When Will It End?
Optimism for peace dimmed by latest round of violence.
Defense Committee on Monday, Mofaz virtually
confirmed that the government is planning to exile
the Palestinian leader, saying that the day is "getting
closer" when Arafat will no longer be around.
Defense Ministry sources say Israel aims "to
engage the Palestinians in serious peace talks" in the
coming year — something that, in Mofaz's view,
can only happen without Arafat."
Netanyahu made a similar point in an address to
foreign diplomats on Monday when he defended
Israel's refusal to allow Palestinian officials to attend
a London conference on reforming the Palestinian
Authority. Having Arafat send representatives to dis-
cuss reforming his regime was as absurd "as Saddam
Hussein sending his minions to discuss reform of
the regime in Baghdad," Netanyahu said.
The Israeli statements against Arafat reportedly are
being echoed by senior Palestinian officials.
According to Israeli government sources, Palestinians
who met top Sharon aides to discuss renewing the
peace process "the day after" Israeli elections and any
war in Iraq said there would be no progress as long
as Arafat is around.
Indeed, the Israeli sources said, the Palestinians
seemed to feel they were risking their lives merely by
talking to Israel.
Labor Party leaders, however, are solidly against
expelling Arafat, even after any American strike on
Iraq. Haim Ramon, chairman of the Knesset's Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee, says that precisely
because of Arafat's role in Palestinian terrorism, it
would be better to keep him "cooped up in Ramallah"
than to allow him to travel the world pressing the
Palestinian case and raising funds for more attacks.
"No one would replace Arafat in the territories,"
Ramon says, "and expelling him would only make
For the leaders of Israel's two major parties, having
Arafat around, at least for the next three weeks, may
actually make things easier.
For Mitzna, Arafat is a potential partner at best,
and is irrelevant at worst.
Regarding Sharon, it may be instructive to recall
the headline in one major American magazine after
the Likud leader was elected prime minister in
February 2001. Noting that Palestinian terrorism had
overthrown the most peace-oriented government in
Israel's history, the New Yorker called Sharon's elec-
tion "Arafat's gift."
Many Israelis say Sharon has no long-term vision
for achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace, but they don't
care: As long as Arafat heads the Palestinian
Authority, they see no hope anyway.
If the polls hold true for another three weeks, Arafat
may be giving Israelis the same gift this time around.
Special to the Jewish News
he latest double
that killed at least 22
and wounded 100 in
a poor neighborhood in south
Tel Aviv was the worst such
attack since the "Passover
Massacre" at Netanya's Park
Hotel that killed 29 Israelis.
The attack "strengthens the
concern that there isn't a solution
to this problem," said Michael
Horowitz of Farmington Hills,
co-chair of the Israel Task Force
of the Jewish Federation of
"There is so much of this that
you ask, 'Why is this bombing
different?' It's a bad reaction,
but a real one."
Horowitz, a member of the
Jewish Agency for Israel's board
of governors, goes to Israel at
least three times a year, most
recently in October. His reac-
tion to the Jan. 5 violence is one
of "frustration and pessimism."
"Lots of people look at every-
thing as a cause and effect," he
said. "Those who have a feeling
of Jewish guilt see this as caused
by Israeli actions. While I can
see how the situation embitters
another generation of Palestin-
ians, I- see the attacks as part of -
an overall calculated plan to dis-
rupt Israeli society. There is a
large group of Palestinian youth
who have been brainwashed and
trained to do this. They are
weapons of the Palestinian
David Blewett, director of the
National Christian Leadership
Conference for Israel and the
Ecumenical Institute for Jewish-
Christian Studies, hopes that
Christians will better understand
what is going on.
The massiveness and horror of
these bombs, and the fact that
they went off where they did,
where people are already really
hurting, are beginning to rattle
some people in the Christian
community, he said. "Some are
asking, 'Where does this come
"It's not enough to change
minds, but it can make them
question their support for a
cause that does such things."
However, he's not overly
East contacts of
not even men-
tioning it," he
acting like it
didn't even hap- Blewett
pen. If the
Church was doing more [in the
Middle East], it would make
some people take notice. But
Christian religious leaders, who
have so much at stake with their
current positions, will downplay
aware of [the threat] while you
are there, but you don't walk
around in fear. Jerusalem was-
n't a ghost town. People were
shopping and we ate at a
crowded restaurant near Ben-
"But every day the newspa-
pers were full of incidents that
were made. We
about it here
killed in the
kind of a mira-
cle there aren't
"I don't know
what to think anymore. You
just have to hope things will
get better soon."
The Rev. Richard Singleton,
director of the Metropolitan
"But Christian leaders, who have so
much at stake with their positions,
will downplay the bombing. The
focus will remain the 'occupation."
— David Blewett
it. The focus will remain the
Bobbie Lewis of Oak Park is
thankful there are not more
successful attacks. She and her
husband, Joe, just returned
from Israel last week after vis-
iting their daughter Miriam
who is a madrichah (group
leader) with Young Judaea's
Year Course in Israel.
"We had a wonderful time in
Israel," she said. "You are
Christian Council in Detroit,
says he condemns violence
whatever the source.
"Obviously, the Church
Council abhors any violence
that takes place, especially if it
takes place in the name of reli-
gion," he said. "It seems to be a
continuation of an ongoing spi-
ral of violence ... I am hopeful
— due to signs in the Jewish
community in Israel and cer-
tainly in the Christian
Palestinian community — that
they want the violence to stop
right now." ❑