Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 4, 2003 / 4 Sivan, 5763

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mobray
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


‘What most Jews don't want to verbalize is that they know, deep down, this is never going to stop’


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | JERUSALEM Although it isn't instantly apparent, most Israelis seem to be keenly aware that the struggle Americans view as an Israeli-Palestinian issue is, in fact, much larger — which President Bush acknowledged by visiting Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau before the latest "peace summit."

Talking with a wide range of Israelis in the week immediately preceding Bush's Middle East visit has proven revealing about the perceived prospects for peace. Israelis with whom I spoke in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv the past few days realize that they are wanted dead by a massive portion of the world —almost all of which surrounds their tiny country. President Bush's journey to the region has done little to inject ordinary Israelis with a sense of optimism.

Walking down the residential streets of Jerusalem Thursday afternoon and through the business district of Tel Aviv the night before, the atmosphere is one that could be found in Los Angeles or New York. Sitting outside restaurants and nightclubs, people are walking, flirting, laughing. Most of the Tel Aviv delis (or convenience stores, as some Americans would call them) have no fourth wall, conveying an openness that belies the residual anxiety many Israelis feel.

One Israeli, a light, olive-skinned woman in her mid-20's whose family emigrated here from Yemen, told me that if you are here long enough, you see that not everything is actually copasetic. "Israelis are nervous, but we are allowed to be," she explains. "I used to live right over there (pointing to an apartment building near the U.S. Embassy, about two blocks in from the Mediterranean Sea). There were three bombings right nearby in the year I lived there." Just one block from where that conversation occurred is Mike's Place, the site of a suicide bombing just a month earlier that killed four.

Walking past Mike's Place now, an observer would see no signs that an attack had taken place —except for the small, makeshift memorial about 15 feet from the entrance. Photos of the victims adorn a small sign that stands about four feet tall. The bar, which is a popular hangout for U.S. Embassy staff (who work next week), was re-built within one week of the April 30 attack. That is common here in Israel. More than anything else, it is a statement of perseverance, a determination that Israel will stand strong in the face of evil.

To an American on his first visit here, Israelis can seem unflappable. But talk to anyone long enough, and emotions ranging from apprehension to angst come to the fore. "What most Jews don't want to verbalize," notes an Israeli man who emigrated from the U.S. over twenty years ago, "is that they know, deep down, this is never going to stop." The high-ranking official in the Jerusalem police force continued, "This has been going on for thousands of years." At a jazz nightclub in Tel Aviv Thursday night, an American Jew on his fourth visit here said, "The Holocaust was not of a different kind, but of a different degree." The two Israelis at the table with us nodded solemnly in agreement.

In the United States, parents' greatest fear for their children is a senseless car accident. Here it is senseless and savagely brutal mass murder. One Israeli father told me told me that he gave his 5-year-old son a cell phone as a way to soothe his nerves. "Sometimes, if my son hasn't called after he should have arrived at school, I call him up, just to hear his voice."

Skepticism is the norm on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Almost no one really believes peace is imminent. They've been teased with the promise of a truly normal life too many times before. Israelis are, if anything, less amenable to compromise after having been willing to give up so much in the past. Younger Israelis are slightly more sanguine, but it seems superficial, dissipating if the conversation progresses beyond casual chatting. When asked if Bush's visit would accomplish anything, a 23-year-old Israeli woman who works at a beachfront hotel answered, "I hope so." After a few minutes, though, she expressed the same sentiment as many others: "Can peace really come? I doubt it."

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.




JWR contributor Joel Mowbray is the author of the forthcoming book "Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Endangers America's Security". Comment by clicking here.

06/02/03: Expect State Dept. to ignore Bush policy toward Iran
05/29/03: Neocon': Slang for 'Jew'?
05/27/03:'Defense Dept.'s de-Baath efforts run into State's pragmatic view of party
05/21/03: Comments by State Dept. official reflects Foreign Service disdain for Bush and believers
05/14/03: Jesse Jackson's Latest "Outrage" is Outrageous
05/12/03: Saddam's doctor selected by State Department
04/14/03: Why we fight
04/09/03: State Department giving Baghdad to House of Saud?
04/07/03: State Department giving Baghdad to House of Saud?
04/02/03: Martha Burk's State Department adventure
03/31/03: State's bad deeds head to Baghdad
03/26/03: Human shields-turned-hawks
03/24/03: No such thing as a benign despot
03/20/03: Self-fulfilling tyranny
03/14/03: Gadhafi-State Department Alliance
03/12/03: Pushing "peace" pushes war instead
03/10/03: One last chance --- for the UN
03/03/03: Democracy domino theory
02/28/03: $1 Trillion tax cut?
02/12/03: Saudi Slavery in America
02/05/03: "We're Going to War"
02/04/03: State Department's idea of a "traitor"
01/27/03: State's cold shoulder
01/02/03: Canada: The Weakest Link
12/20/02: Real Story of Yemen's Scud Missile Purchase
12/18/02: Lott's got the Senate in the palm of his hand
12/12/02: White House moves closer to finding Iraq in "material breach"
12/10/02: A 9/11 plotter confessed
12/06/02: Saudi Spin doctors dodge U.S. marshals
12/03/02: Wild, Wild Web
12/02/02: Justice, finally, for terrorism victims
11/26/02: Sue McDonalds? I Lost 80 lbs With Fast Food!
11/25/02: The State Department's spin machine
11/22/02: Finally! No more open door for Saudis
11/20/02: A defeat for border security
11/18/02: Trial lawyers vs. homeland security
10/09/02: The visas that shouldn't have been
09/26/02: The "right" Miss America
09/23/02: Tax Cuts, R.I.P.
09/17/02: Freedom denied
09/11/02: Iraqi roulette
09/06/02: O'Reilly the wrong 'Factor' in Saudi abduction case
09/05/02: State's war on Americans
08/09/02: White House wants replace 'Visa Express' genius with woman accused of not helping free kidnapped American kids in Arab lands
07/23/02: Visas for suspected terrorists?
07/11/02: VISA EXPRESS DERAILED
07/03/02: Saudis Fueling Mideast Terrorism
07/02/02: Dick Gephardt, Wannabe Deadbeat Son
06/26/02: Open door for terrorists still open
06/17/02: Open Door for Saudi Terrorists
06/11/02: Sacrificing liberty and safety
05/29/02: Coddling Castro
05/20/02: GOP running from social security reform?
05/09/02: Arab (sky) High Culture
04/24/02: Catholic Church's real challenge
04/17/02: How do you say 'media-bias' in Hebrew?
04/09/02: Sexually Explicit "Abstinence" Education?
04/09/02: A price on the heads of Americans overseas
04/02/02: Bush's New Version of Compartmentalization
03/25/02: Homosexuality a Factor in Sex Abuse by Priests
03/20/02: Government's "Candid Cameras"
03/14/02: Happy Abortionist Appreciation Day
03/07/02: Let dissent ring
03/04/02: Is Ted Kennedy a racist?
02/26/02: The Audacity to Be Black and Conservative

© 2003, Joel Mowbray.