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February 19, 1988 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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14

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1988

Scholar-in-residence

Continued from Page 5

situation out of its contextual
perspective. We gain when
things are being put into
perspective. And that is what
is happening here.
"Things are settling down
at the moment. I've already
detected a change in the
press. 48 Hours of CBS last
week [a documentary on the
current situation in Israel
and the territories] was by far
the most balanced one."
Dr. Olmert cited three ma-
jor causes of the Palestinian
rioting. First were the events
immediately preceding the
outbreaks: the road accident
in which four Gazans were
killed and which the Palesti-
nians believed was a reprisal
for the stabbing of a Jewish
businessman; also, the hang
glider terror attack on an ar-
my base in northern Israel,
which "set in motion a spirit
of enthusiasm. But more fun-
damental is that the Palesti-
nians don't like the Israelis
and they don't need much of
a reason to be agitated
against us."
The second cause was the
atmosphere that surrounded
the outbreak of violence.
"One could feel during 1987
that spirits were getting high
on both sides. There was a
sense of urgency all of a sud-
den."
The third cause relates to
the timing of the riots. Sus-
tained rioting could drown
out Israel's 40th anniversary
celebration, as well as in-
fluence the U.S. and Israeli
elections — scheduled for
1988. "World attention is
focused on other issues," Dr.
Olmert noted. "And one
might like to switch attention
to [the Palestinian] issue."
The riots were allowed to
spread, he argued, because
the initial Israeli reaction
was confused and disorganiz-
ed. "There were not enough
troops to deal with the situa-
tion. And many people
thought if you don't apply the
iron fist policy immediately,
maybe things will cool down.
It turned out to be a tactical
mistake. In hindsight that's
easy to say."
The rioting is not universal,
he said. Many parts of the ter-
ritories are relatively quiet.
Israel must use the iron fist
he said, but not rely on it as
its sole weapon. "I also
believe that policy should be
based on politics, not just on
the use of power. I'm definate-
ly in favor of putting down the
riots at all costs, but we also
have to take political
measures."
Israel must negotiate with
its enemies, but should offer
no concessions that were not
offered before the riots, he
said, "because otherwise it

Dr. Yosef Olmert: Counseling
patience.

will seem as if we are giving
in under pressure. Because
then they will demand more."
Palestinian riot fatalities
are tallied daily in the news
media. While not seeking to
belittle those deaths, Dr.
Olmert offered some statistics
of his own:
Some 200 Israeli soldiers
have been injured in the riots
as well as 400 Palestinians.
"But again you have to put
things in perspective. In the
last year alone, there have
been 12 cases of Israeli
civilians being murdered in
the territories."
Moreover, until 1967, when
Israel assumed control of
Gaza, 434 Israelis were killed
in terror attacks based in
Gaza. "One of the things that
gets me in the American
media, and really irritates me
is that when they talk about
occupied territories, they
never mention why are these
territories occupied," he con-
tinued, his normally soft
voice rising. "What happened
before '67? It is as if the
Israelis came out of the blue
and just grabbed land.
"You're not talking about
Miami Beach," he continued,
tapping the table to • em-
phasize his point. "You're
talking about Gaza.
Gangland."
Turning to other subjects,
Dr. Olmert discussed the case
of Jonathan and Anne
Pollard, sentenced last March
for passing secrets to Israel
and as an accomplice, respec-
tively. While not personally
sympathetic to the Pollards,
he denied that Israel had
abandoned the couple, who
wish to make aliyah.

"If the government does
something, it must be done
secretly. I call for people to be
a little more patient about it.
We don't abandon anyone."
Dr. Olmert, who is also the
head of the Syria and
Lebanon desk at the Dayan
Center for Middle Eastern
and African Studies, describ-
ed Syria as "our most

dedicated and strongest
enemy [which is] preparing a
war against Israel. The
Syrian army is located on the
other side of our borders
waiting for an order to attack
Israel which may or may not
come. We are on high alert all
the time.
"The fact that not much at-
tention is given to Syria at
the moment should not
mislead people into believing
that it is not a volatile situa-
tion," he warned.
Syria has not softened its
opposition to the peace pro-
cess, is developing chemical
weapons and is involved in
terrorist infiltrations into
Israel from Lebanon and Jor-
dan, he continued.
"We Israelis ought to be
sensitive about your sen-
sitivities," he said, addressing
U.S. Jews. "You also ought to
be very sensitive about our
preoccupations. And in bet-
ween, there should be more
balanced, nuanced and
responsible reaction.
"Many American Jews were
startled and puzzled that one
of the reasons that Israel
showed keen interest in im-
proving relations with Iran,
before and criiring the Iran af-
fair [Israel took no part in
channeling funds to the
Nicaraguan contras] was
because there are 30,000 Jews
in Iran," he said in apparent
exasperation.
"For God's sake! What is
Israel if not a Jewish state?
Why do I have to say to
American Jews that this is a
consideration for Israel's
foreign policy?
"Why is it that once the Ira-
nian situation exploded so
many American Jews criticiz-
ed Israel? That's what I'm ex-
pecting. A little more pa-
tience, a little more respon-
sibility."

Seder

Continued from Page 5

Preliminary plans call for
the participation of local rab-
bis, young Jews and Christian
clergy in leading the Seder.
"We hope to have as many
families as possible, and
Soviet Jewish emigres at-
tend." Weiner said tickets for
the event will cost $5.
The Freedom Seder is being
chaired by Elaine Sturman.
Members of her committee in-
clude Rabbis Irwin Groner,
Elimelech Goldberg, E.B.
Freedman, Efry Spectre, Nor-
man Roman and Allan
Meyerowitz; and Diane J.
Klein, Beverly Yost and Luba
Berton.

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