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Politicians here and in Israel are
turning cyberspace into yet
another partisan battleground.
Recently, Likud leader
Benyamin Netanyahu and Labor
Party official Nissim Zvili held
separate high-tech dialogues on
CompuServe's "Israel Forum."
Despite a few technical glitches,
the sessions allowed participants
from around the world to ques-
tion the two politicos and express
their own views about the
Mideast peace process.
More than 700 participants
heard the Likud leader — who
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tiers groups on the West Bank.
"The responsibility of their
security is on the Israeli govern-
ment," he said. "In spite of that,
we are very worried of their irre-
sponsible behavior, which casts
a heavy shadow on the demo-
cratic regime in Israel."
The CompuServe Israel Forum
plans additional electronic town
meetings featuring the likes of
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
and Jerusalem Mayor Ehud
Olmert in the near future.
In this country, Sen. Arlen
Specter, R-Pa, the long-shot GOP
presidential contender and the
only Jew in the race, has an-
nounced the opening of a World
Wide Web "Homepage," which
will allow Internet users to
browse biographical information
and key elements of his platform.
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.,
another contender, also is on "the
"The American public wants
substance and not just sound
bites," Mr. Lugar said.
signed on with his nickname, Bibi
— express his misgivings about
the upcoming Israeli withdraw-
al from more West Bank terri-
tory. One participant modemed
in from Israel's northern border,
the target of Katyusha rocket
attacks in recent weeks.
In response to a question, Mr.
Netanyahu said he would "nego-
tiate differently with Syria. I
would come into the negotiations
demanding precisely what Syria
is demanding ... the entire Golan
Heights. And why not? After all,
we were the aggrieved party."
The Likud leader said that the
experiment in high-tech dialogue
was a rousing success.
Mr. Zvili, secretary general of
the Labor Party, drew somewhat
In response to questions about
the Golan Heights, Mr. Zvili said
that "the Middle East has
changed its face; the interests of
the Syrian and Israeli people lead
them to a conclusion that peace
is the most significant element in
securing the future."
He suggested that strategic
territory is not as critical as
it once was in an era of missile
and nonconventional warfare. He
also had something to say
about recent protests by set-
The Battle of the Rabbis took
another turn when a group rep-
resenting rabbis from all four
movements of Judaism came
to Washington to promote
the Rabin government's peace
In a letter to Congress, the ad-
hoc group pressed for renewal of
the Middle East Peace Facilita-
tion Act, the law allowing Amer-
ican aid to the Palestinian
Authority, and expressed support
for an active American role in the
The rabbinic gathering came
a month after a group of Ortho-
dox rabbis staged a lobbying
effort to oppose any American aid
to the Palestinian Authority.
"The point was to show that a
small handful of mostly Ortho-
dox rabbis are NOT representa-
tive of the broad cross-section of
American Jewry," said Rabbi Sid-
ney Schwarz, a Reconstruction-
ist leader from the Washington
area. "Our effort, representing
more than 600 rabbis spanning
religious movements, shows what
polls show — that something like
80 percent of American Jews sup-
port Rabin and the peace process,
and support active American in-
The delegation met with a
number of congressional leaders,
including Rep. Ben Gilman, R-
N.Y., and Sen. Jesse Helms, R-