Saturday, May 28

President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and the Americans

President Mahmoud Abbas(Abu Mazen) has made his trip to the U.S. amidst quite a lot of fanfare and hype. President George Bush had been giving him friendly backslaps and heaps of praise. Bush sees him as a reformer and man of peace whose chances of pulling off a peace agreement with Israel is good. His stakes are good in the U.S in comparison to Yasser Arafat with whom Bush had refused to meet.

Bush promised Mahmoud Abbas 50 million dollars as starters for getting the Palestinian act together for rebuilding. The atmosphere during the visit was congenial, and optimistic. Bush did say, however, that Mahmoud Abbas should do more to fight terror.

Mahmoud Abbas claims that he is unable to fight terror successfully because the Israelis are not supplying him with the means. They have destroyed the Palestinian Security Force infrastructure by not allowing them to arm sufficiently.

It is a matter of six of one and half a dozen of the other. Anyway, history does have a habit of repeating itself. If Palestinian Police are armed and given the opportunity to control and disarm terrorists, there is a possibility that many may leave the service and cooperate with terrorists. This had happened in the past prior to the beginning of the intifada of 2000.

On the other hand, it would not be in Abu Mazen's interests if the Israelis show signs of supporting him. If Israel is too supportive, this could play into the hands of Hamas who will use this as propaganda against Abu Mazen. Hamas will receive further indication that Abu Mazen is an Israeli lackey (many Palestinian extremists see him as such). This will erode Abu Mazen's power even further. The same applies to the U.S. The Palestinian President is walking a tight rope between reaching an agreement with Hamas and their allied terror groups and the U.S. and Israel. It is true that Abu Mazen had received overwhelming support in the January elections. However, this being the Middle East, where things can change at the click of a finger, his support can diminish considerably if he does not reach some form of agreement with Hamas who are showing signs of increasing their support.

What seems clear is that the Palestinian People have had enough of corruption in government and in local municipalities. Hamas, with its ideology and social structures, have been successful in garnering Palestinian support against Fatah whose record of accomplishment against corruption is poor. The Palestinians see Hamas as a clean organization that promises to deliver the goods to their supporters.

It would not be in Israel's interested or that of the U.S. to interfere in the dynamics of Palestinian electioneering by showing open support for Abu Mazen. It will boomerang and serve the interests of Hamas. As it is, U.S. and Israeli credibility is not high in the Palestinian camp.

The U.S has paid lip service to democratic elections in the Palestinian Areas. This being so, they should not show any preference towards one candidate or another. If Hamas does win, dynamics for negotiations with Israel could begin. There are signs that Hamas is not as homogeneous in practice as most think. There are Hamas leaders who are beginning to show some signs of pragmatism. At this stage, it is still too early to speculate that with certainty. Nothing in the Middle East is predictable with any accuracy.

Wednesday, May 25

Israel Should Negotiate with Hamas

There are signs that Hamas may be showing signs of pragmatism. They have received increased support in the Palestinian municipalities by the Palestinian electorate. Hamas terrorist tactics against Israel are not conducive to reconstruction of the Palestinian infrastructure damaged very severely by the intifada. There is a certain feeling of déjà vu when the same question arose before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. There was a debate as to whether Israel should negotiate with Arafat and the PLO. It was illegal to negotiate with them under the preceding Israeli governments at that time.

The same old question arises that one should negotiate with one's enemy in order to achieve peace. However, it is imperative that one's enemy shows the same desire to reach a peace agreement. If both these factors are lacking then negotiations will never begin.

It is true that Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist in theory. Their manifesto leaves one without a doubt about that. As in most cases, theory and pragmatism do not always go hand in hand. This was the case with the PLO prior to the Oslo Accords when their manifesto also included non-recognition of the "Zionist Entity." Even after negotiation, the PLO Manifesto towards non-recognition remained unchanged for a long time. There is no reason to believe that the situation between Hamas and Israel is any different. Both organizations had carried out numerous acts of terror against Israel.

However, if Hamas shows a desire to negotiate with Israel despite its attitude towards Israel, Israel must be prepared to negotiate. Hamas's attitude should not determine preliminary negotiations. However, for these negotiations to be successful there must be a cessation of violence by agreement on both sides.

There is so much confluence of interests between Israel and the Palestinians not only politically but also economically and socially; it seems that Hamas will be showing more signs of pragmatism as they gain more power in Palestinian street. There are no guarantees that this will occur. It is not disadvantageous for Israel to negotiate with Hamas if they (Hamas) so desire.

Israel may prefer to negotiate with Abu Mazen. However, if the Palestinians do not support Abu Mazen, Israel will have to reconcile herself with the fact that she will have no alternative, but to negotiate with the chosen Hamas leadership. One should not view this as an Israeli weakness, rather pragmatic strength. Egos of one side or the other should not be taken into consideration when negotiations begin. Both sides should have a common goal - PEACE AND SECURITY - for both sides.


Saturday, May 21

The Fragile Cease-Fire and Future of the Peace Process

Over the last couple of days, there has been unrest between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian terror groups (apparently some fringe groups associated with Fatah or Hamas) have fired mortars into Gush Katif and even within the green line not far from Sderot. According to reports, all sides wish to observe the cease-fire. If this is the case why is there a resumption of this violence?

The Palestinians (and perhaps the Israelis) are playing a very dangerous game. Restraint is so important in this part of the world yet this has become a commodity that can be overturned with such ease. There is no doubt that there are extremist Palestinian terrorist elements that will never come to terms with Israel's existence and will continue to aggravate the situation. Perhaps they will just be stoking the flames coming short of sending the situation to a point of no return.

It would be appropriate to ask what has happened to P.M. Abu Mazen's promises of a peaceful solution to the conflict. He has done very little to prevent the terror attacks. When there are captures of Palestinian terrorists by the Palestinian police, they release them almost immediately without punishment.

It seems that Abu Mazen, despite his statements to the contrary, does not have what it takes to show strong leadership in preventing these terror activities. His support in Palestinian street seems to be waning. Palestinian elections are due very soon, if they are not postponed and Hamas seems to have a very strong following. As matters stand now, many Palestinians see Abu Mazen as an American and Israeli lackey who carries out US and Israeli policies. This image is very dangerous for him as it erodes any support that he may have. Apart from lip service of his desire to disarm terrorist groups and para-militias in the occupied areas, he has done nothing (or very little) to achieve that goal. Is this because he is trying to convince the Palestinian electorate that he has Palestinian interests at heart and does not wish to cause more disunity by antagonizing the extremists or does he not have the ability or means to disarm them? The answer to this is probably a mix of all these factors.

Abu Mazen will be going to the U.S. where President Bush will insist that he do more to restore order amongst the various Palestinian terrorist groups and disarm them. Sharon, on the other hand, has shown a desire to carry out the Disengagement Agreement unilaterally if the Palestinians do not become organized and control the terrorists.

If there is no coordination between the Palestinians and Israelis on disengagement, the Palestinian terrorist groups will move their mortars closer to larger towns such as Ashkelon that will be within their firing range. This would be the worst scenario imaginable! The Israeli Army would return to Gaza very quickly and this time there would be a war. There will not be any illegal settlements in the Gaza strip that would act as a "buffer zone". It seems as if the Palestinian extremist terrorist groups do not abide by any agreements. It all depends on their desire not to launch rockets or mortars under Abu Mazens "gentle" pressure on them. This is dreaming.

There is a hard core of Palestinian terrorists against peace with Israel. They are armed, dangerous and a law to themselves. I hope that if Hamas does win the elections, they will adapt a more pragmatic attitude towards Israel's existence. There is much for them to do without being embroiled in terrorist activity against Israel. They have to rebuild the nation who elected them. The intifada of the last five years has taken a heavy toll on both sides of the conflict. Terror and nation building, which includes rehabilitating the infrastructure destroyed by the Israeli Security Forces, is not compatible. Municipal matters are in a crisis as well as the economy of the Palestinians. Continuation of the violence will achieve nothing for the Palestinians apart from more death, destruction and tragedy.

Thursday, May 19

Comparison of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict with Apartheid South Africa

Taken and donated by Guinnog.
Taken and donated by Guinnog. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Negotiations to End Apartheid in South Africa
Negotiations to End Apartheid in South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
These days it is becoming very popular to compare the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict with apartheid South Africa prior to 1994. It is an odious comparison wreaked with many half-truths and clichés. Both situations are so different that when one examines the situation one can note major differences. The idea of using this comparison is to delegitimize Israel's right to exist within secure and recognized borders and to justify the Palestinian methods of terror in order to destroy Israel.

In apartheid South Africa prior to 1994 before the first democratic elections in South Africa's history, there was this odious apartheid system. Its main purpose was to maintain white minority rule at all costs and to keep the black majority disenfranchised and without basic human rights. These blacks were a reservoir of cheap labour to operate the white economy and to ensure white prosperity at their expense. Blacks had suffered immense injustice under this system. White South African Government spending on black education and their general community welfare was minimal. The gap between the black situation then and slavery was not very large.

Social intercourse between whites and blacks in those days was a relationship between the white master and the black, underpaid servant. The situation for non-white people was intolerable and even cruel. It was against the law for Blacks to travel freely in the country of their birth except if they had a pass (dompas) from the white authorities. After 9.00 p.m., there was a curfew and blacks were forbidden in the streets after that dreaded hour in many towns. These people were not terrorists. They were not people who threatened the whites in any way. Denial of their basic human rights was commonplace. There was the dreaded Immorality Act, which prevented mixed marriages and sex beyond the colour bar. Those who contravened the law were imprisoned. There were separate public facilities for blacks and whites. Laws forbade blacks to eat in white restaurants. Separate transport facilities, which resulted in overcrowded conditions in buses and trains, were part of this evil, cruel system. It was common to see police officers abusing and ill treating blacks for not having their pass (identity or reference book) on their person when being searched. The police pushed them into the back of the police van, and drove them to the police station where they spent a night in the lock up cell. Usually their white employers bailed out these unfortunate persons when they produced a permit that they were in his employ legally. Blacks could not purchase property in white areas, as this was a contravention of the notorious Group Areas Act.

Anybody who opposed the apartheid system in those days – especially if he was black – was accused of being an agitator or communist. The police arrested him for 90 days without trial or recourse to a lawyer. This was increased later to 180 days detention and the police officer even had the power to keep a person imprisoned indefinitely without trial. These incidents occurred during the period of 1950 – 1990. Apartheid was at its zenith in those years. It was illegal to criticise the white government for its apartheid practices. There was limited criticism in those days by white opposition parties in parliament. However, the law controlled the limit of legal criticism. The abuse of prisoners for obtaining information was legal and encouraged. The police tortured the famous black leader, Steve Biko, to death when he was in prison for "anti-apartheid crimes" in 1977.

The majority of South African citizens was against apartheid and wanted to be part of a multi racial South Africa. The leaders of the liberation movements never spoke of destroying the white man and denying him rights in South Africa. Their fight was a justified fight for freedom and human rights as well as equality before the law.

If one were to contrast that with the situation in the Middle East, it is different. Israel's Arab neighbours threatened her from the day of her establishment in 1948. There was never a desire to recognise Israel's right to exist. What has this to do with South African style apartheid? Where is the comparison?

The blacks in their liberation struggle never targeted innocent people by suicide bombings or terror. There were sporadic incidents by some black extremists, but the mainstream liberation movements in South Africa went underground. Their leaders, who were living in exile, condemned this violence.

Perhaps, there may be a vague parallel of apartheid in the occupied territories since June 1967. The occupation is a complex problem that is the result of a war foisted onto Israel. Israel, being militarily superior, occupied territory in the Six Day War of June 1967 and made the fatal mistake of encouraging Jewish settlements there when it was obvious that there was no Arab partner who was willing to sign a peace treaty insuring the return of occupied territory as part of an overall peace agreement. The occupation and rule of the Palestinians is a tragic result of the wars that Israel fought for her survival.

However, had there been a willing partner on the Arab side who would come to terms with Israel's existence the seemingly "apartheid-like" situation would not have occurred. Israel never wished to conquer another people. This is contrary to the apartheid South African situation whereby the whites ruled and oppressed the blacks by force. They denied them their basic human rights. The intifida of 2000 resulted in a heavy spate of suicide violence against innocent Israelis, which resulted in heavy Israeli Army retaliation against armed Palestinian terrorists. The Palestinian terrorist groups had declared war on Israel and in a war; innocent people on both sides die and suffer.

The difference is that in South Africa both Whites and Blacks realized that their fate is dependent on one another. Both realised the importance of sitting down and negotiating a transitional period to end apartheid. Both sides were determined to rebuild the new democratic, multiracial South Africa. This feeling of mutual desire to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is lacking. The Palestinians have embarked on the road of terror and suicide bombings. This is their chosen path. It differs from the path that the freedom fighters in South Africa chose. Here there is no desire to come to terms with Israel's existence that was always a "thorn" in Palestinian flesh. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have made this perfectly clear to the world. Their manifesto is no example in building an alternative democratic Palestinian society in a state replacing Israel.
Is there not a similarity to Nazism in the Hamas manifesto?

Many Palestinian observers in the UN Security council accuse Israel of genocide. Is the Hamas Manifesto not promoting genocide of the Jewish People? Compare this to the ideals of those who opposed and fought the cruel racist regime of White South Africa during those evil, apartheid years. Their fight was a fight to attain equality for all South Africans irrespective of their skin colour. This is not the case in the Israel-Palestinian dispute. Here there is no desire in Palestinian street, as represented by Hamas and company, to come to terms with Israel's existence – let alone negotiate a peace treaty, which would eventually lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel

Genocide is more part of the lexicon of the Palestinian terrorist groups than in Israel. Perhaps from this point of view, there is a similarity between the Palestinians and the dominating whites of apartheid South Africa. Both peoples oppressed their citizens and denied them basic human rights. Both regimes were corrupt and were involved in feathering their own nests.

The similarity of apartheid South Africa to the Palestinian Authority, including their methods of torture of opponents, makes this comparison closer to the truth.
Where are human rights in the Arab countries? Where are woman's rights in Islamic Society? In Saudi Arabia, women are treated like chattels and do not even have the franchise. Why are the human rights organizations not taking any view on that?

Another very big difference between apartheid South Africa and Israel is the fact that there are no separate facilities for Jews and Arabs. Arab Israelis have equal rights and have the right to vote. There is no law preventing social mixing between the two peoples nor are there separate universities for Arabs and Israelis in Israel.

The comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa shows total ignorance of the situation in both countries. After having been born and educated in apartheid South Africa and having opposed apartheid and racism all my life, I have come to realize how false and stupid this comparison really is. Much still remains to be done in the human rights area for Arab Israelis. There is some social descrimination in the job market and the situation is not as good as it could be. 

However, it is very far from the apartheid system of White South Africa where draconian laws were well set in place to separate blacks from whites.

Saturday, May 14

Independence Day and its Aftermath

Independence Day has come and gone. Israel has just celebrated its 57th Independence Day. Usually during this time, many of us ponder as to what direction Israel will be taking. There are many disturbing developments in the social, political and economic spheres. Many of these spheres will also affect future peace with the Palestinians.

Israel was established in 1948 on the ashes of the tragedy of the Holocaust – the greatest tragedy ever to have occurred in the history of the Jewish people. It was prior to Israel's establishment that the members of the newly established United Nations showed a great amount of sympathy for the establishment of the Jewish State which was essential for helping the Jewish People rebuild their future after the awful tragedy of the Holocaust. Notable exceptions to this universal support were the Arab states that were never willing to recognize Israel's right to exist let alone its establishment. Even the Soviet Union had supported the resolution for partition.

The attitude of the nations of the world was one of great sympathy for the Jewish people as evidence of Nazi cruelty and bestiality towards the Jews became known. Zionism had reached its zenith and the Jewish people in the Diaspora were unwavering in their support of the fledgling state. Financial support came from many affluent Jewish Communities and the U.S. had taken the lead in supporting Israel.

However, as the years passed and Israel had to fight for her existence due to wars foisted onto her by the Arab states with Egypt, under Gamel Abdul Nasser, taking the lead. The War of Independence of 1948 created a Palestinian refugee problem that defied solution even to this day. This problem had been utilized successfully by the Arab states in their attempt to delegitimise Israel's right to exist. It was an excuse to wage war to destroy Israel. While Israel was fighting these wars, she had received support. This support waned in June 1967 after the Six Day War, when Israel had occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. She was viewed as an "occupying power and colonizer that usurped Palestinian lands and rights" by the Arab World who then used the oil weapon to threaten the Western World if they continued to support Israel. The world, largely dependent on Arab oil, decided to adopt a policy of expediency by not showing too much support of Israel. This expediency still is very noticeable today. The encouragement of settling Israelis in the occupied territories added grist to the mill of anti-Israel propaganda. This was one of Israel's greatest errors, of which she has paid a very heavy price in blood.

It is understandable that if Israelis are encouraged to settle in lands conquered by war one is creating facts on the ground that amounts to colonization no matter how one views it. All successive Israeli Governments had legalized settlements in the "occupied territories". This gave a further reason to the Arab states and the Palestinians to continue their aggression against Israel, including the War of Attrition in the early 1970's, which culminated in the October War of 1973. Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt managed to regain some territory and thus some lost pride after that war.

It is debatable as to whether Egypt would have been in a position to become the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel had she not regained her lost pride.

Many years had passed until the next milestone towards peace with the Arab World gained momentum. The Madrid Conference in 1991, the Oslo Accords (which had proved a failure) in 1993 and the signing of a Peace Treaty with Jordan under King Hussein in 1994 occurred later.

After many attempts at jump-starting the peace process had failed, the intifada terror with its suicide bombers created new facts on the ground. This was a factor causing the ruling Likud party under Arik Sharon to conclude that disengagement from Gaza for starters must become the national agenda. The Israeli settlers in Gaza must return to Israel within the green line.

All these developments had taken a heavy toll on Israel's citizens and the economy. Israel, which had always been a welfare state, had become a less caring society as unemployment had surged upward. Erosion in democratic values had become evident. People were working for less salary and those in the public service had another tax – "growth and support tax" - added onto the draconian overburdened and complicated tax system. This tax is unaccountable. There are institutions who take this tax off their employees' salary and nobody knows where it goes. The cost of living goes up and the weaker segments in society carry the burden. No salary increments and people start new jobs receiving the basic minimum wage without much chance of promotion. The basic minimum wage of just on 3 000 shekels a month is a prescription for eternal poverty.

Members of the ruling party have become providers of jobs for friends who support them. Salaries for bank directors and company directors have reached astronomical highs. These people gain these coveted positions by being friends of government ministers. The average citizen is told that he must work harder and for far less. Education has taken a knock with about 6 000 teachers due to be fired. The reason – the Dovrat Report – is an attempt to cut down and dovetail education expense. As it is, education has taken a downward turn with youth crime and drugs on the increase.

Politically, there is not much to rave about. There is a strong possibility that the Israeli government will postpone the Gaza disengagement indefinitely, as the government will try to find a reason for not carrying it out.

Israel, which tries to encourage immigration, will not be able to cope with the influx. The policies of the present government are not immigrant friendly.


Malka and Shimon on the Summit of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa Posted by Hello

Shimon on the Slopes of Lion's Head, Cape Town Posted by Hello

Boycotting Israeli Universities

Boycotting Israeli universities is short sight and insipid. It punishes those who least deserves punishment. Those academics affected are those who have a record of being against the occupation and the abuse of basic human rights in Israel and the occupied territories.

Boycotting universities whose policies support the occupation and at the same time support the establishment of partisan university colleges within the occupied Palestinian areas may be justified. Perhaps this places Bar Ilan University in that category by its association with Ariel College in occupied Palestinian territory.

A parallel situation existed in apartheid South Africa prior to the first democratic elections in April 1994. In South Africa, even during the darkest period of apartheid, the University of Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Natal were at the forefront in the fight for academic freedom and against apartheid. The police detained many of their respective professors and lecturers for their anti-apartheid activities, nevertheless their institutions of learning were boycotted by the academic world. This did not bring about revolutionary changes in South Africa. Openness encourages debate to change attitudes, which would be more useful.

On the other hand, there are academic institutions in the Arab countries, China, Iran and North Korea that have no record of academic freedom or human rights. Why does the British Association of University Teachers not demand a boycott of academic institutions in these countries? It is a matter of academics living in glass houses throwing stones.

The Justification of Disengagement from Gaza

The right wing in Israel, beyond the Likud Pale, is outraged. They are demonstrating and crying out against what they feel is an injustice to the cause of their settlements in Gaza, which encroaches on Palestinian lands. Right wing demonstrations against the disengagement is gaining momentum as organization in sympathy of their cause is becoming more vociferous and aggressive. There are threats against Arik Sharon and the Israeli Army, which will vacate the settlers by force if necessary.

The settlers have had it good during the time that they inhabited the Gush Katif area. They have had tax exemptions, generous treatment, and cheap Palestinian labor working their fields and cultivating the exotic flowers in their hot houses.

Who had carried the burden of these zealous settlers in their palatial homes and generous state contributions? None other than the average Israeli citizen, already overburdened by heavy taxes, has to pay the bill for this rather warped occupation style Zionism. These settlers are a severe liability on Israel, as they are vulnerable to Palestinian terror attacks. The Israeli Army has to protect them. Many soldiers have lost their lives in fighting terrorism against these settlers who have placed themselves in this situation. Successive Israeli governments are responsible for encouraging settlers to live amongst the Palestinians and usurping their lands. These settlers have received generous benefits to entice them to settle in the Gaza Strip.

The disgusting comparison of transfer of Jews out of Gaza with the holocaust is a disgrace and makes cynical use of those who perished in concentration camps in Nazi Germany for their own ends. The settlers who encourage these kinds of comparisons are no less ignorant than the rabid anti-Semitic holocaust deniers are. The settlers will be getting very generous financial help from the State in order to relocate which new immigrants to Israel had never received.

Why is there no outcry about the soldiers who had lost their lives protecting these settlers in Gaza? There has been no voice amongst the settlers about that. The number of families added to the mourning list because of settlement activity is criminal. They do not seem to view the fact that soldiers' lives as well as their own are vulnerable to the dangers of terrorism in the Gaza Strip. They wish to remain there at all costs without any thought for those who sacrifice their lives in looking after their security.

The settler movements are a fanatic bunch of right wing religious zealots who have their own interests at heart and do not really care about peace. They believe that they have historical biblical justification to colonize the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights at all cost. The fact that their aggressive and self-righteous activities aggravate the very tense situation between Israelis and Palestinians does not move them at all.

The disengagement is a necessity for the future of peace in the Middle East. The only problem is that it does not go far enough. Naturally, much depends on the ability of the Palestinian Camp under Abu Mazen to rein in the terror. He must disarm the militant groups in his midst. If he fails to achieve that then further disengagement and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel will remain a Palestinian dream. There must be parallel recognition of Israel's right to exist in secure boundaries and Hamas and allies must cease terrorism permanently.

Wednesday, May 11

Shimon at Dudain Falls,Antalya, Turkey Posted by Hello

An Epidemic of Vandalism in Israel

The Passover holidays have come and gone. The country is gearing itself for Independence Day preceded by Holocaust Day and Rememberence Day for the Fallen in Israel's Wars. The Government is busy with the logistics of the future disengagement plan to withdraw from Gaza and to return the Gush Katif (Gaza) Israelis to Israel proper. The Israeli Army and the Police Force are involved in plans to prevent lawlessness and potential violence directed by these protesting, zealous settlers towards the authorities.

The kids were on vacation until the end of the Passover holidays. Their boredom was felt as many of them went on a rampage of national vandalism destroying and damaging everything in their path. People who have bought new cars this time of the year, will find their cars badly scratched wherever they park. Those who are less fortunate will also have their car badges removed. It does not matter where one parks in the city, one has to contend with this vandalism on a daily basis. After a hard day's work, one has to dig into one's pocket to have one's car repaired because of damage done.

There is no patrolling police officer in the street and the kids have a field day damaging and destroying public and private property in their path. This phenomenon becomes more widespread during school vacations. There is no way to prevent the vandalism that costs the country much money. Park benches are set alight or simply have the planks ripped off for use as firewood.

What has happened to much of Israel's youth? Drugs are becoming a severe problem amongst many of them. The age at which they start taking drugs and smoking nargileh pipes has decreased. Night clubs have become violent with youths stabbing each other with knives. Where are the parents? They are losing control over their offspring as the law protects them from corporal punishment. Each kid knows his "rights". He knows that he can do what he wishes without punishment. Educational standards and achievement are dropping in Israel at an alarming rate. Much of Israel's youth will soon be a lost generation. They have no direction or motivation apart from peer pressure to destroy and damage. Many of the youth do not even wish to serve in the army. This was unheard of a generation ago.

The 11th Passover plague is the vandalism caused by much of Israel's youth. Perhaps if there would be police patrols in the cities keeping a watchful eye over the errant youths this vandalism could be brought under control.