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January 03, 2003 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-03

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Does Arab Violence Pay Off?


here is no lack of news,
almost daily, on events in
the Israeli-Palestinian con-
frontation, but certain fun-
damental aspects of that struggle
have received little attention. It is
time the spotlight should be turned
on them.
Statements by Palestinian leaders,
sermons in mosques, and articles and
editorials repeated in their press all
lead to expression of a general opin-
ion that the Arabs are winning in the
ongoing battle with Israel. The few
Arab personalities who raise timorous
voices,.pointing to the resultant des-
perate economic situation of their
people and the overpowering
strength of Israel, are at once hushed
up by the prophets of victory and
even threatened with harm. The
masses follow the lead of their war-
On what do they base their opti-
mism? On two factors: the visible
physical results of their violence and
what they regard as a spirit of
defeatism that appears to them to be
sweeping over Israel.
With regard to the first: Gideon
Levi, a pro-Palestinian columnist in


Carl Alpert is a U.S. native who made

aliyah in 1952. He is former head of the
Zionist Organization of America's edu-
cation department. His e-mail address is

the daily paper Ha'aretz, has for some
time been serving as a mouthpiece
for their point of view. On the sub-
ject of the alleged success of the ter-
rorism, he has noted that ever since
the Yom Kippur War, almost 30 years
ago, everything that the Arabs have
gained has come about as a result of
their use of force. They point to the
Yom Kippur War itself, Egypt's sur-
prise attack, which ended with the
surrender of the entire Sinai, even
the last of Israel's holdings, Yamit.
The first Palestinian intifada
(uprising) gained for them the Oslo
agreement, the safe ensconcing of
Arafat in the West Bank, the estab-
lishment and arming (by Israel) of
the Palestine Authority and the with-
drawal of Israel from major West
Bank cities and most of Gaza.
It was the repeated violence of the
Hezbollah that brought about Israel's
hasty withdrawal from Lebanon.
More recently, Dr. Abdel Aziz
Rantisi, a Hamas leader, observed
that the bloody and painful terrorist
attack on a bus in Jerusalem was
what motivated Amram Mitzna, head
of the Labor Party, to declare there-
after that he is prepared to withdraw
unilaterally from the Gaza Strip. In
other words, it appears to them that
everything they have gained, and
Israel's capitulation, have always
come about after intense terrorist
violence. The obvious moral, there-
fore, is to continue with the violence

rators within the Israeli ranks.
Further, the publicity given
to the relatively few Israelis who
have refused to serve in the
army in the West Bank adds
Unwitting Support
substantially to the belief that
Israeli morale is disintegrating.
The second factor contribut-
Unwittingly, the idealistic but
ing to their optimism, and
shortsighted Jewish humanitari-
hence encouraging them in
ans are playing into the hands
their determination to contin-
Sp ecial
of Israel's foes, and are in large
ue with the terror, is the reac-
entary part responsible for continua-
tion of certain elements in
don and extension of the terror.
Israel and among liberal-mind-
The Arabs also compare the reaction
ed Jews in the U.S. and elsewhere.
at funerals of the victims on both
The peace movements in Israel,
though they represent only a very small sides, as shown here on television.
fraction of public opinion, are regarded Arab funerals are marked by excited
by the Palestinians as an indication of a fury, fist waving and incitement.
growing spirit of defeatism here. Jewish Jewish funerals are distinguished by
street demonstrations and public meet- the tears and subdued grief of the
mourners. This, too, is regarded as a
ings attacking government policy are
sign of growing Israeli weakness and
looked upon by most Israelis only as
imminent collapse, in contrast to Arab
an expression of a naive and misguided
fervor and determination.
group exercising their freedom in a
But after all this is said, it must be
democracy. But to the Arabs, who do
noted that the vast majority of Israelis
not understand democracy, such
remain confident and determined. They
actions are taken very seriously and are
would prefer to reach a peaceful agree-
regarded as indications of a significant
ment with the Palestinians, but if the
split in Israeli public opinion.
latter persist in resorting to violence,
The Palestinians derive encourage-
Israel has no alternative but to respond
ment as a result. Jews in other parts
with force. A change may come when a
of the world as well, who endorse
new, sane, responsible leadership
the so-called peace movements here,
emerges on the other side, prepared to
are in effect bolstering the
teach their people that good neighborli-
Palestinians in their determination
ness is preferable to hostility
to increase their apparently success-
When that time comes, Israel will
ful terrorism. After all, they feel that
they have help from unwitting collabo- not be found wanting.

until Israel is brought to its
knees and then eliminated

The People I Live Amongst

once lived in what shall remain
an unnamed city in the Western
world, in which one of the most
prominent organizations was
called Parents of Murdered Children.
In this place, the kidnapping and
molestation and murder of children
was endemic, so much so that I
wouldn't let my children go out of the
house alone. Ever.
In this city, a woman's car once
broke down on the highway. Within
10 minutes, a car picked her up; and


Naomi Ragen is the author of five
Jewish-themed novels, including Jephte's
Daughter. Born in New York, she has
lived in Israel for the past 30 years. Her e-
mail address is nragen@netmedia.netil

1/ 3


she was subsequently raped and mur-
dered. And I wondered: What kind of
people live in this place that within a
10-minute period a rapist-murderer
would be passing by?
And now I live in a place where all
around me, every minute of the day,
in every part of this land, there is a
hidden saint and hero.
I want to start with the latest story,
the story of Noam in Otniel. Otniel is
a yeshiva in which boys add two years
to their regular army service so that
they can continue their religious stud-
ies. My son went there. And his
friends. And the son of one of my
neighbors, a remarkable young man,
the kind who regularly visits a family
because they lost one of their sons in
the army. And now he visits them,

and entered the kitchen wear-
and comforts them, every
ing Israel Defense Forces
week. People he didn't know.
army uniforms and toting
Last weekend in Otniel, the
M16s, 12 rounds of ammuni-
boys went home for Shabbat,
tion and 10 hand grenades.
and the yeshiva was open to
They started shooting imme-
Friday night. The white
Under fire, Noam Apfter
tablecloths. A hundred boys
toward the door separat-
wearing knitted skullcaps just
kitchen from the din-
returned from Sabbath prayers.
where a hundred
They formed a circle and .
Sp ecial
young boys were
an waiting for the first
Com' nentag
welcoming the Sabbath.
course of the Sabbath meal to
Wounded, with his last
be served. In the kitchen,
strength, he locked both locks and
Gabriel, 17, Tvika, 18, Yehuda, 20,
threw the key away. He locked himself
and Noam, 23, were getting the first
with the terrorists, and locked them
course onto the serving plates.
out from harming his fellow students.
Outside, two terrorists, members of
Noam Apfter paid for this act of
the Islamic Jihad organization, cut the
heroism with his life. He and the
useless wire fence around the yeshiva,

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