With Islam’s top religious leaders publicly sanctioning suicide bombings against Jews, outraged New York rabbis plan to protest the behavior of their religious counterparts at a demonstration in front of the Palestine Mission next Monday.
Israeli military and police forces were placed on high alert on the eve of Passover for fear of increased Palestinian terrorist attacks with the U.S. peace mission on the verge of collapse and Palestinian President Yasir Arafat prevented from attending this week’s Arab League summit in Beirut.
Israel Radio reported that all army leave was cancelled and all police personnel — especially in Jerusalem — were mobilized in an effort to thwart attacks.
In a week that saw the most violence in Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel’s intensified efforts to destroy the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure was met with a series of devastating suicide bombings and shootings that left more than 30 Israelis dead. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s response was to dig in his heels.
“It’s either them or us,” he told reporters. “We are with our back to the wall, and this is war.”
‘It is the closest I have ever come to death,” said Rabbi Henry Weiner of Manhattan. “I become emotional just talking about it.”
Rabbi Weiner and his wife, Rickie, were having lunch at the Kaffit Café in Jerusalem last Thursday when a Palestinian walked past with a knapsack slung over his shoulder.
The rabbi, in Jerusalem for a convention of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, said the man attracted his attention because he was wearing a topcoat on a very hot afternoon.
After more than 17 months of virtually non-stop violence, punctuated this week by the largest Israeli military incursion into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israelis and Palestinians looked hopefully to the arrival of U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni and Vice President Dick Cheney.
“If Zinni does not come with a plan that will put pressure on [Palestinian President Yasir] Arafat, nothing will be accomplished,” said Gerald Steinberg, a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University.
Even as U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni struggled to piece together a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinian attacks continued and Israeli intelligence reported no let-up in terrorist activity.