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March 04, 1988 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-03-04

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

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keenly aware of the other's
presence. "They have the
nerve to sit on our bus," says
an angry teenage girl, "and
talk about the PLO."

A City Divided

For many Israelis, the
uprising might almost be
happening in another coun-
try. It is something they see
on their television screens
and read about in their
newspapers.
But for residents of Jeru-
salem, it has become the stuff
of daily life. This reunited ci-
ty has become effectively
divided. Wherever I go — to
the supermarket, the bank, to
restaurants, cafes or to visit
friends — the topic of conver-
sation turns inevitably,
obsessively to The Situation.
"Let's not talk about it to-
day," pleads a neighbor over
afternoon tea. "Let's talk
about something else." But
who can avoid it? The conver-
sation swings unerringly
back to riots and batons,
Palestinians and politics,
public opinion and the media.
A soldier on weekend leave
— a professional in a crack
anti-terrorist unit — ex-
presses dismay at the way the
army has been used to beat
Palestinians involved in
violent demonstrations.
He regards with distaste
the idea of direct physical
contact between soldiers and
civilians. "This isn't a prob-
lem the army can solve," he
says. "There is .a feeling that
we are having to do the dirty
work for the politicians who
have done nothing about it
for 20 years."

Settlement
Incentive

It's risky to generalize
about the attitudes of my
neighbors, but after listening
to dozens of conversations, it
goes something like this: Let
the army and police do what
they must to restore order
and to hell with world opi-
nion. The soldiers hugging
their M-16s and swinging
their clubs are no brutal op-
pressors. They are "our boys"
whom the forces of heaven
should only protect.
Beyond that point of con-
sensus, the line wavers. I hear
plenty of "give-the-Arabs-
and-inch-and-they'll-take-a-
mile" and a good many who
believe that Arik Sharon "will
bring the Arabs to heel."
But in the very same living
rooms, over the same cups of
coffee, there are other voices;
of Israelis who believe The
Situation has reached a point
of no return, who do not want
to spend their next period of

military duty beating up
Palestinians or have their
sons grow up to do the same.
"I'm an armchair colonist,"
says a young lawyer, only
half-joking. "As long as the
occupied territories were
quiet, it was fine with me. But
now? I think we should reach
a settlement — either get rid
of the land or the Palesti-
nians. And quick. If someone
came up with a decent
political settlment, I'd grab
it."

The Ultra-Liberals

Just over the hill which
boasts Hussein's half-built
palace is the Hebrew Univer-
sity of Jerusalem, bastion of
the "yaffe nefesh" ("beautiful
soul," but scornfully used by
Israelis to mean "bleeding
hearts"). Even here, there is
no neat consensus.
A professor of international
relations (and a former senior
intelligence executive) has
warned Israelis of the apoca-
lyptic fate awaiting them if
they do not get out of the oc-
cupied territories. Now, he
assures me, the Palestinian
uprising will force Israelis to
"change their ideology" and
demand an end to the occupa-
tion. "I am," he insists, "an
optimist:'
Another professor, a poli-
tical scientist, recalls a cam-
pus meeting to discuss
human rights in the ter-
ritories. "All these intellec-.
tuals gnashing their teeth
and beating their breasts
about how badly we terrible
Jews are treating the poor
Palestinians," he says. "A
young Arab got up and spat
at them. He told them how
much he hated them, how
much the Arabs wanted to
get rid of them. Then he
walked out.
"And do you know how
they reacted?" he asked in
disgust. "They applauded
him. It was too much for me.
I walked out, too."

Left Wing Dilemmas

At a dinner party, the most-
ly professional, mostly left-
wing guests chew over The
Situation with their stuffed
vine leaves and kubeh.
Someone's son is doing his
three-year stint in the army
and has been stuck in Gaza
for weeks. He hates it, his
mother can't sleep.
A senior civil servant, a
refined and gentle man, ex-
presses frustration at the
avalanche of international
hostility towards Israel's
handling of the unrest. "They
judge us by a different stan-
dard," he sighs into his lemon
mousse. "But then, so do I."

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