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
Kislev 18, 5761
December 15, 2000
Issue number 304
Wednesday Dec 20, 9:00pm
Joint meeting of the BAYT Israel Action and Bet El Twinning Committees. Public welcome.
Friday Dec 20, 4:30pm
Carlebach minyanim at BAYT, Village Shul and Emunah Shelemah.
P.A. Women Demand That Arafat Stop "Sending Children to Die"
A Palestinian women's group has demanded that the Palestinian Authority stop using children as cannon fodder. Yasser Arafat does not receive many letters of protest from Palestinian citizens, but USA Today reported last Friday that the Tulkarm Women's Union recently wrote him, ''Our children are being sent into the streets to face heavily armed Israeli soldiers… We urge you to issue instructions to your police force to stop sending innocent children to their death.'' One woman from Tulkarm, who refused to give her full name for fear of reprisals, told USA Today, ''We don't want to send our sons to the front line, but they are being taken by the Palestinian Authority." She added that Arafat's Fatah movement and the Palestinian security forces provide transportation and encouragement to children who wish to take part in the current intifada. ''When school finishes, Palestinian Authority security cars go around collecting children from the streets and sending them to the killing fields,'' she says. Palestinian television constantly broadcasts images of children carrying weapons and staging mock attacks on Israelis, and the media "exalt not only those killed, but also their willingness to die as martyrs… emphasizing that [this] was the realization of their hopes,'' according to Itamar Marcus, director of the Palestinian Media Watch monitoring group.(A7 Dec 10)
The War on the Roads of Yesha
Rina Didovsky, a 39-year-old mother of six, and Eliyahu Ben-Ami, 41, father of two from Otniel, were killed in last Friday's terrorist attack near Kiryat Arba. Rina's funeral procession left her home in Beit Haggai towards the Prime Minister's home, and from there continued to the Har HaMenuchot cemetery. Rina, wife of HaKol MeHashetach News Agency director Chaim Didovsky, was a teacher in Kiryat Arba. Eliyahu was the driver. The other passengers in the car were treated and released. They was on her way to school when terrorists opened fire on their van; they had been waiting in ambush at the intersection to the Arab village Bani Naim. Rina's teen-age daughter, Reut, spoke at her mother's funeral: "Last night I was talking with you about future plans, but now, everything has changed - everything, except for a few things that you have left us for eternity, that we will always carry with us - the values on which you raised us: Education, which you were on your way to do this morning; the obligation of Jews to live in Eretz Yisrael, everywhere, and here you were killed; your whole life went according to your ideals - and also your death... You also instilled in us Torah, fear of Heaven, good deeds... It will be very difficult for us without you, yet still and all - we will continue along the way you charted for us... Now that you are up there with the Holy One Blessed be He, we ask for a lot of strength here below, for Abba [Dad], Yisrael, Aviad, Shlomit, Naamah, Tzion, and myself, and to look after all of Israel, who all want nothing more than to come home safely to their families..." Chaim Didovsky expressed concern for the welfare of his children, who range in age from 14 months to 16 years; one of them is to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah two weeks from now. A fund has been established for the family: Account #576712 in Bank HaMizrachi branch #401, Ben Yehuda St., Jerusalem. Sgt. Tal Gordon, 19, was killed Friday night in a shooting attack on the Jericho by-pass road; he immigrated from the C.I.S. nine years ago. One participant at the funeral of Rina Didovsky on Friday said that for an accurate picture of the dangers in which citizens are living in Judea and Samaria, he would advise Ehud Barak not to count the number of casualties in the shooting attacks, but rather the number of bullets shot by Palestinian terrorists. Rabbi Moshe Rabinovitch, spiritual leader of Rina Didovsky's community Beit Haggai, made an emotional appeal to Prime Minister Barak:"Can you look at these children in the eye? Can you say that you did everything possible to prevent this from happening? Can you look them in the eye? The orphans want an answer! The People of Israel want an answer!"
Sunday, while travelling on a bus near Ateret, northwest of Ramallah Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was himself shot at. He recounted shortly afterwards, "We left our car at a checkpoint, and traveled by bus to a new-Torah scroll ceremony at Yeshivat Kinor David. On the way there, I sat in the front seat, and on the way back, I decided for some reason to sit in the second seat...The shots hit the window of the first seat, which they smashed to smithereens. It is a miracle that I am alive." In other attacks, shots were fired at workers on a new road connecting Beit El and Psagot. No one was hurt... Near Har Gilo, on the Tunnels Highway to Gush Etzion, IDF forces shot a Tanzim terrorist engaged in preparing an explosive; another one escaped... A roadside bomb was discovered near Elon Moreh, not far from where shots were fired on an Israeli vehicle... A man was injured by shots near N'vei Tzuf Saturday night... Shots were also fired Saturday night at Camp Ofer near Ramallah, at an IDF force near the Bir Zeit bridge a bit further north, and at an IDF post at the northern entrance to Jericho; IDF soldiers returned fire... Shots were fired on the Cross-Samaria Highway from the Arab village of Shamein.
On Monday: a taxi was shot at in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev from the adjacent Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina; this was the second time in two weeks that shots had been fired within northern Jerusalem. Palestinians directed heavy fire at Israelis in several Gaza locations, including from within a United Nations building near Kfar Darom; Jewish residents there demand the razing of all buildings from where fire is opened upon them. Two buses were shot at between Otniel and Hevron, and two bombs were discovered near Kiryat Arba, but only after one exploded and hit a bus; no one was hurt in the above incidents. An outpost manned by Palestinian Authority paramilitary police opened fire upon an IDF vehicle in Gush Katif today... In a Jerusalem Arab neighborhood, two firebombs were hurled at Border Guard Police patrol. Near the Shomron Jewish town of Ariel, Arabs from adjacent Haras threw a firebomb at a civilian bus... Jewish homes in Psagot, just north of Jerusalem, were also fired upon in the course of the night... Arabs near Shechem carried out a drive by shooting attack upon an IDF vehicle. The soldiers fired back but were unsuccessful in stopping the terrorists' car. In all of the above incidents, there were no injuries.
On Tuesday: Two Israeli women were shot by Palestinians near Morag in Gaza; they were taken for treatment to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva... An Israeli was shot in the head and wounded moderately when his vehicle was shot upon at the Bekaot Junction in the Jordan Valley. He was evacuated to Afula Hospital by helicopter... Shots on a car near Ofrah, 25 kilometers north of Jerusalem... Shots at a Border Guard vehicle in northern Jerusalem's A-Ram... There were also shots on the Elah Valley Highway, south of Beit Shemesh in pre-'67 Israel. A taxi near Ofrah was stoned by passengers of Arab taxis that blocked its way. A woman - Rabbanit Rachel Yom-Tov, a mother of nine - was wounded and is in moderate condition when her car was shot at near Morag. East of Kalkilye, Palestinians shot at two Israeli cars; no one was hurt. An Israeli school bus from Morag to N'vei Dekalim was shot at Wednesday; no one was hurt. (arutzsheva.org Dec 8-13)
N'vei Dekalim Bombarded by Palestinian Shooting
Gush Katif in Gaza was the scene of intensive gun battles, this week. In Gaza, shots were fired at IDF posts near N'vei Dekalim and Kfar Darom, and at other locations Saturday night. Bullets hit homes in the Israeli community of Kfar Darom Sunday night, as well as in other locations in the Gaza strip. One soldier was injured when a grenade was thrown into the District Coordinating Office in N'vei Dekalim on Monday. Tuesday night and Wednesday, houses, a school, and a community center in N'vei Dekalim were among the targets attacked by Palestinians. The Palestinian shooting originated in several buildings in Khan Yunis, and the Jews demanded their immediate razing by the army. The army flattened a big earth hill Tuesday night in Palestinian territory, from behind which the terrorists had hidden and fired, but the residents say that this was only one of the terrorist positions. The army ordered the main entrance to the school closed in response to the firing. PA military officials later warned Israel that if IDF soldiers enter Palestinian territory, they would not emerge in one piece. Naomi Eldar, head of the N'vei Dekalim Community Center, told Arutz-7 Wednesday that for the second day in a row, bullets had penetrated the building. "There is a feeling of war here," she said. (arutzsheva.org Dec 13)
Jewish Federations Consider Funding Israel's Arab Population
North America's Jewish federations, long sources of funding for Israel and its Jewish citizens, are now considering devoting money to Israel's Arab sector. A delegation of UJC leaders is currently in Israel on a fact-finding mission to determine how best to address new Israeli needs, including programs for Israeli Arabs. For now, plans to fund Israeli Arab programs are still in the "embryo" stage, said Robert Schrayer, the UJC's national chair for campaign and financial resource development. Some suggest that helping Israeli Arabs is a cause that might resonate with American Jews. "It's clearly not a fringe issue if the Israeli government is putting it on the table," said Gary Tobin, president of the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research, which has studied Jewish philanthropic trends. But many Jews fear the Arab community is a "fifth column" that could collaborate with the Palestinians to destroy the Jewish state. Stephen Solender, president and CEO of the UJC, said the federations should not let the potential controversy stand in the way of getting involved. Although he is concerned that supporting the Arab sector could alienate donors, "sometimes you have to lead and try to bring those people along with you." (Jewish World Review Dec 6)
The Jerusalem municipality and the IDF's Home Front Command are preparing for a massive Gilo fortification program. Some 1,000 apartments will be fitted with bullet-proof windows, at a cost of some 44 million shekels (almost $11 million). Sharon Katz, editor of Gush Etzion's English-language Voices, protests the very conception: "What about bulletproofing the caravans on the Dagan [in Efrat]? And bulletproofing every home, school and car in N'vei Dekalim? ... and bulletproofing the homes on the perimeter of Pesagot? ... and bulletproofing the homes in Hevron? ... Wouldn't it be smarter instead of bulletproofing the entire country, to stop the Arabs who are shooting into every neighborhood? Don't shoot empty buildings - shoot murderers... Instead of bulletproofing the country and letting them continue shooting at us, stop the shooting!" (arutzsheva.org Dec 13)
Netanyahu and Sharon
Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, the two contenders for the Likud's top spot, addressed the Likud Central Committee Tuesday night. Netanyahu lashed out at the political and security approach of the Barak government, and promised to take a "different approach" for peace - one that would demand long-term quiet from the Palestinians before handing them any territory. Greeted with loud cheers, Netanyahu praised Sharon for the way he ran the party in the past year and a half, and promised to work together with him no matter what the final results of the primaries would be. He attacked Barak: "You resigned as Prime Minister only in order to run again? The entire public realizes that this is simply a trick to hold on to power... Your concessions have led to an intifada and lynchings... I will lead to a cold peace with the Palestinians - because we have to recognize the reality." Sharon, in his speech, said that as Prime Minister, he would establish a national emergency government, with Netanyahu as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and Labor leader Ehud Barak as Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister. The party members greeted the proposal with derision. The Likud voted to allow Netanyahu to run for the leadership of the party - in elections next Tuesday - even though it is not certain that he will be allowed to run. He is currently disqualified from running for Prime Minister because he is not a Knesset Member. The Knesset voted Wednesday, however, to approve the first draft of a bill allowing a non-MK to run - informally called the "Netanyahu law". Another scenario in which Netanyahu would be able to run is if the entire Knesset is dissolved, leading to general Knesset elections. Both laws will probably be ready for final legislation next Monday - but if one passes, then the other one is likely not to. (arutzsheva.org Dec 13)
Negotiations Go on
Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami met earlier this week in Jerusalem with Muhammad Dahlan, head of PA Preventive Security in Gaza. They discussed the possibility of releasing Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons. Dahlan is responsible for much of the anti-Israel terrorism and violence of the past ten weeks in Gaza.(arutzsheva.org Dec 13)
Labor Minister Ra'anan Cohen was thrown out of the Contractors' Association meeting today - without even being given a chance to deliver his speech. The building contractors are furious at the government for refusing to allow the entry of additional foreign workers into the country, despite the drop in Palestinian workers from Judea and Samaria. The contractors held signs reading, "We'll see you in the elections." (arutzsheva.org Dec 13)
Woman Shot in Jerusalem While Looking out Window
A 24-year-old Gilo woman - Galit bat [daughter of] Geulah - was shot in her neck by Palestinian terrorists from Beit Jala Monday night and is recovering from an overnight operation. She was had looked out the window at an ill-timed moment. Her home is a few blocks away from the outlying streets in Gilo where most of the shooting had occurred until now. Uri Bank, who heads a committee of Gilo residents that demands a stronger military response to the ongoing attacks on their neighborhood, told Arutz-7 today: "We cannot accept a situation of continued firing upon our homes, with the army doing nothing but firing weakly back in the general vicinity of the attackers. The Palestinians report that last night the army fired back at them very strongly - but if their civilians were hit, then it's not good. Beit Jala people have been saying for a while that the Tanzim come in and forcefully take over their houses for attacks on Gilo. Therefore, what we recommend - and we have heard that senior army commanders recommend as well - is for Beit Jala to become Area B again, so that the army can enter freely and ensure that no terrorists come within 1.5 kilometers of Gilo; a security zone, if you will. The problem is that Prime Minister and Defense Minister Barak apparently has other things on his mind at present..." (arutzsheva.org Dec 12)
New Guidelines for Schools in Yesha
The Education Ministry has announced new school-hour guidelines for Yesha, in light of the security situation there: Nurseries and kindergartens will open at 6:45 in the morning, to enable parents to leave early for work. Every community will have its own 1st-to-3rd grades, instead of children and teachers having to travel to other towns. Teachers are called upon to ride to work in the bullet-proof buses. The Yesha Council praised Education Ministry Director-General Shlomit Amichai today for her activities on behalf of education in Judea and Samaria; the Council noted that other government offices are not making efforts to help Yesha residents out of their security-related problems. (arutzsheva.org Dec 12)
Archaeologist: Barak Allows Waqf to Build on Temple Mount
The Moslem Waqf, engaged in intensive earthmoving and excavation works on the Temple Mount, continues to violate Israeli law there. The police have not intervened, and archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar says that this is with the Prime Minister's say-so. Mazar, who is a member of a committee to prevent the destruction of ruins of Temple Mount artifacts, told Arutz-7 today that the Waqf's work has continued there non-stop for a long time, but "over the last week and a half, the works have really taken a more intensive turn. Trucks are coming out loaded with pieces of the ruins - and all with Prime Minister Barak's approval. The other ministers know that it is Barak and Barak alone who makes the decisions. We have tried to meet with Barak for months, but he simply ignores us. A while ago, there was a plan to build a grandiose mosque on the Temple Mount - the biggest one in the Middle East... Now, with work going on a full 200 meters north of Solomon's Stables [where work was permitted in the past] and next to the Gate of Mercy, it makes us suspect that these plans have been revived... This must be stopped." (A7 Dec 12)
Broad Support for Isolated Yesha Communities
A poll conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University during the last two days of November indicates that 75% of the Israeli public, including the Israeli Arab sector, oppose unilateral evacuation of isolated Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza "such as Netzarim, Kfar Darom, Tapuach, or Ganim." Amongst the Jewish sector, 80% opposed unilateral evacuation of the isolated Yesha communities. Regarding the elections, the Yesha Council released a statement saying that it would support any candidate who will commit himself to fight for Israel's security without limitations, and preserve the unity of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Jordan Valley. (arutzsheva.org Dec 11)
No Water for Impoverished Jordan Valley Community
The Mekorot Water Company has cut off the water supply to agricultural areas belonging to the Jewish community of Fetzael in the Jordan Valley. The company cited the community's failure to pay its debts as the reason for the move. Fetzael residents say they are unable to pay, due in part to the deteriorating security situation which has greatly inhibited the farmers ability to farm their crops. (arutzsheva.org Dec 11)
Jerusalem Arabs Attack Following Prayers
Some 125,000 Moslems prayed on the Temple Mount last Friday - only Jerusalem Moslems were allowed to attend - but violence began towards the end of the prayers. Mobs of Arabs took over parts of the Mount, sections of Via Dolorosa, and areas near Damascus Gate, from where they set fire to the police station at Lions Gate and threw rocks at Israeli policemen. The police attempted to disperse the mobs with rubber bullets; 21 policemen were wounded by rocks. (arutzsheva.org Dec 8)
P.A. Announces Violence
The Palestinian Authority attached to its official daily paper a special four-page insert supporting the continued violence. The insert included the daily schedule for this week's violence, and features Fatah (Arafat's PLO faction) as well as Hamas events. Monday was noted as the founding day of George Habash's PFLP terrorist organization, and Thursday was noted as the founding day of Hamas. Friday was scheduled as "General escalation day," featuring "expanded resistance activity and confrontation in the villages, and breaking the siege on Al Aksa [on the Temple Mount] and the Holy City." The day is introduced with the words, "The intifada leadership reiterates its promise to strengthen national unity and continue along the common course: blood of the martyrs until success." (Palestinian Media Watch/arutzsheva.org Dec 10)
"At the very least, Israel's acquiescence to the Mitchell mission will serve to advance Arafat's campaign to secure foreign support for the Palestinians' sovereignty and independence from Israel by internationalizing the conflict to Israel's detriment and exacerbating the Jewish State's growing isolation from the United States."- Center for Security Policy, Washington, Dec 11
"Neither the period of Clinton nor the period of Barak, till the elections, is sufficient time to fulfill the conditions needed for a just solution. Absolutely not..There has to be a change in the Israeli mentality, especially the mentality of the Israeli leadership to execute the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, among them: the right of return or the Palestinian refugees, according to Resolution 194, a return to the June 4 1967 lines, and an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital-all of Jerusalem. There will be no peace in the region unless these points are realized."- PA Speaker Ahmad Qreia, Voice of Palestine, Dec 13 (IMRA Dec 13)
"Al-'udu al-Israili" [the Israeli enemy]- Term used to describe Israel by Cabinet Secretary Abdul-Rahman, Voice of Palestine, Dec 13 (IMRA Dec 13)
"The Israelis must expect fedayeen-type attacks [terror against civilians] as retaliation."- Fatah Secretary-General Kadura Mussa, Voice of Palestine, Dec 10 (Palestinian Media Watch/arutzsheva.org Dec 10)
"The crisis emanates from the feeling of the Palestinians and the Arab world that Israel's spirit is weakening. This weakening of spirit causes [the Palestinians] to increase aggressiveness toward us. Your steadfastness is an example to the whole nation. The solidarity between the children of the two gates of Jerusalem, the northern and the southern, Gilo and Psagot, is no coincidence. Since the beginning of Zionism the key to our existence has been our physical and spiritual strength."- Benjamin Netanyahu, during a brit celebration in Psagot for the new son of the YESHA council chairman, Shlomo Filber. (Ha'aretz Dec 6)
Barak Resigns The Wall Street Journal Editorial
"The logical outcome of retreat," Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have remarked, "is surrender." One would think that as Israel's most decorated soldier, Ehud Barak appreciates the sense of these words, both in politics and in war. Yet as prime minister, Mr. Barak has championed a very different kind of strategy -- the strategy of pre-emptive surrender. That it has now brought him to announce his resignation should surprise no one.
Look at the record. The prime minister thought that he could throw Syria off balance and score political points with the West by surrendering Israel's position in southern Lebanon ahead of schedule. He thought he could do the same at Camp David by surrendering Israel's most valuable negotiating chits -- the division of Jerusalem, possession of the Jordan River Valley -- when neither Bill Clinton nor probably even Yasser Arafat expected him to do so. He avoided a vote of no confidence last month by surrendering to calls for early national elections. Now he has again taken everyone by surprise by surrendering his own seat (something he pledged not to do only two weeks ago), though he will remain in office at least until elections are held in 60 days.
The outcome of all this is well-known. Israel's northern flank lies exposed to guerrilla attacks. It faces a Palestinian uprising on a scale not seen since the 1930s. It faces unanimous hostility in the wider Arab world and near-unanimous hostility from the West, especially in Europe. And now it faces a grave domestic political crisis. Mr. Barak believes that an early election will sideline Labor party rivals such as Knesset speaker Avraham Burg or Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami. Mr. Barak also hopes his resignation will block out his most popular potential opponent, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is not now a member of the Israeli Knesset and so is ineligible to run in an election solely for prime minister. That would allow Mr. Barak to face a more vulnerable opponent, septuagenarian Likud party leader Ariel Sharon.
The Knesset could also pass a law allowing non-members such as Mr. Netanyahu to run in a race only for prime minister (Mr. Netanyahu announced his intention to do so yesterday). This seems a likely scenario as a device to postpone a general election in which many left-of-center Knesset members might be swept away by a Netanyahu landslide. But a Netanyahu victory in such an election would lack a corresponding parliamentary mandate, thereby crippling the government from the outset.
There can, of course, be little doubt that Israel will ride out the current tempest, especially once Mr. Barak departs from the scene. Like his Washington mentors, the Israeli Prime Minister has proved not a statesman but a consummate political tactician, always hoping that through clever maneuvering he can evade the responsibilities of campaign promises and "red lines," of principles and consistency. Like his Washington mentors, too, he has shown a remarkable willingness to put his own political needs and ideas ahead of those of his country, thus giving the lie to the very name of his party, "One Israel." Fortunately, the Clintonian politics of spin cannot survive for very long in an environment where bad ideas are swiftly followed by bad consequences.
And what follows? Mr. Barak may win another mandate, though it's hard to see what he can possibly do with it. The Palestinians, having rejected his most generous overtures last summer, will not now settle for less. Instead, we're likely to see the ascendancy of either Mr. Sharon or Mr. Netanyahu. These men come from different generations and have very different political styles. But they share an important premise: that in the Middle East today, as elsewhere in the past, "Never Surrender" is a better motto than "Peace Now." (The Wall Street Journal Dec 11)
As the war against Israel goes on and on, the undeniable futility of peacemaking seems apparent. War in the
Middle East of the old-fashioned kind is on its way. Yasser Arafat is winning the public opinion battle even among Israel's allies. Proof? Read on:
Supposing the wife of Prime Minister Ehud Barak made a speech accusing the Palestinians of polluting air and water with "toxic gases" so as to cause cancer among Jewish women and children. And suppose Mrs. Barak made that speech just at a moment when her husband and Israeli peacemakers were engaged in peace negotiations with Palestine Authority officials. There would have been hell to pay. President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would denounce the speech as an attempt to sabotage peace negotiations, and Mrs. Barak would be forced to recant. Mr. Barak would, of course, be blamed as having deliberately encouraged his wife to make such a horrible accusation.
Something like that actually happened -- but not in Israel. It happened in Palestine: Just such an inflammatory speech was made by the chic, Paris-educated First Lady Suha Arafat, wife of Mr. Arafat, some months ago in the presence of Sen.-elect Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Arafat accused Israel of polluting air and water with "toxic gases" so as to cause cancer among Palestinian women and children. Mrs. Arafat's husband and Palestine Authority officials were at that very moment engaged in "peace" negotiations with Israel.
Mrs. Arafat's falsehood didn't cause a ripple in Washington although Mrs. Clinton was criticized for just being there. Anyway, Mrs. Arafat's words were written off as woman talk. Blood libels are no doubt common table to picking in the Arafat White House. Now another event:
Supposing there were an "Israeli Government Prize for Culture" and that it was given to a biographer of Rabbi Meir Kahane who canonized the assassinated Kahane as a super-hero for his supposed homicidal hatred of Arabs. Of course this never happened in Israel. But in Palestine, the annual "Palestine Prize for Culture" was presented to Abu Daoud for his recent book in which he detailed how he masterminded the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
So long as there are sophisticated terrorist syndicates like Hezbollah and Hamas, financed by Iran, Syria and other Arab states, to talk about peace in the Middle East is nonsense. We should not forget what happens to Arab peacemakers -- the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after he signed an accord with Israel in 1979 and the two assassination attempts, in 1995 and a third last year, against Sadat's successor, President Hosni Mubarak.
Professor Bennie Morris, an over optimistic revisionist Israeli historian, recently wrote that even though Egypt, Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization have demonstrated "the gradual Arab acquiescence in [Israel's] existence" through peace accords, "the victory seems far from final." Professor Morris adds: "But there is no certainty that Israeli good will or ill-will, flexibility or inflexibility, will decisively temper or resolve this century-old conflict." In other words, whether the Israeli prime minister is Benjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak, Arab intransigence and faith in fantasy remain, sometimes on hold, but only for the moment.
France and Germany finally ended their blood feud because they emerged from two world wars as restored democracies and democracies don't make war on each other. The only democracies in the Middle East today are Turkey and Israel, and they get along just fine. (There was once another Middle East democracy, fragile Lebanon, but the PLO destroyed it.) Israel, one can properly say, is the only country in the world whose enemies, near like Syria and far like Iran, want not merely Israel's defeat in battle but its extinction forever.
While there is lip-service to the status quo in the Middle East, in actual fact Yasser Arafat and his allies, no matter what they say in public and no matter the handshakes across the negotiating table, regard the status quo ante -- 1948 -- as the only one with any legitimacy. An "end of ideology," in the Middle East is a pipe dream.
Iraq supposedly lost a war of aggression nine years ago. Yet the same democratic governments who vote against Israel in the U.N. Security Council effectively ignore Saddam Hussein's defiance of U.N. economic sanctions. Ignore? Hell, France and Russia cooperate in Saddam's defiance. To make sure he would not produce or develop nuclear and biological weapons, Saddam agreed to international inspections. For two years, there have been no inspections at all. By doing nothing about Saddam's preparations for war in the Middle East, the Clinton administration, abetted by the UN, has allowed what has been a festering mess to become a war crisis. But when Israel asked to buy 50 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, President Clinton rejected the request last March.
What should be clear by now is that the Palestinian assault on Israel is not a so-called communal riot, an intifada but a prelude to what the government sponsors of Hamas and Hezbollah are ready to undertake -- another war against Israel. How else can Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority justify sending adolescents and lightly armed adults against Israeli soldiers who don't know where the next car bomb will be coming from? The young Arab men in shirt sleeves carrying corpses aloft in funeral parades, shouting hate-filled slogans over and over again -- are they being prepared to accept an armistice, a permanent peace settlement or are they being prepared for a new war against Israel? Schoolbooks in Arab schools are filled with more anti-Semitic propaganda than even in the heyday of the Third Reich's Josef Goebbels. Who can believe that graduates of these schools are prepared to accept peaceful coexistence with Israel? They are being taught that "peace" with Israel is betrayal of Allah.
What Israeli leaders like the self-deposed Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres seem unprepared to believe is that Israel's Arab enemies don't want partition, they want Israel's destruction. Mr. Arafat is leading the quasi-governmental terrorist organizations which, while pursuing what is called low-intensity warfare, are preparing the way for high-intensity warfare. At any moment Katyusha rockets could start flying, that is, unless the Big Powers led by the United States persuade a new and weakened Israeli government that death-by-appeasement is the best policy to follow.
The writer is with the Hoover Institution. (Washington Times Dec 13)
An official Israel government communique has expressed opposition to an international or UN presence in the region. However, Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami later amended the government statement. He said recently in Paris that "Israel never rejected an international force," and that "Israel will agree to the sending of international observers to the territories as long as it is done in the context of new 'planned stages' for a permanent arrangement between the parties."
This is a total surrender to Arafat. The idea of an international force is an effort to increase the role of the UN and to de-Americanize the mediator's role. If Israel agrees to this plan, then Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has won by internationalizing the conflict, which will legitimize his violence, the purpose of which was to secure outside intervention.
The most recent experiences with UN observers demonstrate their ineffectiveness and futility. A temporary international observer force was established in 1994 to protect the Palestinians of Hebron after the Machpela Cave massacre by Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein. If the force's purpose was to give Palestinians and Israelis a sense of security, its success has been negligible. Israelis and Palestinians continue to shoot at each other in Hebron.
Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon recently, and a UN force was placed at the border to protect the Israelis from the Hizbullah efforts to warm up the border with Israel. The impotent UN force has not even lifted a finger to protect Israel. In fact, the most recent alliance between Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and Syrian President Bashar Assad, in which the junior dictator has given Hizbullah a free hand in Lebanon, could mean a serious conflagration between Israel and Syria if the terrorist organization continues its pernicious activities.
Why is this type of peacekeeping so ineffective in controlling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Peacekeeping forces are of no value when the parties have not resolved their major issues.
In the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict, peacekeeping has been successful so far in the Sinai and in the Golan Heights. This is because the Egyptians signed a peace treaty with Israel, and the Syrians accepted a joint troop separation withdrawal. In other words, the two parties, calling for an end to violence, jointly accepted the role of an international peacekeeping force. This is why there have been no violations of the agreements in the last 30 years.
When it comes to the Palestine issue, Arafat's efforts to involve outside observers and peacekeepers are designed to advance his political agenda.
Therefore, the observers will serve either as surrogates to Arafat, victims of the two parties, or most likely will be rendered irrelevant. The only purpose UN observers will serve is to increase the violence. The Palestinians continue to violate the agreement and hide behind outside observers while they carry on their low-intensity war against Israel. The UN force will become an instrument of Arafat's political and military ambitions to establish a Palestinian state by blood and fire.
We must remember that there are essentially two major types of peace observers: peacemaking and peacekeeping. Peacemaking means intervention in the conflict, as was the case in Kosovo when the US and NATO forcibly evicted the Serbs. Peacekeeping is meant to retain a peaceful status quo, and is no solution for an open and raging conflict. It will only exacerbate it.
In 50 years of Arab-Israeli conflict the UN has not only demonstrated its pro-Arab orientation, but also its impotence in peacekeeping. Only since the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David treaty in 1978 has the US vetoed anti-Israeli resolutions in the Security Council. The UN General Assembly has been dominated by the Afro-Asian-Arab bloc, which has predictably voted for a torrent of anti-Israeli resolutions, ever since the establishment of Israel.
Oil and greed, not humanitarianism, is the source of conduct for French foreign policy. It is the French who are behind and supporting Arafat's effort to establish an international observer force. No responsible government survives such an act, and this alone could have brought about the demise of the confused, left-leaning Barak government. (Jerusalem Post Dec13)
The writer is a professor of government at American University in Washington.
Excessive Force and Hypocrisy By Alex Safian
Soldiers manning a combat bulldozer are suddenly attacked by armed militiamen; a civilian mob joins the attack, providing cover for the gunmen. The soldiers call for help and soon Cobra helicopters are firing volleys of anti-tank missiles and 20-mm cannon on the crowd below. Within minutes almost 100 of the attackers, mostly civilians, are dead.
A military spokesman justifies the high civilian toll, explaining that, "Everyone on the ground in the vicinity was a combatant, because they meant to do us harm."
Attacking hostile civilians as if they were combatants would seemingly guarantee "excessive force" condemnations from the UN and human-rights groups.
But there was no condemnation.
This was because Israeli forces weren't involved, and ironically enough, UN "peacekeepers," mostly from the US, were.
The attack on the bulldozer crew and the intervention by US Cobra helicopters occurred on September 9, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia. The attackers were Somali militiamen and civilians. The person defending the use of helicopters to cut down almost a hundred Somalis was a UN spokesman named Maj. David Stockwell.
There is no record that the UN ever disavowed Stockwell's statement, and even if they had, the battle's very high death toll was the rule rather than the exception during the UN intervention in Somalia. Indeed, the UN had, three months earlier, passed a resolution under Chapter 7 of the Charter, requiring member nations to supply heavy weapons to the UN forces deployed in Somalia.
Security Council Resolution 837 condemned "unprovoked armed attacks against [UN personnel]... which appear to have been part of a calculated and premeditated series of cease-fire violations... [and urged] member states to contribute, on an emergency basis, military support and transportation, including armored personnel carriers, tanks and attack helicopters to provide... the capability appropriately to confront and deter armed attacks..."
Member states did not forsake this UN call, and as the weaponry arrived it was put to use, never more violently than in the aftermath of a botched US raid to capture Somali warlords. The mission, undertaken by army rangers and Delta Force commandos, went seriously wrong when two US helicopters were shot down by RPGs, leaving the soldiers encircled by Somali militiamen and civilians.
The ensuing battle and the eventual rescue of the soldiers, employing tanks and armored personnel carriers, was described by US officials as "carnage."
Up to 500 Somalis were killed and 1,000 injured in the fighting; press reports indicate that "hundreds of women and children" were among those treated in hospitals afterwards.
Despite these very high casualties, US Army spokesmen asserted that excessive force had not been used nor international law breached, and that the Somalis themselves bore ultimate responsibility for the bloodshed.
"It is they who initiated the firefight and who bear ultimate responsibility for this tragic loss of life."
Compare this with a more recent encirclement: Israeli soldiers manning the enclave at Joseph's Tomb are attacked by a similar mix of armed Palestinian militiamen and civilians.
The surrounded and besieged troops report that one of them has been shot and needs medical attention.
Senior officers refuse to send in nearby armored forces, and the wounded soldier dies, waiting for a rescue that never comes. The officers later explain that "if we had sent in tanks and heavy weapons to take out a wounded soldier, it would not only have caused an escalation in events, but imagine how it would look to the rest of the world."
Despite almost unimaginable restraint in this incident, and in the conflict with the Palestinians generally, it is Israel that has faced condemnation - condemnation that was never leveled at the US and the UN in Somalia, despite admitted carnage there.
And Somalia is far from the only instance of this double standard.
For example, after tensions had risen between the US and Panama, an off-duty US soldier there made a wrong turn and was shot dead by Panamanian forces. The US invaded and deposed President Noriega, in the process killing as many as 3,000 Panamanians, the majority apparently civilians.
Compare this to Israel's reaction to the lynching of its two soldiers after they made a wrong turn into Ramallah - a three-hour warning before retaliatory strikes against empty buildings.
Why then have Amnesty International and similar groups singled out Israel for reproach? A hint, perhaps, can be found in Amnesty's kangaroo-court approach to the conflict.
Reversing the usual process of investigating before reaching conclusions, Amnesty on October 3 charged Israel with using "excessive and indiscriminate force," then two days later announced the departure of its delegates to "investigate" the matter. The unwarranted charges spring from extreme hypocrisy and bias. (Jerusalem Post Dec 12)
The writer is associate director of the Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).