A CRY FROM THE HEART.
I am sure you have been hearing the news from Israel and wondering how we are doing, so I decided to write and let you know that, so far, we are OK.
It has been three weeks of stress, tension and worry. We are comparatively lucky here in Haifa. It has always been a city where Arabs and Jews have gotten along. There is a modus vivendi that has been understood and worked out. We have always patronized Arab restaurants and other Arab merchants.
But, suddenly, as a result of the violence and the call to arms by the Arabs in Gaza and the Palestiniam-controlled territories, the Israeli Arabs have also been involved in violent acts, and that is a development that we never anticipated. Suddenly we have a fifth column within the country. Those areas of Israel whose borders are close to the Palestinian-controlled territories are most in danger, but there are many Arab cities and villages inside Israel - whose Arab residents are Israeli citizens - where Arabs are driving just a few miles to attack civilians and other targets on our streets. All of a sudden, we are viewing our Israeli Arabs with suspicion and resentment.
One day last week, there was incitement to set fires all over Israel, and trees and shrubbery in nearby neighbourhoods were set afire - by Israeli Arabs. An industrial park some miles north of here was broken into and destroyed. Cars not far from here, on the Haifa-Tel Aviv highway, were attacked by teenagers of an Arab village that borders the road.
What I am writing about, you will not have seen or read in any reports of the violence of the past two weeks.
We've been asked not to patronize any Arab shopkeepers or restaurateurs here in Haifa. People here have agreed upon a boycott. But Mordechai and I discussed this and agreed that those Israeli Arabs who kept their shops open on the "Day of Rage", two Sundays ago, when Israeli Arabs closed their shops to show support for the Palestinian violence, should be supported for their moderation. We have continued to deal with those Arabs that seem to keep themselves out of the struggle.
What distresses me and Mordechai most of all, is that there is no one here who presents to the world, the truth of what is going on. We don't have any public relations person who sets straight the Palestinian propaganda and distortions that go out to the world.
For instance, did you hear any outcry from the international community when the Tomb of Joseph was desecrated, taken apart stone by stone? Did you know that several days before Ariel Sharon and a group of Knesset members visited the Temple Mount, that a convoy of Israeli military trucks was blown up by mines that had been put on the road shortly before they passed through, killing and injuring many of our soldiers?
Did you know that the Palestinians have four lines of attack? In the front line, they put children, ten, eleven, twelve years old (the first to get shot if bullets are flying). In the second line, they have the masked stone throwers, mostly teen-agers. In the third line, they have the older teen-agers and young adults, throwing Molotov Cocktails, explosives, and in back, they have the adults with guns and live ammunition.
It is the rear lines that attack Israeli soldiers with explosives and bullets, and when they (the Israelis) fire back, the world sees children being killed. They have been put there by their own people to mobilize the world's outrage. (It reminds us that, during the Gulf war, the Iraqis installed their Scud missile equipment adjacent to a hospital, and when the Americans bombed the military installation, the Iraqi outcry was that we were bombing a hospital. It is exactly that mentality that motivates the Palestinians. The other day we heard that, despite the fact that the borders are closed - no traffic can go in or out of Israel into Palestinian controlled territories - an ambulance was allowed through from Israel, only for us to discover that when it was unloaded, there were no injured people. It was filled with explosives, sent by Israeli Arabs!)
A lady minister in the Knesset has just returned from the US and told of her dismay in listening to the US media, buying into Arab propaganda, and coming out against Israel - especially CNN. When she contacted the Israeli ambassador in Washington, asking how could it be that there was no spokesman for the Israeli position, she was told that that was the function of the Israeli consulate in NY. When she contacted the Israeli consul in NY, she found that he could hardly speak English!
Had I written this letter the day of the Sharm-el Sheik agreement, I would have told you that a great weight, which we both were feeling, was suddenly lifted from our shoulders, and we could breathe more easily.
But unfortunately, the situation had only barely improved when a group of Israeli civilians, including women and children, were fired on by Palestinians. Several were killed, and those wounded could not be evacuate immediately by our helicopters because the Palestinians were shooting at the helicopters. Finally a battle ensued, with soldiers moving in.
Right now, we do not expect the Sharm-el-Sheik agreement to last. We are preparing for war. Mordechai has been through all the wars that Israel has endured, and the first thing we did the other evening was to stock up on canned foods, sugar, flour and oil - and Halvah - the best and quickest source of energy! It is a dreadful prospect but a reality that we must face.
We had dinner last night at Mordechai's sister's. I was astonished when Mordechai's sister said, "The sooner we have the war, the better it will be. Rather than to let the violence escalate!" Mordechai and I don't share these sentiments, but they may represent the overwhelming feelings in the country right now. And that leaves us with a heavy heart.
Please distribute this letter to others as we are sure they would like to know what is going on here.
Say a prayer for us...
Gloria (A letter from Gloria, a resident of Haifa)
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Hamas in its own words
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The treaty of Hudabiyyah
The treaty between Saladin and Richard I
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Sermons in Palestinian mosques
The truth about Arafat and the Palestinians
Yasser Arafat over the years
Aid money used for weapons
Obituary of Yasser Arafat
Egyptian tributes to Arafat
Marwan Barghouti could succeed Arafat
Palestinian leadership should get real
Hamas on the 1967 borders
Arafat and the Viet Cong
The Hizbullah programme
The Gaza disengagement