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>Israel Faxx
>JN Feb. 19, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 32

40% Increase in Sales of Plane Tickets Going Abroad

By IINS News Service

Travel agents in Israel are reporting a 40% increase in sales of tickets to countries abroad, as a result of the tense political atmosphere in the area. Most tickets are for the United States, Canada and Western Europe. Most of the persons who bought the tickets have family in the countries they are traveling to.

There has also been a significant increase in reservations for hotels and guesthouses in the north and in Eilat in the south. Many residents living in the center of the country, primarily in Tel-Aviv, Gush Dan and adjoining areas are considered to be in the "prime target" zone of falling missiles, should Iraq attack Israel. Many of these residents have decided to leave prior to an attack.

Eilat, whose hotel industry last week reported being almost empty, is reporting 100% occupancy, beginning next week.

Israel Confirms Message to Iraq -- No Preemptive Strike

By IINS News Service

Sources in Jerusalem confirm Israel has sent a message to Saddam Hussein that it will not launch any preemptive strike against Baghdad. As Israelis continue to purchase supplies for sealed rooms and stand on line for gas masks, the government is still delivering a message of calm and maintains that an Iraqi attack against Israel is very unlikely.

Wanted: American Tourism

The Ministry of Tourism embarked on a campaign to increase American tourism to Israel. It produced a newspaper supplement in honor of the 50th anniversary of Israel, which was included in Sunday's New York Times. One million copies of the 20-pager were distributed. A survey conducted by the Tourism Ministry shows there is a potential of over 3.5 million tourists in America who have shown an interest in visiting Israel. Jewish tourism from the U.S. comprises approximately 20% of all incoming tourism to Israel.

Three Women from Jerusalem

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Washington)

Three women from Jerusalem -- a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim -- have been traveling the United States. The unusual speaking tour was organized by Partners for Peace, a collective plea for peace in which they tell their separate stories about life in the divided city.

Three women from three different life experiences in one city decided it was time to speak out for peace -- not alone, but together. An Israeli Jewish mother of three, Michal Shohat says she could not remain silent any more.

"I think we suffered enough. In the last century we had so many wars and so many painful times. Enough. I have three children. They deserve a better future so here I am."

Nahla Asali is a Palestinian mother of three and teacher at Bir Zeit University. She also lives in Jerusalem, but not the same world as Michal Shohat. For her Jerusalem is a city of restrictions and limitations. She participated in the speaking tour to dispel misperceptions about life in Jerusalem and the impact of the peace process.

"I don't have any problem with an Israeli human being as a human being. It's only when you see that the presence of the jews is a threat to my presence that tension may arise. As human beings I don't see any problems. It's only when politic decide the relationship. To look at a soldier at a checkpoint, I see a soldier. But if Michal brings her son to my home, if this may happen, I would see her son as a teenager. So there is a difference. So how you define your relationship with the other is very much decided by factors beyond your control."

Palestinian Christian Claudette Habesch echoes many Palestinians when she acknowledges that her complaints are against Israel not against Israelis. The US tour allowed her to dispel perceptions that Palestinians and Israelis all hate each other.

"My problem is with the Israeli state that was built on my homeland and today we have come to compromise and to say that we want to share this land, one part Palestinian, one part Israeli that will live in peace. On this tour, we have lived together for the past two weeks and we have been able to say things to each other and to ask about the difference in treatment. But what worries me is not my relationship with Michal and her daughter. What worries me are the measures that are taken by the Israeli government and their lack of respect and honoring the treaties they have signed."

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