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July 18, 2003 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-07-18

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

AUTO LEASING
& BUYING
MADE EASY

forgotten what it is to live a normal
life," Laham said.
Some of the efforts to reduce anti-
Israel incitement are not well received.
While the whitewashing of some anti-
Israel graffiti in Gaza met with great
fanfare, the vast majority of the
sprawling Palestinian city was left
untouched. Few are willing to take on
the job, both because the workload is
so great -- pictures of dead terrorists,
Kassam rockets, AK-47s and other
Palestinian symbols mark miles of
walls in the maze-like refugee camps
— and because it is highly unpopular.

Self-Sown Hate

Likewise, Palestinian journalists and
researchers find it increasingly difficult
to overcome the anti-Israel sentiment
that their own outlets have helped
stoke.
"Our work is not having an effect
on the people because Israelis are act-
ing differently, not fully accepting the
truce," Abu Shanab claimed. "The
people feel that there are no real
changes on the Israeli side."
But the real pressure may be coming
from his own side. "We are constantly
threatened for this stance. I personally
have had to reduce my TV time," Abu
Shanab said. "It's not because I don't
believe in peace, it's just that the peo-
ple don't think the hudna does any-
thing for them."
Part of this stems from P.A. Prime
Minister Mahmoud Abbas' failure to
secure a blanket prisoner release from
Israel. Other factors are the first tenta-
tive steps by the P.A.'s minister for
security affairs, Mohammed Dahlan,
against terrorist groups in the Gaza
Strip.
Abbas and Dahlan "are losing their
strength in the fight for Palestinian
public opinion, which makes things
very hard for us," Abu Shanab said.
Like many Palestinians, he harbors
misgivings about Shikaki's poll. "I
believe that he was well-paid to pub-
lish those figures," said Abu Shanab,
alleging that the United States might
have been behind the "doctored"
results.
"How can it be that only 10 percent
of Palestinians supported the full right
of return, when 70 percent of
Palestinians worldwide are refugees?"
he asked.
By pressing on the most sensitive
issue for Palestinians — the right of
return — Shikaki "strayed too far
from the line," Abu Shanab said. "For
us, these issues should be restricted
areas," he said. El

Baghdad Jews Safe For Now

During Iraq visit, Jewish officials find perils
remain for Baghdad's Jews.

URIEL HEILMAN

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

New York

hen the bombs started
raining down on
Baghdad in late March,
most Jewish anxiety was
focused on Israel, which had been the
target of Iraqi missiles during the first
Persian Gulf War.
But for a very small group of Jews in
the Middle East, the danger was from
American bombs.
Those Jews — the remnants of
Baghdad's once-thriving Jewish com-
munity — are now the focus of a new
welfare effort by international Jewish
organizations, whose reach is extending
into the Iraqi capital for the first time
in decades.
Now that the smoke has cleared and
Saddam Hussein's dictatorial regime is
gone, Baghdad's Jews are tasting free-
dom for the first time. Many are find-
ing it fraught with peril.
"They're very, very wary," Rachel
Zelon, vice president for program oper-
ations at the New York office of the
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
(HIAS), said upon her return from a
weeklong trip to Baghdad.
"They've been alone and isolated for
over 30 years, and now, all of a sudden,
people keep knocking on their doors,"
she said. "They're very reluctant to
open up because of the various circum-
stances that they've lived under for so

long."
"They are very secretive about the
fact that they're Jewish," Zelon said.
There are at least 34 Jews left in
Iraq's capital, about half of them elder-
ly. Long-time residents of the city,
many of them are poor and lack basic
needs and Jewish ritual objects.
Zelon and a senior official from the
Jewish Agency for Israel, Jeff Kaye,
sought to address those needs in the
Iraqi capital during June. Kaye, who is
the director of financial resource devel-
opment and former shaliach (emissary)
in Detroit, brought the Jews prayer
books and tefillin, among other things.
Zelon helped them obtain household
items like sheets, towels, clothing and
insulin.
The trip had special significance for
Kaye: His wife's parents are Iraqi exiles
who came to Israel in 1951.
Zelon, who works in Manhattan,
said the trip to Iraq was among the
most remarkable she has undertaken
for HIAS.
The scene on the Jordanian side of
the border was chaotic, she said, with
thousands of trucks idling, hundreds of
Iraqi refugee families trying to get back
home and Chevrolet Suburbans filled
with members of the foreign press and
international workers.
The Iraqi side, by contrast, was
orderly, patrolled by American soldiers
who seemed glad to run into fellow

BAGHDAD JEWS

on page 22

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