A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
A collection of the week's news from Israel
July 13, 2001
Issue number 335
PM: No Real Peace If Israel Not on Golan
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Tuesday during a visit to the Golan Heights that Israel will not withdraw from the area, Ma'ariv reported. 'There will be no real peace if we're not here,' Sharon said to residents of the region. He stressed the importance of residing in the Golan. 'Only by expanding the existing communities and enlarging the Jewish population on the Golan Heights will the Jewish establishment here become an irreversible reality,' Sharon added. ISRAEL LINE July 11, 2001
Tel Aviv Water Safe
Israel's Health Ministry announced Wednesday that water in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area was safe to drink after a section contaminated by fertilizer was flushed out of the system. Nearly 2 million Israelis were instructed Monday night not to drink their water causing a run on bottled water, juices, and sodas in neighbourhood stores. At least one mineral water company in the Golan said that it increased production over the night by 40%. Residents in all Tel Aviv-area cities were gradually permitted Tuesday to drink water from the tap, in some cases even without boiling it.
The contamination discovered in the water supply has been traced to the Israeli-Arab town of Taibe, where liquid fertilizer used by an Arab farmer who had made an illegal hookup to the water carrier caused the contamination. Israel has been suffering from a severe drought since 1999. About 40 percent of the country's drinking water is brought across Israel in an open aqueduct from the Sea of Galilee, which has reached dangerously low levels
Residents of Gush Etzion arrived in nine security vehicles in Tel Aviv's HaTikvah quarter today, each with a 1,000-liter container of fresh water on board, and began distributing the water to the residents. A banner read, 'From Gush Etzion to Gush Dan with love.' One of the 'water carriers' told Arutz-7, 'Our message to Tel Aviv is that just as the Hebrew word for water is read the same from right to left and from left to right, but if one letter is removed, nothing remains - so too, our political situation: right, left, we're all the same, and we cannot allow any parts of our People to be removed from us.' The Associated Press and Arutz-7 Wed 11 Jul 2001
Ceasefire Victims List Grows to 131, Retroactively
Two more victims of Arab terrorism were added to the official lists today, though they were murdered three months ago. Police had originally thought that their killings were of a criminal nature. The victims, Simcha Ron, 59, of Nahariya, and Haifa resident Dina Gueta, were killed in separate incidents in northern Israel. Gueta was stabbed in Haifa on April 1, and Ron was stabbed to death near the Arab village of Baaneh on April 27. Police announced that at least one of the murders was an 'initiation case' for some of the killers to become members of a terrorist ring. 'Their purpose was to kill Jews,' the Northern District Police Commissioner said today. The Arab who planned the murder of Ron was his personal friend. Arutz Sheva July 11, 2001
Kashrut Resumes in Arab Sector
The Chief Rabbinate Kashrut supervisors in the Arab sector resumed work yesterday, following a week-long hiatus caused by the terrorist murder of the mashgiach (supervisor) Aharon Abadian. The new arrangement includes an armed bodyguard for each supervisor in plants adjacent to PA autonomous areas. A-7 July 10
Musical Sneak Attack Condemned
The 'sneak attack' pulled by Berlin conductor Daniel Barenboim continues to draw criticism. Although he had earlier agreed to abide by the Israel Festival management's decision not to play Richard Wagner's music, he turned to the audience at the end of his last concert this past Saturday night, and said, 'The concert is over; I will now play Wagner. Whoever wants to, may leave.' Several people objected, but were drowned out by the yells of others. A few dozen people walked out, including MK Dan Meridor, but the vast majority - including State Attorney Edna Arbel and Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinish - remained.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center called upon the Israeli music community to boycott Barenboim for what it called his 'cultural rape' of the Israeli public. Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert said that Barenboim had 'exploited the stage,' and that his decision was 'arrogant, uncultured, and unacceptable... It's not his job to determine whether the State of Israel decides to allow Wagner to be heard or not.' Wagner was famous for his anti-Semitism, and the Nazis later adopted his music and ideology as theirs. Playing his music in public has been forbidden in Israel since the before the establishment of the State, as an 'offense to the sensibilities' of much of the public. A-7 July 9
Hatzofeh Condemns British Cruelty, Swedish Barbarism
HaTzofeh newspaper's editorial writer relates cynically today to the behaviour of countries that face situations less dangerous than those faced by Israel over the past nine months: 'The incident [last week] in which British forces in Cyprus used live fire to disperse unarmed protestors whose only crime was to protest against the installation of an antenna - is inhumane and intolerable. Israel cannot ignore the barbaric behavior of the British forces... Their cruelty cannot be allowed to pass without a response. There must be an investigation into who ordered the use of live ammunition, and [they] should possibly be charged with crimes against humanity... These actions can only be compared to the barbarism of the British undercover agents who assassinated IRA freedom fighters in Gibraltar...
'No less strong of a condemnation is issued to Sweden after its police shot live fire at protestors in Goteborg, which is an inhumane act of barbarism with which only Viking cruelty and support of the Nazis can compete. The Swedish police's excuse that they didn't fire until a stone was thrown at them is an example of cruelty beyond all proportion and should be investigated by the international community. Consideration should even be given to sending international forces to monitor the brutal use to which the Swedish government puts its armed forces.' A-7 July 09
The Eternal Arab Strategy By A.M. Rosenthal
What is it you want of the Jews of Israel? What is it you want of them, precisely, so there might be a settlement after decades of war? For decades when I visited Israel and asked this question of Arabs, I would get the same contemptuous waving gesture at the sea ‹ meaning, we want the sea and no Jews between us and it. Then I stopped asking the question because I had learned what so many of the Arabs believed in and fought for so fiercely: One not-so-distant day they would conquer the heart of Jerusalem and its surrounding territories, take the borders essential to Israel's security, win more allies and more military aid ‹ then take nothing else for a while until the final Arab assault that would bring the end of the space between them and the sea.
Most times, I thought the Arabs were mad in their demands. Sometimes, I felt the Jews were the mad ones in resisting them. In any event, Israel kept making concessions, one after another, in hopes of a settlement.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will try to make his settlement, but only of a certain kind. It will have to be one that cements permanent peace for the Jews, not one that is another rope around Israel's neck. Added to all the other huge chunks of Israel already given away to the Arabs, conceding more land would be just such a rope. Israel's answer to demands for more territory ought to be, 'You should live so long!'
Still, it may be valuable for both sides to figure out why there has been a war between Arab and Jew since long before the official war started between Arab and Israeli. Some Arab diplomats often talk to foreign visitors with a touch of diplomacy. They are considered gentlemen by Israelis, because they test the value of politeness for a while.
One such diplomat was Faisal Husseini, the senior Palestinian official in Jerusalem, whose recent death brought sorrow to many Israelis.
In his last interview, with a nationalist Egyptian newspaper, Husseini said frankly that the Arabs' political goals were set for a temporary time frame, not long-range peace. That meant Arabs 'ambushing the Israelis and cheating them.' He added that if Palestinians were looking for the 'higher' Pan-Arab strategy, the immediate answer he'd give them would be: 'From the [Jordan] river to the sea.' So much for gentlemanly diplomacy.
Yet I did not see this description of Arab strategy published in any journal except that of the pro-Israel Middle East Media Research Institute. The Western press, in Israel and abroad, wrote only in mourning after Husseini's death.
In his new book, 'Does America Need a Foreign Policy?' Henry Kissinger says Israel is being asked by the Arab states to cede 'conquered territory' in exchange for recognition 'of its very right to exist by the Arabs, a revocable act.'
'The prime obstacle to a culmination of the peace diplomacy is the different conceptions of it held by the parties,' Kissinger writes. 'Israeli and American leaders define peace as a normality that ends claims and determines peace as a permanent legal status ‹ in other words, they apply and determine the concepts of a 20th century liberal democracy. But the Arabs and especially the Palestinians consider the very existence of Israel an intrusion into 'holy' Arab territory.'
It never seems to occur to Arabs that, in addition to gunfire and terrorism, they are imposing another form of violence on Israel with their endless attack against Jewish humanity. They indulge in the foulest of insults against the name, history, religion, character and heredity of the Jews.
It is reminiscent of a time when Nazis dug huge fields of filth where they flung with glee the corpses of the Jews they had burned. It sickens me that in the present day, in the Middle East and around the world, Jew haters still spread propaganda poison. Jews must never be silent about the poison spread that is against them ‹ or against people of any religion anywhere.
Now at least after all my talks with Arabs, I know there is no mystery behind the war they have waged for so many years. Israel has exhausted itself with dangerous concessions and cannot burden itself with still more. Not until the Arabs recognize that there can be no victory in their war of hatred against Israel will we see an end to the fear in the hearts of Israelis and Arabs. (New York Times July 6)
Waiting for the Big Bang - Moshe Arens
Everybody seems to be waiting for the big bang: the military onslaught against Arafat's forces, from Jenin to Hebron and from Gaza to Rafah, that will create chaos among the Palestinians and - in the same way the Big Bang 15,000,000,000 years ago blew our universe into existence - will bring forth new forces among the Palestinians, creating new dimensions of time and space in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Sharon's long-time supporters are convinced he is gritting his teeth, waiting for an opportune moment. It did not come, as some had expected, after Sharon's return from his meeting with President Bush, and it did not come after his return from his meetings with Chancellor Schroder and President Chirac.
Will it take another catastrophe like the Dolphinarium? Or will it come after patience has worn thin, after everything that could have been said has been said at the Cabinet debates between Shimon Peres (who continues to insist Arafat is our only hope) and the hard-liners? In the meantime the debate continues. Will we be better off with Arafat out of the way, or is this irascible terrorist the best option on offer to Israel? If he informs us that he intends to return to Tunis or set up shop in Baghdad, are we going to beg him to stay? And in the meantime, the government's policy of restraint and unilateral cease-fire continues while Israelis are being killed on the roads, Psagot receives its nightly dose of bullets and Gush Katif its daily ration of mortar shells, car bombs are left to blow up in Israel's cities and suicide bombers are being prepared for their murderous missions. Instead of attempting to divine what alternate futures hold in store for us, or arguing about whether Israel would be worse or better off if Arafat were to leave the scene, our government should be concentrating on immediate objectives - putting first things first. It is incumbent upon the government to protect the lives of Israel's citizens and it should be taking all possible measures to attain that objective. Even Shimon Peres should have no difficulty explaining a policy whose specific objective is protecting Israelis against murder - murder on the roads and murder in the streets of our cities.
This is not primarily a matter of targeting individual Palestinians, but rather of extending protective cover to Israelis in danger of attack, interdicting terrorists on their way to attack Israelis, and taking initiatives in the field to abort acts of terror. Too often we hear the lame excuse that the Israel Defense Forces cannot protect motorists on thousands of kilometers of highways in Judea and Samaria - that, in other words, we are destined to suffer daily murder on the roads until such time as we have given Arafat what he wants. The fact of the matter is that the stretches of highway on which Israeli motorists are endangered are far fewer, and focused military action on these stretches can produce results.
The use of protective walls along the sides of roads is generally a waste of time and money. Unfortunately, after almost 10 months of killings on the roads, we are only now beginning to hear of plans to direct the IDF to focus on the roads, and we have yet to see the results. Dealing with the danger of suicide bombers is also presented as an almost impossible task. The fact is that the entry of Palestinian suicide bombers into our cities is at present relatively easy and often it has only been luck that prevented additional catastrophes. The reason for this is that over 100,000 Palestinians, from Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jordan, move freely among us, many of them residing in Israeli cities and villages. Total anarchy reigns concerning the entry - legal or illegal - of Palestinians into Israel, their work and their residence here. In these circumstances it is relatively easy for Palestinian terrorists to move about in Israel, frequently receiving assistance from Palestinians who happen to be here. Thus, suicide bombers make it to their intended targets with relative ease. The terrorist who exploded himself at the Dolphinarium was driven there by a Palestinian from Qalqilya who resides in Jaffa and was asked by his friends in Qalqilya to drive the suicide-bomber from the Qalqilya check-point to Tel Aviv. The time has come to put an end to this state of affairs. As long as we are threatened by these kinds of outrages, the presence of over 100,000 Palestinians from Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jordan in our midst is a luxury we can ill afford. If the measures required to restore safety to Israel's citizens are taken, the big bang may not even be necessary. -Ha'aretz 10 July 2001
Dennis Ross Confesses - Shmuel Katz
We have entered an era of explanation, admission, and even confession. Last Friday The Jerusalem Post published an explanatory interview with Martin Indyk, the outgoing US ambassador to Israel, while last month, Dennis Ross, for 12 years one of the central exponents of United States policy before and during the woefully misnamed Oslo 'peace process' has now let the public into some secrets of America's thinking. Thus Ross revealed a sensational fact which he discovered about the so-called peace negotiations. 'Arafat,' he said in an interview in The Jerusalem Post (June 22), 'really can't do a permanent deal.' Ross enlarged on his point in a public lecture at Ben-Gurion University. 'Chairman Arafat could not accept Camp David,' he declared. 'It was too hard for him to make this decision because when the conflict ends, the cause that defines Arafat also ends,' (JP, June 20). What this manifestly means is that Arafat, after all, is not such a bad fellow, but suffers from a psychological block that he can't overcome.
What this psychobabble does mean is that Ross is trying to avoid telling the truth about American policy. One well-known part of the truth is that he and his colleagues have been nourishing the legend that all that's needed for Arafat to make peace is that Israel make major surrenders of territory, jeopardize its security and blot out the testimony of Jewish history. The other part of the truth is that Ross and his colleagues in the State Department have got it all wrong. Arafat has no intention of making peace with the State of Israel. Ross's apologia for Arafat - a psychological blockage which the State Department whiz boys were unable to detect in all these years of cosseting him - is plainly disingenuous. There is not the slightest reason for anybody, least of all Ross, to delve into the depths of Arafat's mind in order to understand why he 'can't do a deal.' Arafat himself has openly, indeed defiantly, been telling the world time after time what his plan for Israel is. That plan is no chimera, but a practical strategic objective. It was not created by Arafat.
It was first announced by the spokesmen of the Arab states when, at the United Nations in 1947, they opposed the recognition of a Jewish state - even within indefensible borders. They followed up in 1948 by making war in order to abort its birth. Then, in 1967, the destruction of Israel (without Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan and Sinai) was the declared aim of the Arab invasion, and the dismemberment of the Jewish state is the centerpiece of the Palestinian Covenant.
The game plan for achieving that end has even been aired frequently by Arafat. It is the 'policy of phases.' It could be called the 'salami' process. And it is perfectly rational to understand that Barak's offer of near-complete surrender was not enough for Arafat: there are 'phases' still not reached, and goals still unachieved. A Palestinian state (with Jerusalem exclusively as its capital) has not been promised, and Israel has not agreed to let the so-called 'refugees' flood its cities. If he were to underwrite peace with those hurdles not overcome, he would lose control of his own people. Moreover, Arafat knew what he was doing. By not signing, he left the door open to new negotiations. The prelude to negotiations is, as usual, killing Jews - intifada. Do you not hear how he is being urged by Israeli leaders now to stop terror and 'come back to the negotiating table'? And are not the Americans doing their best to get Israel to negotiate even if the terror is only 'reduced'? Indeed more light on US behavior and policy after Oslo has been shed by our Ross in an interview in The Australian Jewish Review June 2001. He actually criticizes Arafat. 'You cannot be promoting incitement to violence,' he said, 'and say you're committed to peace. The two are contradictory.'
But pressed by his interviewer, David Mandel, about his failure to react to Arafat's non-fulfillment of his obligations under the Oslo Accords, he admitted that 'the prudential issues of compliance were neglected and politicized by the Americans in favor of keeping talks afloat.' He went into detail. 'Every time there was a behavior, or an incident, or an event, that was inconsistent with what the process was supposed to be about, the impulse was to rationalize it, finesse it, find a way around it, and not to allow it to beak the process,' because 'the process seemed to have promise.' Thus, buses filled with passengers bombed in Jerusalem, in Afula, in Hadera, in Tel Aviv, were merely 'incidents' or 'events'; blowing up supermarkets was only 'inconsistent with what the process was supposed to be about'; casual murders by stabbing in various streets, or running buses into crowds of soldiers waiting for lifts, or groups of civilians at bus stops, were merely 'behavior.' Ross did not mention that the Israeli dupes, disregarding all warnings from within Israel, had given Arafat thousands of rifles because he undertook to use them against the murderers. The immediate consequence of the 'peace process' was the threefold increase in the rate of murder of Jews by Arafat's people. Ross thought it proper to add a piece of advice. He suggests that if circumstances make future negotiations possible they ought to be based on 'something the parties have put on the table, and not [what] the United States has put on the table.' Precisely this good advice has been nixed by the State Department: which, as we see it, is as busy in our affairs as it ever was. And terror goes on. JP July, 11 2001 (The writer is the author of Hareshet - The Net: The Aaronsohn Family Saga and a biographer of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.)
Ninety Miles an Hour -Jewish vs. Israeli Culture - Moshe Feiglin
I a m driving at night on a pitch dark road. I am all alone. My speedometer shows 70, 80, 90 mph. The truck in front of me is painfully struggling up the hill and spitting out a thick cloud of black smoke. The white divider seems to never end. I make sure there is no police car and quickly overtake that excruciating slow truck. I am once again traveling at a dangerously high speed.
What am I doing? I have just transgressed many laws of the Torah and what I have done is just as serious, if not more than turning on the light on Shabbat. Why is it that I am so scrupulous about Rabbinic ordinances, about Kashrut details, yet I transgress major Torah laws pertaining to life and death?
The reason is that I am Jewish by faith, but Israeli by culture. I observe the Torah although the culture prevalent at the time of its giving has vanished. The rabbis of the Talmud did not have to deal with speeding cars traveling at 90 mph so we have no specific Halachic reference to the subject today. Thus, I am under the impression that the issue is not covered by the Torah, even though I know that in fact it surely is. This predicament is not related to my religious awareness but rather to my cultural consciousness. If the Shulchan Aruch had a section relating to driving, and if after dangerously overtaking, I felt as if I had been driving on Shabbat, I am sure I would drive according to letter of the law.
If our Torah was also our national culture, the ten people killed on Israel''s roads last week would still be alive.
How do we make the Torah our national culture? How do we transform the Shulchan Aruch into a living guide that pertains to every aspect of our existence as much as the Israeli Supreme Court decisions? How do we establish Halachic rules regarding driving, business practice, and gossip, that will become an integral part of our culture?
For this, we need an authoritative body that represents Torah and that is universally accepted by the Jewish world. Today, each Jew has his own Torah and his own rabbinic authority. One group doesn''t trust the other group''s Kashrut. One community doesn''t accept the Halachic rulings of the other. The end result is that the void is filled by the Israeli Supreme Court.
For the Jewish People to follow one Torah, we need a Sanhedrin a body around which all Torah-believers can unite and from which the Torah will be taught through uncontested rulings and interpretations. The Sanhedrin will turn the Torah into a living Torah, a Torah to which each generation will add its own relevant Halachic decisions. A Torah that is a part of every aspect of our lives. A Torah that is our national culture.
There can be no Sanhedrin without the Temple. There can be no Temple without the Temple Mount. But the Temple Mount has been handed over to the Gentiles. And meanwhile, I am again zooming at 90 mph. (Moshe Feiglin, Arutz-7 12 July 2001)
Israeli Public Attitude Towards Settlers: Not Alienation, but Rather Despair
By Yair Sheleg
Over the past few weeks, the Israeli media have been giving wide coverage to discussions of 'feelings of alienation toward the settlers.' The assumption that Israeli society is indifferent to the plight of the settlers is so widespread that even the settlers themselves do not dare to question its validity; instead, they merely exacerbate this alleged indifference with expressions of grief or anger, depending on who's doing the talking. Yet, lo and behold, the Peace Index of Tel Aviv University's Tami Steinitz Center for Peace Research (Ha'aretz, July 4), which has attempted to assess the extent of solidarity with the settlers, presents a totally different picture: 72 percent of the Israeli public note that their reaction to a terrorist attack is the same whether the incident has taken place in the territories or within the Green Line. In the view of 70 percent of all Israelis, the severity of the response has nothing to do with the location of the terrorist attack - whether in the territories or within the Green Line - while another 12 percent believe that Israel's response should be even harsher if the terrorist attack was launched against a target in the territories.
Moreover, in recent months, there has been an increase in feelings of solidarity among members of broad segments of Israeli society, including ideological rivals, toward the settlers. Groups of volunteers have shown up in order to assist in security tasks, while cities and regional councils have invited residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to spend vacation time in their respective areas of jurisdiction. Only last week a number of artists put together a performance in Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park to express solidarity with the settlers. Even if these various activities do not encompass the majority of the Israeli public, they can certainly not be cited as evidence of any feelings of alienation toward the settlers. Apparently, the feeling that Israeli society is indifferent to the settlers is based on an optical illusion. The fact that the continued wave of terrorist attacks in the territories has not produced any mass demonstrations or any public criticism - aside from clearly right-wing criticism for the present policy of restraint - is wrongly being interpreted as indifference to the suffering of the settlers. What is seen as ideological alienation is nothing but existential indifference on the part of the 'silent majority' of Israeli society toward what is taking place beyond the parameters of their routine way of life.
This same kind of reaction was observed a number of years ago when Israel's northern communities were attacked by Katyusha rockets. It can certainly not be argued that the existential indifference of the silent majority regarding the plight of northern Israel's residents at that time stemmed from any ideological alienation.
In effect, after the angry demonstrations held in the wake of the terrorist attacks of the winter of 1996, the Israeli public has not vigorously and vocally protested even terrorist attacks carried out in the heart of Israel's major metropolitan centers, except for terrorist attacks that have been on the scale of the Dolphinarium incident in Tel Aviv (that is, 'high-profile' terrorist attacks, to use the jargon of the local media's military correspondents).
Thus, the settlers are wrong when they complain about what they see as a difference in attitude, on the part of both the public and the government, toward the terrorist attack at the Dolphinarium as opposed to terrorist attacks in the territories. It is not the location of the terrorist attack that makes the difference, but rather the number of victims. What is the reason for this indifference? Apparently, its basic cause is a sense of despair. The predominant feeling in Israeli society today is that this country will have to learn to live by the sword for many years to come. Thus, Israelis are not plunged into a fit of rage if, every few days, a number of Israeli citizens are killed in terrorist attacks (as long as the total number of persons killed in a single terrorist incident is 'not too high'), whether the attack takes place in the territories or within the Green Line. This is, after all, the 'natural state of affairs' of contemporary Israeli life, is it not?
That is the reason why the level of expectations among Israelis as far as their government 'doing something' has declined. That is the reason why Israelis are simply making an effort to limit the level of personal danger for themselves and for their families. Thus, the sensible thing to do is to avoid visiting 'dangerous places' (any place beyond your front door) or to visit 'dangerous areas' (any place outside the perimeter of the greater Tel Aviv Metropolitan area).
In the short term, the government is satisfied with this turn of affairs, which reduces public pressure for military or diplomatic action. In the long term, this is, of course, a destructive process. In a society that has long since despaired of enjoying a reasonable level of personal safety, significant segments can choose to leave the country altogether while other segments can choose the path of 'emotional emigration' - in other words, atotal loss of interest and faith in the Israeli way of life in general and in their government (at all levels) in particular.
In view of this situation, the government must avoid 'exploiting' the absence of public pressure. Instead, the government must initiate action that will combine significant military measures (designed to increase personal security in short-range terms) with diplomatic measures (designed to improve the situation in long-range terms). For their part, the settlers have no cause to complain about any feelings of indifference toward their plight nor do they have any cause to help their rivals by increasing the social isolation of the settlements and by broadcasting the message that they sense a weakening of the settlers' status in Israeli society. Ha'aretz 11 July 2001
The Right of Refusal By Shlomo Gazit
Some three-and-a-half million Palestinians have been dispersed for more than 50 years, most in the territory of the Palestinian Authority, in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Most of those refugees lack citizenship and elementary legal status, and most live in refugee camps in conditions of squalor and severe material deprivation. Politically, the refugees have been persecuted by the states in which they reside, or by the states where they wandered in search of work and a livelihood for themselves and their families. Regardless of the conditions that led these Palestinians to uproot or flee their homes in 1948, and regardless of the parties who were responsible for the creation of that tragedy, one cannot help but feel deep empathy for the suffering that large public has undergone.
Moreover, there is no choice - the only way to guarantee calm and stability in our region is to resolve the refugee problem and do so as soon as possible. However, that empathy, which most citizens of Israel share, is not enough to lead us to agree to the return of the refugees to Israeli territory. We reject the return of refugees to Israel for three main reasons.
First and foremost, it is a threat to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. The essence of the Zionist idea, from the start of the return to Zion, was the desire to establish a Jewish state, where a clear Jewish majority was guaranteed. The entrance of refugees into Israel, and the high natural growth of that population, guarantee the loss of Israel's Jewish majority within the space of one generation at most.
The second consideration is security. All of the refugees, without exception, were brought up on and brainwashed with anti-Israeli incitement. Their entry into Israel would create an immediate terrorist threat. Allowing them in would be an act of madness and national suicide.
Third is the impudence of the refugees' very demand to allow them into Israel. The decisive majority of refugees (I estimate more than 80 percent) have nowhere to come back to. Their homes were long ago destroyed and in their place, on the same piece of land, a new physical reality has grown. Let us take, for example, the refugees of the village of Sheikh Munis, a village within the boundaries of Tel Aviv, north of the Yarkon River. Does anyone today consider removing the campus of Tel Aviv University from its place and making it available to the families of the refugees of that village, who demand the 'right of return'? In these conditions, anyone who talks about realizing that 'right' means, actually, the right of those Palestinian refugees to immigrate to Israel, and means forcing Israel to admit millions of foreign and hostile immigrants.
And the question of questions is: why? Is there really no other way to solve the refugee problem except their immigration to Israel - a foreign country, completely alien to them religiously and culturally, and a country they have been educated for half a century to hate and look forward to its destruction? Some try to convince us that all the refugees want is an Israeli recognition of the right of return. They do not really mean to realize it in practice. To that I have two comments. First, once Israel recognizes the 'right of refugees to return' it will lose its actual ability to control its entrances. The Palestinian refugee will be the one who decides - today or in the future - whether to actualize that right. Secondly, beyond the political consideration, it will be hard to find Palestinians who do not prefer living in a country where the per-capita income is 15 times higher than in the state in which they live today. The conclusion is clear. The refugee problem must be solved as soon as possible. They are entitled to restitution for property they lost and they deserve real aid that will help them settle and integrate into the countries they live in. The idea of returning to Israel must be removed from the agenda. JP (July 10)