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Home > News & Politics > Israel > CHAT WRAP: David Roet




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CHAT WRAP: David Roet


 
On Monday, November 6, 2000, David Roet, Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, addressed the current Middle East conflict in Zipple's chat room, The Big Shmooze. The following is a summary of the points he shared.

The fifth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was marked with a resurgence of violence in Israel last week, with a similar hope to kill any chance for peace in the Middle East. Rabin's words still ring true, however: "There is only one radical means of sanctifying human lives; neither tanks nor planes-only peace."

Roet stressed that Israel remains committed to the peace process and the reality that peace must prevail. Israel wishes, he said, "to make sure that force shall not be used in order to achieve political gains. That Palestinian children should not be sent to the frontline. That Hamas terrorists should be put back to jail. That incitement and hate will not be a part of day-to-day lives and teaching in the Palestinian authority, and that Palestinian leadership will act according to the agreement it has signed."

The question of why Arafat has orchestrated the violence remains in the forefront. Roet pointed out that Arafat "is trying to internationalize the conflict…to undermine the centrality for the American role. Arafat is troubled by the fact that the U.S. is too much of an 'honest Broker,' and thus, he wants to bring in the Europeans, the UN, the Russians so that in this forum, with an isolated Israel, he might achieve his 'all or nothing' agenda."

Arafat is fighting his conflict as much in the media as he is on the streets with bullets, said Roet. "Arafat, who knows he can not beat Israel by force, is using his weakness and…these people being hurt for his advantage in the media arena. The media, unfortunately, seems to be joining in what we can call "The Number Game" in which the number of casualties is being counted-as if it has anything to do with being right or wrong," Roet said.

"We must take into account how difficult it is to counter nine-second sound bytes. If I would have, in the media, three minutes to explain the situation where a poor boy dies in Gaza, I could do it. But nobody gives us those three minutes."

Roet said that Arafat continues to manipulate situations for the sake of the media. Riot crowds are not what they seem to a news camera. Instead, Roet said, they are "crowds throwing stones, but within the crowds, gunned policemen or Palestinian militia shooting at Israel soldiers from within a demonstration.

"The Palestinians are using every advantage to receive world sympathy, including [using] ambulances in order to supply soldiers with weapons and to shoot from them. In that way, they gain in two ways-if we do not return fire on ambulances, they win. If we do return fire, they win great international exposure when nobody says the shooting came from the ambulances."

Roet explained that the Israeli government remains committed to the peace process. "I think that the political situation in Israel is very fragile at this moment. The government is still trying to put an end to the violence and to go back to negotiating. If we are destined to go to a larger or longer…conflict, nobody will ask, "Why did we start too late." But the government feels that we should give as much time as needed, even if it seems that the chances are not very high at this moment."

Roet assured chatters that Israel is still a wonderful vacation destination. "I can let you know that life does go on in Israel and people do continue to travel. Violence does exist, and you might have to make some adjustments regarding places you would like to go, but Israel was, and still is, a great place to visit."

Before departing, Roet urged the chat participants to "do what you can do in order to assist in bringing an end to the violence. It is unfortunate that Palestinian leadership, both in Israel and also in the United States, is not doing enough in order to go back to the peace process, but are trying a way around it.

When asked what Americans can do, Roet replied, "I would urge you to be involved in the university if you are a student, or to assist pro-Israeli organizations if you have graduated. Though we don't deal with the financial support, I would certainly think that the federation or [Israel] Bonds or whatever helps with Israel would be highly appreciated.

"Israel is willing to compromise, but not to a risk of its existence. Because part of this conflict is intentionally for world and media opinion, it is important that you will stay involved. "

Roet encouraged people to follow the news events at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel website, www.mfa.gov.il. He also encouraged users to sign up for a newsletter about news in Israel by emailing chicago@israel.org and noting in the subject: "Add me to the information list."

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