Passover, Festival of Books Converge

This year, the People of the Book will miss out on the largest book festival in town, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Passover starts at sundown on Saturday, April 23. The festival, which takes place annually on the last weekend of April, falls on the April 23-24. While Sabbath-observant Jews have always been limited to attending the second day of the festival, this year Sunday coincides with the first day of Passover. The holiday would preclude participating in such an activity. Other people who might consider attending may be busy preparing for seders both nights.

Mike Lange, communications director for the Los Angeles Times, said that when organizers became aware of the conflict and looked into changing the date, UCLA was already booked with other events.

Asked if he had any thoughts about how the holiday might affect attendance, Lange replied, “No. We think there’s plenty of activities and we’ll just see.”

He said he was not aware whether exhibitor or author participation was affected and noted that measures were taken to insure that future festivals will have no such conflict.

Last year’s Jewish exhibitors included The Jewish Federation’s Koreh L.A. program, The Jewish Journal (which is not participating this year) and the Skirball Cultural Center. – Nancy Sokoler Steiner, Contributing Writer

Dovish Beilin ‘Not So Lonely’

Dr. Yossi Beilin, who at the height of the intifada was often labeled by the Israeli media as a “lone dove,” doesn’t feel so lonely anymore.

Over the last decade or so, the debate pitting “hawkish” Greater Israel advocates against two-state-solution “doves” has changed to broad acceptance of a Palestinian state, with the current discussion centering on the precise terms for a compromise, Beilin told the Los Angeles World Affairs Council March 2.

While Israel’s “57-year struggle for normalization” is not yet over, Beilin, the chief architect of the Oslo and Geneva accords with the Palestinians, expressed considerable confidence in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, formerly his chief partner in the Oslo talks.

During his address at the Beverly Hills Hotel and in fielding questions from an audience of close to 300, Beilin said that Abbas, in seeking to control Palestinian extremists, “is pushing the envelope, testing the waters, and expanding his maneuvering room.”

Beilin, a cabinet minister in previous Labor governments, credited Abbas with putting an end to Palestinian media incitement against Israel, firing his top security officers for failing to prevent attacks against Israel, and for being the first Palestinian leader to describe suicide bombers as “terrorists.”

A long-time ideological opponent of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Beilin was relatively muted in his criticism. However, “by saying that there can be no peace process while there are terrorist acts, Sharon has given a gift [of stopping the peace process at will] to terrorists,” Beilin said.

Responding to questions, Beilin said he did not think there would be a civil war among Palestinian factions, to the benefit of Israel, because “there is always a spillover from a civil war.”

As to the refugee problem, Beilin said that while Jordan had taken steps to integrate its Palestinian population, the main difficulty was represented by Lebanon’s 200,000 unassimilated Palestinian refugees.

The immediate task of the Bush administration is to push its “road map” for peace, by setting deadlines for each step along the way, while in the long run the United States must act as the “referee” between Israel and the Palestinians, Beilin said.

Beilin, who was born three weeks after the State of Israel was established,

was asked whether he could have been more effective by staying in the Labor Party.

“I couldn’t accept Labor joining the Sharon government,” he replied. “I can accept supporting Sharon on specific points, but not in sharing the responsibility for governing,” he said.

Beilin currently holds no government post, but is chairman of the Yachad Party, which has six votes in the Knesset. – Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor