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Jewish World Review Oct. 10, 2000/ 11 Tishrei, 5761

Suzanne Fields

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We weep for Rami for he is dead -- The real hero of the Isaac story was the ram/

who didn't know about the conspiracy between the others/

As if he had volunteered to die instead of Isaac.

I want to sing a song in his memory/

about his curly wool and his human eyes...

These lines were written by the Israeli poet Yedhud Amichai, who died last month, but his words could describe the world's grief at the death of Rami al-Dirreh, the 12-year old Palestinian boy killed in the crossfire between Palestinian rioters and Jewish soldiers.

Rami was too young to fully appreciate the danger he faced, too young to fully understand why bullets were flying overhead, or why, indeed, his father had chosen to take him to the riot. Not the sort of occasion most fathers would take their children. But we all -- Jew, Muslim, Christian and unbeliever -- weep for Rami, for he is dead, an innocent with human eyes who will never grow up to understand how men can kill each other in the name of peace.

Such pity for the pitiless death of a small boy, however, shouldn't blind us to the facts of what is going on in the West Bank, and why. Many blame Ariel Sharon, a fierce and handy villain for both demonstrators and doves, for his visit to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, a holy site to both Arab and Jew, during the Jewish New Year. Whatever his critics think of Sharon, he did not start this violence. Palestinians were killing Israelis for two days before the leader of the Likud Party climbed the Temple Mount.

Ehud Barak, Israeli prime minister, would have been irresponsible if he had not armed his soldiers with real bullets after Yasser Arafat ignored pleas to rein in his lethal rioters. Barak believed what the rest of us suspected, that the swift escalation of violence by the Palestinians could not have erupted spontaneously, but had to be carefully planned and coordinated. These are not simply children throwing rocks, but Palestinian police armed with rifles with lots of bullets. Surely Arafat could have used his influence, even if his influence is not what it once was, to stop them.

Zalman Shoval, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States who now lives in Tel Aviv, tells how quickly the stones and Molotov cocktails morphed into machine guns aimed at Israelis, and asks: Where did the Palestinians get their illegal automatic weapons?

It's not difficult to imagine that Arafat planned the violence to strengthen his own hand and to extract more concessions from Israel. A day before the rioting began, a bomb exploded on a bus in the Gaza strip, killing an Israeli citizen. Palestinian security forces are suspected of planting it.

Enemies of Israel have taken advantage of the high holy days in the past, knowing this is a time when Jews will be at prayer and reflection. The Yom Kippur War, after all, was not started by the Israelis.

Nor should the rest of the world forget that the Temple Mount, sacred to all, was opened to all only when Jerusalem was united in 1967. When it was under Arab control, Jews were denied access to it.

Foreign policy issues are easily reduced to soundbites in presidential debates, but both Al Gore and George Bush should be put on the spot to clarify their intentions about what to do about Yasser Arafat's double-dealing. George W. has no history on this, but Al Gore does.

In 1986, when he was a U.S. senator from Tennessee, Gore signed a letter urging that the United States seek the indictment of Arafat for the 1973 murders of a U.S. ambassador and his charge d'affairs in Khartoum. Intelligence tapes, obtained at that time, reflected the Arafat voice congratulating the killers.

Three years later Gore along with 67 other senators wrote letters asking that George W.'s father's administration deny a visa to Arafat when he was invited to address the United Nations. He firmly refused then to accept moral equivalence between Israel and the PLO led by Arafat, though he suggested he might change his mind if the PLO renounced violence against Israel. The violence, as we have seen these past few days, has been escalated.

The Clinton-Gore administration has given Arafat new diplomatic legitimacy, a man deemed worthy to negotiate an agreement for peace. The violence on Temple Mount reminds us all, Gore included, that Arafat remains a wolf, his appetite unsated, posing in very tattered sheep's clothing. Rami al-Dirre's human eyes were closed in death because others stood by, blinded by the real enemy.


10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate