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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
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
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
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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