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June 07, 1996 - Image 55

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-06-07

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

Prime Minister-elect Binyamin Netanyahu pledged
to continue peace talks during a victory rally
Sunday in Jerusalem. A security guard is at right.

`Yigal Amir Won'

Bottom Left:
Labor supporters were crushed after returns
indicated a Netanyahu victory.

Rabin's secular, dovish heirs see
Netanyahu's victory as a reason for
more mourning.

Bottom Right:
Netanyahu supporters cruise Jerusalem's
streets claiming victory.


Defeat hung heavily on Prime Minister Peres,
seen here at Hebrew University, site of his first
public speech since losing the election.


Tel Aviv

ter Shimon Peres postponed that follow-
ing the spring wave of Islamic bombings
that killed about 60 Israelis. Then he put
it off until after the May 29 elections. The
ball has now passed to Mr. Netanyahu's
coalition of the hawkish and the pious.
Danny Hizmi, 45, runs the settlers' cafe
beside the Tomb of the Patriarchs. "This
will be our government," he insisted, "a
Jewish government that should take care
of the Jews — and the Palestinians — but
first the Jews."
In the narrow Arab shopping streets,

s dawn approached on May 30
and it became increasingly
clear that Binyamin Ne-
tanyahu was going to be Is-
rael's next prime minister,
many Shimon Peres sup-
porters greeted each
other by asking, "So
when are you leaving?" — as in leaving Is-
They weren't serious, but the question re-
flected a feeling that their country, which
they liked to think of as a Western-orient-
ed, rational, peace-loving place, had been
taken over by secular hawks, Orthodox
hawks, and hawkish Haredi medievalists.
The half of the country — actually 49.5
percent — who voted for Mr. Peres, espe-
cially the hard-core devotees of the peace
process, were beyond depression. "I'm in
mourning," said one man. Added a woman:
"I could never bring myself to think about
the possibility of Netanyahu winning, be-
cause it was too horrible to contemplate."
Leah Rabin, widow of the assassinated
prime minister, was not alone when she
said, "I look at the closet with my suitcas-
es and I feel like packing up and getting out
of here." (She said later that she had been
quoted out of context, and that she had no
such intention.)
There was a widespread feeling that, as
the phrase went, "Yigal Amir won." The
sense was that Yitzhak Rabin had been
killed twice. After all the idealism of the
post-assassination period, Mr. Rabin's po-
litical enemies had triumphed; his heirs had
lost. Mr. Netanyahu, who had led so many
demonstrations where "Rabin is a traitor"
was one of the milder chants, had emerged
on top.
A wholly different constellation of Israelis

with their broken-down banana stalls and
steaming chickpeas, congested traffic and
veiled Muslim matrons, the talk is less of
a return to the seven-year intifada of fly-
ing stones and burning tires than of guns
and TNT.
"This time," warned Basil Nassar, a
20-year-old driver who served six months
in an Israeli security prison, "there'll be
armed attacks, there will be suicide at-
tacks. And if they by to settle more Jews
in Hebron, there'll be a war here."
For Azam Muhtased, 41, an office

worker, last week's elections proved that
Israelis did not want peace. "The ex-
tremists on both sides have won. Ne-
tanyahu's victory is a blow to all the
peace forces in the Middle East. Iran will
now step up its support for Hamas be-
llamas' way has proved it gets re-
But there is no heat, yet, in the Pales-
tinians' resentment. Like the Jews, they
are waiting to see which way Mr. Ne-
tanyahu jumps. Haj Nimer Jiyawi, a 50-
year-old jeweler with a double chin,

had come to power. Shas, the Sephardi Or-
thodox party, had garnered many thousands
of votes by passing out amulets carrying the
blessing of a 106-year-old rabbi and kab-
balist. Chabad Chasidim had attracted
many yeahs for Mr. Netanyahu by display-
ing banners and handing out bumper stick-
ers that read, "Netanyahu — Good for the
In a Tel Aviv dentist's office, the recep-
tionist said, "I want separation — separa-
tion between me and those other crazy Jews.
I want to put up a wall between the Greater
Tel Aviv area and keep Jerusalem on the
other side."
A Jerusalem man who is planning to
leave the city said, "Listen, the ultra-Or-
thodox want to keep a few of us secular.
They need us to pay their taxes and defend
them in the army." There was a lot of black
humor in the air.


"Alienation" was the watchword among the
political losers. The country had been theirs
for four years. Finally the occupation was
ending and peace was being made, even if
in bloody fits and starts. The Supreme
Court, Meretz and the Reform and Conser-
vative movements were chipping away at
Orthodox religious hegemony. The country
was becoming more progressive, more nor-
mal, more hopeful.
Then came the upheaval. The country had
been taken over by forces who had made it
pointedly clear that the left was the cause
of all the country's ills.
Mr. Netanyahu, with his implacable ha-
tred of Yassir Arafat and the Oslo Accords,
was now in charge of making peace. The re-
ligious nationalists and the Haredim, who
had accused the government of destroying

brown business suit and white keffiyeh
head scarf, sells gold trinkets under a
proud photograph of himself shaking
hands with a beaming Mr. Arafat. "The
peace agreement," he argued, "was be-
tween two nations, not two individuals
... so Netanyahu has no choice but to car-
ry it out."
Maybe, but Mayor Natshe isn't as op-
timistic. "If Netanyahu doesn't go on with
the peace process, he will pay the price
at the next elections," he said. "A lot of
blood could be shed before then."

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