The body of a French Jewish politician from a Paris suburb was found riddled with stab wounds in his apartment.
Alain Ghozland, 73, a municipal counsilor in Creteil, is believed to have been murdered, but police have no leads in the investigation into his death, the L’Express newspaper reported Tuesday.
Ghozland’s body was found Tuesday morning after his brother called police because Alain Ghozland failed to show up at their synagogue, as he usually does each morning, the news channel RTL reported. Ghozland’s apartment was ransacked, possibly by the intruders, and his body showed deep lacerations that appeared to have been caused by a knife. Judicial sources said an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Creteil, about seven miles from the heart of Paris, was the site of a rape and robbery committed in December 2014 against a Jewish couple by robbers who said they were targeted because they were Jews.
Aid convoy reaches starving Syrian town of Madaya
3 slain civil rights workers to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
Three civil rights workers killed in Mississippi in 1964 while registering black voters will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom 50 years after their deaths.
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner are among 19 recipients of the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States. President Obama will present the awards at the White House on Nov. 24.
The three young men were shot by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at the beginning of Freedom Summer, a historic voter registration drive in which hundreds of people worked to register blacks to vote.
Chaney was African-American; Goodman and Schwerner were Jewish.
Other Jewish recipients of this year’s medals include Abner Mikva, Robert Solow and Stephen Sondheim.
Mikva, a former federal judge and Illinois congressman, mentored Obama as a young lawyer and often made Obama’s case to the Jewish community after he launched his political career. He also served as White House counsel for President Bill Clinton.
Solow received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1987. His research in the 1950s through the 1970s transformed the field, laying the groundwork for much of modern economics.
Sondheim, one of the country’s most influential theater composers and lyricists, has won eight Grammy Awards, eight Tony Awards, an Academy Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
U.S. Supreme Court justices talk about Jewish topics at G.A. opening
The International Olympic Committee rejected an in-person appeal for a minute of silence at the opening ceremonies of the London Games by the widows of two of the 11 Israelis slain at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano presented their request to IOC President Jacques Rogge on Wednesday along with a petition with more than 100,000 signatures. Rogge again denied the request.
Rogge held a minute of silence in memory of the murdered 11 athletes and coaches at a small ceremony Monday in the Olympic Village. The widows have said the gesture was not sufficient.
“We are outraged by the denial of the request, which comes not only from us but from so many people around the world,” Spitzer said in a statement. “Our husbands were murdered at the Olympics in Munich. To observe a minute of silence in their memory would let the world know where the IOC stands in the fight against terrorism.”
Organizers of the campaign for a minute of silence have called on attendees at the opening ceremonies on Friday to stand and hold their own minute of silence at the beginning of Rogge’s speech.
The campaign has drawn the support of numerous public figures, including President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Spitzer’s husband, Andrei, was a fencing coach. Romano’s husband, Yossef, was a weightlifter.
Founder of London Shomrim carries Olympic Torch
Thousands attend funeral for murdered Brooklyn boy
Thousands of people turned out for the funeral of Leiby Kletzky, the 8-year-old Chasidic boy in Brooklyn found murdered and dismembered after having disappeared two days earlier.
Wednesday night’s funeral in the neighborhood of Borough Park came on the same day as his body was discovered and a suspect was arrested in his murder, and it followed a full-community manhunt for the boy after he went missing while walking home from day camp.
At the funeral, Leiby’s father, his principal and synagogue rabbi praised the boy’s devotion to his studies and prayer and warned parents to look out for their children. Several called the death God’s will, according to reports.
Leiby’s disappearance set off a massive search that included hundreds of volunteers and involved a huge mobilization of the area’s Orthodox community.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference that police believe the boy asked the suspect, Levi Aron, for directions and entered his car. Police say they do not believe the boy knew Aron, who when confronted by police reportedly led them to the body parts he had stashed in his freezer and in a trash bin a couple of miles away. Police charged Aron with second-degree murder.
It was fitting, in that Hollywood way, that the last time Ronni Chasen was seen alive was at a movie premiere. She was there in all her usual glory — stylish and smiling, effortlessly working the room, among friends.
It was just after midnight as the power publicist was driving down the dark winding stretch of Sunset Boulevard into Beverly Hills, when shots rang out in the night. Chasen’s black Mercedes crashed into a lamppost, and she was found slumped over the steering wheel, bleeding to death. She had been shot multiple times in the chest and died an hour later.
Chasen’s violent and mysterious death sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment community. How could this happen? Why did this happen? Who wanted her dead? It was the end of a life, but the beginning of a Hollywood murder mystery that as of press time had turned up no leads. No suspects. No motives.
It has, however, turned up a reward: The organizers of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, whom Chasen worked with, have offered $100,000 for any information leading to the apprehension of the killer.
At her funeral on November 21, friends couldn’t help but allude to the bizarre circumstances of her death: “There have been lots of fables this week,” said Lili Fini Zanuck, whose husband is Richard Zanuck, a Chasen client and producer of “Alice in Wonderland.”
“Did she have a secret life?”
Those in the industry who knew Chasen, a ubiquitous presence at all the parties, awards shows and chic restaurants in town, remember a vivacious tour-de-force who drew little distinction between her professional and private lives.
In Chasen’s world, work was life and clients were family; she was Jewish by birth, but her religion was Hollywood.
“She had a place in this community and in the solar system of Hollywood,” said Tom Tapp, a former editor at Variety. “It’s kind of like one of the planets is missing.” A fixture for three decades, Chasen was considered a Hollywood publicity trailblazer and a relentless workaholic. “I really didn’t know Ronni when she wasn’t working,” said “Invictus” producer Mace Neufeld, a friend and client for 35 years. “When she wasn’t working, she was working.”
Over the course of her career, Chasen tirelessly pounded the pavement, helping win Oscars for her A-list clients, including the late Natalie Wood, producers Zanuck (“Jaws,” “Planet of the Apes”) and Irwin Winkler (“Rocky,” “Raging Bull”) and a slate of composers including Hans Zimmer, who spoke at her funeral. “She was one of a kind,” Neufeld said.
In an industry known for big egos and flimsy loyalties, Chasen was considered a class act. She was deeply principled, known as an elegant, caring woman. “She was totally professional. She didn’t badmouth people. Her clients and her business were her life,” Neufeld said.
Indeed, Chasen celebrated everything from birthdays to holidays with her clients. Lynne Segall, publisher of Nikki Finke’s entertainment news Web site Deadline.com, said Chasen attended Irwin Winkler’s Passover seder and Yom Kippur break-fast each year. Neufeld remembers a time 11 years ago when he and Chasen attended the Venice Film Festival during the High Holy Days. Chasen was restless, scouring the streets of Venice, Italy, until she found a synagogue.
Chasen also had a brother, Larry Cohen, a well-known B-movie writer/director to whom she was close. They had grown up in the Washington Heights and Riverdale sections of New York, where their father was a real-estate broker and their mother a homemaker.
But the centerpiece of Chasen’s Jewish life was at Temple of the Arts on Wilshire Boulevard, where she was a member and regularly attended High Holy Days services, according to Rabbi David Baron, who officiated at her funeral service at the Jewish cemetery Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary.
“As a rabbi, this is a tough one for me, because of the circumstances of her death,” Baron said to a crowd of some 500 people. The funeral drew the Hollywood elite, including Sony Pictures Entertainment chair, Amy Pascal, film critic Leonard Maltin, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, musician T-Bone Burnett, the songwriter Diane Warren, the actor Peter Fonda and the astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Funeral eulogies portrayed Chasen as the kind of person people were proud to know, full of goodness, loyal to a fault, and wickedly funny. She was the kind of Jew whose virtuousness made up her religious practice.
“Ronni was very proud of her Jewish heritage,” Baron said during her funeral service. “She was Jewish in her heart, in her ethos, in the way she lived and loved and cared for others.”
Chasen, a beauty in her youth, began her career as an actress. She appeared on a smalltime soap opera, but quickly defected to the world of PR, where her star shone even brighter. She ascended the ranks at the firm Rogers & Cowan, where the late legendary publicist Warren Cowan took her under his wing. For a time she ran publicity at MGM, until finally setting up her own shop, Chasen & Company in 1991.
“She was a straight shooter, and she never took no for an answer,” said producer Zvi Howard Rosenman, who met Chasen in 1976, when few women were in positions of power in the industry. “In the ’70s, it was like, ‘Ohmigod, she’s so aggressive.’ But her aggression was never edgy or ugly; it was always in the service of her clients.” Her clients thought she was fearless, smart and insightful: “She wasn’t just interested in getting your name in the paper,” Neufeld said. “She was concerned about the content of what was said about you and the image that you wanted to project. She was very smart about that.”
Journalists found her aggressive, relentless and incredibly effective: “She wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power, no matter who it was. She was dogged in her commitment to her clients.” Tapp said. “As an editor of Variety, I spent many hours on the phone with Ronni when she would pitch things that I thought were impossible for a story. But she just kept at it, and, I’d say, a lot of the time she convinced me. She was someone who could do the impossible in Hollywood.”
Until the impossible happened to her.
“I think it was a random act or an attempted robbery,” Neufeld said.
The mystery of her murder has prompted conspiracy theories and rumors of a dark shadow side to her life. Was there a mafia connection? A secret spurned lover? After all, Chasen had a reputation as an “old-school broad,” always impeccably dressed, with perfectly coiffed golden-blonde hair, expensive shoes and a magnetic personality. “She was the type of woman who’d be at a cocktail party, and Clint Eastwood would walk up and say hello to her,” Tapp said.
She was a very private person, but friends say she had a string of low-profile romances with high-profile men. “She was like a Howard Hawks broad,” Rosenman said. “She could drink and swear with the men and flirt like a woman. She was alluring like Lauren Bacall — she had that quality.”
Chasen married and divorced when she was in her 20s but never had children. She came from a generation of women who made huge personal sacrifices to get to the top, of a sort that the women who followed her didn’t have to.
“She was an iconic figure — she was an original,” said publicist Michael Levine, the founder of Levine Communications Office, a premier PR firm. “Her clients had almost familial relationships with her. She had a very good reputation; she was well respected, well known, feisty and tenacious.”
But for all the time spent in the spotlight, at the end of the day, Chasen drove home alone. And whatever darkness might have lurked beneath her shiny surface remains a mystery. “There was nothing dark about her,” Rosenman said. “She wore white; she had blonde hair!”
“I beg you, don’t pay attention to the papers or the people on TV who didn’t know Ronni,” publicist Kathie Berlin said at her funeral. “If someone was following her, we all would have known — as well as the police and the FBI,” she joked.
Chasen’s death was so stunning, it left the Hollywood community grasping for answers.
Even Berlin, who struck a defiant tone at the funeral, admitted that in the midst of her grief, she wondered about Chasen’s final moments: “Was she afraid? Was she alone? Did she know she was dying?”
“She had so many people that loved her completely,” Deadline.com’s Segall said of her late friend of more than 20 years. “This was such a senseless, random, violent way for someone to go.”
“We all need this ritual,” Zanuck said in her eulogy. “We need the solace of knowing we’re all hurting.”
The violence of Chasen’s tragic end has left its scar, but it has also emboldened her loved ones to seek justice: “We will find the person who did this,” Berlin said. “And they will never again see the light of day.”
In life, Chasen was surrounded by Hollywood glamour; in death, she takes her final resting place among some of the entertainment industry’s most prominent Jews, including studio mogul Lew Wasserman, producer Aaron Spelling, Milton Berle, Al Jolson and Dinah Shore, all buried at Hillside.
But it remains uncertain whether Chasen’s story will have a Hollywood ending.
“I can tell you that for Hollywood, this is not merely a murder — this is a 9/11 moment,” Chasen’s colleague, Michael Levine, said. He, like most of the publicist’s inner circle, is dismissive of any murder plot.
“Life is short, and life is unpredictable, and this is extremely unsettling. So we seek explanation, we seek order, when sometimes, there isn’t.”
Harvey Milk often carried a sign with those words on marches during his activist days in the 1970s, his nephew Stuart Milk says. The first openly gay man in the country to be elected to public office “was not religious or observant, but Harvey absolutely identified himself as a Jew,” he said.
The San Francisco County supervisor, who was murdered in his City Hall office in 1978, also enjoyed conversing in Yiddish with Sharyn Saslafsky, who would come into his camera store in San Francisco’s Castro district as a customer or just to shmooze.
“Although neither of us spoke it fluently,” Saslafsky recalls, “we had fun using Yiddish to tell stories, laugh and talk about different things. We would use it interchangeably with English, correctly or incorrectly.
“We would also talk about Yiddishkayt, about what Judaism stresses,” she continues. “That was clearly very important to Harvey. I believe his concern for justice, fairness, equality and ethical behavior came from his Jewish background.”
The fact that he was Jewish is mentioned only briefly in the recently released biopic, “Milk,” which focuses instead on the personal and political events that occurred over the last eight years of Milk’s life.
Prior to that period, Milk, born in 1930, had played high school football, served in the Navy, worked on Wall Street, dabbled in the theater, been a Republican and led an essentially closeted life until he settled in San Francisco. There he transformed himself into a progressive gay activist at a time when violence and discrimination against gays were commonplace.
Many Hollywood filmmakers, including Oliver Stone, have contemplated making a movie about Milk. However, it wasn’t until a young writer named Dustin Lance Black finished a spec script based on extensive research that the project began to move forward.
Cleve Jones, one of Milk’s protégés, sent the script to Gus Van Sant, who enthusiastically agreed to direct the film and who brought the screenplay to Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks, the team that produced the Oscar-winning film, “American Beauty.” Jinks, like Milk, is gay and Jewish and says they were on board immediately.
“I thought the idea of this ordinary man who was not raised to be a politician, and who was not a particularly good politician initially, becoming a tremendous leader at a time when leadership was so necessary was a spectacular story. I found it powerful and so moving. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to be part of it, and as I was going through the script, I started thinking about actors who could do it, and I kept going back in my mind to Sean Penn. Fortunately, he said ‘yes’ pretty quickly, in about three weeks.”
The movie is already creating Oscar buzz, particularly for Penn’s extraordinary performance in the title role. Filmmaker Rob Epstein, whose documentary, “The Times of Harvey Milk,” won an Oscar in 1984, particularly admires what he calls the tenderness of Penn’s portrayal.
“It’s not an impersonation,” observes Epstein, who knew Milk and who is also gay and Jewish, “but it’s a representative, composite portrait of his interpretation of Harvey, and I was very impressed by that. I also appreciate the intimacy of the film and the gentleness of it. That surprised me. This was Gus’ take on the story, and until I saw it, I couldn’t envision what it would be.”
“Milk,” which makes use of archival news footage that shows gays being rousted from bars by the police, is a narrative that begins in November 1978 with Milk, as he did in real life, tape recording a final testament, presciently anticipating that he might not live to see his 50th birthday. The story then goes back eight years to New York, where he begins an affair with Scott Smith, 20 years his junior, and sorrowfully notes that he is 40 years old and hasn’t done anything important.
Seeking a fresh start, the two move to San Francisco and open their camera shop in the Castro district, a neighborhood that eventually becomes a haven for gays. The year is 1973, and the couple faces open hostility and discrimination.
Milk forges an alliance with the Teamsters Union, which is pitted against Coors Brewing Co. in a labor dispute, by persuading gay bar owners to boycott the beer. In return, the union agrees to send gay drivers out on jobs.
Feeling that leadership is lacking in the gay community, Milk launches his first of four political campaigns as an openly gay candidate with a bid for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He loses. After two more unsuccessful tries for public office, Milk finally wins a board seat in 1977.
The film is careful to stress that once elected, Milk became a supervisor for all the people, promoting such causes as inexpensive child care facilities and free public transportation, as well as advocating for seniors, minorities, labor and other powerless groups.
As Stuart Milk explains, that concern for the underdog stemmed from his uncle’s understanding of basic Jewish principles.
“He was 15 at the end of World II, and I can definitely say that he was deeply affected by the Holocaust,” Stuart Milk says. “So, yes, the Jewish sensitivity to civil rights absolutely had an impact on Harvey. In fact, he was the one who told me about how much support Jewish organizations and Jewish individuals gave to minorities. He often said that Jews feel they cannot allow another group to suffer discrimination, if for no other reason than that they might be on that list someday.”
“Furthermore,” he says, “Harvey was the first to tell me that in addition to the Star of David, which Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, there were pink triangles that gays had to wear, and that almost a million gays were put to death.”
Milk’s last major battle, stirringly depicted in the film, was his successful campaign against Proposition 6, known as the Briggs Initiative after its sponsor, state Sen. John Briggs. The measure sought to ban gays and their supporters from teaching in the state’s public schools.
Little did anyone on the film know that it would be so relevant in the wake of Proposition 8, the recent state ballot measure that was successful in banning gay marriage, Jinks says.
“We wrapped production in March 2007, and gay marriage wasn’t legal in California until May. Proposition 8 wasn’t on the radar until well after that, so it’s been eerie that there are so many similarities between what happens in the film and what’s happening now in 2008.”
In addition, the movie highlights Milk’s insistence during the campaign against Proposition 6 that gays come out to everyone they know.
“There was a particular philosophy behind that tactic,” Jinks says, “the philosophy being that people were voting against gays because being gay was scary to them. They didn’t know what it was.
“There were all these scare tactics being used by the opposition,” he continues. “Harvey was saying that voters should be made aware that they already knew gay people. He felt it was the responsibility of gays to say, ‘Here I am. I’m actually your doctor. I’m actually your schoolteacher. I’m actually your lawyer. I’m actually your son.'”
It was also a matter of authenticity, says Stuart Milk, who will never forget the time he spent with his uncle in 1975, just after the funeral back East for Harvey Milk’s father. Stuart Milk, who is gay, was 15 at the time and had never come out. He merely told his uncle that he felt different, and, without bringing up the issue of being gay, his uncle gave him encouragement and support. Stuart Milk describes it as a beacon of spiritual advice that touched him to his inner core.
“He told me that when anyone tries to hide who they are or their authenticity, whether it concerns their religion, their background or their ethnicity, the world is lessened,” Stuart Milk recalls. “And he used a Native American phrase: ‘You are the medicine the world needs. No one else can duplicate that.’
“His words set me on a path, and I realized that those who feel different, whether they’re gay or they’re Jewish in a Christian country, are providing a tremendous benefit. They’re making their community and their society stronger through their differences, not through their sameness.”
That conversation created a deep bond and began a dialogue that continued long distance, but Stuart Milk never saw his uncle again.
On Nov. 27, 1978, a trembling and traumatized Dianne Feinstein, now a United States Senator, addressed a bevy of reporters:
“As president of the Board of Supervisors, it’s my duty to make this announcement. Both Mayor [George] Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. The suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”
White and Milk had been at odds for months before the shooting. White had resigned but wanted to rescind the resignation, and Moscone had refused to re-appoint him to the board. Vivid archival footage of Feinstein’s announcement appears early in “Milk.”
As information about the murders spread, Epstein was in a store getting coffee. He went immediately to City Hall and then to the home of Harry Britt, who would succeed Milk on the Board of Supervisors, while a candlelight march was beginning.
“Another friend and I felt there should be a Jewish service, as well,” Epstein says, “and we contacted Temple Emanu-El, the big Reform synagogue in San Francisco. That set in motion the Jewish service that took place soon afterwards.”
His uncle’s murder was devastating for Stuart Milk, who learned of it when someone knocked on the door of his college dorm room and gave him the news.
“I have had other major losses in my life,” Stuart Milk says, “and with each loss we suffer, a door opens for us to change the way we view life. So with Harvey’s death, I stepped through that door, and I came out to people in my dorm and to other people at school. A week later, I came out to my parents. My father took it well, but my mother reacted as I think most Jewish mothers would. She cried.”
Stuart Milk has seen “Milk” several times and has nothing but praise for the way it depicts his uncle.
“I think the film does a wonderful job of portraying Harvey’s hopes and dreams, as well as those of the people who were there to support him,” he says. “I thought Sean did a tremendous job of showing Harvey’s unique ability to inject a slightly sarcastic, but good-natured sense of humor into some very serious and solemn occasions. All of the performances are very strong.
“I’ve also gotten to know Bruce and Dan, the producers. Their passion and commitment to presenting Harvey as he really was and to having his message continue to a new generation is simply amazing.”
On-screen morality plays illuminate Holocaust choices
A year after Yasser Arafat’s death, Palestinians are developing a new myth around their historic leader: Arafat did not die from natural causes but was murdered, most likely by Israel.
Now an Israeli Arab politician has joined the conspiracy bandwagon.
“I am confident that Arafat’s death was not natural,” Knesset Member Mohammed Barakeh said at an Arafat memorial rally held in the Israeli Arab city of Umm el-Fahm. “Many strings lead to the office of [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon.”
Barakeh, the leader of Hadash, Israel’s Communist Party, is the first Israeli Arab political figure to make such an accusation, in what seemed to be the opening shots in Israel’s upcoming election campaign.
Barakeh’s charges echoed similar developments in Israel and Lebanon. In Israel, the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once again brought to the surface a conspiracy theory that Israel’s Shin Bet security service was behind the assassination, and that Rabin’s real assassins are still at large.
In Lebanon, the murder of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri led to the establishment of an international commission of inquiry that has produced evidence of Syrian involvement. Now Barakeh is demanding the establishment of a similar commission to look into Arafat’s death.
The Palestinian Authority already has set up two inquiry commissions to investigate the case. Ahmad Abdul Rahman, one of Arafat’s closest advisers, earlier this month followed the steps of Tunis-based PLO hard-liner Farouk Kaddoumi, blaming Israel for killing Arafat by injecting a slow-acting poison into his ear — a method that recalled the Mossad’s botched 1997 assassination attempt on senior Hamas activist Khaled Meshaal in Jordan.
Israel repeatedly has rejected such charges as “nonsense” and “baseless,” and no one has produced any evidence, medical or otherwise, to support allegations of Israeli involvement. Among some Palestinians, however, conspiracy theories offer convenient explanations for all manner of phenomena, where rational discourse might shed an unflattering light on the Palestinians themselves.
The medical report published after Arafat’s death in a Paris hospital on Nov. 11, 2004, listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection. Doctors ruled out foul play, and some have contended that Arafat died of AIDS. However, in the absence of a definite diagnosis of the cause of death — Arafat’s widow refused to allow an autopsy — the inevitable conspiracy theories began circulating.
On the first anniversary of Arafat’s death, the present Palestinian Authority leadership, suffering from instability and internal struggles, tried to shift public attention to the conspiracy theories. Paradoxically, while the majority of Palestinians support the more moderate course of Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s successor as P.A. president, the latest poll of the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion shows that nearly 74 percent of Palestinians still miss the intransigent Arafat.
Ghassan Khatib, P.A. minister of planning, suggested that a lack of progress in the peace process in the year since Arafat died — he elected not to mention Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the recent agreement on the Rafah border crossing — proves that Arafat was not the main obstacle to peace, as Israel argued.
“If indeed Arafat had been the main obstacle to peace, we should have seen some progress by now,” Khatib wrote in the latest edition of Bitterlemons, a joint Israeli-Palestinian Web site. “We haven’t, and the reason ought to be obvious: The main obstacle to peace is and always was Israel’s refusal to abide by international law, international legality and international moral standards.”
What remains of Arafat’s political legacy a year after his death is “fawda” — Arabic for chaos — Ron Pundak, director general of the Peres Center for Peace and one of the architects of the Oslo accords, wrote in Bitterlemons.
“Security has been ‘privatized’ in favor of armed and violent gangs that rule city centers and refugee camps, the security services are more fragmented than ever, Hamas is gathering strength at the expense of the inactive Palestinian Authority, government offices barely function, law enforcement is in a state of collapse and the Fatah movement is destroying itself from within in superfluous power struggles,” he wrote.
“In other words, there is chaos at every corner, no collective responsibility and [Abbas] is unable to lead, rule or deliver on any of his promises to the public,” Pundak stressed. “One year later and the hoped-for changes are not happening.”
Besides Abbas, there is another notable and obvious contender for the role of present and future Palestinian leader. That is Marwan Barghouti, who is in an Israeli prison, sentenced to five life terms for his role in terrorist attacks.
The West Bank Fatah leader still is widely considered the political heir apparent to both Arafat and Abbas. One of his most frequent visitors in jail is P.A. Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan, who reportedly doesn’t make any significant move without consulting Barghouti.
Armed with stacks of petitions and fueled by the anger and sadness he’s carried ever since his daughter, Robbyn Sue Panitch, was brutally murdered by a deranged, homeless man, 81-year-old Allan Panitch returned to Los Angeles recently to gather signatures for his campaign to block her killer’s parole.
“The pain is not so immediate,” said the Seattle resident. “But every time something triggers those memories, I start to hurt all over again. I just don’t think there’s any such thing as closure.”
These days, the trigger that re-ignites his grief is the thought that his daughter’s slayer, David Scott Smith, could soon be paroled as a result of hearings scheduled next week in San Luis Obispo. In February 1989, Robbyn Panitch, a 37-year-old psychiatric social worker, was stabbed 30-plus times by the psychotic Air Force veteran at her county Health Department office in Santa Monica.
The divorcee had been aware of Smith’s violent temper and had him committed for an evaluation. But L.A. County, facing heavy budget cutbacks in 1989, started closing facilities, and released Smith days before the attack.
Panitch was murdered at her desk, while talking on the phone to her fiancee, recounted her father.
“He heard the attack,” Panitch said of the fiancee. “He heard her shout, ‘No, David, no.’ And he heard her screams as Smith stabbed her. I can’t even imagine what he felt.”
At the time, the county’s mental health clinics had no meaningful security protocols. But after the murder, the county installed metal detectors and panic buttons and assigned guards. When Panitch was in Los Angeles handing out petitions to block the parole, he said he saw clinic security measures that would have saved his daughter.
Her former boss confided to him: “There would still be no security if your daughter had not been attacked.”
Smith pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but was found competent to stand trial and convicted of murder in February 1991. His sentence was 26 years to life.
Panitch said he and his wife, who died in 2003, went to court every day during the two-month trial.
“I felt so angry,” he said. “I was just glad I didn’t have a weapon with me.”
The murder and subsequent trial generated a great deal of publicity. The family’s suffering escalated, when the parents started receiving anti-Semitic hate mail at their Palos Verdes home.
One piece featured a swastika superimposed over Robbyn’s face and a picture of Smith in uniform. Under his picture it read, “David Scott Smith is an American hero the Aryan race can be proud of.”
The hate campaign continued for more than a year, and the Panitches finally moved to Seattle. The FBI opened an investigation; Panitch bought a gun for protection.
Ironically, the Panitches may have moved closer to the perpetrators. The hate mail ended after a bloody shootout between the FBI and an Aryan gang in Washington sate.
Smith’s first parole hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25. He’s being held at the California Men’s Colony, a medium-security prison in San Luis Obispo. Under state law at the time of his conviction, Smith must serve at least two-thirds of his minimum 26-year sentence, making him eligible for release in 2006.
The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office will oppose the parole.
“I believe that based on his crime, which was a particularly vicious, heinous and bloody murder, this individual is far too dangerous to be allowed back into society,” said David Dahle, head deputy of the District Attorney’s Office Lifer Hearings Program.
Dahle added that Smith has been receiving medication and attention by psychologists, but “he is still a real threat to kill again.”
Dahle said the hearing process is likely to be lengthy, explaining, “It’s broken into two parts. First, they will review the crime and his criminal record, his personal history and they will probably question him about those issues.”
In addition, he said, the board will review Smith’s institutional record, reports by staff and a mental health evaluation.
“They will also want to know what kind of plan he has to live, work and continue therapy on the outside, should he be paroled,” Dahle said.
Panitch has forwarded his petitions to the parole board. He’s also ready to appear in person.
“I’m going to tell the board how her murder changed our lives,” Panitch said. “I still see Robbyn’s ghost everywhere.”
Yechezkel Chezi Goldberg, a Jerusalem-based counselor for adolescents and families at risk, wrote the following essay in 2001. On Jan. 29, Goldberg was murdered in a Jerusalem bus bombing.
The scene: 7:30 a.m. Israel time, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2001 — eight hours after a triple terror attack at Jerusalem’s popular Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall.
He walked into shul, synagogue. I nodded my acknowledgment as I always do. He made some strange gesture, which I didn’t comprehend. I continued praying.
A few minutes later, he walked over to me and said: “Didn’t you hear?”
“Hear about what?” I replied.
He grew impatient, almost frustrated. “Didn’t you hear?”
I understood that he was talking about last night’s terror attack on Ben Yehuda mall, a trendy nightspot frequented not only by Israelis but also Western tourists. I assumed that he obviously was intimating that someone we knew was hurt or killed.
I replied: “About who?”
He looked at me as if I had landed from another planet.
“About who? About everyone who was attacked last night.”
I nodded. “Yes, of course I heard.”
“Then why aren’t you crying?”
His words shot through me like a spear piercing my heart. Our sages teach that “words that come from the heart, enter the heart.” He was right, of course. Why wasn’t I crying?
I could not answer. I had nothing to say.
He pointed around the shul. “Why aren’t all of my friends crying?”
I could not answer. I had nothing to say.
“Shouldn’t we all be crying?”
I could not answer. I had nothing to say.
What has happened to all of us, myself included? We have turned to stone. Some would call it numbness. Some would call it collective national shock. Some would say that we all have suffered never-ending trauma and it has affected our senses.
Frankly, the excuses are worthless. All the reasons in the world don’t justify our distance from the real pain that is burning in our midst.
When an attack happens, in the heat of the moment, we frantically check to see if someone we know has been hurt or killed. And then, if we find out that our friends and family are safe, we sigh a deep sigh of relief, grunt and grumble about the latest tragic event, and then we continue with our robotic motions and go on with our lives.
We have not lost our minds, my friends. We have lost our hearts. And that is why we keep on losing our lives.
When I left shul, my friend said to me with tears dripping from his bloodshot eyes: “I heard once that the Torah teaches that for every tear that drops from our eyes, another drop of blood is saved.”
We are living in a time of absolute madness. It is obvious what is going on around us, and yet, we detach ourselves and keep running on automatic in our daily lives.
Last night, when it was only 10 people who were known killed and just 200 injured, even MSNBC.com referred to the triple terror attack as a “slaughter.” (More tragedy, it turns out, awaited us a few hours later.)
And yet, we are not crying.
I know a woman who lost sensitivity in her fingers. When she approaches fire, she doesn’t feel the pain. That puts her in a very dangerous position, because she might be unaware she is burning herself.
If we are being hurt and we don’t feel it, then we are in a very risky position. A devastating three-pronged suicide attack on Jerusalem’s most popular thoroughfare should evoke a cry of pain and suffering from all of us, should it not? Unless of course, we have lost our senses.
And if we have lost our senses, then what hope is there?
When our enemies pound us and we don’t react, because we no longer feel the pain, we are truly in a dangerous and precarious position in the battle and struggle to survive.
Perhaps, my friends, we are being foolish to really believe that the nations of the world should be upset about the continuous murder and slaughter of Jews if we are not crying about it. Am I my brother’s keeper?
The most effective way for us to stop the carnage in our midst is to wake up and to react to it from our hearts. How can we demand that the Creator stop the tragedy, when most of us react like robots when tragedy strikes?
If we don’t cry about what is happening around us, who will?
If you don’t cry about what is happening around us, who will?
If I don’t cry about what is happening to us, who will?
Maybe our salvation from this horrific mess will come only after we tune into our emotions and cry and scream about it.
As King Solomon said, “There is a time for everything under the sun.” Now is the time for crying.
May He protect each and every one of us from our enemies, so that we will not have to cry in the future.
Rabbi Elli and Dinah Horovitz z”l, Murdered by Palestinian
Terrorists, Sabbath Eve, March 7, 2003.
Like most people these days, I keep close tabs on the news.
On Friday morning, March 7, when I read on the Internet that a couple was
murdered in Kiryat
Arba, my ears perked up because my cousins live there.
But so do about 7,500 other people. We were out all Saturday
afternoon, and came home for a short time before setting out for an evening
concert. But before leaving I had to check the news once again. There it stared
me in the face. The murdered couple was identified. I screamed for my husband.
“Look, it’s my [dad’s] cousin Leah’s son, Elli [Elnatan], and his wife, Dinah
[Debbie]. They murdered my cousin.”
I was reminded that the Horovitzes are not the first people
in our family to have been murdered in Hebron. In 1929, my great-aunt Chancha’s
husband was murdered in the Hebron riots of that era in which the Arabs
decimated the Jewish community.
We are an international family. Like many other Jewish
families, we are everywhere — Israel, the United States, Europe, Australia,
South America. We have such a cohesive bond that in spite of the fact that we
represent a variety of political beliefs and religious backgrounds within
Judaism, there is a commonality that binds the family together. That glue is
our strong belief in the destiny of the Jewish people and to our irrevocable
attachment to the land of Israel. So our family is like a microcosm of the
Rabbi Elli Horovitz was a man of peace, a man of great
erudition in Jewish learning, but also a person with a ready smile and a beauty
of spirit who loved nature and music. He and Dinah, beloved by their hundreds
and hundreds of students, were cut down at the height of their flowering.
Thousands attended their funeral. He lived for a period of time with his aunt
on Kibbutz Hulata, a nonreligious kibbutz in the north of Israel, where he came
to understand Jews whose religious outlook was different from his, and he
learned to love nature, grow fruit and cultivate a generosity of spirit.
Subsequently, he chose to live in Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, not out of
political conviction, but because Hebron was one of the oldest Jewish areas,
the place that drew him spiritually and religiously. The flora and fauna of the
area also possessed him. Just hours before he died, he and his wife hiked out
to the hills near Hebron to enjoy the beautiful wildflowers in bloom.
I have been consumed these past few weeks by this latest
horrific tragedy, communicating with relatives and friends all over the world,
researching Internet stories about my cousin’s life and death, and just
thinking. I have started a file of the letters I have received from people on
several continents who have been touched by this tragedy. As shocking as the
story is — the devout couple murdered in cold blood at Sabbath dinner by Arab
terrorists posing as Jews dressed in religious garb — people have emphasized
one distinctive theme in their notes of condolence to me. They confess that
they are angered even more acutely when they find out that the murdered persons
were connected to a friend or relative of theirs — however distant.
Suddenly, I felt the closeness of a family originally called
Zines and sensed the unity of all these relatives in diverse parts of the
world. I circled these cousins around me, and then I reached out to friends who
were similarly moved, ultimately to all other Jews. In the final analysis, we
Jews are all reminded about connections — how we are connected to our friends
and relatives dispersed all over, and how we are connected to the center of our
ancient world in Israel.
One note of condolence said: “The Middle East conflict is a
horrible abstraction until someone is murdered who has a direct connection with
whom we know at home. I sympathize with your loss, and understand the pain that
you and your family endure. I also understand that it resonates with the larger
pain of the Jewish predicament in the Middle East.”
Another: “I was so sad to hear of this tragedy, but now that
it seems so close to home, it really tears my heart apart. Please, give your
family my love, and tell them that many people in the Diaspora cry and pray for
My family tree named Zines, to which Rabbi Elli Horovitz and
Dinah belonged, starts, as far as we know, with an ancestor named “Dina” (not
related to Dinah Horovitz) who lived in Safed in Israel in the mid-1700s. We
don’t know how much further back our roots go in the land of Israel, but with
the cruel murder of cousins Elli and Dinah merely for their devotion to their
Jewish roots, it surely goes back to Father Abraham and Mother Sarah.Â Â
Gerry Segal Teitelbaum is the founder and president of the Los Angeles Judaica Collectors Club. She is currently working on articles for the Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly and Midstream magazine.
Last week, as a Palestinian terrorist murdered 22 Israelis sitting down to their Passover seder, the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade became the first group affiliated with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement to be added to the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organization since the United States normalized relations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization after the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.
Composed of Arafat loyalists, funded by Fatah through the Tanzim militias, and assisted in coordination of their attacks by members of Arafat’s Force 17 security services, the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade has dramatically outpaced Islamic extremist organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in attacks on Israelis. Since the beginning of the year, reports indicate that close to 70 Israelis have been murdered, and more than 500 have been wounded in terrorist attacks attributed to the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade alone.
The designation was eagerly anticipated in Congress, where I recently joined Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) in sending a letter signed by over 235 U.S. representatives urging President Bush to place the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, along with the Tanzim and Force 17, on the list. We applaud this move as a serious indictment of Arafat for the free rein he has given terrorist groups and as a warrant for the Bush administration’s close examination of the extent to which high level Palestinian officials are involved in planning and financing attacks. Unless Arafat makes a decisive choice to isolate and eliminate the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade’s operations, he and his entire organization must be viewed as terrorists, and as such should be subject to severe diplomatic and financial sanctions.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership’s continued refusal to implement a U.S. brokered cease-fire demonstrates that Arafat is unwilling to take even the most basic steps for security cooperation. Even as Gen. Anthony Zinni has attempted to facilitate a meeting between Vice President Cheney and Arafat by arranging United States-brokered talks between Israeli and Palestinian security forces, Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade suicide bombers have struck central Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
This comes only three months after it was revealed that senior Palestinian officials were arranging the Karine-A shipment of arms at the same time they negotiated the Tenet plan and approved the Mitchell report. The shipment, which contained Iranian-supplied Kassam rockets and at least 2,200 kilograms of the TNT and C-4 explosives used in suicide attacks, was another flagrant display of Arafat’s lack of credibility in dealing with Israel and the United States.
Until Arafat abandons his strategy of relying on terrorist attacks to put pressure on Israel, he is incapable of sincerely negotiating a cease-fire. Until he stops supporting, sustaining and supplying terrorist factions, he will continue to undermine U.S. efforts to restore stability in the region. And, until he takes action to confiscate the terrorist weapons, close down bomb-making labs, and arrest the militants training to become suicide attackers, he leaves Israel with no choice but to take all measures necessary to defend its citizens. It was right for Cheney not to meet with him. It is appropriate for the United States to consider him not just an obstacle, but an opponent of our efforts for peace and our war against terrorism.
Up until the very last moment, the family of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl never lost hope that he would be released by his Pakistani kidnappers and return safely.
Dr. Judea and Ruth Pearl simply could not believe that anyone could harm a son they described as “such a gentle soul … the musician, the writer, the storyteller, the bridge builder.”
Elsewhere in their statement, Pearl’s parents and sisters, Tamara and Michelle, remembered their son and brother as a “walking sunshine of truth, humor, friendship and compassion.”
The family’s unflagging hope was best illustrated in an e-mail message the father sent to members of a local Israeli choir only a few hours before the U.S. State Department confirmed the brutal slaying of the Wall Street Journal reporter.
After nearly a month of torturous waiting, Judea Pearl told fellow musicians of the LA-Shir choir, a group he had founded, “We have learned to cope with the ups and downs of the situation…. We are confident that he will return to us, and fairly soon. When that happens, we will all celebrate his homecoming event with Handel’s ‘Hallelujah.'”
The family’s grief has been shared by a circle of Pearl’s close friends, many of whom date their friendship back to student days at Lanai Elementary School, Portola Junior High and Birmingham High School in the San Fernando Valley.
One old friend recalls participating in a Passover seder at the Pearl home, but apparently the family was not religiously observant in the conventional sense.
“The Pearls are not affiliated with a synagogue, but they are deeply attached to their heritage and very cognizant of who they are,” said Gary Foster, the family spokesman.
Israeli newspapers reported that Pearl had celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall.
A San Fernando Valley rabbi, who is also a practicing psychologist, has been counseling the Pearl family in Encino for the past few weeks. A community prayer service was held Wednesday at Valley Beth Shalom.
Some of Daniel Pearl’s closest friends were fellow backpackers between 1978-81 in an Explorer Post, a coed affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America. One was Rachel Knopoff, now a Manhattan Beach physician, who remembered Daniel Pearl as “the greatest guy I have ever known. I had a huge crush on him, and so probably did most of the girls in the troop. He was the funniest, smartest, nicest guy I ever met.”
Attorney John Liebman served as adviser to the Explorer Post and went with the teenagers on long hikes, bicycle trips, sailing excursions and skiing expeditions.
“They were an extraordinary, highly motivated group of kids,” said Liebman, who recalled Daniel Pearl as “obviously highly intelligent, with a fine sense of humor and easy to get along with.”
Liebman’s son, Scott, a lifelong friend of Pearl, added a few more descriptive adjectives in a phone call from San Francisco, such as “brilliant, funny, wry and sensitive.”
At Birmingham High in Van Nuys, whose student body observed a minute of silence in honor of their slain alumnus, Pearl “was the teenager everyone wanted to be,” observed the L.A. Daily News.
“He was the smart, funny kid who was a cultural counterpoint to the mall-hopping, materialistic Valley Girl world of the 1970s and early 1980s.”
Pearl grew up in a family that nourished the intellectual and musical talents he was to display later on.
After graduating from the Technion in Haifa, Judea Pearl and his wife Ruth, an electrical engineer, moved to New Jersey for graduate studies and to work at the RCI research center. Their son was born there in 1963.
In 1970, Judea Pearl joined the faculty at UCLA and in the following decades earned a reputation as a computer scientist and a leading researcher in the field of artificial intelligence.
Judea Pearl was elected to the elite National Academy of Engineering in 1995 “for developing the foundation for reasoning under uncertainty,” and earlier spent a sabbatical year at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Just before his son’s abduction, Judea Pearl was notified of a $10,000 award from the London School of Economics for a recent book on his pathbreaking studies.
During the month following Pearl’s kidnapping, there was deep concern that publication of his family’s Israeli roots would further endanger his life.
Foster and other representatives of Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal’s parent company, worked intensively behind the scenes in New York, Los Angeles and overseas to alert news organizations to the danger inherent in publishing the names of Pearl’s parents, or their background.
“We were particularly anxious that networks reaching large international audiences, such as CNN and BBC, would not break the news,” Foster said.
In a remarkable display of professional restraint and solidarity, all media, including The Jewish Journal, complied with the strictures.
Since the death announcement, major newspapers have reported, without elucidation, that Pearl’s parents have remained Israeli citizens. The reality is a little more complex.
Since Israeli citizenship can be lost only through a formal renunciation, almost all Israelis who move permanently to a different country automatically retain their original citizenship, even while assuming the citizenship of their new country.
In that sense, Foster confirmed, Judea and Ruth Pearl carry dual United States and Israeli citizenship, while their son, born in the United States, has always considered himself solely an American citizen.
However, Israeli law considers a child of Israeli citizens, such as Pearl, also Israeli, even if he was born in the United States and does not carry an Israeli passport. The daily Haaretz reported that Judea. Pearl had chided the Israeli press for first making public this information, fearing that it might adversely affect the investigation by Pakistani officials and the return of his son’s body.
A foundation has been established, primarily in supportof the journalist’s widow, Mariane, and their unborn first child, who is due inMay. Contributions can be sent to the Daniel Pearl Family Foundation, care ofthe Wall Street Journal, P.O. Box 300, Princeton, NJ 08543. Tributes to Pearland reprints of some of his articles can be found at the Web site of the SouthAsian Journalist Association, www.saja.org/pearl.html .
As The Journal went to press last week, word came that terrorist kidnappers in Pakistan had brutally murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
The news broke upon us with a special sting. Even as I write this, almost a week later, the sadness is acute, intransigent.
I didn’t know Pearl. But contributing editor Tom Tugend, who reports on his death inside, has long been an acquaintance of Pearl’s parents. The world lost a much-respected journalist, his family lost a loving son and brother, his wife Marianne lost a husband and father-to-be.
Having grown up in the San Fernando Valley, as Pearl did, and having attended Birmingham High School in the class three years before him, I do know that it is no stretch to see Pearl as a product of this community.
The L.A. Jewish community has produced many men and women like him: successful, passionate, committed not to an ideal lifestyle, but to ideals.
In Los Angeles, Pearl experienced a world enriched by the differences of its inhabitants. The particular community Pearl arose from, the Jewish one, was a part of that mosaic. Pearl dedicated his life to closing the distances between peoples by increasing their understanding of one another. Ultimately, he gave his life for this.
Since Pearl’s death, most of the media commentary has rightly praised his courage as a foreign correspondent. Indeed, his determination to shed light on a culture different from our own led to his capture.
But what led to his murder was something else.
We may never know what part his being Jewish played in his death. The war in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of eight journalists, Jewish and not. And the cowards who killed Pearl have vowed to kill any and all Americans.
But the fact is that according to a recently released videotape, Pearl looked into his captors’ camera and said, “My name is Daniel Pearl. I’m a Jewish American. My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am a Jew.” Then they killed him.
That makes Pearl more than just a journalistic hero. He died not just in seeking the truth, but in telling the truth about who he was and what he believed in. What Pearl’s killers took as an admission of his guilt was really an affirmation of his faith.
Daniel Pearl was an astonishingly brave and good man. His memory will be a light not only to his family, but to us all.
A Way to Help
The 200,000-strong Argentine Jewish community is weak to the point of collapse. As reported in these pages last week, the currency devaluation that followed an economic meltdown in that country this winter has left a thriving, mostly middle-class community destitute.
Hit particularly hard are the banks and small businesses that formed the core of the Jewish community’s prosperity. Now, with the poverty rate approaching 25 percent, food and shelter are no longer certainties. Around 20,000 Argentine Jewish families are on welfare and need assistance.
The Dec. 20 riots that led to the downfall of President Fernando de la Rua and the increase in post-collapse crime have added a sense of physical peril to the community’s economic woes.
For some Argentine Jews, the answer is immigration, either to Israel, which expects an influx of between 5,000-20,000 Argentines, or to other countries, especially the United States. For those who choose to remain in Argentina, the answer is economic assistance now, and for the foreseeable future.
How can we help? The Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee have turned to the North American Jewish communities to raise approximately $42.5 million to support aliyah and relief efforts that could eventually total more than three times that. Los Angeles, the second largest Jewish community, has been asked for $2.125 million of that sum.
The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles has been through troubled and often controversial times over this past year. But, as it demonstrated in its emergency fundraising for the victims of Sept. 11, The Federation is an ideal vehicle through which we can help Jews and others facing immediate danger. The Federation board has committed to provide Argentine Jewry with Los Angeles’ fair share — $2.12 million.
This Sunday, Federation phone volunteers will call seeking donations as part of the annual Super Sunday phone-a-thon. You can direct your donations toward Argentine relief, or give toward the overall campaign, which serves dozens of agencies and needs here, in Israel and elsewhere — including Argentina.
Rechavam Ze’evi, born Jerusalem 1926; served in the Palmach and the Israel Defense Forces 1944-1974; Prime Minister’s counter-terrorism advisor, 1974-1977; member of parliament (Moledet), 1988-2001; Minister Without Portfolio 1991-1992; Minister of Tourism, March-October, 2001. Married to Yael, five children. Assassinated in Jerusalem, Oct. 17, 2001.
To the end, Rechavam Ze’evi, murdered at the age of 75 by a Palestinian gunman on Wednesday, was a soldier in mufti. Alone among the Israeli generals who went into politics, he continued to sport his army identity disk around his neck. It was a statement: the battle for the Jewish State was not over, and one of its most aggressive commanders was still fighting.
Ze’evi and Ariel Sharon were the last of the Palmach veterans, the unconventional warriors of the 1948 War of Independence, still in public life. Both adhered to an implacable strain of Zionism for which compromise, as Ze’evi once put it, meant that Israel was ready to abandon its ancestral claims to the east bank of the Jordan. But unlike Sharon, Ze’evi never even pretended to have mellowed.
He resigned as Tourism Minister from Sharon’s national-unity coalition two days before his assassination because his old comrade was being too flexible towards the Palestinians, and too accommodating towards the Americans by evacuating Israeli troops from a strategic Hebron hilltop and hinting at recognition of a Palestinian state.
He entered politics in 1988 at the head of the tiny Moledet (Homeland) party, which was never more than a vehicle for his ideas. Its doctrine was the “transfer” of all Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza because there was no room for two nationalities between the Jordan and the sea. “We see the reality,” he said. “Transfer is the most humane and just thing for the two peoples.”
He never, of course, asked the Arabs. As a fifth-generation Israeli, born in Jerusalem in 1926, he knew them well, their towns and villages, names and clans, but as objects not subjects, as obstacles to Zionist nation-building. It was only because Moledet did not explicitly call for the expulsion of Israel’s own Arab citizens that the party was not banned under anti-racism laws.
In parliament, Ze’evi reveled in speaking his mind. He accused President George Bush senior of preparing the ground for a second Holocaust; he branded an American ambassador, Martin Indyk, a “Jewboy”; and Yasser Arafat “Hitler incarnate.” When Israel began handing parts of the West Bank to Palestinian rule, he vowed to shoot the first Palestinian policeman who tried to stop him.
A military career came naturally to Ze’evi. It was, he explained, not just a profession but “a complete identification with a purpose.” As the ruthless chief of central command after the 1967 war, he kept a lion cub in his West Bank headquarters. Legend has it that when a barking dog disturbed a staff meeting, the major general went outside and shot it.
Typically, as a minister, Ze’evi rejected advice to vary his habits, change hotels when he came to Jerusalem for Knesset sessions from his home in Ramat Hasharon, near Tel Aviv. He kept his room at the Hyatt, breakfasted on the dot, and spurned the very idea of a bodyguard. It was a soldier’s death, but a solder in mufti, unarmed and, as it proved, defenseless.