The Other Israel _ November 1999, Issue No. 91
Red Lines vs. Green Line, an Editorial Overview
Call it Torture
Khiam is a Shame!"
The Majority Decided to Stop There,
a Portrait of Oren Medicks, by Beate Zilversmidt
Settlement Boycott and the Multinationals:
Burger King and Benetton
News of the Peace Struggle
Center for Coexistence opened October 27
Netivot police harassment of Palestinian workers is stopped
Peace Now on the Road
Who Speaks for Rabin? by Adam Keller
Demolition Season Reopened
More Peace Struggle News
one of "50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years"
Dr. Mussa Budeiri's Jerusalem residency permit
is taken away and restored
Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents
work together for peace
Gush Shalom Inspection Tour of the Jerusalem area settlements,
guided by M. Warshawsky of the Alternative Information Center
Remember Versailles, by Uri Avnery
[THE OTHER ISRAEL is the newsletter of the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, P.O.Box 2542, 58125
Phone/Fax: (03) 5565804; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Adam Keller
Coeditor: Beate Zilversmidt
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The Other Israel
November 1999, Issue No. 91
RED LINES vs. GREEN LINE
During the past decade, Israeli governments got into the habit of reopening and renegotiating international agreements
entered into by a predecessor. Such behaviour may have made some sense in 1996, when the arch-nationalist Netanyahu
found himself obliged to carry out agreements signed by Rabin and Peres. But, to the unpleasant surprise of his
own voters, Ehud Barak showed himself equally reluctant to carry out the Wye Agreement which he inherited and which
obliged Israel to a (very partial) implementation of what it had undertaken at Oslo -- withdrawal from 13% of the
West Bank. But it shouldn't have surprised anybody.
Both as Army Chief-of-Staff when the original Oslo Agreement was signed and as a minister in Rabin's cabinet during
the signing of Oslo II, Barak had expressed himself against the very basis of the agreement. Giving up part of
the territory during the interim period constituted, in Barak's view, "a loss of negotiating counters"
which should have been preserved for the "final status" stage.
Consistent with this view, Barak -- soon after coming to power -- voiced his desire to delay implementing most
of the "territorial element" of Wye, and to "merge" that "element" with the territorial
withdrawals which Israel would make if and when the definite border with its Palestinian neighbor is established.
This precipitated the first major crisis of Barak's term, with Palestinians especially furious at Barak's assurance
that the proposed change was "for the Palestinians' own good."
The atmosphere of optimism, good will and high expectations which had followed Barak's election was wiped out overnight
-- to be replaced by a prolonged exchange of acrimonious accusations between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships.
In Israel itself, the nickname "Barakyahu", started as a columnist's sneer, quickly became a byword.
Months of tense and tortuous negotiations failed to gain Barak's main goal -- putting off the Wye withdrawals until
the definition of the final status -- and brought the U.S. back in as an effective arbiter, from which role the
new Prime Minister had sought to exclude his Washington allies. Because of the renewed suspicion towards Israeli
promises, the Palestinians obtained an American guarantee that the Israeli withdrawal will take place regardless
of developments in the final status negotiations -- though they had to agree to it being postponed to January 2000,
two months behind the original Wye time line.
At the Egyptian resort of Sharm-Al-Sheikh which housed the signing ceremony, February 2000 was set as the target
date for achieving a Declaration of Principles, which would supposedly include solutions for all the intractable
issues still separating Israelis and Palestinians: Palestinian statehood, the borders, the fate of the settlements,
water sources, Jerusalem, the refugees...
After that, further negotiations are to elaborate on these principles and transform them into details concrete
enough to be implemented -- which, to judge from past experience, is likely to develop into a tug-of-war all over
again. And a definite peace treaty is supposed to be ready for signature by September 2000 -- just before U.S.
elections, in time for President Bill Clinton to still get the credit.
Barak's undertaking of such an ambitious and binding timetable -- added to his previous public commitment to get
Israeli troops out of Lebanon by July 2000 -- was the source of considerable speculation. The right-wing nationalist
opposition accused the Prime Minister of intending far-reaching concessions, "since otherwise he would never
meet his deadlines."
The Palestinians, for their part, tended to suspect an opposite intention -- to browbeat them into accepting extravagant
Israeli claims -- particularly since periods of elections in the United States had in the past given Israeli governments
an edge in American-brokered negotiations.
Despite the smiles and handshakes in Sharm-Al-Sheikh, tensions were far from dissipated -- with Barak reiterating
his famous "Red Lines": no withdrawal to the 1967 borders, annexation of sizeable "settlement blocs",
exclusive Israeli rule over the whole of Jerusalem.
Even more ominously, Barak categorically refused to call a halt to the construction of new housing in the settlements,
creating ever-new accomplished facts in advance of the negotiations.
(Sharm-Al-Sheikh -- the venue offered by Egyptian
President Mubarak -- had itself been between 1967 and 1982 just such a fait accompli, part of a string of Israeli
settlements in then-occupied Sinai. Continued possession of "Ophira" -- as it was then named -- had been
for years declared to be "strategically vital for Israel", but in the end it was evacuated without much
The Barak-Assad poker game
The proceedings between Israel and the Palestinians were carefully watched at Damascus. Syrian President Assad,
who never bore much friendship or appreciation for Yasser Arafat, had since 1993 considered the Palestinian leader
as gravely mistaken in having signed the original Oslo Agreement and entering upon a process of partial interim
agreements. The subsequent six years -- full of Israeli non-adherence to Oslo timetables and renegotiating of signed
agreements -- served to further confirm Assad in that opinion.
Assad became all the more determined that a Syrian-Israeli agreement, if and when it came into being, would be
based on entirely different principles: no interim or intermediate stages, no unclear points left for later elucidation,
all terms set out clearly and unequivocally from the very start.
The first days of the new government saw an unprecedented "mutual flirtation" between the new Israeli
Prime Minister and the veteran Syrian President. The two exchanged compliments, and Israeli-Syrian negotiations
-- officially broken off in March 1996, though secretly continued even in the Netanyahu period -- seemed about
An Israeli-Syrian deal, involving withdrawal from the occupied Golan Heights in return for peace, appeared imminent
-- especially given that Barak had spoken more or less openly in favor of such a deal (on one occasion, to an audience
of Golan settlers). Moreover, the "Golan Party", advocating retention of the territory in Israeli control,
had failed to gain even a single seat in the elections, and a considerable proportion of the Golan settlers seemed
willing to accept evacuation for the sake of peace.
Nevertheless, there does exist a gap between what the Syrians demand and what Barak is willing to give, though
it comes to but a few disputed kilometres at some points of the old, inadequately demarked Israeli-Syrian border.
(In fact, no less than three competing former borderlines can be -- and are -- constantly cited in Israeli-Syrian
altercations: the old international boundary defined in 1923 between Britain, then ruling Mandatory Palestine,
and France -- holding Syria; the ceasefire line which ended the 1948 fighting between the two countries; and the
border of 1967, which was never officially demarked on any map, and which had come about as the result of a de-facto
partition of demilitarized zones.)
Still, these few disputed kilometres do embody a substantial issue: whether or not the Syrians will possess a shore
on the Lake of Galilee. 'Would Syrian soldiers dangle their feet in the water reaching Israeli taps?' has already
become a cliche catch phrase in speeches and articles.
The short-lived Barak-Assad "honeymoon" dissipated in renewed suspicion and recriminations. Furious diplomatic
debate centered on the status of the "hypothetical proposition" which Rabin had transmitted to the Syrian
via the Americans, allegedly offering withdrawal to the 1967 border in return for specified peace terms and security
arrangements. Meanwhile the opening of official negotiations receded further and further into an uncertain future.
Within Israel, the crestfallen "Golan Lobby" was able to rally again, and recruit support not only from
the right-wing opposition, but also from disgruntled members of Barak's own ruling coalition; in particular, they
were successful with the Russian immigrants, who had supported Barak mainly because of social issues where he so
far failed to keep his promises -- and whose votes may decide a referendum on the Golan, such as Barak committed
himself to holding.
There had been previous occasions when peace with Syria seemed imminent, and still the diplomatic moves came to
naught. However, Barak's public promise to withdraw Israeli troops from Lebanon, Israel's Vietnam, by July 2000
-- a promise which was central in his elections campaign -- adds a dimension of urgency to Israeli-Syrian relations.
In the past decade, Syria had used its effective control of Lebanon to facilitate the ongoing guerrilla war against
Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, a convenient means of exerting pressure on Israel without putting Syria's
own soldiers on the line. Should the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon be unilateral and unlinked with the Golan
issue, Syria would lose this leverage.
The only options left to Assad in such a case would
be to encourage attacks from the evacuated zone into Israel's own territory, or to heat up the Golan front which
had been quiet since 1974 and which is quite close to Damascus; both would be far more risky than the present gambit.
For his part, Barak too would prefer to withdraw from Lebanon as part of a comprehensive deal, with both the Syrian-backed
Beirut Government and Damascus itself, so as to have a guarantee against attacks on northern Israel. A serious
cross-border attack, following a unilateral withdrawal, could cause the fickle Israeli public opinion to holler
for retaliation -- forcing Barak to engage in a campaign of bombing the Lebanese infrastructure, such as Netanyahu
conducted in his very last weeks in office, and which could lead to all kinds of unforeseen complications. As it
seems, both Assad and Barak have an interest in reaching an agreement -- or at least getting seriously engaged
in talks -- well before the July 2000 deadline; but poker players that they both are, neither seems in a hurry.
Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers in South Lebanon batten down in their outposts. The IDF's vaunted "counter-guerrilla"
raids and ambushes have ceased, with commanding officers strictly ordered to avoid casualties at nearly any prize.
Left hand, right hand
The Barak Government's three months in office did see some ameliorations in the treatment of Palestinians, in various
spheres where an improvement had been long overdue.
Some of these resulted from clauses in the Wye Agreement which Netanyahu had signed but had no intention of implementing;
others -- from the combined influence of international pressures, the activities of peace and human rights organizations,
Supreme Court rulings, and -- last but not least -- the initiatives of liberal ministers within the Barak Government
itself. But practically all of these measures remain incomplete or insecure, with an array of counter-forces in
the political, military and bureaucratic spheres poised to roll them back.
Sure, at long last the "Safe Passage" opened between Gaza Strip and West Bank -- the same passage which
was promised by Rabin as far back as 1993, and whose implementation was put off again and again. A very real change
for thousands of Gazans, who had so many years endured the life of virtual prisoners within their narrow, overcrowded
But quite a few Gazans are still denied this elementary privilege, their names having been vetoed by the Israeli
security services -- a secret judgment by invisible judges, from which there is no appeal. The most well-known
of those condemned to continued confinement within the Strip is journalist Taheer Shriteh, Gazan representative
of the New York Times and the BBC, whose case got some attention in the Israeli press (Jerusalem Post, 21.10).
The demolitions of "illegal" Palestinian homes were considerably reduced in number -- but not stopped
altogether. Interior Minister Sharansky announced an end to the policy of depriving East Jerusalem Palestinians
of their residency permits -- but the bureaucracy was tardy in implementing the minister's directive, and the directive
itself was, in any case, less clear and straightforward than it was presented to the press...
The Supreme Court forbade the Israeli security services to use their customary methods of torture on Palestinian
prisoners -- and as far as human rights lawyers and field workers can determine, the interrogators do comply with
the ruling. But a powerful lobby, including PM Barak himself, is pushing for a law to legalize and reintroduce
the banned interrogation methods.
Meanwhile, Osama Barhum, the last of the long-serving Administrative Detainees, was released after six years with
no charges ever brought against him -- being warmly greeted by fellow villagers at his West Bank home, and by Israeli
academics of the "Open Doors" group who had corresponded with him and campaigned for his release.
With less publicity, the number of Administrative Detainees in general has been decreasing, from hundreds to less
than forty -- but Justice Minister Beilin seems to have dropped his intention to altogether abolish this kind of
imprisonment without trial, leaving open the option of a new wide scale wave of detentions at some future occasion.
Of about two thousand Palestinians held in Israeli prisons after being sentenced by Israeli military courts --
charged with various actions which Israeli law defines as terrorism, and which Palestinians generally regard as
justifiable armed struggle against occupation -- Barak consented, at the end of sharp negotiations, to release
350. It was far less than the 650 which Netanyahu promised at Wye -- but then, Barak did agree to release genuine
politicals, while his predecessor had intended to "fill the quota" with Palestinian car thieves and common
On these and similar issues -- each having its own significance and importance to individual Palestinians, to the
Palestinians as a whole, to the relations between the two peoples -- Barak seems to leave quite a bit of leeway
for the interplay of forces. But he is clearly determined to keep in his own hands the most decisive sphere: the
Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, their maintenance, extension and/or dismantling -- that is,
the kind of activity which is designed to preempt negotiations, to make demographic changes and stake claims to
Barak & the settlers
In the very first days of the Barak Government, settlement policy seemed chaotic, leaving it to different ministers
to define their own divergent policies, according to personal inclination and their party background.
Upon entering the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ran Cohen of the peace-minded Meretz Party instructed the ministry
officials to stop any investment in the industrial zones of the settlements. At the same time Rabbi Yitzchak Levy,
leader of the National Religious Party, gained the key Ministry of Housing and immediately embarked upon an ambitious
program of settlement expansion, via the publication of tenders for thousands of housing units.
The discrepancy was, however, resolved swiftly -- and not in the way which most of Barak's voters would have liked.
A group of settlers appealed to the Supreme Court against Cohen's investment ban. Even before it came to be heard,
the State Attorney's bureau made clear to Cohen that his policy could not be defended in court: until and unless
the new government defines new "areas of national priority", the "national priorities" fixed
by the Netanyahu Government -- which decreed special subsidies and preferential treatment to settlements, in all
spheres of life -- remain in force; all ministers are legally bound to adhere to them -- or resign.
Cohen chose not to take the latter option, preferring -- "with a gnashing of teeth", as he was quoted
saying -- to await the findings of "an experts' commission" which had been appointed by Barak to present
recommendations for new "national priorities" and which seems in no hurry to complete that task.
By the same token, Barak curtly dismissed the dovish ministers' complaints about Levy's housing tenders, which
were "within still-valid policy guidelines." Actually, the diligent Settlement Watch Team of Peace Now
revealed that Levy's settlement housing tenders even outstripped those issued under the previous government.
To remove all doubts, the PM declared himself to be "closer on settlement issues to Rabbi Levy than to [Meretz
leader and Education Minister] Yossi Sarid." Rather startling, considering that Levy's NRP had been a loyal
member of the Netanyahu cabinet and only jumped on Barak's bandwagon after the elections, while Sarid personally
and Meretz in general had supported the Barak campaign all the way.
The PM's revealing remark was made in the midst of a debate on an issue which has troubled the Barak Government
since its formation: the forty-two "hilltop outposts" which were established by settlers in the last
six months of the Netanyahu Government and with that government's active support, expressly intended for the purpose
of presenting any new government with as many accomplished facts as possible.
The Meretz ministers repeatedly demanded the removal of the outposts -- in close cooperation with Peace Now, which
held demonstrations and protests. After two months of holding them off, Barak finally convened the Ministerial
Committee on Settlement, which has the authority to rule on such issues -- and which also has a built-in parity
between doves and hawks.
Thus, the ministerial meeting -- held in the Prime Minister's Office on the afternoon of October 10, with hundreds
of peace activists picketing the building and chanting furious anti-settler slogans -- had the sole, predetermined
result of authorizing the Prime Minister to deal with the issue at his discretion.
Many "outposts" were illegal -- not only by international law, which altogether forbids an occupying
power to settle its citizens in an occupied territory, but even under the heavily biased military law designed
to serve the needs of occupation and settlement extension.
In essence, all that is needed to make a settlement legal under Israeli law is the government's say-so -- but the
settlers, even with the friendly Netanyahu Government at their disposal, had not bothered to acquire such an official
authorization, with all the correct and formal procedures, for all of their land-grabbing expeditions.
The army originally advised Barak that some 24 or 25 "outposts" might be considered "illegal",
and to be removed. The PM declared his decision to remove 15 -- effectively legitimizing the remaining 27. That
did not prevent the settlers and their political lobby making the predictable outcry; Barak entered into night-long
negotiations with their leaders, emerging in the morning with an agreement by which the number of vacated outposts
would be further reduced to 12, and the settler leaders would undertake to "persuade" the groups of "radical
young settlers" occupying the hilltops to move away voluntarily.
Of course, the settler leaders were in no particular hurry to fulfill their part of the contract, and meanwhile
news started to filter out about further elements of the deal Barak had made: that some of the "Young Settler"
groups will only be moved one or two kilometres, that others had been promised that they would be allowed to return
within a few months, that the evacuated land will remain in the settlers' possession for agricultural use, that
in return they would be allowed to extend their "municipal zones"...
Just as disgust among the part of the electorate which brought Barak to power was reaching a peak, the PM took
a firm stand -- giving the settlers a few more days to complete the evacuation by themselves, and otherwise be
evicted by the army. Coincidentally or not, this new pronouncement was timed for November 3 -- eve of the great
Rabin Memorial Rally, in which Barak needed the Peace Camp's grassroots to show up and be counted...
On the day after the rally, the settlers asked for a few more days' grace, which the PM graciously granted. And
so do things stand at the time of writing.
The grand design
From press leaks -- in particular, a series of articles by Dan Margalit of Ha'aretz, Ehud Barak's most faithful
mouthpiece -- the Hilltop Outpost farce is very serious business. In fact, it is nothing less than a dress rehearsal
for carrying out the agreement with the Palestinians, as envisaged by Barak.
The agreement would provide for evacuation of smaller settlements scattered in outlying parts of the West Bank,
which would become part of the Palestinian state; the Palestinians would accept the annexation to Israel of three
big "settlement blocs", which would include a majority of the total settler population; the settler council,
representing the interests of the "blocs", would -- after token protests -- collaborate in the removal
of their fellow-settlers; and Barak, avoiding the polarization which had been Rabin's downfall, would go down in
history as both a
Rabin's downfall, would go down in history as both a great peacemaker and the great unifier of Israeli society.
But apart from the still unproven assumption that the settler leadership would indeed collaborate to that extent,
Barak's grand design has a big flaw: by being annexed to Israel, the settlement blocs envisaged would cut the Palestinian
territory into a series of disconnected enclaves, making a mockery of the statehood and sovereignty which Barak
is supposedly ready to offer the Palestinians.
It is difficult to envisage Arafat accepting such a peace, or convincing his people to support it in the referendum
which is supposed to be held concurrently with the one in Israel.
The November 2 summit in Oslo, at which the final status negotiations were officially launched, was overshadowed
by the settlements: the hilltop outposts, the tenders for thousands of housing units, Barak's settlement blocs...
The beautiful decor of the Norwegian capital's town hall, where the moving ceremony in memory of Rabin took place;
the peace poem written by a 13-year old Israeli girl who was soon after killed in a terrorist attack, and read
out by a Norwegian girl of the same age; President Clinton's exhortation 'do not say: a day will come -- bring
the day", which was a quotation from Israel's Peace Song which Rabin had sung on the evening of his death
-- none of them could hide the obvious tension between Barak and Arafat.
A leak in Ma'ariv -- yet another of the deliberate ones originating at the Prime Minister's bureau -- predicted
that at the "Camp David style" summit, due in January, Arafat would be "well cooked" (sic!)
and "accept Barak's offer, seeing he had no other option." But in Bethlehem, five days of fierce Intifada
style fighting between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths followed the killing of a young Palestinian, in
disputed circumstances the truth of which will probably never come to light.
And at the Knesset in West Jerusalem, General Eli Malka, head of Israeli Military Intelligence, uttered a dire
warning: 'For the moment, the Palestinians do not plan large scale violence. But they retain the ability to do
so, should the talks collapse' (Nov.3, quoted in all Israeli papers).
Nobel Prize -- without peace?
The options for the near future -- given Ehud Barak's elaborate plans and arrogant posture -- seem less than cheerful.
One possibility is that he will, indeed, succeed in imposing on Arafat a supposedly final and definite peace agreement
falling below the most bare minimum of Palestinian aspirations. Such an agreement may well win short-term international
praise, and possibly even a Nobel Peace Prize or two, but would leave the Palestinians suffocating -- which means
that, sooner or later, it would burst apart in renewed conflict, all the more fierce for the shattered illusion
By another scenario, Arafat would walk out of the talks -- faced with unacceptable conditions presented by Barak
as non-negotiable and with American unwillingness or inability to budge him. This may be followed by a unilateral
Palestinian Declaration of Independence, and possibly an armed clash -- as Israel seeks to bring the rebellious
Palestinians to heel, or as the new Palestine tries to assert its territorial authority over settlements and/or
open the border crossings with Egypt and Jordan.
The bloody scenarios which proliferated in the countdown to what had been the May 1999 Deadline, and which were
put off by the Israeli elections and the fall of Netanyahu, may after all come to pass -- under the very Prime
Minister voted into office by the peace-seeking part of the Israeli society...
A third possibility -- and perhaps the most likely -- would be for the negotiators to eventually give up any attempt
to reach a definitive peace agreement, settling instead for yet another interim agreement of five or ten years'
duration. Such an agreement may, for example, provide for the creation of a Palestinian state with "provisional
borders" and a "provisional capital", leaving East Jerusalem and big portions of the West Bank in
a limbo of still-undetermined status. This would accord well with the general trend of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle
East since the 1970s, which kept every "land for peace" deal partial, so as to keep some territory for
the next American-brokered deal.
For his part, Barak -- despite his aversion to interim agreements -- might prefer such a deal over returning altogether
empty-handed to his voters; and Arafat would do the same, so as not to have to give up the ultimate Palestinian
Our articles may be reprinted, provided they include the address The Other Israel POB 2542, Holon 58125, Israel.
Such an outcome might delay the outburst of violent confrontation -- but also diminish the chances for real peace.
If there is any clear lesson to be drawn from the period since the original Oslo handshake of September 1993, it
is that a prolonged interim period, with vital issues left open, does not lead to a gradual building of trust and
confidence -- as was blithely assumed six years ago.
On the contrary, another such period -- with the two sides working at cross purposes, constantly seeking to preempt
and upstage each other, with Palestinians still exposed to Israeli oppression and Israelis still the targets of
Palestinian terrorism -- would further alienate and estrange the two peoples.
It is sad to contemplate such bleak options for the future, just a short time after the elation of "getting
rid of Netanyahu." Even more sad to contemplate them while feeling sure that both peoples are as close as
they would ever come to take the decisive step towards real peace, a peace based on the Green Line, Israel's internationally
recognized border -- which seems the only reasonable compromise between justice and power. Such a peace, achieved
by true leadership, could gain the support of an overwhelming majority on both sides.
While at difficult moments in the three years of Netanyahu expecting an eventual change of government was a comfort
of sorts, no such comfort is now available. Nor can it be expected that the mainstream peace camp would confront
this government as it confronted Netanyahu. From the dovish ministers inside the cabinet to the enthusiastic youths
on Rabin Square, supporters of the peace camp regard this government as "their own", whose coming to
power was the result of their struggle; they will forgive or overlook many things -- certainly as long as the peace
process seems to be more or less on track. Things would only be different should Barak's "Red Lines"
and "Settlement Blocks" precipitate the deep crisis which is inherent in them.
For the time being, one can only draw stark comfort from restating the bedrock realities which underlie the shifting
rush of daily events. For the Palestinians -- who already lost in 1948 some 80% of their historic homeland -- gaining
a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem, is an existential need. If worst comes
to the worst, it is possible to imagine Arafat, however much his popular support was eroded by the continuing frustrations
of the Oslo process, leading his people in still another desperate struggle for their basic rights.
On the other hand, for Israelis -- inhabiting the region's richest and most powerful country -- the same territories
are a luxury they could well do without. The fanatics still imbued with a Biblical-pioneering ethos are -- when
all is said and done -- a minority even among the settlers, completely out of tune with the hedonistic, consumerist
Israeli society which has no desire to fight and make sacrifices for the sake of a bit more territory.
Such was the basic advantage which oppressed peoples throughout history had over their oppressors and occupiers
-- and on numerous historical occasions it proved weightier than the military advantage that the oppressor inevitably
Our task, as peace activists -- to confront the society in which we live on all possible levels and let this truth
be understood before it is driven home at an inordinate price in blood and tears.
Call it torture
In choosing to challenge the practice of torture by Shabak (Security Service) interrogators, Israeli human rights
lawyers and activists over the past three decades took up what seemed a quixotic struggle against overwhelming
The pioneers, such as Adv. Felicia Langer in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 war, had an uphill struggle just
to prove that torture was being practiced. The Shabak, the government and all of the mainstream press joined in
denying it as "vicious Arab propaganda." In these still-naive days, also many of Adv. Langer's fellow
peace activists found it difficult to believe that "our boys" would be capable of doing such things to
In the 1980's there was no longer room for doubt. Israeli human rights organizations had gained strength and resources;
editors of mainstream papers no longer hesitated to publish what had been the province of obscure radical magazines.
The methods of torture practiced -- denial of sleep and food, covering the head with a stinking sack over many
days, exposure to heat, cold and loud music, prolonged tying up in painful postures -- were all researched and
described in detail, corroborated by hundreds of separate testimonies. So was the method of "shaking",
an innocuous euphemism for a practice which had cost the life of more than one detainee.
But the exposure of torture, and the government's no longer bothering to deny it, did not lead to its abolition.
In fact, it came close to legitimizing it, with the commission headed by Supreme Court Judge Landau okaying "moderate
physical pressure." The majority of Israelis -- including many who in general support peace issues -- proved
willing to accept uncritically the torturing of "terrorists" so as to locate any "ticking bombs"
they may know about -- an attitude naturally increased by the wave of Hamas suicide bombings in the 1990's. A B'tzelem
field activist told TOI: "Every year I am invited to speak in schools. The pupils can sympathize with many
human rights issues, but when it comes to torture you run into a stonewall."
Thus, the use of "moderate physical pressure" became a standard practice, experienced by about 85% of
the Palestinians who fell into the Shabak's hands, most of whom had nothing to do with bombs -- ticking or otherwise.
Even while asserting at the Supreme Court that the interrogation of a particular prisoner was "vitally important
to save lives", the Shabak saw nothing wrong with suspending the same vital interrogation while the interrogators
went home on weekends.
A Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) was formed by veteran activists who decided to devote all
their energy to this specific issue -- in cooperation with the established human rights organizations. Lawyers
such as the indefatigable Andre Rosenthal went to the Supreme Court with case after case of imprisoned Palestinians,
undaunted by its "no intervention" rulings which effectively sanctioned the continuing torture; an endless
stream of faxes and emails went all over the world from the PCATI office, meticulously giving the details of each
and every case; PCATI activists went out on the streets of Jerusalem near the notorious Russian Compound Interrogation
Center, conducting "street theatre" and acting out for the benefit of bypassers what the Shabak interrogators
were doing behind the high walls...
It became more and more of an embarrassment for the political and judicial establishment, to be exposed as so out
of tune with the Western World of which Israel claims to be part and in which Supreme Courts do not routinely issue
"Torture Warrants", as Allen Dershowitz, the unpredictable American Jewish jurist dubbed them. (He was
trying to defend the Israeli Supreme Court because of the specific
Israeli emergencies, exactly what Israeli jurists no longer accept as an excuse for everything.)
Supreme Court President Aharon Barak (no relation of the PM) may have taken it to heart, when his colleagues at
the Yale University Law School had to work hard to dissuade a group of students from their plan of disrupting Judge
Barak's annual lecture at that august institution.
On the other hand, a clear decision against torture was certain to turn Judge Barak personally -- and the Supreme
Court as an institution -- into prime scapegoats after the next serious terrorist attack to hit an Israeli city.
Verdicts on less controversial issues already got the ultra-Orthodox rabbis organizing huge rallies outside the
court building, and Barak himself got quite a few death threats.
As the Judges hesitated, the whole array of human rights organizations, with the full weight of their legal talents,
joined the fray with one appeal after another dealing with the fundamentals of the torture issue: Avigdor Feldman,
Allegra Pacheco and Leah Tzemel on behalf of PCATI and of three Palestinian prisoners in Shabak custody; Andre
Rosenthal and Eliyahu Avram for Hamoked, Center for the Defence of the Individual, and for prisoner Wa'el al Ka'aka;
Dan Yakir for ACRI, the Civil Rights Association -- oldest and most respectable of the Israeli HR community...
Barak and his fellow judges took their time. The seven major appeals were grouped together, as presenting an important
juridical point to be deliberated at length. Years passed. In the meantime, more routine appeals -- just a single
prisoner simply asking for the urine-soaked sack to be removed from his head -- continued to be routinely dismissed
on a technicality...
But there is a limit to how far legal sophistry could be stretched to reconcile, again and again, the reality of
the Shabak interrogation cellars with the Basic Law on Human Liberty and Dignity, Judge Barak's special favorite
on the law books, or with the International Convention Against Torture which Israeli signed in 1991.
In retrospect it seems simple; but the lawyers and activists who gathered to hear the final verdict on the morning
of September 6 expected, at best, some limited amelioration in the prisoners' condition. What they heard was described
by the veteran Adv. Leah Tzemel -- usually a down-to-earth person not given to extravagance: 'The decision was
like pure beautiful music. The Court was reading the correct, perfect, obvious decision and I felt as if it had
just recreated the Bill of Human Rights. Every argument we had researched, any claim we had brought for years and
years, all found their natural place in this decision. All the methods of torture were described and enumerated,
and they were all, one by one, completely and unambiguously forbidden. Forbidden. Forbidden.' (Kol Ha'ir, 10.9).
The representatives of the Shabak at the courtroom seemed just as much taken by surprise. Within hours a directive
went out from Shabak Director Ami Ayalon, and all sacks were immediately pulled off heads, and painful handcuffs
taken off. As far as could be determined by careful investigation and collection of evidence, the Shabak tried
no tricks -- but maybe this demonstrative, strict adherence was itself a gambit.
The "Torture Lobby" -- a whole group of columnists, some of them among what passes here for 'liberals'
-- started at once hollering for a law to "restore the country's ability to combat terrorism." The Likud
opposition immediately produced such a torture-legalizing bill -- acting as cat's paw for Prime Minister Barak,
who did not hide his displeasure with the handiwork of his judicial namesake: "We are not Holland. Here, different
rules are needed." On the other hand of the spectrum, Hadash KM Tamar Gozanski reintroduced her anti-torture
bill, first presented in 1991 -- which makes the International Convention Against Torture part of Israeli internal
Relying just on the internal balance of forces in the Israeli parliamentary scene, the pro-torture bill has a much
better chance of passage -- especially should a conspicuous act of terrorism inflame public opinion, which is far
from unlikely. On the other hand, Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin has so far been standing firm: "No country
in the world has a law legitimizing torture. For any Western country, the very idea is abhorrent. We would be stepping
straight into the place vacated by Apartheid South Africa."
PCATI, POB 8588, Jerusalem; firstname.lastname@example.org;
B'tzelem, 43 Emek Refa'im St., J'lem; HaMoked, 4 Abu Ubeida St., J'lem; ACRI, POB 35401, Jerusalem.
'Khiam is a shame!'
Among the many email messages which arrive at the screen of a known-to-be peace activist the following call looked
What do you know about El Khiam prison? Probably not much, if you rely on the Israeli press for information.
Every year, hundreds of Lebanese citizens are detained in this prison, under administrative arrest and without
trial. Without any kind of legal supervision. It is probably the most demonic facility operated by the Israeli
government. For years, it has been strictly closed to the press. Ex-detainees have reported torture in medieval
dimensions, including electric shocks.
A recent arrest of Cosette Ibrahim, a 25-year old Lebanese journalist, has attracted the attention of human rights
groups around the world to El Khiam. Cosette was accused of writing reports about South Lebanon, and transferring
information to Hizbullah and the Lebanese army. The Lebanese claim that the Israeli army wanted her silenced because
she wrote anti-Israeli articles about the situation in South Lebanon. Which version is true? Does it even matter
when there is no trial?
We don't know about El Khiam because they don't want us to know.
It is our civil duty to DEMAND to know what our army is doing in our name.
-- We will protest against the fact that we don't know.
-- We will meet with people who DO know and get the information that we are denied about El Khiam.
-- We will demand the stop of dark, illegal activities
that require a code of silence, more than a decade old.
It was at the initiative of two women, Yona Rochlin and Irith Katriel, who had been involved in the Withdrawal
from Lebanon campaign and became sick and tired of only looking at what happens to "our" soldiers. They
started to pick up information about what happens to the other side from international Human Rights groups. And
when the imprisonment of 25-year old Lebanese journalist Cosette Ibrahim, had ignited more than average international
attention, Rochlin and Katriel decided that now was the time. They decided to hold simultaneously with protests
in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Sept. 27 a protest in Tel-Aviv opposite the Defence Ministry, and started mobilizing
the Israeli peace camp which so far neglected what was going in the prisons of Israel's SLA mercenaries. Human
Rights Advocate Allegra Pacheco had already taken some cases to court, but without a protest movement it didn't
result in recognition of Israeli moral responsibility for what is happening out there.
Probably it was an advantage that two women could not easily be identified with a party or an organization. With
enormous energy and skill they did it all: from contacting the press and different peace and human rights groups,
to sitting phoning for days and inviting people personally for the demonstration, up to starting at once an active
And to the first protest vigil came some 50 people, representing quite a variety of organizations. The press was
there too. And there started to appear articles, in all Hebrew dailies. A bit later the television followed suit.
Per email came the message that a warm response had been received from Lebanese Khiam Solidarity activists and
that photographs of the Tel-Aviv action had appeared in Lebanese papers.
A second action was announced, for October 27, declared by Amnesty International a special day for worldwide protests
about the Khiam Prison. And every day brought more news. A new appeal to the Supreme Court had been rather more
successful, thanks to the spotlight and in the wake of the recent Supreme Court stance against torture. That verdict
provided a precedent for the struggle against the daily routine of Khiam prison. Now, it was at least confirmed
in an official affidavit of the Israeli military that there is -- though no direct involvement -- a certain amount
of Israeli control over what goes on in Khiam Prison. The SLA's deputy commander was not happy -- the anti-war
movement is already threatening his job; he complained in an interview on Israel-I TV (27.10) that 'Israeli democracy
is the problem', but that in Khiam prison 'everything is fine.'
On October 27, more than a hundred people came, and one could see activists standing together who had for long
hardly been on speaking terms -- belonging to different shades of left. Maybe that there was something very liberating
in the courageous, direct appeal to morality -- rather an exception in the Israeli peace culture. It is more or
less an unwritten law that protest action should be based on "the ultimate interest of Israeli society."
And see, here are two women who dare to speak of shame and moral responsibility, without apology, no mention of
obscure international conventions, just appealing to the hearts and minds. It was really doing something to the
tenacious but tired peace fighters present.
Never before had I seen Asher Davidy, of the Hadash Communists -- originally immigrated from Latin America -- so
eloquently using the megaphone, really making bypassers stop to listen to his furious speech. And who did not happen
to pass the spot, could hear him say it on late evening TV news: "Khiam, let's not call it prison -- it's
much worse! It's a shame! It is like a concentration camp."[BZ]
Yona Rochlin, Bnei Tzion 60910; email@example.com
Irit: firstname.lastname@example.org; +972-4-8230329
P.S. As this goes into print (Nov. 8), came the news of 13 prisoners released from Khiam. Israel radio reported
from Lebanese sources that the prisoners had from within the prison joined the protests of Oct. 27, with a hunger
The Majority decided to stop there
Portrait of Oren Medicks by Beate Zilversmidt
Married and the father of two, 45, engaged in a demanding job as a Video Editor, performing reserve service as
an artillery sergeant -- all this makes Oren Medicks quite an atypical member of the Israeli peace movement. His
decision, after the murder of Rabin four years ago, to enter Gush Shalom has surely left its mark. Not only did
he open an intensely active internet site, he also insisted on having long-term projects, and has given the Boycott
of Settlement Products its initial push by just going on his motorcycle from settlement to settlement writing down
the names of factories and enterprises he found there. The "list of products" became popular among a
wide variety of citizens, who hold different views on nearly everything but agree that the settler movement must
be opposed in the most firm way.
How does he find the time? True, he often has to leave early the meetings of the Gush Shalom executive, but late
at night -- somewhere before sunrise -- he is sitting updating the website, and can occasionally be heard speaking
on nightly radio call-in programs, discussing profound issues more quietly than during daylight time.
The boycott became suddenly front page news with the successful campaign dissuading the Benetton/Kappa concern
from having its sportswear produced at the Barkan settlement's industrial zone. Among the many articles appearing
in the Israeli press was a double interview in the regional Al HaSharon (15.10.'99) -- embellished with many photographs
-- with Oren Medicks representing Gush Shalom pitted against Ron Nachman, mayor of the Ariel West Bank settlement,
which is among the big ones. The following are excerpts.
After Nachman has called Gush Shalom racist because of 'boycotting Jewish settlements' and Medicks in
turn has accused Nachman of demagoguery, Nachman remarks: "But also many kibbutzim are built on Arab lands.
So why doesn't Gush Shalom boycott them, as well?"
Medicks: "The point is that we don't see your Ariel settlement as the continuation of Hanita [pioneer kibbutz
of the 1930s which became a symbol]. After the war of '67 and the occupation of the Territories people realized
that there is there another people. That it isn't about "a land without people -- and a people without land."
There exists another people, and they are going to be with us, for better or for worse; we are bound to live side
by side. In the absence of a recognized international border, the 1949 Armistice Line ("Green Line")
is the only recognized border there is. With your settlement activity you are in fact saying 'we continue with
the policy of an acre here, an acre there.' But the majority of Israelis have decided to stop it -- and the '67
border is a logical border. Your Ariel settlement, in its very essence, is a breach of international law and of
the Hague Convention. The whole world simply does not recognize the fact of your sitting there in your settlement.
Nachman.: "We, the settlers, are the ones who are engaged in projects of co-existence and creating jobs for
the Palestinians. You, living in Ra'anana, are depriving them of these jobs by your boycott and your theories."
Medicks: "First we take their land and turn an entire farmer population into dishwashers and when we let them
work for us we call it "doing them a favor."
The three page interview ends with a photograph of a tired-looking Ron Nachman, Oren Medicks bringing home to him
a message printed in bold:
"I don't have a problem whatsoever with the Barkan industrial zone being transferred to the Palestinian Authority,
paying to them their taxes. That's what I call co-existence. Ariel can continue as the counterpart of Kafr Kassem
and Um el Fahem [Arab communities inside the Green Line]: a community of Jews living under Palestinian rule."
Why did Oren Medicks, this no-nonsense Israeli, become so committed, more than average? It could be because his
family went through such a process already once -- from the other side: Oren Medicks was born in Nairobi, Kenya
into a British settler community. His family left when the country became independent in 1961, when he was six
Settlement boycott and the multi-nationals
In most countries, competition between McDonalds and Burger King, the two American fast-food giants, is purely
commercial; in Israel it assumed a political dimension.
Omri Padan, McDonalds' Israeli representative, had made a crystal-clear policy statement: 'McDonald's-Israel neither
did nor will open a branch at any Israeli settlement beyond the Green Line. Of our sixty-five branches, none is
in the Territories. We have been approached on that issue by settlers, and I turned them all down out of hand.
I don't believe in being a pure businessman without taking politics into account" (Ha'aretz, 15.1.98).
Few still remember that Padan, at a young age, had been an activist. His rival Meshulam Riklis, who holds the Israeli
concession for Burger King, is involved in politics on the other side: he is a close associate of, and a major
donor to, Likud leader Ariel Sharon.
Still, the opening of a Burger King branch at the shopping mall of Ma'aleh Adumim, the biggest Israeli settlement
on the West Bank, was announced purely as a commercial deal, in a routine press release which Burger King distributed
to the business section editors of the Israeli press.
It was political opponents who fished out this minor business news item and made it a major political one, pointing
to some unpalatable truths: that Ma'aleh Adumim was a settlement in occupied territory, built in contravention
of international law; that its creation had involved the brutal eviction of the Jahaleen Bedouin Tribe; that Ma'aleh
Adumim's strategic location, due east of Jerusalem where the West Bank is most narrow, was specifically designed
with the purpose of cutting in two the territory of future Palestine; that in light of all these, Burger King was
taking an outright political step on a highly controversial issue...
Riklis, the Israeli concessionaire, did not seem unduly perturbed; he is, after all, by no means the only Israeli
businessman making business deals at the settlements. But at the chain's headquarters across the Atlantic, senior
directors started to sweat as American activists and grassroots groups picked up the issue and launched an increasingly
effective media and internet campaign.
A particularly telling argument was that Israeli settlements on the West Bank do not, to say it mildly, welcome
Palestinians within their well-guarded boundaries. Establishing a restaurant in a settlement effectively amounts
to creating a racially-segregated one -- not a nice charge to face for a respectable U.S. company which tries to
adhere to current norms of political correctness.
The last straw was when the Arab League got involved, having gotten the information via Arab-American groups, and
Burger King saw a threat to its investments in the lucrative Arab market of 100 million people. Declaring themselves
to have been "misled by the Israeli representative", who had allegedly "assured them that he will
operate only within Israel's borders", Burger King ordered Riklis to close down the Ma'aleh Adumim restaurant,
or remove the Burger King logo from it. Upon his refusal to do so, the parent company started judicial proceedings
against its Israeli concessionaire. And just to be on the safe side, they made the same demand with regard to another
of Riklis' restaurants, located at the Latrun Junction in what was until 1967 no-man's-land.
Actually, the Burger King restaurant is still there,
pending the results of what may be a long and weary judicial proceeding. Nevertheless, the settlers and their
supporters counted the affair a grievous defeat, lamenting it in numerous press articles and on their pirate radio
station. The inhabitants of Ma'aleh Adumim itself, basking in the continuing patronage of Netanyahu and Barak alike,
got a sobering reminder that in the view of the outside world -- and also of peace activists in Israel itself --
settlers they were, and settlers they would remain (Jerusalem Post, 6.11).
The Burger King affair gave renewed public attention to the Settler Boycott Campaign maintained by the Gush Shalom
movement. This was reinforced by the next boycott affair, this time concerning the Italian-based international
fashion giant Benetton.
It again started with a very minor news item in the business section, which was not overlooked by the Gush Shalom
Boycott Team: on September 19, Yediot Aharonot reported that Kappa, a Benetton subsidiary, was about to open a
sportswear plant at the industrial zone of the Israeli settlement Barkan, south-east of Qualqilia on the West Bank.
The area was familiar to some Gush activists; about a year ago, they had the occasion to sniff Israeli Army tear
gas, when demonstrating together with Palestinian farmers on whose confiscated lands the settlement was built and
extended (see TOI-87, p.7).
It could not have happened so quickly before the age of the internet and the email: a low-budget grassroots organization
launching within days a successful international campaign aimed at a powerful corporate giant.
There were, indeed, special circumstances. Benetton is a corporation loudly claiming to be concerned for and committed
to progressive social and political issues in general, and specifically to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
About two years ago, Benetton had gone to the trouble of publishing and widely distributing a beautiful album on
the theme of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence.
Such a company is particularly vulnerable to the demand that it adhere to its self-declared goals -- and the demand
was expressed in hundreds of emails and faxes and messages which went on pouring into the North Italian Benetton
Headquarters, from Rabbis and Jewish Feminists and Arab Americans and Palestinian officials and a whole array of
grassroots groups in Israel and the US and Holland and Sweden and in Italy itself...
The small offices in Tel-Aviv, Chicago and Amsterdam which masterminded this email assault got used to repeated
phone calls from Italy, to polite voices speaking cultured English. The activists learned thoroughly the corporate
structure of the Benetton Empire, and pieced together the information that Benetton S.p.A. (a holding Company which
is not exactly identical with the more well-known Benetton Company) is part owner of Gruppo Basic, which owns the
Kappa Sportswear Brand, whose licensee in Israel is Omini, and that Omini is conducting negotiations -- but did
not yet cut a deal with -- the Barkan Sewing Workshop which is a company owned by armed settlers and located on
It was important to go through the corporate details -- because at every stage, the polite voice on the phone denied
responsibility and shifted it onto the next subsidiary. And the boycott activists politely assured their interlocutors
that they would hold Benetton responsible anyway. For their part, respectable Italian business executives who until
then did not know or care where the West Bank was got a crash course in the history and geography of the Israeli-Palestinian
After ten intensive days it came: an official undertaking from Marco Boglione, President of Gruppo Basic, that
neither that company nor its subsidiaries nor its Israeli licensee "will source or manufacture any of their
products in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories."
There were again several days of enormous publicity, and controversy, and pro and con articles in the press, and
some of the angry settlers made Gush Shalom seem so enormously bigger than it really is... and then the volunteers
of the Boycott Committee went back to sifting through the business pages of the piling papers, looking among stock
market quotations and news of corporate mergers for the small item which could ignite the next big scandal.
Ad in Ha'aretz, 15.10
No such thing as a legal settlement!
For 32 years all Israeli governments -- each in its turn -- have surrendered to the settlers, and all of us are
paying the price: today in money, tomorrow in blood. Time has come to stop the settlers, before they succeed in
their intention to bury the chances of peace.
National Boycott of Settlement Products!
Ask for the list of products by phone or (e)mail.
Every Shekel for the Settlements
is a Shekel against peace!
Congratulating Benetton for canceling its plans for a production unit at Barkan.
Gush Shalom, P.O.Box 3322, Tel-Aviv
+++ On October 27, some 500 teenagers from Israel and its Arab neighbors gathered in Jerusalem, to celebrate the
inauguration of the new Center for Coexistence founded by Seeds of Peace. Over the last seven years, this organization
had been bringing kids together for annual summer camps, in which stereotypes and prejudices get broken down and
cross-border friendships established; the last was evident, at the Jerusalem meeting, by warm handshakes and embraces
between friends who had met at last year's camp and had been corresponding since. (The festive atmosphere was disturbed
when news came of violent clashes between other youths, Palestinian stone throwers and Israeli soldiers, in Bethlehem
a few kilometres to the south.)
The event was jointly hosted by the Israeli and the Palestinian ministers of Education. Minister Yossi Sarid, whose
speech began with "We greet here young people from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco
and the Palestinian Authority" continued "By next year, I think the latter will be coming from the
State of Palestine" -- and was greeted with prolonged applause (First Channel TV, 27.10).
+++ Early each morning, Yitzchak Jerbi is opening his cafe at the outskirts of the town of Netivot in the Negev.
It is at the junction where Palestinian migrant workers, arriving at even earlier hours from the nearby Gaza Strip,
wait for their Israeli employers of the day.
In the past months, Jerbi noticed an intensified police activity at the junction: a police car would arrive, and
the patrolmen would subject the Palestinians to long and humiliating searches and checks of their papers. Often,
the police would impose monetary fines on the workers, on such strange trumped-up charges as "standing in
the road" -- with sums close to what a Palestinian worker can earn in a whole day. In the middle of October,
the Chief of the town's police started to pay personal visits to the site, acting even more peremptorily.
The cafe owner's expostulations with the police were scornfully rebuffed. Thereupon, Jerbi called a popular radio
morning talk show where he recounted his testimony. The police spokesperson, asked by the radio to comment, claimed
indignantly that "the police in Netivot are doing their duty to keep public order and security." However,
as Jerbi noticed on the following days, the daily police raids were abruptly stopped (Radio-1, 26.10).
Peace Now on the road
+++ October 3 -- the day that the "safe passage" was due to open, giving Gazans at last their long-denied
access to the West Bank. On that morning, a colourful cavalcade organized by Peace Now assembled at the Tarkumia
Checkpoint, on the West Bank side with the intention of traveling in the direction of Gaza and demonstratively
welcoming the arriving Palestinians -- not a protest this time but a manifestation of support for a positive step.
On the previous day, however, the Palestinian Land Defence Committee made an emergency call upon its Israeli friends;
a whole series of land-seizure orders had been suddenly issued by the army, affecting the fields and olive groves
of dozens of villages. Before settling off towards Gaza, some twenty activists made a visit to the nearby Palestinian
town of Idna and held an improvised vigil outside the town hall (Stop the confiscations! -- This is not the way
to build confidence! -- One hand giving, the other hand taking back?)
From the Mayor they got a copy of the confiscation order ("I, General Moshe Ya'alon, do hereby declare the
territory demarked in the attached map to be a Closed Area. As of today and until further notice, no person may
enter or leave said area without my written authorisation...") and listened to the farmers: "There are
no soldiers there right now. They just gave the order and went away. We can still go in and out of the fields.
But what is the use of planting without knowing if we will be allowed to harvest? What they want our land for?
No doubt, give it to the settlers!" After promising to try political lobbying and check the possibility of
appealing to the courts, the activists departed.
Meanwhile, at Tarkumiya the work proceeded of decorating sixteen cars and two buses with banners, reading Safe
Pass -- Open Peace in Hebrew, Arabic and English. During the night, diligent activists had placed similar banners
on fences and hedges all along the route, as well as signs in Arabic reading Welcome in peace. But by the time
the cavalcade was ready to set out, it was already known that no Palestinians would be traveling down the road
today; last-minute "technical problems" had arisen, i.e. the Palestinians had rejected the terms offered,
by which the Israeli Security Services would be able to arrest Palestinians making use of the "safe"
Nevertheless, the cavalcade did set out. At the junction near the town of Kiryat Gat activists could vent some
frustration by honking angrily at a group of settlers, who stood there with "safe passage for terrorists"
placards. Police hustled the peace cavalcade on towards Gaza, sternly forbidding a stop near where the settlers
"I don't care about politics, right or left, but if there will be Arabs stopping here on their way from Gaza
it could save my cafe" said an inhabitant of Kiryat Gat on the midday radio news magazine.
+++ On November 1, a violent clash between Peace Now and police took place at the Gush Etzion Junction, halfway
between Jerusalem and Hebron. It was the third such clash in the same place in the past year, and always for the
same reason: the police does not want Peace Now in Hebron, for fear of a clash between them and the settlers.
This time around, the activists had wanted both to support a government action in Hebron (reopening the Shuhada
Street to Palestinian traffic, after five years that it was reserved to settler traffic only) and to protest a
government inaction (not reopening the Hebron wholesale vegetable market, also closed for the past five years,
and to whose reopening on this specific date Barak obliged himself at Sharm Al Sheikh). The police blocked the
road for two hours, dragging some of the activists out of their cars, arresting one on charges of having "tried
to run over a policeman." This serious charge mysteriously evaporated, when the activists agreed to turn back
in return for the release of their fellow...
Peace Now, pob 8159, J'lem; email@example.com
Who speaks for Rabin?
This year, the anniversary of the Rabin Murder was for the first time commemorated with a Labor Prime Minister
at the helm. Ehud Barak who lays claim to the title of being the Peace Martyr's inheritor still has to prove that
he is a peacemaker. So far, he is only courting the settlers.
In the Netanyahu years it became a tradition to have many small and big anti-government Rabin-memorial
activities covering the period between the dates of the non-synchronous Jewish and International ('Secular')
Calendars. This year it all started rather sterile: bland government-sponsored events in which any reference to
controversial issues was carefully avoided. ('It is as if Rabin died of old age', one commentator put it.) At the
Rabin Square, municipal crews had the barbaric task of systematically removing the much-cherished graffiti grown
there in the wake of the murder, and which had been the subject of photo books and expositions. Now, only fragments
are left, framed and covered with glass slabs.
The media made much of an event of the "Bridging Association" which on the days before the official ceremonies
set up "dialogue tents" in Tel-Aviv's Rabin Square and at Rabin's tomb in the Jerusalem Mount Herzl National
Cemetery. A closer look revealed that it was a Jews-only dialogue -- of secularists and religious, rightists and
leftists -- with no representatives at all of Israel's Arab citizens, not to mention the occupied Palestinians.
And the moderators tried to steer the discussion towards "the creation of a new national consensus" and
away from such painful subjects as the nationalist incitement which preceded the Rabin assassination or its present-day
version emerging from the "hilltop settlements" controversy.
Visa to Gush Etzion
(...) I want the real Rabin back. The Rabin who called the settlers "propellers" -- he really meant "ventilators",
an instrument that turns around itself, making noise and not producing anything. The Rabin who said "I am
ready to obtain a visa for going to the Gush Etzion settlements." The Rabin who said, a few weeks before he
was murdered, "We did not come to an empty country" -- probably the most clear statement on our history
in this land to be ever made by an Israeli Prime Minister" (Uri Avnery in Ma'ariv, 31.10).
There was a more spontaneous initiative by the Working and Studying Youth Movement. On Oct. 21 -- this years' Jewish
date -- its enthusiastic young members spread out at dozens of road junctions all over the country, standing for
a full seven hours with the uncompromising signs We shall neither forgive nor forget, distributing the newly-made
stickers Rabin, without you peace could not have started and lighting torches at sundown.
Together with other youth groups, later joined by Peace Now, an evening vigil outside the Prime Minister's residence
in Jerusalem was hastily organized; email messages called upon activists of various groups to go tell Barak not
to yield to the right-wing.
As the rather disorganized youths gathered in Jerusalem, an ambiguity of attitude to the PM was evident: We follow
Barak in Rabin's Way and Barak! Take Rabin's Way! were raised side by side; Peace Now youths burst out in the habitual
chant Dismantle the guns/Remove the settlers/Let's not die in vain/Let's make peace -- now!
At the side, some activists went through the pile of signs brought over from the Peace Now office, separating out
The government is an obstacle to peace, leftovers of the Netanyahu time. These were put aside and not raised in
the present demonstration, but neither were they thrown away...
A few days later, activists were galvanized into action by the news of nationalist rabbis gathering in Tel-Aviv
to declare anathema any giving up of territory -- an exact repetition of an event in 1995, shortly before the assassination.
Outside the hall where the rabbis gathered, a line of Peace Now protesters ceaselessly chanted: We remember who
was murdered/ and also who was the murderer!
The tone of the event changed with the sudden emergence of Rabbi David Druckman, to engage in debate with Peace
Now's Mossi Raz: "Eretz Yisrael is Holy and Indivisible" -- "There is no political entity called
Eretz Yisrael. There is the State of Israel and there are settlements in occupied territory. The sovereign people
of Israel are free to decide democratically on withdrawal for peace." -- "God alone is Sovereign, and
He gave a Holy Charge to His People. Giving up even one grain of sand is sacrilege!" -- "This reasoning
leads to assassination. This is how Yigal Amir justified the murder of Rabin!" -- "God forbid! We are
against any violence of Jew against Jew." -- "This is what you say here. What do you say in the privacy
of your study, to hotheads who come to you for spiritual advice? What did you tell them four years ago?" It
was broadcast for all to see during the TV news.
In each of the three years since 1995, there had been a Rabin Memorial mass rally in Tel-Aviv on or near the 4th
of November, the secular date. This year it was not certain until the last moment whether there would be a rally
or not. Prime Minister Barak was reportedly not so pleased with the idea -- and not only because of the security
services ruling that his participation would constitute "too much of a risk." As opposition leader, he
had found the annual rallies useful in undermining the position of the Netanyahu Government; as Prime Minister,
he faced the possibility that a mass mobilization of peace seekers in Tel-Aviv -- even with mild slogans and a
carefully screened cast of speakers on the podium -- would by its very size tend to put pressure on the government.
But the representatives of Peace Now were adamant, at several discreet planning meetings: "A mass rally is
the very heart of the Rabin commemoration." When this position was joined by the members of the Rabin family
the rally could no longer be avoided.
Commentator Uri Orbach wrote: "This decision to hold a second Rabin Memorial, so demonstratively on a date
defined by a foreign calender, is a protest against the atmosphere of responsible national unity which characterized
the state ceremonies of the official Memorial Day. It is a rallying call upon the leftists to once more gather
under their tribal drum calls" (Ma'ariv, 5.11).
The days leading to the rally saw a revival of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Rabin murder spread by the
extreme right -- inculpating the Shabak security service, so as to clear their own political camp. Their strongest
point: the Shabak agent provocateur Avishai Raviv's unclarified relations with the murderer.
The Rabin family decided once and for all to end the rumours and call for a thorough new investigation; Rabin's
daughter Daliah Rabin-Filosof, now a newly-elected Knesset Member for the Center Party, is herself a legal expert.
Education Minister Yossi Sarid took up the challenge: "Now at last, the rabbis can be apprehended -- those
who legitimize political murder -- who called Rabin "A Traitor" and authorized their pupils to kill him.
Their investigation was cut off, four years ago. Now we will be able to demand that it be reopened!"
Under the impression of such headlines -- and the news of Barak's continuing debate with his bodyguards, still
"strongly advising" him not to expose himself to "an uncontrolled crowd environment" -- the
crowd started filing into the Rabin Square on the evening of November 4. Not as many as in the Netanyahu years
-- but still in the many tens of thousands, more people than any other cause in the Israel of late 1999 could have
gotten together in one place.
They were of all ages, but the young ones dominated -- members of the Labour-affiliated youth movements in their
distinctive blue shirts, and the youths of Meretz and Peace Now and the Hadash Communists, and the newly-established
Radical Youth selling everywhere their taboo-breaking magazine Resistance!, and quite a few young soldiers in uniform.
As on previous years, there were the "Rabin stickers", with their distinctive graphic form -- Remember
the Fourth of November -- Earth, do not cover his blood! -- Rabin, Alav Ha'Shalom with its double message of 'Rabin,
be in Peace.' But also the less solemn Gush Shalom sticker -- There is no such thing as a legal settlement was
an instant success.
Banners, slogans, snatches of song from the blaring loudspeakers blended into one big cocktail:
Don't let peace be murdered again! -- Forward on Rabin's way -- Israel has returned to Rabin's way -- Sign the
petition against house demolitions -- God, save us from the Faithful! -- Each donation can save one stray cat --
Four years have passed, and the incitement continues! -- There are alternative marriages, you don't need the Rabbinate
-- Let's stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of peace and democracy -- Bury the guns, not the kids/conquer peace,
not territories -- They have wiped the wall, not the memory -- There is no Chosen People -- The Trans-Israel Highway
will destroy the environment -- We pledge to avoid any physical or verbal violence -- Rabin, we will never forget!
-- Remembering is important, but acting is more important.
Everywhere rows of stalls put up by political parties and peace groups and human rights organizations and secularists
and charities and volunteer groups and rape crisis centers and environmentalists and the Animal Protectors. Especially
popular were the handicapped people -- who had been for the past month holding a persistent struggle against the
Ministry of Finance and battling the police from their wheel chairs.
The Soldiers' Welfare Association also had a stall here, the "good old aunts" engaged in sending goodies
to the boys in the front -- incongruously near the stall of B'tzelem, piled with brochures on the lethal effects
of the "rubber bullets" used by the army, and testimonies on the death of a Palestinian woman in labor,
held up at a military roadblock near Hebron. The Dor Shalom movement, now mainly concerned with "social projects",
offered at its stall registration to "a pre-military course, training you to make the most of your three years
in the army", and quite nearby, the militantly anti-militarist activists of New Profile had an answer: They
tell you that the army will make a man of you. But what kind of man?
The giant TV screens scattered throughout the square suddenly lighted up, with the well-known face of Leah Rabin.
"We do not forgive and we do not forget. We are marching in Yitzchak's way to the promised land." Her
speech was being transmitted from the other side of the Tel-Aviv Town Hall, the actual site of the murder -- where
a renovated commemoration site was being inaugurated by a small gathering of carefully-screened VIP's.
After making his speech there, surrounded by a thick cordon of police and bodyguards, Barak was supposed to mount
his car and drive safely away, leaving the higher podium facing the crowd of tens of thousands for lesser gods.
And then came the gimmick which caught the following day's headlines: the confrontation with the chief bodyguard
("I am going over there. I am the Prime Minister, I take full responsibility!"), the great cheer as the
PM appeared on the podium and started his speech with the words "We are not afraid!"
Shimon Peres was the only one who mentioned the Palestinians -- and was cheered as well. It was Peres' unique chance
to implicitly criticize Barak, talking of a opportunity for peace which "must be seized", of the remaining
difficulties and obstacles "which can be solved with a bit of leadership and good will." In Barak's speech,
the Palestinians were not mentioned at all and peace -- only in the context of reconciliation with the right-wing.
"I extend my hand in peace! Yes I extend my hand in peace to all the people. Let us walk together as brothers,
a united country, which can make peace with its neighbors."
In Peace Now's leaflet, circulated in the crowd, Barak was not attacked but its message was opposite to his: Do
you feel that the time has come to go home, that the peace process can move forward by itself? Really? That means
you did not see with your own eyes the settler outposts, nor hear for yourself the Palestinians tell of the robbery
of their lands.
Gush Shalom activists distributed a more confronting text: Barak isn't following in the footsteps of Rabin. Settlement
blocs mean peace with settlers -- not with Palestinians. Red Lines today -- black frames in tomorrow's paper. There
were appreciative reactions: "Good that somebody has the courage to say it." But others, who had taken
part in Barak's elections campaign, felt kind of insulted. "How dare you write such things?" shouted
one youngster. "Barak will do it, yes he will. He will bring back the boys from Lebanon, he will make peace
with the Palestinians, with the Syrians, with everybody. He will remove the settlers. You will see: he will do
Is it naive to hope that inspiring so much admiration
carries a price? That somewhere further along the line, in the period separating us from the Fifth Rabin Memorial
on November 4, 2000, Ehud Barak will have to achieve something -- to show to those kids?
Demolition season reopened
The evening news of August 11, carried a sight which many hoped would be banished with the new government: Interior
Ministry demolition crews, accompanied by huge police forces, at their destructive work on two Palestinian homes
in Walaje, just south of Jerusalem. The demolition set off a major riot, with inhabitants and policemen severely
wounded (the main reason why it got such a prominent place on the news).
That evening, Adam Keller of TOI sent a personal protest to Prof. Shlomo Ben Ami -- the new Minister of Police,
an eminent historian with whom Keller had studied at Tel Aviv University, and who just two weeks earlier spoke
out sharply against house demolitions. In the answer, which came on the very next day, the historian turned Police
Minister affirmed his complete and utter opposition to house demolitions, but confessed himself constrained --
however much it pained him -- to provide police protection to "demolition crews acting under the legal orders
of other government departments."
Keller's was but one of very many protests, from concerned Israelis and internationals, which poured into the bureaus
of the ministers concerned -- in response to the email alerts of ICAHD (Committee Against House Demolitions) which
were spread through the mailing lists of numerous other groups (including TOI's email network). And probably more
important, there were protests from foreign diplomats, including the Americans.
The Walaje inhabitants started to rebuild immediately after the bulldozers and police departed, and continued steadily,
with Israeli volunteers of ICAHD coming to help during the following months. On September 28 many of them -- including
an Orthodox group organized by Netivot Shalom and RHR ( Rabbis for Human Rights) -- put in several hours of building
work and then joined a group of Walaje inhabitants to demonstrate at the wall of the Jerusalem Old City, where
Jerusalem Mayor Olmart was holding a ceremony. It was a day of defiance -- both because they rebuilt an "illegal"
house and because the Walaje Palestinians had no permits to enter Jerusalem.
As they stood together, holding photographs of destroyed Palestinians houses, the police tried to arrest two permitless
young Palestinians. The entire group, Palestinians and Israelis, stood firm and chanted 'we are all under arrest,
we all go to the police station'; the confused police finally let the two go.
For more than two months there were no house demolitions, and there were reports about a plan for a wide scale
"rehabilitation" of "illegal Arab houses", hatched by Ben Ami together with his fellow cabinet
dove, Justice Minister Beilin (Yediot Aharonot, 4.10). But so far it remains a plan -- not even officially announced.
And meanwhile, the decision to remove a few of the settler land-grabbed "hilltop outposts" set the right-wing
hollering for a "counterbalancing" demolition of Arab houses.
Somebody in the Interior Ministry selected a house in the Beit Hanina neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, shared by
three families, 24 people in all. The people of this neighbourhood had earlier this year made a deal with the Jerusalem
municipality by which demolitions here were supposed to cease; they even paid quite a lot of money in municipal
tax arrears. The interior ministry did not care -- they never liked that deal -- and on the morning of October
25 a huge force of police and semi-military Border Guards occupied the neighbourhood ('more soldiers than ever
since 1967' said an inhabitant) and the house was razed to the ground. (Here was no violent resistance, and hence
no report on the TV news).
Enormous efforts by Jerusalem Town Councillor Meir Margalit, who had heard about it the previous evening and spent
a sleepless night trying to get the order rescinded, were to no avail. A second Palestinian house was destroyed
on the following day at Issawiya, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood. And the bulldozers were set for a third
one the day after -- but by then there were protests pouring in again, from grassroots worldwide mobilized by Gush
Shalom, and also from European Union Middle East Envoy Miguel Moratinos and other diplomats and VIP's. At last
KM Zehava Gal'on, Meretz party whip, bearded Barak when he passed briefly through the Knesset and got from him
a promise to stop the demolitions -- for the time being, at least.
On Nov. 30, a group of 50 ICAHD activists visited the destruction sites, met with the families now living in crowded
Red Cross tents, and started joint plans for rebuilding. They also visited the neighbouring houses, whose inhabitants
live under daily threat of demolition ('Every morning I go to work and send the children to school, without knowing
if in the evening I will still have a house to return to...').
"Every house demolition becomes an international incident" complained, in the following day's Jerusalem
Post, Interior Minister Sharansky -- yes, the man for whose release from Soviet prison international human rights
activists struggled nine years long...
ICAHD, 37 Tveria St., Jerusalem, firstname.lastname@example.org; RHR, pob 32225, Jerusalem, email@example.com; Netivot Shalom,
pob 4433, Jerusalem.
s Peace activists and journalist Amira Hass is since 1991 Ha'aretz Correspondent for the Territories and since
1993 she works from inside. She decided to move to Gaza, from where she started reporting during the final stages
of the Intifada. In 1996, she moved to Ramallah where she now lives under the Palestinian Authority. Day after
day, year after year, she wrote her reports from the angle of those who underwent the Israeli occupation.
In her book 'Drinking the Sea of Gaza' her collected experience came out even more impressive,
and it is being translated into many languages. Now, the International Press Institute (IPI) has included her
in a list of '50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years.' 'Her journalism has contributed in the most
direct and meaningful way to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by informing and educating public opinion' was
the conclusion of the Vienna-based IPI, representing media editors from 104 countries. The list which was already
approved by a board meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, will be presented at a general assembly in Boston next May (Ha'aretz,
s One of the methods used by the Interior Ministry in order to "preserve the Jewish majority in Jerusalem"
is to deprive Arab Jerusalemites of their residency permits if they went abroad "too often" or "too
On July 26, a long Ha'aretz article told of the well-known historian Dr. Mussa Budeiri (El-Quds University,
East Jerusalem) falling into the ministry's Black List because of several sabbaticals spent at Cambridge and other
prestigious British and American universities, and being in imminent danger of expulsion from the city where he
was born and where his family had lived for many generations.
Dr. Budeiri's Israeli colleagues were mobilized on his behalf by Prof. Oren Yiftachel, Head of the Geography
Department at Ben Gurion University, who collected an impressive number of academic signatories.
Of the many outraged press articles, perhaps the most embarrassing to newly appointed Interior Minister Sharansky
was a sarcastic rebuke of Prof. Bernard Wasserstein of the (Jewish) Brandeis University at Massachusetts: A few
years ago I had Nathan Sharansky as a visiting professor in my class, and the students liked his directness and
unpretentiousness. As it happens, some years later Musa Budeiri too came to Brandeis, and my students liked him
for a similar combination of qualities. Now it seems that the one visiting professor has expelled the other from
the city of his birth -- and all because he has done too much professorial visiting... (Jerusalem Post, 3.8 ).
On September 23, Dr. Ilan Hartuv of Tel-Aviv University sent the good news over the much involved Alef (Academic
Left) email list: Sharansky had given in and restored Budeiri's status as "permanent resident of Israel"
until 2003. However, many participants in the Budeiri Campaign had hoped beyond helping the individual case of
the eminent Palestinian historian, to achieve a change in the Interior Ministry's general policy. So far, despite
several verbal promises by the minister, this does not seem to have happened.
+++ "I am right now at Erez Checkpoint. We are going to Gaza to meet with Palestinian bereaved parents.
We already met them in Israel seven months ago, now we will meet again in Gaza. We want to address together the
Israeli and Palestinian public. We don't want revenge, we want the two leaderships to work for peace" said
Yitzchak Frankenthal, organizer of the Bereaved Parents' Circle on the Morning Radio News Magazine of Oct. 17.
-- Do you really think we have partners for peace?
-- I do not just think so, I am sure of it, and I speak from experience. There are human beings on both sides.
I am sure that when the Palestinians have a state side by side with Israel, terrorism will stop.
-- For Sheikh Yassin, that is not enough.
-- There are extremists on both sides. You have to push them aside, deprive them of influence, and you can only
do that by promoting peace. We address the Hamas. We tell them: look, you have killed our sons and daughters, but
you did not kill our wish for peace. Nothing can make you as determined for peace as standing at the grave of your
-- Would you be willing to meet even with Hamas members?
-- In fact, I personally already did just that. Talking is the only way to counter terrorism.
Yitzchak Frankenthal, pob 33, Moshav Gimzo 73130;
Speaking with Yasser Arafat [in September], Ehud Barak said, according to a French report, that if he had been
a young Palestinian, he would have joined a terrorist organization. He has said the same last year in an Israeli
interview that later played a major role in the Likud election campaign.
As somebody who, at the age of 15, did indeed join a terrorist organization (sorry, I mean a liberation organization),
I can appreciate this courageous statement. The question is: does Barak draw the logical conclusion from this insight,
namely that one must make a peace that the other side can live with, and not an "agreement" that will
push young Palestinians tomorrow into the arms of a Palestinian national military organization. ["National
Military Organization", Irgun for short, was the name of the armed underground which I joined as a youngster.]
Barak is well versed in military history. Once I had a long conversation with him about this subject, which
happens to be a hobby of mine too, and was impressed by the extent of his knowledge. Therefore, in order to warn
him against a "final agreement" that is based on settlement blocs, three words should suffice: "Treaty
The treaty that bears the name of Versailles was signed in 1919, at the end of World War I, by the vanquished
Germans and the victorious Allies. It put the sole blame for the war on Germany, tore from it extensive territories,
compelled it to pay enormous indemnities and allowed it to maintain only a tiny army. It was a cruel, humiliating
and manifestly unjust diktat.
The demand to eradicate the "Diktat of Versailles" became the central propaganda theme of Adolf Hitler,
when he set out to destroy the democracy created by the "November criminals", who had "stabbed the
valiant German army in the back" and signed the "treaty of shame." All the German signatories were
assassinated. Historians are unanimous in their judgment that the treaty was an act of incredible folly, the fruit
of a blind craving for vengeance, and that it played a major role in the events which led to World War II. Only
after 50 million more human beings, including 6 million Jews, had lost their lives, did Europe create a wise framework
for peace, without victors and vanquished.
A personal memory: Some years ago I was asked by the German producers of a biographical film to revisit the
German school that I had attended before coming to Palestine. I asked the principal if the school was still keeping
its old maps. Within a few minutes ('Ordnung muss sein') he produced the map I remembered from the days when I
was a nine years old pupil, before the Nazis came to power, in a province then still under a Social-Democratic
This map was at that time hanging on the wall of every German classroom. It showed two borders: the border of
Germany as it was then and - in red color - the border of the "lost lands", Germany as it was before
Versailles. A whole generation of Germans grew up on this map, the generation that later marched behind Hitler
like the mice behind the Pied Piper of Hamlin.
Barak says that he wants to achieve a final agreement that gives back to the Palestinians all occupied territories
except "some settlement blocs." This week he explained that these blocs will consist of 40% to 50% of
"Judea and Samaria." This may be an opening position, and perhaps he is ready for a compromise that will
annex to Israel 20% to 30% of the West Bank.
Assuming for a moment that he will be able to exert enough pressure to compel the Palestinians to accept such
an agreement. Will this agreement be "final"? Will it bring peace? Will the Palestinians, after accepting
with gnashing teeth a diktat that leaves them 15% of their original homeland, look upon it as the end of the historic
I see in my mind the map which will hang in every Palestinian classroom, showing three borders: a red line marking
the borders of Palestine under the British mandate until 1948, from the Mediterranean sea to the Jordan river,
a green line marking the West Bank and the Gaza Strip until 1967 (only 22% of the territory of the mandate) and
a black line marking the border of the "final agreement." This one will look like daggers stabbing the
body of the Palestinian state at Kadumim, Ariel, Maaleh Adumim, Tekoa, the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea, Gush Katif
The settlement blocs sit on the most fertile lands, the land reserves of the developing Palestinian society,
even more precious when hundreds of thousands of refugees will have to be repatriated and rehabilitated. In the
eyes of a new Palestinian generation, the settlements will be living memorials of defeat. It will not be the end
of the conflict, as Barak imagines, but a new stage of the conflict that has already passed through so many.
If Barak will chose this road, he will find himself marching side by side with Lloyd-George and Clemenceau,
the victors of Versailles, at the head of history's march of folly. (Published in Ma'ariv, 27.9).
+++ 52 activists boarded a Gush Shalom bus on Nov. 6 to take part in an Inspection Tour of the Jerusalem area
settlements, guided by Michael Warshawsky, director of the Alternative Information Center and a regular organizer
of political sight-seeing tours.
Some of the participants may have still been harboring the illusion that the settlements are being created by
a bunch of wild fanatics, who are dragging behind them an unwilling government. The picture which they got on the
ground was slightly different.
"One can know all the facts but still be shocked to the core when seeing the reality with one's own eyes",
somebody summarized the general mood.
What they got to see was how the settlement effort is continuing with unabated vigor under the auspices of the
Barak-Meretz government, the obvious aim being to create a pattern of Jewish settlements, big and small, connected
by a network of superb "bypass" roads. These roads, most of them practically empty, seemed designed for
no other purpose than to imprison the Palestinian villages in small enclaves beyond which they cannot expand.
As Warshawsky showed: where a "hole" exists between settlements it is filled up by a deserted gas
station or by totally empty Industrial Parks. Some settlements, like Efrat (near Bethlehem), were seen stretching
for kilometres as a thin line of houses, hill after hill, so as to cut off Palestinian villages from each other.
It was all too visible how the settlements, while still constituting a small minority, are already becoming
the dominating factor in the landscape. Palestinian towns and villages are surrounded by the settlement pattern,
hemmed in on all sides, unable to expand and accommodate their natural increase, often hampered even in utilizing
their remaining land reserves.
It is always being claimed that new settlements are just a "thickening" of existing ones "to
satisfy the needs of natural growth"; that it's all within the "town plans" of the settlements.
But from the beginning, Warshawsky explained, tiny settlements were allotted the area of big towns: 'Ma'aleh Adumim,
with 26 thousand inhabitants, has a bigger land area than Tel-Aviv.'
The inevitable conclusion of all this: that the ground is being prepared for a massive influx of new settlers,
doubling or tripling the existing Jewish population in and around East Jerusalem. The only question: whether so
many Jews can still be persuaded to live in nice sub-urban houses -- on the other side of the Green Line.