Father of 10 killed in terrorist shooting remembered as intellectual and giving man


More than 1,000 mourners attended the funeral for a father of 10 who was killed in a West Bank drive-by shooting.

The funeral of Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark was held Sunday in the Otniel settlement in the West Bank followed by his burial in Jerusalem. Mark was killed Friday when terrorists opened fire on his car as he drove near Hebron.

President Reuven Rivlin, a distant relative of Mark, delivered remarks at his funeral.

“I stand in front of your coffin, Miki, Michael, in sorrow and anguish, and with me stand an entire nation, together grieving,” Rivlin said, according to Haaretz. “Even before the Sabbath began, the murderer’s hand robbed your family of you in cold blood, in front of two of your children, and in front of your beloved wife, Chavi, who was seriously injured.

“Miki, I am sorry to say that I learned about you, only after your death. I learned that you were a loving and beloved father, grandfather and son. An intellectual who was also a man of action. A person who loved hands-on work, but also excelled in the house of learning.”

Mark’s son Yeshoshua said that “as the years pass, we find greater depth. More people you helped. A community of admirers. You taught us to accept the other. You were a giving man with endless time, attention and thought. A man of perception at all levels.”

One of Mark’s daughter, Orit, called her father “the most amazing in the world.”

“How much you gave. How much you did,” she said.

His children, in a video posted on social media, had appealed for mourners to attend the funeral to memorialize their father.

“Come and hear how good our father was, and you’ll be better people, more loving people,” one of his daughters said.

Along with his wife, Chavi, being seriously wounded in the shooting, two of his children were lightly injured.

Tel Aviv bus bomb mastermind indicted


Israel's military prosecutor filed an indictment against the head of a Palestinian terrorist cell who organized the bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv.

Ahmad Salah Ahmad Musa, 25, was charged Wednesday with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, dealing in weapons and materials for war, creating an explosive, membership in an illegal organization and incitement, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Musa allegedly recruited other Palestinians to help him plan and carry out the attack.

A bomb planted on the No. 142 bus in central Tel Aviv detonated on Nov. 21 during Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense as the bus drove near the Kirya, the Israeli military's headquarters. More than 20 bus passengers were injured in the attack.

Musa is accused of heading the terror cell as well as making the bombs and recruiting help. It is believed that he detonated the bomb remotely using a cell phone. He allegedly also planned other attacks.

Mohammed Mafarja, 18, was charged last month with planting the bomb. According to his indictment, Mafarja planted the bomb on behalf of Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, to help the group during the conflict.

The teen has Israeli citizenship as part of a Palestinian family unification program and worked in the city of Modiin. Along with Musa and Mafarja, two other members of the terror cell, all from the West Bank, were arrested in connection with the attack.

Egypt’s first Sinai air strike since ’73 war kills 20 terrorists


Egyptian troops have launched the largest operation in the Sinai desert peninsula since the 1972 war with Israel, killing at least 20 terrorists believed to be responsible for Sunday’s attack on an Egyptian border post that left 16 soldiers dead. Six of the attackers died when they drove across the Israeli border in a commandeered armored car and were hit by Israeli air missiles.

The attack has been seen as a reminder to both Israel and Egypt that despite cold relations bordering on frigid, the large Sinai Peninsula that borders both countries as well as Gaza, has the potential to destabilize the area. While no group has taken responsibility for the attack, both Egyptian and Israeli officials believe that Islamists are responsible.

Israeli officials say there has been intensive security cooperation with Egyptian officials since the incident began. The Israelis hope that the cooperation will serve to deepen ties with the new government headed by Mohamed Morsi. Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, won Egypt’s presidential elections earlier this year after Hosni Mubarak, was forced to step down following mass protests. The Muslim Brotherhood had been outlawed during Mubarak’s 30-year reign.

“This attack on Egyptian soldiers has shaken some strong beliefs and tenets of many Egyptians including the new politicians,” a senior Israeli official told The Media Line. “Most of them now understand that determined action needs to be taken in Sinai for the sake of Egyptian security and sovereignty, and not as a favor to Israel. Before our very eyes a new Egypt is emerging and this new Egypt needs to redefine its relations with Israel.”

At the same time, the new Egyptian government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Islamic religious, political and social movement, does not want to be seen as cozying up to the Israelis.

“Israel and Egypt share the same interests and this highlighted it,” Nadim Shehadi, an analyst at Chatham House told The Media Line. “It is a challenge to (Egyptian President) Mohamed Morsi and the army will require them to collaborate. They depend on each other.”

One of Morsi’s first acts in office was to assure the world that Egypt would abide by all of its international commitments including the historic 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Public opinion in Egypt is squarely against the treaty, one of only two that Israel has with Arab countries. The other country is Jordan.

Last year, dozens of angry Egyptians attacked the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, and took six members of the embassy staff hostage. Egyptian commandos stormed the building after personal intervention by President Obama.

“The fundamental interest of Morsi and his movement is to freeze the close connections with Israel as much as possible,” Yoram Schweitzer, the director of the terror project at the INSS think tank in Tel Aviv told The Media Line. “He can’t ignore the peace treaty but he wants a low key relationship. At the same time, he needs to cooperate with Israel to defeat the threat that is posed by Islamists against Israel and Egypt. The military and security establishments want close relations with Israel while the political echelon is doing it with a sour smile.”

It is also possible that the attack will exacerbate tensions within the Muslim Brotherhood between those who reject any cooperation with Israel and those who see it as a necessary evil.

Israel has long worried that the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace treaty, has become a center for radical Islamist terrorists and smugglers. Weapons for Hamas in the Gaza Strip are routinely smuggled through the area. In the wake of the attack, Egypt stepped up its forces in Sinai but many in Israel expect more attacks.

“There’s still a threat to the borders and also to Israelis in the Sinai,” Colonel Avital Leibovich told The Media Line. “This is why we are deployed where we are and why we are building the border fence between Israel and Egypt.”

That fence, a steel barrier which will include cameras and radar, is due to be completed by the end of the year.

The attack is also raising questions about ties between Egypt and the Islamist Hamas, which controls Gaza. Egyptian officials have said that at least some of the attackers may have come from Gaza. Egypt had promised to open its border with Gaza and allow for greater freedom of movement for the 1.6 million Palestinians who live there. But after the attack, the border remained closed until future notice.

Egypt also pushed Hamas to shut down the smuggling tunnels that run from Egypt into Gaza. Hamas has allowed the hundreds of tunnels to function, creating an entire tunnel-based economy, bringing-in everything from weapons to car parts, charging taxes on goods coming through. Now, many tunnels have been shut down and prices in Gaza are starting to rise.

Israel moves tanks to border with Egypt after attack kills civilian


Israel reportedly moved tanks close to the border with Egypt following a cross-border attack in which an Israeli civilian was killed.

The move Monday was in violation of the Camp David Accords. The tanks were later withdrawn from the area, according to Haaretz. 

The terrorists who infiltrated Israel from Egypt killed an Israeli contractor during a border attack.

The terrorists detonated an explosive device Monday morning near two Israeli vehicles carrying contractors who are working on the border fence between Israel and Egypt. Gunfire was also directed at the vehicles, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Three terrorists had infiltrated into Israel in a place where the border fence is not yet complete. Some terrorists remained on the Egyptian side of the border, the IDF said. The incident took place near the Philadelphi Corridor, a narrow strip of land along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt

Golani Brigade soldiers who arrived at the scene within minutes of the incident opened fire on the terrorists, killing two. One of the terrorists was carrying a large explosive device that went off after he was fired upon, according to the IDF. No terrorists remain inside of Israel, according to Brig.-Gen Yoav Mordechai of the IDF Spokespersons Unit.

The attack comes a day after two long-range Grad missiles fired from the Sinai Peninsula were discovered in southern Israel.

“We see here a disturbing deterioration in Egyptian control in the Sinai,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday during a meeting with his Polish counterpart, Tomasz Siemoniak, in Tel Aviv.  “We are waiting for the results of the election.  Whoever wins, we expect them to take responsibility for all of Egypt’s international commitments, including the peace treaty with Israel and the security arrangements in the Sinai, swiftly putting an end to these attacks”

IDF troops returned later Monday to the scene of the attack to retrieve the terrorists’ bodies, according to reports. A helmet, vest, uniforms, and Kalashnikov rifles were found near the terrorists.

The Israel-Egypt border project currently employs 1,500 workers, according to Ynet.

Israeli planes attack Gaza sites


Israel’s Air Force attacked terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip.

The targets hit after midnight on Monday night included a weapons manufacturing site in central Gaza, two terror tunnels in northern Gaza, and a third terror tunnel in southern Gaza, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The attacks were in response to several rockets fired at southern Israeli communities in recent days, the IDF said. Six rockets have been fired into southern Israel from Gaza in the last week.

The Ma’an Palestinian news agency said two Palestinians were injured in the attacks.

A statement from the IDF held Hamas “solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip.”

Rocket hits southern Israel after IDF Gaza strikes


A rocket hit southern Israel hours after the Israeli military struck what it said were two terrorist squads in Gaza.

The Kassam rocket that was fired into the western Negev from Gaza on Wednesday morning failed to detonate, according to reports.

On Tuesday night, the Israeli Defense Forces said it attacked terrorist squads in two separate operations in Gaza.

The two squads, both affiliated with the Global Jihad movement, had been involved in recent terrorist activity against Israel, the IDF said in a statement issued Tuesday night.

Three squad members were killed in the two strikes and 10 were wounded, according to reports.

The IDF identified some members of the squads, including Rami Daoud Jabar Khafarna, 27, a Global Jihad-affiliated terrorist from Jabalia who is a former member of Hamas’ military wing and known to have taken part in firing rockets at Israel; and Hazam Mahmad Sa’adi Al-Shakr, 26, a Global Jihad-affiliated terrorist from Beit Hanoun, who is a former member of Hamas. Al-Shakr has planted and detonated explosive devices against IDF soldiers, along the border with the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.

The hits were a joint IDF-Israel Security Agency operation. The IDF in its statement held Hamas responsible for all terrorist activity emanating from Gaza.

Rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel on Sunday and Monday.

Israeli airstrike hits Gaza terrorist squad


The Israeli army said it attacked a terrorist squad in Gaza.

The squad had been involved in recent terrorist activity against Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement issued Tuesday night. One man was killed in Tuesday’s air strike, a 20-year-old member of Islamic Jihad, according to Palestinian reports.

The hit was a joint IDF-Israel Security Agency operation. The IDF in its statement held Hamas responsible for all terrorist activity emanating from Gaza.

Rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel on Sunday and Monday.

Hamas denies responsibility for Israel attack


A senior Israeli official said the gunmen, unable to cross into Israel through the heavily patrolled border with the Gaza Strip, had gone into the Sinai and then infiltrated from there into southern Israel.

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, condemned the attack, telling Israel Radio: “We support Israel’s right to self-defence and hope those responsible for these attacks get what they deserve.”

Hamas in Gaza denied responsibility and said it would fight back if it came under Israeli attack. “We will not stand handcuffed and we will spearhead resistance to the occupation,” said senior official Salah Al-Bardaweel.

Israeli officials have voiced concern that militant groups in the Sinai have been making use of a security vacuum left by the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The Israeli shekel fell against the dollar and stocks dipped on Thursday. The violence appeared to take some domestic political pressure off Netanyahu: leaders of escalating protests against high living costs called off weekend demonstrations after news of the Israeli casualties broke.

Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, recently stepped up security activity in the Sinai.

On Tuesday, Egyptian security sources said an army crackdown on armed groups in the northern Sinai had netted four Islamist militants as they prepared to blow up a gas pipeline.

Israel is building a fence along its 180-km-long frontier with Egypt, but very few sections have been completed.

Additional reporting by Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia, Egypt; Editing by Maria Golovnina

Is there a way to stop rockets and avoid a Gaza fight?


Sderot is a city in the south of Israel, very close to the Gaza Strip. In the year 2007, it has been hit by 1,000 Qassam rockets and 1,200 mortar shells launched by the Palestinians.

Life in Sderot has become hell, but Israel finds it very difficult to defend it, because the people who launch the Qassams are hiding among civilians. Slowly but surely, however, Israeli patience is running out.

Is there a way to stop this ongoing terrorist attack on Sderot without entering Gaza with great force in an incursion that would most probably cost the lives of many Palestinians and Israelis?

Ernest, a reader from Florida, believes there is. He proposes to deploy Qassams and Katyushas in Sderot aimed at Gaza and operated acoustically: When the Palestinian Qassam hits Sderot, the blast will automatically trigger the launching of an Israeli Qassam or Katyusha on the heads of the people in Gaza who had been harassing Sderot. All that without an Israeli finger involved in the process.

I bounced the idea with some experts. A lawyer well versed in the laws of war called it “creative.” One law professor thought it fitted the principle of self-defense. A professor of philosophy, on the other hand, objected strongly: “What if our Qassam, even if technically launched by the Palestinians, hits a kindergarten in Gaza?”

I was left without a solution.

Then, I received an invitation to a conference at Hebrew University titled, “Democracy Fighting Terror With One Hand Tied Behind Its Back: Why, When and How Must This Hand Be Untied.” Bingo! Never mind the long title: This was exactly what I needed.

The speakers were professor Aharon Barak, former president of the Israeli Supreme Court, and professor Richard Posner, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. No wonder that the huge hall at the Mount Scopus campus was packed with an anxious crowd.

However, when Efraim Halevy, former head of the Mossad, took to the podium to moderate the event, four young female students started heckling loudly. Obviously, they were not happy with the way Israel was fighting terror. I could hear them yelling something about the abuse of human rights.

There and then, the weakness of democracy was exposed. One thousand people, who had gathered solemnly to listen to the speakers, were taken hostage by four people who insisted on their right to protest. This collision of rights lingered for a while, until the four students were kicked out by the security guards, with the cheers of the relieved crowd. The lesson was that in a democracy, sometimes even the majority has its rights.

Finally, former Chief Justice Barak started speaking. The much respected judge was the one who had coined the phrase that in the battle against terrorism, democracy was fighting “with one hand tied behind its back.” In other words, in the rush to combat the terrorists effectively, human and civil rights should still be respected. The audience responded with a roaring applause.

Then Judge Posner gave his American point of view. He said that in times of grave danger, human and civil rights might temporarily recede. He reminded us that during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln — the greatest American president, in his words — unconstitutionally suspended habeas corpus, because he believed that saving the union was more important than protecting a specific right. When the crisis was over, the rights were re-established. Posner received the same volume of hand-clapping.

A limbo again.

As I left the auditorium, a friend told me about a psychologist sent to comfort the people of Sderot, who had been traumatized by the relentless shelling of their city. A mother of six told him that whenever the alarm went off, the people under attack had exactly 50 seconds to rush to the shelters before the Qassam rockets hit their target.

“Yet in that period of time” she said, “I can only carry two of them to safety. What about the remaining four?”

I pray that no Qassam rocket hits a kindergarten in Sderot and, God forbid, kills several children. All debate will then stop, and the tanks will start rolling.

In the meantime, keep trying, Ernest. And if anybody else has more creative ideas about how Israel should act, short of entering Gaza and stopping the terrorists by force, please let me know.

Uri Dromi is director general of Mishkenot Sha’ananim, a conference center in Jerusalem. He can be reached at dromi@mishkenot.org.il.

Controverisal Israeli security approach takes flight in U.S.


The changes were inevitable. The Sept. 11 hijackers used box cutters as weapons, so box cutters were banned. Richard Reid smuggled explosives onto an American Airlines plane in his shoes, so passengers were ordered to remove their shoes for screening. The recent London air terror plot was predicated on liquid explosives, so now almost all liquids are forbidden, too.

 

Critics Pound Paper Panning Israel Lobby


Two weeks after two prominent political science professors published a paper that they promised would expose the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, the collective reaction so far suggests they get a “D” for impact.

“The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by John Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard’s John. F. Kennedy School of Government, has been the subject of numerous Op-Eds — which generally have discredited it — but has been all but ignored in the halls of Congress, its purported target.

Among other assertions, the paper suggests that the pro-Israel lobby (especially the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) has helped make the United States more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, steered the country into the Iraq war, silenced debate on campuses and in the media, cost the United States friends throughout the world and corrupted U.S. moral standing.

Walt and Mearsheimer portray as interchangeable the pro-Israel lobby and the neo-conservatives who have developed Bush’s foreign policy. Not surprisingly, this report got negative reviews from pro-Israel groups. The paper’s “disagreement is not with America’s pro-Israel lobby, but with the American people, who overwhelmingly support our relationship with Israel,” said an official with a pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington.

The Anti-Defamation League called the paper “an amateurish and biased critique of Israel, American Jews and American policy.”

Especially outrageous, some said, are the paper’s insinuations that Jewish officials in government are somehow suspect.

“Not only are these charges wildly at variance with what I have personally witnessed in the Oval Office, but they also impugn the unstinting service to America’s national security by public figures like Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and many others,” David Gergen, Walt’s fellow academic at the Kennedy School and a veteran of four administrations, wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Daily News.

One of the few positive reviews came from white supremacist David Duke, who said the authors reiterate points he has been making for years.

The controversy passed almost unnoticed on Capitol Hill. A statement from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) was typical of the few who bothered to pay attention to the paper, which Nadler called “little more than a repackaging of old conspiracy theories, historical revisionism and a distorted understanding of U.S. strategic interest.”

U.S. support of Israel was no mystery, Nadler said: “Israel is our only democratic and reliable ally in an extremely volatile and strategically important region. It is in our nation’s best interests to maintain that alliance.”

The authors said that they anticipated silence, arguing that the Israel lobby is “manipulating the media [because] an open debate might cause Americans to question the level of support that they currently provide.”

The problem with that theory is that some of the harshest criticism of the paper has come from individuals and groups who have long called for changes in how the United States deals with Israel.

“It was a lot of warmed-over arguments that have been tossed about for years, brought together in a rather unscholarly fashion and presented as a Harvard document, clearly not deserving of the title,” said Lewis Roth, assistant executive director of Americans for Peace Now, a group that has argued for increased U.S. pressure on Israel to achieve a peace agreement.

In fact, Mearsheimer and Walt have quietly removed the imprimatur of the Harvard and Kennedy schools that originally appeared on the paper. Walt holds the Robert and Renee Belfer professorship at the Kennedy School, and the paper appalled Robert Belfer, a major donor to Jewish causes, according to a report in the New York Sun. The chair is the equivalent of an academic dean at the Kennedy School, one of the most influential foreign policy centers in the United States.

“It read more like an opinion piece than serious research, and even as opinion it was so overreaching in some of its claims,” Roth said. “It didn’t have a lot of utility.”

One of the harshest critics of the paper was Noam Chomsky, the political theorist who routinely excoriates the U.S.-Israel relationship. He ridiculed the paper’s central “wag the dog” thesis, that the United States has “been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the interests of another state.”

Walt and Mearsheimer “have a highly selective use of evidence (and much of the evidence is assertion),” Chomsky wrote in an e-mail to followers.

One example, he says, is how the paper cites Israel’s arms sales to China as evidence that the Jewish state detracts from U.S. security interests.

“But they fail to mention that when the U.S. objected, Israel was compelled to back down: under Clinton in 2000, and again in 2005, in this case with the Washington neo-con regime going out of its way to humiliate Israel,” Chomsky noted.

One of the paper’s more curious conclusions is that “what sets the Israel Lobby apart is its extraordinary effectiveness. But there is nothing improper about American Jews and their Christian allies attempting to sway U.S. policy toward Israel.”

If so, it begs the question of why Walt and Mearsheimer set out to write the paper. Mearsheimer did not return a call for comment.

In other areas, the paper gets facts wrong, for example when it says Israel wanted to sell its Lavie fighter aircraft to the United States, when it was strictly a domestic project.

According to the writers, “pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the U.S. decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was a critical element.”

Off the record, Jewish officials here reverse that equation, saying their support for the Iraq war was necessary in order to curry favor with a White House that was hell-bent on war. In fact, the adventure unsettled many Israeli and Jewish officials because of concerns that the principal beneficiary would be Iran.

“That really jumped out at me,” Roth said. “Among nasty neighbors, Iran was clearly the greater threat.”

Jewish groups and individuals at first were reluctant to react to a paper they saw as impugning their patriotism, but in time they could not resist. Detailed debunkings of Walt and Mearsheimer have proliferated.

Some of these, notably by fellow Harvard professors Ruth Wisse and Alan Dershowitz, have likened the writers to Duke — a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan — and other anti-Semites.

For some Jews, however, the criticism proved that despite the paper’s flaws, it correctly identified a symptom afflicting discussion of Israel: a tendency to dismiss all criticism as anti-Semitism.

“Even if the paper is as bad as its critics say, that does not obviate the need to respond to the points it makes,” said Eric Alterman, a media critic for The Nation. “So far, most of what I am seeing is mere character assassination of exactly the kind I, also, experience whenever I take up the issue. This leads me to conclude the point of most — but not all — of the criticism is to shut down debate because AIPAC partisans are wary of seeing their arguments and tactics subjected to scrutiny of any kind.”

Would Iranian Nukes Only Kill Jews?


Will Iran’s nukes only kill Jews?

That’s the question Palestinians should be asking themselves. Because the answer is no.

There is no way to make a nuclear bomb that just kills Jews. There is no way to “wipe Israel off the map,” as Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sworn to do in a nuclear armageddon, without wiping out the Palestinians, as well.

A nuclear fireball detonated over Jerusalem would kill a substantial fraction of the city’s half-million Jews — and the city’s quarter-million Palestinians. But not only lives would be destroyed. Next to the Kaaba in Mecca, the most sacred site to Sunni Muslims in the world is the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which comprise the Haram esh-Sharif, the noble sanctuary on top of Temple Mount.

A nuke would turn the noble sanctuary into radioactive dust. This is what Iran’s terrorist leaders are threatening to do. So all you Palestinians, all you Sunni Muslims out there, wherever you are, get the picture: Wiping Israel off the map means wiping your sacred noble sanctuary off the map, as well. It’s an inescapable package deal.

The Palestinians have more to fear from a nuclear attack on Israel than the Jews. Iran might be able to build a handful of firecracker fission (atom bomb) nukes in the 10- to 20-kiloton range. Set any of these off in an above-ground airburst to maximize lethality, and the heat fries everyone within a mile radius. The neutrons travel not much more and gamma rays much less, killing folks with radiation poisoning within a radius of less than 2 miles.

In other words, the radiation effects are very localized. Anyone 5 miles away would just get a sunburn. The greatest danger more than a few miles away is flying glass from blown-out windows caused by the shock wave. (Avoiding the flying glass was the purpose of duck-and-cover practice of diving under school desks back in the ’50s.)

Any effective nuking of Israel would thus have to score multiple detonations in Israel’s population centers. There is no way to do this in a country the size of New Jersey without devastating the Palestinian population at least as much as the Israeli.

In any nuclear attack on Israel, Iran would have to make a choice: Use its handful of bombs to hit the population centers or hit the Zechariah nuclear missile base southeast of Tel Aviv. Iran cannot do both.

It will take multiple direct hits to incapacitate Zechariah, collapsing the underground tunnels for the TELs (transporter erector launchers). These launch the Jericho-2 missile with a range of 2,000 miles carrying a nuke far more lethal than an Iranian firecracker.

Israel has at least 200, and possibly as many as 400, nuclear warheads, many of which are fusion (hydrogen bombs) in the range of 150 kilotons, many times more destructive than whatever the Iranians come up with. The Jericho-2 can easily reach Tehran or any other location in Iran. A nuclear strike by Iran upon Israel could precipitate the nuclear retaliatory annihilation of Iran.

The mullahs need to realize the name of Zechariah was chosen with a purpose for Israel’s missile base. It is Hebrew for: “God remembers with a vengeance.”

It is Sunni Muslims who need to be terrified of a nuclear Iran. And indeed, Ahmadinejad’s wipe-off-the-map bluster may be misdirection, for he must know that Israel and the Jews would survive his attack, and he and his country would not survive theirs. It is then more likely that Ahmadinejad intends to be an 800-pound Shiite nuclear gorilla, pushing around the Sunnis of the Middle East.

Sunni Saudi Arabia — hated by Iran’s mullacracy — would be defenseless. So would Sunni Jordan — hated by the mullahs. So would Dubai and the emirates. So would Kuwait. Iran is going to aim its nukes at them. They either become colonial subjects of Iran — or (get ready for this) make a deal with Israel and be placed under the protection of an Israeli nuclear umbrella.

They could try this with another nuclear neighbor, and a Sunni Muslim one at that: Pakistan. But Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is devoted to protection from India, and it is limited (around 25 or so low-kiloton fission warheads). An Israeli umbrella may prove an irresistible option.

“We can protect you from Iran,” should be Israel’s message to Sunni Arabs from Ramallah to Riyadh. “The only price for our protection is peace between us.”

Jack Wheeler is the editor of To The Point at

Bombings Bolster Commitment to Life


As if mocking the scenes of jubilation at London’s successful 2012 Olympics bid, the terrorist explosions that came the next day left devastation in their wake.

In all our synagogues, British Jews are joining our prayers with those of others, grieving for the dead, praying for the injured and sharing our tears with those of the bereaved (see story, page 14).

Terror has become the scourge of our age, and it will take all our inner strength to cope with it. I have met far too many victims of terror: survivors of the Istanbul synagogue bombing in 2003 and the 1994 terrorist attack on the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires; in Israel, where almost everyone knows someone who has been affected, as well as survivors of the massacres in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo.

Like others, I have wept for the broken families and shattered lives and the injuries, physical and psychological, that may never heal.

But I have wept also at the courage of the victims. Each year, I go with a group to perform concerts for people who have suffered terrorist attacks. One we met was an 11-year-old boy who had lost his mother, father and three other members of his family in a suicide bombing. He himself had lost his sight.

In the hospital ward, the boy sang with the choir a hauntingly beautiful religious song. We had gone to give him strength; instead, he gave us strength.

Terror fails and will always fail, because it arouses in us a profound instinct for life. Will we ever forget the heroism of the New York firefighters on Sept. 11, or the courage of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 or the kindness of strangers who brought comfort to the traumatized survivors?

Terror makes us vigilant in defense of what we otherwise take for granted: the sanctity of life, the importance of freedom and the countless natural restraints that allow us to live together in safety and trust.

Free societies are always stronger than their enemies take them to be. Enemies of the West mistake its openness for vulnerability, its tolerance for decadence, its respect for differences for a lack of moral conviction.

Britain has exceptionally strong links of friendship among its different faiths and ethnic communities. That is a vital source of stability when nerves are frayed and fears aroused. London itself has a long history of courage. That, too, was evident in the calm that prevailed on July 7.

The best response to terror is not anger, but the quiet strength to carry on, not giving way to fear. I think of Judea Pearl, father of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who has become a campaigner for deeper understanding between Islam and the West. When I asked him what motivated him, he replied, “Hate killed my son, and you cannot defeat hate by hate.”

I think of one of the most promising young men our community has produced, 19-year-old Yoni Jesner, who was killed in a Tel Aviv suicide bombing. His family, out of deep religious conviction, donated his organs to save lives — among them a 7-year-old Palestinian girl who had waited two years for a kidney transplant.

Michael Walzer, a leading American political theorist, has written, “Terrorists are like killers on a rampage, except that their rampage is not just expressive of rage or madness; the rage is purposeful and programmatic.”

Its victims, deliberately, are the innocent and the uninvolved: workers in an office, passengers on a train, passersby on a pavement. Its aim is fear. It advances no interest. It has no conceivable claim to justice. It dishonors any cause it claims to represent.

The real answer to terror was enacted in London and elsewhere five days before. Millions of people took to the streets and parks to demonstrate their solidarity with the victims of poverty in Africa. Their methods were peaceful, their weapons were song and celebration, and their greatest strength was the justice of their cause.

The people with whom they were identifying — the hundreds of millions of children who lack food, shelter, clean water and medical facilities, sustenance and hope — have never resorted to terror to bring their plight to the attention of the world, nor did they need to.

The choice humanity faces was set out long ago by Moses: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

The strongest answer to the forces of death is a renewed commitment to the sanctity of life.

This column first ran in the Times of London on July 9, 2005.

Sir Jonathan Sacks is Orthodox chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth and associate president of the Conference of European Rabbis.

 

Israel Buries Beersheba Bombing Victims


Avital Etash stares out from the front pages of Israel’s newspapers, a 4-year-old boy in a striped shirt and dark blue kippah, his dark eyes wide and curious.

Etash was the youngest of 16 people killed in Tuesday’s double suicide bombing in Beersheba. His mother lies in the hospital, still fighting for her life.

Again Israel turns to mourning the dead, but this time the list of those killed has been slow in coming. As the bombs used in suicide bombings become more sophisticated, producing deadlier and deadlier blasts, it takes more time to identify the remains of the dead.

But with every hourly news broadcast, the list of names grows longer.

Among the first to be buried Wednesday was a 23-year-old named Karin Malka who was on her way to her job with the Jewish Agency for Israel, working with Ethiopian immigrants at Beersheba’s absorption center. Her friends remember her as always cheerful, always smiling. In photographs she is seen grinning, her almond-shaped eyes sparkling.

Malka’s family recalls her eerie comments that seem now like a premonition: She told them she would likely die in a terrorist attack, and at last night’s Shabbat dinner she spoke at length about death and what might await in the next world.

Curious, her family had asked why she thought God so often lets young people die.

Malka, who about a year ago became observant, told them, "He wants to see them in the next world," Yediot Achronot reported.

Malka also was studying engineering at a nearby college.

"She was an amazing young woman … she gave her all working with the kids here," Tali Ya’akovin, the absorption center manager, told Ma’ariv. "It will be hard to explain to the children that she won’t be coming back."

Beersheba’s absorption center suffered a second loss with the death of Troint Tekleh, a 33-year-old mother of six who was also killed in the attack. Tekleh and her family had immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia about a year ago. They had been living in the absorption center but planned to move soon to an apartment of their own.

Tekleh’s youngest child was a 1-year-old baby boy. Members of the Ethiopian community quickly gathered to help, taking the family’s children home to rest while their father went to the hospital to identify her body.

The hero of the day was hailed as Ya’akov Cohen, the driver of bus No. 12, the second bus to explode. He said he stopped his bus as soon as he heard the first explosion.

"I opened the doors, the people asked me to, and I did it immediately," he said. Several people were able to escape before the second suicide bomber, sitting somewhere on Cohen’s bus, detonated his explosives belt.

On bus No. 6, the first to explode, a 65-year-old barber named Nissin Vakanin offered his seat to Tamara Batershuli, also 65.

A few minutes later the blast ripped through the bus. When Vakanin looked back, he saw the seat he had given up to the woman, saw that she was dead — and that the body of the man next to her was in shreds.

"I saw the body of the guy next to her and it was all ripped up. Then I realized he was the suicide bomber," Vakanin said, according to the Washington Post.

"My conscience is not quiet," Vakanin added. "I feel guilty that she died and not me."

Rites to Mark Argentine Terror Attack


At 9:53 a.m. this Sunday in Buenos Aires, a loud siren will sound in front of 633 Pasteur St., where the AMIA Jewish community center is located.

The siren will mark the moment 10 years ago when a bomb went off, killing 85 people in the most devastating terrorist attack in modern Latin American history. Hundreds of Argentines are expected to be standing on Pasteur and in nearby streets to commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy.

The DAIA political umbrella group, together with AMIA and Familiaris de Las Victims — the biggest group of victims’ relatives — jointly organized the commemoration ceremony in Buenos Aires.

The following day, DAIA President Gilbert Lei will be in New York to take part in a commemoration there of the AMIA attack.

The American Jewish Committee, which recently gave an award to Argentine President Nestor Kirchner for his friendliness to Jews and Jewish interests, is sending a delegation to Buenos Aires to take part in the ceremony.

Kirchner said he’ll attend the July 18 commemoration at the AMIA center, and the day will be declared a national day of mourning. The president attended last year’s commemoration a few weeks after taking office, and he has been praised for his commitment to investigating the attack.

Because of infighting in the community, Familiaris at first opposed co-sponsoring the demonstration with local Jewish leaders.

“We finally decided not to show our differences to the world on such a day,” explained Sergio Bernstein, a prominent Familiaris member. “We’re privileged to honor the victims.”

Barely a week before the commemoration, Familiaris still hadn’t chosen a speaker. “We need to make sure we have someone that won’t break down,” Bernstein said.

The Familiaris speech will come after speeches by representatives of AMIA and DAIA. AMIA President Abraham Kabul said he will speak on the 10-year investigation of the attack, focusing on how the case has lost its focus.

Ten days before the ceremony, DAIA leaders also had not chosen a speaker.

“No matter who talks, he’ll express the will for truth, justice and unity that DAIA feels,” said Jorge Kirszenbaum, DAIA vice president.

Many Jews are concerned that DAIA officials — aside from Lei — are still linked to the organization’s former president, Ruben Barrage. Barrage has been criticized by local Jews, because of his ties to former Argentine President Carlos Menem and the former investigative judge on the AMIA case. Menem has been implicated in media reports of hindering the AMIA investigation, because of his ties to Iran, which is believed to have been behind the 1994 attack.

When many Argentine Jews were furious about the slow pace of the investigation into the AMIA bombing, Barrage refused to criticize the authorities. Barrage currently is in prison for developments related to a bank bankruptcy.

DAIA is considering having a victim’s relative speak to avoid public criticism, according to local press reports.

Two other organizations of victims’ relatives, Memorial Active and Anemia, are not taking part in the main celebration. Memorial Active, which for years has been harshly critical of the investigation, will hold a ceremony Saturday night in front of the city’s central courthouse and will then hold an overnight demonstration with the Youth in Guard group.

An Act Of Kindness Ends In Murder


It was an act of kindness reciprocated with murder.

Crane mechanic Moshe Hendler, 29, was on his way to wash up after a long day of work at the Ashdod port on Sunday when, along with a group of fellow workers, he ran into a young man asking for water.

They passed him a jug. An instant later, the man turned himself into a human bomb, taking the lives of Hendler and several others. Hendler’s father, Avraham, who works at the port, rushed to his son, who was sprawled lifeless on the ground.

Hendler — the father of a 6-month-old daughter — was buried Monday. He was one of 10 Israelis killed in a double suicide bombing Sunday at the industrial port on Israel’s southern coast.

Mazal Marciano, 30, was sitting in her office when the explosion went off, killing her instantly. Marciano worked as the marketing manager for the Nehemia Lahovitz meat products company.

Gal Lahovitz, who owns the company, said one of the suicide bombers blew himself up outside the trailer office where Marciano was working. She was the mother of two young sons, ages 2 and 5.

Although Ashdod largely has been free of violence during the three-and-a-half-year-old Palestinian intifada, Marciano’s relatives said they knew they probably would be hit by terror one day.

“We knew this round of terror attacks would reach us, too, and every time we saw pictures of terror attacks on television, we felt it would happen to us one day,” one of Marciano’s brothers said in the newspaper, Ha’aretz.

As after every attack, photos of the bombing victims were splashed across the front pages of Israel’s newspapers, and it was lead story on television broadcasts early in the week.

Among the dead was Avi Avraham, 33, who recently had been hired as a crane electrician at the port and who was married four months ago. His wife, Ettie, 27, rushed to the scene of the attack but was kept away by police barricades. Meanwhile, she kept calling his cell phone, but no one answered.

At the same time, the family of Zion Dahan, 30, frantically searched the hospitals. The search lasted until the family heard the news that Dahan was on the victims’ list.

Six months ago, Dahan had had a close brush with death when a cable came loose and hit him in the face, relatives said. This time, he found himself in the path of Palestinian terrorists, and he was not fortunate enough to escape.

After the bombing, some Israeli authorities suggested that the attack on the industrial port, where toxic chemicals are stored, may have been an attempted megaterrorist strike. They said the bombers may have intended to detonate themselves next to the port’s bromine tanks to release a cloud of poisonous gas into the surrounding area that potentially could have killed thousands.

Palestinian groups said they indeed had hoped to carry out a massive attack.

Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade jointly claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by two 18-year-olds from the Gaza Strip. It was the first attack since the intifada began that was committed by Palestinians from Gaza, which is surrounded by an electronic fence.

Palestinians said Monday that the terrorists entered Israel by tunneling under the fence.

Morris Tuval, 30, who was a neighbor and former classmate of Marciano, also was killed in the attack. Filling in for a co-worker who could not make his shift, Tuval had just returned from an afternoon out with his friends, the well-known Israeli soccer players from the Ashdod team, Chaim and David Revivo. The three were childhood friends.

After lunch, David Revivo went to soccer practice, which is where he heard the two explosions.

“I can’t stop crying,” said Revivo, who described Tuval as “one of the greatest guys in the world.”

Also killed in Sunday’s attack were Gil Abutbul, 31; Dan Asulin, 51; Ophir Damari, 31; Avi Suissa, 55; and Pinchas Avraham Zilberman, 46.

How Ready Are We?


"For bioterrorism, we’re about as prepared as we are for snow," said City Councilman Jack Weiss, who has spent a year working with security experts and local officials to figure out what Los Angeles needs to do to prepare for and prevent terrorist attacks. The report of the results of that investigation, released Oct. 10, runs 59 pages long. "There is a ton to do," Weiss said.

On Sunday, Nov. 24, at Sinai Temple in Westwood, the public is invited to a panel discussion featuring terrorism security experts. The meeting, sponsored by the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, aims to address local preparations for one of the scarier possibilities — a biological attack.

Among the panelists who will discuss our preparedness is Dr. Peter Estacio, a senior scientist at the University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, on assignment with the Washington, D.C.-based Office of Public Health Preparedness of the proposed Homeland Security Department. On a national level, "we’re certainly more prepared than we were. Los Angeles is more prepared than most areas," Estacio said, but "it is also more a target." He expressed concern about a biological attack on a particular industry of importance to both Los Angeles and the Jewish community. "The movie industry is an icon of American life," Estacio said, "and it happens to have a large percentage Jewish contribution, much as Wall Street."

Estacio also acknowledged the local Jewish community’s relatively strong efforts to educate itself and improve preparations in case of terrorist attacks, with outreach to security officials and discussions like the one planned for Nov. 24. "The Jewish community recognizes that it has often been the target of these kinds of actions. That translates into a sense of civic duty," he said. "That is not a paranoia, it’s an appropriate response."

A long list of further appropriate responses to the threat of bioterrorism that city and other local officials might take are suggested by Weiss’ plan. The recommendations range from improved surveillance to detect an attack, to emergency worker safety protocols and volunteer response coordination.

So far, however, Weiss said Los Angeles security officials have not done nearly enough to prepare. "They have focused on tabletop issues — they sit at a table and flip through a binder," he said. "What you will see in a crisis is a lot of improvising," just as Weiss remembers occurring here on Sept. 11, 2001. He described the efforts to improve planning and response so far as "some agency heads in the region who have met sporadically to deal with the issue."

Bioterrorism preparation in particular, and Los Angeles’ health care system in general, are issues of particular concern to local residents. On Nov. 5, more than 73 percent of Los Angeles County voters opted to raise their own property taxes to partially fund full-service hospitals through Measure B. A portion of those tax dollars will be set aside for biological or chemical attack response.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles County’s director of public health, said the county Health Department is now studying the issue of how Measure B money will be implemented for bioterrorism preparations.

Critics of Los Angeles’ preparations to date, like Weiss, say the work done so far — "we have purchased some equipment for our first responders, and taken steps to secure the airport" — is not nearly enough. Weiss credits County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky for his efforts to improve the health system, and said he believes Police Chief William Bratton has shown an active interest in terrorism preparedness.

But he worries that officials are "relying on bureaucracies to provide us with a wish list," he said. "We need a different strategy, we need to look at missions and needs." Weiss also worries about the possibility that part of the city might need to be evacuated: "If an attack occurs at 3:30 p.m. on a Friday, Los Angeles is already gridlocked."

Official preparedness alone will not be enough in case of a chemical or biological attack — residents need information on what they must do to protect themselves. We need to provide and disseminate easily understandable information," Weiss said. "That’s not cost intensive, but it is highly effective. In Israel, there is a populace that knows exactly what to do in an emergency. We’ll never get to that level in Los Angeles, but I think we ought to try."

For more information on Los Angeles’ bioterrorism
preparedness, visit labt.org. For reservations to attend the panel discussion on
Sunday, Nov. 24, at Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., fax (310) 788-2824 or
e-mail westernACSZ@aol.com
.

Students Get Religion


The Sept. 11 terrorist attack propelled already soaring interest in religious studies courses at mainstream college campuses in Orange County and around the nation.

Enrollment in religious studies curriculum, climbing for a decade, closed a month before the 2002 fall semester began at Chapman University and Cal State Fullerton. Yet, the subject’s popularity has not translated into an equivalent number of students who major in the discipline. Besides exacerbating a shortage of graduate students seeking admission to theological seminaries, the number in undergraduate religious studies departments remains small. With few faculty members, they typically are comparable in size to other specialty studies programs that focus on women, Asians or Chicanos, all nurtured by ’60s-era ethnic awareness.

Times may be changing, though. One professor predicts that the collapse of business ethics, exposed in recent months by a drumbeat of accounting scandals, is likely to reverse the academic pendulum. Instead of a stampede for practical career training, professor Marvin Meyer, co-chair of Chapman’s religious studies department, expects humanities — and possibly religious studies — will regain favor. “What has been exposed will have a huge impact on business schools,” he said.

Religious studies, whose curriculum draws on history, philosophy, art and ethnic studies, is a de facto liberal arts education. “Intercultural sensitivity holds them in good stead in a place like Southern California,” added professor Benjamin Hubbard, who chairs Cal State University Fullerton’s comparative religion department.

Moreover, studying religion in an academic environment is a more balanced approach compared to synagogue- or church-based Bible study, academics argue. “Temple schools have an agenda,” said professor Arlene Lazarowitz, director of Cal State University Long Beach’s Jewish studies, offered as a minor this fall for the first time. “The university agenda is much more open. You’re not going to get this from a rabbi; he’ll incur the wrath of his board.”

Academic distance from religious studies narrowed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1961 outlawed Bible reading in public schools. In the opinion of one jurist, academic study comparing religions was preferable to indoctrination, Hubbard recalls. That was the green light for a new scholarly niche.

In academic circles, any lingering hesitancy to embrace the new discipline ended with the 1978 Iranian revolution and the seizure of American hostages.

“As I’ve tried to argue to my colleagues, not to understand the religious component in geopolitical situations is to miss a huge component,” said Hubbard, noting that Osama bin Laden was not the first extremist overlooked by the U.S. government, which supported the Shah of Iran. “Religion is a powerful, powerful factor in human life, often for ill,” said he. About 550 students enroll in Fullerton’s 22 religious studies classes each semester, though only 40 major in the topic.

As political science departments and history majors study fascism and communism, so, too, Hubbard argues, should religious studies students examine religion as a factor in extremism. Its examples make front pages daily: the U.S. abortion debate, Tibet’s Dalai Lama; India-Pakistan hostilities in Kashmir; warfare between Britain and Ireland.

Sept. 11 and the Palestinian intifada underscore religion’s capacity for unabated virulence.

In the ’60s, religious studies appealed to students intrigued by remote Eastern beliefs and discontent with academia’s Western orientation. Today, cultural awareness is far greater because of immigration and globalization. Today’s students wrestle with different questions. “More focus is on ethical and spiritual issues,” said professor Marilyn Harran, co-chair of Chapman’s religious studies department and director of its Holocaust studies center. “We cannot offer a sufficient number of classes to meet the kind of interest there is,” added Meyer. Seven faculty, supplemented by adjunct professors, teach 15 classes each semester, drawing about 450 students. But only 10 a year major in the topic.

To accommodate the few students who want to pursue Jewish studies at public universities, the state college system permits an intercampus major, allowing students to fulfill requirements by enrolling in classes at alternate locations. So far, the consortium consists of California State Universities in Chico, San Diego and San Francisco. Approval is expected in fall 2003 at Long Beach, and at Fullerton soon thereafter, said Lazarowitz. For example, she said, Fullerton students can enroll in Hebrew and American Jewish history at Long Beach, while Long Beach students enroll in Fullerton’s “Introduction to Judaism” classes.

Long Beach established a Jewish studies minor following lobbying in 1999 by Michael S. Rassler, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Long Beach. “This came out of nowhere; this was a bolt out of the blue,” said Lazarowitz, who for years has supervised student teachers at the campus and is an expert in American foreign policy. “I never knew Jewish studies existed.”

Jewish studies at Long Beach remains a virtual department: the emphasis is created by drawing on pre-existing, interdisciplinary classes in history, literature and religious studies. Students include evangelical Christians who want to read the Old Testament in Hebrew, said Lazarowitz. “That’s very important. We don’t want this to be a major for Jewish students, but for anyone.”

In a sign of its commitment to strengthen the fledgling program, Long Beach’s religious studies department recently hired an expert in Judaism, Yechiel Shalom Goldberg, who starts this semester. Goldberg, a former Indiana University professor, specializes in Jewish mysticism.

“Now we can get off the ground,” said Lazarowitz, who expects about 85 students to fulfill the 19-unit minor this year. New to the curriculum is “Literature of the Holocaust,” taught by Carl Fisher, a professor of comparative literature.

Personally, her new academic responsibilities enriched Lazarowitz’s scholarly work. Her most recent research topic is Jacob Javits, the former New York senator who pushed a bill to penalize financially the former Soviet Union for restrictive immigration policies toward Soviet Jews. Her article was accepted for publication next summer in the scholarly Jewish studies journal, Shofar. “I’ve got a new publishing field now, too,” she said.

In the UC system, the Santa Barbara campus has the most mature religious studies program, even granting doctoral degrees. UC Irvine offers a religious studies minor around three core courses, which each quarter fill with 100 students, said Daniel S. Schroeter, the Teller Family professor of Jewish history at UCI.

A major would require a faculty whose primary emphasis is religious studies, and none of the faculty that are currently involved meet that description, Schroeter said. He thinks a religious studies major is likely within a few years.

Jewish Groups Help Sept. 11 Victims


The stench in New York after Sept. 11 reminded Julia Millman of Europe.

"I have seen it. I know what it’s all about," said the 76-year-old survivor of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen.

In addition to losing her 40-year-old son, Ben, in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center — he was a construction worker on the 101st floor of Tower One — Millman said the death and devastation revived gut-wrenching memories of her family’s murder in the Holocaust. As a young girl, Millman was forced to tie a rope around her dead mother’s neck and drag her gassed body to a pile of other victims. Now those old feelings of motherlessness and abandonment have returned.

"If it wasn’t for my social worker that tried to console me, that tried to help me in my sorrow, I don’t know if I would be here today," Millman said.

Millman is one of thousands who have received assistance from Jewish social service agencies for traumas associated with Sept. 11. For the most part, they praise the aid they received.

The Jewish community launched a massive, coordinated effort to help both Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the attacks. The UJA-Federation of New York raised funds in New York, where two of the planes hit, and the United Jewish Communities (UJC), the umbrella group of North American federations, raised funds throughout North America.

In areas affected by the attack, Jewish federations and their affiliated social service agencies also received government grants or private funding from foundations and/or individual donors. The funds have been used to provide support groups for victims and those re-traumatized by the incident, including Holocaust survivors or new immigrants. The funds also were used to provide cash assistance and job counseling and to help victims navigate the bureaucracy to obtain financial aid from government and private agencies.

The UJA-Federation of New York, one of 13 major charities comprising the 9/11 United Services Group, a resource for victims in New York City, has been at the center of the Jewish communal response. As of mid-August, the federation had raised $7.6 million in special funding for its agencies to expand services for Sept. 11 victims.

Of that sum, $2.1 million came from the UJC, which plans to add another $166,000 in the coming weeks, and $3.5 million came from The New York Times 9/11 Neediest Fund. The UJA-Federation raised the other $2 million.

On a smaller scale, the American Jewish World Service, an international development organization, distributed more than $650,000 to community-based organizations providing assistance to undocumented and low-income workers unable to obtain relief from mainstream sources. The organizations that received assistance included the Arab-American Family Support Center, Chinese Staff and Workers Association and American Pan-African Relief Agencies.

For its part, the UJC has raised $5.28 million, dispersing $3.9 million of it for immediate needs. It plans to disperse the rest by the end of the year for long-term services, such as tuition assistance and additional trauma counseling.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington — in the city where the third plane hit the Pentagon — received $100,500 from the UJC. The UJC also allocated funds to hard-hit New Jersey commuter areas like Monmouth County, which received $210,600, and Bergen County, which received $133,121.

Barry Swartz, vice president of UJC consulting, said the federation system did a "remarkable" job of quickly coordinating a response to the crisis. "We told federations right away, if families need money, they’re to disburse the funds, and we would reimburse" them, he said.

Several direct service providers said they were pleased with the response from the organized Jewish community. There wasn’t "one second that we felt that we were out there alone," said Jeff Lampl, executive director of Jewish Family Services of Bergen County. That was mainly due to the federation system and the local federation, "which immediately supplied us with a small amount of money to get going," he said.

The agency’s client pool "doubled almost overnight" after Sept. 11, Lampl said. "Almost to this day, taking care of these families has become the central concern of this agency," he added.

Many of those who received services praised the response. Robin Wiener, who lost her brother, Jeff, 33, in the attack on the World Trade Center, said the sibling support group she attended — sponsored by the Jewish Social Service Agency of Greater Washington, the primary Jewish organization responding to local victims there — was "amazing." The sibling support group, sponsored by the agency, was formed following a February gathering of friends and family members of Sept. 11 victims.

The "emotions you go through and the loss that you feel is a loss that is unique to the relationship you had," said Wiener, 38. "My brother and I were very close and very similar in many ways, and I just always assumed he’d be there."

Weiner’s brother, a senior financial executive, had been about to leave on a vacation in Spain with his wife and had been planning a family, she said. It "breaks my heart for him, what we lost together.

"I never realized how small our family was until now," she said. To know there are other people out there going through the exact same thing" is "kind of eerie, but it’s also extremely helpful."

Robert Alonso praised the Jewish Child Care Association, which helped his family. When the planes hit, Alonso’s wife, Janet, 41, managed to make a quick phone call from the 97th floor of Tower One to tell her husband that she loved him. The call was their last conversation. The sudden death of his wife, the family’s primary breadwinner, left Alonso and his two young children — one of whom has Down’s syndrome — reeling.

The Jewish Child Care Association has provided weekly meetings with a psychologist for Alonso’s children Robbie, 2, and Victoria, 3. It also has helped him obtain the maximum government funds for his family.

Gregory Hoffman, 37, said he "would not have survived" without the Twinless Twins of Sept. 11 program, which he and his wife, Aileen, created. Since his identical twin, Stephen, a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed in the World Trade Center, Hoffman says he feels like Tower One before it fell — still standing but "out of balance," separated from its twin and with a gaping hole inside it.

To date, the Hoffmans have identified and contacted 38 twins who lost siblings in the attack. Six of them participate in the weekly support group meetings led by a twinless twin, and 22 have participated in social outings. Many of the participants have become close friends.

For Marjorie Judge, caseworker Joan Kincaid, director of the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged’s Pets Project, has been "exceptional." Judge, 82, who lived four blocks from the World Trade Center, was evacuated from the building and prevented from taking her cat. Police later rounded up the pets in many buildings, but not in Judge’s.

One week later, aided by police and Judge’s building superintendent, Kincaid entered the evacuated building — dark from failed electricity and reeking of rotten food — and climbed eight floors to rescue Sheba, who was waiting, parched, at the door. All that for a cat Kincaid "hardly knew," Judge said.

While many victims praised the Jewish communal response, some had complaints. Several family members of victims in Washington said there was no outreach from the organized Jewish community, except for their synagogues, according to the Washington Jewish Week. The federation defended its work, saying it was the first agency in Washington to hold a memorial service for victims, and that the Jewish Chaplaincy immediately called the families of Jewish victims to offer help.

The federation has dispersed the nearly $500,000 dollars it raised in its Sept. 11 fund to Jewish and non-Jewish agencies, according to a federation official. UJC funds were earmarked for Jewish needs, the official said, adding, "We really did everything we could."

Wiener, of the sibling support group, saw it differently. There was "plenty of comfort, but not a lot of information," she said.

And while Millman raved about her nurse, Rebecca Bigio, she also complained that "she’s not enough." Bigio said she and a social worker visit Millman at least twice a month and call frequently. But Millman, an ailing widow, said she needs more attention so that she won’t "feel so alone and so lost."

Louise Greilsheimer, vice president of agency and external relations of the UJA-Federation of New York, who coordinated its response to Sept. 11, said complaints are inevitable. "You are always, with this quantity of people, going to find issues," she said. But, she added, "I haven’t heard one horror story in the Jewish community."

"I truly believe the agencies came together and put together not only a coordinated approach," but one that was thoughtful, caring and ongoing, Greilsheimer said. "We’re staying here to follow up and to be able to work with communities that need the support."

What a Year it Was


Two years ago, American Jewry buzzed with talk of Jewish continuity and renaissance, and fretted over intermarriage and assimilation.

Last year — already a year into the Palestinian intifada — the community wondered whether solidarity visits, street rallies or good old-fashioned fundraising was the best way to support Israel. It all seems so long ago.

"Off the top of my head, I would say the main story today is terrorism, terrorism and, oh yeah, terrorism," said Stephen Hoffman, president and CEO of United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization of North American Jewish federations. "We’d been watching its poison spreading throughout the Middle East; then when it came to our shores, it was hard to lift your eyes from it."

Following the most lethal terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil last Sept. 11, a broad Jewish communal agenda — spanning the political and religious spectrums — was shoved to the back burner.

The attention of lay members and leadership turned almost exclusively to international affairs: the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America’s war on terrorism, the upsurge in global anti-Semitism, even Argentine Jewry’s plight amid the country’s economic meltdown.

First and foremost, the events of Sept. 11 produced greater American appreciation for Israel’s predicament — many Israelis said, "Now you know what it feels like."

"There is a level of anxiety about the very survival of Israel as a viable, modern society, as the wave of suicide murders literally undermines civil society," said Mortimer Zuckerman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "You can’t live with that kind of insecurity, and people here now understand it even more."

Added Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the umbrella of the Reform movement: "We began to see Israel not as a local conflict but in more global terms, as a struggle between democratic countries everywhere and fanatic Islam and religious fundamentalism throughout the world."

The empathy for Israel seemed to infuse and re-energize the Jewish community’s advocacy on its behalf. This would help Israel garner stronger support from somewhat surprising sources: the Bush administration, conservative Republicans and evangelical Christians.

Yet Jews were immediately thrown on the defensive by the outlandish charge that the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was behind the attacks. The charge gained credence among Internet conspiracy theorists and throughout the Arab world.

A more serious image problem for pro-Israel advocates was the question many Americans asked after Sept. 11: "Why do they hate us?"

The media dutifully put the question to local Arab-American leaders, who responded — often unchallenged — that the Arab world’s hatred of America was derived, in large part, from perceived U.S. support for Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.

Some American analysts and pundits, desperate to assign blame for the catastrophe, went along with this. Trying to pin it on Israel, though, was not enough to stave off a frenzy of attacks, both verbal and physical, against Arab American and Muslim American individuals, shops and mosques nationwide. One Sikh man, mistaken for an Arab, was murdered.

A dragnet by U.S. immigration and police officers ensnared some 1,200 residents who looked like Arabs. In the process, it also scooped up some 60 Israelis on visa violations, many of whom subsequently were deported.

The roundup triggered a debate that would continue all year in the Jewish community and the society at large on how to strike a balance between enhanced security and protection of civil liberties.

"The war on terrorism is confronting some pretty important civil rights and liberties issues the Jewish community has championed for decades," said Hannah Rosenthal, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. "You have to constantly remember that we can’t protect or defend our values as Americans, and as Jews, by subverting those very values," she said.

Many American Jews felt insecure. American security was one thing, Jewish security, quite another.

In late September, Al-Qaida reportedly faxed a statement to Pakistani news organizations in which it warned, "Wherever there are Americans and Jews, they will be targeted." Then came the anthrax scares. The poisonous letters generally targeted the media, but Jewish institutions were on alert. In October, anthrax spores were found in the Manhattan offices of New York Gov. George Pataki, prompting a check for contamination in the numerous Jewish organizations that share his building.

Then there was the dramatic rise in attacks on European Jews and their institutions, as Israeli-Palestinian violence intensified. This followed a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe after the Palestinian intifada erupted in September 2000.

Most attacks reportedly were carried out by young Arab immigrants, but Jews were startled and distressed by the failure of governments, such as France’s, to respond.

"I’ll tell you point-blank: I have two grown daughters, and I didn’t think that my kids were going to have to deal with some of the same anti-Semitism that I did, as the daughter of Holocaust survivors," Rosenthal said. "It’s a scary time, with people losing the ability to differentiate between a Jew, any Jew, and what’s going on in Israel."

Some European pundits on the left and right brushed off charges of latent anti-Semitism. They seemed to excuse the violence by blaming it on Diaspora Jews’ presumed support for Israeli actions against the Palestinians. To some observers, however, that smacked of an age-old canard: that Jews themselves are the cause of anti-Semitism.

Closer to home, American Jews went back on alert in late June when the FBI warned Jewish organizations that Al Qaida might be planning to attack Jewish institutions with gasoline tankers. The warning wasn’t taken lightly, since Al Qaida had claimed responsibility for an April 11 attack on the Tunisian island of Djerba in which a fuel truck rammed a centuries-old synagogue, killing 21 people. Jewish facilities reinforced their security.

American Jews would be rattled once more during the year: On July 4, an Egyptian man and longtime U.S. resident walked up to the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport and shot and killed a clerk and passenger. The FBI declined to brand it terrorism, but Israel said it had no doubt it was. Many American Jews nodded in agreement; they now felt they, too, recognized the face of terrorism.

Indeed, the events of Sept. 11 gave rise to a new rallying cry for pro-Israel supporters: "Israel and America share the same enemy." Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used that notion to justify his ever-stronger steps against Palestinian terrorism. But many in Washington — especially at the less-hawkish State Department — denied any parallel.

The media also was divided on the issue.

American news reporting out of Israel often was perceived as anti-Israel, but groups like the Anti-Defamation League insisted that Israel was prevailing on the opinion pages and among commentators.

Undaunted, Jewish activists lobbied elected representatives, took to the airwaves and did battle on college campuses — often against Arab and Muslim students, sometimes against left-wing Jewish students and faculty. Israel supporters also put their money where their mouths were: The UJC announced it raised $303 million specifically for Israel during the year, including $213 million since the launch of an emergency campaign on April 8, Hoffman said. In addition, some 30 percent of the $860 million raised during UJC’s annual fundraising campaign went toward Israel.

But the crowning achievement of Jewish activism was the April 15 rally in Washington. It drew some 100,000 Jews from around the country to deliver a message of solidarity with Israel to both Jerusalem and Washington. Organized in less than a week, it was the largest Jewish demonstration since 1987.

Jewish activism and events on the ground seemed to make an impression: the Bush administration came to align itself more and more with Sharon’s policies, despite Bush’s call for a two-state solution and his explicit reference to "Palestine," a first for a U.S. president. The White House also issued occasional criticism of Israeli actions, such as the April battle in the Jenin refugee camp — a nest of Palestinian terrorists — in which some 50 Palestinians died, and the July bombing of Hamas terrorist leader Salah Shehada, which also killed 14 civilians.

Jewish leaders were relieved and delighted when Bush on June 24 took the historic step of calling for the replacement of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and democratization of the Palestinian Authority.

"To me, the single most important event of the year is the unbelievable friendliness and affinity of President Bush and the major part of his administration toward Israel and the Jewish State," said Dr. Mandell Ganchrow, executive vice president of the Religious Zionists of America and former president of the Orthodox Union. "He looks at the issue of suicide bombers with a vision of what’s moral and immoral, and acts on it. He has done what’s right for Israel."

Zuckerman was more surprised. "That an American president, whether you agree with him or not politically, had the political will to be as clear and outspoken, both on moral and political grounds, is unprecedented," he said.

While mainstream Jewry reveled in Washington’s support for Israel, Jews more critical of Israel’s policies felt their voices were being muzzled. By summer’s end, however, the Jewish left appeared to be gaining strength.

Their dissent was felt primarily through newspaper ads and petitions circulated via e-mail, demanding Israel "end its occupation." The movement hoped to crack the veneer of Jewish unanimity successfully projected onto Washington, which some say was done out of concern that disunity might jeopardize U.S. support and further endanger Israel.

Among U.S. Jews and their leadership, "You see signs of despair and panic all over the place, some of it with good reason," said Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, vice president of CLAL — The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. "But there’s also a rhetoric of demise, a lot of us-versus-them language, and people running around saying it’s just like Germany in 1939. It’s not Germany in 1939. I think they’re sincere, but scared to death.

"As the year wore on, there was less attention paid to Jewish unity and more attention paid to Jewish uniformity," Hirschfield continued. "Very few people are out there looking for new ideas, and that’s never a recipe for community vitality."

In the end, despite the extraordinary focus on terrorism and Israel, communal life — and its lingering concerns — went on almost as normal. Few issues were shelved altogether; they only received less attention.

Rabbi Baruch Lanner, a former professional in the Orthodox Union’s youth group, was convicted of sexual abuse in a case that critics said exposed the Orthodox communal leadership’s insensitivity to the victims.

Meanwhile, the Orthodox community applauded the U.S. Supreme Court verdict that school vouchers — which the community had lobbied for — did not breach the constitutional barrier between church and state.

"We are not a unidimensional community," Ganchrow said. "Despite the fact that our community grieves unbelievably for Israel, this has in no way lessened our efforts and dedication to all the things we believed in and worked for before."

Similarly, Yoffie said, "Building and strengthening our synagogues, educating our children, adult education — those concerns are still there." But, he added, "Matters of life or death, war or peace, they take priority."

Added Hoffman: "We have a chronic problem in the Middle East, not an acute problem. Just as the Israelis have gotten adjusted to living with it, so too we’re finding that we’re going to have to live with it. That doesn’t mean we ignore it — we’ll maintain our support and activism but you don’t just put Jewish life on hold everywhere else."

Community Briefs


Angeleno Killed in Terrorist Attack

Dr. Moshe Gottlieb, a chiropractor who moved to Israel from Los Angeles in 1978, was among the 19 people killed in the June 18 bus bombing in the neighborhood of Beit Safafa, near Gottlieb’s home in Gilo.

Gottlieb, 70, was on his way to Bnei Brak, where he volunteered every Tuesday at a clinic treating children with Downs Syndrome, hyperactivity and chronic pain.

He built a successful chiropractic practice in Hancock Park before moving to Israel, and was an active member of Congregation Shaarei Tefila. Gottlieb, who was buried in Jerusalem, is survived by his wife, Sheila; one son; one daughter; 12 grandchildren; and brother, Judah Gottlieb of Hancock Park. Contributions may be sent to Jewish Children’s Museum, 332 Kingston Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213. — Mike Levy, Staff Writer

SFSU Cuts Off Funds for Palestinian Group

San Francisco State University (SFSU) has cut off funding for one year to a Palestinian student organization for its confrontational actions during a pro-Israel peace rally on campus. In addition, the university administration put the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) on probation, while also issuing a warning letter to the campus Hillel chapter.

The actions, announced by the university’s news bureau on Friday, June 21, followed an investigation of the May 7 confrontation between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students, during which police had to escort some Jewish participants to safety. No injuries were reported, but the San Francisco district attorney’s office is reviewing the events. After viewing videotapes and questioning witnesses, university investigators found that anti-Israel demonstrators had violated campus rules by yelling racial and ethnic epithets, using bullhorns and drums and failing to remain in their designated area.

Earlier in the week, university spokeswoman Ligeia Polidaro told the Los Angeles Times that SFSU authorities closed down the GUPS Web site because it displayed an animated image throwing a rock against a Star of David and carried a link of another Web site that accused Jews of ritual murder. Polidaro said the warning letter was sent to Hillel because some of its members also hurled racial and ethnic slurs and hung flags in the Student Center without permission, while one member used a bullhorn.

Disciplinary proceeding are pending against three students, whose affiliation was withheld by the university.

The disciplinary actions already in effect were spelled out in a university news release, in which SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan emphasized a number of constructive steps toward a "a fall semester devoted to civil discourse" on the 27,000-student campus.

Planned initiatives include creation of the president’s Task Force on Intergroup Relations: Focus on the Jewish and Palestinian Communities, and a retreat for student leaders, including representatives of both groups. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Teacher Inspects School Programs in Asia

Marla Osband, director of early childhood education at B’nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester, just returned from Korea and Okinawa, representing the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAECY). Osband helped the organization in deciding whether five SureStart nursery school programs for at-risk children should become accredited. As a NAECY commissioner, this is the third time the educator, who has taught at B’nai Tikvah for 25 years, was selected for an overseas validation visit.

The process involved observing the schools’ curriculum, staff/child interaction, health and safety and other factors. "When a school makes a commitment to get accreditation,"Osband said, "they are making a commitment to saying that they’re going to give the highest quality of education to their children. What I’m trying to do is verify that what they’re saying is happening in their schools."

Osband was named Nursery School Teacher of the Year in 1997 by Childcare Information Exchange Magazine. — Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer

Richman Announces Valley Mayoral Run

Ending months of speculation, Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge) announced Wednesday that he would run for mayor of the proposed Valley city, should secession pass.

Richman said he made the decision to run based on what he believes are years of neglect of the Valley by the city of Los Angeles.

"I am very concerned about issues of public safety, the economic environment in the San Fernando Valley and education," Richman said.

Richman, 48, a physician, has been in Legislature’s Budget, Health and Insurance committees, as well as the special session of the Energy Cost and Availability Committee, which met last year to work toward resolving the state’s energy crises. His district covers the North Valley, West Hills and portions of Thousand Oaks. The assemblyman is up for reelection in his district but said if he wins both offices and the Valley secedes, he will resign from the Assembly.

Richman’s most likely opponent for the position of mayor is State Sen. Richard Alarcon, 48, a Democrat serving the 20th District. Although he had not as of press time made a formal announcement, Alarcon told The Journal that he has been weighing heavily the possibility of such a run. — Wendy J. Madnick, Contributing Writer

Arafat’s Choice


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.

The Shiva Call


The debris is the same. The thin sliver of building — the one on the Sept. 14 cover of The Jewish Journal — is the same, hovering precariously over the wreckage but somehow not falling. Live, Ground Zero seems just as surreal as it does on television, except for the smell of smoke — acrid, tar-like, pervasive, cloying — hours after you leave the World Trade Center bombing site.

More than a week after the terrorist attack, I came to New York. Not as a voyeur, one of those reported to have stolen souvenirs, such as firemen’s boots, but to make it real. Real as it could never be from my sunny new home in Los Angeles, so far away from where I grew up: New York. As the other 49 states move on to talk of war and resuming a normal life — whatever that means — I feel the sorrow, the sadness, the utter helplessness of my city.

I am paying a shiva call to New York. I listen to my friends and family tell me where they were, where they almost were: Leon was caught in the smoke, almost trampled by thousands of people; my father, a Vietnam vet used to sights of war, was on the bridge and is still reeling from watching the buildings collapse. Then there are the two degrees of separation, the people gone, presumed dead: a girl from my college, my principal’s daughter, the wife of a man from shul, a next-door neighbor. Who knows how many I knew, living here for more than 20 years?

Sure, we’ve heard the stories endlessly on television and the radio, but it’s different when you come here. You see that getting on with life, which will never be the same for any American, has a different meaning for New Yorkers.

On the Upper West and East sides, fire stations and police stations, as well as most street corners, teem with candles and flowers. Diners, theaters, restaurants are empty, by New York standards, and people speak in hushed tones. I am happy to be with friends, but on the subway I feel awkward about smiling or shouting across the aisle.

The 1/9, rerouted like most subways, takes us down to Fulton Street, one stop before the World Trade Center. We are just a few of the pilgrims on a journey to the site, which by Sunday will have been visited by more than 6,000 people. Uniforms are everywhere: khaki-camouflaged National Guards, Military Police, security guards and police urging people not to stop.

But you can’t help stopping. No matter how many times you have seen it on the screen, when you walk down Nassau and up Broadway and you see the monstrous mound between the two buildings, you are rooted in your spot. "Keep it moving, keep it moving, don’t block the crosswalk!" a policewoman shouts brusquely.

And we keep moving. On Broadway we see the blackened 50-foot building reduced to seven stories; by Wall Street we see the thin shell of one tower; at the FDR bridge, the massive pile of rubbish and debris.

What makes it different from what I’ve seen from Los Angeles are the dusty shoes in the Easy Spirit store window, the broken glass on the saltwater taffy in a candy store, the FBI pictures of the red "black" box. The crumpled memo on the street from an office on who-knows-what floor, the tattered pictures of lost people on the silver street poles.

And the smoke. It makes me tear, long after I’ve left. It’s not surreal anymore. It’s just real.

World Brifs


Beit Jalla Action Postponed

Israeli military sources were quoted as saying the army had postponed a planned action in Beit Jalla by a day. The media reports said the operation, aimed at stopping Palestinian gunfire in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, was delayed in part because of American criticism of Tuesday’s military incursion into the Palestinian-ruled city of Jenin.

Palestinian Militants Arrested

Israel arrested several Palestinian militants that planned to carry out a terrorist attack near Haifa. The militants, arrested last week, were members of a suspected Islamic Jihad cell, according to details allowed for publication. Several Israeli Arabs also were arrested in connection with the incident.

Israeli undercover security forces also killed a member of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction Wednesday in Hebron. Imad Abu Sneineh was suspected of involvement in shooting attacks. Israel defends its policy of “targeted killings” of suspected Palestinian terrorists, but the international community condemns what it calls “assassinations.”

Israeli Astronaut Set for 2002

Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, will blast into orbit on May 23, 2002, the prime minister’s office announced Monday. The announcement followed a meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and NASA administrator Daniel Goldin. The two also agreed to continue cooperation between Israel and NASA.

Stem Cell Reaction Mixed

Jewish groups offered mixed reactions to President Bush’s decision to allow limited federal funding for research on existing embryonic stem cells.

Groups praised the government’s first step but expressed hope that the scope of funding could be expanded in the future.

The National Council of Jewish Women, however, said it is “deeply disappointed” by the president’s Aug. 9 announcement, calling it too narrow and restricting

U.N. Alters Zionism Resolution

A purported compromise on a resolution denigrating Zionism as racism at the upcoming U.N. conference in South Africa is “subterfuge,” according to a Jewish official. In the current draft, the term “occupying power” simply replaces specific references to Zionism and Israel, said Jason Isaacson, director of government and international affairs for the American Jewish Committee. Still, the document “is written for no other purpose than to single out Israel,” Isaacson said, contradicting comments Tuesday from a South African official who said that the Zionism-racism issue had been removed from the conference agenda.

Israel’s Nude Offensive

The Israel Defense Force is using female soldiers to lure Palestinian rock-throwers to their doom, according to the Gazan weekly Al-Hayat al-Jadida. The female soldier performs a strip show, luring the Palestinians away from their piles of stones. She then produces a gun and fires on the hapless crowd, according to the paper, which did not explain where the nude soldiers hide their guns. The IDF called the story “totally ridiculous.”

Jews Teach for America

Several North American Jewish organizations, including the federation system and Birthright Israel, hope to have a Jewish version of Teach for America in place by next summer, according to Ron Wolfson, vice president of the Los Angeles-based University of Judaism. The project, which Wolfson describes in the latest issue of the Jewish Life Network’s magazine and which the university is spearheading, would recruit hundreds of college students and alumni of Israel trips to teach in Jewish schools and would train them in a Jewish teachers’ “boot camp.”

Five Jews Killed in Crash

Five Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn were killed in a helicopter crash near the Grand Canyon.

The five tourists killed last Friday were part of a group of about 20 friends and family on a four-day vacation at the Bellagio hotel-casino in Las Vegas. “They are all active in the communities, they’re all friends,” New York City Councilman Noach Dear said of the victims. “They were a lot of fun to be with.” The sole survivor, Chana Daskai, suffered burns over 80 percent of her body.

Two N.Y. Rabbis Sentenced

Two New York City rabbis were sentenced to nearly three years in prison for embezzling $2.5 million meant for training counselors for elderly Holocaust survivors. Efroim Stein and Jacob Bronner pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors said Stein slipped funds to his synagogue and to subcontractors in exchange for kickbacks and falsely put his relatives on the payroll as trainers.

Shoah Denier Offers Deal

Holocaust denier David Irving offered to pay Penguin Books $210,000 if the publisher as well as historian Deborah Lipstadt drop all further claims against him. Last year, a British court ordered Irving to pay Penguin’s and Lipstadt’s legal costs, estimated at $3 million, when he lost a libel suit against them over Lipstadt’s book “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.”

Russian Leader Slammed

A Russian Jewish leader is being attacked in the media for seeking charges against a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church for publishing and distributing an anti-Semitic tract, according to the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union.

Church leaders in Yekaterinburg are defending the diocese’s distribution of the book and accusing Mikhail Oshtrakh of “inciting antagonism toward Jews.” The prosecutor’s office said it is investigating the issue.

British Group Warns of Attacks

A group that monitors anti-Semitic incidents in Britain is warning that Palestinian terrorists may expand their activities to target Jews around the world.

The Community Security Trust points out that Hamas’ Web site asks rhetorically, “Aren’t all Jews and Zionists fighting your own brethren and targeting you all?”

A Hezbollah-controlled television station, meanwhile, reported that a group allied with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement issued a threat to attack “Zionists and their U.S. allies anywhere, inside and outside occupied Palestine.”

Coordinating Terrorism


As the United States and other Western powers try to reduce Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Iran moved this week to fan the flames.

In a bid to become the hub for anti-Israel activities, Iran invited Arab terror groups — including Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad — to a two-day meeting in Tehran to coordinate strategy against Israel.

The view from Tehran is that the anti-Israeli front should intensify its activities to take advantage of Israel’s present “state of instability and weakness.”

The conference brought together a “Who’s Who” of Israel’s enemies, yet it was greeted with relative indifference by Israeli officials. As far as they are concerned, Iran’s role as a backer of militant groups has been clear for some time.

Just the same, the militant powwow represented something of a success for Tehran.

A non-Arab country, Iran has for years tried to shift the focus of the struggle against Israel from the Arab world to the broader Islamic world and has positioned itself as Israel’s archenemy.

Until now, many Muslim countries have distanced themselves from Iran and its fundamentalist regime. At a conference of Islamic states last November, for example, Iran failed to get the attendees to take steps to isolate Israel on the world stage.

This week, however, lawmakers from 30 Islamic countries — including Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen — attended the conference, which intended to increase coordination among the rejectionists instead of competition and make the struggle against Israel more effective.

Salim Zanoun, chairman of the Palestine National Council, and Ikrami Sabri, the top Palestinian Authority-appointed Muslim cleric in Jerusalem, were on hand at the Tehran conference to look after the P.A.’s interests.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, opened the conference Monday with a declaration that combat, not dialogue, was the way to deal with the Jewish state.

“The strength of Islamic resistance lies in its ability to wreak crushing blows against Israeli actions and not in relying on diplomatic efforts and mediation of others,” he said. “Supporting the Palestinian people is one of the important Islamic duties.”

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, often described as a relative moderate on domestic issues, showed that he is little different from the ayatollah when it comes to Israel.

“The oppressed people of Palestine,” he said Monday, are “the victims of Zionist discrimination and aggression.”

The organizer of the Tehran conference was Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Poor, a former Iranian ambassador to Syria who is considered one of the founding fathers of Hezbollah.

Menashe Amir, head of the Persian department of Israel Radio, said Mohtashami-Poor is a close associate of Khatami, whom Amir in turn described as “just as hostile toward Israel as the radicals in Tehran.”

While the Iranians were busy this week trying to make themselves the central address for attacks on Israel, they may have competition from an unexpected corner.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ra’anan Gissin, claimed Tuesday that billionaire terrorist Osama bin Laden is trying to establish a “terrorist” infrastructure among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Gissin made the claim after Israel arrested a Gaza lawyer it suspects of involvement with bin Laden, whose terror operations are based in Afghanistan.

If true, this could represent the opening of a new chapter in terrorist attacks on Israel.

Setting Differences Aside


A national unity government appears increasingly likely as envoys from the Likud and Labor parties work to overcome some snags in negotiations.

Both Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak appear determined to forge a unity coalition that will remain in power until the end of the Knesset’s term in November 2003.

The Palestinian rejection of President Clinton’s peace proposals has made it relatively easy for Israel’s two major parties to set aside their differences over the shape of a final peace deal and agree on a platform vague enough for each to accept.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions escalated further following Wednesday’s car bomb attack near Holon. Four female soldiers, three male soldiers and a civilian were killed and 17 other people were injured when a Palestinian driver slammed his bus into a crowded bus stop.

According to leaks from the two parties, they have so far agreed to the following guidelines for a unity government:

It will be committed to advancing a peace involving "painful compromises" by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority;

It will be bound by previously signed agreements, but not by proposals considered during negotiations that fell short of an accord;

It will work toward interim peace deals with the Palestinians, rather than the comprehensive agreement sought by Barak and insisted on by the Palestinians; and

It will not build new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but will allow existing settlements to expand in line with "natural population growth."

Potential pitfalls in the negotiations were avoided by vagueness and omission on key points.

As a result, there is no specific reference — at least in the leaked versions — to the future of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods. Likud officials had demanded an explicit commitment to keep the entire city under Israeli control.

Nor is there a call to dismantle isolated settlements. Labor had wanted this, but the pro-settler National Religious Party has threatened not to join a unity government if such provisions are included, and the Likud does not want to lose any of its "natural partners."

By midweek, the unity negotiations had slowed somewhat. In part, this slowdown was due to Barak’s demand that the government’s platform say that Israel will agree to the creation of a Palestinian state.

In the past, Sharon has said that he would not oppose a Palestinian state but has set conditions for such a state that Labor does not accept.

If a unity government is established, it seems likely that the cabinet will contain eight Likud and eight Labor ministers, along with some 10 other ministers from the religious and rightist parties and from the Russian immigrant Yisrael Ba’Aliyah Party.

Some Laborites raised their eyebrows when the defeated prime minister insisted on running the party’s negotiations with Likud, just days after he told the nation that he would leave the Knesset and resign as Labor leader when Sharon took office.

The eyebrows climbed even further when it emerged that — his resignation notwithstanding — Barak was considering an offer to be Sharon’s defense minister.

That exacerbated the tension between Barak and Labor’s elder statesman, Shimon Peres. Peres is still fuming over Barak’s refusal to step down during the campaign to allow Peres to represent Labor.

Looming over the negotiations is the shadow of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who remains the most popular politician in the country, according to polls.

A key Netanyahu supporter, Likud legislator Yisrael Katz, convened a meeting of Likud Central Committee members this week to protest Sharon’s offer of the defense portfolio to Barak. Katz argued that Barak already has proved a total failure in the post, which he held simultaneously with the premiership.

The real reason, political commentators said, is that Katz, and presumably Netanyahu, believe a Sharon-Barak partnership would have a good chance of staying in power for the rest of the Knesset’s term.

Political commentators say Sharon and Barak are bound by a common desire to thwart any potential Netanyahu comeback.

Of course, that desire won’t make it into a unity government’s policy platform. But it will nevertheless be there, commentators say, between every line.

Lessons from the Mahane Yehuda Tragedy


Tragically, the horrible terrorist attack against civilians at the Mahane Yehuda marketplace in Jerusalem leaves all of us numb and, at the same time, reminds us that the memories of Jewish history live on.

The attack took place during the period known as the Three Weeks, a period between the 17th of Tammuz and the ninth of Av, when our enemies broached the walls of Jerusalem and then destroyed the Temple. Traditionally, it is a period of mourning, when no weddings or simchas take place. The attack by the Hamas terrorists reminds Jews everywhere that, 2,500 years later, our enemies still want to lay siege on Jerusalem.

What should we make of all this? And how will it affect the peace process?

Obviously, nothing would please those who want to destroy the peace process more than to trigger a siege mentality that places the Middle East on a war footing and allows the terrorists to achieve their ultimate objectives. On the other hand, to naïvely accept Yasser Arafat’s condolences is to turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence that his rhetoric and the behavior of his senior police officials encourages the work of the terrorists.

Arafat assures President Clinton that he is fighting terrorism, but we have no clue which terrorists he is fighting, since he refuses to believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are anything less than patriots. Less than a month ago, in an interview with a Russian newspaper, Arafat was specifically asked the following:

Q: Is Hamas a terrorist organization?

A: The Hamas is one of many patriotic organizations.

Q: Even its military wing?

A: Even its military wing.

Many Israelis blame the lack of progress in the peace process as having exasperated the situation and contributed to the current terrorist attack.

Personally, I don’t find that particularly persuasive. When the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was making the most progress in the peace process, the fundamentalists still unleashed their terror. Then, following Rabin’s murder by a Jewish fundamentalist, Prime Minister Shimon Peres moved the peace process forward at an even faster pace, but the terrorists still unleashed their bombs on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

There are important lessons that Israel must learn from the Mahane Yehuda attack.

The first, I think, is that the Palestinian Authority, which Arafat undoubtedly will make into an independent Palestinian state, will never adequately be able to protect Israeli citizens. Despite all the international pressure, the man on the street in Gaza and in Jericho will simply not turn on his brother Palestinian and hand him over to the Israeli occupier.

The more land turned over to Arafat means a larger geographic area from which the terrorists will feel free to continue their operations. If Israel cedes sovereignty over portions of East Jerusalem to Arafat, then make no mistake about it: A terrorist can leave his bombs at the King David Hotel, walk a few blocks and enter another country, a country that has shown little inclination to apprehend terrorists or bring them to justice.

No country in the world would tolerate a situation like that, let alone the United States, which Israelis often look to as a moral barometer. If they looked carefully, they would see a country that’s zealous about protecting its national-security interests.

Just look at the bipartisan way in which American presidents have conducted foreign policy toward Cuba, which is 90 miles — rather than just a few blocks — from the Miami shoreline and is certainly no grave threat to the national-security interests of the world’s only superpower. The only thing Cuba can invade us with is sugar beets and cigars, and, still, the United States has almost a paranoiac fear about a possible attack from Cuba. If, indeed, such an attack was ever launched from Cuba, the United States wouldn’t think twice before launching a counterattack on Cuban soil.

Yet Arafat is incredulous when he hears that Israel might enter Palestinian territory to apprehend the terrorists who have murdered hundreds of Israelis and whom he calls patriots. And the international community, led by the Arab world, would join in the annual chorus of condemnation against Israel at the United Nations General Assembly.

The second lesson we must learn from all this is that a significant minority of Palestinians hold fundamentalist views that teach them that Israel is a cancer in their midst which must be expunged. They hold such views now, and they will hold such views after a final peace treaty is concluded.

Therefore, Israel must assume that wherever the final Palestinian state will be, a sizable minority of fundamentalists will pitch their tents alongside.

If Israel should compromise and divide Jerusalem, then it means that living in East Jerusalem, next door to Arafat, will be someone who believes that if you blow up Israeli women and children, the G-d of Islam intercedes and grants such martyrs 17 wives, a heavenly banquet and eternal bliss in heaven. No government should allow its citizens to live in such mortal danger without a policy that adequately protects them.

In concluding a final peace with the Arabs, Israel must ask itself: What would the United States do under similar circumstances? Would the United States or any other country take such risks?

And then Israel, before moving forward with the peace process, should launch an aggressive campaign aimed at the international community to get them to force the leaders of Islam to stand up and tell the truth about their religion in newspaper and television ads around the world, but particularly in the Middle East.

To get President Hosni Mubarak, King Fahd and King Hussein to assemble the spiritual leaders of the Moslem world and ask them to tell their constituents in the mosques and in public ads in the Arab newspapers that those who perpetrated the attack at Mahane Yehuda were going directly to hell and not heaven; that they have dishonored their religion and their families; that they should be given a traitor’s funeral rather than a patriot’s.

Then, the Arab world would be credible in urging Israel to jump-start the peace talks.

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