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Bush, Kerry Voice Opinions on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
By Brent Hurd (VOA-Washington)
There has been a dramatic increase of Arab animosity toward U.S. policies in the Middle
East, according to the latest opinion polls.
According to Zogby International, a well known American polling firm, most of those
surveyed in Arab countries said their first thought when asked about America is 'unfair
policy.' A majority said the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a key aspect of that
U.S. presidents and serious presidential contenders have always been supportive of
Israel. Lately the debate has focused on how to achieve peace between Israel and the
Palestinians, to their mutual benefit. In a recent meeting with the Malaysian prime
minister, President Bush spoke about an eventual Palestinian state.
"We talked about the Israeli-Palestinian issue and I told him that I am fully committed
to the development of a Palestinian state that can live side by side with Israel in
peace," Bush said. To the president, the key is a Palestinian leader that Israel can trust
and work with - meaning one without Yasir Arafat.
When John Kerry spoke about the region in May, he did not dispute the premise - only
the way the Bush administration is executing it. "We will never expect Israel to negotiate
peace without a credible partner. And it is up to the United States in my judgment to do a
better job of helping the Arab world to help that partner to evolve and to develop that
Many analysts said there's little difference between Democrats and Republicans on this
issue. Philip Wilcox, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, said there's
little substance either. "The phrase Palestinian state is meaningless unless it is
defined. The devil is in the details and president Bush has said nothing about the borders
of the Palestinian state, the fate of Israeli settlements or a solution to the problem of
Jerusalem. At one time it appeared the candidates differed over the controversial security
barrier that Israel is building, some of it in the West Bank.
"Kerry said at one stage that he opposed the wall, that it was an obstacle to peace,"
Wilcox said. "But since then Kerry has pulled back and his policies, his statements about
the disengagement plan, the wall, are very similar to those of President Bush. Wilcox
said Kerry's change in rhetoric is a cautious move. He says neither candidate wants to
take a critical position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for fear of losing votes from
U.S. supporters of Israel.
Those supporters include some fundamentalist Christians who want to see Israel include
territory the Palestinians say is theirs. "There is a large and well-organized element in
the American conservative Christian community that fervently supports the concept of
greater Israel," Wilcox said. "They interpret the Bible to say that if the Jews recover
all the ancient homelands, than that will bring the second coming of the Christian
Wilcox said whichever candidate wins the election will be tasked with taking a fresh
look at the conflict for the sake of U.S. national security. That argument is based on the
idea that support for terrorism in the Middle East can never be eradicated until the
Israeli-Palestinian issue is settled. Others suggest that U.S. support for authoritarian
regimes in the Middle East will also have to change. One thing won't change: whoever wins
the election will consider Israel America's closest ally in the Middle East.
Officials May Take Action Against Rabbi Who Threatened Sharon
Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi on Wednesday said police officials were meeting with
the State Prosecution to discuss the possibility of initiating criminal proceedings
against a rabbi who said he would be willing to hold a ritual calling for Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon's death.
On Tuesday night Rabbi Yossi Dayan, a former member of the outlawed Kach party,
declared on Channel 2 that he would be prepared to carry out a ceremony putting a curse on
Sharon if the Gaza disengagement plan is not called off. The ceremony, called Pulsa
Denura, was carried out before Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995.
Dayan said that he would be willing to conduct the ceremony if other rabbis instructed
him to do so, and added that when he was asked to perform the ceremony against Rabin, he
did so. The rabbi said that the security services and the police had questioned him about
this. "We are forbidden from talking now. We cannot pray. We cannot think. We cannot
feel," Dayan said. "The head of the Security Service, [Avi] Dichter said that there are
people wishing that Sharon would die. I am among them. 'Can't I wish?'" he said.
Senior officials in Jerusalem on Wednesday said that preemptive arrests might be
necessary in view of threats against Sharon and other top officials, Israel Radio
reported. Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said that the types of people who made
those kinds of threats were not the main danger, since they usually do not take action.
Nevertheless, he confirmed that preemptive arrests would be made should the need
Israelis Arrested on 9/11 Sue U.S.
Four Israelis arrested in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, a short while after the attacks
on the World Trade Center, have filed a multi-million-dollar suit in the U.S. against the
Department of Justice.
The four, Paul and Sylvian Kurcheil, Omer Marmari and Vyron Shmuel, claim that their
arrests were illegal, and that they were held for months while they were interrogated and
tortured. In their suit, filed in U.S. District Court through their attorneys, Nitzana
Dershen-Leitner and Robert Tulchin, they claim that "law officials, policemen and jailers
arrested the four illegally, for a long and protracted period, and violated their human
rights while they were detained at a holding center in 2001."
The four were employed by a New Jersey moving firm and the truck they were riding in
was stopped near the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York when the
Twin Towers were attacked.
The police officers arrested the four after they saw that they held foreign (Israeli)
driving licenses. They were arrested as suspects in the terrorist attack and were
transferred to the FBI for interrogation. The four, who are now in Israel, claim that they
were held in complete isolation, without being allowed to meet with their attorneys or
their families, and were exposed to harsh interrogation methods, physical abuse, sleep
deprivation and racist insults
Website Directory for High Holiday Services
"If you happen to find yourself in Anchorage, Alaska or Windhoek, Namibia, over Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year," theorizes correspondent Michael Freund, "and you need
a place to pray, a new website may just be able to provide the answer."
Freund was referring to The Global High Holiday Events Search Engine, a project of the
Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center, which contains dozens of listings around the world for High
Holiday services that are free and open to the public.
The site is sponsored by New York investor and philanthropist George Rohr, who said,
"We want to make sure that as many Jews as possible have access to High Holiday services,
no matter where they are, no matter their financial means and no matter their
Is Israel 'Swing State' That Could Tip U.S. Election?
By Matt Spetalnick (Commentary via Reuters)
DEIR DIBWAN, West Bank--In this hillside village known as the "little America" of the
West Bank, businessman Abu Mohammed voted for George W. Bush in the last U.S. election but
vows not to make the same mistake twice. On the other side of the Israeli-Palestinian
divide, Jerusalem marketing manager Stuart Schnee, a lifelong Jewish Democrat who has
never crossed party lines, plans to cast his ballot in November to keep Bush in the White
With little in common but their U.S. passports, Israeli-Americans and
Palestinian-Americans living overseas could help tip the balance if the 2004 presidential
election comes down to the wire as it did four years ago. Bush's victory over Democrat Al
Gore in Florida's decisive recount was by a margin of 537 votes, only after thousands of
absentee ballots were tallied from Floridians abroad.
This time, American expatriates -- estimated to number between five million and 10
million -- are being courted like never before by Democrats and Republicans.
Israel, sometimes referred to as the "51st state" for its embrace of all things
American, has become a key battleground.
It is home to an estimated 250,000 U.S. citizens, America's fifth-largest community
abroad, many hailing from swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
"The lesson of the last election is you can't take a single absentee ballot for granted,"
said Kory Bardash, head of Republicans Abroad in Israel.
Neither party is taking any chances. The Republicans sent California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger to woo Americans in the Jewish state. Democratic candidate Senator John
Kerry also sent an emissary -- his brother Cameron, a convert to Judaism.
The Republicans have signed up dozens of campaign volunteers and are preparing a
pro-Bush advertising blitz in Israel's English-language newspapers, but they face steep
odds. Israeli-Americans, like their Jewish brethren back home, have a long tradition of
voting heavily Democratic. Polls show 75 percent of Jews in the United States back
But Republicans in Israel hope to win crossover votes by arguing that a Kerry victory
could lead to a shift away from the Middle East policies of the Bush presidency, seen as
more staunchly pro-Israel than any other White House in decades.
It is a message that resonates among growing numbers of Israeli-Americans after four years
of bloody conflict marked by Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military offensives.
Many say their choice will be guided more by whether they think Bush or Kerry will best
serve Israel's interests than by the candidates' stand on taxes and other domestic
Schnee was born in New Jersey with what he calls a "genetic predisposition" to vote
Democratic, as his family has for generations. But after a decade living in Israel, he now
plans to vote Republican for the first time. "I disagree with Bush on many things ... but
he is the best man to lead the war on terror and safeguard Israel's security," Schnee, 40,
said on the way to report for army reserve duty.
The Republican campaign is also targeting Israel's fast-growing ultra-Orthodox
population, seen as a natural constituency for Bush's conservative views. Many will vote
for the first time after leading rabbis told their U.S.-born followers it was their
religious duty. American-born Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, captured by
Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, are also expected to stick with Bush.
Though they were astonished at Bush's endorsement of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan
to uproot Gaza settlements, they fear a Democratic administration will press Israel to
give up even more of the land they see as theirs by biblical birthright.
Anti-Bush sentiment has taken root in Deir Dibwan, where half of the village's 10,000
inhabitants hold U.S. passports and local restaurants cater to a taste for hamburgers and
pizza. Palestinians from Deir Dibwan have a long tradition of immigrating to the United
States, where some have earned their fortunes before returning to build luxury villas atop
the rocky hills. Many are now moving back to America, embittered by what they see as Bush
administration complicity in an Israeli military crackdown that has crippled the
Palestinian-Americans are also furious at Bush for agreeing Israel should be allowed to
retain large swathes of the West Bank and bar the return of refugees under any future
peace deal. While harboring few illusions that a Democratic White House would
significantly alter Middle East policy, some are holding out hope that Kerry would take a
more even-handed approach. "I voted for Bush and he betrayed us," said Mohammed, 30, a
California-registered voter. "This time I'm going for Kerry. If that doesn't bring us
justice, it'll be Ralph Nader in 2008."
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