«Jewish Observer»
October 2002
5763 Cheshvan

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October 6 the Sholom-Aleikhem Kiev society held a meeting with historian Igor Turov - staff member of the Institute for political and ethnic national studies who had recently returned from a scientific trip to Israel. Having spent about a year in Jerusalem, Igor had an opportunity to feel the situation from within and make up his own opinion about the developments in Middle East. In his opinion, main peculiarity of the Middle East conflict today lies in the fact its continuation is, chiefly, determined not by the Israeli government - rightist, leftist or coalitional - but by the policy of Palestinian administration keen on preserving the tension.

Proof to it is the last intifada that began right when Prime Minister Ekhud Barak was ready, in exchange for peace, to agree to all Palestinians' demands. At present, Yassir Arafat's administration is not only reluctant to stop acts of terror but, mildly speaking, connives at terrorism. Speaking before the Arab audience Arafat pronounces totally opposite to what he talks in English to the rest of the world. He lays purposely-unrealizable demands onto Israel, for instance, return of millions of Arab refugees into its territory (not into the territory of a future Palestinian state).

Alongside, Arafat is not interested in disappearance of Israel, since the sense of his administration's existence would simultaneously vanish to bring about an end to funding "struggle for a Palestinian cause".

As for the world community, European countries take a largely pro-Arab position being under pressure, from both without and within, on the part of numerous Arab communities, especially in France. The United States is mostly concerned about an international support to its planned action against Iraq. As a result, Israel's vital interests fall victims to a big geo-policy.

Despite the extremely difficult situation, Israel is not united with regard to the country's policy under given circumstances. This divergence of opinions is determined not only by traditional likings for a certain party but also by a residence place: moods in Haifa, where acts of terror are a comparatively rare phenomenon, differ from those in Jerusalem being in the firing line.

Divergence of possible solutions to the Middle East conflict is also characteristic of Jewish Diaspora, whereas an international Arab community reveals a rare unanimity regarding Israel, despite deep contradictions on a number of other issues.

In this situation Israel needs a more substantial support by diaspora, which could assist in proliferating undistorted information on the situation in the region. Through this it would influence on public opinion and state policy with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In its turn, the Sholom-Aleikhem society is ready to come out with a number of initiatives to render Israel's image more positive.


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