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January 16, 2004 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-01-16

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S Opinion

Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

Dry Bones

Hints of Hope


t is one thing to change your mind, quite
another to change your heart. We need to
remember the distinction when we try to
make sense of the recent statements by
Libya's Col. Muammar Qaddafi and Syria's Bashar
al-Assad about possible peace agreements with Israel.
In both cases, the apparent new attitude seems calcu-
lated to appease the Western world — most partici ilar-
ly the hard-right coterie of President George W. Bush's
advisers — rather than to take up a role of leading the
Arab nations toward ultimate acceptance of "the
Zionist entity." The presence of 130,000 American sol-
diers in Iraq and the capture of Saddarn Hussein can
hardly have failed to make an impression on the
regimes in Tripoli and Damascus. Better for
Qaddafi to surrender his weapons of mass
destruction voluntarily than to risk having
them taken away; better for Assad to talk
peace with Israel now that this supply of Iraqi oil is in
U.S. hands.
Qaddafi would surely find it easier to come to an
agreement with Israel than Syria would. The colonel
retains total power in Libya despite the economic stag-
nation that has marked his 34 years as head of the
North African nation. The country is no longer a
training ground for Palestinian guerrillas and it has not
wasted as much effort as other Arab states in blaming
Israel for all the world's ills. For its part, Israel should
be glad to add another dollop of Arab recognition of
its right to exist.
Israel's security no longer mandates holding onto the
GOlan Heights that it took from Syria in 1967, but it
needs to be sure that the country is shutting down the
terrorist training camps like the one Israel bombed last
year. Syria needs to show its sincerity by pulling back
from its emplacements in Lebanon and by cutting off the
flow of money to Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists.


It will be a measure of Assad's lead-
ership to see if he can carry out such
measures even though he lacks any
political stature beyond what his late
father, Hafez, conferred on him.
Obviously, the disclosure of secret
negotiations with Israel two months
ago has made it harder for him inter-
nally, but there is comfort in the fact
that he is now turning to Turkey to
help him broker a deal. His words
may prove empty — a stopgap to
avert new economic sanctions by the
United States — but at least
Washington and Jerusalem
should listen to what he has
to say and should watch
what he actually does.
The hardest part for Syria — as for
most of the Arab states — will be to
overcome the legacy of popular hatred
of Israel and of Jews that its leaders
have so widely encouraged over the
last 30 years. One measure of the dis-
tance it has to go is that its defense
minister, Mustafa Tlass, is the author
of a book, widely distributed in the
Arab states, that "proves" that Jews _
take the blood of Christian innocents
to make matzoh.
Ending the hatred will require a
change of heart, something that hasn't
happened even in the states that
accept Israel, Jordan and Egypt. For
that, the Arab world and Israel will have to wait for a
leader with the courage and vision of an Anwar Sadat.
In the meantime, the openings to Syria and Libya are
good opportunities for Israel that, properly followed




Is THAT 114E


up on, could lead to a real lessening of tension in the
Middle East and perhaps even effective pressure on the
Palestinians to abandon the Yasser Arafat policy of con-
frontation at any cost. ❑

Shabbat, Politics Don't Mix


Ann Arbor

ach week, I go to my synagogue to pray,
reflect and learn. Since early fall, every
Sabbath a group of protesters has been
standing in front of Beth Israel
Congregation, my place of worship, ,disrupting my
peaceful mood with signs calling for the end of the
State of Israel and a claim that they speak out of com-
mitment to, and responsibility for, the actions of the
Jewish people..
They even had the extremely poor taste to protest
during the High Holidays, the holiest time of the Jewish

Eileen Freed is a member of Beth Israel Congregation

in Ann Arbor, a vice president of the Hebrew Day
School of Ann Arbor, Youth Commission chair for
Central States Hadassah, secretary of the Camp
Committee of Camp Young Judea of the Midwest and
a worker with the Sol Drachler Program at the
University of Michigan. Her e-mail address is


year — representing themselves as
for peace in the Middle East. For example,
Jews who care about Jewish law and
some members of Beth Israel are active mem-
practice, with the implication that
bers of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, an organization
others don't, and making a poor attempt to use
that advocates dismantling settlements and
Jewish values to explain their views.
making great sacrifices for peace. The differ-
I find their presence troubling for a number
ence between them and the protesters is that
of reasons:
they do so out of love for Israel and an interest
• Generally, I am happy to engage in debate
in justice for the Palestinian people.
about the Middle East peace process.
• The protesters profess to be protesting
However, Shabbat and holidays are not the
because they care about justice and peace in
time to argue, particularly on a public street in
the Middle East. However, the justice they
front of a synagogue. Frankly, I think political
seek is for one side only. They are not at all
protest at a place of worship is highly inappro-
interested in the preservation or security of the
priate. It seems to me that this group is choos-
Jewish state — their only interest is in ensur-
ing this holy place and time contrarily, purposely to
ing a Palestinian state. In fact, their signs call for one
annoy worshippers out of spite.
Palestine and an end to Zionism (read: end to Israel).
• By protesting in front of my synagogue, the pro-
• The protesters claim that they are holding vigil
testers are making assumptions and implications about
because the Jewish community has refused to include
the political views and intentions of those worshipping
them in a dialogue.-Does an African-American church
inside. The protesters cannot presume to know where
have to dialogue with those who insist slavery was not
each of us stands; the protests reflect an assumption
unjust? Would Muslims tolerate members of their own
that those praying inside are not on the side of peace.
community standing outside their mosques protesting
During our services, we pray for peace, and many of
against the rights of the Palestinians to a state because
our congregants, during the week, are actively working
FREED on page 28



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