Tuesday, December 23, 2003

23 December 2003

On Olmert, Gaza, Positive Proposed Legislative Amendment, Rutgers, and Other Concerns

Dear friends and colleagues,

Ehud Olmert

The closest person to Sharon in government is his deputy Ehud Olmert, hence it is interesting to note what he's saying. In a public lecture on the occasion of the annual memorial for David Ben-Gurion, Olmert spoke of the need for a two state solution, of splitting the land, and of the urgency of demography. Some people at the lecture inferred that Olmert, former Mayor of Jerusalem, did not rule out the possibility of giving up East Jerusalem in return for a peace settlement.

Just a few days have passed and Sharon spoke of the possible need for unilateral steps and evacuation of settlements. I do believe in the power of common sense. Sometimes its prevalence is delayed, sometimes it is hesitant, but in most cases it does prevail. The only issues are time and costs.

Sharon also met with Peres. A "routine meeting for updates", so it was claimed. I hope the update was about exploring coalition possibilities in the event the extreme right wing parties will retire from the coalition in the face of a determined Sharon to pursue this moderate line of conduct.

Israeli government continues to spread all kind of messages, some of which are radical and owkish in essence; some of which recognize the need for evacuating land and settlements, even unilaterally. I hope Sharon will surprise me and actually do something further than bombing, killing, and retaliating. Surely he understands, as a former general, that beyond defence there is a need to do something creative to address pressing concerns. I hope Sharon will eventually prove himself as a statesman. As a general, he was excellent in mapping the situation, understanding the alternatives and crafting solutions. He needs to prove that he is capable of doing this also in the political/diplomatic arenas. We know that he is capable of mastering the corridors of the Likud Party. Now it is time to see whether he's able to master world corridors and to put his mark on Israel's history for the better.

Gaza Settlements

During the past month or so, Haaretz took upon itself to publish at least one piece on Gaza, showing the futility of Israel's stay there. I hope this campaign will continue until some common sense will prevail also in governmental corridors. On Wednesday, December 3, 2003, Haaretz published the following article on one Gaza settlement:

Delusional disorder By Avihai Becker

After more than a month of reserve duty in Netzarim, a group of Paratrooper officers declare: Israel has no reason to be there.

Three days after completing an intensive stint of reserve duty in Netzarim, after they had all dispersed and gone back to their homes, several officers from Paratroop Batallion 9263 got together to talk things over. They were united by a sense of urgency. By the feeling that they could
not just go back to the routine after what they'd experienced during their reserve duty. By their shared view that a great outcry was needed, one that they could not express when they were in uniform. "As long as we hadn't talked about it, it was as if we hadn't finished that reserve duty," they say.

The reserve duty they just completed gives their words
special weight. Their battalion left Netzarim showered with praise. The brigade commander told them half-jokingly, `We'll issue you emergency call-up orders so you won't leave." The secretary of Netzarim sent them enthusiastic thank-you letters "for dedicated and successful work in foiling terror attacks ... Thank you for all that you gave, thank you for all that you did."

They were there, they carried out their assignments, did as they were ordered, did not refuse to serve, did not protest, did not try to evade responsibilities. And now they wish to say what's on their mind in the expectation that the society that sent them to risk their lives in Netzarim will listen to them.

It was an impressive bunch that showed up for this conversation: The battalion commander, Tzahi Minervo, 41, who was born and raised on Kibbutz Baram, in the Hashomer Hatzair spirit. His family subsequently moved to the neighboring kibbutz of Malkiya. He has a master's degree in social work, works as a therapist at a mental health clinic in Safed, and specializes in treating anxiety disorders. He also leads a therapy group for violent
husbands in Kiryat Shmona. This year, he will be studying psychotherapy at Haifa University. He missed the first five weeks of the academic year due to this reserve duty. His wife, Michal, is a teacher in the Psagot regional school and leads workshops on promoting dialogue between Jews and Arabs. Their fourth child was born while he was in Netzarim. The others at the meeting were A Company Commander Major Yoav Te'eni, 30, a Tel Aviv bachelor who recently got his law degree and will soon be starting an internship at the State Prosecutor's Office; Operations Officer Major Ahab Becker, 38, a software specialist from Nes Tziona; Intelligence Officer Major Itai Cohen, 33, an analyst from Modi'in; Assistant Operations Officer Major Ronen Samocha, 37, a computer technician from Ramat
Gan, who is married and the father of a little girl; adjutant Major Gil Garash, 40, from Haifa, a refinery manager.

The meeting took place at the home of Sergeant Arik Wilensky, 45, in Beit Oren. Wilensky, a contractor who was discharged from the battalion and from reserve duty four years ago, came to Netzarim as a volunteer. He was the oldest of the participants in this gathering, the only one who fought in the brigade in the Lebanon War.

Verging on the absurd

From the start, these men wish to stress: "We do not represent all the officers of the battalion. There are many good people who came out of Netzarim feeling strengthened. We are presenting our views only."

On the other hand, they add, "We didn't make a big effort. If we'd made just a few more phone calls, we could easily have brought a lot more people here." The message they wish to convey is unequivocal: Israel has no reason to be in Netzarim.

Minervo: "It's our right to express ourselves, because the things one sees from there you don't see from here. We have a perspective that the ordinary citizen doesn't. And what we conclude from the experience that we've been through is that there is something here that is verging on the absurd. These are things that have absolutely nothing to do with right or left. It keeps on going and no one says anything about it. We want to say: Ladies and Gentlemen, Netzarim is not the same as Gush Katif or those weird, remote settlements in Judea and Samaria. Netzarim is the embodiment of delusion and illusion. It's enough to see the armored convoys with the mothers and children to understand."

Te'eni: "Unlike the familiar image of Netzarim residents, and unlike what I also thought, they are people whose outlook is not anti-establishment. I was very surprised when I heard them say that if the state decides to evacuate the place, they won't be an obstacle. This was a real revelation for me. In contrast to other encounters I've had with 'settlers,' these were good people, not fanatics."

Becker: "They're different than what I knew from before. When I served in Netzarim seven years ago, the residents were still spitting on the soldiers. On the other hand, it's a totally surreal place. When you see a pregnant woman with a baby in one hand and a stroller in the other getting out of the armored Safari truck, I think it's crazy. To me, the moral and social and economic price that Israel is paying to hold on to Netzarim is out of all proportion to the benefit."

Te'eni: "I have full respect for the suffering and sacrifice of the Netzarim residents, but the state is first and foremost responsible for the lives and security of its citizens. In
Netzarim, it's beyond reasonable bounds. Staying in Netzarim goes against all logic. The distance between the deaths of citizens and soldiers and so-called normal life is
infinitesimal. It all depends on luck. The state cannot afford to take such a gamble. Just as it decided to halt flights to Toronto when the danger was deemed to be greater than the need, it should behave in the same way now concerning the fate of Netzarim."

Cohen: "The reason we came here is that you could practically explode from the effort required and the unreasonable risk to human life that the mission entails."

Becker: "Such a small point amid 1.3 million Arabs. What are we doing there? Maintaining Netzarim the way it is maintained today is totally unreasonable."

Te'eni: "Just as I feel a duty to serve wherever the state sends me, because that's the basis of democracy, so I feel a civic duty to say the things that were building up inside me throughout the month that I was in Netzarim. If they call me tomorrow, I'll go there again, but it's important to me, for my conscience, to tell the state, even if it doesn't listen, that there are things that it ought to know. This is not a political opinion."

Wilensky: "This group here has put in countless days of reserve duty, well beyond what the average Israeli citizen knows. Why? It's a matter of upbringing. If they call us, we'll go to Netzarim tomorrow and the day after. Tzahi (Minervo) knows that if he summons the old men, two whole battalions will come. The question isn't us, it's our children. Each one of us here will think about whether he's ready to send his child who's about to be drafted into
three years of service in the Shimshon battalion [the battalion that is permanently posted in Netzarim]. I say that he should go to Australia and not to the Shimshon battalion, and it's not that I have anything against the commanders and their people, God forbid. The problem is Netzarim itself."

Samocha: "People have already asked me - `Don't you think it's time to give up this nonsense and not to go if they call you again?' I know that we will all go back and do the job if we are called to do it again, but the dilemma of serving in Netzarim is growing stronger. Look, we all have an alternative. In the end, no one absolutely has to do this reserve duty. Netzarim is not defensible, that's all there is to it. There is no logical reason for civilians
to live there. Not too many years ago, one platoon guarded the road to Netzarim, and the whole area was cultivated and blooming. Now there's a battalion plus guarding Netzarim, there's no trace of the orchards and olive groves, the road is strewn with islands of rubble from factories and residential buildings. The lives of the Palestinians who live nearby have been made substantially worse. Their movement is severely restricted and their lives are in constant danger."

Wilensky: "The IDF got two nuclear submarines, this month we bought 100 planes that cost $24 million each, and at the same time, in the invention of the century - the ultimate solution to terror - we set up a series of
Turkish-era pillbox bunkers along the corridor to Netzarim."

Te'eni: "Netzarim is kept going by politics and ignorance. How many Israeli citizens actually know where it is? The vast majority of the population has no idea. At best, they'll be able to tell you that it's in Gaza. In other words, the argument is about something that's out there somewhere, far off, on the side. When women soldiers are killed, there's an outcry for a moment, and then it immediately subsides and the world goes back to business as usual."

Samocha: "The energy that goes into maintaining `normal life' there is inconceivable, not to mention the calculation of the economic cost versus the benefit. I'm not talking about the cost in the narrow sense - Doing a crude calculation, we found that the direct cost of the month that we served in Netzarim is NIS 12 million. Add to that the indirect costs and the sums are tremendous, I'm talking about the total cost of sanctifying the residency of 60 families, whose lives are in danger, and the lives of the soldiers guarding them, while gravely harming the lives of the Palestinians."

Becker: "The issue isn't money, but how we Israelis look within a society that allows the illusion of Netzarim to exist."

Samocha: "Moving a convoy in and out every 20 minutes is devoid of any military logic. The public also doesn't know that the reason there is no electronic fence surrounding the whole place, so I understood, is due to ambitions of
expanding the greater Netzarim area. To build an expanded Netzarim, another neighborhood in Gaza would have to be evacuated. There's no limit to it."

Te'eni: "My grandfather was in Gdud Ha'avoda, his brother was a leader of the Haganah in Haifa, my father was in the paratroops during the period of the reprisal operations, Arik Sharon was his commander, I was brought up to give and to sacrifice. And it was always
obvious to me that I had to serve in the `vanguard.' On the eve of my departure for Netzarim I was with my father, a person who by every criterion would be seen by the state as one of its finest sons, and I suddenly hear things from him that stunned me. My father, whom I followed into the paratroops, told his son that it wasn't worth it. That he shouldn't go, that he should refuse. This calls for an explanation."

Becker: "When won't we be in Netzarim? When the losses become intolerable."

Te'eni: "I don't remember returning from any other service so emotionally drained. I have no problem with the burden of professional responsibility that I bear as a company
commander and I have no problem with the effort to prevent infiltrations. It's the personal conflict that is so hard. The soldiers have questions and you don't always have answers because you, too, are unable to resolve all the contradictions. It's not easy when you yourself don't understand what you are doing in Netzarim. We need explanations about where they're sending us. We're not doing our compulsory service. And we're certainly not the
Roman legion."

Netzarim, which began as a Nahal settlement in 1972, has never been as fortified as it is now - a month and a half after Hamas gunman Samir Fouda, under cover of fog, snuck into the residential quarters in the heart of the military camp and killed three soldiers: Sergeant

Sarit Shneor, Sergeant Adi Osman and Staff Sergeant Alon Avrahami. Evidence of the tragedy is not easy to find here, apart from a modest memorial corner in one room and the breach in the fence through which the terrorist infiltrated, which has been left as is as a warning. It is surrounded by new concertina wire that was put up after the incident. Another observation post has also been added, overlooking the path the terrorists used. Last week, Reserve Battalion 9263 completed 32 days of reserve duty in Netzarim and handed responsibility for the sector back to the Shimshon battalion. The last time their battalion was called up, in May 2002, they were posted in Gush Katif for 24 days. This summer, when battalion commander Tzahi Minervo was informed where his battalion would be sent in October, he asked his brigade commander, Colonel Motti Baruch, to consider sending them to a hotter sector. "What's there to do in Netzarim?," he protested. "It's a shame to waste such a quality unit on guard duty."

But just five days before the battalion's arrival in Netzarim, tragedy struck and the place became a hot topic in the news. When they got there, they found the people from the Shimshon battalion not only dejected and exhausted, but also, to the best of their judgment, not properly prepared. On the day of the changeover, Ronen Glick, a studio manager at Channel 1 in civilian life, could not stop thinking, "Could it happen to us, too?"

He lives in Anatot, is very right-wing in his political views and did not take part in the meeting in Beit Oren. "It's totally clear to me what we're doing in Netzarim, but I never thought for a moment that someone from the
company who holds views that are the opposite of mine would try to get out of the job. The political debate doesn't interfere with the operational work. Though there are some guys who express their quiet protest by not accepting a drink from the residents."

During preparations for the assignment, Minervo often had to contend with this issue, which is dividing Israeli society. "There are voices that always come up. In a reserve battalion, you certainly cannot avoid a political debate. The issue is never off the agenda. Of course, I permit a dialogue to take place. In the battalion, views from all over the spectrum are represented, from the son of Rabbi Levinger to as far left as you can go. With soldiers who are unsure, I instructed the company commanders to do what they can to make it easier for them to deal with their consciences. They don't have to be put in the vanguard, they can also do guard duty or KP duty. Instead of going out on ambushes, they can be in the observation posts. At the same time, I also made it very clear what the red line is, where I, as commander of the unit, am not prepared to compromise at all. When there's a sudden call to action, there are no exemptions."

Out of the 448 soldiers in the battalion who have served in Netzarim at one time or another and for various periods of time, Minervo has only encountered two cases of refusal to serve. One was eventually persuaded to change his mind, and the other was sentenced by the battalion commander to 28 days incarceration. "A decision that made the adjutant and me cry," says Minervo. "He explained to me that this decision had been building up for years, since the Rabin assassination basically, and that despite his profound doubts he had enlisted in the paratroops and insisted on combat service even on reserve duty, but that just now, he could no longer settle the inner conflict he felt.

"This was no knee-jerk leftist, but a serious fellow who presented the conflict he felt in a genuine, honest way and it wasn't easy for me. I told him that, unfortunately, he left me no choice but to incarcerate him."

Minervo says that the soldier replied, "Tzahi, I take responsibility for my actions."

"In any case," says Minervo, "I admire him a lot more than I do another soldier, a teacher from Jerusalem, who had some big problems. He did not refuse to serve, but his actions were much more destructive. In an attempt to resolve his inner conflict over serving in the territories, he sent letters to the residents of Netzarim in which he explained why they shouldn't be there and why he had to come defend them. The time before that when we were on reserve duty, it happened with the people in Gush Katif.

"This political discussion that he holds when he is in uniform is explicitly against army orders. The explanation that he gave for his actions was that it helped him go back to his circle of friends that is opposed to serving in
the territories and to prove to them that he didn't go to reserve duty for nothing, but to confront the settlers with the facts. But that's not all there was to it. Because of the
friction that arose between him and the platoon commander during outside operations, we had to send him back to Netzarim itself. As soon as he got there, he had comments to make about the orders, and, in my opinion, the damage that he caused to the unit's morale was a lot worse than that caused by the one who refused to serve."

On the way to redemption

A week before the battalion completed its reserve duty, four mortar shells and Qassam rockets landed on Netzarim and the army base there. There was also a hot warning of a roadside bomb on the access road and also a warning about anti-aircraft fire, so movement in and out of the settlement was halted.

At the Netzarim army camp at the entrance to the settlement, 70 schoolgirls, first through eighth-graders, and their teachers waited for the trouble to pass. During the day, they had been on a tour of Jerusalem, following in the footsteps of Rabbi Aryeh Levin, who ministered to Jewish prisoners in the 1920s and `30s. When the buses arrived at the checkpoint, seven kilometers from home, they were forced to wait. There was nothing to do but be patient. A few prayed, some played games or tried to get some group singing going. The tired ones fell asleep.

Netzarim residents are used to being held up this way on their way home. It's a routine part of life there. This time, they were stuck for two and a half hours. Then tanks were spread out near the road, three armored Safari trucks were sent to the army camp, the buses were left behind and the armored, heavily guarded convoy was on its way.

The view along the way, with the pillbox bunkers dotting the road, was eerily reminiscent of scenes from when the IDF was in southern Lebanon.

In the center of the settlement, the girls' parents came to meet them. A visitor did not notice any obvious signs of worry. "I'm here on a mission for the nation," said Sharon Cohen, who had also returned from Jerusalem, from a weekly lesson in the teaching of Rav Kook. "Netzarim is the soft underbelly of the State of Israel, there is no Temple here and no Lake Kinneret. That's why our being here is of such tremendous importance and why this place has to be strengthened. Living in Netzarim requires a dedication that many people are incapable of. I see it as a certain step on the way to redemption."

Call them bourgeois

Meanwhile, a fifth Qassam is heard. In response, the tanks in Netzarim fired on the fourth building of the Zahara neighborhood. The other three high-rises had been blown up in response to the lethal infiltration.

"Since the terror attack, we've seen a sharp increase in the number of incidents," says Itzik Vazana, one of the settlement's spokesmen. "We have no doubt there is a direct connection between this and the propaganda campaign that was waged against us. Clear and simple. To be honest, we prepared ourselves emotionally for such reactions, but we didn't anticipate that it would be this strong. What angered us the most was the distinction that was made between the soldiers and us. We could handle what was written in the articles, but it was the headlines that were especially evil. We found ourselves under assault both by the terror and from home. At times it seemed like the only thing we weren't being accused of was the Black Plague in Europe.

"There are parts of the public that tend to ignore the very basic fact that Netzarim is not just fighting its own war. People have to understand that the roots of the conflict with the Arabs are very deep and even if Golda Meir hadn't founded Netzarim, it wouldn't change anything. I'll tell you something else: Certain elements in politics have marked us as a target. To them, this is the test case for the whole settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria. They're not just after Netzarim; they're searching for the crack that will
constitute the precedent."

Vazana came to Netzarim from Atzmona 10 years ago. He is married, a father of six, and a religious studies teacher at a yeshiva high school in Ashkelon. His wife is responsible for the girls who are doing their National Service (Sherut Le'umi) at the settlement. In April 1995, he was seriously injured when a car bomb exploded near the settlement. "My hand was messed up and I lost an eye, but thank God, I came out of it alive. Exactly two hours earlier, eight soldiers and an American citizen were killed by a car bomb at Kfar Darom. I was going home with the family, we were listening to the news on the radio, the road was empty, and then suddenly a suspicious-looking car appeared in front of me. I was able to swerve
jut a little bit to the side and then it happened."

He envisions Netzarim one day being home to 1,500 families. He says there's nothing to talk about in terms of evacuation, or as he prefers to call it, "uprooting" or "exile." "Believe me, we're not thrill-seeking types here. We haven't climbed the Himalayas and we haven't crossed the Amazon. The residents here are simple people, totally ordinary - if you want, you could even call us bourgeois."

Though its population is small, Netzarim is spread over a very large area that includes the abandoned houses of the old kibbutz, the greenhouse area, the military camp and the corridor leading to the settlement. The ratio of soldiers to residents now stands at 1:1. Minervo's company was charged with securing the corridor to and from Netzarim, another was charged with carrying out external missions, and a third was charged with guarding the settlement itself. And another armored company from the 401st brigade is also available if needed.

According to information from the settlement's spokesmen, there are 58 families living in Netzarim. Minervo laughs when he hears this. "Just like what happens at demonstrations, there's a big gap between the numbers the reporter gives, the number the police give and what the organizers say. Some of the houses here are basically empty."

On Tues. December 9, 2003 the Labor Party debated the submition of a bill to the Knesset calling for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of settlements with compensation to the settlers. According to a document prepared by the party's political committee and presented by MK Haim Ramon, in the absence of an agreement with the Palestinians, Israel would undertake a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. The army would line up on the border, air and naval control would remain in Israeli hands, and the security zone between Gaza and Egypt would be broadened. Settlers would be evacuated; they would be guaranteed financial compensation and arrangements would be made for their resettlement inside Israel.

MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer supported the resolution but doubted the public would accept it. He said it would be preferable to start with an evacuation of Netzarim, Morag and Kfar Drom. MK Avraham Burg proposed the faction unite to support the Geneva Accord. Party Chairman MK Shimon Peres supported the initiative, saying, "there's nothing for us to look for in Gaza."

MK Matan Vilnai, however, opposed a unilateral withdrawal, as did MK Ephraim Sneh. Because of their opposition, and the fact that some MKs, including Sneh, did not get a chance to speak on the issue yesterday, the debate was postponed to an unspecified later date. What a shame!!

When I approached Haim Ramon some two years ago to suggest Gaza First he was preoccupied with the Fence. He answered that the fence will be the solution. I am glad he now recognizes the importance of the evacuation of Gaza. Amram Mitzna promised me that if he would be elected to the Prime Minister office, he will carry out the Plan. You know what happened. Shimon Peres did not answer my letter. As some of you know, I have complicated relationships with Peres. I am in a very good company. It seems that most thoughtful people, who are unafraid to express independent opinions, have complicated relations with Peres. He is undoubtedly the shrewdest politician I've ever met but like all humans he has his faults. A major one is his inability to take criticisms.

Proposed Legislative Amendment: A Small Step in the Right Direction

In the Knesset, private bills were tabled to increase the election threshold to 2 percent. This is a positive move in the right direction. The Knesset has far too many parties. Consequently, its legislative effectivity is relatively small, and the government’s ability to sustain power is lessened. The multi-fraction composition opens the way to manipulations, gives rise to blackmail and undermines coalition effectiveness. The existing threshold to enter parliament, 1.5 percent of the electoral vote, gives a lot of leeway to representation and exploitation at the expense of stability, working to further the ends of partisan groups. I would suggest raising the threshold to five percent, as is the case in Germany. Effectively, this law restricts the number of splinter parties in the Bundestag and the regional parliaments and promotes political stability. The five percent clause has been a factor in every federal election since 1957.

Germany has certainly learnt the lessons of its history and can serve as a model also with regard to the voting system. Germany is using a mixed electoral system in which part of the Bundestag is elected in single majority districts in which a candidate must gain the greatest number of votes to win, and part is elected through proportional representation, which gives all parties a fair opportunity to gain some representation in the legislature based on their electoral strength. Germany’s policymakers after WWII wanted to avoid a repetition of the Weimar proportional representation system, which encouraged multiplicity of parties to run candidates for the Reichstag, thereby contributing to political instability and to the rise of National Socialism. In the early 1990s, Russia, Mexico and Japan adopted a similar mixed electoral system. I suggest the same for Israel. Sixty percent of the Knesset to be elected directly via a party list as is now the case in the proportional system, and forty percent to be elected in the provinces. The idea is to split Israel into several provinces in a way that would reflect the various groups in society and their relative prominence. Each voter will cast two ballots: the first for one of the competing party candidates in the province; the second for one of the lists of candidates drawn up by each party. The number of mandates received by the party is based on its percentage of votes in the entire country. The seats are then distributed to the parties according to their strength in each province. The combination of a relatively high threshold and a mixed electoral system would reduce the ability of small interest parties to be elected, will make the Knesset less diversified, with five or six parties at most, and reduce the extortion power of the small parties, some of which would altogether disappear. The Knesset’s power will rise and its effectiveness as a legislative body would grow.

I am not the first to suggest these reforms. They have been put on the public agenda time and again, and every time had been turned down due to pressure exerted by the small parties fighting for their survival. Most notably, the religious parties have resisted such attempts with notable success. Israel needs strong and bold leaders who are able to rise above and beyond their immediate interest to sustain power in order to carry out these reforms to better legislative ability. The Shinui Party is instrumental in pushing this small change in the right direction of increasing the threshold to 2 percent.

Rutgers' anti-Israel Campaign

The photo I attached to my last monthly communication evoked some reactions. Here are a few:

Arthur Lenk wrote from Jerusalem:

The Rutgers poster was a satire organized by Jewish students to protest a controversial pro-Palestinian meeting. It is not real.

Ilana Berman, a student at Rutgers, wrote on the other hand:

hi, yes, the photo is real. The Palestinian Solidarity Movement, in its third year, as well as Charlotte Kates and the attached quote are all real. Though, it should be noted that the rally (for the dates written Oct. 10-12) was clearly very controversial and for many logistical reasons, actually didn't end up being as grand as Charlotte would have liked. This Charlotte (a grad. student of Rutgers - I think in law) was also present outside the auditorium when Sharansky came to speak at Rutgers. She was rallying among many other Muslims and/or anti Israel, pro Palestinians as well as the neturei karta. there's definitely tension on campus and the attachment was definitely accurate. We're trying our best though to spread some peace, and maybe more importantly, some education here on campus.

Norman Cantor of Rutgers Law School wrote:

Rafi, the story is complicated. Ms. Kates is a law student and head of a New Jersey organization that supports the Palestinian interests. The organization as a whole supports the Palestinians, but it is not radical. That is, it pushes for peace through creation of a Palestinian state.

Ms. Kates, herself, is far more radical than most members of her organization. She believes that Israel is a racist, colonialist state and has no right to exist. She supports a "one-state solution" involving destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. She supports "any means" that the Palestinians choose to attain their goals (including, apparently, suicide bombings of civilians). Some Arab student members of her organization resigned because her views were so extreme.

I do not know who wrote the pamphlet. I believe that it was circulated by pro-Israel persons who were satirizing Ms. Kates, mocking Ms. Kates, and seeking to bring pressure on Ms. Kates. She deserves to have pressure applied to her, because her views are, in my estimation, despicable.

In response to the "conference" of Palestinian supporters in early October, Rutgers students and Jewish organizations organized a massive pro-Israel demonstration and conducted many educational sessions on campus. The pro-Israel demonstration attracted approximately 4,000 people and many politicians, including both N.J. senators and the governor of the state. I was there and it was a good way to express support for the Israeli people and the struggle against terrorism.

I hope this explains the complex situation that led to the pamphlet that you saw. It was a satiric document, though it accurately captures part of Ms. Kates' position.

Best wishes, Norman

Terry Heinrichs, York University, Toronto, had sent me the following link

Martin Golding, Duke University, wrote:

Thanks for your email that contained information about terrorist attacks and terrorism and the media. I should say that I am suspicious about the authenticity of the Rutgers anti-Israel rally. It is of course shocking. But it uses the term "homicide" bombers. This term is typically used by people who do not want to call such bombers "suicide" bombers, and who wish instead to emphasize that murders are being committed by them. Regards, Martin

Rashumon indeed. The search for truth is demanding.

Useful Website

Aviad Ivri from Copenhagen brought to my attention a very useful resource on Israel and current affairs. Please look at http://www.embassy-of-israel.dk

The holiday season is time for fun and Hollywood productions this year are better than average. If you wish to see a film that will warm your heart, go to Love Actually, a must for all Hugh Grant fans. Runaway Jury is a very good court drama, with an original and surprising twist. The script is just on the edge of reality. Mystic River is a very good film, excellent script and wonderful actors, another gem of Director Clint Eastwood. Undoubtedly one of the best films this year. Enjoy!!

May I wish you and your loved ones happy holidays, lots of light, warmth and love all around, and all the very best for a Happy New Year,


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

Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Institute for Policy Studies
Johns Hopkins University

Thursday, December 18, 2003

18 December 2003

Dear Friends and colleagues,

Today the Baltimore Sun has published the following article of mine.

All best,


The best first step

By Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Originally published December 18, 2003

NOW THAT SADDAM Hussein has been captured and there are better hopes for the democratization of Iraq, it's time to tackle another major crisis in the Middle East - the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - by making an innovative, courageous change to break the futile cycle of violence.

It's time to resurrect the plan for Israel to withdraw first from Gaza - known, appropriately enough, as Gaza First. It was proposed by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in the mid-1980s but never was implemented. The plan is far more reasonable and practical than President Bush's "road map" to peace, which is too far-reaching, given the fundamental lack of trust between the two sides.

Gaza First is certainly more realistic than the adventurous and privately initiated Geneva Accord that is widely disputed in Israel, particularly by the Likud government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. But Gaza First could be accepted by many Israelis of all political persuasions. The plan should be implemented because it is in Israel's interest.

The Gaza Strip is densely populated: 226 square miles with more than 1.2 million Palestinians and about 7,500 Jewish settlers in 16 settlements.

Under Gaza First, the government would advise the leaders of Jewish settlers in Gaza that it has decided to withdraw the army from the coastal strip and that Israelis living there would be resettled in Israel. The historical role of the settlers has ended because the cost in blood and money to support settlement in Gaza is too heavy and Israel should no longer support it. Settlers who decided to stay would do so at their own risk.

After an Israeli withdrawal, Mr. Sharon should invite Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to establish an independent Palestinian state in Gaza while Israel closely scrutinizes the region's security. It would be a first step in creating a Palestinian state in both the West Bank and Gaza.

With Palestinian sovereignty would come accountability. Sovereign countries are expected to overcome terrorist organizations. A leader of a sovereign country cannot argue that he does not control his own security forces or people.

An Israeli pullout from Gaza would be appreciated internationally. Israel would be regarded as having made significant concessions to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians at a time when a slim majority of those polled in the European Union said they considered Israel a threat to world peace. Pressure would mount on Mr. Arafat to respond positively.

Unlike the West Bank, where many Jews settled in their recognition of the ancient history of the disputed region, there is nothing holy about Gaza. Evacuation of settlements in Gaza would be very different from a withdrawal from the West Bank.

Further, a precedent exists for Israeli withdrawal from areas that have little meaning to Jewish history. Settlers pulled out from Israeli settlements in the Sinai Peninsula to fulfill obligations in the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The Israeli government compensated the settlers financially for the loss of their homes.

The economic costs of resettling Israelis after their evacuation from Gaza would be a heavy burden for Israel to bear, particularly now while its economy is shaky. The international community would need to commit a special fund for resettlement.

Critics of Gaza First argue that a pullout would be regarded as an Israeli surrender and a Palestinian victory that would only spur the Palestinians to demand more concessions from Israel. The response to the critics is simple: It is in Israel's interests to withdraw from Gaza because Israel sees no future for its people there; the withdrawal should have been carried out long ago because of the demographics.

We all want peace, but not all of us are willing to pay for it. Peace, like any other precious commodity, is costly. The Palestinians will surely ask for the West Bank, and rightly so. But in order to continue the peace process, both sides must show commitment and sincerity.

Establishment of an independent Palestinian state in both the West Bank and Gaza is only a matter of time. Israel would be far better off initiating its establishment rather than succumbing to international pressure.

At the same time, terrorism is a concrete issue that deserves careful attention. The best way to deal with it is to maintain a separation between a Palestinian Gaza and Israel. Separation entails an economic price, especially for the Palestinians. Therefore, Palestine and Israel may both request economic assistance for Gaza.

If there will be peace, international support will come. It is in Israel's interest not to suffocate Gaza and to enable the Gazans to develop independent economic resources.

It's time to activate Gaza First as a sensible step toward breaking the deadlock in an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor is associate professor at the University of Haifa in Israel, where he heads the Center for Democratic Studies. He is on sabbatical at the Johns Hopkins University.

My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Israeli Politics
October 2003

On Settlements, the Fence, the Road Map, the Geneva accord, a Palestinian poll, Terror, Patch Adams and Other Concerns

Dear friends and colleagues,

I wish to share with you the following:

On Settlements

One of the most closely guarded secrets in Israel is the amount of funding that is channeled to the settlements. Budget items were built to conceal this information and no government report has ever been published on the subject. Recently Haaretz, for the first time, presented a nearly complete picture of the additional cost of the settlements, which totals more than NIS 45 billion (roughly $10 billion) since 1967.

The newspaper estimated that annual Israeli government spending on civilian needs in the settlements was more than $500 million, and that the security costs in the West Bank and Gaza were around $900 million a year.
The Haaretz study was difficult to carry out because the Israeli government's budgets have purposefully hidden spending on settlements within other costs, bundling them with subsidies to border communities and those in the Negev Desert, areas where people need to be induced to live either because of risk or limited economic opportunities. This means that those seeking to establish Jewish towns and villages in the occupied lands have benefited from generous government subsidies: personal income tax breaks, grants and loans for house purchases, bonuses for teachers. The Jewish settlers, who now number 230,000 (double the figure of a decade ago), have been granted special bypass highways, water supplies and health clinics. Teachers in the settlements, for example, get four years' seniority, an 80 percent housing subsidy and 100 percent reimbursement for travel, and more. The result is that the average settler family benefits from about $10,000 more per year of government spending than a family living within Israel proper.
The settlement population has been growing at a rate of about 10,000 annually over the past three years, despite the fighting. Early this month the government indicated that it intended to build about 600 new homes in three large West Bank settlements. The plan calls for 530 additional houses in Betar Ilit, a fast-growing settlement south of Jerusalem, along with 50 new homes in Maale Adumim, to the east of Jerusalem, and 24 more in Ariel.
The Bush administration threatens to reduce American assistance extended to Israel in March in the form of the three-year, $9 billion loan guarantees. The further building does not advance the cause of peace. Quite the opposite. Those who voted for Sharon voted for the enlargement of settlements. I am not sure to what extent they fully realized this when they went to the polls. Now they do. I think many of them would rather spend the limited resources we have on other social concerns: welfare, health, education, employment. These are as pressing as the need for further settlements, even according to this government's agenda, which is the most oakish in Israel's history.

The Fence

People ask me repeatedly about the fence. I was against the idea at first, believing at that time in bridges rather than fences, in building relationships instead of divorce. I believed that the fence will not foster mutual co-existence and wanted to find a solution that would be based on trust and mutual cooperation. After some months during which more violence ensued and Israel became a target to grave and bloody terrorist attack with a terrible price, hundreds of people killed and injured, I changed my mind as. Some eighteen months ago I finally deserted the co-existence option and adopted the view of divorce, this in light of generals' estimations that a fence could halt some eighty percent of the suicide attacks.

Having said that, I thought that the wise thing is to construct the fence along he 1967 Green Line borders. If you declare divorce, both sides of the divorce should be as happy as possible. The Sharon government is constructing the fence in a way that would make Israel as big as possible, and the future Palestine as small as possible. The Palestinian Authority cannot be expected to be happy with such a settlement. The fence suffocates them and robs them. The result is building a costly fence that might be removed because it is unjust and unfair. It also means that the children on both sides are going to suffer, as is the case in every unhappy divorce.

On 1 October Israel's government approved construction of new barriers deep inside the West Bank to shield several large Jewish settlements. The move significantly expands the scope of the already fence to wall off much of the West Bank.

Read the following: "Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron agreed in a meeting with Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh Monday that the security fence in Jerusalem would not pass through the middle of the campus as originally planned" (Jerusalem Post, 30 Sept. 2003). How considerate!

The road map and the recent Geneva accord

I was asked about the road map. The roadmap plan was too demanding, too far-reaching without respect to the challenging reality that could not stand to what was required. There it too much hostility, mistrust and bad blood between the two sides, both are fed by radical governments and media that - generally speaking support their respective government. Therefore I support the more moderate Gaza First Plan.

What about the recent Beilin-Abbed Rabbo Geneva accord?
Two important considerations are timing and leadership. Both are not conducive to such initiative that essentially reiterated the 2000 Camp David and Taba proposals, made by Barak and Beilin, and rejected then by Arafat. The same man says now that he welcomes the initiative. You are most welcome to believe him. I have no reason to join you. I don't trust the Palestinians to carry their side of the deal. I think the Geneva accord is fair but the time is not ripe to implement it. I continue to think that a piecemeal process is preferable, namely Gaza First. Sometimes I feel like old Cato.


The phenomenon of suicide bombers is spreading rapidly to Iraq. Don’t be astonished if the suicide bombing phenomenon will spread to other parts of the world.
Every once in a while people ask me to join political petitions and I usually decline and do not pass them around. This one is exceptional. Please read the following petition which asks the United Nations to treat suicide bombings as war crimes and that those who inspire them be prosecuted by the International War Crimes Tribunal.
The Call for UN & World Leaders to Prosecute Organizers of Suicide/Homicide Bombings, performing acts of terror against Civilians, as War Criminals, was initiated by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and written by Dr. Edward S. Beck.
1 [one] million signatures are being sought for this petition.

Click on the following and please take 10 seconds to sign.

If you can, please cut and send this message to other friends, of whatever faith, who might also agree to sign the petition.

Yesh Gvul (There Is A Limit)

In Israel, Yesh Gvul (There Is A Limit) Movement together with five prominent writers appealed to open an investigation regarding the killing of Salah Shchade. A bomb weighing one ton was released from an aircraft carrier, killing not only the chief terrorist but also 14 other people and wounded some 150 others. Dan Chalutz, head of our air force, said in the following moment that he "slept comfortably at night", a statement that enraged many people with some conscience and appreciation for human life. I would be surprised if the Court will decide to intervene in a meaningful way in such security considerations.

Consider the following: suppose that the suicide bomber at the Maxim restaurant were to follow the calm sleeper, Dan Chalutz, find out that he uses to eat at Maxim on Shabbat with his family, and bombs herself to pieces next to his table, killing some twenty other people in the blast. Would you condone her action?

Palestinian poll
These are the results of opinion poll # 9, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) between 07-14 October 2003. The poll deals with Arafat’s popularity and other domestic issues, peace and security, public perception of the United States, and local elections. The total sample size of this poll is 1318 from Palestinians 18 years and older, interviewed face-to-face in West Bank (823) and in Gaza Strip (495), in 120 locations. The margin of error is 3%.
The findings show widespread support, reaching 75%, for the suicide attack at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, where 20 Israelis were killed. More than two thirds believe that the Roadmap is dead and 78% believe that current Israeli measures, including the building of the separation wall, reduces that chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the future. Nonetheless, almost two thirds support a return to the Hunda, 85% support mutual cessation of violence, and, for the first time since the establishment of the PA, 59% support taking measures to prevent attacks on Israelis after reaching an agreement on mutual cessation of violence. Furthermore, about two thirds still support a solution based on two states: Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Main Results:
(1) Arafat and Palestinian Domestic Conditions:
• Arafat’s popularity increases from 35% last June to 50% in this poll. This is his highest level of support in five years.
• About 80% of Palestinians believe that Arafat has become stronger and more popular due to Israeli threat to expel or assassinate him.
• Two thirds support Arafat’s declaration of state of emergency while 26% oppose it
• 61% support the appointment of Ahmad Qurai (Abu Ala’) as prime minister and 27% oppose it, but only 48% are willing, and 37% unwilling, to give confidence to his government.
• 60% support placing all Palestinian security services under the command of a national security council headed by Arafat.
• 46% believe that Abu Ala’ and his government will be more capable than Abu Mazen and his government in dealing with Arafat and the presidency; only 12% believe in the opposite.
• But only 22% believe that Abu Ala’ and his government will be more capable than Abu Mazen and his government in reaching an agreement with Israel; 23% believe in the opposite.
• While 62% believe that Abu Ala’ and his government will be able to return to negotiations with Israel, only 33% believe they will be able to control the security situation and enforce a ceasefire. 44% believe they will be able to carry out political reforms.
• Fall of Abu Mazen and his government is the equal responsibility of Arafat and Israel (27% each). Only 17% put the blame on Abu Mazen himself.
• 32% are satisfied with the reform steps taken by Abu Mazen and 54% are not satisfied
• 90% support internal and external calls for extensive political reforms.
• 82% believe there is corruption in the PA and 71% believe that corruption will increase or remain the same in the future.
• Popularity of Fatah increases slightly from 26% last June to 28% in this poll. Hamas’ popularity remains almost unchanged (21%). Total support for Islamists reaches 29% compared to 31% last June.
• Marwan Barghouti (who is jailed in Israel) remains the most popular Palestinian figure for the position of vice president 17%, followed by Abdul Aziz Rantisi (14% compared to 3% in an open-ended question last June), Sa’eb Erikat (9%), Ahmad Yasin and Haidar Abdul Shafi (7% each), Farouq Qaddoumi and Hanan Ashrawi (5% each), Ahmad Quarie’ (4%), Mohammad Dahlan (2%), and Mahmoud Abbas (1%).
The most dramatic development has been the increase in the popularity of Abdul Aziz Rantisi, one of the main Hamas leaders, rising to 14% compared to 3% in an open-ended question last June. The increase in the popularity of Rantisi may reflect the public response to repeated Israeli attempt to assassinate him.

(2) Peace and Security:
• 75% support the suicide attack at Maxim Restaurant in Haifa leading to the death of 20 Israelis.
• 78% believe that current Israeli measures, including the building of the separation wall, reduce the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the future.
• But 64% still support a two-state solution (Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), while only 12% support a one-state solution (for Palestinians and Israelis). 21% want all Palestine back to the Palestinians.
• Percentage of those believing that armed confrontations will not stop and negotiations will not resume soon increases from 24% last June to 39% in this poll. 46% (compared to 56% last June) believe that the two sides will return to negotiations while some violence will continue.
• 68% believe that the roadmap is dead, but 28% believe that it can still be implemented
• 64% want a return to the Hudna that prevailed few weeks ago while 34% oppose it; but 85% (compared to 80% last June) support a mutual cessation of violence while only 14% oppose it.
• If an agreement is reached on a mutual cessation of violence, 59% (compared to 50% last June) would support taking measures by the PA to prevent attacks on Israelis.
• Despite the widespread support for the Hudna and the mutual cessation of violence, 58% would still support Hamas’ decision to oppose the ceasefire.
• 59% believe that current armed confrontations have helped the Palestinians achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not. In June, 65% shared that belief.

(3) Perceptions of the US:
• 96% believe that the US is not sincere when it says it works toward the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
• 92% believe that the US is not sincere when it says it wants political reforms and clean government in the PA.
• 78% believe the US is not serious in its declared opposition to the Israeli decision to expel or assassinate President Yasir Arafat.
• 97% believe the current US policy toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is biased in favor of Israel.
• But Palestinian evaluation of the current US conditions and policies varies on case by case basis. For example, positive evaluation reaches 85% when evaluating American medicine, science, and technology, and reaches 74% when evaluating the status of gender equality, and 63% when evaluating the status of US economic conditions. Positive evaluation drops to 53% with regards to arts and entertainment, 53% with regard to freedom of press and expression, and 44% to democracy and respect for human rights. Positive evaluation drops further when it comes to treatment of minorities (17%), respect for religious freedom (27%), or foreign policy (23%).
The US response to 11 September has affected Palestinian evaluation of internal American conditions regarding human rights, religious freedom and treatment of minorities especially Arabs and Muslims. The Bush Administration’s support for Israeli assassination and incursion policy contributed to the clear distrust in the US intentions in the peace process. While half of the Palestinians were convinced last June the belief that President Bush was determined to implement the Roadmap and move the peace process forward, this conviction has completely disappeared in this poll.
For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki or Ayoub Mustafa at Tel 02-2964933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org

Patch Adams

My very first cultural event at Hopkins was Patch Adams’s lecture at Hopkins. This guy excels in one liners. Concise ones.
What do you think about abortion?
I am in favour. I grew up in the 1960s (an impressive argument indeed).

What do you think about euthanasia? I am in favour (I guess the assertion is also the argument).

What do you think about the war in Iraq? Negative. Violence is never the way. We should have strove to teach Saddam Hussein how to love (brilliant).

What do you think of the Israel-Palestinian conflict?
Two state solution and evacuation of all settlements. No doubt about it (also no mentioning of the 2000 Camp David talks.).
Adams received a round of applause which prompted him to add one more sentence: And the US government should support the Palestinians to the same extent it supports Israel. More applause.

If everything would be so easy. We just learn how to love, cease violence and all will be fine. Mr. Adams has very good ideas and policies as to how to treat sick people (some depicted in Robin Williams' noteworthy film). His ability to analyze situations is impressive to the extent that the above answers are impressive. He does not even realize that he serves the interests of some more complex people with more complex agendas.

Hopkins news

Hopkins Professor Peter Agre was named co-winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Dr. Agre, professor of biological chemistry and medicine in the School of Medicine, is the 30th person associated with Johns Hopkins to win a Nobel Prize. Not bad for such a small university.

I have problems with my e-mail. Some people told me that they wrote me but for some reason I did not receive their messages. My apology. In any event, it is advisable to write to both my Haifa and Hopkins addresses:
ralmagor@soc.haifa.ac.il and rcohena1@jhu.edu

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

My Yahoo!

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Israeli Politics
October 2003

Mark Biano

Dear friends and colleagues,

The last weekend was a long one for me. CNN brought the news about the suicide bombing at Maxim immediately after it happened on Saturday 4 October 2003, but without names of casualties. I logged to Haaretz newspaper website first thing Tuesday morning and was shocked to see that Mark Biano, age 29, and his wife were the first names on the list of casualties. I was literally shivering.

Mark was one of the best research students I've ever had in eighteen years of teaching. He submitted a seminar paper that, in my opinion, could have been developed into a very good MA thesis. His final grade was the highest in the class. As a matter of fact, his seminar paper was so good that I proposed to invest some more work in it and to submit the paper for scholarly publication. May I note that I rarely suggested this to an undergraduate student. Mark’s case was one of those exceptional occasions that a teacher feels he or she was truly enlightened by the impressive academic scholarship of a seminar student.

The article is still under consideration. I encouraged Mark to pursue MA in our department of communication and was happy when he decided to rejoin our department as a graduate student. I will miss him.

Mark was a highly motivated, serious person, with a somewhat shy smile on his face. He was a person that always thought at least two steps ahead. In everything that he did, he tried to do it in the best possible way. He was a dedicated student, a dedicated journalist, and I am sure a dedicated family man. When he spoke about his wife, his smile always became larger, and he seemed taller than he was. He was a delightful man to have around.

I called upon the University of Haifa authorities to seek a way to honour his name. One way that comes to mind is to call an excellence research scholarship upon his name. I hope the university will give this a serious consideration. If my Center for Democratic Studies will succeed in raising the necessary money for its operations, I pledge to establish a scholarship fund in Mark's memory.

The loss is a national loss. Mark had a promising career in front of him in the field of journalism. He was making his first steps in the local media in Haifa and I was certain that his talent would lead him to prominent positions.

Mark's photos are available on a website established by the Haifa Department of Communication: http://www.hevra.haifa.ac.il/com/mark/index.htm

Hoping for better days,

Israeli Politics

Thursday, September 18, 2003

The Or Committee Report

The Or Committee that investigated the killing of 13 Israeli-Palestinians in 2000 had recently published its finding. Infra please find the summation of the Report. I will let you read and make up your own minds. I would like to make three brief observations:

First, to the best of my knowledge, Israeli police had never shot at any Jewish demonstrators, notwithstanding the severity of the demonstrations and their threat to public order. The fact that policemen were authorized to open fire at Israeli citizens is, in itself, alarming. There are other ways to disperse demonstrations.

Second, Ehud Barak erred greatly when he appointed Shlomo Ben-Ami to Minister of Public Security. His motives in appointing Prof. Ben-Ami to this role are not entirely clear. I suspect they were partisan, without giving too much attention to the qualities and deficiencies of Ben-Ami, and to his suitability to fulfill the role. Quite a few people raised their eyebrows when the appointment was announced, among them was Ben-Ami.

Barak erred yet again when he nominated Ben-Ami to Minister of Foreign Affairs, in addition to his ministerial duties as Minister of Public Security. These are two demanding portfolios that cannot be carried out successfully by one person. It is a well known fact that upon assuming the second role, Ben-Ami dedicated mere one day of the week to police matters and preferred to dedicate most of energies to foreign affairs, which were much closer to his heart and mind.

Third, Ben-Ami erred in assuming both roles simultaneously. He should have understood that even his powers and energies are limited, and that he is bound to fail upon taking both responsibilities. The toll of his vanity was bloody high.

Shana Tova to you and your loved ones, year of Good Health, of Prosperity and Success in all that you do.


The official summation of the Or Commission report on the killing of 13 Israeli Arabs in October 2000
Submitted: September 2003

1. The events of October 2000 shook the earth. The riots in the Arab sector inside the State of Israel in early October were unprecedented. The events were extremely unusual from several perspectives. Thousands participated, at many locations, at the same time. The intensity of the violence and aggression expressed in the events was extremely powerful. Against security forces, and even against civilians, use was made of a variety of means of attack, including a small number of live fire incidents, Molotov cocktails, ball bearings in slingshots, various methods of stone throwing and the rolling of burning tires. Jews were attacked on the roads for being Jewish and their property was destroyed. In a number of incidences, they were just inches from death at the hands of an unrestrained mob.

In a number of instances, attempts were made to enter Jewish towns in order to attack them. Major traffic arteries were blocked for long periods of time and traffic to various Jewish towns was seriously disrupted, sometimes even severed, for long periods of time. In a large number of instances, the aggression and violence was characterized by great determination and continued for long periods. The police acted to restore order and used a variety of means to disperse the crowd. As a result of the use of some of these means, which included firing rubber bullets and a few instances of live fire, Arab citizens were killed and many more injured. In the second wave of events, some places saw retaliatory Jewish riots against Arabs.

During the events, 12 Arab and one Jewish citizen were killed. One resident of the Gaza Strip was also killed. Such riots could have developed - heaven forbid - into a serious conflict between sectors of the population, such as the interracial conflicts with their attendant results that we have seen in distant locales. The fact is that, in a number of locations in Israel, these developments did lead to retaliatory Jewish riots.

2. The riots inside the state coincided with serious riots in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Prominent personages from the Arab sector indicated this was not coincidental, and reflected interaction between Palestinians inside the Green Line and Palestinians on the other side of the demarcation. Even this combination of events is unprecedented. Against the background of these aspects, the events were considered an "intifada" that exceeded the definition of local uprisings.

3. The events, their unusual character and serious results were the consequence of deep-seated factors that created an explosive situation in the Israeli Arab population. The state and generations of its government failed in a lack of comprehensive and deep handling of the serious problems created by the existence of a large Arab minority inside the Jewish state.

Government handling of the Arab sector has been primarily neglectful and discriminatory. The establishment did not show sufficient sensitivity to the needs of the Arab population, and did not take enough action in order to allocate state resources in an equal manner. The state did not do enough or try hard enough to create equality for its Arab citizens or to uproot discriminatory or unjust phenomenon. Meanwhile, not enough was done to enforce the law in the Arab sector, and the illegal and undesirable phenomena that took root there.

As a result of this and other processes, serious distress prevailed in the Arab sector in various areas. Evidence of the distress included poverty, unemployment, a shortage of land, serious problems in the education system and substantially defective infrastructure. These all contributed to ongoing ferment that increased leading up to October 2000 and constituted a fundamental contribution to the outbreak of the events.

Another cause was the ideological-political radicalization of the Arab sector. These processes were expressed in various expressions of identification with and even support of the Palestinian struggle against the state. This radicalization process was related to the increasing strength of Islamic politics in Israel in the period preceding the events. Serious conflicts existed between Muslims in Israel and governing authorities on matters like the Waqf's property; worsening conflicts between Muslims and the government on the issue of the Temple Mount; and cheers, primarily from the radical branch of the Islamic movement, for Islamist organizations that are Israel's enemies, including Hezbollah and Osama bin Laden.

4. The behavior of the Arab sector leadership contributed to the depth of the events and their force. The leadership did not succeed in directing the demands of an Arab minority into solely legitimate democratic channels. It did not succeed in understanding that the violent riots, obstruction of traffic arteries and identification with armed activity against the state and its citizens, constitute a threat against the state's Jewish citizens and substantially damaged the delicate fabric of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. This created the mold for the threat of serious violence and the use of violence to achieve various goals, as evident in house destructions and land expropriation, and concerning negotiations regarding Jerusalem and the status of the Temple Mount. In various mosques, messages were transmitted delegitimizing the state and its security forces, and serious hostility and antagonism toward its symbols were expressed. Various circles raised demands to grant autonomy in some areas to the Arab minority, and to abolish the definition of the state as a Jewish state and make it "a state for all its citizens." This blurred more than once the line between the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and the Arab citizens of the state.

Prior to and during 2000, there was a recognizable increase in the frequency of conflicts with the police and their force. The violent conflicts were a regular norm. In the first stage, organizations representing the Arab sector declared strikes and demonstrations, protesting processes and policies of various authorities. At the second stage, assemblies and processions were held in certain locations. At the third stage, youth left the masses to throw stones at vehicles, burn tires and damage facilities they felt symbolized the government. At this stage violent clashes with the police developed, after police arrived to restore order. Despite the fact that the slide from orderly demonstrations to unrestrained riots consistently reoccurred, the Arab leadership took no precautions to prevent the deterioration into violence, and did not warn against violating the law at demonstrations and processions it had initiated...

5. Various events that took place in the course of 2000 stridently signaled that the latent potential in these processes was getting out of control in practice. Although the police understood this and took certain steps to address this possibility, its commanders and the politicians failed in not making suitable preparations for the outbreak of widespread rioting that did take place, and in not addressing the tactical and strategic aspects involved in this possibility. The failure was evident in a lack of clear policy in handling the events during their first two, critical days. It was evident in a lack of sufficient operational or psychological training of police forces for any disturbances, and for events of the sort that occurred in particular. It was evident in a lack of appropriate police riot gear. It was evident in the police center of gravity relying on a very problematic means - rubber-coated cylinders that generally contain three separate bullets - whose various dangers were not sufficiently elucidated to those using them and those deciding to use them as a central and sometimes sole tool for handling riots. Not enough was done in order to assimilate as much as possible the need to avoid bodily injury to citizens, even rioting citizens.

6. A series of deeds and omissions close to the events and during them combined to actualize the explosive potential that grew with time. Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount led to serious responses to it from the Arab sector leadership inside Israel and from the Palestinian leadership in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. One day later, there was serious unrest at the site, and during its dispersion by the police, some were killed and many injured. Against this backdrop, serious riots began in Judea and Samaria, in which residents were killed and many were injured. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee chose, in this sensitive situation, to send the masses into the streets and call for processions and demonstrations. With this backdrop, and in light of what was already known on the continuing processes and serious events that occurred in 2000, the police and those responsible for it, commanders and politicians, failed in not ordering appropriate preparation prior to Oct. 1, 2000. Police forces were not prepared at the locations known in advance to be possible sources of unrest.

As a result, the riots began with no response at all, and in other places, police forces were unable to handle the riots properly. By the time the police came to its senses, the events had built up momentum and begun to cause bodily injury, which added to the flames. Even at this stage, the Monitoring Committee and the government could have prevented further escalation by preventing a general strike on the one hand, and resolute action to restrain security force response in order to prevent further injury, on the other. Only after the bloody Oct. 2, 2000, did the government and other entities in the Arab sector leadership take action to moderate events and stop them. Even after this point, the serious events did not cease immediately, and five citizens were killed in riots that took place after October 2. Nonetheless, the exceptional nature of the events did moderate and order returned gradually.

7. The committee sent cautions according to Clause 15 of the Investigative Commissions Law to 14 persons and officeholders. These personages and officeholders were given the opportunity to bring evidence and make arguments in order to rebut the content of these warnings. The gist of the committee's conclusions will be described here, according to the order of the personages decided under Clause 15.

Ehud Barak. Not aware
8. Ehud Barak. Some of the details in the caution sent to Mr. Barak were proven. The commission found it was proven that Mr. Barak was not aware of or sufficiently attentive, being prime minister of Israel, to the processes occurring in Israel's Arab society, which created during his tenure a real fear of the outbreak of widespread rioting. This omission was evident in the fact that he did not respond to requests and recommendations to hold a discussion involving all branches of government on the matter, and such a discussion was not held in practice. It was proven that Mr. Barak did not give enough thought to the need for
appropriate preparation by the police force prior to the riots as stated, thus not devoting sufficient energy and thought to a subject of strategic importance to the State of Israel, and its citizens well-being. It was further proven that in the first two days of the events, Mr. Barak took insufficient action to prevent the use of deadly force by the police or to limit it. It was also proven that Mr. Barak did not fulfill his duty as prime minister during the events of October 2000, in that he did not demand the police or its commanders make concrete, complete and detailed reports as soon as possible regarding the police's manner of operation
in specific events in which citizens were killed or seriously injured, and regarding the reasons for this serious outcome of each such event.

In contrast, it was not proven as charged that Mr. Barak gave instruction prior to October 2 to open traffic arteries, with the emphasis on the Wadi Ara road, using any means, in other words at any price. Regarding this matter, it was determined that Mr. Barak instructed the security forces to open Wadi Ara road that day, despite the fact that funerals with massive participation were expected in the region. He even instructed the security forces to be resolute in keeping the axis, and other axes, open to traffic. It was determined that this instruction was not unreasonable, under the circumstances, to the extent that justifies criticism of Mr. Barak. It was determined that the use of snipers on October 2 at the Umm al-Fahm junction exceeded the instruction, and that Mr. Barak did not foresee it.

The additional charge against Mr. Barak - that he did not invest sufficient thought on October 1-2 to events occurring in Israel, even after he knew of the severity of the October 1 events, of a casualty that day, and of the expected escalation the following day - was not proven. In a similar manner, it was determined that he did not do enough to bring calm during the events, in that he did not meet with the Arab Israeli leadership until October 3, despite the intelligence service's estimates that such a meeting, if held urgently, could lead to a substantial calming of the events.

The commission decided not to make operative recommendations regarding Mr. Barak. As far as his function as prime minister, the commission gave its opinion that Mr. Barak has not filled the position since the February 2001 elections and that it is an elected position. The commission reached the conclusion that there is no reason to deal with or discuss the possible ramifications of its conclusions on Mr. Barak's candidacy to serve in the position again. Regarding other positions, although it did not take the findings lightly, the commission believed after considering the overall proven facts that there is no place for any operative
recommendation regarding Mr. Barak's fulfilling any other positions.

Shlomo Ben Ami. Insufficient action; Sheikh Ra'ed Salah. Used propaganda
9. Professor Shlomo Ben Ami. The commission determined that it was proven that, while minister of public security, in the period before the October 2000 events, Mr. Ben Ami did not take sufficient action to ensure that the police be ready for widespread riots in the Arab sector, despite being aware of the processes increasing the risk of such events. The commission further determined that, as minister of public security, both prior to the October 2000 events and in the first days of the October 2000 events, Mr. Ben Ami did not show sufficient awareness of the inherent risks in the use of rubber-coated bullets for riot dispersion, and did not take the necessary steps to prevent the use of this ammunition or limit its use in this sort of event. This, despite the fact that he knew or should have known, the intense latent risk in the use of such ammunition. It was further determined that, as minister of public security, Mr. Ben Ami did not invest the thought required of his position, on October 1-2, in police preparedness in areas for which it was possible to foresee the possibility of violent events and did not confirm the polices' appropriate preparedness in those areas.

The commission further determined that what Mr. Ben Ami was charged with was proven, in that during the October 2000 events he did not take resolute or aggressive enough action to regulate police operations, as required by his position and the seriousness of events, in that he avoided demanding the police or its commanders make concrete, full and detailed reports, as soon as possible, on the manner of police operations in specific events in which citizens were killed or seriously injured, and regarding the reasons for this serious outcome of each such event. The commission determined that it was not proven that Mr. Ben Ami was partner to instructions to open traffic axis at any price.

Regarding recommendations in Mr. Ben Ami's case, the commission felt Mr. Ben Ami has no longer served as a minister, since the change of power in 2001, and in that he resigned the Knesset. The commission noted that Mr. Ben Ami's intentions and Mr. Ben Ami's actions regarding the operation of the police in the Arab sector was far from positive. Nonetheless, the commission believed that the conclusions indicate a substantial failure in fulfilling his duty. Against the backdrop of his failure as minister of public security, the commission recommends that Mr. Ben Ami not be appointed in the future to a ministerial position in this ministry.

10. Sheikh Ra'ed Salah. The commission determined that the charges against Sheikh Ra'ed Salah were proven, including that, as the head of the northern branch of the Islamic movement, the mayor of Umm al-Fahm and a public personage, he was responsible in the period prior to the October 2000 events, including in 1998-2000, for the transmission of repeated messages encouraging the use of violence and the threat of violence as a means to achieve the goals of Israel's Arab sector. In addition, it was proven that he held mass assemblies and used propaganda to incite the public and create an inflammatory atmosphere regarding the sensitive issue of the Al Aqsa mosque.

It was also proven that, as head of the northern branch of the Islamic movement, the mayor of Umm al-Fahm and a public personage, Sheikh Salach was responsible in the period prior to October 20000, including in the years 1998-2000, for the transmission of messages that negated the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel and presenting the state as an enemy.

It was further proven that, as head of the northern branch of the Islamic movement, the mayor of Umm al-Fahm and a public personage, Sheikh Salach was responsible, prior to October 2000, for the transmission of messages regarding an allegedly planned massacre at Al Aqsa on Sept. 29, 2000. He was also responsible for comments praising the outbreak of serious and widespread violence that occurred in the Arab sector at the beginning of 2000, before the events had ended.

In all this, he had a substantial contribution to provoking tempers and the violent and widespread outburst that took place in the Arab sector at the beginning of October 2000.

Considering that Sheikh Salah does not fulfill any official public position, after resigning as the mayor of Umm al-Fahm, and his position in the movement is voluntary, the commission saw no need to give a recommendation regarding Sheikh Salah.

Azmi Bashara. Escalation; Abdulmalik Dehamshe. Inflaming
11. MK Dr. Azmi Bashara. Dr. Bashara was charged - while head of the Balad Party, an MK and a public personage - with being responsible in the period prior to the events of October 2000 for the transmission of messages supporting violence as a means of achieving the goals of Israel's Arab sector, thus having a substantial contribution to inflaming the atmosphere and the escalation of violence that took place in the Arab sector at the beginning of 2000. These facts were proven.

Mr. Bashara is an elected official representing his party in Knesset. The legality of his candidacy and that of his party for Knesset election was recently approved by the Supreme Court. Under this circumstance, the commission saw no reason for personal recommendations regarding Mr. Bashara.

12. Abdulmalik Dehamshe. It was charged that Mr. Dehamshe, while an MK, head of the United Arab List and a public personage, was responsible in the period prior to the events of October 2000, and primarily during the years 1998-2000, and during the events of October, for the transmission of messages of support for violence as a means of achieving the goals of Israel's Arab sector, making a contribution to inflaming the atmosphere and the worsening of the violence that took place in the Arab sector at the beginning of October 2000. These things were proven. Similar to MK Bashara, Mr. Dehamshe is also an elected official, representing his party in the Knesset. Under this circumstance, the commission saw no reason for personal recommendations regarding Mr. Dehamshe.

Yehuda Wilk. Didn't fulfill duties
13. Yehuda Wilk. The commission determined that most of the details of the caution sent to Police Commissioner Yehuda Wilk were proven. It was proven that as police commissioner of the Israel Police, he did not take care prior to the events of October 2000 to equip the police with the means of the type and quantity necessary to handle serious unrest, and thus led to the fact that rubber-coated bullets, with the serious risk inherent in their use, were the primary means available to the police to disperse uprisings. It was also proven that Commissioner Wilk did not take care at the time of sufficient police preparedness in the form
of appropriate training exercises for events such as serious riots.

The commission also found that it's proven that Commissioner Wilk did not act properly leading up to October 1 and during that day, in that, although he foresaw the possibility of violent events among Israel's Arab population on October 1, he did not order appropriate police deployment on October 1 in keeping with this possibility, mostly in northern Israel. It was further proven that, as police commissioner in the period prior to the events of October 2000, Commissioner Wilk did not initiate an investigation of the impact of the use of rubber-coated bullets, of the results and orders to use these bullets, despite knowing that the use of this ammunition involved serious, and even fatal, consequences. The commission determined also that it was proven that Commissioner Wilk did not, as police commissioner during the events of October 2000, appropriately supervise and control the use of rubber-coated bullets, allowed widespread use of such bullets during the events and did not instruct police forces sufficiently to use nonlethal means at their disposal to disperse riots. In this context, it was determined that Commissioner Wilk did not apply or take care of the application of lessons learned from events in September 1998 in Umm al-Fahm, regarding the overuse of rubber-coated bullets, regarding police control of riots and regarding appropriate training for forces involved in handling riots.

The commission further determined that as commissioner of the Israel Police, Commissioner Wilk did not respond to the initial events, in which citizens were killed in the October 2000 events, efficiently and resolutely enough in order to prevent further loss of life and bodily injury, including not giving appropriate instructions aimed at preventing these injuries and leading to a calming of tempers. It was proven that Commissioner Wilk did not take care, as police commissioner, of conducting, at the earliest possible moment, organized investigations into the events of October 2000, with emphasis on events in which the conflicts led to the use of live fire or rubber-coated bullets, and events in which there were injuries ...

The commission further determined that Commissioner Wilk was aware after the fact of the use of live fire by snipers during the events of October 2000, and did not fulfill his duty in not revealing these facts to politicians, not taking any steps to ensure that the normative personnel conclusions would be drawn from the use of snipers in the events, and even expressed retroactive agreement with use of snipers as a deterrent ...

The commission further determined that it was not proven that Commissioner Wilk did not fulfill his duty regarding the development of nonlethal means for the police to handle unrest ...

Mr. Wilk resigned as commissioner shortly after the October events, at the end of his previously determined term of office. The commission received the impression that Commissioner Wilk served with devotion with a real sense of mission. Nonetheless, the commission believes the facts and conclusions detailed indicate a substantial professional failure on Wilk's part in fulfilling his position, and even of breach of trust toward the politicians involved regarding the use of snipers. In light of this, the commission recommends that Mr. Wilk not fill any senior positions in public security in the future.

Alik Ron. Muddied relationship
14. Alik Ron: The committee found that, as commander of the Northern District prior to the outbreak of the October 2000 disturbances, Major General Ron contributed, in word and deed, to the muddied relationship, and the break off in communication between himself and the Arab leadership in his district. In so doing, he made more difficult the fulfillment of his duties and those of the personnel under his command in this sensitive district. Maj. Gen. Ron's words and deeds exceeded the permissible and desirable for a district commander, and also made it more difficult for the police to deal with the events of October 2000. The committee also determined that Maj. Gen. Ron did not prepare the personnel under his command properly for widespread riots that might break out in the district, and he did not ensure the application of lessons learned from previous events in the district.

With regard to the events themselves, the committee found that Maj. Gen. Ron did not properly prepare personnel under his command for the fact that riots might break out on Oct. 1, 2000, although he should have predicted the possibility that riots might break out on this date. On October 1 and 2, he did not give adequate consideration to the need to receive information that was as updated, complete, and detailed as possible under the circumstances, regarding events in the district under his command. He did not operate a front-line command position, as required by police regulations. The committee found that, as a result, Maj. Gen. Ron's ability to direct police operations in the numerous events that took place in the district was compromised.

The committee also found that Maj. Gen. Ron was responsible for live fire by sharpshooters that was directed at rioters in Umm al-Fahm. It determined that this firing was unjustified, and resulted in injuries to at least seven people and the death of one of them. The committee found that he personally ordered the sharpshooters to open fire, in direct contravention of police orders in the matter of live fire. It was determined that Maj. Gen. Ron was also responsible for the use of live fire in Nazareth.

The committee also determined that Maj. Gen. Ron did not ensure that priority would be given to nonlethal means during control of the riots. He did not properly supervise the use of rubber-coated cylinders, and allowed their widespread use, which the committee determined was unjustified, although he knew, or should have known, of the dangers, including loss of life, involved in the use of this ammunition. The committee also determined that Maj. Gen. Ron did not ensure the proper investigation of the events in his district, especially of the events that brought about the use of live ammunition or rubber-coated bullets, and the events in which there were casualties ...

The committee was impressed with Maj. Gen. Ron's leadership qualities, with the fact that he is much admired by those under his command, and with his willingness to take responsibility, as well as from his devotion to duty and his work in the past to assist the Arab sector in solving conflicts with him through compromise. However, the committee determined that the array of its findings regarding Maj. Gen. Ron point to a substantial failure in the ways and means of fulfilling his duties. In consideration of the above, and in light of the fact that Maj. Gen. Ron retired from the police on May 1, 2003, the committee recommended that in the future he not fulfill any command or administrative position in the area of public security.

Moshe Waldman. Exceeded authority; Bentzi Sao. Substantial failures; Yaron Meir. Against orders
15. Major General Moshe Waldman: The committee concluded that Maj. Gen. Waldman was responsible for putting live-fire sharpshooters into the arena. It determined that using the sharpshooters was both unjustified and against police regulations and practice. The committee also determined that Maj. Gen. Waldman, who was commander of the Valleys District of the Israel police during the events of October 2000, did not carry out proper command and monitoring procedures regarding the use of rubber-coated bullets, and allowed widespread, unjustified use of this ammunition in spite of the fact that he was aware of the serious risks involved, including death. The committee also proved that Maj. Gen. Waldman did not order that preference be given to nonlethal weapons in responding to the disturbances.

The committee also showed that in an incident in Nazareth on Oct. 8, 2000, Maj. Gen. Waldman gave the order to fire, without giving due consideration to the risk involved in live fire on civilians. As a result of this failure, the live rounds fired by police severely wounded civilians and caused the death of at least one civilian. There was also no justification for the firing of rubber-coated cylinders ...

Maj. Gen. Waldman closely followed the investigation of this case, and even directed officers under his command. This constituted a conflict of interest, as he had been personally involved in commanding the police during the course of the disturbance ...

Although Maj. Gen. Waldman impressed the committee as a serious and experienced commander, it determined that facts indicated serious failures in fulfilling his command, and that he exceeded his authority in ethical terms regarding investigation of the case in which he was personally involved. The committee was informed that he was in line for promotion during the period of its deliberations, however, it recommended that he be released from service.

16. Major General Bentzi Sao: The committee concluded that Maj. Gen. Sao, who served as commander of the Northern District of the Border Police and commander of the Wadi Ara region during the events of October 2000, commanded the forces during an hours-long confrontation at the Umm al-Fahm junction in a manner unjustified under the circumstances and against district police policy as it had been determined that morning. In the confrontation that resulted from the action commanded by Maj. Gen. Sao, a police contingent entered Umm al-Fahm, against directives. Numerous rubber-coated and live bullets were fired, causing the death of two civilians and numerous injuries. However, the committee determined that Maj. Gen. Sao was not personally responsible for the serious consequences of the actions of individual police personnel in Umm al-Fahm. It also determined that on Oct. 2, 2000, Maj. Gen. Sao was one of those responsible for the unjustified opening of fire by sharpshooters on stone throwers at the Umm alFahm junction.

Maj. Gen. Sao impressed the committee as a serious and experienced commander. However, the committee found substantial failures in his functioning. Maj. Gen. Sao was also in line for promotion during the period of the committee's deliberations. The committee recommended that he not be promoted in rank or position for a period of four years from the day of publication of its report.

17. Chief Superintendent Yaron Meir: The committee determined that on Oct. 2, 2000, Chief Superintendent Meir did not ensure the presence of a police contingent at the Teradyon industrial zone in the Misgav region northwest of Nazareth. The committee determined that as commander of the Misgav region, Chief Superintendent Meir should have ensured the proper deployment of forces in the area. It also determined that his actions in this regard went against orders and instructions in this matter. The committee also determined that Chief Superintendent Meir could have deployed forces at the Teradyon industrial zone on the day in question, to the site where Superintendent Guy Reif had been attacked by dozens of young people near the Petros factory. However, the committee could not prove that Meir's failures led directly to the fatal outcome of the confrontation at the Petros factory between the police and rioters, because the committee determined that Superintendent Reif could have and should have retreated and thus averted the danger.

The committee did not recommend that action be taken against Chief Superintendent Meir.

18. Chief Superintendent Shmuel Marmelstein: The committee determined that, as commander of the Nazareth police station on Oct. 3, 2000, Marmelstein was responsible for positioning sharpshooters, and their opening fire, in a manner that was against regulations and practice. It was also determined that sharpshooter fire was unjustified under the circumstances. Chief Superintendent Meir also failed to ensure that he receive real-time reports on the actions of the sharpshooters. The committee determined that the claim that Chief Superintendent Marmelstein was not authorized to order the sharpshooters into position was unfounded; routine practice permits an officer of the rank of station commander to do so. However, the claim that Chief Superintendent Marmelstein gave the sharpshooters an order to fire ahead of time, without ensuring that each order to fire be authorized by him, was shown to be false.

Chief Superintendent Marmelstein impressed the committee as an experienced, well-balanced, and and serious officer. The committee determined that his actions during the difficult events of October were, in most cases, unblemished and even praiseworthy. However, the committee determined that his failure regarding the sharpshooters under the circumstances was substantial, and demonstrated a deficiency in police operations. In consideration of the fact that this was a single exception, the committee recommended that Chief Superintendent Marmelstein's promotion in rank or position be delayed for one year from the day of publication of the committee's report.

Guy Reif. Judgment deficiencies
19. Superintendent Guy Reif: The committee determined that Superintendent Reif repeatedly arrived at the scene of the disturbances alone or accompanied by a single policeman, without appropriate numbers of personnel or riot control equipment to deal with the events in question. In so doing, he failed to use the judgment expected of a commander of his position and rank, and created an unreasonable risk of escalation, which did indeed occur.

The committee also determined that on Oct. 2, 2000, the situation in which Superintendent Reif found himself in the Teradyon industrial zone, facing dozens of stone-throwing young men, could have been avoided. Among other things, he ordered unjustifiable use of live fire against the crowd, and thus caused the death of two civilians and the wounding of others. The committee also found that on Oct. 3, 2000, during the disturbances in Kfar Manda, Superintendent Reif ordered unjustified use of live fire, that was also against police regulations and practice.

The committee was impressed with the determination that characterized Superintendent Reif's attitude toward his police work. However, it determined that Superintendent Reif's behavior during the October events indicated substantial deficiencies of judgment.

The committee determined that Superintendent Reif should not serve as a commander in the police force, and it recommended that he be released from service.

20. N.I.: The committee determined that during the events of Oct. 2, 2000, N.I. ordered unjustifiable use of live fire, against regulations, and that he unjustifiably shot directly at a person after that person threw a Molotov cocktail, although neither he nor other police personnel were in danger. The committee also determined that at a later stage of the activity of that night, N.I. did not ensure that the contingent under his command be clearly identified as police personnel. In so doing, he created a risk that the contingent would not be identified by civilians as police operatives, which in fact occurred. However, there was
reasonable doubt as to whether N.I. was responsible for the unjustified shooting that evening by three personnel of the Special Anti-Terror Unit, including himself, on a car traveling on Banks Street in Nazareth, in which a woman passenger was severely injured. Because N.I. no longer serves in the police, the committee did not see fit to make a recommendation regarding him.

21. Murshad Rashad: The committee determined that, while on duty during disturbances in the village of Jatt on Oct. 1, 2000, Rashad, a border policeman, aimed and fired rubber-coated cylinders unjustifiably, at the short range of 15 meters, at the upper body of civilians against regulations regarding safe distances for the firing of rubber-coated bullets and the order to fire rubber-coated bullets at the legs only. In so doing, Rashad created a serious risk of grave bodily harm. The shooting caused the death of one civilian.

Because Rashad no longer serves in the police, the committee did not see fit to make a recommendation regarding him. However, the committee recommended that the Ministry of Justice department for investigation of police investigate the incident in which he was involved.

22. Recommendations to initiate an investigation: The committee recommended that the Ministry of Justice department for the investigation of police investigate a number of incidents so that the proper authorities can decide whether to initiate criminal proceedings against anyone allegedly involved.

23. Institutional recommendations: The committee detailed a list of conclusions and recommendations regarding various institutions.

The Arab sector and its leadership
24. The Arab sector: The committee determined that this is the most sensitive and important domestic issue facing Israel today. As such, it requires the personal involvement and leadership of the prime minister. The committee determined that the issue has been neglected for many years, and demanded that immediate, medium-term, and long-term action be taken. The committee determined that action must be focused on giving true equality to the country's Arab citizens. Israel's Arab citizens have the right to equality because of the essence of the State of Israel as a democracy, and because it is a basic right of every citizen. The state must work to wipe out the stain of discrimination against its Arab citizens, in its various forms and expressions.

In this context, the state must initiate, develop, and operate programs emphasizing budgets that will close gaps in education, housing, industrial development, employment, and services. Special attention should be paid to the living conditions and the hardships of the Bedouin. The committee determined that the state, through its most senior officials, must work to close these gaps quickly and energetically, determining clear and tangible goals and definite timetables. In this connection, the committee added that all government agencies must find the means to allow Arab citizens to express their culture and identity in public life in a
respectable manner.

25. In the matter of land, the committee determined that it is the state's obligation to act toward its Arab citizens with equality and justice with regard to land use. The Arab sector has legitimate needs that stem from natural growth, among other things. The state must allocate land to this sector according to the same egalitarian principles it uses with other sectors. The committee added that suitable planning should be carried out as soon as possible to prevent illegal construction caused by lack of existing town planning that make it difficult to obtain a building permit. In this regard, the committee noted that a real response must be made by the government to the issue of the destruction of houses and the expropriation of land. On the other hand, wherever a way cannot be found to legalize existing construction, the law must be enforced unstintingly.

26. The committee noted the need for a reform of police systems with regard to the Arab sector. The police is not conceived as a service provider by the Arab population, but as a hostile element serving a hostile government. There is a need to expand community police services in order to improve service to this sector. The committee determined that, in light of budgetary difficulties in the police, budgets should be diverted from other areas to this area.

27. The committee noted the importance of inculcating moderate and balanced norms of behavior among all ranks of police personnel with regard to the Arab sector. It is important to work to uproot prejudice, which exists even among officers who are experienced and admired. The police must learn to realize that the Arab sector in Israel is not the enemy and must not be treated as such.

28. The committee determined that the police must raise the level of dialogue between its officers and the leaders of the Arab community. It must be in continuous contact with leaders at all levels in order to identify flash points for violence at an early stage and to determine agreed-upon means that will permit expression of protest without endangering the public and with minimum disruption of public order. The committee noted that during the period of its work it appeared that real progress had been made in this area.

29. The committee added that the police must demonstrate systematic and egalitarian enforcement of the law, whether in regard to the illegal call to use violence or in other illegal phenomena.

30. The Arab leadership: The committee determined that the Arab leadership must show greater responsibility in its messages and actions. Praising violence as a means of attaining goals, even legitimate ones, is not equitable with the obligation of the leadership to act responsibly, because messages they send may create an immediate risk to public safety and, in the longer term, a danger to the social fabric. Adopting the strategy of threatening violence or using illegal means to attain goals is unsuitable to responsible leadership. The committee determined that the right to protest does not include the right to initiate violent confrontation or to attack innocent civilians or the security forces ...

31. The committee added that those who initiate protest have the responsibility to end it without endangering public safety. The committee determined that the norm of unlicensed protests is unacceptable. It noted that this norm radiates lack of respect for the rule of law. Other, proper norms are to be expected of the leaders of the Arab community, many of whom are local or national leaders ...

32. The committee determined that, while most of Israel's Arab citizens are loyal to the state, the messages transmitted during the October disturbances blurred and sometimes erased the distinction between the state's Arab citizens and their legitimate struggle for rights, and the armed struggle against the state being conducted by organizations and individuals in the West Bank and Gaza. More than once, the two struggles are presented by leaders of the Arab community as one struggle against one adversary, often an enemy. The committee emphasized that the concept of citizenship is incompatible with the presentation of the state as the enemy ...

The committee emphasized the obligation of the Arab leadership not to blur the boundary between the emotional complexities that Israel's Arabs experience and the fact that they see themselves as the brothers of the Palestinians in the territories and taking action and transmitting messages that are incompatible with the loyalty that every citizen of every nation must show. The committee said that the events of October 2000 should be seen as warning signs against continuing to head in this direction.

Role of the Public Security Ministry
The Public Security Ministry and its minister have an important role to play in supervising and monitoring the police, and in keeping the fine balance necessary in its functioning. This is even more the case in times of crisis and in preparing for them.

The committee determined that, with regard to decisions involving the value of human life, the minister of public security may not remain passive. He must be on his guard to ensure that he has the information necessary so that he can make informed decisions to supervise the work of the police and to direct police policy. Although the minister of public security should not interfere in individual operational or professional decisions, such as those involving investigations, he is expected to show leadership in matters of policy. In order for him to do so, he must make sure to obtain all necessary information, and to consult with operational staff personnel in his office regarding the significance of that information.

34. The operational headquarters in the Public Security Ministry: The committee noted the importance of the operational headquarters in providing the minister, who is not a police professional, with the independent professional advice to assist in supervising and monitoring the police. The committee determined that, for this reason, the chief of operations at the ministry should not be on active duty and in line for promotion, a status that creates a conflict of interest. The committee therefore recommended that personnel serving in this position not be on active duty on the police force. The committee also recommended that this course of action be followed regarding other functions in the Public Security Ministry.

35. ... The committee was impressed with the fact that, on the whole, the police, its commanders, and personnel operate faithfully, courageously, and in a determined manner that is to be commended, and noted that they serve night and day to protect public order and the laws of the state. However, the committee pointed out a series of matters needing attention and improvement, as detailed below.

36. Directives and orders: The committee found that the police do not require a sufficient level of coordination or systematically follow written directives and practices on various subjects ...

37. The committee determined that the police are not doing enough to transmit new orders and directives. In this regard, it found that the police do not take suitable action to inform personnel of changes in its directives permitting the use of rubber-coated cylinders only when lives were endangered. It was noted that most of the officers and personnel who testified before the committee said they were not aware of this change in regulations.

38. The committee noted that, during the events of October 2000, directives given to personnel in the field were not sufficiently clear. Directives on sensitive subjects such as riot control were transmitted without due emphasis on the importance of the matter. Only after fatalities were incurred were messages transmitted that clarified police policy on this issue.

39. The committee found that the following of orders and practices is not sufficiently obligatory in police culture ...

40. The committee examined the serious failures that were revealed in investigating, reporting, and documenting the events in which the police were involved. It noted the suspicion that the culture of full and true reporting of events in real time was not deeply rooted. The committee learned that a phenomenon of nondocumentation exists regarding various police activities, in spite of their great importance. The committee also noted that it found one case where failures in investigation bordered on ethical irregularities, with a district commander actively involved in examination of an event in which his own functioning was to be investigated, and in actuality was not. The committee added that in many cases investigations regarding the discharging of a weapon did not take place ...

41. The committee found that omissions regarding reporting and the carrying out of orders is not limited to the lower echelons of the police ...

In this context, the committee noted that the use of sharpshooters during the October disturbances was concealed from the political echelons with no reasonable explanation offered.

42. The committee also noted that the culture of drawing conclusions by the police from the events of October 2000 is not deeply rooted ...

43. Handling of public disturbances by the police: The committee noted the principle of the sanctity of life requires that everything possible be done to prevent deaths or injuries during riot dispersal. The committee emphasized the obligation of the police to seek every possible avenue, under the circumstances, to avoid casualties. It noted that there is consensus on the fact that if budgetary and personnel constraints would allow, the desirable solution involves the establishment of a special force, consisting of thousands of personnel, for this purpose. In this context, the committee noted that there is an inherent advantage to
a large, well-outfitted force to deal with disturbances, and that such a force may contribute to minimizing loss of life.

The committee noted that, in order for the police to face public disturbances, it must be properly equipped, which involves suitable budgetary appropriations. It noted that the lack of appropriate funding was a clear factor limiting police human resources and its ability to fulfill its duties. The committee recommended massive budget increases be given to the police. It also determined that in the given budgetary situation, police command may be improved in the issues in question. In this context, it determined that the police must outfit its units that deal mainly with public disturbances with the required protective gear, in order to delay as much as possible the need to use brute force. The committee noted that such steps were taken as a result of the events of October 20200, and it emphasized that the police should ensure that the steps are completed as soon as possible.

Use of live fire
44. The committee also addressed the issue of the measures used to disperse crowds. The committee determined that the fact that rubber-coated bullets became the principal means of handling disorder during Wilk's term as police commissioner significantly increased the risk of causing bodily harm during crowd dispersal, and this could have been anticipated. The committee determined that this happened due to the police's failure to check the consequences of this measure as used by the police in dispersing crowds. Similarly, the police failed to study the impact of rubber-coated bullets before being put into service even after the 1998 incidents in Umm al-Fahm, when many were injured by them. Even proposed legislation on this issue did not lead the police to conduct an orderly collection of data and present various alternatives and their consequences.

The committee determined that based on the way the police handled this matter, there is a structural defect in its operations. It was also determined that this shortcoming derives, at least partially, from a conceptual obstacle, according to which the police's means of dispersal is a technical matter for the quartermaster alone to handle. The committee insisted that this conception is mistaken. It was determined that the means of crowd dispersal have far-reaching implications on the relations between the police and the crowd it is facing and have a direct impact on human life and limb.

The committee emphasized in this context that only after the events of October did the police draw the necessary conclusions, forming a panel to investigate the use of firing rubber-coated bullets and shifted to using tear gas for crowd dispersal.

45. The committee determined that it should be made unequivocally clear that firing live ammunition, including sniper fire, is not a means to disperse crowds by the police. This is a means to be used only in special circumstances, such as when there is a real and immediate threat to life or in the rescue of hostages.

46. The committee determined that rubber-coated bullets are not appropriate for use due to their risk. It was determined that the police should remove them from use. It was emphasized that this does not prevent the police from deploying other kinetic means, including rubber ones. Nonetheless, the guiding principle must be that a means with lethal potential can be used only in situations of real and immediate life-threatening danger, and only if its accuracy level enables it to hit the source of this life-threatening danger and no one else. In other situations, the police must use non-lethal means.

47. The committee insisted on the need for an organized doctrine to disperse crowds, and stressed the importance of providing sufficient training to the forces responsible for confronting public unrest. It was determined that until the events of October, the police lacked a systematic operation doctrine that could provide a clear and orderly answer to the complex psychological difficulties the police encounter when confronting public unrest.

In this context, the committee noted that in a number of the incidents it reviewed Umm al-Fahm on Oct. 2, the Lotem incident on Oct. 2, the Patrus incident on Oct. 2 and the mall incident on Oct. 8 the police response escalated, in some cases to the point of using lethal ammunition, as an almost immediate reaction after one of the policemen or commanders was injured by stones thrown at them from the unruly crowd. The committee noted that in each of these cases, the police reaction was excessive given the circumstances, since there was no real danger that required a lethal response. The committee emphasized that these examples illustrate the real difficulty in instilling in policemen the wisdom of self-restraint that will abide with them in difficult conditions of pressure and danger.

48. The committee emphasized the need to inculcate in policemen and field commanders a sharp realization of the serious significance of deploying potentially lethal means. It was noted that in the events of October, these means were used in many incidents without any objective justification for this.

The committee noted that also in this context, there was a significant trend for change in the police after the October events. The committee recommended that this trend be passed on to the entire police in an orderly manner as part of the doctrine for dealing with disorders. The committee added that it would be advisable for the police to take into consideration in the framework of its operating doctrine on this issue the way in which the use of guns is perceived - even if the means is rubber-coated bullets - by the other side. In this context, it was noted that the used of rubber-coated bullets is generally perceived as different from the use of live ammunition, and the even the police cannot distinguish between the firing of live ammunition and rubber-coated bullets from sound or sight alone. This has an impact on the dynamics of the clash.

49. The committee noted that during the events of October, the Police Special Anti-Terror Unit's forces were used to protect policemen engaged in confronting the disturbances. The committee noted that this raises questions: The expertise of the unit's personnel is in rescuing hostages and handling threats entailing live gunfire.

In light of all this, the committee determined that arrangements should be made to ensure that the unit's personnel are not deployed as part of a force handling public disturbances, and that they only enter action to counter threats that fall within the framework of the unit's special mission.

50. The committee also addressed the issue of control over police forces engaged in handling incidents of public unrest. It was noted that these public disturbances are characteristically prolonged and dynamic incidents can evolve in unexpected directions. It was also noted that there are substantial numbers of police involved in such events who often find themselves in threatening and tense situations. The committee noted that these conditions pose an inherent risk of an immoderate reaction by one policeman or another during some stage of the event, and that such reactions are liable to lead to severe consequences, bringing the incident out of control and even affecting events in other locations. The committee noted that this occurred in various cases in the events of October.

In light of this, the committee determined that when selecting policemen for units assigned to handle public order, the police should give serious weight to the criterion of cool-headedness and self-restraint. The committee added that the police should improve the level of control of its commanders.

51. The committee noted that the police formulated a detailed and orderly operational doctrine for dealing with public disorders following the events of October. It was noted that most of the aforementioned conclusions are addressed in the framework of this operational doctrine. The committee recommended that the police make a concerted effort to inculcate these lessons among policemen and their commanders in the field in order to improve significantly their ability to cope with the difficult situations they face when dealing with public disturbances.

Blocking off the roads
52. The commission considered blocking off roads, including major highways, while the acts of disorderly conduct were in progress. It was noted that this phenomenon is not unique to acts of disorderly conduct in the Arab sector. The commission noted that in the context of the October events, several prominent people in the Arab sector said the events proved that the blocking of roads to traffic constituted an effective device by which it was possible to affect opinions and decisions with regard to the Arab sector. That being the case, the commission faced a dilemma. On the one hand, blocking major highways causes a severe disruption of normal life. When this is accompanied by violence, it constitutes a real danger to passing motorists, and obligates the responsible parties to do what they can to prevent the blocking of traffic on main highways. The commission also determined that legitimacy should not be given to the modus vivendi of blocking roads, since this would provide an incentive to make frequent and intensive use of this unlawful and harmful method.

Conversely, the commission determined that for the most part, it is unrealistic to open up blocked roads when mass acts of disorderly conduct are taking place without causing casualties. It is noted that on their own
initiative, on more than one occasion the police closed roads that had actual or expected acts of disorderly conduct.

In this context, the commission noted that there is great significance to the formulation of policy and its clarification to all of the relevant parties in order that the rules of conduct be made clear to all, in advance.

Specifically, the commission noted that it would be possible to limit partially the damage caused by this occurrence by means of prior coordination at the high-ranking levels of the police force - and when required, by the political echelons, as well - with the leadership of the Arab sector. This would make it possible to hold a march or demonstration at a certain location for a pre-determined amount of time. To this end, the commission noted, the police should be alert and sensitive to the possibility that at a certain location or at a certain time there could be acts of disorderly conduct that could lead to the blocking of roads, and should initiate a prior dialogue. The commission added that this could reduce the risk of disorderly conduct, but could not guarantee absolute deterrence. In such an instance, when dialogue is ineffective, it should still be borne in mind that prevention of bodily harm, including harm to passersby, is a supreme consideration in the state's handling of these types of events. Nevertheless, it is noted that the state's ability to restrain itself is not unlimited. The blocking off of roads for prolonged periods cannot be accepted. Nor can the state accept the blocking off of traffic arteries during a mass call-up or a similar national emergency situation. In such instances, a determined response, and if need be a powerful response, to the blocking of roads could be considered a reasonable and obvious action.

53. Concluding remarks. The commission expressed its feelings of sympathy with the victims of the violence. With the citizens who found themselves assaulted by harsh violence on their country's and settlements' roads. With residents of the settlements who felt threatened in their homes and along their fences. With the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in these events, and who have found no comfort, regardless of the circumstances. With those who were injured in the violence, often experiencing trauma that will not be forgotten soon. With the dedicated policemen who found themselves under orders, often as the few facing the many, lacking adequate protection and equipment to face a riotous and inflamed horde, and who were on more than one occasion themselves injured, at times seriously, in fulfilling their duties.

54. The commission noted that the October events had reduced the chances of attaining the goal of living together with mutual respect. The clashes and their aftermath led to reduced contact between the two societies and increased distrust and hostility. Nevertheless, the commission noted that in its opinion, the events did not constitute a point of no return in relations between the two sectors. It was stressed that each side has a clear and firm interest in stability and cooperation, and in the end, the October events had in fact proved that the two societies are mutually dependent, and focused attention on the dangers inherent in polarization and conflict. The Commission noted that even if full reconciliation between them is not attainable in the short term, it is by all means feasible.

The commission considered the need to strive and take active steps to ensure the peaceful coexistence of Jews and Arabs in this country, thereby ensuring that events similar to those of October 2000 will not recur. It noted that Jews and Arabs living alongside one another is a fact of life, and the two sides have only one practical option for maintaining this way of life - coexistence with mutual respect. All other options, it was noted, are recipes for increased tension, heightened distress and undermining of the order.

55. The commission stressed that coexistence presents challenges that are not easy for either side. It obliges each side to listen to the other, understand its sensitivities, and respect its basic rights. Arab citizens must bear in mind that Israel represents the realization of the yearnings of the Jewish people for a state of its own, the only state in which Jews are the majority, a state that is partly based on the principle of an ingathering of the Jewish exile, and that this is the essence of the existence of the state for its Jewish citizens. The Jewishness of the state is a constitutional given, which is partly reflected in the primary nature of the heritage of Israel and of the Hebrew language in its public life.

At the same time, the commission noted that the Jewish majority must bear in mind that the state is not only Jewish, but also democratic. As stated above, equality is one of the primary elements of the constitutional structure of the state, and the prohibition against discrimination applies to all citizens of the state. The majority must understand that the events that made the Arabs a minority in the state were for them a national catastrophe, and that their integration into the State of Israel was attended by painful sacrifices. The majority must respect their identity, culture and language. The commission also referred to the possibility of giving public expression to common denominators that link the entire population through the addition of official state events and symbols. It considered the need to find ways to reinforce Arab citizens' sense of belonging to the state without adversely affecting their belonging to their culture and community.

56. The commission did not take a stand on the various claims to grant collective rights to the Arab sector in several areas. It noted that this is an emotionally charged issue that is a source of great sensitivity to both sides. Among other things, it noted the testimony of former prime minister Mr. Barak, who felt that the Arab sector in Israel has communal rights - as a collective - to its own heritage and culture, but who differentiated between these types of rights and collective national rights that would threaten Israel's basic identity as a Jewish state. The commission noted that resolving the tension that partly arises from this differentiation is no simple task, and that debate of these issues necessitates political exchange of views, which should be worked out through dialogue to be held in appropriate forums.

57. The commission concluded that although its work and this report have endeavored to investigate the essential facts of the October events, above all other considerations, it does not abandon the hope that its work will also eventually contribute to a warmer relationship between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

For Hebrew version, see http://or.barak.net.il/inside_index.htm