Mark Zuckerberg’s Hawaii wall irks neighbors


Billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is angering neighbors with the privacy settings he’s building at his Hawaii vacation property.

Zuckerberg is building a 6-foot-tall wall around his waterfront property on the island of Kauai, and his neighbors in Kilauea say it is blocking their ocean views and breezes, West Hawaii Today reported Tuesday.

“The feeling of it is really oppressive. It is immense,” neighbor Gy Hall said.

Neighbors told the Hawaii newspaper they are also upset that he began construction without first consulting them and that they written to Zuckerberg but received no reply. Hall said that signs placed on the wall explaining the neighbors’ concerns were quickly ripped down.

Shosana Chantara, a Kilauea resident, said the wall is blocking air circulation.

“You take a solid wall that’s 10 or more feet above the road level, the breeze can’t go through,” she said.

Another neighbor, Donna McMillen, said: “I’m 5-foot-8 and when I’m walking, I see nothing but wall. It just doesn’t fit in with the natural beauty that we have here.”

Zuckerberg, 32, purchased the 700-acre Hawaii estate for $200 million in 2014. He is the sixth richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine’s most recent ranking of billionaires, as well as the world’s wealthiest Jewish person.

Maria Maitino, another Kilauea resident, told the Hawaii paper that she doesn’t understand why the wall is so high, adding it “doesn’t feel neighborly.”

Neighbor Thomas Beebe, however, defended the wall in a text message to West Hawaii Today, saying it “appropriately makes use of local materials and serves as a tasteful reminder of an ancient method of defining boundaries.”

It’s not clear when construction will be done or whether it will encircle the entire property, and Zuckerberg has not commented on it.

He and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced in December that they will donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares over the course of their lifetimes.

After tensions with residents, Lev Tahor leave Guatemalan village


Members of the controversial Haredi sect Lev Tahor left a Guatemalan village after religiously tainted disputes with its Roman Catholic Mayan residents.

Over 200 members of the community began leaving Thursday after local leaders said they would cut services to Lev Tahor members.

The move is one of many recent disruptions for the group, which has been targeted with child abuse allegations in Canada.

Lev Tahor had maintained a small presence in San Juan La Laguna, a village about 90 miles west of Guatemala City, for about six years, but it expanded considerably in March after a contingent arrived complaining of persecution by Canadian authorities.

Tensions appear to have flared after the newcomers arrived, and leaders of the village told news agencies that the group sought to impose its practices on the indigenous peoples.

Miguel Vasquez Cholotio, a member of the elders’ council, told Reuters the sect members refused to greet or have physical contact with anyone outside their community.

“We felt intimidated by them in the streets. We thought they wanted to change our religion and customs,” he said. Vasquez Cholotio told AFP that the villagers “need to conserve and preserve our culture.”

Uriel Goldman, a spokesman for Lev Tahor, told Reuters that the group had friendly relations with the locals, and was the victim of charges by a minority among the village’s leaders. He said the group would seek another site in Guatemala to settle.

Brothers’ religious discrimination suit settled


A nationwide staffing company settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Jewish employees who were subjected to religious discrimination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had sued Texas-based Administaff, Inc., which provides human resource teams for small- to medium-sized companies, and Conn-X, a Florida-based cable service provider, after brothers Scott and Joey Jacobson were harassed for approximately two years at the Conn-X office in Edgewood, Md.

Administaff will pay the brothers $115,000 for religious discrimination, and will abstain from engaging in harassment on a religious bias and from retaliating against employees who report such harassment. Administaff also agreed to revise its policy against harassment and retaliation, and provide training for its managers on anti-discrimination laws.

The Jacobsons were called “dirty Jew” and “dumb Jew,” and were subjected to other anti-Semitic comments beginning in 2005. Scott Jacobson had his work vehicle defaced with a swastika and was forced into a trash bin for the amusement of managers watching on work surveillance cameras, calling it “throw the Jew in the Dumpster.”

Attempts to reach a voluntary settlement fell through, leading to the EEOC lawsuit. The suit against Conn-X remains unresolved.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious harassment.

Briefs: Hier scolds Carter, and vice versa; StandWithUs distributes “Israel 101”


Hier scolds Carter, and vice versa

Former President Jimmy Carter has implicitly accused the Simon Wiesenthal Center of “falsehood and slander,” after the center mailed Carter some 25,000 signed petitions protesting his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

In a brief but stinging note to Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center’s founder and dean, Carter wrote, by hand, “I don’t believe that Simon Wiesenthal would have resorted to falsehood and slander to raise funds.”

In his response to Carter, Hier noted that after reading the book, “It is incredulous to me that, after your historic achievement of brokering peace between Israel and Egypt, you could write such a book.”

After notingthat the United States would react in the same way as Israel if exposed to terrorism and suicide bombings, Hier concluded, “To his last breath, Simon Wiesenthal believed that the only reason there is no peace in the Middle East is because of Islamic extremists who refuse to compromise, not because of the State of Israel.”

— Tom Tugend, Contributing EditorPro-Choice Groups Warn About Complacency

Twenty-three new pro-choice representatives have just been elected to Congress, and California has an A-plus rating in reproductive rights legislation. This sounds like good news, and indeed it is. But, warned Amy Everitt, director of National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice California, these gains can lead to a complacency that is scarcely warranted.

Two days after the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, Everitt, addressing a gathering at the National Coalition of Jewish Women/Los Angeles (NCJW) headquarters, emphasized that even with the victories of the last elections, there is still not a pro-choice majority in Congress, and anti-choice forces have been working steadily to erode reproductive freedom. The meeting was co-sponsored by numerous groups, including the City of West Hollywood, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Hollywood NOW.

Joyce Schorr, founder and president of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRAPP) underscored how difficult it is for many women to get the care they need.

Despite its excellent rating in legislation, 41 percent of California’s counties have no abortion facilities, while nationwide, 87 percent of counties have no abortion providers whatsoever.

In 1991, Schorr, as an NCJW activist, created WRAPP as a national safety net for women and families. Last year, by raising and distributing funds for medical and travel expenses, WRAPP helped 1,687 women in 48 states obtain abortions.

In discussion after their presentations, Everitt and Schorr rooted their commitment to reproductive rights for all women in the tenets of Judaism.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis has affirmed the “right of a woman or individual family to terminate a pregnancy,” and opposes any amendments or legislation that would abridge that right.

“One of the reasons I started WRAPP as an NCJW project was because the Torah tells us to give of ourselves,” Schorr said. “Poor women needed a mitzvah project and WRAPP provides for their needs.”

— Naomi Glauberman, Contributing Writer

StandWithUs Distributes ‘Israel 101’

StandWithUs, the L.A.-based Israel advocacy organization, has released a primer on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The group prepared “Israel 101” in response to what it says is a “pressing need” for an easy-to-use resource for students engaged in Israel advocacy on college campuses. The 44-page, full-color primer offers a condensed history of Israel and brief introductions to hot-button issues, including the peace process, the Palestinian refugee problem and last summer’s war with Hezbollah.

— Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Interfaith Understanding Starts Young

Jewish, Muslim and Christian students in Orange County spent the fall in a dialogue and art exchange program, producing poetry and artwork based on the new understanding they gained.

The Jerusalem Sky Project, run by the World of Difference Institute of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Orange County/Long Beach office, brought together 75 fourth- to eighth-graders from Morasha Jewish Day School and St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita, and The New Horizon Elementary School in Irvine.

The program used the recently published “Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses and Crescents,” by Mark Podwal, to inspire the students to teach each other and to get to know one another.

The schools each hosted the group once during the semester-long interfaith project, and late in November the group gathered for a final meeting and exhibition of their artwork, which was on display at the Rancho Santa Margarita Bell Tower through December.

“Our hope was to start the process of exploring that there are others out there,” said Melissa Carr, special projects director for the ADL’s Orange County/Long Beach office. “A lot of times in private religious school settings, the students don’t have much opportunity to interact with others in the community.”

Carr said all the schools want to continue the relationship and are now working toward putting together a continuing program.

The kids met for the first time at New Horizon, a Muslim elementary school. A parent gave the students an “Islam 101” recap. When the Muslim students shared their traditions for prayers, holidays and holy books, the other students realized how, as religious people, they have a lot in common, said Robin Hoffman, Judaic studies director at Morasha.

Morasha hosted the group on Sukkot, but it was also during Ramadan, and out of respect for the Muslim students no food was served. The Jewish students invited their friends to morning prayer services, where they took out the Torah and explained to their peers the traditions and history of Judaism.

At St. John’s Episcopal school, students went through the 14 stations of the cross to learn about Christianity, and heard about Christian theology from the school’s vicar.

At the final meeting, facilitators from the ADL’s World of Difference Institute led exercises about appreciating and respecting other ways of life.

But such abstractions were already becoming a reality for these students: By the time they met for their last gathering, students were exchanging phone numbers.In her poem for the exhibit, Iman Labanieh, a fifth-grader at New Horizon, wrote:

Goodman Quits Team


Star basketball player Tamir Goodman ended his career at Towson University in Baltimore last week, when the school took the side of the head coach in a dispute that ended with Goodman’s resigning from the team.

The incident that sparked this took place after Towson beat Morgan State on Dec. 8 at the Towson Center. Goodman alleged that men’s basketball coach Michael Hunt held a chair over the player’s head and later kicked a stool that hit Goodman’s leg. Goodman filed a complaint later that night with the university police, and it was forwarded to the county state’s attorney’s office. He later dropped the charges. The Towson statement said the investigation had determined no criminal charges would be filed.

"Mr. Goodman’s participation as a basketball student-athlete has not been suspended or terminated," a university press release stated. "However, he has conveyed to [Athletic Director Wayne] Edwards and [Associate Director of Athletics] Margie Tversky his decision that he will not continue as a member of the Towson University men’s basketball team unless a head coaching change occurs."

That change will not occur, according to the university. Goodman’s father, Karl, said he was hoping his son could find another Division I school to play for, possibly in New York, and that they’d already received calls.

Goodman, formerly a student at Talmudical Academy High School, reacted with faith and confidence: "[Hunt] never liked the fact that I wouldn’t break down when he didn’t play me or when he criticized me. I kept coming back with a smile on my face, stronger and stronger. He was the one who broke, not me. I have the faith of Hashem, the faith of my people behind me. This is fitting that it happened during Chanukah, because like the example given over to us by the Maccabees, I had to keep strong for my people. And I did." — The Baltimore Jewish News

Santa Monica Gets A Clue


Did you hear the one about the rabbi, the priest, the minister, the union and the hotel? It’s no joke.

As workers at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel decide whether or not to organize in a union, more than 300 clergy members signed an open letter to Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tisch, asking that he allow union representatives access to the hotel workers. Under the umbrella of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), the group, including many prominent local rabbis, has been involved for over a year in the fight to allow about 300 housekeepers and other hotel service workers to vote on whether to unionize.

"We believe there is a lot of moral strength in religion," says Kurt Peterson, organizing director for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Union local 814. "It works for the workers, helps them understand what they deserve."

At the core of the Loews workers’ dispute is a disagreement over how a unionizing vote might take place. Tisch sent a letter to employees in August 2000 saying the hotel would recognize the results of a federally supervised election, through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Union leaders feel the NLRB election process is too lengthy, and advocate a faster "card-check" vote on unionization.

James Tisch, CEO of the parent Loews Corp. and a cousin of Jonathan, told The Journal, "We strongly believe that a secret ballot [through the NLRB] is the fairest way for this to be settled. There is a lot of opportunity for intimidation with ‘card-check.’" He added that a number of Loews hotels are unionized, as are workers at factories owned by Loews’ tobacco division, Lorillard.

The dispute between union organizers and the Loews Hotel is not the first in Santa Monica’s tourist-heavy beachfront. The nearby Fairmont Miramar and Pacific Shores hotels both recently settled similar disputes, allowing workers to vote on whether or not to join a union. Clergy affiliated with CLUE were involved in both negotiations, and with the broader labor movement in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, which includes the much publicized "living wage" drive.

Two distinguishing factors, however, have made the Loews dispute, ongoing since May 2000, a lightning rod for involvement by the religious community.

The first is the involvement — surprising, to many — of Jonathan Tisch in a fight against a union. Tisch, scion of the Tisch family, which owns the Loews Corp. holding company, is a major financial supporter of the Democratic Party, friend of Al Gore, philanthropist and leader in New York’s Jewish community. According to Rabbi Jeff Marx of Shaarei Am Synagogue in Santa Monica, "It’s particularly egregious that a Jewish owner should fight this so strenuously."

The second flash point in the unionization battle involved the clergy directly. In December 2000, a priest visited the home of one of his parishioners, a Loews hotel employee, with a union representative. The hotel management responded with a memo to employees warning of "a person dressed as a priest who says he is from a local church." The hotel has since sent letters of apology, but according to CLUE’s hotel organizer, the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, "The level of frustration and anger among the clergy was pretty high."

For Salvatierra, a Lutheran minister, religious leaders have a natural place in labor disputes. "One of the things our opponents do is accuse us of being puppets of the unions," she says, "but we’ve been talking about economic justice long before there were unions."

"Coming from our tradition, I can’t do anything else," says Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Beth Shir Shalom in Santa Monica.

The tradition to which Comess-Daniels refers is not only a social or political tradition of liberal Jewish Los Angeles, but a tradition in the form of Jewish texts.

Sha’arei Am’s Rabbi Jeff Marx recalled a protest led by clergy following the hotel management’s memo: "We re-enacted the battle of Jericho, that the walls of discrimination should come down. I read sections from the prophets about the treatment of workers." Comess-Daniels remembers another leader: "Jewish tradition has within it the first recorded labor action in history — the story of Moses."

There is another Jewish history at work, too, in the eyes of the Santa Monica rabbis of CLUE.

"For almost all of us in the congregation, we either had parents or grandparents involved with this labor organizing business," Marx says.

Comess-Daniels says, "I hear these workers speaking Spanish, and I hear my grandparents in Yiddish."

The timing of the open letter to Tisch, published as an advertisement in The Jewish Journal on Sept. 14, may have both positive and negative effects on its message. Comess-Daniels hopes the High Holy Days will help Tisch hear the clergy’s call. "I am very much respectful of Mr. Tisch and his donations to the Jewish community," he says. "I just wish his sense of justice and fairness extended to his employees. It saddens me that it doesn’t, particularly at this time of year, when we’re examining ourselves."

But the tragedy of Sept. 11 has had undeniable effects on the lives of hotel workers and owners, as travel fears affect hotels across the country. "At the moment, the whole country is in an altered state. That includes the hotel industry," Salvatierra admits. "There’s a sense that workers are going to need to be sensitive to the needs of management. If they are able to organize a union, they’re not going to come to [Tisch] with huge demands."

For his part, union organizer Peterson believes CLUE has been invaluable both for inspiring workers to unionize and for pressuring the hotel to allow the vote. "I’m hoping the clergy letter and our ongoing struggle will lead to success. The Tisch family are people of conscience," he says.

"We generally last one day longer than the hotels do. Having the clergy on our side will help here," Peterson says.

Hostile Takeover


Fifty-one years after going door to door and soliciting funds to help the fledgling State of Israel get off the ground, Jake Farber is at it again. But instead of trudging along Highland Avenue and seeking contributions of any size, Farber today meets in boardrooms and living rooms with major donors, whose contributions tend to run in the four- to six-figure range.

“It’s a little different today,” said Farber, general chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ 1999 United Jewish Fund.

The major challenge for the UJF today is to raise the ante from the flat campaigns of the past few years, which have yielded about $40 million in annual contributions, Farber said.

“This is the second-largest Jewish community in the United States,” Farber said. “We should be able to raise $50 million.”

To achieve that end, Farber, who headed the UJF’s Major Gifts Division last year, is urging more face-to-face solicitations — to reach the many people who don’t give at all and to encourage those who do, to increase their pledges.

“We have a lot of excellent volunteers who do this work, but it’s a tough business,” he said. “I’m not asking for myself. The need in this community and overseas is so great. Close to 50,000 people live below the poverty line in our [Jewish Los Angeles] population. Approximately 15,000 of those are confined to their homes. We give them social help, bring meals to them.”

Farber himself knows about poverty firsthand. Raised by a single mother in Boyle Heights during the Depression, he said that his family had little money. His mother still put whatever she could into the blue-and-white tzedakah box.

“She was a widow and worked all the time,” said Farber, who was 8 when his father died. “We had nothing and lived in a tiny house with two bedrooms.”

His mother worked as a seamstress to support him, his brother and sister. As a teen-ager, he delivered newspapers and did other odd jobs. After attending Roosevelt High School and serving in World War II, he enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he graduated in 1950 with an accounting degree. Farber joined his father-in-law’s metal recycling firm, Alpert and Alpert Iron and Metal, becoming president in 1980 and chairman of the board in 1996.

Both he and his wife, Janet, have become committed to communal work over the years. Farber chaired the UJF Machinery and Metals Division; serves as a Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance board member; and is a major contributor to the campaign to construct a new sports and youth complex at the Bernard Milken Campus in West Hills.

A board member and immediate past chair of Camp Ramah, Farber currently serves on the board and executive committee of the University of Judaism; he is also a board member of the Anti-Defamation League.

Farber and his family have been members of Temple Adat Ari El in North Hollywood since 1960. He was vice president and chair of the drive to build a day school at the synagogue. Janet has served as the Federation’s Women’s Conference president and chair of the Women’s Valley Alliance campaign, among other posts.

The Farbers are parents of three grown children and live in Sherman Oaks.

Bill Bernstein, UJF campaign director and Federation associate executive vice president, praised Farber for bringing a “wealth of experience and knowledge” to the job of general campaign chair. “He truly believes in the principle of tzedakah, and that ever Jew should have an opportunity to live a decent life,” Bernstein said.

Farber replaces 1998 general campaign chair Sandy Gage.

Family


My Aunt Illa, a woman capable of great charm and vast intrigues,was hated by both my mother and father.

By Father, because he believed that Illa was so jealous of thelove between his brother Zoltan and himself that she prevented herhusband from the frequent contact the brothers wanted. And my mother– well, because of the usual animus she held against the women inFather’s family.

The final angry incident between them (and these two had beensisters-in-law for 30 years) had to do with a fine embroderedtablecloth my mother gave Illa as a gift. Two weeks later, Illareturned the cloth to my mother, saying she owned enough tablecloths.As far as Mother was concerned, this would be the last insult. Forthe next two years, she refused to visit the by-now widowed Illa andcontinually railed against Illa’s nastiness and jealousy.

But one evening just before Rosh Hashanah, during a phoneconversation, Illa asked me, “How are your parents?”

“They’re fine. My mother misses you,” I replied.

“Well, I miss her too.”

As soon as we hung up, I called my mother and told her that Illahad asked after her and that she missed her. Without her usualreference to her pained feelings, Mother said that she thought aboutIlla and missed her. I told Mother that Illa would appreciate hearingfrom her. “You ought to phone Illa and wish her a happy new year.”Mother immediately ended our conversation and phoned hersister-in-law. From then on, until Illa’s death two and a half yearslater, my parents visited Illa at least once a week, finding comfortin each others’ company. When Illa died, three days after suffering amassive heart attack, Mother cried bitterly.

In the several years before Uncle Zoltan’s death, though theylived nearby, I rarely saw them. Yet during the painful months of mydivorce, terribly needy and at a loss, I visited them often; theywere attentive and sympathetic. One evening during that bleak time,Uncle Zoltan came alone to my parents’ home when he knew I would bethere: his intention, to encourage me and cheer me up.

I wish I could remember his jokes that evening and details of hisstories, of how he survived the hard times in his life, the loss ofhis first wife to cancer, his struggle for economic survival inAmerica.

He sat with me on the sofa, holding my hand, his kind eyesencouraging me to take in his message, to put to rest, for awhile atleast, my angry tirades. He also offered me an interest-free loan ofseveral thousand dollars which I gratefully accepted. As I think backon that evening, I know that it wasn’t the exemplary tales themselvesbut these kind acts of my uncle’s which reminded me that hope andlove exist in the world. That I should not despair.

What my Uncle Zoltan did not recount that evening were storiesabout his life in Auschwitz. But I already knew them. When Zoltan andhis first wife immigrated to America in 1947, they lived with myfamily for a few weeks in our New York apartment. My mother hadbanished me from the living room, where night after night, thenewcomers told and retold their stories to relatives and friends, wewho had been safe in America. I say “we” — for actually I was there,hidden from view by the hanging edges of the red silk shawl drapingthe grand piano beneath which I crouched. And though I spokeHungarian fluently, I was too young to understand what they weretalking about. I didn’t understand grown-up words; I simply knew thatwhat I was hearing was important and would change me.

In the ensuing years, Uncle Zoltan never spoke to me about thewar. What I know I learned, piecemeal, from my father.

Zoltan and his wife were separated in the camps; neither knew thatthe other had survived. I don’t know if they found shelter with theRed Cross or were helped by the soldiers. They discovered each otheralive only after they had made their ways separately to their home ina remote village in eastern Hungary. When Zoltan was released fromcaptivity, he weighed 98 pounds fully dressed in his striped rags andropey sandals. With a companion, he started walking back to Hungary,so famished that when they broke into a deserted farm house, they atethe only food they could find, a jar of mustard, and becamewretchedly ill.

One can imagine my uncle and his wife when they saw each otheragain, their words of greeting, their mingled emotions of elation andgrief; only a handful of their relatives eventually joined them.Uncle Zoltan’s mother, all his siblings except sister Jolan, hisaunts and his uncles had perished. Three years after their reunion,once again victims of government persecution, this time for belongingto the propertied class (and I suspect also for being Jews), Zoltanand his wife left for America. They brought my father a pair ofsilver candlesticks that had belonged to his mother, a wedding giftwhich Grandmother had asked Zoltan to bury in the flower garden ofher home when they realized they would soon be deported. These lovelyheirlooms from a destroyed world, objects that had once been handledreverently by a grandmother whom I never knew, stand on the diningtable in my home.

Another story my father told me about Zoltan. In the early 1920’s,when they were barely in their twenties, they visited Budapesttogether for the first time. They were both lean, tall, strong,dapperly dressed. And afraid. They knew that bands of thugs roamedthe capital’s streets after dark, looking for Jews to beat up. Whenthey had to traverse dark, sparsely peopled streets away from themain thoroughfares of the city, Zoltan and my father walked back toback, one wielding a blackjack, the other armed with brass knuckles.They were never asssaulted.

Uncle Zoltan died less than a year after his generous gestures tome. In the years that followed, I often visited Aunt Illa. She fed mepoppy seed cakes and we drank tea; I listened to stories of herchildhood and early marriage, of her terrible losses during the war.She relished telling me what she thought about my numerous cousinsand, a little sharply, how they sought advice in decorating theirhomes. Her own childlessness didn’ t prevent her from counseling mewisely on raising my children. Nor did she hesitate to tell me howshe thought I should conduct my life. When I remarried, she thoughthard about an appropriate gift. She bent her head, avoided my eyes,and giggled as she told me that her gift was a set of sheets andpillow cases.

“Think of me when you use these,” she tittered. I loved talkingwith her. We never spoke of my parents.

Her apartment was lovely: light-filled and spacious. Whenever Ivisited, although I had no expertise and even less interest, sheinsisted on involving me in her decorating plans What did I think ofthe gray fabric to recover the sofa? Didn’ t I think the bed needed anew spread?

I didn’t fully understand the deeper implications of what she wasabout until now, as I write this. Aunt Illa surprised me, after shedied, leaving me most of her furniture, beautiful objects whosesymbolic value extends beyond mementos of our loving friendship. Theyhave become heirlooms. And such tangible heirlooms have always beenin short supply among us survivors brutally cut off from ourancestors.

What else is left? After his brother’s death, my father woreZoltan’s wedding band for many years, until it could no longerencircle any of his swollen fingers. Illa and Zoltan lie buried in aniche in a wall, Mother in the ground near by, the cemetery in sightof the freeway. This Rosh Hashanah, as I have for the past 16 yearssince Zoltan died, I will drive Father to the cemetery, help him ashe walks. slowly up the slope to say kaddish for his wife andbrother, and continue to recall the dead who, when they were alive,loved me and taught me the meaning of generosity.

From top: (left to right), the author’s father, Ernest Flesch,his sister, Aunt Jolan, and Uncle Zoltan in 1975; Aunt Illa in theearly 1980s; author Judith Rose with her brother Ronald, last year;and Ernest Flesch at the time of his visit to Budapest in the early1920s.

Guilt and Responsibility


Since the barbarous July 30 bombings that claimed the lives of 13innocent Israelis, we have heard and read the following claim: Notonly was the atrocity predictable, but it was also a direct result ofIsrael’s recent actions. I strongly take issue with this.

This argument lacks both political realism and morality. Lack ofpolitical realism — because it suggests that terrorism serves as acatalyst in the peace process. We know, however, that after six yearsof direct peace talks, political disputes cannot be resolved by useof violence. Lack of morality — because it contributes to therevictimization of the victim.

In February and March of 1996, in a quite different politicalclimate, a wave of suicide-bombing attacks traumatized Israel andclaimed the lives of 65 innocent people. We heard that Hamas was outto derail the fast-advancing peace process. Now, after the peaceprocess has been slowed down, we are told that Israel is to blame forthis latest terrorist attack.

Does anyone remember the Sharem el-Sheik Summit? Leaders from allover the world, headed by President Clinton, gathered following awave of four attacks on Israelis; they all pledged to prevent futureterrorism. Arafat was there.

A reminder: From September 1993 through all of 1995, the peaceprocess was in full swing. Forty-one donor nations pledged $2.4billion in aid to the newly formed Palestinian Authority. The futurelooked bright, yet there was terrorism. There was no Har Homa housingproject, yet there was bloodshed.

Since the inception of the political process between Israel andits Arab neighbors, it was clear to us that in order to achieve peacein the Middle East, we urgently needed to bring about a profound anddramatic change in our region’s political culture, from a belligerentculture that believes in power and violence to one ofnon-belligerency that believes in compromise and peacefulcoexistence.

One wonders if this message of steadfastly rejecting violence wasabsorbed by the Palestinians. Clearly, the answer is no. Since thesigning of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993, 231Israelis have been killed as a result of acts of terror.

The recent deadly attack at the marketplace could have beenprevented by Arafat. We know, for a fact, that Arafat has the abilityto destroy terrorism. While we are fully aware of the fact that it isvirtually impossible to completely and successfully preventterrorism, we demand that a 100-percent effort to combat terrorism beinvested by Arafat and his Palestinian Authority.

Indeed, the July 30 twin bombings were carried out by Islamicextremists. Hamas, an Islamic terrorist organization, tookresponsibility for the attack on the Thursday thereafter. We know whois responsible. The attack, and the conditions that enabled it, tookplace in a militant political atmosphere — one that accepts violenceas a legitimate form of political discourse. Much of the blame shouldbe put on Arafat, who cultivated and encouraged this atmosphere.

It is not only obvious that violence and peace are mutuallyexclusive, but it is equally obvious that one cannot be an honestpartner for peace while countenancing terrorism. No nation, includingthe United States, is immune to the threat of this type of terror.Only two weeks ago, a potential mass disaster was averted in New Yorkas terrorists were apprehended while planning a major strike against”American and Jewish targets in New York.”

Words, however heartfelt, are not enough. We expect thePalestinian Authority to take the necessary measures to restore ourconfidence in its ability and desire to combat terror.

Yoram Ben Ze’ev serves as Israel’s consul general for theSouthwestern region of the United States. He can be reached atisrainfo@primenet.com.