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April 29, 1988 - Image 51

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-04-29

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

Gary Baumg arten

Life goes on
as usual
almost
for Israel's
Jews and
Arabs

GARY BAUMGARTEN

Special to The Jewish News

erusalem — If you only had
the evening news as a basis
for judging Israel, you'd think
it was completely unsafe to
travel here. But, yes, it is still
perfectly safe to walk the streets of
Jerusalem at three in the morning
(though, perhaps not so safe within
the walls of the old city, despite the
seemingly omnipresent IDF soldiers).
It's not that the camera bringing
us ugly images of soldiers clashing
with Paletinian demonstrators lies.
It's just that it wears blinders and
lacks perspective.
It's Friday night in Jerusalem at
the King David Hotel, where an at-
tempt is made to keep Shabbat.
Guests have to be satisfied with
eating tuna fish sandwiches prepared
before sundown. But at the Bonanza
Bar in Tel Aviv, they're serving up
Bonanza Burgers swimming in
special sauces and topped, if you like,
with bacon. A combo is loudly play-
ing off-colored Israeli songs (it seems
new Hebrew words are invented in 'Tel
Aviv everyday). Couples are entwin-
ed on the dance floor and, occasional-
ly, a table top is cleared to make way
for women customers who want to
dance on a higher level. In Tel Aviv,
people appear particularly unaffected
by the West Bank and Gaza violence.
"You can't care all of the time:' ex-
plains Shaul Evron, a columnist for
Hadashot, one of eight daily
newspapers in Israel.
"In America, you had the war in
Vietnam. But in New York, the lights
were on and bars were crowded. It's
the same here. In Tel Aviv, life never
dies. Even when there are wars, life
goes on?"
It's not that the people of Tel Aviv
are necessarily unaware of the kill-
ings in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza.
It's just that they aren't preoccupied
by it. Heidi Blas-Barzily, who grew up
in Farmington Hills, now makes her
home with her Israeli-born husband
and son in an apartment on Moshe
Dayan Boulevard.
"I feel sorry for the people I see on
TV and the poor soldiers who are real-

1611

Tourists at Jerusalem's Damascus Gate: Many visitors say they feel safe in Israel, but
tourism has dropped sharply.

In The
11 rising's Shadow

ly in a bad situation;' she says.
"They don't really know if they
should shoot (when attacked with
rocks) or stop to think about who
they're shooting at. But here in the
city, other than what I see on the TV,
I don't really feel any of that scare at
all."
Ze'ev Chafets, an Israeli author
and Pontiac native, says the people of
Tel Aviv were more interested in the
exploits of the national Maccabee
basketball team during the recent
European finals than they were the
"the troubles!"
The fact of the matter is, the bulk
of the Israeli population is less direct-
ly affected by the violence itself than
it is by the economic repercussions of
the strife. There are two contributing
factors. One, Arabs who refuse to
work, or who keep their shops open
for only three hours each day; and,

two, the call up of extra army reserves
for patrol duty.
Winston Doull and a few of his
friends take some time to sit around
his sculpted glass store, part of a row
of artisan shops almost directly across
the street from the Jaffa Gate to the
old city. They are talking about the
Palestinian question and arguing
politics. Five years ago, when I last
visited Doull, our conversations were
completed in episodes, interrupted by
a constant flow of tourists entering
the shop. But these days, the door is
open but few people enter.
"There's all this talk about
tourism being down because the
Americans are afraid to come to
Israel," he says. "But it's not just the
Americans. Israelis are just as bad.
People in lel Aviv are choosing places
other than Jerusalem to go on vaca-
tion?'

Concerns about the manpower
shortage caused by the army call-up
resulted in a hastily organized
Volunteers for Israel program.
Southfield businessman Steve Corlin
was one of thousands of Jews who
answered the call, and spent their
own money to come to Israel and work
on kibbutzim and elsewhere. Corlin
was assigned to a naval base at Haifa.
"We volunteered our time to pro-
vide services that the personnel at the
kibbutzim or the army people don't
have the time to do because they are
so short-handed here?'
Most of the volunteers were sent
to kibbutzim to work in the fields.
Corlin, however, did everything from
cleaning ships and guns and weeding
on the base to cooking in the mess
halls. He says, at first the soldiers
couldn't understand why the
Americans paid their way to Israel to
engage in unpaid manual labor.
"All the bunkhouses were
unheated. Most of them had broken
windows. Toilet paper was in short
supply. So they wondered why we paid
to come here and work for free. I think
they felt sorry for us?'
So why did he do it?
"It's very easy to stay in the
States and sit back and send my
check and say I've done my part," he
explains.
"But it's very different to come
here and actually work and see, not
only where your money is going, but
also what needs to be done here?'
Corlin concedes there were cer-
tain perks.
"They put on some special tours
and we got to see things one would
not nofmally get a chance to see. One
day we were even invited to some of-
ficer's homes on a settlement on the
West Bank?'
Yehuda Berman, a Detroit Cen-
tral High School and Wayne State
University graduate lives in one of
those West Bank settlements, Efrat,
halfway between Bethlehem and
Hebron. The Palestinians who toil the
Arab-owned farms surrounding Efrat
live in villages instead of on the farms
themselves, so, says Berman, there's
a feeling that they aren't really all
that close. So far, there have been no
problems at Efrat.
But a drive along the highway
past the Dahaisha refugee camp is an
open invitation to the Palestinians to
throw rocks. Berman, like so many
other West Bankers, believes the Bi-
ble gives the Jews claim to the land.
But even so, he says he'd give up his
house and land and move out if it
would bring a real peace. The only
problem with that offer is that Ber-
man doesn't trust the Arabs.
"Possibly if we thought that the
Arabs would give up on war, if we
thought this was going to be a real
peace, I'd be willing to give up my
home," he says. "However, from what

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