who worry that, for the portion of world Jewry gathered in Israel, history may have saved its worst for last.
(Newsweek Jan. 8)

Will American Jews Find Their Voice as Jerusalem Is Carved Up?

By Jonathan Tobin

Since the Oslo peace accords were signed seven years ago, American Jewish skeptics about the peace process have often been put in the impossible position of opposing the government of the State of Israel. That is not a strategy that has ever succeeded. It was one thing to take a position in support of the positions of the democratically elected leaders of Israel when it was braving the brickbats of the Jewish left, as well as the media and the U.S. government. But when Israel's leaders decided to give the Arabs and Washington what they had been asking for, then those American friends of Israel who disagreed were left isolated.

When Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin grudgingly posed fora handshake with Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat and President Clinton, he was in a position to mobilize American Jewish leaders and organizations as cheerleaders for his decision. Those who dissented were left muttering on the margins of American Jewish life.But current Prime Minister Ehud Barak should be under no illusion that he is in the same position as his predecessor.

As Barak waffles over the details of President Clinton's "bridging proposals" designed to bring about a peace treaty with the Palestinians, he is in a much weaker position to demand American Jewish support than Rabin was in 1993. Barak should not be surprised to discover the strength of American Jewish opposition to Clinton's terms. Why is that so?

The first reason is that unlike Rabin, who had three years left in his term when he signed Oslo, Barak has less than five weeks before he must face the Israeli electorate in a special election for prime minister. Barak's coalition in the Knesset collapsed nearly six months ago, and he has governed without a parliamentary majority ever since.

Barak and his supporters say that any accord he signs now will be put to the test by the voters. But if the voters eject this agreement — and the pollsters in Israel say they will — hen anything Barak does now will hamper the freedom of action of his successor. To put it mildly, the legitimacy of any agreement signed under these circumstances is questionable.

If Israelis give Barak (who campaigned in 1999 pledging never to divide Jerusalem) a thumping and elect the Likud's Ariel Sharon — who has pledged not to accept Clinton's plan no matter what Barak does — Israel will be placed under intolerable pressure to knuckle under by international forces who care nothing about Israeli democracy. That explains why Israel's nonpartisan Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein has told Barak that negotiating under these circumstances is unethical.

The second and even more telling reason why American Jews will not support Barak's current push is explained by the Israeli concessions Clinton has delineated as the price of an agreement. Going beyond even the generous concessions offered by Barak at Camp David last July, Clinton has called for a tearing apart of the city of Jerusalem, with all Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem being part of Arafat's Palestine, including most of the Old City.

The Palestinians would get the Temple Mount, while Israel would retain a tenuous hold on the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, with Arafat having the ability to put a stranglehold on these Jewish remnants. Instead of just the neighborhood of Gilo being under Arab fire, virtually all of Jewish Jerusalem would be transformed into the battleground it was prior to its unification in June 1967.

Given the emotional and spiritual cost of these concessions, as well as the fact that Israel's military is convinced that the whole plan undermines Israel's security, it is unlikely that Barak can muster a majority of the Knesset or the electorate to ratify such an agreement.

If so, why should he expect American Jews to applaud him for giving up the most sacred spot in Judaism for a treaty that few think the Palestinians have any interest in keeping? The Clinton plan is far more likely to enable the Palestinians to continue the conflict on less advantageous terms for Israel than it is to end it.

JERUSALEM IS NOT HIS TO SELL

Even more, in discarding the unity of Jerusalem, Barak is doing something that will impact more than merely his slim chances of re-election. While it is important to remember that these decisions must be made by the people of Israel and not those in the Diaspora, Clinton has asked Barak to give up part of the heritage of every Jew, no matter where they live. While that may not entitle American Jews to a vote in the February election, it ought to mean that Israeli prime ministers should not act precipitously or without the clear consensus of the Jewish people before taking such a step.

While all Jews long for peace for Israel, to pretend that support for the idea of peace mandates acquiescence to the partition of Jerusalem and renouncing Jewish rights to the Temple Mount is nonsense. A Jewish consensus in favor of the Clinton plan does not exist. Unlike the opposition to Oslo, American Jewish revulsion at Clinton's plan is not limited to the right. It cuts across the religious denominations and political orientation of American Jewry.

It is still possible, if not probable, that Clinton's plan will be buried by Arafat's maximalism. Should a treaty be signed, and then, if Israel's voters accept the Clinton plan by re-electing Barak, those who oppose it here will have to accept their verdict. But in the weeks leading up to that vote, American Jews should not be shy about telling our Israeli friends and the U.S. government what they think about the Clinton plan. Barak should know that he cannot count on being able to round up the usual suspects of Jewish organizational life to beat down criticism. And Israelis should know that if they reject Barak and thus expose themselves to new pressure from the United States and the United Nations, then the full weight of American Jewry will be brought to bear to back up their refusal to accept these concessions.

American Jews should also let President Clinton know that we think his proposals are harmful to Israel, and that this lame-duck push for a treaty is not a heroic stand for peace, but an egotistical campaign aimed at creating a "legacy" that the Jewish people will pay for in blood. Clinton's last-minute Jerusalem power play should also be seen as his latest attempt to interfere in Israeli politics by seeking to give a boost to his favorite politician in what he treats as a Hebrew-speaking "banana republic."

Similarly, the incoming administration of President-elect George W. Bush should be sent a clear message that it will get no honeymoon from friends of Israel if Bush decides to pick up Clinton's plan and make it his own after Jan. 20. If he goes back on his word to respect Israel's democratic process, then he will be sending a dangerous signal about the direction his foreign policy will take.

History will judge all the players in the current Middle East negotiations. Those of us observing the drama from the sidelines here in America should wonder what Jewish history will think of us if we are silent while Jerusalem is carved up. The circumstances have changed since September 1993, when most of us felt constrained to hold our tongues. The final decision will not be ours, but it is incumbent on those of us who care about Israel to make our voices heard while the outcome is still in the balance. (jewishworldreview.com Jan 5)
The writer is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.

The Invincible Jerusalem

by Judy Lash Balint

The people of Israel didn't let Jerusalem down tonight. They turned out in the hundreds of thousands to pledge their allegiance to the Holy city as the undivided capital of Israel.

In a hastily planned event initiated by Natan Sharansky, Jews from all over Israel and many countries in the Diaspora poured into the area just outside the walls of the Old City tonight to demonstrate their opposition to any move to redivide Jerusalem.

The Barak administration did its utmost to sabotage the event by sending out word through various emissaries that the rally was political, anti-government and thus should not be supported by Jewish communities abroad. Today, the police issued dire statements warning of severe retribution against troublemakers at the rally--another attempt to keep people away by implying violence would erupt. In fact, the crowd is extraordinarily subdued and there's not a political sign to be seen. There are no pro-Sharon signs, nor anti-Barak placards. The banners are all focused on protecting Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is Not Belfast, Berlin or Beirut.” “The Temple Mount is Ours,” read the slogans displayed on huge banners hanging on the sides of the road right in front of Jaffa Gate and on up to Kikar Safra. The walls of the city are lit up and every yard another person stands holding an Israeli flag, as if to protect the ancient stones with their bodies. At the appointed hour, the MC asks everyone to move away from the walls and into the streets and the crowds swell as hundreds of buses disgorge their passengers from all over the country. The entire area from Zion Gate past Jaffa Gate to New Gate, down Jaffa Road to Kikar Zion and on up to King George Street is jammed with people.

It's impossible to accurately estimate the crowd, but the MC annouces that 400,000 are present, although the media counts “only” 300,000. Unlike the usual mass demonstrations in Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin, there are no helicopters or traffic planes flying overhead to gauge the size of the assembly, but there's no question that this is a huge turn out. There are more black hats in evidence than at regular demonstrations, and the crowd is overhwhelmingly religious--but that just reflects the make up of Jerusalem. You can sense the resolve in people's faces, and the seriousness of the situation is reflected in the sombre mood of those gathered.

While people continue to pour into the area, the Pirchei Yerushalayim Boy's Choir entertains with songs celebrating Jerusalem, ending with the anthem “Shalom al Yisrael.” Huge torches are lit atop the gates of the city, and the almost full moon adds its light to the cool evening. The proceedings are projected onto the walls of the city itself as subtle colored lighting illuminates the beautiful setting.

With the exception of Mayor Ehud Olmert, there are no political speakers. Former Supreme Court chief justice Moshe Landau; Rabbi Eli Sadan, head of the pre-army training program at Eli; Avital Sharansky and Ronald Lauder, chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are the main speakers. Israelis from all walks of life give short presentations explaining their attachment to the city--the English speaking community is represented by author Naomi Ragen and Hindy Barfish, a more recent immigrant from New Jersey active in AMIT Women. Each presenter ends with the words: “Im eshkechaych Yerushalayim...” (If I forget You O Jerusalem...) Olmert makes a point of addressing US President Bill Clinton in Hebrew and English. After voicing his appreciation for his eight years of friendship to Israel and the Jewish people ( a statement that is roundly booed by those standing around me) Olmert declares that it would be a shame if Clinton would now go down in history as the only US president who tried to divide Jerusalem.

Throughout the evening short film clips of the modern battles for Jerusalem are played. It's awesome to see the footage of the Israeli liberation of the OId City played on the very walls on which the historic event took place. Tehillim (Psalms) are read followed by 400,000 people singing “Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim...” and the recitation in unison of those ancient words. A final prayer for Israeli soldiers missing in action, the three recently kidnapped and Jonathan Pollard. We watch each other's breath mingle in the cold night air as we stand to attention to sing Hatikva, and it seems as if we're invincible--surely Jerusalem could never fall again with so many of us united to protect her. (AMCHA Jan 9)

Clinton's Parting Gift

By Evelyn Gordon

It is difficult to fathom why it took Prime Minister Ehud Barak until last week to grasp what the American public has known for years: that President Bill Clinton's word is not exactly his bond. It is not as if Clinton had never before betrayed Barak's trust. Over the past 18 months, he has repeatedly reneged on promised payoffs for Barak's willingness to make concessions to the Palestinians - payoffs ranging from financial aid to an upgraded strategic relationship - without once shaking the prime minister's fervent faith in him. But last week's display of dishonesty was apparently too much even for Barak.

It certainly required dishonesty of Clintonesque proportions to say that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's response to the American bridging proposal constituted a "yes." Even Arafat was unwilling to attempt such a barefaced lie until Clinton said it first. After all, the Palestinians had given the president a detailed list of reservations explaining why every single item in the proposal was completely unacceptable.

Yet Clinton unblushingly announced that the sum of all these "noes" constituted a "yes." And the international media - despite the fact that the Palestinians thoughtfully handed them the list of reservations as well - parroted this announcement without a qualm.

The result is that Barak, who was willing to negotiate on the basis of Clinton's proposal, now risks being labeled the intransigent party for being unwilling to negotiate on the basis of Clinton's fictions instead.

To understand just how comprehensive the Palestinian "no" really was, it is worth examining their response in some detail.

* Refugees. Clinton proposed that most Palestinian refugees be absorbed in the new Palestinian state, with only a limited number being allowed to settle in Israel. The Palestinians said this was unacceptable: Every one of the several million refugees must, should he so desire, be allowed to move to Israel and receive citizenship.

* Borders. Clinton offered the Palestinians 95 percent of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and territory in the Negev to compensate for the part of the West Bank that would become Israeli. The Palestinians insisted that the starting point for negotiations must be 100 percent of the West Bank plus all of east Jerusalem.

* Jerusalem. Clinton offered the Palestinians sovereignty on the Temple Mount, but with restrictions on its right to conduct archaeological digs underneath, where the ruins of the Temple are thought to lie. In addition, Israel would retain the entire Western Wall. The Palestinians said they could not accept any restrictions on their sovereignty below the Mount; nor could they allow Israel to keep more than a narrow strip of the Western Wall.

* Security. Clinton proposed a limited IDF presence in the Jordan Valley for three years plus three permanent early-warning stations. The Palestinians said any Israeli presence at all, for any length of time, was unacceptable.

* End of the conflict. Clinton proposed that the agreement constitute an "end of the conflict," with final implementation constituting "an end to all claims." The Palestinians said they could not declare the conflict ended. Their official response apparently did not even suggest when such a declaration might be possible. Two weeks ago, however, the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said it would be possible only if Israel were to also sign agreements with Syria and Lebanon.

In short, the Palestinians rejected every single element of the Clinton plan. Nor did they make any attempt to hide this fact, distributing lists of their objections freely to both foreign diplomats and the media.

How, then, did this response metamorphose into a "yes" in Clinton's brain? According to reports leaked by his associates, Barak could come up with only two explanations. One was that Clinton simply lied to avoid having to admit that he had failed. The other was that Arafat really did say "yes" - after Clinton secretly agreed to alter his proposal to meet the Palestinians' demands and promised to force Israel to swallow these new concessions. Neither option, however, left Barak with any hope for an agreement.

As of this writing, Clinton's next move is anybody's guess: He could yet do even more damage. But even as things stand, the man inexplicably dubbed "the most pro-Israel president ever" has left us a truly wonderful parting gift. Israel has agreed to a host of new concessions, which will undoubtedly become the opening position of the next round of talks. Arafat has agreed to none of the corresponding Palestinian concessions. And with one simple lie, Clinton has nevertheless arranged for Israel to become the scapegoat when the agreement fails to materialize.

One could almost feel sorry for Barak's disillusionment - were it not for the fact that, as usual, it is his people rather than himself who will pay the price for his delusions of Clinton's honor. (Jerusalem Post Jan 9)

Grand Illusion

By Moshe Arens

There he is in the Oval Office of the White House with the President of the United States, just to the left of Bill Clinton in front of the fireplace in the seat reserved for the president's important guests. He has been there many times now, and he seems to feel quite at home though he is hardly dressed for the occasion. As always, he is wearing the military uniform he has designed for himself.How did he get there and why is the leader of the world's greatest democracy extending this honor to Yasser Arafat, the man responsible for the murder of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games, the death of the children of Ma'alot, and countless other acts of terrorism? There is no escaping the truth - Israel has put him there. Israeli leaders have granted him legitimacy, have turned the terrorist into a freedom fighter, have given him the kosher stamp, have brought him the Nobel Peace Prize.

It is Israelis who have contributed to the illusion that he is a brave man of honor, that his word is his bond, that in his quest for peace he has renounced terrorism and violence and that he is worthy of the trust of leaders around the world. Not that Arafat was not received and even honored in certain capitals of the world by leaders who were pursuing their own interests even before the Israeli government granted him recognition at Oslo, but it was only after Oslo that Arafat gained the legitimacy he was seeking. Without Israeli recognition, he never would have made it into the White House.

It is only in recent months, after the failure of the Camp David summit and the subsequent Palestinian violence, that more and more Israelis are beginning to shed their illusions about Arafat, illusions to which they clung for years despite all evidence to the contrary. It all began years ago when Arafat was still carrying a gun in his holster, making no bones about the fact that he saw in PLO acts of terror the major weapon to achieve his goal, the destruction of the State of Israel.

The far-left fringe of the Israeli political spectrum, the bleeding hearts, the seekers of publicity sought him out despite the law forbidding all contact with the PLO. Waving the meaningless slogan that "peace must be made with your enemy," they insisted that since Arafat was Israel's bitterest enemy, he was by definition Israel's partner for peace. Then, behind the backs of Israel's prime minister, its government and Knesset, a plot was woven in Oslo by some Israeli academics dabbling in amateur diplomacy which led to Israeli recognition of the PLO and the imposition of Arafat's corrupt regime on the Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

After the Oslo accords, it was claimed that Arafat wanted peace as much as Israel, that he was realistic and moderate in his demands, and sufficient flexibility on Israel's part would inevitably lead to a permanent settlement and an end to Palestinian violence and any further claims on Israel. Was it really necessary to provide Arafat's men with Israeli guns, to lobby for U.S. financial assistance to his enterprises and for Ehud Barak to offer Arafat concessions that went way beyond the Israeli consensus to dispel these illusions about Arafat?

The fact is that Arafat never worked very hard at dissimulating his real aims and intentions, while many Israelis worked very hard at deluding themselves about him. Even after becoming head of the Palestinian Authority he continued as head of the PLO, the organization that claimed to represent the Palestinian diaspora and in their name demanded the "right of return." Why would anyone have thought that he was about to concede this demand? His repeated insistence that Jerusalem, Al Quds, as he refers to the city, would become the capital of the Palestinian state should have made it clear that he was not talking about Abu Dis and that his claim was incompatible with Jewish rights in the capital city of Israel.

But more than anything, his military uniform should have left no room for illusions. With that uniform he was making a statement to anyone prepared to listen. Even at the negotiating table, even in the Oval Office, he insists on making it absolutely clear. He is still the leader of a military struggle, and violence and terror continue to be in his mind legitimate instruments for the attainment of his goals, goals that are incompatible with the interests of the State of Israel and the security of its citizens. After seven years of a grand illusion, Israel is finally waking up to reality. (Ha'aretz Jan 9)

Where it Is *Really* Dangerous

By Uri Orbach

In America, everyone knows that it is terribly dangerous in Israel now, and it is not recommended to travel to Israel.

In Israel everyone knows that it is dangerous only in the territories and in a little bit of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem everyone knows there is shooting going on, but only in the neighborhood of Gilo.

In Gilo everyone knows that it is dangerous, but only on Ha'anafa Street.

On Ha'anafa street everyone knows that it is dangerous, but not all along the street, just in the houses that face Beit Jalla.

In the houses facing Beit Jalla everyone knows it is dangerous, but mostly in a few apartments on specific floors that get shot at occasionally.

In the apartments that get shot at they know it is dangerous, but not in all the rooms, just in the kitchen. In the bedrooms and bathrooms for instance, it is totally safe.

In the kitchen that gets shot into they know it is *really* dangerous, but not in the entire kitchen, just near the fridge and toaster.

Those near the fridge know that where it is **really** dangerous is in the freezer, which is directly in the sights of the sharpshooter from Beit Jalla.

You can take milk and cheese out of the fridge part without getting hit usually. Word-of-honor.

And in the freezer over the fridge part of the refrigerator on one part of Ha'anafa street at the edge of Giloh in Jerusalem in Israel? Oh boy, it*is* dangerous there. If you stand there and get some frozen schnitzels out of the freezer - you're taking your life in your hands.

So for a few months, just until things calm down, we're not going to use the freezer.

Nu, this you call dangerous?


Back to Israel News {} Return to CAFI News {} Return to CAFI Home
Recommended Links
 
 
Powered By:NuvioTemplates.com