Newsletter #154     Friday, October 3, 2003

We wish all our readers a Shana Tova! A healthy and peaceful New Year.

  4. "AND FOR THE SIN OF...."

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By William Safire - New York Times - October 1, 2003

By unleashing and sustaining suicide bombers against Israeli civilians, Yasir Arafat outfoxed himself: the Palestinian boss has given substance to the Israeli dream and U.N. promise of "defensible borders."

Two-fifths of the barrier against terrorist infiltration is already built. Its purpose is to remove the extremist Palestinians' threat of suicide attacks from what was once called the peace process.

Having driven the Israelis to build a protective fence, Arafat now wants it built along the Green Line that made Israel's cities so vulnerable in the past. That won't happen; the barrier — 6 percent of which is a wall to stop sniper fire at passing school buses — can be seen outside the suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where many of the 200,000 West Bank Jews live. A "double fence" will also protect the high ground around Ben-Gurion Airport.

But what about the Jewish families in the thriving Ariel salient, with its 7,000-student college, which juts into hotly disputed territory? Arafat wants those residents left exposed to his "martyr's brigades."

The Bush White House, in deference to European and U.N. diplomacy, has asked Israel's government to think twice about the fencing needed there. Bush aides even hint darkly of limiting that small part of our $9 billion loan guarantee that goes toward building controversial portions of the fence. Sounds menacing, but the U.S. guarantee, which costs us nothing, saves Israel about 1 percent on its borrowing costs; on 30 miles or so of fence, I figure that holdback would penalize Israel a few million dollars.

Ariel Sharon's cabinet meets today to consider "the battle of Ariel." (The Hebrew name of both the town of 20,000 and the current prime minister can be interpreted as "a lion of God" or as the poet Milton's rebel angel.) Hard-liners will argue for building the fence "east of Ariel," incorporating it into the protected zone.

Sharon is no more likely to give up Ariel, now or post-Arafat, than he is to change his first name. He once proudly showed the hilltop town to then-Governor Bush from the air, and has an affinity for its courageous townspeople. Long before that, when Sharon seemed washed up in politics, he choppered me into Ariel, where voters received him with cheers. They trust him.

He also remembers how Arafat, when presented with almost all the West Bank by Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton, interpreted that huge concession as weakness and launched the second intifada. Dennis Ross, who was at Clinton's side, says that not even the deal offered the Palestinians in 2000 of 97 percent of the West Bank included the give-up of Ariel.

Now here is where the current fencemanship gets interesting. A pretty good source in Jerusalem tells me that in today's cabinet meeting, Sharon is going to count on the continued trust of his friends in Ariel. Rather than play to the Israeli grandstand by rejecting the U.S. concern, Sharon is likely to urge his cabinet to respect the Bush advice.

That does not mean to abandon Ariel; far from it. It means to postpone the inclusion of the five-village salient inside the main Arafat barrier until the last stage of the fence's construction. Meanwhile, fencing can encircle each of the villages, defending them as islands, or perhaps a horseshoe-shaped barrier not attached to the main line with Israeli troops stationed in the gap.

That would show the world that Israel respects America's intercession, and would demonstrate that only Bush — not the Europeans or U.N. — can influence Sharon. Meanwhile, the fence-building elsewhere goes on, and the decision to build "east of Ariel" need not be made for months.

Israelis are bracing for another attack by Arafat's commanding faction. In its aftermath, Israel's decision to extend the fence to defensible positions will be made.

All along, Sharon will insist that the fence is a security device, not a political border. That gives future Israeli governments opportunity to improve territorial defenses if a Palestinian partner does not soon emerge.

When that peacemaker does emerge, he or she will find the defensible-border issue already settled — thanks to Yasir Arafat.


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By James Woolsey - Jerusalem Post | October 3, 2003

I sometimes get asked these days if I’m Jewish — it’s my neoconish views on defense and foreign affairs, I suppose. For a while I would just say, "No, Presbyterian,‘ but I’ve started saying instead, ’Well, I anchor the Presbyterian wing of JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)."

What with anti-Semitism growing in Europe and a hideous variety thereof metastasizing in the Middle East — not to speak of the American Left’s (and a small part of the Right’s) hostility to Israel, which sometimes veers off into anti-Semitism — it seems to me our Jewish friends could use a bit of solidarity these days. Today, the first day of Rosh Hashana, celebration of the Jewish New Year, is as good a time as any to explain why.

It’s not only the other two great Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Islam, that owe a substantial debt to Judaism, it’s the world as a whole. The reason is that between three and four millennia ago something happened in the Sinai among a tribe of refugees from Egyptian oppression that introduced the world to the concept of the rule of law — the idea that the law is not the whim of, but rather has its source above, those who rule.

This concept is at the heart of what makes decently-governed societies possible, whether you sign on to Jefferson’s formulation that we are "endowed by our Creator" with basic rights or prefer the more secular notion of natural law.

In the absence of one or the other of these bases for the notion that the rule of law somehow derives from a source above the rulers, electoral democracy can degenerate into mob rule and capitalism into theft. This supremacy of the law is what most Americans mean when they say that we have a "government of laws, not men."

Some aspects of this have gotten a bit muddled recently in the largely academic debate about whether the United States is or is not an "empire.‘ If the US is an empire it’s a very odd one: Countries where it has troops such as Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Germany suggest they are unhappy about that and the response is, ’OK," and an offer to leave.

Nero and Napoleon would have been appalled. They would also have had a hard time understanding the travails of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. One was driven from office by the people’s elected representatives for permitting a cover-up of a clumsy political burglary. The other was impeached by the House, then acquitted in a Senate trial, for lying under oath in a deposition taken in what was essentially a sexual harassment case brought by a private citizen.

What, you may well ask, are the most powerful individuals in the world doing, if they are emperors, getting held to account by members of Congress for burglary cover-ups and by private citizens, no less, for sexual behavior?

The answer is, of course, that neither Nixon nor Clinton, indeed no American president, is even close to being an emperor. People (and smaller nations wherein an empire maintains troops) obey emperors, if they know what’s good for them, without much discussion. These two recent presidents were, instead, held to account in a distinctly non-imperial way — in pretty much the same way Elijah humbled Ahab for allowing his queen, Jezebel, to frame and execute Naboth and steal his vineyard, and in the way the prophet Nathan confronted David over his taking Bathsheba and ordering her husband, Uriah, to the front lines and certain death.

The US does not look back to Rome or France at the height of their power in determining the way to deal with those who today govern the most powerful nation in history. Thankfully, in regard to the powerful being subjected to the rule of law we are, instead, all Jews.

I’VE MAINLY been in synagogues for the bar mitzvas and bat mitzvas of friends’ children. The next time you are, notice what the object of veneration is — it is the Torah, the law itself. At a point in the service it is carried, lovingly, around the congregation, greeted as an old friend. I am convinced that it is this veneration of the law — with its status above the ruler — that is at the heart of anti-Semitism.

Jews have almost always been the first target of tyrants, because their beliefs and religious practices, honed by nearly two millennia in Diaspora, clearly declare that in their view the law is above the ruler: dietary laws, the dress of the Orthodox, a propensity to contend about what is a fair interpretation of rules, all stamp Jews with this belief’s being the heart of their history and religion. As a consequence they are often the first group that dictators, secular or theocratic, feel they must suppress.

We should all reflect upon the historic reality that when anti-Semitism raises its head, the rest of us, unless we are willing to live with a foot on our neck, will be the next targets.

Jewish humor, a distinctive barrier against any propensity to self-righteousness, permeates American culture. A number of times during the Cold War, I was involved in arms control negotiations with the Soviets. No matter how bad the tension across the negotiating table during the day, Russian and American negotiators would often end up going out for dinner together. Somehow, even in the most difficult periods, the conversation frequently turned to trading jokes.

I always thought it remarkable how much Russian humor was suffused with a wry, self-deprecating, ironic tone both quite funny and somehow quite familiar to Americans. Later, finding versions of a number of these jokes and stories in Leo Rosten’s wonderful The Joys of Yiddish, I realized the source of the familiarity.

Six years ago the Immigration and Naturalization Service imprisoned eight Muslims, Iraqi freedom fighters who were refugees from Saddam, for allegedly being security threats to the US. The government’s case was worse than flimsy but it was protected by rules regarding secret evidence. After a long struggle all eight were freed, and several are now working to establish democracy in Iraq.

I was one of their lawyers. The majority of my co-counsel, all acting pro bono, were Jewish. The law is, after all, above the ruler.

To all of us, happy Rosh Hashana.

The writer was director of the Central Intelligence Agency 1993—95.


by Leonard Asper - National Post - October 1, 2003

Almost as disturbing as the daily diet of death and destruction in the Arab-Israeli conflict, is the unwavering perception among the supporters of Israel, joined by many dispassionate observers, that the world media, and particularly European and state-run media organizations, have an institutionalized bias against Israel. I caution that my comments do not apply to all journalists, and in fact there are many media outlets, especially in North America, that have been quite fair toward Israel and have applied intelligent critical analysis of the events in the Middle East. Unfortunately they are in the minority, both in terms of number and reach.

We must therefore go inside the minds of news journalists to fully explore how their political and philosophical leanings lead them to conclude that Israel is the villain and to then report accordingly.

Many news journalists are either doctrinaire socialists or hold political views left of centre. That leads them to be suspicious of free markets and capitalism, to resent the corporate world and politicians who support the capitalist system. They are generally supportive of anyone who they deem to be oppressed, victimized or otherwise aggrieved by a stronger party.

From 1948 and even earlier, Israel and the Jews were deemed by most major media to be the oppressed party and the Arabs the oppressor. Israel in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s was the darling of the socialist-led media partly due to Holocaust guilt, partly because it fought heroic wars as the outmanned and outgunned David against the Goliath known as the Arab world, and because socialists were enamoured with the kibbutzim as a successful socialist institution. Labour governments dominated the Israeli landscape. Israel fit into journalists' binary world as the "oppressed" party.

But after the 1967 war, in which Israel was attacked and not only came out the victor but also seized land, this began to change. The Marxist journalist has a romanticized need for a cause. Once Israel had turned into a strong entity whose survival was no longer in question, who would no longer wait until the enemy was killing its people in the synagogues but rather whose policy, like that of the United States today, evolved to one of meeting the enemy in the field, the cause for journalists became Palestine, not Israel. The hero was Yasser Arafat.

More than almost anyone I know, I am the first to cast doubt upon people who blame their circumstances on racism. While Jews in particular can be prone to accusing people of anti-Semitism as an excuse for their misfortunes, in this case I believe that charge is warranted. Racism is very difficult to prove, particularly when the accused do not openly state the reason for their attacks or their bias. No reporter screams: "I hate Jews."

I did not lightly come to the conclusion that anti-Semitism is part of the reason for the anti-Israel bias of the media, but the evidence suggests it is indeed a major factor.

One must start by equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Many journalists believe that Zionism is patently wrong, because there is no need for a Jewish state. They accept that there can and should be a state with Jews in it, but not a Jewish state per se even if a secular one. Why? They do not, or choose not to, understand that after several thousand years of repeated, attempted genocides against Jews who lived in states other than their own Jewish state, Jews see Israel as vital to their very existence. Even Martin Luther King recognized this.

Knowingly or not, the media who cover Israel do not recognize it as a either a homeland or a fortress for the protection of Jews both within Israel and for Jews living everywhere. Therefore to them Zionism is racism, and some reporters condemn all Jews for the existence of what they deem to be a racist state. And latterly, as terrorism has arrived at the West's doorstep, the reversion to the "blame the Jews" solution for terrorism everywhere is prevalent among the intelligentsia, including journalists. The Jews and therefore Israel are to blame for 9/11; they are to blame for the attacks on the United States and UN installations; they are to blame for the war in Iraq, and even economic decline.

Christian Europe still has a wide streak of anti-Semitism, revived by the decline of Holocaust guilt, evidenced by the radical increase in anti-Jewish graffiti, vandalism and editorial comment.

Oriana Fallaci, the well-known Italian journalist and author, and no lover of Israel, has spoken out: "I find it shameful that state-run television stations contribute to the resurgent anti-Semitism by crying only over Palestinian deaths while playing down Israeli deaths." She goes on: "I am disgusted by the anti-Semitism of many Italians and Europeans."

But hints of anti-Semitism are there in the Canadian media too. When Hezbollah, the well-known terrorist group, was finally banned in Canada, Neil Macdonald of the CBC pompously, but dangerously, suggested Hezbollah was a "national liberation movement victimized by unfair smears cast around by supporters of the Jewish state." No reference to Israel, just "the Jewish state."

There are fair-minded journalists who are neither Marxists nor anti-Semites. But they have little help. Israel is unprepared for propaganda wars. Israeli society is unprepared to fight a war against Arab society for the heart and mind of the journalist.

For undecided, but well-intentioned journalists, it is hard work to support Israel because they must dig up pro-Israel information themselves. Journalists, some of whom are even Jewish, complain openly that they generally receive only an official government statement from Israel, often post-deadline, while from the Arabs they are granted interviews with whomever they want -- Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Aqsa or Islamic Jihad. They get instant access to wild funerals, replete with bug-eyed youths chanting "death to Israel and America," and they are given packaged home videos from Arabs. These home video shots are either fabricated or edited to paint Israelis in the worst possible light. Professional ethics have fallen by the wayside in the interests of good raw video and deadlines.

Another societal difference is that the Palestinians can get a mob together for a video shoot in five minutes. It is part of the strategy.

There are no Israeli mobs. There are no staged funerals. It is too civilized a society for this war and there is no strategy.

So deadline-driven reporters must choose. No story, or the Palestinian tale of woe -- mobs, good quotes, death and grief, as against a flat Israeli denial.

Other reporters are fooled by the openness of Israeli society. The raging debate between Labour and Likud; Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post; and many other factions, confirms in many journalists' minds that Israel does bear at least some blame for the deaths that occur on both sides of the conflict. Often, to find balance when a reporter's editor is calling for an Israeli quote, foreign correspondents get it from Israeli media critical of the government because that's all there is. So Arafat calls Ariel Sharon a war criminal and Ha'aretz does too, and that passes for balance!

Many journalists think they work very hard. Those who cover the Middle East, or any war zone, do indeed work long hours. They are far away from their families. They also risk their lives. For taking these risks, they are to be commended. But working hard is not to be confused with being diligent.

Many reporters sent to the Middle East are unqualified for complex war coverage. They know nothing about the history but worse, they do not bother to make their own inquiries. A few examples are indicative of the gravity of the problem. There are journalists who cover the Middle East who do not know, for example, that when Jordan and Egypt occupied the West Bank and Gaza these territories were never labeled as occupied territories by the Arab world. Most journalists who criticized the Israeli seizure of an ambulance crossing a West Bank checkpoint did not bother to check that several days earlier an ambulance of the same description had been used in a car bombing in Israel, and that ambulance had crossed at the same checkpoint. Most journalists did not know that the terrorist and weapons-infested Jenin refugee camp is run by the United Nations and has been for more than 50 years. Most do not have any clue that the so-called Arab refugees became refugees because they were urged to leave by Arab leaders when they were attacking Israel in 1948.

The fair-minded journalist's bias is the result of laziness, failure of the Israeli government to spoon-feed as the Arabs do, Arab coddling on one hand and threats against journalists on the other, and confusing Israeli society's self-criticism with guilt.

However, there is some hope, as we have found in observing the results of various programs to educate journalists. With fair-minded journalists, who actually do care more about the truth than their own ideologies, there has been a positive response once the hard facts are known. But for some, their work must be done for them. The dozens of pro-Israel Web sites and books are starting to have some effect, and even the Israeli government is becoming more active and proficient on this front in its choice of spokespeople and the immediacy and quality of its dissemination of information.

What else can be done?

The awesome challenge facing the Israeli government is to dramatically improve its public relations and communication strategies. It must lift the fog of war.

Media proprietors and managers must ensure that the people they hire do not bring their ideology into their newsrooms, and that journalists do proper research before filing stories and do not rely on dubious second-hand sources. The media must also scrutinize their use of headlines, pictures and words.

And the public? The media must be held accountable, just as they purport to hold others accountable. Respond to bias when you see it. Demand informed, objective and accurate reporting.

This is excerpted from a speech by Leonard Asper, president and chief executive of CanWest Global Communications Corp., at the Gray Academy of Jewish Education's 'Another Great Debate' evening in Winnipeg last night.

4.   "AND FOR THE SIN OF...."

by Shifra Hoffman - - October 3, 2003

Once again, the Days of Awe are upon us. Traditionally this period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time of introspective soul-searching in which Jews are admonished to reflect upon our misdeeds of the past and resolve not to repeat them in the future. Although the intent to do so is honorable, since we are only mortal beings who experience the trials and tribulations of life, these resolutions are all too often forgotten and fall by the wayside.

Knowing well our human failings, perhaps this was the reason the Torah sages, of blessed memory, decreed that Yom Kippur services should include the recitation of an entire litany known as “al chait” (“for the sin of...”), which enumerates transgressions committed against G-d and our fellow man.

Living here in Eretz Yisrael, in the Jewish State, for which so much blood has been shed (most recently, that of a 7-month old baby, Shaked Avraham , who was brutally murdered together with a friend of her family, Eyal Yeberbaum, as they were celebrating Rosh Hashanah in a caravan near Hebron), I pondered the fact that there are no “prayers for forgiveness” for successive Israeli governments whose implementation of the Oslo “peace process” (sic) resulted in the murder of l,473 Israelis and the wounding of more than 5,000 other victims.

It occurred to me, therefore, to compose the following mea culpa for some of Israel’s ‘leaders’, as well as our sundry leftists, to recite on the Day of Atonement, asking forgiveness from the Al-mighty for prolonging the disaster of Oslo and its equally dangerous successor, "the road map", which is bringing untold tragedy to the people of Israel.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: “For the sin of negating the promise to ‘never’ support the establishment of a ‘Palestinian state’ or the evacuation of Jewish settlement.”

Bibi Netanyahu: “For the sin of giving to the implacable Arab enemies 80% of the holy city of Hebron and releasing the venerable terror instigator Sheik Yassin.”

Ehud Olmert: “For the sin of placing political interests above principle by not voting against the release of Arab prisoners.”

Shimon Peres (here one hardly knows where to begin): “For the sin of secretly initiating and then supporting the suicidal Oslo Accords, in which Israel elevated chief PLO terrorist Yasser Arafat to prominence on the world arena, provided him with weapons - which are used to murder countless IDF soldiers and civilians - and transferred millions of shekels to the coffers of his so-called Palestinian Authority - which foments, rather than fights, terror.” Die-hard, renegade leftists Uri Avnery, Yossi Sarid, Shulamit Aloni and their soul-sick compatriots: “For the sin of constantly giving aid and comfort to Israel's Arab enemies, while turning a blind eye to the murder and wounding of thousands of our own Jewish brethren.”

This Yom Kippur, as Jews gather in synagogues throughout the world to pray for G-d's merciful judgement, may the New Year bring the demise of all Israel’s enemies and true peace for Eretz Yisrael and the Jewish people.


PCPO Poll of Palestinians 54.9% support suicide attacks in Israel

Poll no. 114. Date: 30 September 2003
A poll carried out by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) and prepared by President Dr. Nabil Kukali included a random sample of adults, 18 years and older, from Gaza Strip and West Bank including East Jerusalem.

President of the PCPO, Dr. Nabil Kukali, stated that the poll took place, 25-29 September 2003 and the average age of the respondents was 32 years, and the margin of error was 3.59± percent points. Kukali also stated that the percentage of female respondents was 47.2%, while that of the male ones was 52.8%. He also explained that the respondent 's location of residence was as follows: 55.3% city, 27.2% village, and 17.5% refugee camp. He pointed out to the average size of respondents' families that was 7.21 persons, and the average number of schooling years was 12.24 years.

Some people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip support suicidal attacks in Israel, while others support a halt to such attacks now. Which is closer to your opinion:

1.Such attacks must halt - 27.2%
2. Such attacks must continue - 54.9%
3. Refuse to answer / do not know -17.9%


  • Arafat Must Be Stopped  There will never be peace in the Middle East while Yasser Arafat does his bloody work. "Asking Arafat to give up terrorism," explains Bernard Lewis, the dean of Middle East scholars, "is like asking Tiger Woods to give up golf."

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