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Israel Seeks Hand in Containing Iran


Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his cabinet Sunday that Israel should be prepared to cope with an Iranian nuclear threat, but not lead the campaign against it. He reportedly said that the Iranian program endangers the entire world; Israel should coordinate its moves with the United States, Britain and Europe, but not take a leading role. Europeans are not eager to fight Iran's program and, if Israel assumes a more dominant role, the Europeans will lessen their involvement, he said. When we lead, we relieve them of their responsibility to take care of it, Sharon said, according to a participant in the meeting.

Palestinians Mark Israel's Creation with Protests

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Palestinians held protest rallies Sunday to mark the anniversary of Israel's creation 57-years ago. Israel described the observances as "discouraging."

Sirens wailed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as Palestinians marked what they call the "Nakba" or "catastrophe" of Israel's creation in 1948. Traffic came to a standstill and people stopped and observed two-minutes of silence, in solidarity with the 700,000 Palestinians who lost their homes and became refugees. The sirens are reminiscent of observances in Israel marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

They vow not to forget their "national identity," which many experts say never existed. The British mandate ended on Saturday, May 15, 1948, and in order not to clash with the Sabbath, David Ben-Gurion convened the Jewish provisional government the day before to declare the new state.

Thousands of Palestinians held protest marches, demanding that refugees be allowed to return to their homes in Israel. "We are looking forward to see that the world would support the Palestinians to achieve their national rights and to have their independent state on the 1967 borders," said Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia. In a speech to the Palestinian parliament, Qureia said, "Jerusalem is under occupation, Jewish settlements are expanding daily and the hopes for peace are faltering."

"We will never forget our identity and we won't forget the refugees," PA chief Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech from Tokyo, Japan, where he is beginning a three-day visit. "We have a homeland called Palestine that belongs to our forefathers... Today is the day of the crime of the expulsion of our nation all over the world."

In fact, however, Palestinian "identity," "homeland," and "expulsion" are all concepts that have little basis in fact. The name "Palestinian" referred to Jews before 1948, the Land of Israel was historically a homeland only to Jews, and the Arabs who left Israel in 1948 did so, generally, at the behest of Arab countries, not Israel.

Palestinian Arab nationalist claims have often been called nothing more than a myth, and, as Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby has written, "They have repeated it so often and so loudly that much of the world has come to believe it." Jacoby summed up:

"The truth is that there was never an Arab country of Palestine and that Palestinian Arabs were never a nation. The truth is that Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab state or province. The truth is that in all of recorded history, only one people has ever made Palestine west of the Jordan a sovereign nation-state with Jerusalem as its capital: the Jews. So closely was Palestine associated with Jews, in fact, that in the years before Israel's birth, those who spoke of "Palestinians" were usually referring to the region's Jewish residents.

Arab leaders rejected the notion of a unique Palestinian Arab identity, insisting that Palestine was merely a part of "Greater Syria." Not that they saw Palestine as much of a prize in any case. Until the Zionist enterprise got underway, Palestine was stagnant and mostly barren. Its Arab population was small and declining. With Jewish development, however, came economic opportunity and better living conditions, which, in turn, attracted huge numbers of Arab immigrants from beyond Palestine's borders.

"Yet, if the Arabs didn't consider themselves Palestinians, they nevertheless ended up with most of Palestine... Three-fourths of historic Palestine is sovereign Arab territory, and has been barred to Jews for 80 years. Arabs displaced by war from one part of Palestine have always had the rest of Palestine to resettle in - if only their Arab brethren would permit it.

"The Arab myth of an ancient homeland stolen by Jews is dramatic and affecting, but it is still a myth. The Jews, meanwhile - the real Palestinians - try to live on just the sliver of land that lies between the river and the sea. Yet even that is too much for their neighbors, who cannot abide a Jewish state of any size. On the day it was born, they tried to wipe it out. They have been trying ever since."

Prayer in Orange Forbidden at Western Wall


Guards at the Western Wall prohibited visitors from wearing orange shirts at a Remembrance Day ceremony. Orange is the official color of the anti-disengagement struggle.

Sarah Baumol from Gush Etzion said her 8th-grade son and his class went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray at the conclusion of a school trip this past day, Memorial Day. "A policeman stood there and demanded that my son, and several of his friends, remove any orange T-shirts or bands, and [he] tossed them in a pile," said Baumol.

She said his son asked the guard for his name, and that the latter responded only that he was acting under orders.

"My son was wearing his orange T-shirt under two other layers, a sweater and a white shirt. He was forced to undress in front of the crowds pouring in, and give up his shirt," she said. "My other son had his orange bracelet removed by this policeman."

9th-graders from a girls' high school in Beit El also attended the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Western Wall, and witnessed a similar scene. Some of the girls said they were shocked when classmates who were wearing orange-colored clothing and bracelets were told at security checks to step aside. Those who didn't agree or couldn't remove the orange articles of clothing from their bodies were denied access to the holy site.

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