Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

7 Nissan 5760 - April 12, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

Syrian and Palestinian Tracks on Barak's Agenda

by Mordecai Plaut

Our next issue will not appear for almost three weeks but the world will not sit still on the interim, so we will try to summarize the major stories as they are today -- now.

Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak is in Washington for talks with Clinton that are said to be about the "Syrian track." Prospects for progress with Syria are not bright, as Syrian president Assad showed no flexibility at his last meeting with U.S. President Clinton at their meeting two weeks ago in Geneva. There are difficult problems over control of Lake Kinneret which Israel insists must be theirs since it is a major water source for them. There are also issues over security including Israeli observers stationed on Mt. Hermon to provide early information about Syrian moves.

Barak has committed himself to withdraw Israeli troops from Lebanon with or without an agreement with Syria. This prospect has unsettled all the involved parties, including the government of Lebanon, Syria, the Christian South Lebanon Army that is supported by Israel, and the residents of Israel's northern communities many of whom will afterwards be within rifle range of the border. Senior Army commanders have also expressed reservations about the plan.

As to the Palestinians, there is a Barak-declared deadline of reaching a framework agreement with them by May 13. The Palestinians indicated clearly that they do not regard that date as significant, but Barak has not abandoned hope. Recently, however, he has been hinting about Palestinian unwillingness to negotiate seriously. After Barak's talks in Washington this week, Yasser Arafat is scheduled to hold talks with President Clinton on April 20, the first day of Pesach.

Neither Arafat not Assad seems willing to show flexibility at this point. They seem to feel that the pressure is on the Israeli and American side who have declared that they see a special "window of opportunity" for an agreement. The Arabs take this to mean that the other side is in a rush to conclude something, and there is no reason for them to be flexible.

Barak is in the midst of serious troubles in Israel as he flies off to Washington. There are ongoing strikes of doctors, hospital workers, as well as workers in 20 government offices.

The government coalition is shaky, as Barak failed to bring about an agreement between Shas and Meretz before he left for Washington. Though no side seems to want to bring down the government as of yet, the unsettled conflict causes constant crises and parliamentary difficulties. The Shas education network is still not healthy, and Education Minister Sarid seems determined to weaken it further.

On Tuesday the High Court, sitting with 11 justices, is to hear arguments about a Reform conversion performed in Israel. So far the Court has forced the government to recognize Reform conversions performed outside of Israel, but not within Israel where the Chief Rabbinate is the official body with responsibility for determining valid conversions. Though many of the conversions at issue were performed abroad, the candidates studied in Israel and only went abroad for the final conversion ceremony. Thus the Rabbinate maintained that they did not have to recognize the foreign conversions which were only done there to circumvent the law.

The verdict on Tuesday in the libel case of maverick British historian David Irving brought against an American historian who said that Irving denied the Holocaust against the Jews, went against Irving. A colorful personality and speaker, professional historians have found much to criticize in Irving's historical work. Irving has indicated that he will probably not appeal the result, but he has since filed other libel cases.

More predictable than the world news is the upcoming Pesach holiday. All over the world, the Jewish community is feverishly preparing for the great yom tov that begins next Thursday. That is a welcome opportunity to focus on eternal truths and not passing events. Chag kosher vesomayach!

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.