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The Other Israel _ February 1999, Issue No. 87

Contents

Deep Freeze, an Editorial Overview
The Disintegration of Wye
Clinton in Gaza
Escape into Elections
What Can We Expect?

In Defense of a Living Soldier
Conscript Asaf Myara's encounter
with Palestinian protesters in Ramallah

The Death of King Hussein of Jordan

Blocking Highway 45
Protesting highway construction on confiscated Palestinian Land

Sniffing Tear Gas at Burkin, by Adam Keller

Surrealism in Hebron, by Hava Cohen

Sadness in Jerusalem, by Beate Zilversmidt
News of the Peace Struggle
Peace Now protests construction at Har Homa
'Cleansing' the Jordan Valley
Gush Shalom pickets the Israeli Defense Ministry
Yehuda Igus: Prisoner of Conscience
Israelis and Palestinians Plant Trees Together in the West Bank
Planting a Peace Forest along the Lebanese Border
Israeli McDonalds Stays Out of Occupied Territories
New House Demolitions in the Village of Kifl
Safe Passage from West Bank to Gaza Still Closed
Resistance to Eviction of the Gozlan Family of Silwan
"Moskowitz is Coming to Ras al Amud!"
Ganim Settlers Support Evacuation with Compensation

Farewell to Our Friends

Revolt of the Parents of Israeli Soldiers in Lebanon

Bingo! by Uri Avnery
Moskowitz and other American billionaires exert
remote control over Israeli elections

"We Support..."
Declaration by prominent Israelis in support of a Palestinian state
----------

[THE OTHER ISRAEL is the newsletter of the Israeli Council
for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, P.O.Box 2542, 58125 Holon, Israel.
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Editor: Adam Keller
Coeditor: Beate Zilversmidt

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The Other Israel
February 1999, Issue No. 87

DEEP FREEZE

In the text of the Wye River Memorandum, hammered out in intensive days and nights of negotiation and ceremoniously signed at the White House, a detailed "time line" for implementation was set out in precise and dry language. For December 18, 1998 it was envisaged that "Israeli officials [would be] acquainting their Palestinian counterparts" with the five percent West Bank land due to pass to Palestinian control on that date; the respective armed forces -- Israeli Army and Palestinian Police -- were to carry out the actual handover; and finally the officials on both sides were to prepare a joint report on the implementation.

The reality of December 18 was a bit different. Instead of handing over territory to Palestinian control, the Israeli army was busy penetrating Palestinian areas to protect land-grabbing settlers, shooting at whoever dared to protest; thousands attended on that day the funeral in Ramallah of the fifth Palestinian shot down by Israeli soldiers in less than two weeks, and all over the West Bank young Palestinians were engaged in what seemed a new Intifada. And as for Israeli officials and their Palestinian counterparts -- they were on that day mainly engaged in trading accusations and insults...

Did Netanyahu ever seriously intend to carry out the obligations of Wye? At the time he had signed the agreements, there were many who thought so: settlers who burst out in angry condemnations of his "betrayal", a peace-supporting columnist who called upon Peace Now to "send a beautiful bunch of roses to the Prime Minister, who had given all of us a pleasant surprise"...

Level-headed, respected political commentators had come out with what seemed plausible scenarios of the great benefits which Netanyahu thought to derive from wrapping around himself the mantle of the Hero of Peace: capturing the broad center of the Israeli political scene; gaining international credibility; creating the right atmosphere for drawing back to Israel the international investors so necessary for the depression-ridden economy; and at the same time, leaving Israel still in control over sixty percent of the West Bank, giving no more than vague hints as to what the Palestinians could expect in later stages...

These were probably lucrative inducements indeed for Netanyahu, but they could not outweigh another consideration: implementation of Wye meant a rift with a considerable part of the camp which had brought him to power -- hardline Knesset Members, extreme-right militants, voters at the settlements, millionaire donors at Florida and Australia. Plans were already hatched to form all these into a new political alliance to the right of the Likud, deprive the government of its parliamentary majority, topple it and offer Netanyahu a serious challenge in the ensuing elections.

In theory, Netanyahu could have neutralised this threat and secured a stable majority by offering the Labour Party a partnership in a "National Unity Government". Indeed, it is now known that before Wye the PM had negotiated at length with Labor leader Ehud Barak. The two of them could have agreed on a government program: both are willing to give up part -- and both only a part -- of the West Bank. But the Prime Minister did not manage to instill in his main political opponent the modicum of trust needed to work out any kind of power-sharing arrangement...

On the very night of his return from Wye, at an improvised press conference held on the tarmac of Ben Gurion Airport, Netanyahu delivered a televised broadside against the Labour Party "which had intended, and still intends, to sell out Our Motherland to the Arabs" -- definitely closing off the possibility of an alliance.

There still remained Labor's offer of a "parliamentary safety net" to Netanyahu. Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and several other senior Laborites argued that the government must be supported as long as it is implementing Wye, so as to have a right-wing government deeply implicated in giving up parts of "Judea and Samaria." But Barak, and with him most of the party, regarded the growing fissures in the government coalition as a golden opportunity to topple the hated government -- a chance not to be missed, even at the price of flirting with such a settler extremist as Knesset Member Hanan Porat of the National Religious Party, who was attacking Netanyahu from the right.

The Prime Minister tried to riposte by appealing to the antipodal pole of Israeli politics: the Arab

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Democratic Party, outspoken in its support of Palestinian rights and supported by the Islamists. The ADP caused a sensation by voting for the government budget and momentarily counter-balancing the defection of hardliners on the right. This unusual alliance lasted, however, but a single day: Netanyahu was strongly attacked from all sides and reminded of how he had hounded Rabin for the late PM's "reliance on Arab votes"; he backtracked and announced that "truly important decisions" would be passed "with the support of Zionists only"; the ADP, insulted and humiliated in its own constituency, was quick to sever all contact with Netanyahu.

The Prime Minister tried all kinds of ingenious expedients to shore up his crumbling coalition, such as a series of dramatic but ultimately futile negotiations aimed at bringing former Foreign Minister David Levy back into the government; and he did succeed in a few of his variegated schemes to buy off disgruntled parliamentary factions and individual KM's.

Nevertheless, the coalition continued to unravel. In addition to hardliners angered by Wye, all kinds of personal and political grudges surfaced as Netanyahu seemed to weaken; the rumors of an attractive new Center Party, to be formed under the leadership of recently-discharged Army Chief-of-Staff Amnon Shahak and expected to recruit members out of existing parties, increased the boldness of Likud malcontents of all stripes. Soon it became clear to Netanyahu that, lacking support from Labor, his only real recourse was to placate the settlers and their political supporters.

Netanyahu dragged his feet as long as he could about getting the Wye Agreement ratified by the cabinet and the Knesset; while he originally presented Wye as an achievement to be proud of, later speeches depicted the same agreement as an unpleasant but unavoidable necessity, and still later appeared hints that it might, after all, be avoided. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sharon, Netanyahu's rival turned partner, issued an extraordinary public exhortation to the settlers: 'Move, run and grab as many hilltops as you can. What we take now will stay ours, what we don't grab will go to them.' The settlers were quick to oblige. Moreover, the government issued tenders for the creation of thousands of Jewish-only housing units in East Jerusalem's Jebl Abu Ghneim/Har Homa (the same settlement project which already caused numerous bloody confrontations and in 1997 halted the whole negotiating process for over a year).

Another cabinet resolution approved the creation of eleven "bypass roads" for the settlers' use, on confiscated Palestinian land. Defence Minister Mordechai, the government's sole remaining moderate, did use his waning influence to block the construction of a twelfth settler road in the Al-Arub area north of Hebron, where the security services predicted particularly stiff opposition from militant Palestinian villagers.

'Reasons of state'

On Dec. 1, a "reconnaissance tour" by building contractors at the Har Homa site encountered several dozen Peace Now protesters, five of whom were arrested for blocking the road.

As it turned out, most of the contractors expressed dissatisfaction with the terms offered by the government, which reserved the right to stop construction at any stage for 'reasons of state.' Nearly half of the tenders were not taken. Those that were, went mostly to settler associations affiliated with the National Religious Party.

A further contractors' visit, and Peace Now protest, took place on Feb. 7 -- with no arrests this time, due to the presence of Meretz Knesset Members Naomi Hazan and Anat Maor.
Contact: Peace Now, pob 8159, Jerusalem 91081

The little bit of hope generated by the signing of Wye was to be very short lived. The Palestinian population all too soon found out what Netanyahu's struggle for political survival meant on the ground. And the Israeli peace movement was confronted with the harsh reality when a group of Jerusalemite activists responded to an urgent call from the mayor of Al-Khader. Arriving at this West Bank village, which had just been "visited" by some bulldozers, the group headed by Rabbi Arik Asherman found a virtual battlefield: a long scar ripped through vineyards, olive groves and apricot orchards in a small pastoral valley; stones and bullets littering the ground; wounded Palestinian youths being bandaged on the spot or taken to hospital...

The Khader confrontation seems to have been the first one -- but within days, news of such confrontations came from all over the West Bank, depressingly similar. Only in a few cases did dedicated human rights lawyers locate a technicality by which a particular violation was illegal even under the occupation regime's heavily-biased legislation, so

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that a Supreme Court injunction could be obtained; in a few other places, Palestinian resistance was so heavy that the army preferred to call a halt; but in most places, the soldiers with their guns and the settler bulldozers just smashed through, leaving dazed and furious villagers behind.

'Cleansing' the Jordan Valley

From an action alert sent out by TOI-email.

On the morning of Thursday, November 18, Israeli peace activist Salim Abbas traveled to the Jordan Valley at the eastern edge of the West Bank. He intended to visit the Da'is family at their encampment in the remote Jiftlic Area -- and arrived just in time to witness a massive raid by the Border Guards. The militarized policemen went on a rampage of destruction: demolishing the Bedouins' tents and confiscating them as well as the inhabitants' meager belongings; ruining the cattle-pen and confiscating the goats; confiscating also the Bedouins' single truck; and to cap it all, destroying the water tank and spilling its contents into the sand. Sixty people -- men, women and children -- were left under the open sky.

It was on that day that Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed, not far from there, a gathering of Jordan Valley settlers, assuring them that the region 'will remain Israel's forever'...

In a series of fiery speeches, Arafat promised his suffering people that on May 4, 1999 -- the end of the Oslo Agreement's five-year interim period -- an independent Palestinian state would be proclaimed, with or without Israeli consent. Netanyahu and his ministers reacted promptly with threats of counter-measures such as annexation to Israel of large parts of the West Bank.

Despite the increasingly bitter exchanges between Israelis and Palestinians, the American sponsors managed to keep the process going for a few more weeks. The Palestinian Police, with its anti-terrorist activity monitored by the CIA, cracked down on the Islamic opposition, arresting hundreds of its members in the wake of two attempts at mass terrorist attacks on Israeli targets.

For his part, Netanyahu at last agreed to the long-delayed opening of the Gaza International Airport. The Palestinian flag, so often shown in the hands of youthful demonstrators confronting soldiers, for one day captured the front pages held up by a proud, uniformed captain of the Palestinian Airlines emerging from his long-awaited cockpit.

The first scheduled Israeli withdrawal, from areas in the north part of the West Bank, was also carried out on time. There were festive scenes in the town of Kabatya at the entry of the Palestinian armed forces -- tempered by the realisation that the town remained surrounded on all sides by still-occupied territory, with Israeli military checkpoints on all outward roads.

Netanyahu appeared to also carry out another vital obligation -- the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners, the first installment in a scheduled overall release of 750. But at the Prime Minister's direction, most of the Palestinian prisoners selected for release were common criminals, not the political prisoners whose release the Palestinians had expected.

In particular, the release of members of Arafat's own Fatah organization had been hoped for. Many hundreds of them -- arrested before Oslo, some as long ago as the 1970's -- remain incarcerated in Israeli prisons, and the Shabak (Security Services) -- whose opinion usually decides such issues -- saw no reason to oppose their release. Most of these Fatah prisoners support the Oslo process, and the commanding officers who had originally sent them to their missions inside Israel are now holders of senior positions in the Palestinian Authority's Security Services, with which Israel hopes to forge good working relations.

Why keep imprisoned the rank-and-file members of an organization while dealing daily with their commanders? For Netanyahu there was a reason: no issue in Israel is more susceptible to demagogic manipulation than "terrorists with blood on their hands." In a series of speeches Netanyahu made a point of declaring "We will never release these murderers!"

Immediately when news of "the Israeli duplicity" broke out on the Palestinian side, angry protests and demonstrations erupted -- spearheaded by the Tanzim, the Fatah's grassroots organization led by Intifada veterans, with its branches spread through every Palestinian village, town and refugee camp. At first, these protests were directed at Palestinian negotiator Abu Mazen -- who was blamed for the fact that at Wye the Palestinian delegation had accepted Netanyahu's verbal assurances about the prisoners. Soon, however, the new protests merged with the confrontations over the land confiscations -- producing the biggest conflagration in many years. The Israeli press, which usually relegates news about Palestinians to back pages, came out with huge headlines "The Territories on Fire" -- illustrated in full colour.

Blood on the hands

In the afternoon of Dec.8, several dozen Gush Shalom supporters picketed the Defence Ministry in Tel-Aviv with large banners: 'We all have blood on our hands.'

One participant -- Yitchak Hasson, veteran of the pre-state underground -- was quoted extensively in the papers of the following day. In his case, he told, the slogan was more than just symbolical: 'I certainly have blood on my hands. In 1936, as a sixteen-year old underground fighter, I was ordered by my commanding officer Yitzchak Shamir -- yes, the later Prime Minister -- to take part in the killing of two Arabs. It was a random killing, just two peasants on their way to the market in Jaffa. I still remember how they were shot and fell dead from their donkeys. I did not myself pull the trigger, I was just the lookout man -- but this would not have helped me had I been a Palestinian. Hundreds who were implicated to exactly the same degree as me are in prison and Netanyahu would not free them because they have blood on their hands. Hundreds of others are implicated to the same degree as Shamir...' Ha'aretz, 8.12).

Gush Shalom, POB 3322, Tel-Aviv; info@gush-shalom.org.

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While the Prisoners' Intifada -- as the Palestinians named it -- carried the headlines, Netanyahu held a discreet meeting with KM Nisan Slomiansky of the National Religious Party, in which he promised to stop the implementation of Wye in return for the NRP's parliamentary support. (The meeting was later revealed to the press by Slomiansky himself, claiming credit for this coup as against rival settler leaders).

Things came to a head on December 2. In the morning, a Palestinian laborer was stabbed to death at the A-Tur Neighborhood, on the border between East and West Jerusalem; police attributed the attack to an uncaught "serial stabber", an Israeli motivated by blind hatred of Arabs, who had already carried out six previous assaults on Palestinians in Jerusalem.

News of the murder brought the intensity of riots and confrontations, in Jerusalem and all over the West Bank, to a new pitch. In the afternoon, a large student procession in support of the prisoners marched from the center of Ramallah to the city's northern approach which is still under Israeli control -- where they encountered an Israeli car in which a settler and a hitchhiking soldier sat. The car was attacked with stones, and its passengers escaped to a nearby military camp after being roughed up by the Palestinian crowd, who had seized the soldier's rifle.

The scene was caught by a TV photographer and featured prominently on the Israeli TV evening news (much more prominently than the morning's murder). The young conscript Asaf Myara -- his name suddenly known all over the country -- found himself at the center of a public controversy; with politicians, columnists and senior military officers accusing him of "cowardice" because he did not shoot at the Palestinian crowd, while others praised him for his restraint.

In defense of a living soldier

+++ 'I am proud of my son. I think he acted correctly. He saved his life and that is the most important thing' (Lisa Weinmann-Myara, Jerusalem Post 4.12).

+++ 'Some have been quick to teach Asaf Myara how he should have acted: he should have been shooting and shooting. Mr. Ya'akov Erez, editor of Ma'ariv, even gave a number: ten dead Palestinians, no less, should have been lying on the ground. The fact that Myara got out of this alive, though his attackers had him at their mercy, means nothing to these gentlemen. They want a hero, dead or alive. Had he shot and then been killed by those whom he didn't hit, they would doubtlessly have queued to offer condolences to his family' (Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz 6.12).

"The Lynch" -- as the media persisted in calling the affair -- provided Netanyahu with a suitable pretext to fulfill his agreement with the NRP. A special cabinet meeting, convened on the same evening suspended Israel's implementation of its obligations under Wye, pending the fulfillment by the Palestinians of five new conditions. The main two were specifically designed to be utterly non-acceptable by the Palestinians: giving up in public the plan to declare independence on May 4, as well as a public renunciation of the demand for the release of political prisoners. The deed was done, and little more than a single month after being signed the Wye Agreement was clinically dead.

As it turned out, however, the Wye Agreement did succeed at least in putting an end to Netanyahu's elected term as Prime Minister, which was due to run until Novembr 2000. The hardliner group of MK's headed by Benny Begin -- son of the late Prime Minister -- did not adhere to the Slomiansky Deal and persisted in their decision to topple Netanyahu. With the help of the Begin Faction and a few others, Barak had a solid majority for new elections.

****


With the Wye Agreement becoming hostage of Israeli electoral politics, a last-ditch effort to save it was made by the agreement's author: President Bill Clinton.

As it happened, the time was drawing near for implementation of a central Wye plank: the final and irrevocable annulment of the infamous Palestinian Covenant. The agreement specifically stipulated that President Clinton would be attending this event in person. In fact, it had been originally -- at Wye -- an Israeli idea: to make Clinton the supervisor to the validity of the annulment.

As the moment drew near, Netanyahu and his ministers became uncomfortably aware of how much of a diplomatic coup such a visit by the President of the United States was for the Palestinians; an achievement well worth going through the slight humiliation of abolishing an outworn Covenant, whose dire threats against Israel the Palestinians had never had any power to implement, which had long been a tool for Israeli right-wing propaganda and which had anyway been already abolished several times before.

Clinton did his best to appear impartial and give during his visit precisely equal honors to his Israeli and his Palestinian hosts -- leaving quite a few Israelis uncomfortable, after so many years of taking for granted a manifestly unique and preferential treatment from Washington. By the same token, it was a heady experience for Palestinians. Even Prof. Edward Said, among the most outspoken critics of the entire Oslo Process, remarked 'I must say that Clinton's speech to the Palestinians for the first time expressed a humane sympathy for what they have endured' (article posted on internet site www.alquds.net).

In his fast-moving expedition from Jerusalem to Gaza, and thence to Bethlehem and Massada, Clinton succeeded to captivate Israelis and Palestinians alike; but he utterly failed in budging Netanyahu and Sharon from their decision to keep hold of both the territory and the prisoners which the Palestinians expected to get.

Even while talking to Clinton and Arafat in the final, futile three-way summit at the Israel-Gaza border, the Likud leaders were already busy with their plans for an election campaign in which concessions to Palestinians had absolutely no place.

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The Palestinians had gotten from Clinton a lot of sympathy and empathy, and some very useful points for future diplomatic struggles -- but scarcely any amelioration of their present plight.

As it turned out soon after his departure, the US President also had his own agenda; his visit to the Palestinian Territories was intended to confer a Palestinian and Arab legitimacy upon the bombardments on Iraq which the U.S. commenced a bare two days later. This he had failed to achieve: Palestinian youths, feeling betrayed by the bombings, burned in public the same American flags which they had a few days before waved in honour of their visitor; some went as far as ceremoniously washing with water and soap the Nativity Square at Bethlehem, where the Presidential couple had stepped. And once the bloody futility called "Operation Desert Fox" ended, the whole Wye Agreement was already in deep freeze.

The overnight change of Clinton from peacemaker to bomber was reflected on the Israeli streets:

+++ On Sunday, Dec. 13, Peace Nowers and Bat Shalom women cheered Clinton at his Jerusalem hotel, encouraging him to 'Lean on Netanyahu';

+++ Four days later: demonstration outside the US Embassy in Tel-Aviv: Stop the sanctions; Stop the killings! Different organizers: Hadash (Communists), but quite some overlap in faces.

Peace Now, POB 8159, J'lem 91081; Bat Shalom, POB 8083, J'lem 91080; Hadash POB 26205 Tel Aviv 61261

****


Escape into elections

Setting up the mismatched parliamentary majority to get the early elections voted was only half the task -- and it now seems that it was the easier half. Defeating Netanyahu at the polls and getting an appreciably better government is going to be real test.

On the day when the Knesset sealed the fate of his government, Netanyahu seemed a pitiful figure -- involved in desperate last efforts to gather support, making contradictory and implausible promises at the same hour to the Arab Democratic Party on the one hand and to the virulently anti-Arab Fatherland Party on the other. But the commentators who crowed at him and took his demise for granted had greatly underestimated the man's sheer drive.

Deserted by several of his senior ministers and a considerable part of the Likud Party's leadership, Netanyahu nevertheless managed to get an energetic elections campaign underway -- and it remains to be seen how much of the party's electorate the defectors took with them.

As far as the amorphous desires of the Israeli "floating voters" can be determined, this group wishes to see a "tough negotiator" at the helm of the Israeli ship of state, one who is willing to make concessions, but -- as little as possible. The last time when a Likud incumbent contested the elections, it was Shamir in 1992, who ran on an "not an inch" platform, confronted the Americans head-on, and lost this vital part of the electorate to Rabin. Netanyahu in 1999, who asserts that he would implement Wye "if only the Palestinians do their part" and makes light of Clinton's cold-shouldering, could still win them.

Facing him, Barak's campaign strategy seems rather inconsistent: to distinguish between "extremist settlers" who should be deprived of government funds and "non-extremist settlers" who should be retained forever as part of Israel -- and to otherwise avoid altogether the Palestinian issue and concentrate on socioeconomic issues instead. Barak's strategy is modeled on those which worked for Clinton in the US and for Blair in the UK; the Labour leader even borrowed Clinton's main campaign advisers and "spin doctors". But the Israeli society is very different, and neither the American nor the British electorate were faced with the urgent need to decide the fate of Occupied Territories where the situation is nearing the boiling point...

A few weeks after the elation at the government's downfall, the anti-Netanyahu camp was already crestfallen at polls indicating a very close race between Barak and Netanyahu -- and with the New Center's Amnon Shahak, on whom so many hopes were pinned, trailing far behind.

The situation changed again with the dramatic break between Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Yitzchak Mordechai -- motivated by personal rivalry but also by the moderate Mordechai's displeasure at the scuttling of Wye. Netanyahu announced the sacking of Mordechai in a fiery speech on prime-time TV; the following morning, Mordechai struck back by attending his last cabinet meeting with an open Bible and confronting the PM with such verses as: "Sore is the Lord at the haters of peace... God hath torn away from thou the Kingdom, and given it to thy better fellow."

Mordechai has now assumed the leadership of the Center Party, and the Prime Ministerial candidacy on its behalf: a man who was a senior Likud leader, yet declared himself "the proud disciple of Yitzhak Rabin"; a native of Iraqi Kurdistan who had made his way through the military hierarchy from private to general and thence to a senior ministerial position -- the first of the underprivileged Oriental Jews to reach that high, in Israel's fifty years of history. If anybody can break through the pattern of fixed ethnic/religious "tribes" which make up the Israeli electoral scene, it should be Mordechai.

But with three months still to go until elections day -- three eternities, in the fast-changing Israeli politics -- speculating on the final result is all but futile.

****


Back in December, when Netanyahu was at his weakest, Labor accepted having the elections take place on the ridiculously late date of May 17, 1999. Labor and Likud shared the hope that such a prolonged campaign would "erode" the Center Party, a dangerous rival to both. But by fixing this elections date, they together condemned Israeli society to a full half-year of staring at its own navel.

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And the international community did its part by pressuring the Palestinians to delay their Declaration of Independence -- so as "not to help Netanyahu's campaign." Meanwhile the land robbery goes on at an increased pace since the appointment of Moshe Arens as Defence Minister. Are the Palestinians expected to endure all that in silence and await patiently the conclusion of an electoral process crucial to their fate, from which they are excluded?

****

The Death of King Hussein of Jordan

Ironical as it may seem, in no country except for Jordan itself was the passing of King Hussein so widely mourned as in Israel. The King of Jordan was one of the rare Arab leaders who really conquered the Israeli hearts. In newspaper articles, the speeches of politicians and casual conversations the same themes came up again and again: King Hussein's personal warmth, his magnanimity, his capacity for grand gestures -- such as visiting the families of Israeli girls killed by a Jordanian terrorist and actually kneeling in front of the victims' parents.

The death of Hussein impelled young people -- remembering that it was Rabin who signed the peace with Jordan -- to come once more and light candles on the spot where Rabin was murdered. The settlers, with their pirate radio station, tried to strike a discordant note -- recalling bad memories from the '48 and '67 wars. Their effort fell on deaf ears: the Israeli public, in its vast majority, chose to remember King Hussein as a dear lost friend.

One should however keep in mind, as Uri Avnery remarked in Ma'ariv, that what Israelis liked especially about Hussein was his not being a Palestinian. From the Zionist movement's first contacts with Hussein's great-grandfather in the 1920's until the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty in '94, relations with the Hashemites were regarded as a means of circumventing the Palestinians, avoiding the need of coming to terms with another people sharing the same land.

The outbreak of the Intifada, followed by King Hussein's 1988 renunciation of his claim to the West Bank, had already put an end to "The Jordanian Option" as a serious political proposition. Israelis this month mourned its final passing, while faced with the task of electing the government which will negotiate on the definite status of Israel's relations with the Palestinians.

It was at King Hussein's funeral in Amman -- a unique situation in which representatives and heads of state from opposing countries could mingle almost freely and meet without formality -- that a new "controversial handshake" took place: between Ezer Weitzman, President of the State of Israel, and Naif Hawatmeh, head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Heading a Damascus-based Palestinian faction explicitly opposed to Oslo, which had never before made any contact with official Israel, Hawatmeh warmly greeted Weitzman as "a man of peace". An omen of things to come?

****


In hoping for a new government to emerge from the ballots on May 17, we aspire for more than just a sorely-needed change in concrete policies. Beyond that there is an urgent need to restore the very concept of peace. In Netanyahu's Israel, "peace" became a word referring to no more than "a reduction in the number of terrorist attacks." What was lost is the feeling of expanding horizons and barriers coming down, as was felt during Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in 1977, and again in the wake of the Rabin-Arafat Handshake in September 1993 -- with no more than a sad echo of this feeling surfacing during the mourning for King Hussein. Only the awareness that peace is much more than the cessation of hostilities can lead to a true reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, between Israel and Palestine, to the recognition that two peoples must share as true partners the ancient land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

There is no point in deluding ourselves that all this would come about just by having the Israeli electorate bring down Netanyahu. The declared programs of both Barak and Mordechai fall short of what can satisfy the most minimal Palestinian aspirations; both anti-Netanyahu candidates are, for example, still clinging to the "Jerusalem taboo". Taboos can be broken -- as we know from our recent history -- but easy it is not going to be.

The editors

****


Blocking Highway 45

In the end of January, an newcomer made its appearance in the "war of attrition" over the West Bank lands -- Green Action, an action group which hitherto distinguished itself in acts of ecological civil disobedience inside Israel. They are strongly opposed to the government's policy of unrestrained highway construction, cutting arrogantly across the landscape and destroying the last spots of unspoiled nature which still survive in this ancient land. To the West Bank struggle against unbridled land confiscation they brought a lot of youthful energy and experience in defying the police, acquired in both the ecological struggle and the militant demonstrations of the recently-ended university students' strike.

On January 24, they got up long before dawn, so as to be on in time to block the bulldozers involved in constructing Highway 45 on confiscated Palestinian land near Ramallah. Climbing ridges and trudging several kilometres through muddy tracks, the Green Action activists were able to avoid the military and police -- who had been tipped off about the intended action but were waiting at the main road -- and succeeded in taking the construction site by surprise.

The following account was given to TOI by a Gush Shalom crew which had joined the environmentalists' action. (The participants, about forty altogether, also included Peace Nowers as well as Jeff Halper of ICAHD, and Anarchist squatters who had recently formed a commune at an abandoned house in south Tel-Aviv).

"A climb up the rocky slope and down the other side -- and there were the parked bulldozers, heating

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up their engines in preparation for the day's work. We had arrived just in time.

With the police and army absent during the critical first minutes, the main opposition was a very angry, tall and muscular foreman. "Dirty Scum, get out of here! Who do you think you are, to disturb the work!" Two slender teen-age girls faced him unflinching: "You are the trespasser here!". He did manage to snatch away the chains with which the girls intended to lash themselves to a bulldozer; but in the meantime a dozen others managed to climb on the still bulldozers and jackhammers, and still others sat down in front of two which had started to move.

The next hours were strangely tranquil. The bulldozer drivers turned out to be Palestinians -- some of the many who could find no other living but in working for the occupier. Once the foreman's back was turned they were openly friendly, sharing with us their coffee and basking in the unexpected hours of leisure. An activist who had brought his flute with him played an Arab tune from the top of a bulldozer, accompanied by the clapping of workers and demonstrators alike...

The few policemen on the spot, waiting for orders also joined occasionally in the smiling and bantering; when a police photographer arrived, taking shots of all of us for the police rouges' gallery, demonstrators cheerfully posed for him, grinning and waving, some sticking out their tongues.

At nine o'clock, and again at ten, the radio news mentioned the action -- drawing loud cheering from the bulldozer-top squatters. By now, several press photographers and a single TV crew had arrived on the scene. They stood yawning, one of them complaining: "But where is the action?"

They got action soon enough, with the arrival of the police reinforcements.

Blows and kicks to certain parts of the body seem the most effective way of dislodging an activist clinging to the various hand- and footholds which the side of a bulldozer offers. Tools were brought up to cut through the chains with which some of us had chained themselves; the hands freed from their bond with the earth-moving machinery were manacled anew with handcuffs. The girls on top of the highest machine were left until the last; there were no female police to handle them, as required by law. Finally, the commander gave the order, and several of his men climbed up to where the girls were precariously perched; as far as we could see, they were treated with the same brutality as the rest of us.

NO COPYRIGHT
Our articles may be reprinted, provided they include the address The Other Israel POB 2542, Holon 58125, Israel.

Over the scene of struggling bodies being carried or dragged to the police van arose a cacophony of shouted slogans, with a curious mixture of ecological and political themes: 'Highways -- No! Railways -- Yes!'; 'The land to the farmers -- not to highways!'; 'Stop the highway, stop the occupation!' In Hebrew, "Kvish" (highway) and "Kibush" (occupation) are both derived from the same root, meaning "to press down".

Out the window of the overcrowded van, we could see that one of the bulldozers setting out for their belated task still bore the banner 'By-pass roads are racist' which we had attached at the beginning of the action.
Green Action, POB 4611, Tel-Aviv; info@greenaction.org.il

****

Sniffing tear gas at Burkin
by Adam Keller

An earlier version of the following was sent to TOI's e-mailing list.

On the morning of November 26, a small group of Israeli peace activists set out for the West Bank village of Burkin. An urgent fax which came to the Gush Shalom office on the previous day told of Burkin's best agricultural lands being confiscated, so as to create a by-pass road for the use of settlers.

We passed along the so-called "Trans-Samaria Highway" -- one of the areas where the government's effort to change the demographic character of the West Bank is most intense. For kilometres, you see settlements on both side of the road, with huge advertising signs by building contractors offering "The Cheapest and Most Beautiful Villas." The effects of this wide scale settlement campaign have now reached Burkin, at the end of a smaller (and far less well-maintained) side road.

At the Burkin football field, about a thousand Palestinian villagers were gathered. Alighting, hands full of our big signs with the entwined flags of Israel and Palestine, we were warmly welcomed and asked to go to the head of the just-starting march.

After a quarter of an hour, we reached the point where the military bulldozers had passed on the previous day -- a swath of destruction through the carefully-tended groves, with uprooted olive trees lying on both sides.

Half a kilometre from where the bulldozers were now at work, the road was blocked by soldiers. The Palestinian organisers called a halt and we held an improvised rally. Uri Avnery spoke on behalf of us Israelis: 'These confiscations are a crime against both peoples and against peace. The hundreds of millions wasted on these special settler roads would better be spent on resettling the settlers back in Israel. Many settlers already want to leave -- they realise they have no future here.'

Even without a thorough knowledge of Arabic it was possible to follow the speeches of the local leaders. Such words as "our land", "our olive trees", "settlers" and "occupation" abounded in all speeches; the angry and defiant faces told the rest.

The young soldiers blocking the road looked on impassively. Some of us tried to make contact. "Do you realise that you are helping in the robbery of these people's land?" "Who, me? I don't make policy. We just have the task of protecting the tractors from the Arabs." "You are a human being, not a robot." "We are not robots, we are soldiers."

Meanwhile, some of the young Palestinians began to push forward, despite the organisers' calls for

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restraint. The soldiers -- there were not many of them, no more than ten or fifteen -- gave way slowly. "We don't want anybody to be hurt, it will serve no useful purpose" we were told by one of the organisers -- N., a middle aged dentist who is the mayor of a small nearby village. "But I can understand these youngsters. We had thought that Wye would give us at least a little bit, and now comes this..."

We did not see exactly how the clash began. The youngsters had apparently come too near the bulldozers, and the young Israeli captain ordered his soldiers to fire tear gas. Did the Palestinian youths throw the first stone before or after the canisters started falling? Hard to tell, and is it really important? Within a few seconds, the field was full of running figures and the explosions came nearer. The next minute we were already enveloped by the white cloud.

It is called "tear gas," but crying is not the worst effect . The suffocation and helpless retching are far worse. We stumbled over the terraces, completely mixed up: Israelis and Palestinians, wild youngsters and village elders in their traditional robes. Fortunately, the wind blew in the other direction, and soon we could breath free air untainted with gas. A rare moment of shared relief and easy camaraderie...

It all happened not very far away. Half an hour's drive from the bustling streets of Tel-Aviv. But it seemed like traveling to another world. On the radio, the confrontation which had loomed so large got scarcely a mention. And on the answering machine back at the crowded Gush Shalom office, we found another urgent call -- from Four Mothers. An emergency mourning vigil had been called for the two soldiers killed the previous night in Lebanon...

Somehow, at least part of us found the energy -- taking scarcely any rest -- to rush to the Ministry of Defence and join the picket line and take up the placards with How many more? and Bring the soldiers home!.

Units of the regular army are constantly shifting between Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories. The young soldiers who shot the tear gas at Burkin will likely get, within months, a tour of duty as "sitting ducks" in the futile war of Lebanon. For their sake, and for the sake of the Palestinian youngsters, and also of the young Lebanese who swell the guerrilla ranks, we have to go on struggling towards peace. We have to disentangle the knot of occupation, which binds us and them so painfully -- to build a future of peace for all these fighting youngsters....
Gush Shalom, POB 3322 Tel-Aviv; www.gush-shalom.org
Four Mothers, POB 23630, Tel-Aviv; lindabz@post.tau.ac.il
TOI e-mail briefings on request via otherisr@actcom.co.il

****

Surrealism in Hebron
by Hava Cohen

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions decided to make a personal gesture towards two Palestinian families, both of which had their houses twice demolished by the army, and who were making brave efforts to (re)build for the third time.

It happened to be Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast during the day and eat only at night. But both families accepted happily the invitation for a joint meal on the evening of Ramadan's last day -- one of the most important dates in the Muslim calender, when there is a feast in every home. The El-Atrash and Jaber families promised to come with all their children to a Hebron restaurant and celebrate together with ICAHD activists.

The Israelis who had come by minibus from Jerusalem arrived a bit early and decided to take a walk through the center of Hebron, which most of them knew well from the many demonstrations before the army withdrew from parts of the town. Passing near the settler enclave, they were recognizable by the peace-shirts some were wearing -- and soon got into heated debates. Apparently somebody informed the local military headquarters. Suddenly four jeeps, some twenty soldiers and a few policemen arrived to prevent the group from going to the Palestinian part ('for your own safety'). Only by the whole group pretending to be foreigners and not to understand what the soldiers were telling them were they able to get out and return to the Palestinian-controlled sector.

In the restaurant it was a merry atmosphere. The children were given toys, so all of them were eating and playing and running around most happily. The grown-ups were eating too, and speaking, telling stories and laughing. There were the Palestinians, the Americans of the Christian Peace Team, and the Israelis. The three languages blended into a bizarre but effective mixture and everybody had a good time.

Afterwards a walk through the lighted streets, among the laughing holiday throngs, fireworks, some youngsters riding horses, a real festive mood. It was a wonderful evening. For a few hours nobody had thought of occupation and settlers.
ICAHD c/o Halper, 37 Tveria St., J'lem; halper@iol.co.il

****


Sadness in Jerusalem

by Beate Zilversmidt

On Feb. 1, an afternoon demonstration in front of National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem. A week earlier -- at Issawiyeh which is within the area annexed to Jerusalem -- Zaki Noor Abeid had died after being shot in the head with a "rubber bullet" when he was among the protesters against the demolition of the house of his aunt. The double message of our vigil was directed against the fatal shooting which had accompanied the home demolition, as well as -- of course -- against the demolition itself. Israelis holding slogans and Palestinians with mourning posters were standing shoulder to shoulder.

Reform Rabbi Arik Asherman -- in his quality of ICAHD member (Anti-Demolition Committee), as well as RHR (Rabbis for Human Rights), or perhaps just as his young and enthusiastic self -- had made contact with the people of Issawiyeh and told the Israelis that "after the vigil we go and visit the bereaved family." So, after it was over, the Israelis joined the villagers as did the present Christian Peacemakers (CPT Hebron), all in all a group of 50.

On the way to Issawiyeh things turned unclear: the

Page 9

Palestinians suggested that we make another demonstration on the site of the demolished Abu Aweis family's home, but not visit the Abeid family: "What do you want to achieve? You won't bring the boy back to life!"

While some organizers couldn't give up the salvation which would come of shaking hands with family members of the dead, others tried to interfere. It became nearly embarrassing, but then the Palestinians decided to save the day and insisted on everybody coming to the Abeid home...

So we walked with awkward feelings through the dwindling streets of the hilly Issawiyeh Village. When we arrived at the very modest one-room home which is roof to quite an extensive family, it became very understandable why we had been advised not to visit: it was simply impossible for such a big group to enter, and most of us waited outside, crowding the little courtyard. After a few minutes a youngster, very much resembling the martyr on the mourning posters, wriggled his way through -- to serve us dates.

Coming there was not, after all, in vain. The little walk through the streets of what is called "the Issawiyeh Neighborhood of United Jerusalem" was worthwhile in itself. From what we saw there, the depressive atmosphere, the poverty, one thing was making itself painfully clear: after 30 years of "unification" Issawiyeh has not become part of Israel's capital, but is just a village under occupation. This was the unmistakable message from the terrible neglect everywhere, from the condition of the streets, from the heaps of garbage. The only thing these people share with the more privileged of "united Jerusalem" are the huge municipal taxes which they, too, have to pay.
Contact: RHR, POB 32225, J'lem 91999; rhr@inter.net.il.
s After being imprisoned twice within two months, at Military Prison-4, for refusing to do reserve service, Yehuda Igus -- a 28-year old student from Jerusalem -- was Jan.28 recognised by Amnesty International as A Prisoner of Conscience and none other than Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel called for his release. But the IDF's Appeal's Committee -- composed solely of military officers -- repeatedly rejected Igus' requests to be exempted. In a letter to the Minister of Defence Igus clarified already half a year ago both his strong objection to the oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli army and his more fundamental objection to armies and states in general.

Igus is supported by a very motivated group of young anarchists, who picket weekly the Defense Ministry, demanding his release and confusing bypassers with signs like: No Thinking Here!
Letters of support to: Sergeant Yehuda Igus, Serial Nr.: 4656781, Army Post 02507, IDF, Israel; letters of protest to: Defense Minister Moshe Arens, fax: +972-3-691-6940; for information: Moran Cohen, ph: +972-(0)2-6222790; morac@netvision.net.il.

+++ It is already a tradition: the religious peace organization Netivot Shalom organizing a celebration of the Jewish tree plant holiday Tu-Bishvat by having Israelis and Palestinians plant new saplings together. This year the Jewish holiday coincided more or less with Id-el-Sejura, the Palestinian National Arbor Day, and several groups joined the initiative: Committee Against House Demolitions, the Palestinian Land Defense Committee, the Forum of Israeli and Palestinian Educators.

So it happened that on Friday Jan.29 some hundred and fifty Israeli and Palestinian schoolchildren, youths and adults planted olive and fruit trees on land spanning the Israeli Kibbutz Yad Hanna (near to the '67 border) and private farm land of the Palestinian village Kufr Khaduri on the West Bank, where orchards had been uprooted recently. ('Making the Green Line greener', was the caption above the photo in the following day's Ma'ariv)

This year's tree planting was dominated by somber feelings: too many trees had been uprooted during the past months in what seems an intensified land grabbing campaign -- by settlers and military alike. The mayor of nearby Tulkarm, who was there, spoke bitterly of the land of Palestine being gradually destroyed, his own town having recently become victim of a polluting Israeli plant relocated to its direct vicinity, after its operation in Israel proper was forbidden by the Ministry of the Environment...
Netivot Shalom, POB 4433, Jerusalem 91043
s The next day, Saturday Jan.30, over 150 people participated in planting a Peace Forest along the Lebanese border, at the initiative of Four Mothers. The day was bright and clear and families, many of them from Kibbutzim and villages in the area, planted the hundred trees which are the first in the forest. Mr. Aron Valenci, Chair of the Council of Upper Galilee spoke, and poems of peace were read by various participants.
Four Mothers, POB 23630, Tel Aviv.
s The boycott on settlements' products launched a year ago by Gush Shalom, got an unexpected ally. The Israeli concessionaire of McDonald's, Omri Padan, who was twenty years ago among the founders of Peace Now.told Ha'aretz (Jan. 15):

"Of our sixty-five branches, none is in the Territories. And McDonald's-Israel will continue to refrain from opening a branch at any Israeli settlement beyond the Green Line. We have been approached on that issue by settlers from Ariel [on the West Bank], Katzrin [Golan Heights] and several others. I turned them all down, out of hand. The only exception I would consider making is opening a branch in East Jerusalem. I don't believe in being a pure businessman without taking politics into account. Already when I was the general manager of Kitan Textiles I told the board I would resign immediately should they move to build a plant in the industrial park of one of the settlements. In McDonald's-Israel I am owner as well as general manager. I have the privilege of not needing to compromise on my principles."
Settlement boycott update: www.gush-shalom.org.
s On December 28, the months-long pause in house demolitions was over. (Probably a cynical decision of a right-wing government seeking reelection.)

Husam Abu Yakoub and his family in the village Kifl

Page 10

Harith, who had had no advance warning, just sat together with some neighbors in the single room of their home, refused to leave and resisted soldiers' efforts to drag them out. By the time the commanding officer ordered tear gas grenades lobbed into that narrow space, TV crews had already made it to the spot. The coughing and crying women and children, and Abu Yakoub's bleeding face, were seen in Israel and all over the world -- as was the bulldozer finishing off the house.

On Saturday, Jan.2, ICAHD (Anti-Demolition Committee) and Gush Shalom came to help the family rebuild. The 130 Israelis, joined by the same number of Palestinians from the Committee to Protect Lands, were met by a large number of soldiers preventing them from entering either through the main entrance to the village or through the fields. The activists made do with an improvised demonstration on the main road: House demolition = Terrorism! There developed debates with settlers from the nearby huge and fast-expanding Ariel. Some of them seemed not fond of house demolitions, but refused to draw the conclusion of halting expansion plans. Meanwhile, negotiations with the army resulted in a delegation of 15 being able to visit the Abu Yakoub family and help in rebuilding one wall. (A picture of a woman building volunteer, dragged away by soldiers from the fields leading to Kifl Harith, was prominently shown on the front page of next day's Jerusalem Post.)
www.net-a.org/hdemol (ICAHD); www.gush-shalom.org

Farewell to our friends

We lived through very shocking weeks in January; we had to say goodbye forever to too many peace activists, who were also friends: Shalom Zamir -- killed in a traffic accident while crossing the street; Jeffrey Thomash -- murdered (yes!) by an intruder in his apartment; and then Inbal Perelson, Elias Jerayssi, and Yochanan Lorwin, all working at the Alternative Information Center (Jerusalem/Bethlehem), drowned in a sudden flood which caught them during a hike in the desert.

With Yochanan the TOI-staff was especially close.

s Friday, Jan.8 -- the Ra'ash student group together with Palestinian students from East Jerusalem, traveled in a protest cavalcade of 20 private cars from Erez Checkpoint at the Gaza Strip entrance to the Tarkumiya Checkpoint at the West Bank border -- the route of the still-closed Safe Passage, promised at Oslo, and again at Wye, and from which Gazans who study at West Bank universities were especially to profit. But nothing came of it, and today Palestinians still cannot travel between West Bank and Gaza Strip.

At the checkpoints, flowers were handed to (Israeli) soldiers and (Palestinian) police.
Ra'ash, POB 6691, Tel Aviv; ph/fx: +972-(0)3-5245981
s Already for three months, a joint campaign by Israelis and Palestinians has managed to keep the family of Riad Gozlan at their home in Silwan Village (annexed Jerusalem). The court had awarded ownership to the JNF (Jewish National Fund) on the basis of a title-deed from the 1920's (of course, Arab title-deeds from before '48 are not recognized). The settler association "Elad" covets the Gozlan home for years, and was promised access as soon as JNF assumes ownership.

On Nov, 22 the day set for the family to vacate their home, some fifty Peace Now protesters arrived at the spot together with Palestinian ones, among them Feisal Husseini. The Gozlan Family -- 10 adults, 18 children -- make no secret of their determination to resist eviction. Other Silwan inhabitants are ready to rush to the scene at need. Meanwhile, American Friends of Peace Now called upon donors not to give to the JNF.
peacenow@actcom.co.il; apndc@peacenow.org.

Revolt of the parents

In a series of Hizbullah ambushes in November, seven Israeli soldiers got killed in Lebanon within two weeks, soon to be followed by a case of a soldier mistakenly killed by his own commanding officer. Thereupon, a Lebanese woman and her six children were killed in an "off target" Israeli air raid; a Hizbullah bombardment on the communities of Israel's northern border followed suit.

Protests by Four Mothers mushroomed all over the country, after months in which its grassroots support had been lulled by the cabinet's "decision to leave Lebanon." The special moral authority which soldiers' parents enjoy assured them of prominent media coverage; day after day photos of women (and some men) with placards: Netanyhau, take us out of the Lebanese swamp! -- We support our soldiers/Bring them home! and 1,250 soldiers already left Lebanon unilaterally!

Standing at the open grave of his soldier son, Moshe Cohen of Be'er Sheba announced: 'I am joining Four Mothers here and now. I only wish to God I had done it while my son was still alive.' In the Galilee, a mother tried to commit suicide on the day her son was sent to Lebanon. Another one, Atalia Beumel, caused a sensation by explicitly calling upon her son and all his comrades to refuse "the utterly stupid and futile order of service in Lebanon" (Ma'ariv, 4.12).

On a Tel-Aviv rally, several KMs and ex-generals joined the call for unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon -- also known to be supported by some serving generals, though these did not voice it openly. Labour MK Rafi Elul remarked 'Since our generals are not brave enough to speak their minds openly, we reserve corporals and privates must do it for them.'

Meanwhile, after a month of day-and-night vigil by bereaved mothers in Jerusalem, Orna Shimoni and Lala Parnas were invited to a meeting of Netanyahu's cabinet, and told the ministers "to keep Lebanon on the top of the national agenda at all times -- not just when kids get killed there."

At a confidential meeting, leaked to Ha'ir, Netanyahu explained why Israel cannot do what Turkey can (threaten Syria with war): "There are no Four Mothers in Turkey."

Yet for all this, Four Mothers did not achieve withdrawal from Lebanon. Discussion on the issue

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has gone again through the well-grooved futile circle: agreement with the Lebanese is impossible without an OK from Damascus; agreement with Syria depends on willingness to give up the Golan; the government is not willing to do that...

On Friday Feb.5, despite intermittent rain, about thirty five people participated in a vigil at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, to commemorate the second anniversary of the helicopter disaster which took the lives of 73 Israeli soldiers en route to Lebanon (and which gave the original impetus to the formation of Four Mothers). With black volcanic rocks which had been collected the week before from the crash site, the women built a monument to the dead and laid flowers; some said silent prayers; one of the mothers read a poem by Bob Dylan.
Four Mothers: POB 23630, Tel-Aviv; lindabz@post.tau.ac.il

+++ On the morning of Jan.13, intensive phone calls were made from the Peace Now Jerusalem office: 'Moskovitz is coming to Ras el Amud!' It was enough to get dozens of activists rushing to the site.

Moskowitz's settler proteges earlier seized one house in the East Jerusalem neighborhood, and intend to expand their foothold into a "neighborhood" with hundreds of housing units (TOI-86, p.10).

Upon Moskowitz's arrival, the demonstrators burst into hooting and catcalls, waving signs: Settler provocateurs -- Out!. Gila Swirsky of Bat Shalom was detained by the police for several hours, after approaching 'too near' with signs in both hands: Take your corruption back to Miami! and Jerusalem ain't bingo!

A few days later, the protesters had a bit of satisfaction: Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a speech in which he poured praise on 'The settler pioneers' also declared that 'for the time being' the government will not permit construction at Ras El Amud.
Peace Now, POB 8159, J'lem; batshalo@netvision.net.il

s A group of 38 out of 43 families in the Israeli settlement of Ganim -- at the north tip of the West Bank -- wrote to Labor MKs Hagai Merom and Yossi Katz endorsing the two's proposed bill to encourage evacuation of settlements in return for financial compensation. The settlement had become an enclave in the Palestinian-held Jenin Region, following Israel's partial redeployment after Wye. 'If our demand for compensations is rejected,' said Ganim resident Ziona Golan, 'we'll sit in front of Netanyahu's house and send our children to school with his. Why should only his children be safe?' (Ha'aretz, Dec. 10)

Settlers from other isolated locations expressed themselves similarly in a whole stream of newspaper interviews.

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Bingo!

Uri Avnery

Bingo-king Irving Moscowitz has come to Israel for a brief visit, to determine who will lead this state for the next four years.

Moskowitz has declared that he is prepared to contribute a million dollars to Benny Begin, on the condition that Begin succeeds in uniting the extreme Right and turning it into a decisive factor in the elections.

He has also decided to start constructing his provocateurs' citadel in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras-Al Amud, in East Jerusalem -- an act certain to bring about bloodshed even before the elections. He is dictating to us a national agenda: destruction of the Oslo Accords, resumption of war, Greater Israel, Jewish theocracy, more and more settlements, more and more dead, more and more blood and tears. Moskowitz himself and his family will watch the spectacle from afar. Perhaps they will pray for us.

Moscowitz is not unique. Dozens of billionaires are running our lives by remote control. Not all are gambling kings. There are all kind of businessmen who have accumulated wealth in one way or another -- and who are willing to set aside a certain portion of it for the election of our next Prime Minister, and for controlling Israel's future. After all, these are good Jews, and this is a Jewish state.

I do not believe that there is another state anywhere in the world with this phenomenon. People from other countries, who do not share our fate, who do not pay Israeli taxes, whose sons and daughters do not serve in our army, who do not bear the consequences of our government's actions, are the ones who call the shots in our elections.

It is, of course, a state of affairs which existed in the American colonies at one time. When the Americans were finally fed up with this state of affairs, their war for independence began. The vast majority of colonists came from England, bringing with them the English traditions, yet they refused to allow London to run the show in America. So, too, did the Spanish in South America, sending back home the emissaries from Madrid, declaring themselves new and independent states. Yet we Israelis continue to live in a colonial reality.

Israel is an occupied territory. But unlike other occupied lands, we are not rebelling against our occupiers. The state of affairs seems perfectly natural to us. After all, aren't the occupiers Jews themselves? And isn't Israel -- as is clearly stated in one of our laws -- "The State of the Jewish People?" The Jewish people in Brooklyn and in Florida.

Anyone setting his sights on the Premiership of Israel heads off to America "to fundraise." Binyamin Netanyahu devoted a few years to an intensive campaign among American Jewish millionaires, from Mister Ron Lauder to Rabbi Erwin Moscowitz. Those, in turn, financed his invasion of the State of Israel: At first the takeover of the Likud Party,followed by the takeover of the entire state.

Ehud Barak has also devoted some time to "wooing the millionaires," as a preamble to his struggle for the Premiership. And the very first step of the newly-founded Center Party, which promises to change our society and make it more clean and decent, is have its leaders head for America in desperate search of generous donors. Ergo: do not even dream of running for the Premiership unless you have the solid backing of a bunch of Jewish multimillionaires; such as have no intention of settling in Israel themselves, but let their money make the trip in their place.

But money is not the sole determining factor in this game. On the eve of election day, plane loads of ultra-Orthdox voters arrive, some living and some dead (as rumor has it), and, having cast their ballots, fly back home. In other words, thousands of non-Israeli residents with a fictitious Israeli citizenship, who will not suffer if Syrian gas-laden missiles or Iranian nuclear missiles rain on Israel some day as a result of the policies dictated by them, are the ones who end up determining whether we face war or peace.

The last election was determined by 29,457 votes -- and one can safely assume that an even greater number of ultra-Orthodox had been sent to Israel by the Lubavitcher Hassidim and their ilk. This foreign control over our state is not limited to election day. The Moscowitzes have played a key role in turning the haredi-messianic-nationalistic camp into a dominant force in our country. This camp has vast financial resources at its disposal. They establish broadcasting stations, settlements, newspapers, organizations; they conduct propaganda campaigns without limits on their means -- against the pathetic means of the peace camp, which essentially subsists on a hand-to-mouth basis. Some foreign tycoons -- narcotics and gambling czars, or the owners of nursing homes in disgracefully shoddy condition and other unsavory businesses -- contribute money to atone for their sins and earn a ticket to the hereafter. Others, content with this earthly world, contribute to the candidate who would, in time, give them a hefty allotment of the State spoils -- for example, when government-owned companies and banks are privatised and fall at bargain prices into the hands of the Prime Minister's financiers. No political party is standing up to this disgraceful state of affairs, because all parties hope to get a slice of the pie. When the law of party-funding was passed in early 1973, its authors (the two large parties) rationalized the robbery of the public coffers by claiming that this bill would put a stop to corrupt practices of party-financing by private interests. But the law had deliberately left a huge loophole: It did not put any limits on contributions from abroad.

There is only one way to rid us of this conquest: To enact a basic law which would categorically prohibit the acceptance of contributions from foreigners, whether to finance elections or for any other political reason.
(Translated from Ma'ariv, 18.1)

On Feb.2, the following ad was published in Ha'aretz by 146 concerned Israelis.

We support

the right of the Palestinian nation to declare the establishment of the State of Palestine in all the territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with united Jerusalem serving as the capital of both states -- West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine. The co-existence of Israel and Palestine, side by side, is the basis of peace, security and reconciliation between the two nations.

This clear statement about the need to go back to the '67 border for the sake of peace was also published in the Jerusalem Post, and after a week appeared again in Ha'aretz with 150 new signatures. Additional names continue to pour by post, phone, fax and e-mail into the office of Gush Shalom -- which initiated the petition, though the signatories are by no means limited to its own membership.

The signatories include five laureates of the Israel Prize (writer A.B. Yehoshua, poets Natan Sach and Daliah Ravikowitch, sculptor Danny Karavan, actress Hannah Meron), two former cabinet ministers (Shulamit Aloni and Viktor Shem-Tov), three past and present members of the Knesset (Uri Avnery -- who drafted the manifesto, Me'ir Pail, Tamar Gozansky), dozens of university professors, such as Michael Harsegor, Avi Oz, Nissim Kalderon, Ariel Hirschfeld and Tamar Brosh; many distinguished writers (including Yoram Kaniuk, Yehoshua Knaz, Yonathan Geffen, Dan Almagor, Yael Lotan); artists (including Dan Kedar, David Tartakover, Ziona Shimshi, Moshe Gat, Raffi Kaiser); journalists and opinion-makers (including Haim Hanegbi, Haim Bar'am, Boaz Evron, Gideon Eshet); film-makers (Amos Gitai, Judd Neeman) and others.

The purpose of the initiators is to provoke a serious debate on the main issue facing the country, whose solution will be the principal task of whichever government is elected -- and which is nevertheless getting hardly any mention in the campaigns of the main candidates contesting the May 17 elections.

The action may serve to convince the politicians that a significant body of Israeli public opinion supports a clear peace policy. The idea of a Palestinian State, as such, has already gotten a wide currency in the Israeli public. However, many of the Israeli politicians who accept a Palestinian state wish to limit its territory to a collection of crowded enclaves, while annexing to Israel wide tracts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The petition is aimed at demonstrating that a remarkable number of popular figures are ready to support -- not only the abstract idea of a Palestinian state, but also the need for such a state to comprise all the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

Cheques to POB 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 (made out to Gush Shalom and marked petition 1999').