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
May 18, 2001
Issue number 327
Shell Lands on House in Katif
Palestinian terrorism intensified this week in Gaza. A mortar shell landed on a house in the Gush Katif community of Kfar Darom Tuesday night, breaking through the rafters of the roof and exploding on the home's second floor. Family members were sitting in nearby rooms, but were not hurt. (A7 May 16)
Ya'alon Blames Withdrawal from Lebanon
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon says that last year's withdrawal from Lebanon is partially to blame for the current warfare: "It was perceived in the Arab consciousness as a sign that Israel was becoming weak, and encouraged the Arabs to continue attacking on other fronts," he told a convention of Public Administration officials in Jerusalem Tuesday. "This conflict is the most significant one since the War of Independence, and it will have ramifications on how the Arab world perceives Israel's standing power…… The victor will be the one who has greater ability to withstand." (arutzsheva.org May 16)
Arafat Demands Full Israeli Withdrawal from Yesha, Right of Return
As if the eight years of Oslo - in which Israel created and armed the Palestinian Authority, then gave it 42% of Judea, Samaria and Gaza - had never existed, PA Chairman Yasser Arafat demanded Tuesday that Israel withdraw all its forces and residents from the entirety of Yesha as a condition for peace. He further said that peace depends on the realization of the "right" of return for all Arab refugees from 1948 and 1967. "One might have expected his remarks to put a rest to all talk of 'cease-fire in exchange for settlement halt,' Arutz-7's Haggai Segal said Tuesday, "but so far it has not." Foreign Ministry officials continue to recommend accepting a total freeze on settlement construction, according to Israel Radio reports Tuesday. (arutzsheva.org May 15)
Palestinian Television: "The Sweet Fragrance of Martyrdom"
PMW Director Itamar Marcus reported in the last issue of Israel's weekly Makor Rishon: "Until recently, we have suspected that the PA was encouraging children to get killed - but a look at many clips that have been broadcast recently on Palestinian television has now supplied concrete proof of it…… A new clip that was broadcast [last] week for the first time accompanies a Palestinian boy on the day he plans to die. This is a nice-looking and smiling boy of about 12 who says goodbye to his family and walks off happily, self-confidently, and purposefully to his death. Before he leaves, he even writes a parting letter to his family - but he does not give it to his father, but rather transmits it via his friends. The message here probably is not to inform one's parents, so that they will not put a stop to it……In the background, the singer sings, 'Don't be angry, my love, and don't cry over my parting. Oh, my dear father, this martyrdom is on behalf of my land! For my land I will sacrifice myself! …… How sweet is martyrdom, when I embrace you, my land! [Picture shows the boy falling on his chest] ... My beloved mother, more dear to me than anything [mother wailing], be happy over my blood, and don't cry for me! Tell my brother [the boy kisses his brother] that our souls are sacrificed for beloved Jerusalem! We don't run after wars, but we are great at them……'" Marcus reports that the boy conveys a feeling of serenity throughout the clip: "The death itself is not cruel, and the boy shows no fear or resistance, he does not cry, and even the way he falls is gentle, and he hardly bleeds. His friends approach him, turn him on his face, and they are serene……" PMW also reports on the screening of clips of the "life after death" of Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Arab who was killed in crossfire near the Netzarim junction at the beginning of the current war. The boy has been made into a Palestinian hero; some 400 songs have been written about him, and the films of his death, which were internationally televised at the time, are shown dozens of times a day on Palestinian television. Information indicating that he was likely killed not by Israeli bullets but by Palestinian fire has been largely ignored. A recent clip on PA television shows him calling to other children, "I'm waving to you, not to say goodbye, but to say, 'Come follow me.'" He is portrayed after his death playing with a kite in a beautiful, green, tree-lined field; on the beach; at an amusement park; on the Temple Mount; and in a sunny field with water being sprinkled high - while sandwiched in-between are scenes of blood and Israeli Army violence. In the background is the voice of a popular female singer, "How pleasant is the fragrance of the earth, its thirst quenched by a gush of blood flowing from a youthful body... How pleasant is the aroma of the martyrs..." The clip ends with the flashing of a caption, "Produced by the [Palestinian] Ministry of Information and Culture and the Palestinian National Fund." (arutzsheva.org May 15)
Shteinitz: Strength Is the Best Signal
"To send a signal to the PA, not to destroy it." So described IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Sha'ul Mofaz the army's current strategy against the Palestinian Authority. Likud MK Yuval Shteinitz, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Community, does not necessarily agree with Mofaz. Speaking with Arutz-7 Monday, Shteinitz said, "You can't give a signal if you don't prove that you can really do something if the signal is ignored. For the past eight months, the PA has been waging war against us, building an army, bringing in heavy weapons -- the time has now come to stop signaling and start destroying, or at least bringing the PA to the verge of collapse, which would be the most effective signal there is." What does Shteinitz say about claims, such as that made by Minister Amnon Lipkin-Shachak today, that "Israel had better ensure that Arafat does not fall, lest Hamas take his place?" Shteinitz had this to say: "Whenever Arafat hears us talking like that, he understands that he has a green light for continued terrorism. He won't stop the terrorism against us until he realizes that his regime is in danger. This is the only threat that scares dictatorial regimes like his... If he understands from us that we will never react strongly enough to topple him, and that we will always stop short, he has no reason to stop the violence against us." (arutzsheva.org May 14)
Waqf Damage Called "Irreversible"
An internal document in the Antiquities Authority admits, for the first time, that the Moslem Waqf has caused significant archaeological damage to the Temple Mount in the course of its illegal excavations. In contrast to its attitude of indifference of the past few months, it now decries the fact that since last October it has had no way of supervising the construction there, and must rely only on police reports for its information. (A7 May 14)
Ha'aretz Columnists Accused of Slandering Israel
Israel's Foreign Service is not happy with the performance of Ha'aretz reporters Gideon Levy and Amira Hass. The Israeli Embassy in Rome sent a telegram to the Foreign Ministry, sharply criticizing Levy for sitting on a panel with a Palestinian spokesman and attacking Israeli policies. "The two joined forces in abusing the Israeli government, vying between themselves to see who could slander Israel more - and in my opinion Levy won," Embassy
spokesman Ofer Bavli wrote. Ha'aretz, reporting on the telegram, also noted that similar criticism of Levy had been made four months ago, and that there are reports of Foreign Ministry criticism about Ha'aretz writer Amira Hass. (arutzsheva.org May 13)
Israel to Supply Water to Jordan
National Infrastructures Minister Avigdor Lieberman has announced that despite Israel's water troubles, Israel will still send Jordan the yearly quota of 50 million cubic meters stipulated in the treaty between the two countries. This, reports Arutz-7's Shira Gal, despite the fact that the treaty's water clauses expired in 1999. Israel is currently short some 400 million cubic meters of water for this year. (arutzsheva.org May 13)
Comparing Deaths: No Comparison
In a Letter to the Editor of a major American newspaper, Adina Livni reacts to the media's coverage of the brutal murder of the two Jewish boys in Tekoa last week. She writes: "It is impossible to draw a parallel between the brutal and deliberate torture and slayings of two innocent Jewish boys... and the killing of Palestinian children who have been placed directly in the line of fire by their parents and teachers in order to play upon world sympathy and support. Imagine the events in that cave moment by moment. Imagine the boys, ages 13 and 14, suddenly surrounded by a group of Palestinians. Laughing with each other, they hear voices in the cave and turn to confront a group of strangers. When did they realize that they were going to be murdered? Did panic grip them the moment they saw the Palestinians? Did the boys kick and scream and try to wiggle their way free? We all saw the footage of Palestinians laughing gleefully as they smashed and mutilated three Israeli soldiers who made a wrong turn into the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Ramallah. As they tortured our young boys, did the Palestinians laugh with gratified lust for innocent Jewish blood? Did they scorn and mock the helplessness of these poor boys? Did they spit on them and prolong their pain before they finally killed them? From the final condition of the bodies, and the blood smeared victoriously and viciously over the walls, what happened to these children, as they were overpowered alone in the darkness, is a scene which can only be relived again and again in our worst nightmares. As I read the paper, I am struck by the constant and unrelenting attempts by reporters to somehow justify these brutal guerilla attacks upon the innocent. The excuses made between the lines for murderers range from, 'The Jews kill children too,' to, 'The oppressed Palestinians are fighting heroically for their rights to the land.' Both excuses must be shown for the deceitful propaganda they really are. Does a Palestinian child live in fear that if he or she meets a Jew in a cave he or she will be tortured and murdered? Does a Palestinian policeman worry that he might take a turn into a village with a Hebrew-sounding name? Does a Palestinian mother stand at a window with her infant and fear for one moment that an Israeli soldier may use his fine-toned sniper skills to shoot her little one through the brain? Never. Yes, if Palestinians are throwing rocks at Israeli civilians and soldiers, Israeli soldiers must fight back in order to protect those whom it is their sworn duty to protect and themselves. Yes, if Palestinians insist upon letting school out early and deliberately place children in the lines of fire, there will be casualties we would rather not see. But these children are by no means killed with cold-blooded intent. They are martyred by their parents and teachers in the hopes of breeding fodder for propaganda against Israel. They are killed and maimed only so that Arafat can answer the accusation that two young Jewish boys were tortured and murdered with a shrug and the statement that "Israel has victimized Palestinian children." And the reporters eat this up! They give credence to the false parallels and lies by repeating them themselves! Woe is to us, oh Israel, for losing the propaganda war! Not too far back in our history did we almost lose another war, and we paid with six million. As Goebbels taught us, written in blood and smoke and the fires of the crematorium: if the lie is big enough and you repeat it enough times, the world will believe it. The Palestinians, children of some of the best friends Nazism ever had, are using this invaluable method effectively, it seems. As for the claim that the Jews are fair game in response to years of their oppressing the Palestinian people, this is a bold-faced lie. It is an example of the unnerving impudence of a people that has been given everything in a spirit of peace and camaraderie jobs, housing, healthcare, arms and ammunition, and is now turning all these resources against those who provided them. It is my hope in writing this that sick lies and perverse excuses are held up to the light and recognized for what they really are. I ask reporters to pursue truth, and readers to do the same." (A7 May 13)
Countering the Media Bias
The Yesha Council plans to equip chosen Yesha residents with digital cameras, who will be able to film Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis almost as-they-happen, then send the results by e-mail. A Yesha Council editing house will then send ready-to-run products to Israeli and international media. Funds are being raised for the new equipment. (arutzsheva.org May 15)
Quote for the Week...
"We live in a tradition of martyrdom. When I see a Jew before me, I kill him. If every Arab did this, it would be the end of the Jews." - Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas, speaking with Lebanese television. (A7 May 13)
The Roots of Palestinian Hatred By Nadav Shragai
The media last week spared the public the close-up photographs of the battered bodies of the two children from the settlement of Tekoa, and that was the right decision. Whoever perpetrated the crime did not stop with killing; the bodies were abused in a way that is beyond the human imagination. Once more it is apparent that a fierce hatred underlies this atrocity and others like it, such as the lynching of the two soldiers in Ramallah last October, or the more recent murder of the infant girl Shalhevet Pas, from the Jewish settlement in Hebron, by a Palestinian sharpshooter who locked his gunsight on the baby girl's head and fired.
The Palestinians were not born as Jew-haters. Hatred is an acquired trait, and the Palestinian establishment has been cultivating it for years. True, it accompanied the Jewish-Palestinian conflict from its inception, but even after the signing of the Oslo accords no one uprooted it. The Israeli media "discovered" this fact of life at a relatively late stage. The official textbooks of the Palestinian Authority are filled to overflowing with incitement and hatred for Jews, as are the Palestinian media, both the official stations and the ostensibly private ones. Last month a survey by the Palestinian Research Institute (the Jerusalem Center for Media and Communications) found that 73.7 percent of the residents of the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority support suicide terrorist attacks against Israel. That mass of support did not arise out of nowhere.
For years already, Itamar Marcus and his staff from a private Israeli body that monitors the Palestinian media, have been collecting clips that deal with violence against Israel and against the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). Last summer the number of such broadcasts increased by the hundreds, and during the period of peak violence there were instances when they accounted for about 90 percent of the volume of all broadcasts. It was not long ago that Al-Hayat al-Jadida, a daily paper published in the Gaza Strip, reported that a clip entitled "My mother shall not be humiliated" had been chosen as the best of these clips. In that clip, the camera moved slowly toward a house of which only a pile of rubble remains, on which a woman is sitting and crying. Her son wipes away the tears with his hand and then jumps up and runs with his friends to initiate clashes with Israeli soldiers. The clip shows a ship carrying Jewish immigrants to Israel, a tent camp of Palestinian refugees, and David Ben-Gurion delivering a speech. An Israeli flag is seen waving, with the word "Israel" inside the Star of David. The boy throws a stone and breaks some glass. For a moment the seven-branched menorah appears and then immediately vanishes. The message is clear: Israel will be made to disappear by means of violence. Afterward Israeli troops murder an Arab who is working in his vineyard. More shots of refugees, then Ariel Sharon on the Temple Mount, processions of Palestinian children, songs of the militant Hezbollah organization, Israeli tanks and a photograph of Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy who died in his father's arms in an exchange of gunfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. This whole sequence is accompanied by shots of the weeping mother scouring the streets in search of her son, as children sing out forcefully: "I have responded to your call, O mother... Who caused the tears that flow from your eyes. My mother shall not be humiliated."
The clip that came in second, the paper reported, was called "Future," by the Iraqi singer Khazem al-Sahar. It tells of two Palestinian lovers who are trying to meet. They are separated by a barbed-wire fence. They reach the border and gaze at one another across the fence. The young woman, consumed by love, decides to cross, but Israeli soldiers aim their rifles at the center of her back and shoot her. In the final scene the soldiers notice the young man by his beloved's grave. He runs, and they shoot him in the back too. Thus he is finally united with his beloved. The message: Israeli soldiers shoot young lovers in the back.
In the past seven months, Palestinian television has carried a steady stream of such clips (after a period of relative calm). In the last two months alone, a hadith (the oral law, sometimes attributed to Mohammed himself) calling for the killing of Jews has been issued three times: "The Day of Judgment will not come until you do battle against the Jews, until the last Jew hides behind a stone and a tree, and the stone and tree shall say: Muslim, servant of God, leave a Jew behind me, kill him."
When the Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out, some preachers called for the slaughter of the Jews. Since then there have also been prayers for the annihilation of the Jews, and the Palestinians also learned that anyone who
concedes Haifa, Lod and Ashkelon is "a revolting criminal who is doomed to go to hell." The messages are consistent and they are voiced both by clerics and by members of the political leadership. Their gist is the demonization of the Jews, non-recognition of their legitimacy as a nation, and blood libels of the worst kind. On Palestinian television the official clerics of the Palestinian Authority declare that the confrontation with Israel is the eternal religious war of Islam against the Jews. The hatred the Palestinians bear for us, some Jews will be sorry to learn, does not stem solely from territorial reasons. The preachers portray the hatred for the Jews as the will of Allah, the Jews as the enemies of Allah and the religious obligation to kill Jews as the decree of Allah.
All the agreements that have been signed with Israel, the preachers emphasize (just as Arafat did when he talked about the agreement Mohammed signed with the Jews) are temporary and are signed in the wake of a current favorable balance of forces. In Israel, public opinion does battle against the agents of hatred among us and spews out most of them. In the areas of the Palestinian Authority, hatred has become commonplace, its religious and national motivations rooted far more deeply than the relatively young roots of the settlements in both Gush Etzion and Kfar Sava. (Haaretz May 13)
No Escape, No More to Give By Sherri Lederman Mandell
We want to stop listening to the news and watching TV. It is so unbearable that we have reached the point of saturation; no more -- no more listening to reports about our children, our soldiers, our husbands, our mothers, our fathers dead, maimed, dying, lost, suffering.
My friend Leah this morning had to pay a mourning visit to a friend whose husband died on Friday. He was on his way from Neve Yaakov, home to Beit Shemesh, and was found in the trunk of his car, dead. It's not clear whether the killing was criminal or terrorist. The astonishing thing is that we talk about this story and feel as though the world is lost. Then, 10 minutes later we're talking about our diets. Everyone I know is on a diet. Why? Because our weight is all we can control. I am cleaning house, something I generally don't do. Each corner has to be swept, each bed needs to be made. It is a way of feeling that I can cope. My house is clean and in order, so the world is good.
My friend Shira who is a former SDS member, a feminist and now a therapeutic masseuse, has been reading romance novels -- for the first time in her life. She also is decorating the walls of her house with shell sculptures that she fastens with concrete glue. She is busy designing waves and a sun. She is building a life of freedom within the confines of her four walls, the only place she feels safe nowadays. Suddenly, everyone is home for Independence Day. The only picnic is one that is close by, one that we don't have to drive to with our whole family in the car. We say a special prayer in the synagogue on Friday for Linda and Bobby who were shot at on the tunnel road -- shots were fired over their car, the road was closed and they turned around and went back, unhurt.
This is our freedom and independence in our own country. During Holocaust Day, you could hear the sounds of gunfire and tank fire from Gilo and Bethlehem as the prime minister made his speech at Yad Vashem praising Israel as the land where the Jews are free to defend themselves.
On Independence Day, my daughter read the names of 12 people from our area who were killed in the most recent battles. This is not Holocaust Day; this is not some distant battle. This is the battle of today.
We can try to deny it, but we can't escape it -- a battle is raging around us. No matter how much we don't want to listen, we lie in bed and hear the shooting.
There is no way not to listen. But what is the message we are supposed to hear? It's not clear anymore. We want peace, but peace is a word that is not the absence of war. Peace has to have value in itself. We have been dreaming about peace. But we have been dreaming with our eyes closed.
Now our eyes are open. We can't escape the sounds of battle. And what is most alarming is this: The battle is a result of giving everything we could. To give more, makes no sense. (Washington Post May 14)
The writer's 13-year-old son, Koby, was stoned to death in a cave in Israel last week; she wrote this piece before her son's death.
Rhetoric of the Mitchell Report By Evelyn Gordon
Once again, it seems, the Israelis are being obstructionist. Yasser Arafat said he will accept the Mitchell Committee's conclusions about the ongoing violence "100 percent"; Colin Powell termed the report "excellent"; and Ariel Sharon is raising objections. Yet a look at the international fact-finding committee's report reveals solid grounds for Israel's reservations. To its credit, this document is considerably fairer than similar reports produced by bodies such as the UN Human Rights Commission. But in their effort to be evenhanded, the authors have produced a document that not only whitewashes Palestinian violence, but even rewards it.
Israel's official response actually minimizes the report's flaws, as it objects only to some of the conclusions. Yet one of the document's gravest failings, which underlies all the rest, is its discussion of the intifada's causes. Properly, the authors dismiss the fiction that the violence was sparked by Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. Instead, they present a list of Palestinian grievances as the root causes of the violence.
Yet they inexplicably fail to mention one salient fact: that then prime minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a deal that would eliminate most of these grievances, and Arafat rejected it. Barak's proposal would have given the Palestinians over 90 percent of the West Bank plus part of Jerusalem, and would also have uprooted the majority of the settlements. Yet not only were the Palestinians unwilling to accept a mere 95% of their demands, they were unwilling even to try to negotiate over that last little bit. Instead, they chose the path of violence. To admit that the Palestinians chose violence even when they had a nonviolent option is to confess that the Palestinians were to blame for the current conflagration. But the Mitchell Committee, apparently reluctant to cast blame, chose instead to whitewash the truth. And in so doing, the committee has made future violence more likely - because now that Arafat knows he can plunge negotiations into violence without so much as a reprimand from the rest of the world, he will have no incentive not to do so again.
Perhaps even worse, however, was the committee's attempt to make its recommendations for the future evenhanded. The report, again to its credit, criticized the Palestinian Authority's failure to combat acts of terrorism, especially when committed by troops in PA uniform.
But the authors apparently felt it was important to criticize both sides equally, even if their crimes were not equivalent. They therefore declared that halting the violence was no more important than halting "all settlement construction activity," because "the kind of security cooperation desired by [Israel] cannot for long coexist with settlement activity." They even recommended that Israel consider unilaterally dismantling some settlements.
This equivalence - to which Israel rightly objected is very disturbing on the moral level. Though the committee's authors are certainly entitled to disapprove of settlements, to say that building houses is the moral equivalent of blowing up a schoolbus full of children is outrageous. Construction activity, however undesirable, is not murder. Yet that is exactly the equation the committee drew: Unless Israel halts settlement activity, it said, the Palestinians cannot reasonably be asked to halt terrorism - or in its words, to provide "the kind of security cooperation desired" by Israel.
Equally disturbing, however, are the political implications of this equivalence. First, it whitewashes the true core of the conflict. After all, Barak offered a deal that would have gotten rid of most of the settlements peacefully, but Arafat rejected it - indicating that the settlements are not really what is bothering him.
In fact, the issue over which the talks collapsed was Arafat's demand that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees be allowed to resettle in Israel rather than in a Palestinian state - and the Mitchell Committee is hardly increasing the chances of successful negotiations by pretending that this issue, which it carefully never mentioned, does not exist.
Even worse than this whitewash, however, is that the committee's proposal would actually reward Arafat for the violence. In the original Oslo Accords, the fate of the settlements was explicitly declared a matter to be determined in the final-status negotiations. But the committee is now demanding that Israel unilaterally concede this issue, with no diplomatic quid pro quo, in order to entice Arafat to halt violence that, under the terms of the agreements he has signed, he should never have started in the first place.
It is not hard to see why Arafat is so pleased with this conclusion. But Sharon is absolutely right to demur - because if the current round of violence pays off so handsomely for Arafat, what conceivable incentive could he have for not resorting to violence again the next time he believes that Israel is offering him too little in negotiations? (Jerusalem Post May 15)
US Silence Is Deafening By Stephen M. Flatow
On May 9, I woke to the news that two 14-year-old Israeli boys were "found bludgeoned to death in a cave." Palestinian terror is on the loose and, once again, one of the victims was an American citizen. Koby Mandell's family had moved to Israel from Silver Spring, Maryland, just a few years ago. The families of other American victims of Palestinian terrorism, mine being one of them, have asked the US government to do various things when we have lost our loved ones to terror overseas. In the case of my daughter Alisa, killed at the age of 20 in a suicide bus bombing, I didn't have to ask then president Bill Clinton to send the FBI to the Middle East to investigate her death - he did it on his own, pursuant to provisions of American anti-terrorism laws. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority barred the FBI team from investigating the bombing in Palestinian- controlled Gaza.
But America's efforts to combat terrorism do not end with the FBI. Many people are surprised to learn that the US State Department maintains a Website, http://www.dssrewards.net, that lists the names of Americans killed overseas in terrorist attacks and offers rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of terrorists in those cases.
Peter E. Bergin, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security and director of the diplomatic security service at the department of state, said in 1998, that the Counter Terrorism Rewards Program was "a very important weapon in our arsenal for reducing the threat of international terrorism." He even went so far as to outline three objectives of the rewards program - to offer rewards up to $4 million for an airline-related incident, rewards to gain information to arrest terrorists who have committed acts against Americans or American interests, and to let the public know of the US government's commitment to continue the fight against international terrorism.
Bergin said he wanted "friendly governments to know we will use this program to counter the terrorist threat on a continuing basis, regardless of the politics." While a reading of the website discloses rewards going back 13 years for the capture of terrorists involved in the deaths of Americans in Pakistan and Africa, the sad fact is that none are posted for America's children killed in Israel. When pressed for an answer to this disparate treatment, the State Department replies that my child and yours in Israel are not targeted for terror because he/she is an American. Are they telling us that America's war against terrorists extends only to embassy employees and oil-company workers?
Americans of all religions and nationalities should take the State Department's inactivity in the face of Palestinian terrorism very seriously. Today it might be a death in Israel, tomorrow it might be another death in Pakistan, the Philippines, or wherever our young people travel or decide to settle down. They are all Americans, and their love and loss is just as precious to us as is the love and loss to the parent, spouse or child of a victim of the 1998 bombings of embassies in Africa. There must not be a double standard when it comes to terrorism. The US must post rewards in all terrorism cases and, when it identifies terrorists, it must ask for their extradition to the US to stand trial.
It must take these steps even where there is a risk of embarrassing entities such as the PA where some of the terrorists involved in Alisa's death are living. The United States cannot stand by silently as its citizens are murdered in Israel; our country is better than that. As parents we must speak out, clearly and calmly, against America's silence when death and mayhem break our hearts. It's difficult, but it can be done. And we will leave a better world for it.The writer is a New Jersey attorney. His daughter Alisa was killed in a terror attack in Israel in 1995. (Jerusalem Post May 15)
Dance of Death Overtakes the Arab World By Yossi Klein Halevi
One night in May 1967, a few weeks before the Six-Day War, I was watching the news with my father, a Holocaust survivor. Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser had just shut the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, expelled the U.N. peacekeeping force from the Sinai and massed troops on the border. A report from Cairo appeared on the screen, showing thousands of men leaping around banners imprinted with skulls and crossbones and chanting death slogans against Israel. At that moment, my father and I both understood, without exchanging a word, what was about to happen next. History taught: When the death banners take over the streets, war becomes inevitable.
In recent weeks those faded television images from 1967 have assumed renewed clarity. Almost imperceptibly, the dance of death is again overtaking the Arab world. A new hit song on Egyptian radio stations proclaims, "I hate Israel." State-controlled newspapers vie with each other to spread the most astonishing lies, including the medieval notion that Jews use the blood of murdered Gentile children for matzo--the theme of a popular book written by Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Talas that is about to be turned into an Egyptian film that is being touted as the Arab response to "Schindler's List."
The Arab world has become obsessed with the Holocaust, and two camps have emerged. One camp, which includes the government-controlled newspapers of Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, argues that the Holocaust never happened; the other camp, which includes at least one government newspaper in Egypt, acknowledges that the Holocaust did happen and is grateful to Hitler for implementing it. Indeed, nowhere except in the Arab world is both Holocaust denial and admiration for the Final Solution as mainstream, including among intellectuals. Almost every morning, I find on my computer screen another message of hate, courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based group specializing in translations of the Arab press. MEMRI wisely refrains from attaching commentaries to its translations and allows the articles to speak for themselves.
Here is a small sample of what has recently come across my screen: Ahmad Ragab, in his daily column in the Egyptian government-sponsored newspaper Al Akhbar, April 20: "Thanks to Hitler, of blessed memory, who, on behalf of the Palestinians, revenged in advance against the most vile criminals on the face of the Earth. Although we do have a complaint against him for his revenge on them was not enough." And Hiri Manzour, columnist for the Palestinian Authority-controlled newspaper, Al Hayat al Jadida, April 13: "The figure of 6 million Jews cremated in the Nazi Auschwitz camps is a lie for propaganda."
Arab heads of state repeat calumnies which, in the West, only neo-Nazis dare to publicly voice. Libyan dictator Moammar Kadafi recently accused Israel and the CIA of infecting Libyan children with AIDS. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, speaking in the presence of the pope, revived the deadly accusation of deicide, claiming that the Jews "tried to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which they betrayed Jesus Christ and ... tried to betray and kill the Prophet Muhammad."
Emboldened by the unrestrained Jew-hatred, Saddam Hussein ended his speech at the recent Arab summit in Amman with this prayer: "God damn the Jews." This astonishing outbreak of hatred would, perhaps, be comprehensible had Israel annexed the West Bank and expelled its Palestinian inhabitants. In fact, the Nazi-like incitement follows Israel's unprecedented offer, under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to withdraw from practically the entire West Bank, uproot a majority of settlements and create a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
No doubt there are some Jews who find Arab hatred perversely comforting, proof that "the world" hates us and always will. I'm not one of them, and neither, I believe, are most Israelis. We've raised our children to see themselves as free human beings, without victim complexes. That, after all, is Zionism's gift to the Jews. But a familiar madness is returning to the Middle East, and we can't pretend any longer that it will pass. Armies may not yet be gathering against our borders, but the hatred can lead to only one conclusion. I recognize the signs, and I am afraid. (LA Times May 15)
Restoring Jewish-Zionist Education Jerusalem Post Editorial
Though she assumed her post barely two months ago, Education Minister Limor Livnat is rapidly emerging as one of the most innovative ministers in the government. Unlike some of her colleagues, who seem to devote an inordinate amount of time and energy to pursuing headlines rather than carrying out their ministerial responsibilities, Livnat's dedication to revolutionizing the educational system is both impressive and laudable. Indeed, her latest initiative, a plan announced on Sunday to reinvigorate the Jewish and Zionist component of the state-run secular schools' curriculum, may very well herald a turning point in the country's education policy.
The gist of the plan, slated to begin in September in junior high schools across the country, will involve an extra class hour per week that will be devoted to Jewish heritage studies. Pupils will learn about Jewish holidays, Zionist history, the weekly Torah portion, and the country's national symbols. Over the next three years, the plan will be expanded to include elementary and high schools, so that every pupil emerging from the state school system will have been exposed to basic Jewish and Zionist concepts throughout the course of his academic career. In addition, a class on Israeli archeology, with an emphasis on Jerusalem, will be added for 10th graders, thereby familiarizing them with the Land of Israel and the Jewish people's historical attachment to it. As Livnat told reporters when introducing the plan, "I regard the educational system as the internal security of the State of Israel. We cannot exist here as a people and a country if the pupils don't learn about their heritage."
The introduction of such a program is long overdue, as Israel has not emerged unscathed from the wave of post- modernism that has swept through various Western countries. In the US, for example, post-modernists have increasingly discounted the importance of the traditional Western core curriculum in favor of more stratified and culturally diverse subjects. The result is a generation of students that is unfamiliar with the classics of Western literature, such as Shakespeare, or the great thinkers of Western political and philosophical thought, such as John Locke and Edmund Burke.
Locally, this phenomenon has come to be known as post-Zionism, whose proponents have succeeded over the years in stripping much of the Jewish and Zionist content from the educational system. Consequently, the average pupil is astonishingly ignorant of the most basic and fundamental Jewish concepts, nor is he or she well-versed in Zionist and modern Israeli history. Indeed, a recent survey carried out by Army Radio found that over 50 percent of those polled did not know the words of Hatikva, the national anthem.
Though it should have received universal welcome, Livnat's plan is not without its critics. Meretz leader and former education minister Yossi Sarid has already disparaged it, warning it may inject pupils with nationalist values at the expense of more universalist ones. But Sarid's criticism is off-base. While it is questionable whether countries such as the US and France can perhaps afford the dubious luxury of cultivating cultural ignorance, Israel most certainly cannot. A nation that has been the target of war since its inception requires a firm and resolute belief in the justness of its cause if it is to successfully confront the challenges that seem to proliferate with the passage of time. That this obvious truth is no longer unanimously shared across the national spectrum is a sign of how bad the situation has become.
Cultivating universal values of freedom and democracy is, of course, important. But for a nation to survive, it must be conversant with its own heritage. With the spread of globalization and advances in computer technology, the world has suddenly become a much smaller place. If Israel is to preserve its identity as a Jewish state, it has no choice but to ensure that its national and cultural anchors are firmly in place. Livnat's plan is a crucial step in the right direction. One can only hope that it will succeed in making Israeli students as familiar with the Prophets as they are with Pentiums. (Jerusalem Post May 16)