Friday, May 18, 2007

News Items


On Jerry Falwell

In the 1980s, Israel's Likud Party drew closer to the right wing in the U.S., and Falwell was a key figure in mobilizing conservative Christian voters. In her book "Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right", Sara Diamond notes that Falwell, often through his television broadcasts and his frequent trips to Israel, played a key role in "dr[awing] evangelicals to pay closer attention to Middle East politics."

In 1979, Israel rewarded Falwell with a private jet. Two years later, he received Israel's Jabotinsky Award for his support.

According to one account, "Jewish-evangelical relations had become so close by the early '80s that, immediately after Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin telephoned Moral Majority leader Rev. Jerry Falwell before calling President Ronald Reagan to ask Falwell to 'explain to the Christian public the reasons for the bombing'."


On the Darfur refugees

it is important that Israel take more far-reaching measures than simply designating resources for treating the refugees who found shelter in neighboring Chad. In such matters there is significance to symbolic measures – Menachem Begin demonstrated this with his first act as prime minister, when he permitted entry to Vietnamese refugees who were rescued by an Israeli ship after their boat had drowned at sea.


On Flying an Islkamic Flag over the Temple Mount

Another possibility raised by the teams of Achimeir and Lapidot - raising a religious flag - is likewise complex and unclear. This possibility was spoken of in the summer of 1978 during the first Camp David peace talks, and the talks almost broke down as a result. The Egyptian president, Anwar Saadat, proposed flying a Saudi Arabian flag above the holy places in Jerusalem, but Menachem Begin rejected the possibility out of hand. "There is no way that something of that kind will ever take place in Jerusalem," Begin stipulated. "The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Jerusalem. The Israelis also do not raise any flag there. If there is peace, the Arabs will be able to fly flags on every embassy that they open in Jerusalem."

Despite Begin's resolute response, then U.S. president Jimmy Carter once again raised the Egyptian demand. Without this, he said, Sadat would not sign a peace treaty. Carter proposed that Israel agree that a flag be raised without a decision being taken at that stage on whether this would be a religious flag or the flag of a state. Dayan made it clear to Carter that should any flag be flown, it would be flown over the mosque and not on any other place on the Temple Mount. But Begin angrily rejected this possibility as well. "Not on the Temple Mount," he fumed. "We are losing our conscience. Is it not enough that we have forbidden [Jews] to pray on the Temple Mount? We will not be able to agree to that also for too long a time. But the raising of a religious flag on the Temple Mount would be tantamount to recognition that it belongs to the Muslims."

Begin was so infuriated by the idea of a foreign flag over the Temple Mount that several years later he rejected an enticing Saudi proposal that was brought to him by businessmen Yaakov Nimrodi, Al Schwimmer and Hank Greenspan: $100 billion for developing a Middle East of Peace, in return for allowing the Saudi flag to be raised over the Temple Mount.