On October 1, 1997, a few hours before the New Jewish Year began this year, Gazan Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantissi declared that he would dispatch more suicide bombers into Israel, to kill Israelis indiscriminately, whether they are civilians or military personnel.
On October 5, following the Jewish new year, you might have expected that Rantissi’s incitement and an appropriate Israeli government response would lead the news.
It did not.
Instead, the lead news items were the botched assassination attempt of a Hamas leader in Jordan, where two Israelis were caught with fake Canadian passports, and Israel’s freeing from jail of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Achmed Yassin to Jordan, and Yassin’s imminent to a hero’s welcome by Arafat in Gaza.
The continuing rancor in the Israeli and world media over the Israeli’s prime minister’s handling of the assassination attempt in Jordan served to distract everyone from the real and present danger posed by the Hamas.
A case in point:
One of Israel’s leading Arab affairs correspondents, Gidon Levy, who at times does not hide his personal identification with the Palestinian Arab national movement, reports how the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Arab refugee camp of Deheishe, whose open sewers and “temporary housing” are located just south of Bethlehem, has become “hamsified” of late.
Gidon Levy warns that Hamas incitement, not discouraged by Arafat’s Palestine Authority, is now “inspiring” every part of the Deheishe community, including grade school children, are preparing massive suicide attacks against Israeli targets, unless and until Israel allows the Deheishe residents to return to the village of Zacharia where they left in 1948. Zacharia, located just west of Jerusalem, is populated by Jews who left Arab countries in 1948. However, the UN resolution #194, passed each year at the UN, assures Arab refugees that they have the “inalienable” right to return to the homes that they left in 1948.
Canada, for one, leads the effort to fund the facilities of the UNRWA camp in Deheishe. Under normal circumstances, Israel would ask Canada to play a restraining role with UNRWA.
However, these are not normal circumstances.
If Israel is to regain the trust and confidence of Canada, so that Ottawa can again understand the security challenge posed anew by a reinvigorated Hamas, the Israeli prime minister should use the occasion of Yom Kippur, the traditional Jews “day of atonement”, to sincerely apologize to Canada for Israel’s recent bad judgment.