Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Iyar 5761 - April 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
They Told Us So

by E. Rauchberger

Seven or eight years ago, during the Rabin government, the Oslo Accords were born. The Likud, then the opposition party, was firmly opposed to the accords both in the Knesset and in mass demonstrations and protest activities across the country. The Right was up in arms against the proceedings with the Palestinians, but to no avail. The accords were signed and dispatched, and the ball was set in motion.

Two Likud MKs made particularly acrimonious remarks in almost every address they made to the Knesset and its committees: Uzi Landau, now Security Minister and Interior Minister, and then Knesset member Benny Begin.

In their addresses Landau and Begin issued numerous warnings, and their exact words are of course documented in the Knesset protocols, against the eventuality of Katyusha rockets, bombs and mortar shells being fired by Palestinians at Ashkelon and other settlements inside Israeli territory.

Chaim Ramon was the minister who acted as a liaison between the government and the Knesset and he was the one who was usually sent by the government to present its response to motions regarding policy issues or no-confidence motions concerning the Oslo Accords. Ramon would scoff at Landau and Begin's repeated warnings against the danger of shooting at Israeli cities and settlements from Palestinian territory, completely dismissing the possibility.

Furthermore, over a year after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which was carried out to justify the Oslo Accords, Ramon mentioned Landau and Begin's dark warnings and repeated threats against the possibility of shooting from PA- held territory into Israeli territory, and pointed out that in fact nothing had transpired. The accords had been implemented without incident and peace, it seemed, prevailed.

Now, seven or eight years later, perhaps longer than Landau and Begin imagined, these predictions and warnings have come all too true. Ramon snickered and sneered, but the reality has now slapped him in the face. Mortar shells have been fired at Sderot and, according to all the signs, firing could continue. Begin and Landau can now tell anyone who is willing to listen, "We hate to say it, but we told you so."

Friend or Foe?

The National Unity Government and the collaboration between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres have given rise to a number of peculiarities. Old pacts have unraveled while new ones have been forged, political allies have turned into enemies and vice versa: The wonderful world of politics with all of the payoffs and deceitfulness it entails.

Until recently Shimon Peres was the darling of the Left. Arab MKs constantly sang his praises and he embodied their vision and aspirations on every issue related to the Palestinians. Peres is considered the father of the Oslo Accords, the inventor of the new Middle East and the most persistent senior policy official in Israel constantly pushing for peace agreements with the Palestinians.

Last week the chairman of the Arab party in the Knesset, Mohammed Baraki of Hadash, went and initiated a serious campaign to revoke Peres' Nobel Peace Prize. If there is something Peres is proud of, it is the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded.

This initiative has no chance, but a great absurdity has resulted: the Likud and Sharon, who attacked Peres several years ago for the Oslo Accords and maintained that he should not be awarded the Nobel Prize, are now forced to defend him. Meanwhile those who once sang his praises, namely the Arab MKs, are now calling for the retraction of his Nobel Prize.

Another major turnaround has also taken place. Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelosof, daughter of the late Yitzhak Rabin, was until recently considered the princess of the Left.

Last week, Rabin-Pelosof was sent to present the government's response to Yossi Sarid's proposed arrangement. This is certainly nothing unusual, but Sarid decided he didn't like the idea of a deputy minister. He apparently perceived the move as belittling to him and his position, and was deeply insulted.

"Important, weighty and far-reaching developments are taking place, and I would expect that when the opposition comes here to discuss such significant issues, a figure-- regardless of his title--who is a partner in the process of formulating policy and decision-making . . . I don't think it's appropriate for a deputy minister to present the response," said Sarid.

Undoubtedly Sarid has a score to settle with Dalia Rabin for her decision to join the Sharon government. Until recently, as the princess of the Left she was used to criticism coming from the Right, but now Rabin-Pelosof must endure insults and demeaning remarks from the Left.

Selective Laws

Meretz, Shinui and all of the stalwarts of the Left constantly preach in favor of upholding the law. Indeed the law must be honored, but this includes every law and not just those laws that some deem worthy.

Meretz and Shinui have clearly demonstrated--not for the first time--that there is selectiveness among various laws. Those laws that are worthy in their eyes and suit their needs must be honored, and for these laws they are willing to wage an all-out battle, while those laws that they do not hold in high esteem are treated very differently, up to the point of mounting an official campaign not to honor the law and giving assistance to those who violate the law and trample it.

The following incident took place during Pesach. The State of Israel has a law on the books called the Chometz Law. This law, which was passed in the Knesset several years ago, prohibits the open sale of chometz on Pesach in public thoroughfares. The Interior Minister dispatched inspectors to visit restaurants and stores that sold chometz, and the inspectors fined the chometz sellers -- as the law unequivocally stipulates.

Rather than all of the Knesset members backing the government body responsible for enforcing the legislation just like every other law on the books, Shinui MKs took to the city streets, to those very restaurants, and abetted the violation of the law that takes place there. Of course they had arguments against the law, but that should make no difference. A law is a law is a law, as they constantly preach, and thus they should be the first ones to uphold the law. The stalwarts of law and order from Shinui are no less hypocritical than everyone else.

Another example: In Tel Aviv University storerooms lie human bones that should have been buried according to the law that holds human bones do not fall under the category of "artifacts." The university agreed to bury the bones a year and a half ago. However, citing various claims such as a manpower shortage, the university has yet to bury all of the bones. That is an obvious violation of the law.

Not long ago Rabbi Moshe Gafni went to Tel Aviv University and protested the continued desecration of the bones in violation of the agreement reached with the university.

Meanwhile Anat Maor of Meretz, chairwoman of the Knesset's Science and Technology Committee, rushed to convene an urgent meeting of the committee, then on recess, to discuss the visit to the Department of Anatomy at Tel Aviv University by a delegation of rabbonim, as if MKs are prohibited from visiting the university and voicing protest against incidents they deem to be undesirable, particularly in the case of a clear violation in which the law of the State of Israel.

Instead of backing the MK taking action to uphold the law, Maor convened the committee in order to sabotage the work of a fellow MK and to assist a lawbreaker.

At the conclusion of the meeting Maor decided, in the name of the committee, to change the law. The law states that desecrating human bones is illegal, but Maor has pushed a decision to change what she terms "this distortion."

The committee, i.e. Maor, also decided to contact the Attorney General "to determine whether the current interpretation of the Artifacts Law does not impose limits on the freedom of science and research." Ribono shel Olam! Are there no other laws that interfere with other areas of life? Of course there are. But a law usually comes to defend a particular institution or right, and as such, someone else is liable to be affected by it.

The law in question defends human bones, the bodies of the departed, and nobody has the right to touch them or to make use of them. And along comes Maor and claims that it hinders research. So what if it hinders research? Since when do researchers have the right to touch something that doesn't belong to them for the sake of research or anything else, no matter how important?

But to Meretz MKs, like their colleagues in Shinui, the law is the law only when it accords with their agenda and their worldview. Otherwise they are willing to convene an emergency meeting to assist lawbreakers and to legitimize trampling the law underfoot.

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