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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                        May 9, 1995, V3, #85
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Israel's Peace Technique is Wishy-Washy

By Ed Warner (Washington)

Israel is facing the most traumatic debate since its founding, said Joseph Alpher, director of the Middle East Office for the American Jewish Committee. Addressing the the annual meeting of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in Washington, he said Israeli opinion is sharply divided on the peace process with a large silent majority still undecided.

Indeed that division was reflected in the audience as Alpher described negotiations with the PLO to date. Having worked on Israeli security and strategic matters for most of his career, he said the West Bank settlements present a strategic dilemma:

"Many if not most of those settlements were placed there by previous Israeli governments with the specific objective of preventing a territorial political settlement. So we have a contradiction locked into the agreement, and it's one that confronts us every time there is a new terrorist attack where those settlements were put to prevent Israel from leaving the territories. It interacts with the problem of terrorism, feeds upon it and in turn feeds it and in any ways is together with terrorism the main issue making it difficult to proceed."

Negotiations have been painfully slow, said Alpher, but what are the options? If the process is frozen, as some demand, it may collapse altogether. If it is speeded up to reach final status negotiations, the PLO will be unduly rewarded for its less than stellar performance so far:

"The third option is the muddling through option, and it's the one which the State of Israel usually chooses. And it's more or less where we are - to look for ways to make it work: a little bit of security, a little bit of progress on the territorial issues, some more progress on the election issue. Get the Palestinians to compromise here. We'll compromise there. Make it work. Muddle through the interim process in the hopes that we will get to a point where it will reach some kind of fruition, and the overall situation will improve."

Alpher conceded this gradual approach tempts extremists to try to sabotage it with terrorist attacks.

Major General Daniel Rothschild, who served in the 1967 war and later as chief administrator of the territories, said the extremists must be sharply distinguished from the great majority of Palestinians, who, like Israelis, want peace and security.

The peace process, he said, removed the Israeli presence that humiliated the Palestinian, but his economic conditions have deteriorated: "The Palestinian woke up the day after the elections and opened the window. There were no Israeli soldiers around. And he went to bed the same night, thinking maybe it was an Israeli trick. Let's see what will happen tomorrow morning. And the next morning, he opened the window in the morning, and yes, there were no Israeli soldiers there. Everyone was very happy and very euphoric. The problem is after a week or two weeks, you are getting used to wake up in the morning and not to see Israeli soldiers. What you are not getting used to is that your living standard was not lifted but decreased."

Swiss Were in League with the Nazis

By Douglas Roberts (Geneva)

As the World War 2 Allies celebrate the 50th anniversary of their victory over Nazi Germany, there has been some painful soul-searching in Switzerland. The country's president has formally apologized for war-time policies that cost thousands of Jews their lives. Switzerland's much vaunted neutrality masked substantial collusion with the Nazi regime.

In 1938, as the clouds of war gathered over Europe, the Swiss government entered into a secret pact with Nazi Germany. The Swiss vowed to bar German Jews seeking asylum in the country. And to enforce that pledge, Swiss authorities persuaded the Berlin government to stamp the letter "J" into the passports held by German Jews.

Four years later, with the Axis powers in control of most of Europe, Switzerland went a step farther, barring Jewish refugees from any country. War-time documents, declassified last year, reveal that at least 10,000 Jews were turned back from the Swiss border. Some already in the country were handed over to German authorities. It is feared that virtually all ended up at the notorious Nazi death camps.

Other documents show that Germany deposited millions of dollars of war time booty in Swiss banks. And Switzerland was an important source of supplies for the Nazi regime.

Last month, Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti added fuel to the fire by declaring that Switzerland cannot and must not deny that it was implicated in what he termed the unspeakable barbarism of the time.

There were doubts right up until the last moment as to whether the government would formally apologize for its conduct toward the Jews.

In the end, President Kaspar Villiger did apologize. "It is beyond doubt," he told parliament Sunday, "that we heaped guilt on ourselves through our policy toward the persecuted Jews. We deeply regret and apologize for this Swiss action." He added, "it was unforgivable."

Afterwards, all seven members of the Swiss presidency attended the memorial service at Berne's gothic cathedral. It was, for many Swiss, a poignant moment; and an attempt to come to terms with what one historian has called the darkest spot on Switzerland's record.

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