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A Letter from Haifa – Is War on the Way?

Wednesday, 15 November 2000 12:00 AM

It has been three weeks of stress, tension and worry. We are comparatively lucky here in Haifa. It has always been a city where Arabs and Jews have gotten along.

There is a modus operandi that has been understood and worked out. We have always patronized Arab restaurants and other Arab merchants.

But, suddenly, as a result of the violence and the call to arms by the Arabs in Gaza and the Palestinian-controlled territories, the Israeli Arabs have also been involved in violent acts, and that is a development that we never anticipated.

Suddenly, we have a fifth column within the country. Those areas of Israel whose borders are close to the Palestinian-controlled territories are most in danger, but there are many Arab cities and villages inside Israel – whose Arab residents are Israeli citizens – where Arabs are driving just a few miles to attack civilians and other targets on our streets.

All of a sudden, we are viewing our Israeli Arabs with suspicion and resentment. One day last week, there was incitement to set fires all over Israel, and trees and shrubbery in nearby neighborhoods were set afire – by Israeli Arabs. An industrial park some miles north of here was broken into and destroyed. Cars not far from here, on the Haifa-Tel Aviv highway were attacked by teenagers of an Arab village that borders the road.

What I am writing about, you will not have seen or read in any reports of the violence of the past two weeks. We've been asked not to patronize any Arab shopkeepers or restaurateurs here in Haifa. People here have agreed upon a boycott – although I feel those Israeli Arabs who kept their shops open on the "Day of Rage," two Sundays ago, when Israeli Arabs closed their shops to show support for the Palestinian violence, should be supported. We have continued to deal with those Arabs that seem to keep themselves out of the struggle.

What distresses me most of all, is that there is no one here who presents to the world the truth of what is going on. We don't have any public relations person who sets straight the Palestinian propaganda and distortions that go out to the world.

For instance, did you hear any outcry from the international community when the Tomb of Joseph was desecrated, taken apart stone by stone? Did you know that several days before Ariel Sharon and a group of Knesset members visited the Temple Mount, that a convoy of Israeli military trucks was blown up by mines that had been put on the road shortly before they passed through, killing and injuring many of our soldiers?

Did you know that the Palestinians have four lines of attack? In the front line, they put children, ten, eleven, twelve years old (the first to get shot if bullets are flying). In the second line, they have the masked stone throwers, mostly teen-agers. In the third line, they have the older teen-agers and young adults, throwing Molotov Cocktails, explosives, and in back, they have the adults with guns and live ammunition.

It is the rear lines that attack Israeli soldiers with explosives and bullets, and when they fire back, the world sees children being killed. They have been put there by their own people to mobilize the world's outrage. (It reminds us that, during the Gulf war, the Iraqis installed their Scud missile equipment adjacent to a hospital, and when the Americans bombed the military installation, the Iraqi outcry was that we were bombing a hospital. It is exactly that mentality that motivates the Palestinians.

The other day we heard that, despite the fact that the borders are closed – no traffic can go in or out of Israel into Palestinian controlled territories – an ambulance was allowed through from Israel, only for us to discover that when it was unloaded, there were no injured people. It was filled with explosives, sent by Israeli Arabs!)

A lady minister in the Knesset has just returned from the U.S. and told of her dismay in listening to the U.S. media, buying into Arab propaganda, and coming out against Israel – especially CNN.

When she contacted the Israeli ambassador in Washington, asking how could it be that there was no spokesman for the Israeli position, she was told that that was the function of the Israeli consulate in N.Y. When she contacted the Israeli consul in N.Y., she found that he could hardly speak English!

Had I written this letter the day of the Sharm-el Sheik agreement, I would have told you that a great weight was suddenly lifted from my shoulders, and I could breathe more easily. But unfortunately, the situation had only barely improved when a group of Israeli civilians, including women and children, was fired on by Palestinians. Several were killed, and those wounded could not be evacuated immediately by helicopters because the Palestinians were shooting at the helicopters.

Finally a battle ensued, with soldiers moving in. Right now, we do not expect the Sharm-el-Sheik agreement to last. We are preparing for war. I have been through all the wars that Israel has endured, and the first thing I did the other evening was to stock up on canned foods, sugar, flour and oil – and Halvah – the best and quickest source of energy!

It is a dreadful prospect but a reality that we must face. Some have said, "The sooner we have the war, the better it will be. Rather than to let the violence escalate!" and they may represent the overwhelming feelings in the country right now. And that leaves me with a heavy heart.

Please distribute this letter to others as we are sure they would like to know what is going on here.

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It has been three weeks of stress, tension and worry.We are comparativelylucky here in Haifa.It has always been a city where Arabs and Jews have gotten along. There is a modus operandi that has been understood and worked out. We have always patronized Arab restaurants and...
Wednesday, 15 November 2000 12:00 AM
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