The Other Israel _ October-November 1997, Issue No. 81
Of Millionaires and Assassins
The Jammer Jammed
Israeli journalists resist interference with Palestinian broadcasts
Smadar, a young bombing victim
Netanyahu -- Strategic Threat, by Chemi Shalev
Dear Known--unknown Soldier
A letter from Marylene Schulz
Sharing Jerusalem -- 2 Capitals for 2 States
Sick of Lebanon
Is It True?
from an open letter by Dinah Basol, whose son was recently killed in
"Save the Peace" Rally
The Ras-el-Amud Front
News of Peace Activities
The activities of many Israeli peace organizations
The War Against Houses
Protests against house demolitions
Consumers for Peace
A call to boycott products of the West Bank settlements
Bibivirus, by Beate Zilversmidt
THE OTHER ISRAEL is the newsletter of the Israeli Council for
Israeli-Palestinian Peace, P.O.Box 2542, 58125 Holon, Israel.
Phone/Fax: (03) 5565804
Editor: Adam Keller
Coeditor: Beate Zilversmidt
For subscription information and a free copy of this issue,please
send your name and postal address to AICIPP@igc.apc.org.
THE OTHER ISRAEL
October-November 1997, Issue No. 81
OF MILLIONAIRES & ASSASSINS
On the night of July 24, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmart suddenly authorized the creation of a settler enclave inside
the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras-el-Amud in East Jerusalem. The plot of land in question had been 'purchased'
in a highly questionable deal by Erwin Moskowitz of Miami Beach, Florida -- millionaire, settler patron and a major
campaign contributor of both Olmart and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Whether or not Netanyahu knew of this new provocation in advance (an issue hotly debated in the press), in public
he declared himself opposed to it stating that a new settlement project launched 'at the present time' would jeopardise
all the older projects, especially the one at Har Homa in which he personally invested much of his prestige. And
the Prime Minister seemed genuinely relieved when two Jerusalem town councillors of Meretz lodged an appeal against
the Ras-el-Amud Project and got it temporarily suspended.
The whole affair unfolded shortly before the scheduled visit to the region of U.S. mediator Denis Ross, and with
the Clinton Administration getting ready, at last, to demand a temporary halt to the unrestrained expansion of
Israeli settlements over Palestinian land. ('Time-out', a term borrowed from basketball, was the word used by Secretary
of State Albright.)
Netanyahu certainly seemed to prepare for a showdown with the U.S. administration, mobilizing his supporters among
the American Jewish leadership and on Capitol Hill, and making bellicose statements to the Israeli press; PM: I
won't accept a U.S. dictat' proclaimed a banner headline (Ha'aretz, 30.7.97). In an hour-long TV interview Netanyahu
further elaborated on the theme: 'We are a strong government which can stand up to any pressure. We are a strong
government which has stopped terrorism. The terrorists which made life in Israel hell under the weakling Labour
Government don't dare do it any more, because they know that this country now has a strong government, a government
which would react very strongly indeed to any attack on our civilians.'
Less than forty-eight hours after the prime Minister of Israel uttered these words, and a few hours before Denis
Ross's plane was due to land at Ben Gurion Airport, two Palestinian suicide bombers blew themselves up at the crowded
marketplace of Israeli West Jerusalem -- taking fourteen Israeli civilians with them.
With the scenes of torn bleeding bodies emanating from Jerusalem onto the world's TV screens, the Americans were
forced to shove the settlement issue onto the back burner, for the time being, and concentrate -- as Netanyahu
had demanded of them all along -- on the issue of security. Having been on the defensive ever since his decision
to start construction at Har Homa, the Jerusalem blast allowed Netanyahu to go again on the offensive, accuse Arafat
of 'not acting against the terrorists.' From there, it was but a short step -- taken implicitly by Netanyahu and
quite explicitly by many of his followers -- to refurbish the old 'Arafat is a terrorist' slogans and cartoons.
Netanyahu had the enthusiastic support of his ultra-conservative friends in the U.S. Congress, who had never reconciled
themselves to Arafat's post-Oslo respectability.
An emergency cabinet meeting, convened in the wake of the Jerusalem blast, authorised the Israeli army and security
forces to 'search everywhere without any limitation, find the terrorists wherever they may hide and act decisively
against them.' This wording at first aroused apprehension that Netanyahu was planning an invasion in force of the
Palestinian-ruled areas; actually, it 'merely' referred to a program of clandestine operations and assassinations
in both the Palestinian Authority areas and in other countries. Meanwhile, a closure was imposed on the Palestinian
Territories, once again cutting workers off from their workplaces -- the Israeli establishment's timeworn and ineffective
panacea. To this was added the so-called 'inner closure' -- a siege of all the West Bank cities, cutting them off
from each other.
The cabinet also resolved to jam the broadcasts of the Palestinian radio and TV stations (a measure which eventually
proved politically impossible to implement) and last but not least -- to stop the transfer of tax moneys which,
under Oslo, Israel is obliged to collect on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, such as customs duty paid on imports
to the Palestinian areas. (The Palestinians would have
preferred to control the border passes and collect their own taxes directly, but this option was denied to them
by Israel.) And in addition to the measures taken in Israel, Netanyahu deployed his friends on Capitol Hill to
try blocking U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority.
The declared aim of all this pressure was to force Arafat to 'totally dismantle the terrorist infrastructure' in
the areas under his rule -- which meant, according to senior Israeli officials, the wholesale arrest of thousands
of members of the Hamas -- regardless of whether they belong to the Islamic movement's military wing or to the
political or social ones; the expulsion of Hamas-sympathetic preachers from all mosques; and the total closure
of the Hamas' extensive network of schools, kindergartens, and welfare organizations -- though nobody had ever
provided a convincing explanation of how can all these, even if they do belong to the Hamas, constitute an effective
part of its 'terrorist infrastructure.'
Arafat had been faced once before with similar demands and pressures by an Israeli Prime Minister -- from Shimon
Peres, in the wake of the serious bombings in March 1996. And at that time, the Palestinian Police and its Security
Services did undertake heavy punitive actions against Hamas, from which the movement took long to recover. But
that was at a time when many Palestinians still felt a clear hope for the future and resented the Hamas bombers
for having jeopardized that hope; after more than a year of Netanyahu, that hope had been eroded very thinly indeed...
Workers deprived of their jobs in Israel somehow survived through the enormous solidarity and mutual help of the
Palestinian extended families; inhabitants of West Bank cities sometimes found unwatched holes in the rings of
siege thrown by the Israeli army, by which they could creep out and travel; despite the enormous hardships of life
under the various closures and blockades, ordinary Palestinians were clearly in no mood to give in to Netanyahu.
For its part, the Palestinian Authority got loans to pay its employees and police -- though deprived of the tax
revenues which constitute more than half its normal budget; and in Gaza, Arafat presided at a 'national unity'
conference with all Palestinian political factions present, calling upon the people to remain steadfast and demonstratively
embracing Abd-el-Aziz Rantisy of Hamas.
In turn, this embrace in Gaza provided even more material to Netanyahu's propaganda machine, at home and in the
U.S. Netanyahu's venomous tone when talking about Arafat seemed a total regression to the time when he was the
opposition leader and the leading staunch opponent of the Oslo agreement. The fact that Netanyahu had since then
become Prime Minister, negotiated with Arafat, signed an agreement with him and even on one occasion called him
'friend and ally' seemed to slip totally into oblivion. Politicians and columnists talked about 'the death of Oslo'
as if that was an objective fact, and Netanyahu's friends in Congress actually succeeded in restoring the old law
forbidding the PLO to maintain an office on American soil (though the administration nevertheless continued to
maintain daily contact with Arafat).
The jammer jammed
The government decision to interfere with Palestinian broadcasts was received with disgust by editorial writers.
Thirty-seven journalists published a petition Yes to the freedom of broadcasting -- no to jamming Palestinian broadcasts
(Ha'aretz, 11.8). On First Channel TV News, Palestinian TV producers were interviewed at work in their Ramallah
studio. Moti Kirshenbaum, head of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, refused to let his transmitters do the job,
stating: 'The IBA is in the business of broadcasting -- not jamming.' Even the army's signals corps pleaded 'technical
difficulties' and 'lack of manpower.' After two weeks, the government announced that 'implementation of the jamming
will be temporarily delayed.'
But meanwhile, counter forces were already stirring. The Israeli Labour Party was recovering from a period of 'statesmanlike
responsible behaviour' imposed by its leader Ehud Barak after the bombing, and reverting to something resembling
oppositional activity -- including participation in a rally to mark the fourth anniversary of the Oslo signing.
The European Union increased its own Middle East mediation efforts, vocally critisizing Netanyahu for crippling
the Palestinian economy and declaring that to be a policy which encouraged terrorism; and Netanyahu himself, taking
time for a long-planned visit to Tokyo accompanied by leaders of the Israeli business community, heard from his
Japanese hosts that 'development of trade relations is dependent on developments in the peace process.' Moreover,
the Clinton Administration started to show anxiety about the deteriorating situation, encouraged to take a stand
by increasingly vocal American Jews who felt unrepresented by the so-called 'Jewish Lobby.'
When Denis Ross came calling again in mid-August and embarked on an arduous new round of Middle East shuttle diplomacy,
he was able to cobble together a kind of renewed 'security cooperation meetings' between leading members of the
mutually suspicious Israeli and Palestinian security services, with CIA representatives sitting in as indispensable
'impartial observers.' Through this mechanism, Arafat was now willing to arrest particular Hamas members about
whom the Israelis produced specific evidence of involvement in terrorism -- but not to embark on an all-out confrontation
with the Hamas. Netanyahu declared this 'far too little' -- but the Americans seemed rather satisfied, pressing
Netanyahu to remove his economic sanctions and being openly displeased with his dilatoriness in this respect. Moreover,
Secretary of State Albright had at last decided to schedule her long-delayed personal visit to the region -- clearly
hinting that Israeli settlements, as well as Israeli security concerns, would be on the agenda.
With the approach of Albright's visit, Netanyahu
started slowly and agonisingly removing the sanctions imposed on the Palestinians -- raising the siege one city
at a time, letting a few thousands workers into Israel and then a few thousands more, releasing a part and then
another part of the suspended tax moneys...
Then, a week before Albright was due to arrive, suicide bombers -- three this time -- struck again in the heart
of Jerusalem, on September 5, turning the city's fashionable pedestrian mall into a scene of carnage. Netanyahu
quickly reimposed all of the closures and sanctions against the Palestinians -- though the announcement of the
cabinet's decision lacked some of the fierceness of the previous occasion. But the timing of the second Jerusalem
attack provided Netanyahu with a welcome pretext to avoid implementing the second redeployment of Israeli forces
on the West Bank mandated by Oslo, which should have taken place on September 7 and which should have involved
the evacuation of considerable tracts and handing them over to the Palestinians -- a step which would have caused
Netanyahu a clash with the extreme right.
Smadar, a young bombing victim
Among the victims of the Sept. 5 suicide bombing was Smadar Elhanan, the fourteen-year old granddaughter of the
late Matti Peled, founder of the ICIPP, and well-known to our long-time readers, many of whom sent moving letters
A vivid girl who had just began to participate in peace actions on her own, was caught in the blast while sitting
at a cafe with two schoolmates. Smadar's funeral at Kibbutz Nachshon, where her grandfather was buried two years
ago, was attended by hundreds of peace activists (also by some settlers, her father's personal friends). Anis el-Khak,
Arafat's emissary, read at the graveside a personal message from the Palestinian president.
The mother, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, avoided political statements during the funeral but spoke her mind in several
interviews to the radio and the weekend newspaper supplements: 'To commit suicide and take others with you is an
act of utter despair, a loss of any hope. I blame for the death of my daughter the man who deprived these young
bombers of hope, and this man sits in the Prime Minister's office here in Jerusalem'.
Some observers expected Ms. Albright to cancel or delay her visit to the region, as the earlier bombing had wrecked
Ross'. Others assumed that after the bombing she would devote the bulk of her time and attention to once again
pressuring Arafat on the issue of terrorism and of Israel's security concerns. This seemed confirmed by Albright's
first speech, immediately upon her arrival in Jerusalem, in which the word 'security' was endlessly repeated while
'settlement' was conspicuously missing. However, in her following day's speech at Ramallah the US Secretary of
State did insert a paragraph addressing Palestinian anxieties and aspirations, explicitly critisizing 'the Israeli
policies of land confiscation, settlement extension, house demolitions and denial of residency rights in East Jerusalem].'
And in the concluding press conference together with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, she declared herself at a loss to
understand how withholding tax money had anything to do with security.
Israel's President Ezer Weitzmann once again overstepped his authority as titular Head of State, and openly called
upon Albright 'to pressure Netanyahu as well as Arafat'; the same call was made in an unprecedented open letter
signed by forty prominent mainstream U.S. Jewish leaders. Altogether, Arafat seemed rather pleased with what he
heard from Albright, in token of which he promised to be a bit more tough on the Hamas. He soon afterwards ordered
the arrest of about seventy Hamas militants and the closing down of sixteen Hamas social institutions in the Gaza
Strip -- an act resented also by many non-Hamas Palestinians, since these institutions provide services sorely
needed in the present situation of the Palestinian society. (Some of these institutions were reportedly later allowed
to reopen, though 'unofficially.')
Just one day following Albright's departure from the region, the forgotten Ras-el-Amud issue revived with a big
bang, as the unpredictable Florida millionaire Erwin Moskowitz -- baulked in his attempt to construct a whole Jewish
settler compound in the Palestinian neighborhood -- suddenly moved settler families into two Palestinian houses
which he claimed to own.
Ras el-Amud immediately became the focus of worldwide media attention and of intensive mobilization by the Palestinians
and the Israeli peace movement (see separate article); for a time, indeed, it looked likely to ignite an all-out
armed confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians.
Once again Netanyahu claimed to be opposed to the settler venture, and even hinted at the possibility of evicting
the settlers -- and then turned around and announced a 'compromise' by which the settler families would leave,
but ten bachelor settlers would stay on site as 'caretakers.' The Palestinians angrily denounced this 'compromise'
-- but the U.S. 'strongly advised' them not to take their protests beyond the verbal, promising to take their side
on the more comprehensive issue of the settlements in general. Remarks made by the State Department spokesperson,
on that occasion, indicated a strong expectation by the US not to be confronted with any more 'unilateral acts'
by the government of Israel. But a week later, Netanyahu traveled to the West bank settlement of Efrat and announced
to the cheering settlers the forthcoming extension of their settlement. A few hours before, he had talked on the
telephone with Secretary of State Albright, without giving any hint of what he was about to do. Albright was not
As Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were about to resume, after having been broken for more than half a year, Prime
Minister Netanyahu presented his
country and the whole world with yet another surprise -- a surprise so big that it completely overshadowed that
carefully-prepared resumption of the talks. An incredibly amateurish venture of state-sponsored assassination had
been aimed at 'liquidating' Kahled Mishal, a Hamas official at Amman, capital of Jordan. It ended with the two
would-be Israeli assassins in a Jordanian jail and Netanyahu making desperate efforts to extricate them and placate
the outraged King Hussein.
No less than 84% of American Jewry agreed that 'the administration should pressure both Prime Minister Netanyahu
and Chairman Arafat to display a more constructive attitude and cooperate with each other.'
This was the result of a poll by the Washington-based Israel Policy Forum. Ma'ariv published it conspicuously (29.9),
remarking that 'never before did a majority of American Jews express themselves in favor of pressure on the Israeli
The price Netanyahu had to pay included saving Mishal's life by handing over the antidote for the poison which
the Mossad agents injected to his body, the release from Israeli prison of none other than the charismatic Hamas
founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and his return in triumph to Gaza, as well as the release of scores of other Palestinian
and Jordanian prisoners.
Netanyahu also had to contend with an offensive on the internal Israeli political front. The Labour Party opposition
did not object to assassination of 'dangerous terrorists' as such -- they have done it themselves, many times --
but thundered against Netanyahu's decision to do it in Jordan, jeopardising the stability of the Jordanian monarchy,
the only Arab regime which not only signed a peace treaty with Israel but may be considered an ally. But the Prime
Minister with his incomparable talent for TV demagoguery rode out the storm, as he did so many times before...
For his part King Hussein maneuvered and managed to avoid the damage which the affair could have caused to his
complicated relations with those of his subjects who do not wish to be the allies of Israel. The King even attempted
to set himself up as the mediator between Israel and Hamas and arrange for a ceasefire -- at the expense of Arafat,
whose role as the elected Palestinian president such mediation should have been, and whose many past requests to
get Sheikh Yassin released were always turned down by Israel.
Arafat's first face-to-face meeting with Netanyahu took place just after tens of thousands of Gazans turned out
to give Sheikh Yassin a hero's welcome. Many commentators regarded Arafat as having been weakened by the whole
affair; yet it also had the effect of increasing the chances of integrating the Hamas into some kind of political
framework, an old design of Arafat. Hamas had won both prestige in the Palestinian society and legitimacy on the
diplomatic arena, even in Israel -- though much of these gains could be jeopardised by a resumption of the suicide
bombing. The released Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, clearly seen to be an astute politician, took care to keep open the
option of a ceasefire with Israel, though only in return for an end to the occupation, or at least an Israeli commitment
to end it -- as he told the dissident settler Rabbi Menachem Froman who made a highly-publicized visit to his Gaza
Most of Binyamin Netanyahu's term as Prime Minister has been spent winning time, deferring again and again the
moment when he would be expected to make concessions, meanwhile creating a few more 'facts on the ground.' Yet
the reprieves seem to become shorter and shorter. In late October, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at last resume
-- with more or less the same format which the mediator Ross intended to introduce when he was interrupted by the
Jerusalem bombing in July. But the events of the past months left a legacy of distrust towards Netanyahu in the
higher levels of the Clinton Administration, and an unprecedented willingness by U.S. Jews to support pressure
on an Israeli Prime Minister. Even Netanyahu's stronghold on Capitol Hill seems no longer secure: on October 11
the Senate voted to suspend 200 million dollars of aid to Israel, over Israel's failure to extradite a teenager
charged with a sensational murder in Maryland -- a case having nothing to do with Israeli-Palestinian relations,
but which may nevertheless prove an ominous precedent.
Moreover, Netanyhau enters the renewed negotiations with his most effective propaganda weapon considerably blunted:
it is hardly credible to blame Arafat of 'not fighting Hamas' when Netanyahu himself just freed from prison the
proud founder of the Hamas in person. And without that argument, Netanyahu would find it increasingly difficult
to defer other issues or justify his failure to keep obligations.
Hardly ever, in all of the numerous negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, had a round of negotiations
started in such an atmosphere of skepticism and distrust -- both in the attitude of the negotiators to each other,
and in the low expectations of the general public on both sides. In the forthcoming negotiations, Netanyahu obliged
himself to discuss exactly what is meant by the term 'a settlement time-out' and whether the state of Israel complies
with its specifications. Netanyahu's interpretation would leave settlements free to engage in 'natural growth'
which does not mean as might have been expected growth from children born in the settlement itself but rather the
ability of the settlement to grow and attract new settlers through government subsidies. It is hardly likely that
the PM will find others sharing this interpretation.
The question of the settlements is, however, just a manifestation of Netanyahu's desire to annex half of the West
Bank, fill it with settlers and leave the Palestinians with a serious of truncated and isolated enclaves. Pursuing
this policy to its logical conclusion it when no more delays are possible would inevitably lead to war, a war in
which Israeli society would be divided as never before. The blunders and fiascoes which are becoming Netanyahu's
trademark are but a
symptom of the basic inviability of his program. Netanyahu's reprieve is quickly running out. Soon, there will
be no room left for delaying games.
At the time of the Hebron Agreement, many were ready to credit Netanyahu with being a pragmatist -- not to say
an opportunist -- who would, after all, make concessions for the sake of peace. After the past six months, such
opinions find few adherents, with the more dominant view regarding Netanyahu as a thinly-disguised hardliner. Yet
such distinctions are not always watertight. Whether Netanyahu behaves with suicidal intransigence or steps away
from the abyss at the last moment will also depend on the other players, the forces inside and outside who are
still determined to work for peace.
Netanyahu -- strategic threat
by Chemi Shalev
(...) In his little more than a year in power, Netanyahu has succeeded in torpedoing the peace process, in insulting
and provoking all Arab leaders without exception, and in bringing the danger of war very close indeed. And on top
of that he has maneuvered himself into a situation where any war which breaks out -- even the worst-case scenario
of a concerted surprise attack by all Arab states -- would be regarded by a considerable part of the Israeli public
as an unnecessary war which Israel has brought upon itself, a war caused directly by the Prime Minister's arrogant
and aggressive policies.
As long as Netanyahu is in power, any war would cause a deep fissure in the society. Thousands of reserve soldiers
and officers may refuse to risk their lives in what they would regard as 'Netanyahu's War' rather than Israel's,
an unnecessary war which could have been avoided. Thousands of others, though answering the call-up orders, would
feel extremely skeptical about the aims of the war and the orders of their superiors. War leader Netanyahu's call
'follow me!' would fall on deaf ears among large parts of the public -- the part which still constitutes the backbone
of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
But the internal problems inside the armed forces would be dwarfed by the confusion and chaos to be expected on
the home front. The media and political system would be in turmoil; thousands of anxious mothers and fathers would
take to the streets in protest, crying out against the totally unnecessary death of hundreds of their soldier sons.
To judge from his behaviour so far, Netanyahu would almost certainly react by opening an offensive against the
media and the political opposition, accusing them of treason and thereby aggravating the crisis. Instead of the
total unity against an outside threat, which is the normal reaction to the outbreak of war, in this war Israel
may implode in bickering fragments.
One of the arguments used by the late Yitchak Rabin to justify taking risks for peace was his assessment that the
present Israeli society is too consumerist, too 'well-fed', to continue standing up to the rigours of war and bereavement.
From this point of view, the situation has only worsened, since any war breaking out under Netanyahu's leadership
would smash the last remnants of national cohesion.
Thus, Binyamin Netanyahu has become the worst of all strategic threats to the State of Israel (...)
(Translated from Ma'ariv, Oct. 8.)
+++ Contingency plans prepared by the army for the possibility of military confrontation with the Palestinians,
and leaked to Kol Ha'ir, (26.9), show the generals worried that hundreds of reservists may refuse orders to invade
the Palestinian cities. The plans call for manning 'sensitive spots' with conscripts, who are assumed to be more
obedient and controllable. In a 'worse scenario', the possibility is raised of many low- and middle-ranking officers
refusing orders, following the precedent of Colonel Avi Geva's refusal to lead his troops during the 1982 invasion
Ironically, the generals are also preparing for soldiers from the right refusing to evacuate settler women and
children from Hebron; settler leaders already announced that they would resist the evacuation of their families
even should the city become a battle zone.
Dear known -- unknown soldier
Marylene Schulz works and lives among Palestinians in Azzarya, West Bank. In February, she appeared on TV in a
quite dramatic scene. When the Jahalin Bedouins' site was erased and the inhabitants evicted, to make place for
settlement expansion, the afflicted and their friends offered passive resistance (see TOI-77/78, p. 18, 19). The
camera focused especially on the tall, grey-haired Marylene Schulz being dragged away by two young soldiers. Here
follows what she didn't say then.
'You may be surprised to get a letter from someone you don't know. But we meet each other many times, for example
when I pass the checkpoint where you are on duty. You are mostly polite to me, sometimes even friendly. Of course
just like everybody I like to be treated with friendliness and respect. But from time to time you give me the feeling
that I am different from others sitting in the same bus or taxi, who are treated rudely and with harshness, who
are Palestinians. They are human beings just like me, and they should also be addressed in a respectful and friendly
way. I feel uncomfortable and unhappy at checkpoints when I am allowed to pass without being troubled while Palestinians,
who belong here, have to present a special permit.
I can feel their frustration, their anger and hatred. You are a soldier. You have to do this awful job which means
dividing people in two categories: those who have rights and those who haven't or at least have less rights. You
may have come to the conclusion that there are superior and inferior people. I am afraid that this results in dehumanization
-- not only of those being treated as inferiors, but rather of those believing in their own superiority as well.
It is really dangerous to possess overwhelming power over another people!
We also met on the occasion of some demonstrations when you as a soldier took care of 'law and order.' I was there
when the Jahalin Bedouins were expelled, and I
was among the demonstrators at Jebl Abu Ghneim, called Har Homa by you.
What a difficult job you have to do! I am almost sure that you would prefer to join us, the demonstrators, sometimes
-- but you can't. You are wearing a uniform and carrying a gun. But behind this uniform there is a man who is thinking
and who may one day come to the conclusion that he is serving an unjust cause.
As a soldier you were told to defend your country, that your people's security depends on you. What are you really
defending by expelling people whose only demand is to remain at the place where they have been living for forty
years? And how do you evaluate the contribution to security when you help the powerful in humiliating powerless
people, depriving them of their land and demolishing their homes? Don't you think that thus you plant the seeds
of hatred in their hearts, to eventually become a source of terrorist activity?
A soldier has to be brave and courageous and he has to obey orders. But what if he recognizes one day that the
orders are unjust and inhuman? At any rate he has a conscience too. Certainly, the orders of conscience are many
times in contradiction with those of his military superiors.
Undoubtedly, refusing military orders requires a lot of courage. But that, too, can be a way to serve your country,
and the values you believe in. Nobody can think and decide for you.
Think about it and be brave! Yours, Marylene Schulz
+++ Throughout this year, military and police forces have been combing the semi-arid West Bank area east of Jerusalem
in widening circles, systematically searching out the scattered Jahalin families wherever they live. This campaign
seems to aim at removing Palestinian inhabitants from an area whose annexation the Netanyahu Government intends
to demand in the forthcoming 'final status' negotiations.
In the beginning of October, the army turned its attention to fourteen Jahalin families -- about 180 persons in
all -- living near the settlement of Kedar (or rather, the settlement had been created next to them). In the space
of a few hours, the military demolished the Bedouin huts and cattle-pens and the rickety structure used as a school
for their children, confiscating their tents and water containers -- leaving them to live under the open sky.
Adv. Shlomo Leker, the Jahalin's Israeli lawyer, prepared an appeal to the Supreme Court -- arguing that even though
the area had been declared 'a military training zone', the Jahalin who lived there before had the legal right to
stay on. Meanwhile, Gush Shalom made an intensive effort to alert local and international media, as well as embassies.
The Jahalin must have had a strong legal case or the government had had already too much of international embarrassment
(or both). In any case, when Adv. Leker arrived at the Supreme Court on Oct. 8, the state representative announced
the expulsion's cancellation. The Jahalin were allowed to re-erect their huts; their tents and water containers
were restored. There was of course no question of compensation for the harrowing week they passed, nor any assurance
that it wouldn't happen again soon...
Sharing Jerusalem -- 2 capitals for 2 states
Under this banner, a five day campaign of events was organized starting June 17, by the women of the Jerusalem
Link -- a partnership of the Israeli Bat Shalom and the Palestinian Center for Women. The happening was sponsored
by the European Community, and with a lot of creativity the women organized events - for men and women - on a scale
which nobody in Israel would be able to ignore.
Soon, the Olmart-led Jerusalem municipality became upset and created a lot of obstacles -- which were one by one
overcome. But when the Irish singer Sinead O'Connor, who was to perform, was night after night targeted by anonymous
death threats through the phone, she decided to cancel ('Your police was unable to protect your own Prime Minister.
I have two small children, I can't take the risk').
The dramatic cancellation by the popular singer was a blow -- but actually helped draw attention, in Israel and
internationally, to the remaining events. There were plenty: guided tours to the sensitive spots of Jerusalem --
holy sites of different religions, as well as a 'settlement & by-pass roads' tour; symposiums, with the participation
of all kind of Israeli and international public figures -- such as Hebe de Bonafini, President of the 'Madres de
Plaza de Mayo' who came all the way from Argentina. There were exhibitions by Israeli and Palestinian painters;
performances of Western and Arab music; different rallies -- at France Square, at A-Ram Checkpoint together with
the West Bank Palestinians who couldn't join the events in Jerusalem because of the closure; another rally at the
U.S. Consulate, added to the program at the last moment to protest Congress' 'Jerusalem is Israeli' resolution...
The fascinating week culminated, on the evening of June 21, with a huge rally at the Old City's Damascus Gate,
attended by a broad spectrum of the peace movement and followed by a march of thousands Palestinians, Israelis
and international visitors -- along a winding route (agreed with the police after long and intricate negotiations):
first north, through the heart of Palestinian Jerusalem, then west and back south, along the Dividing Line and
afterwards the Walls. At some parts, it was clearly visible that on one side of the road the curious passers-by
were nearly all Israeli and on the other side -- Palestinian; two worlds, close yet far, which this event tried
to bring momentarily together...
Bat Shalom, POB 8083, West J'lem 91080, Israel
Center for Women, POB 51630, East J'lem, Palestine
+++ A few hours after the Jerusalem bombing on July 30, about twenty Peace Now supporters, acting on their own,
gathered outside the Prime Minister's residence, with signs 'Where is the secure peace?' and 'Don't you understand?
Only peace can stop terrorism!' Peace Now approved of the initiative, and on the following day organised a vigil
in the same place, same slogans, fifty participants.
+++ The 'Aachen Peace Prize' was created in the ancient German city ten years ago by church groups, trade unions
and Green organizations. This year, the prize was granted 'to Gush Shalom and Uri Avnery' as well as to two Aachen
schools noted for outstanding action
against racism. Thus, the moving award ceremony blended young and old, local and international.
The ceremony (Sept. 1) was extensively reported on the German media. Avnery's acceptance speech was preceded by
the words of Sirhan Salaymeh, veteran Fatah activist and Intifada leader. Salaymeh, who spent thirteen years in
Israeli prisons, described vividly the partnership in action between Gush Shalom and the various Palestinian organizations
in dozens of demonstrations and protests against the occupation. Also honoured on the Aachen tribune was the German
peace activist Ellen Rohlfs, who had spent many weary years in working to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Sick of Lebanon
Immediately after the July 30 bombing attack in Jerusalem, the army carried out a commando raid into Lebanon in
which five senior Hizbullah commanders were surprised in their homes and killed; the timing was apparently designed
to 'raise national morale' and the successful 'counter guerrilla' action was celebrated in boasting speeches by
generals and ministers and endless press articles which read like propaganda pieces.
But within weeks, the army suffered two serious setbacks in Lebanon: on August 29, four soldiers were burned to
death in a fire started by the Israeli artillery's own incendiary shells; and a week later, a raiding force of
the crack Naval Commandos, trying to repeat the earlier commando success, was decimated in a Hizbullah ambush with
twelve out of a force of sixteen being killed within seconds.
These failures -- magnified by enormous headlines in the very same papers -- had the effect of intensifying the
public debate on Israel's military presence in Lebanon. There was a sudden big demand for the 'Bring the soldiers
home!' stickers produced by Gush Shalom. Together with them appeared new ones: 'Latztet beShalom miLevanon!' ('Get
out of Lebanon in [one] peace'). The movement still known as The Mothers grew enormously, now encompassing many
women and men who are not necessarily themselves parents of soldiers, and holding many demonstrations and vigils
in different parts of the country. Demonstrations were also held by Hadash in Tel-Aviv; and Peace Now -- in cooperation
with Gush Shalom and the Peace Guards, mobilised several hundreds for a Jerusalem protest immediately following
news of the Naval Commando disaster. At that demonstration, a shift was noticeable in Peace Now's position on Lebanon
-- from calling for dealing with the Lebanon withdrawal in the context of overall negotiations with Syria, the
movement now edged closer to The Mothers' call for unilateral withdrawal.
In our previous issue (p.14) we attributed the publication of a report about the denial of residency rights in
East Jerusalem solely to B'tzelem. Actually, that report was prepared jointly with HaMoked -- both of them organizations
of dedicated human rights activists who deserve full credit for their hard work.
For his part, Labour Knesset Member Yossi Beilin long known as a champion of withdrawal from Lebanon, attempted
to launch a new movement on this issue; but though thousands signed the petition published in press ads by Beilin,
this failed to generate a real grassroots movement -- activists preferring the non-partisan Mothers.
The Mothers, POB 1526, Caesarea; Ph: 972-3-5259136
+++ On September 8, Lebanon demonstrators blocked the street in front of the Defence Ministry and were evicted
by police. One of them, the 34-year old Yoram Kastiel, reappeared on the scene on the following morning and started
a nine-day hunger strike, sitting day and night on a small verge of grass opposite the ministry gates:
'I fought as a paratrooper in Lebanon in 1982. I was wounded and lost several of my friends there. Afterwards I
wrote a book about the stupidity of the war from a soldier's point of view, I called it 'Out of our minds -- coming
back soon'. And I really hoped that that particular madness was over, but now I see it is still going on. I see
the same ministers -- Sharon, Eitan et co. -- making the same kind of stupid decisions, the decisions which get
soldiers killed. I hear Minister David Levy on TV offering condolences, in the same sincere and heartbroken tone
already for fifteen years. Perhaps this hunger strike will shake somebody over there, make them stop being so smug
and self-assured' (Zu haDerech, 17.9)
'Save the peace' rally
At the end of August, individuals concerned about the deteriorating situation conceived the idea of bringing together
for a joint rally all political parties and extra-parliamentary movements committed to the peace process. Many
intricate negotiations were needed to get over the rivalry between Peace Now and Dor Shalom, and let more radical
groups such as Gush Shalom be accepted as partners. The most difficult of all was to overcome the hostility between
Labour Leader Ehud Barak and his predecessor Shimon Peres -- both of whom were among the featured speakers. Barak
was also quite reluctant to share the platform with Abu Ala, Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, fearing that
the picture could be used in Likud propaganda of the next elections. Abu Ala faced pressures from the Palestinian
side as well, and in the end only sent a message to be read at the rally.
The rally was scheduled for September 13, fourth anniversary of the historic Rabin-Arafat handshake. Aside from
the aforementioned movements, the rally got the active support of the Council for Peace and Security (unofficially
known as 'Generals for Peace'), the religious Netivot Shalom, the various Kibbutz movements, several youth movements
as well as the range of political parties including Labour, Meretz and the Hadash Communists.
In the preceding week, many ads were placed by the participating organizations, each with the headline 'Save the
Peace' followed by the particular organization's interpretation. There were also many preparatory small demos and
vigils at different spots. During Secretary of State Albright's visit -- which took place in the week preceding
September 13 -- activists greeted her at Ben Gurion Airport and stood outside her Jerusalem hotel, with 'Save the
The same ubiquitous slogan also dominated the rally
itself in thousands of copies -- together with many hand-made signs improvised by individuals: 'Peace Yes, Bibi
No', 'Bye Bye Peace, Hello War, Thank You Netanyahu', '1995: Rabin Murdered -- 1997: Oslo Murdered', 'Albright,
give Bibi a kick!' and many others. Reactions of the crowd, variously estimated between 30,000 and 50,000, were
strongest when the danger of war was mentioned -- as indeed it was by practically all the speakers. Barak received
prolonged applause and cheering when he proclaimed 'Netanyahu, we will not let you drag us into war!'. On the other
hand, when a little later he repeated the Labour Party's time-worn formulas about 'United Jerusalem, Eternal Capital
of Israel', he was greeted first with stony silence and gradually with booing and catcalls, while Muhammad Barake
of Hadash was cheered when he repeated from the podium the slogan initiated by his party many years ago and now
widely accepted: 'Israel and Palestine -- two states for two peoples!'
Most participants dispersed with a feeling of strength and confidence; but in the following days, when it turned
out that the rally had not been big enough to make a visible impression on Netanyahu, a reaction set in and the
rally became regarded in retrospect as a failure. But it did achieve one thing, at least: after it, commentators
stopped talking about 'the death of Oslo' as something which had already happened.
Peace Now, POB 29828, Tel-Aviv 61297; fax: 972-3-5663286
Dor Shalom, 10 Ben Gurion, Ramat Gan 52573; fax: -3-5755675
The Ras-el-Amud front
For years, peace activists were aware of Ras-el-Amud as a volcano which would sooner or later erupt. A piece of
land in the midst of that Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood had been under Jewish ownership before the area was
conquered by the Jordanians in 1948, which ownership is recognised as valid by Israeli law (Arab ownership of land
conquered by Israel in 1948 is not recognised). Thence, ownership passed to the millionaire and settler patron
On the night of September 14 Moskowitz made his move, with settler families and armed security men moving into
a Ras-el-Amud house located on 'his' land. (They claimed that the Palestinian tenants had accepted payment to give
up their residency rights -- which the dispossessed Palestinians hotly denied, stating that the settlers had entered
the house in their absence and captured their belongings as well.) The police, which had mysteriously not been
present when the settlers made their highly questionable entry, did come in their hundreds an hour later -- to
protect the settlers against an outraged Palestinian crowd. After a night of rioting and stone-throwing, by the
morning the house already assumed the typical appearance of a settler enclave -- heavily guarded by armed police,
soldiers and security guards, and with Israeli flags festooned in crazy profusion as they are never seen anywhere
in Israel proper.
Many Peace Now and Meretz supporters in Jerusalem were that night woken up by urgent phone calls; this emergency
mobilization produced in the morning a demonstration of some eighty activists chanting, 'Peace -- Yes, Settlers
-- No!' and struggling with the police, which strove to push them away. Later, with the arrival of dozens of Palestinian
youths, a second and more violent confrontation with police took place. In the afternoon, several protest tents
were put up opposite the occupied house, filled with Israeli activists and a Palestinian group headed by Feisal
Husseini -- to which a Gush Shalom tent was added on the following day.
There followed days of feverish activity, confrontations and demonstrations. The settlers themselves rarely ventured
out, but there were some nasty incidents with their extreme right supporters, one of whom -- a madly shrieking
woman -- tried to make a night raid on the tents. Activists of Hadash held a demonstration on the spot, headed
by the party's Knesset Members; later, the Israeli, Palestinian and international women participating in the Engendering
the Peace Process conference arrived -- with Frene Ginwala, Speaker of the South African Parliament, angrily lashing
out at police who tried to bar her way.
On the afternoon of Sept. 17, hundreds of demonstrators arrived by buses from all over the country, joined by nearly
a thousand Palestinians. About half a kilometre from the disputed ground, the police tried to regulate this flow
and let only a small dribble through the barriers at a time. The Palestinians would have none of that; they just
started marching, all of them together. Quite unintentionally, Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom found himself at their
head, hand in hand with the Palestinian leaders. The police was at first very rough, then -- confronted by Israelis
and Palestinians alike -- relented and let the march go through. At its conclusion, a Peace Now rally took place,
with the roof of a nearby Palestinian house -- also threatened by the settlers, since Moskowitz claims ownership
over it as well -- serving as podium. The Labour Party's Oren Shahor, but a year earlier the supreme military governor
of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, found himself delivering an impassioned speech to a militant mixed crowd of Palestinians
On the morning of Sept. 18, with the radio full of rumours about an impending 'compromise' which would let some
of the settlers stay on, some ten Peace Now youths managed to outwit the police and climb on the roof of the settler-occupied
house, shouting 'No compromise with settlers!' until being forcibly dragged off by the police. In the evening,
with the official announcement that ten settlers would stay in the house as 'caretakers', a new demonstration was
hastily organised, joined by the guests of a Palestinian wedding held in a nearby house. Later that night, activists
greeted with boos the departure of the settler families which was obliged under Netanyhau's 'compromise'; the ten
remaining settlers kept out of sight.
The following day, Sept. 19, was a Friday -- the day when Muslims congregate in large numbers and riots sometimes
break out at the end of the prayers. The police was tense, with large forces at the ready -- and the activists
at the tent encampment waited tensely, too. But the radio reported that worshipers at the nearby Temple Mount/Haram
A Sharif had dispersed without incident, and Feisal Husseini arrived to let his Israeli partners in struggle know
that the Palestinian leadership, angry as it was about the 'compromise', decided not to
initiate an overall confrontation over Ras-el-Amud.
Immediately afterwards, a general exodus took place of the journalists and TV crews, who had maintained an enormous
presence on the spot throughout the week. The Israeli and international media reached a unanimous verdict, declaring
the Ras-el-Amud 'story' to be over, and their departure helped considerably to make it so. The incidents of the
tent camp's last days -- including still a considerable Palestinian demonstration with stone-throwing boys finding
refuge in the Israeli tents -- went almost entirely unreported.
+++ On Sept. 15 was announced the intention of the Prime Minister to include in his Tel-Aviv visit of the following
day the paying of respects at the Rabin monument. The Peace Guards immediately started mobilizing for a protest
demonstration at the site, the place where the murder happened and where they maintain weekly vigils. Leah Rabin
said on TV: 'He does this without the family's consent. We have not yet forgiven him for his incitement against
my husband.' The embarrassed Netanyahu hastily canceled this part of his program, but the Peace Guards stood vigil
around the monument anyway. 'We don't trust him to keep his word, on this or anything else' one of them told to
Peace Guards, c/o Rosenblat, 7 Bilu, Kfar Saba.
+++ On September 25, PM Netanyahu arrived at the settlement of Efrat, in the West Bank south of Jerusalem, to attend
a large-scale ceremony. While Netanyahu announced the forthcoming creation of 300 further housing units at the
settlement -- an announcement which that night reverberated around the world -- some forty Peace Now demonstrators
arrived outside the hall and expressed their disapproval by blowing on whistles, chanting 'Settlement is War!'
The police swiftly evicted them, using considerable force.
Is it true?
The following is quoted from an Open Letter by Dinah Basol whose son Ofir was recently killed in Lebanon (Ma'ariv,
'He fell in Lebanon, defending the communities of the North,' this totally worn-out cliche has reached my doorstep
and hit me and my household with unimaginable savagery. I can only sit in pain and wonder: is it true? Did the
death of my son truly serve to defend the northern border of our country?
Mr. Defence Minister! Any answer which you give, if you give one at all, cannot give me back my son. But perhaps
your eyes, yours and those of the others in power, will open at long last. Perhaps your ears will start registering
the outcry. Perhaps something will break in this armour of routine thinking with which you surrounded your minds
and hearts, while the row of our wonderful sons' dead bodies is growing ever longer. How long still?! How many
+++ At noon on September 25, a large group of The Mothers held a vigil in Jerusalem's France Square, holding signs
reading 'Lebanon = Saigon' and 'Get out of Lebanon now!'
On the following day, some forty members of the same group stood for several hours at a parking lot near the Tzemach
Junction -- much frequented on this weekend day by motorists going to popular picnic spots at the nearby Sea of
Galilee. Many of these honked in approval, some stopping to sign the group's petition.
+++ On October 4, some forty members of Yesh Gvul traveled from Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem to the Israeli-Lebanese
border crossing (both of whose sides are actually held by the Israeli Army), where they demonstrated with the banner
'Free Lebanon from the Army -- free the Army from Lebanon'. On their way back, they encountered near the National
Shrine of Tel-Chai a vigil by The Mothers, also calling for withdrawal from Lebanon, and joined them in a second,
Yesh Gvul, POB 6953, J'lem 91060; Ph: 972-2-6250271.
+++ On Oct. 5, Peace Now activists started a week-long protest vigil in front of the Prime Minister's residence.
Planned two weeks earlier, in the wake of the Ras-el-Amud affair, the action became focused on the attempted Amman
assassination; every day, morning to night, activists stood at the spot with giant banners reading 'Bibi Fiasco'
and 'Commission of Inquiry -- Now!' Numerous bypassers signed a petition calling for the PM's resignation. There
was only one serious incident: on the night of Oct. 7, a right-winger suddenly assaulted one of the activists,
who afterwards needed medical attention; the assailant was arrested.
+++ On October 7, several hundred women participated at 'A day of Action and Protest', initiated by Women and Mothers
for Peace' and joined by several other women's organizations. From Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, they went in two converging
convoys of private cars covered with placards reading 'No more war!' and 'Join us! The ground is burning underfoot!'.
Meeting, they held a rally at the Armoured Corps Monument just off the highway, where a huge wall stands covered
with the names of thousands of fallen soldiers. Later, some of the participant groups held additional vigils near
home, Bat Shalom in the northern suburbs of Tel-Aviv and the Haifa Women's Forum at the crowded entrance to their
city's new shopping mall. For their part, the Jerusalemite members of Religious Women for the Sanctity of Life,
returning from the Latrun rally, picketed the Chief rabbinate offices. One of them, Bilha Admonit, told the First
Channel News: 'To me, peace is the great religious vision of our generation and it is ironic that mostly secular
people are involved in it.'
Mothers and Women for Peace, POB 8813, Jerusalem
Religious Women for Sanctity of Life; Ph: 972-2-6249889.
+++ Also on October 7, dozens of Labour Youths picketed the Defence Ministry in Tel-Aviv, to protest the government's
refusal to appoint a Commission of Inquiry on the Amman assassination affair, and the appointment instead of a
powerless 'investigative committee'. The youths held aloft signs reading 'No to the whitewashing!', as well as
a giant banner: 'The Attorney-General, The Tunnel, Har Homa, Ras-el-Amud, Amman... What more must happen before
Labour Youth, 110 Hayarkon, Tel-Aviv; Ph: 972-3-6202515.
+++ Between October 6 and 8, a large Peace Tent -- with enough space for about 300 persons -- was erected at the
Rabin Square in Tel-Aviv at the initiative of the United Kibbutz Movement, as part of the run-up to the major rally
due to be held in the same place on November 8, to mark the second anniversary of the Rabin murder. Every evening
during these three days, hundreds gathered in the tent to listen to singers and poets,
themselves sing peace songs and attend various discussions and debates, on such issues as Jewish-Arab Coexistence
and 'what grassroots peace activists can do to help save the moribund peace process.' The last day of the tent,
Oct. 8, was devoted to discussions on the ongoing war in Lebanon. Bruria Barzilai of Kibbutz Snir in the Lebanese
Border Region, a leading member of The Mothers, spoke passionately: 'We in the north are no longer willing to hear
politicians say that the soldiers must endure hell in Lebanon in order to protect us. We want the soldiers back'
(Israeli Radio, 8.10). A few hours later on the same day, the news came that two soldiers had been killed in one
more guerrilla raid in Lebanon.
+++ On the afternoon of October 9, several dozen of The Mothers (and fathers) picketed the Defence Ministry in
Tel-Aviv with a large sign recounting the grim statistics: Fifteen years of war, 1237 soldiers dead -- enough!.
Another sign: 'The fathers went to Lebanon, the sons are there now -- will the grandsons have to go as well?'
Several demonstrators crossed the street and stood near the Ministry gate, where demonstrators are not allowed.
Police remonstrated with them, threatening arrest; finally they crossed over back to the main body of the demonstration.
Several were heard to say 'Next time we should let ourselves be arrested.'
+++ By coincidence, the annual Fallen Paratroopers Memorial Service took place at the same time. TV viewers that
evening could see the solemn ceremony disrupted by Efrat Spiegel, whose son was killed in Lebanon in 1983 and who
suddenly rose from her seat shouting: 'Enough! It can't go on like this!'
+++ Also on October 9, the prolonged Peace Now vigil outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem was concluded
with a demonstration by some 500 activists. Leaflets distributed among the crowd called upon participants to 'stop
being softies' and to 'do something to kick Bibi out.' A large part of the crowd attempted to break through the
police barriers, while others blocked the road. In the ensuing confrontation one demonstrator was arrested, and
a girl slightly wounded.
+++ Actually, during the events described, Prime Minister Netanyahu had been attending a meeting at the Likud Party
headquarters in Tel-Aviv. Since the previous morning, dozens of Peace Guards together with Meretz activists had
been holding a sit-in strike in the park opposite that building, some staying the whole night (among them Knesset
Members Dedi Zucker, Anat Ma'or and Ran Cohen). At noon, Netanyahu succeeded in entering the building inconspicuously
through a side entrance. But later the peace demonstrators were alerted to the PM's departure by the commotion
among the police. Many started running at Netanyahu's car, brandishing their banners and shouting 'Resign! Resign!'.
The well-known militant David Ovadyah, running at their head, was tackled by no less than ten policemen, who threw
him to the ground and kept him prostrate until the PM's car had sped away.
+++ On August 25, the military authorities did the only sensible thing and released Imad Sabi', the most famous
of the Palestinian Administrative Detainees (see TOI-76, p.12, TOI-79, p. 17). His well-written contributions to
the Israeli and international press, his extensive public correspondence with peace activists, his regular Ha'ir
column facetiously called 'Letters from Hawaii' ('Hawaii' being the military code name of his first prison) --
all made Sabi' an intolerable embarrassment for the authorities. Finally they allowed him to go to Holland and
take up a research job -- which had been his intention already when they arrested him. (Until he became so famous,
the Shabak had persistently claimed that Sabi' would be 'a security risk' even in Holland...)
His release does not, however, herald a solution to the general problem of Palestinians held in Administrative
Detention, without trial and without having any idea when they would be released. In fact, since the Jerusalem
bombings the number of such detainees doubled from 280 to 530.
On September 29, a delegation including several Tel-Aviv University lecturers -- together with reserve lieutenant
Yuval Lotem, well-known for having refused to serve as a guard over Administrative Detainees -- visited Ramallah
and met with detainees' families to prepare a joint campaign.
The increasing concern about the Iranian nuclear program is bringing home to Israelis that their country will not
enjoy forever a regional nuclear monopoly, and that sooner or later Israel -- like the U.S. in 1949 -- would be
facing an enemy armed with the same weapons of total destruction. This makes the idea of creating a nuclear-free
Middle East more relevant and gives part of the public more understanding for the nuclear whistleblower Mordechai
Vanunu, now entering a twelfth year in solitary confinement. Expressions of support for Vanunu in the mainstream
media are on the increase. ('I chose to make a film about Vanunu because he is a sensitive person, a man of conscience,
and one of the few true heroes I know of' -- Film-maker Danny Varta, at a TV art program, 14.7.)
Also among ordinary people, the image of Vanunu as spy and traitor is fading. This was discovered by sixteen international
anti-nuclear activists -- some with prison records themselves -- who gathered in Israel to mark the eleventh anniversary
of the Vanunu kidnapping with a week-long action (Sept. 24-30). Daily they demonstrated outside the Ashkelon Prison
and also picketed the Defence Ministry, Prime Minister's Office, President's Residence, and embassies. They were
prepared for hostile reactions. There were indeed quite of few of these -- but also a whole lot of friendly passers-by,
some remarking 'he suffered enough, they should let him out' while a surprising number of others expressed an articulate
support of nuclear disarmament.
The Sept. 27 demonstration at the Dimona Nuclear Pile -- or rather, some kilometres from it, the nearest the police
would allow -- drew some thirty Israeli participants, in addition to the internationals, and got into the TV news,
which also broadcast an interview with Meir Vanunu, the brother. The improvised meeting held afterwards at a roadside
restaurant had the effect of injecting the Israeli Vanunu Committee with new activists -- including a group of
vigorous teenagers, hitherto mainly involved in struggles for animal rights.
While Vanunu's release still seems a distant goal, Vanunu's dream of a free discussion on the nuclear issue is
fast becoming a reality. On July 30, Yediot Aharonot carried the once-unimaginable banner headline 'Israel's nuclear
base vulnerable and unsafe', quoting the prestigious London-based Jane's Defence Weekly and adding a detailed map
of the nuclear site.
This was followed by a precedent-setting verdict in which the Tel Aviv District Court awarded two and a half million
Shekels in damages to the family of a Dimona Pile employee who had died of cancer -- which, the court ruled, was
caused directly by radiation to which he was exposed and against which exposure the Pile Administration has taken
'not even the most elementary precautions'. The enormous articles published on this issue, once again by Yediot
Aharonot, did not mention Vanunu's name. Still, it was difficult not to see in them the beginning of vindication
for the imprisoned 'nuclear spy.' As it happened, the verdict was given exactly on Mordechai Vanunu's birthday,
October 13 -- a date marked with a new Askelon Prison vigil by the new, youthful anti-nuclear activists.
Israel: POB 7323, J'lem 91072; USA: 2206 Fox Ave., Madison, WI 53711; UK: 89 Borough High St., London SE1 INl
The war against houses
After the July 30 Jerusalem blast, Netanyahu authorised the Jerusalem municipal and West Bank military authorities
to resume demolition of 'illegal' Palestinian houses -- built without permit since hardly any permits are granted
to Palestinians. In the following month, no less than 48 Palestinian houses were demolished.
The first demolitions in Jerusalem, on August 4 at the the Shua'fat and Isswiya Neighborhoods, were carried out
with a media fanfare -- Mayor Olmart apparently feeling that he need not hide, since after the bombing any anti-Palestinian
act could be justified as being part of 'the war on terrorism.' The announcement a few hours in advance enabled
Peace Now and Meretz demonstrators to arrive at the spot, though they could not get through the police cordon.
Later demolitions were carried out without prior announcement.
On August 11, the new Committee Against House Demolitions brought a hundred protesters to a Silwan house over which
a demolition order was hanging. The participating Rabbis for Human Rights emphasized that this day, the eve of
the Ninth of Av Fast, was a day of mourning for the burning of Jerusalem by the Romans -- an event which Jewish
tradition commemorates as... The Destruction of The House.
On Aug. 23, the call of CAHD was joined by Hadash, Gush Shalom and Bat Shalom, resulting in a rally of hundreds,
with Israeli and foreign press present, at the ruins of the ten-member Kawasmeh family house at Katana Village.
Ahmed Kawasmeh told: 'The soldiers arrived without warning and destroyed my home, the home in which I invested
the savings of thirty-six years of work. What do they want of me? Do they want us to stop supporting Oslo?' (Zu
Part of the demonstrators also visited another part of the village -- finding a whole neighborhood which exists
under the shadow of demolition orders. They spent several hours talking and hearing of the inhabitants' precarious
situation, with ever more Palestinian families -- some from neighboring villages -- arriving to tell their story.
In the following days, the house demolitions were exposed both on CNN and in the New York Times.
On September 11, Jerusalem municipal controllers arrived at Sawhrah Arabiya, where five houses are under demolition
order, and ordered the inhabitants to take out their belongings as the houses would be demolished 'soon.' During
the weekend, Israeli Border Guards constantly patrolled around the houses. In the early morning of Sept. 14, ten
CAHD activists arrived at the request of the Palestinians. By mobile phones the media were informed of their intention
to offer non-violent resistance to the demolitions. The bulldozers, however, didn't arrive then, nor on the following
days. In fact during the following month almost no demolitions at all were reported, anywhere. This change should
be attributed to Secretary Albright becoming aware of the problem and referring to it explicitly.
On October 13, however, the Settler Council started a lobbying campaign for resumption of the anti-Palestinian
demolitions; judging others by their own standards, they actually accused the Palestinians of 'a plot to create
facts on the ground.' Netanyahu was quick to please them: already on the following day several more Palestinian
families were made homeless...
As this goes into print CAHD prepares to hold a protest action on Oct. 20 at Anabta Village, where 23 houses are
CAHD c/o Amos Gvirtz, Kibbutz Shfayim -- Ph 09-9523261
Consumers for peace
Through the years, the shelves of Israeli supermarkets are filling up with wines, foodstuffs, and other household
products made in settlements by producers enjoying generous government subsidies. Since in the Israeli peace movement
there isn't a strong tradition of consumer consciousness many supporters of peace don't pay attention to the origin
of what they buy. Gush Shalom decided to do something about it.
A provisional list of settlement products was prepared in Hebrew, Arabic and English. An updated list appears on
Gush Shalom's website. The action is being publicized by advertizing and distributing posters and bumper stickers,
reading: Every Shekel to the settlements is a Shekel against peace!
The campaign was launched at a Jerusalem press conference on September 28. Uri Avnery explained the idea of giving
a means of expression to all those who are desperate about the situation but feel helpless. A consumer boycott
would expose the settlers' isolation from the mainstream of Israeli society, bringing home to business people the
message that by investing in settlements they lose customers.
Campaign coordinator Oren Medicks talked about the deployment of protesters in different towns and contacts with
managers of marketing chains, who are requested to clearly mark products originating in settlements, or to place
them on separate shelves.
Paid ad in Ha'aretz on Sept. 26 and Oct. 4.
BOYCOTT PRODUCTS OF THE SETTLEMENTS!
DON'T HELP THEM DESTROY ISRAEL!
DON'T HELP THEM START ANOTHER WAR!
The Ras-el-Amud affair shows that a small group of fanatics can start a big fire. Such groups want to impose upon
us, the great majority, a policy that leads to national-messianic suicide.
YOU CAN STOP THEM!
Every Shekel which you pay to buy a product of the settlements strengthens the settlers and their extremist leaders.
Every Shekel which you pay to buy a product of the settlements attracts to them new investors, who are accorded
far-reaching privileges by the government.
Show them that it does not pay! Prove to them that the majority is on its guard!
Buy products of Israel, not of the settlements!
Boycott the hotbeds of fanaticism!
Boycott the centres of war!
Gush Shalom, POB 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033
Gush Shalom also wrote to the governments of the U.S., the European countries and others having trade treaties
with Israel. Since the Israeli authorities make no distinction between products from settlements in occupied territory
and those from Israel proper, a considerable amount of settler produce, especially farming products, is being exported
under the label 'made in Israel' -- though in international law, the settlements are not part of Israel. It was
suggested that benefits granted to Israeli products under trade treaties be made conditional upon documents clearly
indicating that they were produced within Israel's internationally-recognised boundaries.
Contact: Gush Shalom, Ph 972-3-5221731, fax -5271108
When bit by bit the Israeli public became aware of the exposed and failed assassination affair there was much speculation
that this would cost the Prime Minister his job. This failure would be 'one too far'. This time he would not succeed
in diffusing public attention by creating just another scandal -- a row with one of the ministers; problems with
his wife leaked to the press, or some other diverting paperazzi bait. But, after a few days, already the storm
could be felt letting down.
A much-heard question: how come that Netanyahu can afford so many failures. It isn't that he has such a strong
majority behind him. After all, he had the smallest of victories in the elections. His government is based on a
complicated coalition. His own right-of-center Likud party lost some 30% of its seats and therefore needed not
only the support of all the mutually hostile religious parties but also of the new Russian party, whose immigrant
voters expect, among other things, to be protected against religious coercion. This is only one paradox. The Likud's
Thatcherist economic policy is another -- with the religious parties, as well as the Russian slate representing
relatively poor constituencies (and -- to make the paradox complete: the Likud itself finds its voters among the
poorer half of the population).
Still, it seems that late Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin suffered much more from the ethnic divide and other contradictions
in Israeli society, while his Likud predecessor, the straightforward Shamir, was defeated as soon as he got into
conflict with the endeavours of the Bush-Baker team.
But Netanyahu provokes the whole world, antagonizes the press, undermines the peace process, defies the Americans,
cheats his voters, and is responsible for one scandal after the other, and it does not seem to hurt him. True,
the new electoral law gives the Prime Minister more power, but Netanyahu does not even succeed in realizing that
power; again and again he gives in on what he had started with much bravado and his being pressurable is one of
the common criticisms. Furthermore, the new law definitely does not explain why at moments of his worst blunders
he still seems not to be doing that bad in opinion polls.
There must be a deeper reason for the Prime Minister's being so fiasco-proof. Probably, the phenome-
non Netanyahu is uniting in itself contradictions which make him fit to survive in the troubled Israeli society.
He is insecure but wearing a mask of arrogance; he is cynical but at the same time slippery, and he fights best
with his back against the wall.
In fact, the only thing which really counts in the Israeli set-up is the national question. Netanyahu's irresponsible
provocations of the Palestinians, the Syrians, and the Americans are all applauded by the extreme-right; at the
same time, his own failures force him from time to time 'to make up for them', and give something to the other
side; and when the whole world is against him he is the underdog, which arouses feelings of loyalty among at least
some of his disenchanted followers.
His bringing the country to the brink of war is, apart from angering many, also inciting the people, fueling hatred
and eroding confidence in the possibility of peace. As a leader of the nationalist camp, every terrorist attack
'only proves him right', and every excessive brutality of his counteractions, even when leading to disaster, does
satisfy the gut feelings of his constituency. And when in spite of all this the counterforces build up too much,
then Netanyahu has still his cunning in profiting from 'failures' which like a Judo master he uses to switch direction.
Altogether, the 'Bibivirus' is not easily gotten rid of. It will be around for some time yet, and one can only
hope that those who care will provide enough antidote as to avoid its lethal potential.