25 November 2003
Dear friends and colleagues,
Last month, after another Palestinian attack that resulted in the killing of three young soldiers, two of them women, in Gaza, Haaretz called in its editorial to pull out from the Gaza Strip, the sooner the better, explaining that Israel has no future there, and that we are loosing young lives in vain. Early this month the paper described the history of Israeli settlement in Gaza.
I hope Haaretz will continue its campaign to withdraw from the Strip and that the campaign will gain momentum and reach the prime minister and his colleagues.
Yoram Berholtz had sent me the attached photo. I don't know whether this is true or false. If it is true, then it is terrible and something should be done by Rutgers. If it is not, then human creation is sometimes too sickening to my taste.
As expected, Abu Ala resolved his so-called difficulties with his superior Arafat. The nominated government is installed and peace will continue to be stalled.
People of the like of Yossi Beilin, Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseiba can invest all their efforts, in good faith and the best intentions. Please do not raise hopes or expectations. Take a deep breath and wait until Mr. Arafat will step down of the stage of history. I saw him on the news the other day, speaking of his yearning to reinstall the "peace of the brave". For him this peace means tearing people to pieces.
The recent attempt of Beilin to approach the people and mobilize public support for his peace initiative over and above the government's head is interesting and positive for democracy. One may recall two important precedents in which augmented public protest was effective and changed the course of modern Israel's history. The first following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The popular movement led by Moti Ashkenazi led to the establishment of the Agranat Commission which eventually brought about the end of the Golda Meir government and was very instrumental to the election of the Likud Party to power in 1977, and to pushing Moshe Dayan to the hands of Menachem Begin.
The second precedent took place after the massacre of dozens of refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps during the 1982 Lebanon War. The massive public protest led to the establishment of the Kahan Commission which, inter alia, forbade Ariel Sharon to ever serve again as Minister of Defence. It did not prohibit him to serve as prime minister.
This is to say that successful public movements which oppose the existing government are not impossible. Still, they are quite rare. As much as I endorse such democratic motions I do not believe in this Beilin initiative, not only because I do not think the majority of Israelis back the motion but, more crucially, because I think it is futile. While Beilin still believes that he has a partner for the peace tango, I have no shred of evidence to support such a belief. We might as well bang our heads against the wall. The result would be similar: grave headache without any positive repercussions. As much as we yearn for peace, we should stop disillusioning ourselves. Arafat was and remains bad news first and foremost to his own people, and also to Israel, the ME, and to world peace in general.
The recent attacks in Turkey showed us that terrorism is very much alive and kicking. The attacks are more likely to occur where there is infrastructure to support terror. You shut some crannies and the evil will pop up where the valve is loose. Let us recall some of the most brutal terrorist attacks:
August 7, 1988, U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, 231 killed, more than 5,000 injured;
October 12, 2000, USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, resulted in 17 sailors killed;
September 11, 2001, World Trade Center and the Pentagon, nearly 3,000 killed;
April 11, 2002, synagogue in Tunisia, 21 killed;
June 14, 2002, U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, 14 killed, 45 injured;
October 12, 2002, Nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, 202 killed, hundreds injured;
November 28, 2002, Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, 14 killed, 80 injured;
May 12, 2003, western workers' complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 30 killed, 190 injured;
May 16, 2003, five sites in Casablanca, Morocco, 28 killed, more than 100 injured;
August 5, 2003, Marriott Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia, 12 killed, 150 injured;
November 8, 2003, foreign workers' complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 17 killed, 122 injured;
November 15, 2003, two synagogues in Istanbul, 23 killed, more than 300 injured;
November 20, 2003, British Consulate and a London-based bank in Istanbul, 27 killed, 450 injured.
In all countries the terrorist networks have the infrastructure to support them; people who identify with their cause and willing to provide assistance, information, transportation, housing. This is true for all the above-mentioned countries: Tanzania and Kenya, Yemen and Tunisia, Pakistan and Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, Turkey and the United States. It is incumbent on the authorities of these countries to crack and fight-down the webs of terrorism.
I received the following report from HonestReporting.com, detailing how the media whitewash Palestinian suicide bombings by refusing to call them "terror":
On Nov. 8, the Associated Press released a list of "Recent Terror Attacks Around the World" to accompany reports on Saturday's deadly bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The list notes Islamic terrorism all over the world since 1998, but completely ignores all Palestinian terrorist attacks that occurred in Israel. On Nov. 9, Reuters released a similar list of "Worst guerrilla attacks since September 11" that also omitted terror in Israel entirely.
This is becoming a disturbing pattern in media chronicles of Islamic terror ¯ if it happened in Israel, it just doesn't count: AP published a similar list of "Recent World Terror Attacks" on May 19, which also omitted attacks in Israel, and The New York Times Online devotes a special section to world terror that leaves Israel conspicuously absent.
Curiously, AP and Reuters do note the bombing of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kenya (11/2002). Certainly Kenya isn't the first place that springs to mind when recalling recent Palestinian terror. Are we to conclude that these news agencies consider terror attacks against Israeli civilians in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem somehow less objectionable than those conducted offshore?
You are most welcome to visit HonestReporting website for further information. I would be cautious in reading their reports using a spoonful of salt. Yet they are correct in voicing the above concern.
I was asked what is the size of Israel. It is 20,770 km2, roughly the size of New Jersey, or Greater London, or Wales, or the Kruger Park in SA. We are so much in the news that people tend to lose perspective. The size of the Israeli population is about 6.5 million. Of them roughly 1 million Israelis are Palestinians who do not share the Zionist dream. Another 750,000 are immigrants of the former Soviet Union who arrived to Israel between 1989 and 2002. Most of them lack common understanding of democratic values. No wonder why I see of importance to establish a Center for Democratic Studies at my home university. It is estimated that at least a third of the former USSR immigrants are not Jewish. The government apparently knew this but did not go out of its way to stop their coming. I guess this in order to balance the growing influence of the orthodox and ultra-orthodox who comprise some 15-20 percent of Israeli population.
Let us talk a little about demography. By the end of the 2005, it is estimated that Israel’s population will number 6.8-7.0 million people, an increase of 22%-25% compared with the end of 1995, and an average increase of 120-138 thousand persons per year. The expected rate of increase of the extended Jewish population will be lower than that of the Arab population, despite of the expected continued immigration to Israel and the assumption of a decrease in the fertility level of Arab women. The extended Jewish population is expected to increase from 4.6 million, at the end of 1995, to 5.3 to 5.6 million in the year 2005, an increase of 15%-22%.
At the same time, the Arab population is expected to increase from a million persons to 1.4 million persons, an increase of 35% by the year 2005, due entirely to natural increase. The Moslem proportion of the total Arab population will increase by 2%, and will reach 83%.
The extended Jewish population as a proportion of the total population, presently 82%, is expected to drop to 80% by the year 2005.
The population of immigrants from the former USSR is expected to increase to 870,000-1,000,000 by the year 2005. Its proportion of Israel’s total population will increase from 10% in 1995, to 12%-13% in the year 2005.
By the end of the year 2020, it is estimated that Israel’s population will number 8.2-9.0 million people. This is an increase of 19%-29% over fifteen years, and a drop in the rate of growth as a result of a significant decrease in the expected number of immigrants.
The Jewish population will number 6.1-6.5 million people, and its relative proportion of Israel's total population will continue to decline to 73%-74% of the total population, primarily due to the mixed immigration from the former USSR. All this information is important to bear when one speaks of the urgency to commit ourselves to reach a fair peace resolution with our neighbours, especially considering that I do not foresee another massive Jewish immigration to Israel. Outside the former USSR, the bulk of world Jewry resides in affluent countries and is not expected to practice Zionism in the full meaning of this ideology.
Further information is available on http://www.cbs.gov.il/engindex.htm
I just returned from Florida where I presented some papers. Inter alia I visited the picturesque and carefree Key West. The most common languages I heard during my visit were English and Hebrew. It seems that most, if not all, the shirt shops are run by former Israelis, young and motivated business men. Wherever I meet former Israelis, be it in North America, Europe or Australia they speak of the security problem and the lack of satisfactory jobs as the main reasons for immigration. With the same breath they say that they yearn to visit Israel, to see their families and friends, "for there is no place like home".
This was also the case in Key West. The Israelis I spoke with explain their immigration in the above terms, reiterating that they live in the west but their souls are in the east, in Zion. And the saga continues.
In Miami I met my former student and research assistant, Keren Eyal, who is now completing her Ph.D in Santa Barbara. She was looking for a job in Israel but no university offers an opening in her field. Now she signed a contract with an American university. Another young, talented and productive person will live the Israeli experience in memories and visits from time to time.
Israeli leaders seem unable to assure the most fundamental precondition for the continuation of a life of a nation: to ensure that its young citizens will see their future in Israel.
Finally, congratulations to my Canadian friends. Last month Canada won the world title in stone, paper and scissors. Well done!! It is comforting to know that there is time and energy in our trouble world to carry out such mundane competitions.
Speaking of Canada, next week I am invited to present my forthcoming book, Euthanasia in the Netherlands, at Windsor University School of Law. I look forward to spend some time with Dick Moon and Bruce Elman and to meet some new people.
With my very best wishes,
My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com
Earlier posts at my home page: http://lib-stu.haifa.ac.il/staff/rcohen-Almagor