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
19 Cheshvan 5761
November 17, 2000
Issue number 300
IAF Finally Attacks PLO Targets
In an IDF-initiated action this night, Israel Air Force helicopters attacked 4 Fatah/Tanzeem targets in TulKarm, Salfit and Hebron, and a fighting equipment base in Jericho.
Additionally, constructs in Beit Jala, from which shootings towards the Jerusalem neighborhood of Giloh had originated, were attacked. Two Israeli citizens were lightly wounded this evening as a result of massive stone throwing towards the vehicle they were travelling in, in the vicinity of the village of Bittin, near Beth El. The two evacuated themselves to receive medical assistance in a hospital. Massive shooting occurred these evening and night from Beit Jala, targeted at the Jewish neighborhood of Giloh in Jerusalem. IDF soldiers retaliated with small arms fire, heavy gunfire and antitank missiles targeted at the sources of the shooting.
Palestinian shooting occurrences were recorded at many locales throughout Judea and Samaria, including the following targets: the Jewish quarter in Hebron; the Jewish village of Psagot northward from Jerusalem; IDF forces at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem; the DCO in TulKarm; the industrial area in TulKarm; an Israeli bus and an IDF barrier near Kalkilya; an IDF force near the village of Hawara in Samaria; Vered-Yerikho, the Jericho Bypass Road and the southern entrance barrier in Jericho. IDF forces retaliated with fire targeted at the sources of shooting.
Violent disorders (stone and fire grenade throwing) were recorded in Ujja, near Jericho; in the area of Bittin, an Arab village close to the Jewish village of Beth El; towards the Hosen Bypass Route westward of Bethlehem. IDF forces retaliated with anti-demonstration equipment.
This evening gunfire was shot at a caravan of Israeli vehicles travelling towards Netzarim. IDF forces retaliated with fire targeted at the sources of shooting.
Additional shooting targets were: the Coordination Office in Gush Katif; an IDF post near Neveh Deqalim; an IDF post on the Israeli-Egyptian border; an IDF post in Kfar Darom. IDF forces retaliated with fire targeted at the sources of shooting.
During all incidents mentioned, there were neither injuries nor harm caused. (Arutz 7 November 16)
Yesha Demands End to Restraint
The Yesha Council leaders' sit-down strike outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem continues. The strikers, who were joined today by residents of the Binyamin (southern Samaria) town of N'vei Tzuf, demand that the government "let the IDF defeat the Palestinians." N'vei Tzuf, where lived Sarah Lisha, who was murdered Monday by Palestinian terrorists, is striking altogether today - no school and no work. The residents drove slowly along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, demonstratively causing traffic foul-ups.
Prime Minister Barak dismissed criticism of his policy of restraint, and said that the right-wing is "talking nonsense." He said that the diplomatic process will not continue as long as the firing continues, but noted that he does not demand "total calm" before resuming the talks with Arafat. (Arutz 7 November 16)
Four Terrorist Victims Buried
The four victims of yesterday's terrorist attacks were buried today. Gabi Zagury, the 37-year-old truck driver who was killed last night in an ambush shooting near Kisufim in Gaza, was buried this afternoon in Netivot. Residents of Gush Katif briefly blocked the western entrance to Khan Yunis after his murder not far from there last night. Corp. Elad Valenshtein, 18, and Corp. Amit Zana, 19, the two soldiers who were murdered in the drive-by shooting at the Halamish junction yesterday afternoon, were buried in their hometowns of Ashkelon and Netanya, respectively.
The funeral of Sara Lisha, 42, mother of five, from N'vei Tzuf, took a round-about route from Jerusalem's Sanhedria neighbourhood to Har HaMenuchot, via both the Prime Minister's residence and his office. Chief Rabbi Lau was among those who eulogized her. Rafi Fisher, a resident of Shilo and a brother of the victim, had just heard of his sister's murder and was on her way to her home yesterday evening when he himself was attacked in a similar drive-by Palestinian terrorist shooting. So reported the Ma'ariv newspaper, adding that he was unhurt. (Arutz 7 Nov 14)
Torahs Smuggled out of Syria
A collection smuggled out of Syria that includes nine ancient Bible manuscripts (codices), about 40 Torah scrolls and 32 decorative boxes in which the Torah scrolls are held was restored at the Jewish National and University Library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They were displayed for the first time yesterday at the residence of President Moshe Katsav. Among those who participated in the ceremony at the President's residence Tuesday were the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron; Rabbi Hamra; Prof. Sara Japhet, director of the Jewish National and University Library; and leaders of the Syrian Jewish community in Israel.(Virtual Jerusalem, November 15, 2000)
Tourism Minister: Israel Is as Safe as Ever
Minister of Tourism Amnon Lipkin-Shahak speaking on Monday night at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Chicago appealed to U.S. Jewry to help Israeli tourism, telling 6,000 Jewish American activists that Israel is as safe as ever, the Jerusalem Post reported. "Coming to Israel this winter involves no danger," Shahak said, "regardless of the violence, Israel is as safe as ever - no less than New York by day or Madrid by night." Shahak said that he expects U.S. Jewry to respond "to warnings and threats with visits to Israel." Shahak said that this "is a moment of great need. A moment of a call to arms. But its not your money for guns or arms, fighter jets or ammunition that I seek of you tonight. It is your confidence in us, your participation, your attendance that I have come to ask. Come to the land." (Israeline Nov 14)
Students and followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League and former Knesset Member, marked the tenth anniversary of his murder by an Arab in New York. A memorial rally will be held in his honor in Jerusalem, outside Binyanei Ha'Umah. Quotes from his speeches are being circulated around the country, including the following statement he made during the election campaign of 1984: "This time it's not either Kahane or the Likud - this time it's either Kahane or Arafat!... If, Heaven forbid, we don't get elected, in another ten years we will have here Arafat!" (Arutz 7 November 16)
Sample size: 1,234 Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip Number of field researchers: 55 male and female researchers Number of sample locations: 75 locations. Percentage of error: (+ or - 3%) Date of field research: 6-8 November 2000 (Figures are in %)
Do you believe that peace is possible between Palestinians and Israelis if East Jerusalem is not the capital of a Palestinian state? Yes 5.6 no 92.0 not sure 2.3
If East Jerusalem comes under Palestinian sovereignty, will you accept Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem? Yes 21.1 no 74.3 not sure 4.6
Do you believe that peace is possible between Palestinians and Israelis if Israel does not recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return? Yes 4.9 no 91.5 not sure 3.5
Have your living conditions improved or deteriorated since the start of the peace process in 1993? Improve 14.3 deteriorate 45.0 no change 40.8
Do you think that the Oslo Accords and the subsequent agreements have lead to positive changes that benefit Palestinians? Yes 16.5 fair 24.2 no 54.9 not sure 4.3
Do you think that there is a chance for peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis? Yes 32.6 no 60.2 not sure 7.2
Do you think Ehud Barak is a leader the Palestinian leadership can negotiate with? Yes 8.8 no 84.9 not sure 6.3
Do you support or oppose military attacks against American targets in the region? Support 72.9 oppose 21.7 not sure 5.4
In the case of establishing an independent Palestinian State, would you view a friendship between a Palestinian and an Israeli positively? Yes 30.7 no 64.8 not sure 4.5
Do you support the continuation of the current Intifada? Yes 75.1 no 20.6 not sure 4.3
In your opinion, what is the ultimate goal of the current Intifada? 10.1 reinforce the position of Palestinian negotiators, 68.3 liberation an independent state, 6.3 there is no clear goals, 5.3 others.
In general, do you think that the current Intifada will contribute positively to achieving Palestinian national goals? Yes 76.7 no 13.8 not sure 9.5
Do you think that the current Intifada will continue for -------? Days 7.8 months 29.8 years 24.4 don't know 38.0
Do you think that Palestinian society is ready for a long-term and intensifying conflict? Yes 54.9 no 37.7 not sure 7.4
Do you support or oppose military attacks against Israeli targets at the present time? Support 80.0 oppose 15.1 not sure 4.9
If you support military attacks, what should be the target of these attacks? 11.7 Support only against military targets, 03.0 support only against settlers, 33.1 against both military & settlers, 00.4 against civilians in the 1948 proper, 62.3 against all Israelis regardless (IMRA-Birzeit University Development Studies Programme 13 November )
As Jews, we should put it all in proper historical perspective. CNN has existed for barely 20 years, Jerusalem for over 3,000 years. Yossi Olmert (JP November 12)
As the usual dance of death unfolded in the periphery last Friday, thousands frolicked at the hedonistic Love Fest in Tel Aviv. During the dark week of the lynching in Ramallah, the opulent opera Don Giovanni was performed before packed audiences. While a mother watches footage of crackling IDF gunfire responding to enraged rock throwing, she hears her children watching cartoons on the television in the next room. The abnormality of normal existence has become the status quo of Israeli life. This autumn has turned into a nightmare roller coaster ride where every day brings another precipitous plunge. And as in a true nightmare, nobody is allowed to get off, and the ride never ends. But there has been a subtle transformation as the weeks stretch on, and violence does not abate. Whereas throughout October people scrambled for their radios and stayed at home glued to the unbelievable scenes on their televisions, "normal" life has more or less resumed. In a move of psychic self-defense many have deliberately cut down on listening to the news. Some would criticize this as an ostrich maneuver; others will identify with the need to block out the unabating string of calamities individuals feel powerless to change. People have stopped holding their breath at every mini summit.
Acute trauma has turned into chronic illness. The deviant has become the norm. Catastrophe has become routine. Even daily death tolls don't shock like they did at the beginning. Yet it is difficult to integrate the disorientation of paradox. Irony abounds. A desperate Galilee tries to attract visitors to its annual Olive Branch festival. But families who attended one of its events last weekend in its towns and villages might have been met by stones thrown at their cars near Arrabe. Even those anxious to preserve a semblance of coexistence would have been put off to go olive picking on Saturday in the village of Mu'awiya near Umm el-Fahm after police closed the Wadi Ara highway for several hours on Friday in response to stones and tire burning at the Umm el-Fahm junction. A disoriented peace activist despondently calls herself a freak in a freak show. A panel discussion including participation by an Arab scholar scheduled to take place in Ra'anana was called off when organizers were warned that it would be personally unsafe for him to make a public appearance now in that quiescent Jewish town. One of the Arabs beaten up by Jewish vigilante violence turns out to be a relative of Beduin Omar Sawayid, one of the three IDF soldiers abducted into Lebanon. The economy is stricken.
But continuing the irony, at least two sectors are booming. One is the moving business busily packing up the household effects of foreign corporation employees pulling out of the country. The other is the personal protection industry, reporting a 100% increase in sales of canned tear gas, Galactic Defender "shockers," and pepper-spray cans. At a bar mitzva on Saturday in Jerusalem's Hyatt Hotel, Shuly Natan sang "Jerusalem of Gold," whose poignant lyrics she had made famous following the Six Day War. As she sang, Arab kitchen workers arranged desserts in the background. But nobody these days, in the words of the song, dares travel to the Dead Sea by way of Jericho. Close to midnight after that bar mitzva I got lost as usual trying to find the highway to Tel Aviv. Above all I was afraid of taking that infamous wrong turn leading straight to Ramallah. Stopping at an intersection, I asked directions from the car beside me. "Straight ahead," its Arab driver told me without hesitation. Continuing on the deserted road for a few minutes, I came upon a forbidding luminous sign "Barrier Ahead." Roadblocks - on the way to Tel Aviv? The suspicion that had passed through my mind was confirmed: the driver had deliberately misled me. A police van approached, its windshield guarded by a grill resembling the cage seen on nature shows when photographers venture into shark infested waters. But yes, the policeman confirmed, Tel Aviv was indeed straight ahead. I had alighted on the alternate highway over the Green Line via Modi'in which in better times offered lovely vistas through a pastoral biblical landscape. The road had been temporarily closed earlier that night when shots had been fired across it. My fear was not unfounded, but fear makes us brand the Other with an automatic stereotype. Everyone is suspect; everyone's integrity is tarnished. It's part of the routine of our catastrophe. (JP November 16 2000)
What I Learned from My Run-in with Arab Hatred --Tuvia Grossman
The "Palestinian" Yeshiva Boy Reflects on His Near-Death Experience
As the violence in the Middle East continues, we all have our opinions about the Arab uprising, the peace process and what might be done to halt the bloodshed. There are many lessons we might learn from the events of the past weeks but an important one is the one I personally learned in a rather unwelcome way.
Shortly after the violence first broke out, I happened to be traveling in a taxi in Jerusalem with two friends when our car was attacked by a mob of Arabs who stoned it, forcing us to stop. The crazed mob then dragged us out of the vehicle and proceeded to severely beat and stab us. Somehow - miraculously is the only way I can understand it - we were able to break away and escape to an Israeli Army position down the road.
As a Jewish American student studying in a Jerusalem yeshiva, I had little experience with the hatred that so many Arabs seem to have for Jews. Indeed, I had conflicted feelings about the Arab- Israeli conflict. But none of that would have made any difference to those who assaulted me and my friends. They wanted, to put it simply, to kill Jews. What they ended up doing, though, was to put me on the path to a lesson I will never forget.
The first indication of the lesson came as I lay in my hospital bed, recovering from a stab wound in my thigh, multiple gashes to my head, and a broken nose. I started receiving phone calls from Jews all over the world, each offering support and compassion. Total strangers showed up at the hospital to visit me and asked what they could do to help me. What I began to realize then is what it is that characterizes us Jews as a nation. The Hebrew word is "achdut", which translates as "unity": a connection that binds us all. As I learned in yeshiva, the sages of the Talmud teach that "kol Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh," - all Jews are "intertwined" each with every other.
That concept includes not only all Jews alive today, but all who ever lived, a thought central to the holidays we Jews celebrate. On Passover we are required to imagine ourselves as redeemed from Egypt along with our forefathers; the matzos and bitter herbs we eat connect us - and have connected every Jewish generation - to the Jews who actually labored in and escaped ancient Egypt. On Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah, we rejoice with the same happiness as if we ourselves were standing at Mt. Sinai receiving the Torah today.
When my picture was published in The New York Times and countless other newspapers and magazines with the distorted caption identifying me as a Palestinian being beaten by the soldier who had actually saved my life, a powerful outpouring of complaints from Jews around the world compelled many of those papers, including The Times, to republish the photograph with a corrected caption and accurate story.
I feel that the overwhelming response to the photo that led to that correction was born of the very aspect of "achdut" that I first realized in my hospital bed. Jews around the world felt that the bond holding us together had been somehow violated by the misidentification of one of our people, and simply refused to allow it to go unchallenged. It was as if the misrepresentation of any Jew was the misrepresentation of every Jew.
That is the lesson I learned, the lesson I am still learning, the lesson all we Jews so need to learn. Even if we feel somewhat removed from the situation in Israel, we must all realize that the suffering of any Jew is the suffering of us all. The whole Jewish nation felt assaulted by my assault, and all of us must feel that we, not just our brothers and sisters in Israel, are under siege, threatened and despised. It is not, in other words, "what goes on in Israel"; it is what goes on in all of our hearts.
And as we share in each other's suffering, may we merit to share in common rejoicing as well. [Tuvia Grossman lives in Chicago and is planning to return to his studies in a Jerusalem yeshiva shortly]( Am Echad Resources )
Game Plans - By David Wilder
Earlier this week the Israeli security chief, Avi Dichter, met Arafat henchmen Jibril Rajoub and Muhammad Dachlan in Egypt. According to media reports they struck a deal: The Arabs would stop shooting at the south Jerusalem neighborhood Gilo in order to prevent Israeli public opinion from turning against them. In return it was agreed that Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza would remain''open territory' for continued Arab attacks.
Later in the week a senior Israeli officer said during a ''Voice of Israel' interview: "The situation on the Judea, Samaria and Gaza roads is so dangerous that we now have an alternative plan for these communities. We want to supply them with whatever they need, be it government services, education, food supplies, etc. in order to prevent them from having to travel on the roads. They will stay in their communities and we will bring them whatever they need."
Yesterday (November 9), the anniversary of our Matriarch Rachel's passing, a day when thousands visit Kever Rachel, in Bethlehem, the Israeli army, with the backing of the government, refused to allow Jewish worship at the site. The tomb was declared a "closed military area" forbidden to civilian access. Hundreds of people, including many women and children, gathered at the border point between Gilo and Jerusalem, making attempts to reach the tomb. The Israeli police reacted as usual: women were arrested and handcuffed. Women in Green leader Ruth Matar, a woman in her 70s, was punched by a policeman and lost consciousness. One of the holiest sites to the Jewish people, a symbol of our return to our land, remained desolate. This, due to continued Arab shooting at the tomb, which is under Israeli security control.
A friend of mine from the Gaza community Kfar Darom called me earlier today. The community is situated on the border of Dir el-Balach, an Arab city which literally surrounds the Israeli community. They too have been under attack for over a month. Arabs are shooting into their houses from buildings and fields behind the homes. Yet, when community leaders, meeting with IDF officers point out the source of Arab shooting attacks, they are ignored. The community is being shot at night after night from the same buildings, yet the army refuses to take any actions to stop it. In Hebron the shooting continues nightly. Israeli reactions are so ineffective that the Arabs have started shooting during the day.
And what is our illustrious prime minister doing? Tomorrow night he is leaving for talks with Clinton in Washington to find ways to reconvene negotiations with Arafat.
Where does this all lead? Let's go back to the first two paragraphs. Despite Barak's denials, it seems likely that a deal was struck, abandoning Israelis in Yesha to Arafat's terrorists. Jerusalem is within the consensus; Hebron, Pesagot, Kfar Darom are not. Killing Israelis in Jerusalem will cause Israeli public opinion to boomerang against any possible future 'peace treaty.' Killing Israelis in Yesha is less problematic. In other words, their blood is redder than ours. Jerusalem's Jews must be saved. We can be ditched.
This policy is perfectly represented by the following idea: ''Keep them in their cages don't let them out'. This is exactly what was suggested when the IDF officer quoted above recommended that Israelis in Yesha stop traveling the roads to and from our communities. Put us all in our separate little ghettos, let the Arabs shoot at us like ducks in a pond, day after day, night after night, and tell us, 'there is nothing we can do about it.' So the next question to be addressed is WHY? What is behind Barak's abandonment policy? The answer, as simple as it is, is also grotesque.
Barak is interested in removing all Israelis from Judea, Samaria and Gaza. He knows that Arafat will never accept a 'peace' that includes 200,000 Jews in Yesha. He also knows that evicting so many people is beyond his capabilities. So, he is letting Arafat do the work for him. Barak wants us to live under fire for a year or so, figuring that the pressure will eventually force us out. In order to reach this goal he has given the military strict orders: "DON'T WIN THE WAR!" "This is one conflict where Arafat must be victorious. If we win, it will so dent Arafat's Arab pride that we won't be able to conclude the peace negotiations. And if we win, the settlers will remain in Yesha. Therefore, we are better off losing. We will then get rid of the settlers as well as Judea, Samaria and Gaza." So thinks Barak.
When we met senior IDF officers last week, we expressed concern that the conflict would evolve into a war of attrition. They tried to calm us, saying that this would not be allowed to happen. And this is exactly what is happening. And it fits Barak's game plan perfectly.
However, there is one factor Barak hasn't taken into account. That is, our faith, our knowing that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, that we are where we are supposed to be and that nothing is going to move us from our homes, from our land. Barak may have a game plan, but we have one too. (Hebron-Past, Present and Forever -The Jewish Community of Hebron-November 10, 2000)
Ingredients of a Successful Smear -by Norman Doidge
On Tuesday, Elinor Caplan, the Liberal government's Minister of Immigration, said of the Opposition party that "Their supporters are Holocaust deniers, prominent bigots and racists," and, referring to the Leader of the Opposition, said "You can tell who a person is by the people who support him." The clear implication is that Stockwell Day is a Holocaust denier and a racist.
This is the culmination of a whisper campaign that has been alleging Day is anti-Semitic and Nazi-friendly for weeks. The charges are being fueled by The Toronto Star, with columns by Dalton Camp, Michele Landsberg, Joey Slinger and others. Slinger wrote: "Imagine Heinrich Himmler is living in Canada. How do you think he'll vote? ... How about [Holocaust denier] Ernst Zundel?" Slinger then raised the example of James Keegstra, a Holocaust denier who used his high school classroom to preach his anti-Semitic message. Slinger wrote: "Today Keegstra runs a garage in Bentley, Alberta, where Day cut his political teeth. He used to service Day's car."
Are these justified fears, or unjustified smears? One way to sort it out is to think about what a smear is. A smear is an attempt to discredit an opponent without being obliged to prove the point. The smear artist soils with a dirty substance that's difficult to remove. The person who is smeared is placed in a quandary. Responding keeps the smear alive because there is a subtle guilt by association when a person says, "I am not a racist" -- at least in the minds of those who believe where there's smoke, there's fire. Yet not responding is taken as an admission of guilt.
All the following criteria, taken together -- and that's the key point -- demonstrate that Day is being smeared:
- The timing. Stockwell Day was the only Canadian party leader to stand up against the Liberal government's vote for a recent, one-sided anti-Semitic United Nations resolution that blamed all the current difficulties in the Middle East on the Jewish state. It was one of 14 such one-sided, resolutions the Liberals supported this past year. Jews cheered Day for opposing it, and Liberals began losing Jewish votes in ridings such as Caplan's. It was time to make Jews think twice about Day. But how?
- Inspire fear. Imagine invoking Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi Gestapo, a mass murderer who ran concentration camps, in connection with Stockwell Day? Mr. Day has never advocated any of these things. He has publicly opposed anti-Semitism. The reference to Himmler is obscenely gratuitous, the worst kind of demagoguery.
- Guilt by association. A Day-Keegstra tie? There was only one garage in Bentley. Keegstra worked there. Day told me, "I had my car serviced there once. I used that to see if he had the views attributed to him. When it became clear he had personally antagonistic views toward Jews, I told him I didn't agree with his historical or personal position and left." Slinger twists this one-time confrontation into a relationship. How would you like to be held accountable for the political views of a man who serviced your car once?
- Wrong facts. Another false charge, recycled by Caplan and Landsberg, is that Day ran a private Christian school that used the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, which had portions that were insensitive to Jews and others. But an Alberta government education review, led by Jewish Senator Ron Ghitter, found no evidence whatsoever that offensive portions of the curriculum were used at the school when Day was there. Asked if he thought Day was an anti-Semite, the senator said, "I would never make that allegation against Stockwell."
- Don't check with Jews who know Day. Milton Bogoch, for instance, is an Orthodox practising Jew, active in numerous Jewish organizations in Calgary, and founding director of The Calgary Homeless Foundation, who has written: "I keep hearing and reading ugly untruths about Stockwell Day's attitude to Jews ... In my 14 years' acquaintance with Stock, including campaigning for him door to door in the early years when he did not know me well or that I was Jewish, there never has been a whiff of anti-Semitism from him ... he is no more anti-Semitic than I am."
- Ignore contrary evidence. Dalton Camp wrote that Zundel's lawyer Doug Christie "appears to have infiltrated the Reform Alliance party." In fact, Christie's membership had been revoked, minutes after the Alliance Council discovered Christie had signed up. (Extremists often try to get into major parties to legitimize themselves. Zundel campaigned for the Liberal leadership in 1968, dropping out last minute. Would Caplan argue one should never vote Liberal because Zundel supported the party?)
This is an issue of political morality. These charges, which attempt to link Day with Nazism in the public mind, are vicious. Day's accusers, claiming to be sensitive to Jews, seem more interested in frightening them, by attacking the one party leader who criticized a UN vote overwhelmingly one-sided against the Jewish state. Beyond smearing Day, these charges do the fight against anti-Semitism a disservice. For petty partisan purposes, they drain the charge of anti-Semitism of its seriousness, so that when real anti-Semites come along, the charge will seem frivolous. And that is what makes Ernst Zundel and Jim Keegstra truly happy. (National Post November 16, 2000)
Death in Prison -By Esther Pollard:
Last week another inmate was brutally murdered in the prison. Jonathan and I were in the visiting room at the time of the murder and we witnessed the slain body being carried out. That evening, I wrote privately to Jewish leaders to express my fears for Jonathan. Not a single one responded.
November 21, 2000 will mark the end of Jonathan's 15th year in prison and the beginning of his 16th year of a life sentence. In a recent letter to a prominent Jewish leader I wrote in frustration, "Does Jonathan Pollard have to die in prison (G-d forbid) for our people to understand the urgency of his predicament - that he is in mortal danger every single day?"
Every time I hear Jewish leaders say, "But his case is now before the courts. There is nothing more to be done until the court rules," I am ready to tear my hair out. They are dead wrong. This is just one more excuse in a fifteen-year litany of excuses by the Jewish leadership to absolve itself of any responsibility. Now, more than ever, is the time for strong advocacy on behalf of Jonathan. We have 15 years of experience to prove that unless his case is maintained as high-profile and unless political pressure is galvanized to keep it on a front burner, it can easily be subverted and buried again.
I routinely receive email messages from good Jews criticizing me for not leading a march on Washington or organizing a mass rally on behalf of Jonathan. But these good Jews do not want to hear that such public events require massive funding, and a high degree of organization - the kind of funds and organization that the Jewish leadership possesses but steadfastly refuses to expend on Jonathan.
It is also clear that the American Jewish newspapers are now following the leadership and are taking the same tack which the Israeli media took some time ago. We have been bluntly told by the Israeli press that the only thing they consider "news" and worthy of printing is either Jonathan's death (G-d forbid) or his release, but please not to bother them with anything else. Now that the American Jewish media has taken the same attitude, it is like pulling teeth to get anyone to write about Jonathan's new legal case or even to get them to print what little is written.
This week 4000 Jewish leaders will meet in Chicago at the plenum of Jewish Federations. Imagine how much it would have elevated the profile of Jonathan's case if the Pollard name were on the speakers list. Ironically, even those who organized a protest rally outside of the Chicago plenum never thought of including Jonathan, or of inviting me or his attorneys to speak on his behalf. In 15 years, Jonathan has never been included on any serious agenda by the Jewish leadership. Not even now, when a new lawsuit powerfully demonstrates how he was railroaded and unjustly sentenced to life in prison.
For 15 years, Jewish leaders in America and in Israel have made a concerted effort to keep the Pollard case peripheral to everything that is going on in the Jewish world, when in fact the case is central. It is the litmus test of Jewish equality in America and of the integrity of the US-Israel special relationship. Ignoring the plight of Jonathan Pollard does not change this reality.
By accepting and tolerating the Israeli Government's long-standing abandonment of one Jew, Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish People have established a paradigm for and the acceptance of a government policy of expendability that effectively abandons Israel's five million Jews, one by one. Five million, after all, is just a multiple of one.
What will it take to make the Jewish People understand that every single day in prison Jonathan stares death in the face and dares not blink. How long will Jonathan be forced to rely on miracles? What is the Jewish leadership waiting for? For Jonathan Pollard to die in prison? G-d forbid! (Special IMRA Op-Ed, November 12, 2000)
Blind Restraint -Jerusalem Post Editorial
As four more Israelis were buried yesterday, including a 42-year-old mother of five who was gunned down gangland-style in a car near her home, it was painful to watch the self-imposed helplessness of the government. The choice between massive retaliation and total restraint is a false one; it is time for Israel to be less concerned about "burning bridges" and more concerned about forcing an end to the Palestinian attacks. For over a month, Israelis have watched in dismay as the Lebanon that they thought they left behind has been neatly copied, only closer to home. Schoolchildren in Jerusalem's Gilo neighbourhood study behind sandbags and concrete barriers, and their parents feel as if Jerusalem has become as exposed as Kiryat Shmona. More fundamentally, Israelis are being taught by their government to become used to a steady flow of casualties, and constantly reminded that there are no "military solutions" to such guerrilla warfare.
The Lebanon quagmire ended in a unilateral withdrawal and solemn assurances that any renewed attacks would be met with swift and massive retaliation against the nations responsible. The Palestinians, clearly, are attempting to produce a similar total Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
It does not help that Israelis see little comparison between the Lebanese and Palestinian situations. Israel had no claim or interest in remaining on Lebanese territory and no Israelis lived there. Israel's presence in Lebanon was purely military and tactical. The moment a better way could be found to protect the northern border, remaining there was more a sign of weakness and defeat than leaving.
Unfortunately, the precipitousness of Israel's flight from Lebanon, in the context of the utter collapse of our South Lebanese Army allies, made the withdrawal look nothing like a deliberate strategic choice. Now Israel is in the uncomfortable position of having to force the Palestinians to unlearn what for them was the graphic lesson of Lebanon: that Israel can be slowly bled into withdrawing from territory.
Israel's current policy of restraint tends to confirm the relevance of the Lebanese model in the Palestinian mind. To Palestinians and Israelis alike, the constant reminders by government ministers, generals, and pundits of the lack of a military solution bring back strong memories from Israel's Lebanon experience. In Lebanon, Israel's military options were limited by the nature of guerrilla warfare. In facing the Palestinians, in addition to the practical difficulties of dealing with hit-and-run attacks, there are the twin desires not to burn bridges with them while not succumbing to Yasser Arafat's attempt to broaden the conflict. At the end of the day, according to the current mantra, both sides will return to the negotiating table. This may well be true, but it is not an argument for blind restraint. For Arafat, not only are the use of force and negotiations consistent, they are two sides of the same coin. Israel need not respond in kind, but neither can Israel act as if the need to defeat Arafat's attack is irrelevant to the negotiating process.
Arafat shows no concern that making Israel bleed will prevent a return to the negotiating table - on the contrary, he believes his negotiating position will be strengthened. Israel should also not be concerned that vigorously defending itself will close the door to future negotiations. Israel's moral and strategic desire to limit innocent Palestinian casualties is a valid, even necessary, reason for military restraint. But Israel has not yet taken numerous military and non-military steps that have little or no risk of producing such Palestinian casualties. Israel is still transferring millions of shekels of tax remittances to the Palestinian Authority, still allowing cement to be delivered for construction in Gaza, and still facilitating much of the Palestinians' oil, electricity, and telecommunications infrastructure. Official Palestinian television and radio stations continue to incite further violence and Palestinian military training camps remain untouched.
Just as a situation as complicated as the current one has no simple military solution, it also has no solely diplomatic one. The current armed intifada must be made too costly for the Palestinians to continue by both military and diplomatic means. Excessive military restraint by Israel, coupled with President Bill Clinton's refusal to unequivocably fault the Palestinians for their attack, will allow the death toll to climb and further distance the prospects for peace. (JP -November 15 2000)