Land the fulfilment of commitments and promises made by Maccabi World Union
Whilst the Israeli Justice system is dealing with 5 people who have been
criminally indicated and for whom we expect the judgements to be brought
down towards the end of this year - there still remain 2 people in high
position in Maccabi World Union who should not be there and it is to the
undying shame of Maccabi Organisations in the USA, in Great Britain, in
Canada and elsewhere that they do not support us in this matter - indeed
they oppose us.
We have been working extremely hard for the Israeli Government - even though
they are not legally liable - to pay out the compensation and avoid years of
painful and arduous legal struggle with the various insurance companies
Having recently returned from Israel and after discussions with many members
of the New Israeli Keneset - across the spectrum of the various parties -
including with the new speaker of the Keneset - our friend Avraham Burg - I
have a degree of optimism that there is a genuine feeling there to resolve
For this and in order to ensure that future Maccabiot will not be organised
in a similar manner to the 15th, we need the continuation of the Keneset
committee of inquiry - again - I have good reason to be optimistic that the
Keneset will reform the committee.
And finally, despite the fact that the Israeli government paid all of the
loan monies requested of it - on time, in full and without strings attached
- MWU has not - and we must continue to press MWU to honour their own
My friend and colleague, Peter Wertheim, will speak on both of our behalf
about those that died, but I would just like to say that I have been
privileged to come to know the bravery and dignity of those that survived.
I have seen strength of character, of purpose and of decency - people who
should never have known such sorrow - good people with whom we are all proud
The Australian Jewish community stands behind you and beside you - and we
will not rest, until we find the justice we seek for you and for all of us.
It is not your issue alone.
As I said before - Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze
Speech by Peter Wertheim, President, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, to the
Dedication and Naming of the Warren Zines Reserve on Sunday, 25th July, 1999
Mr Mayor, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is now a little more than two years since the Australian Jewish Community
was rocked to its foundations by the terrible tragedy of the bridge collapse
at the 15th Maccabiah Games. We all felt the pain and the shock of losing
four popular and well-regarded members of our community and witnessing the
injuries of 70 others. In an accident that was clearly preventable and
should never have happened.
As we dedicate this reserve, let us spare a moment to remember the four
precious lives that were taken from us before their time.
Yetty Bennett was part of the bowling team. Her three children, Mark, Jeff
and Ilana, were orphaned as a result of her loss, as their father had died
suddenly from a heart attack three years earlier. Yetty's partner at the
time, Frank Gaensler, was clinically dead when he was plucked from the river
after the bridge collapse. But he was resuscitated and in January this year,
he had the joy of seeing his son, Brian, named 'Young Australian of the
Friends have praised Yetty as someone who faced a lot of adversity in life
but always overcame it. She loved her sport and going to Israel meant a lot
to her. She was a loving mother and an extremely good person who touched the
hearts of all who knew her.
Elizabeth Sawicki died in hospital from organ failure twelve days after the
bridge collapse as a result of the deadly fungus contained in the Yarkon
River. Elizabeth represented the Australian team in the bridge competition.
She left behind her husband, Henry, and four children.
Greg Small has been described by friends as a dedicated family man and a
good friend who loved his sport. Greg was accompanied by his wife Susan when
they crossed the bridge. The couple had been high school sweethearts. They
went to the Maccabiah Games as part of the ten Pin Bowling Team. Ironically,
it had been a four-year ambition of Greg's to participate in the games. As a
result of the bridge collapse, Greg lost his life and Susan sustained
multiple breaks to her ankle, as well as injuries to her lower back and
neck. Now Susan has to contend not only with her physical disabilities, but
also with the need to support herself financially and her two children,
Joshua and Rebecca, without the family breadwinner.
Warren Zines died from a stroke four weeks after the bridge collapse,
leaving behind his wife, Lynette and three children - Adam, Shelley and
Lisa. Warren had represented Australia in the Lawn Bowls competition.
Lynette and two of his children were with him in Tel Aviv in the days
immediately before he passed away. Warren's first grandchild was born to
daughter Shelley two days after the bridge collapse.
One of Warren's team mates described him by saying that "Warren was a
gentleman and mild mannered . . . . The salt of the earth. Every time we saw each
other, we hugged. He was so considerate and warm."
Let us spare a thought also for the 70 injured athletes and, in particular,
for Sasha Elterman, who has had over 30 operations in her battle against the
effects of the deadly fungus which was contained in the Yarkon River when
she and her team mates were plunged into it. Their unfailing courage and
dignity in the face of everything that has happened has been an inspiration
to all of us.
We are here today to dedicate this reserve, and the trees, which have been
planted in it, to the memory of the victims. It is a beautiful location and
one, which, in a physical sense, is appropriate to recall the affection and
esteem in which the victims were held by their families and friends in the
But in a deeper sense, the memory of those who died and the many more who
still struggle with the consequences of the tragedy, can only truly be
consecrated by the attainment of justice - justice for the families of the
dead and justice for the injured and those who support them. Justice demands
that all the facts of the tragedy - before, during and after the bridge
collapse - be brought out into the open and that those who were responsible
for the tragedy be tried and, if found guilty, convicted and punished.
Justice also demands that those who are accused of wrongdoing stand down
from all positions of authority until their culpability or innocence is
established. It demands that the Maccabi World Union provide immediate
financial assistance, without pre-conditions, To the financial dependants of
those who were killed and also to those who were injured and those who care
for the injured.
And finally, justice demands that the entire structure of the Maccabi World
Union and the way in which the Maccabiot have been organised be reviewed to
ensure that the over-riding responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of
participants can never again be devalued in so cavalier a fashion as
occurred two years ago.
Only when all of the demands of justice have been met can our consciences be
satisfied and the spirits of those who died rest in peace.
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PLO State to Include at Least All West Bank and Gaza
- When permanent status negotiations begin, borders of the state of
Palestine, including Jerusalem and all other territories occupied in 1967,
will be determined by the terms of reference of the Oslo Agreement.
- the "peace of the brave", must ensure the rights of Palestinians as set
forth in international resolutions. These rights must include, among others,
the Palestinians' right of return to the land from which they have been
- From now on, all international forums and contacts should be mined in
order to bring to bear the maximum amount of international pressure on
- Palestinians sense a lack of seriousness on the part of the Palestinian
leadership and note the gap between its statements and its
practices . . . Committees recommended by the Central Council to prepare the way
for full Palestinian sovereignty have never been activated . . . The efforts of
the whole world to support us will not be of any use to us if we fail to get
the credibility we need from our own people.
Borders First - Official Fatah Website
In agreeing recently to play the role of mere "facilitator", rather than
mediator and referee, in the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,
the US appears to be abandoning its responsibilities as a co-sponsor of the
peace process. This role change creates a situation similar to the one that
existed before Netenyahu's election in 1996. It appears that the Labour
Party is trying, before the word of Dennis Ross becomes absolute in the
region, to forestall any obstructionist moves on the part of the Likudniks
and their US supporters. We have already lived through the difficulties
which resulted from the pro-Israeli bias of the Oslo Agreement. Now, if we
are to prevent a total breakdown in the peace process, it is time to lay
down new terms of reference for negotiation.
The Oslo Agreement set forth objectives, along with schedules and deadlines.
In order to evaluate what has been achieved in the past five years, we need
to compare these stated objectives with the actual results which came about.
Sound management of the process in the days and weeks ahead cannot rest on
good will alone.
Clearly, on the Palestinian side, there is an enormous gap between
objectives and results, all the way from the Oslo Agreement through the Wye
Memorandum. Indeed, so few achievements were made that it could be said that
the major result of the five-year process was Palestinians' success in
keeping their objectives unchanged -- despite the massive pressure put on
them by both Ross, Netenyahu and their respective governments. Both parties,
US and Israeli, made every effort to impose their own vision on the
Palestinian leadership. Again and again, in myriad ways, representatives of
both countries attempted to lower the expectations of Palestinians regarding
What Palestinians need now is not simply a new chapter in our dealings with
Israel. Just as important is the need to open a new chapter in our internal
relationships among our own Palestinian people. Palestinians today are
painfully aware of the gap that exists between the verbal commitments made
by the Palestinian leadership and the practices of that leadership. Instead
of being fed more statements, we need to define, once and for all, a
national consensus on each of the issues that confront us.
Already, in calling for merging implementation of the Wye Memorandum with
negotiation of final status issues, Barak is making it clear that, in this
respect at least, he is taking a stand every bit as dangerous as any taken
by Netenyahu. In failing to implement the Wye Memorandum by canceling the
third Israeli troop withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, and thus
failing to carry out Israel's commitments under the interim agreements,
Barak is, in effect, arranging things so that in the final status
negotiations, Palestinians will have to re-negotiate issues that have been
negotiated already. In the June 16 issue of Ha-aretz, the Israeli left-wing
daily, Yuel Marcos wrote that Barak has implicitly threatened Arafat that if
the third withdrawal does not become part of the final status negotiations,
then negotiations could drag on endlessly. Barak cannot, he told Arafat,
begin the negotiations with such a large territorial concession. Barak also
warned, according to Marcos, that negotiation of all final status issues
will be extremely difficult. Obviously, what is being suggested -- and none
too subtly -- is that Palestinians should expect to make concessions
regarding the final status issues if they want to see the interim
Despite the lack of concrete achievements during Netenyahu's term,
Palestinians in fact made significant progress in a realm less tangible but
just as vital: that of international consensus on the justice of our cause.
Such consensus will be essential when final status negotiations do begin.
The Berlin Declaration on Palestinian self-determination, for instance, in
raising the subject of United Nations Resolution 181, will have an important
influence on the issue of Palestine's borders. In the same international
resolution which created the state of Israel, Resolution 181 affirms the
right of Palestinians to create their own state. The resolution further
establishes international law as the arbitrator for determining the borders
of the Palestinian state.
The Palestinian leadership insist that the Wye Memorandum and the remaining
as-yet-unimplemented parts of the Hebron Protocol, as well as all other
interim issues, be fairly concluded before final status negotiations begin.
Palestinians insist that issues which have already been negotiated, but not
implemented by the Israeli side, are not to be subject to re-negotiation as
final status issues. Final status issues must include only those not already
negotiated -- issues which will be tough enough when tackled separately,
such as the third phase of Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza and the West
Bank and the related issue of future borders of the Palestinian state.
The Israeli Labour Party now in power must undertake to fulfill all
obligations its government has already assumed without subjecting them to
the Likud's destructive influence. Clearly, the Israeli army should withdraw
from all the Occupied Territories except those related to the issues of
Jerusalem, Israeli military installations, borders, and settlements
established before the signing of the Oslo Agreement. (Settlements
established after the Oslo Agreement were signed are illegal under the terms
of that agreement and should be dismantled immediately.) This means that
Israeli troops should withdraw from all of Area C, with the exception of
lands related to the issues just mentioned. This is the scope of withdrawal
which is in line with the spirit of the Oslo Agreement. When permanent
status negotiations begin, borders of the state of Palestine, including
Jerusalem and all other territories occupied in 1967, will be determined by
the terms of reference of the Oslo Agreement.
The historic peace agreements grew out of the need to put an end to all wars
in the region and to establish a true and lasting peace. Such a peace,
called first by Palestinians and now by Barak, echoing them, the "peace of
the brave", must ensure the rights of Palestinians as set forth in
international resolutions. These rights must include, among others, the
Palestinians' right of return to the land from which they have been exiled.
The term "peace of the brave" implies that both parties to the peace should
achieve historic rights based on principles fair to both. The term also
suggests that our belief in the future of humanity should help us bring
about the kind of democracy that guarantees a just and lasting peace.
The Palestinian "state" that Barak has talked about does not meet these
criteria. Barak's vision of a Palestinian state is to Palestinians no more
than a symbolic step along the path toward statehood. A "state" on a mere 3%
of the area of Palestine is not a state at all, but rather, at best, a kind
of limited autonomy. A "state" in which half of the population lives in
refugee camps is not a state. A "state" in which land can be confiscated at
will for settlement by another people, with no concern for human values, is
not a state. Finally, a "state" without Jerusalem as its capital may be a
state for most, but is not the state of Palestine.
Our state will be achieved on the basis of full separation from Israelis. As
Barak himself has said, quoting the American poet, "A good wall makes good
neighbors." The Palestinian "wall" that is likely to achieve real peace and
stability is one that gives our state its borders with Egypt in Gaza in the
South and with Jordan in the East.
As we enter the permanent status negotiations, we will require new terms of
reference, ones that Oslo does not provide. We also require adherence to the
Fourth Geneva Convention, despite the opposition of Israel and the US.
US opposition to the convening of the conference in Geneva is merely one
more sad reminder of US pro-Israeli bias. It shows, further, to what lengths
the US is prepared to go in denying Palestinians the right to employ the
legal mof the internatiocommunity to advance our cause. Over the objections
of both Israel and the US, the conference was indeed held, with the sole
concession that sanctions allowable under international law not be
discussed, as a gesture of good will towards the newly elected Israeli prime
minister, Ehud Barak. From now on, all international forums and contacts
should be mined in order to bring to bear the maximum amount of
international pressure on Israel. Such connections and the international
support they bring will go far to strengthen the position of the Palestinian
negotiating team in any future negotiations.
The conflicting positions taken by different sectors of Israeli society
toward the Geneva conference confirm the importance of the event. On the one
hand, the conference was officially described as a "non-event on a
non-issue". On the other hand, Moshe Zack described the conference as a
destructive event for Israel. In the Jerusalem Post Zack wrote that the
conference was based on United States General Assembly resolutions that
consider East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory occupied by the Israelis.
The conference opens the way for the international community's adoption of
measures against Israel that no US veto can deter. Finally, Zack noted that
Palestine was invited on an equal footing with countries that signed the
Barak's call for resumption of negotiations on all tracks -- Syrian and
Lebanese as well as Palestinian -- means that the leadership of the three
should coordinate a unified strategy for achieving a just peace in the
region. This strategy should be based on a full understanding of both the
positive and negative aspects of agreements reached with Israel. Meanwhile,
the Palestinian call for a summit including Egypt and Jordan in addition to
Syria, Lebanon and Palestine indicates how deeply Palestinians are committed
to the larger Arab cause.
The importance of united international and Arab positions does not
constitute an alternative to a unified Palestinian strategy on present and
future requirements. As was mentioned at the beginning of this article,
Palestinians sense a lack of seriousness on the part of the Palestinian
leadership and note the gap between its statements and its practices.
Official Palestinian reaction to Barak's moves came very late. Committees
recommended by the Central Council to prepare the way for full Palestinian
sovereignty have never been activated. In fact, three months have passed
without any of these committees having been convened. Such lassitude can
only strengthen the position of those who do not respect the Palestinian
institutions that endorse decisions which are at once most dangerous and
most important. The Central Council, it should be mentioned, is the
Palestinian institution that endorsed the Oslo Agreement. It also represents
the Palestinian National Council, and filled the legal vacuum created by the
expiration of the interim negotiation period.
The efforts of the whole world to support us will not be of any use to us if
we fail to get the credibility we need from our own people.
Revolution until victory!
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"Don't Release Murderers"
by Esther Wachsman
(July 26) - Since Prime Minister Ehud Barak's return from
rumors are flying about the upcoming release of
terrorists, with or without
"blood on their hands."
There have been attempts of redefining who "really" has
blood on their hands
and who doesn't; there has been talk of separating
"killers" who actually
pulled the trigger or stuck in the knife, and those who
"merely" aided and
There have been suggestions of "goodwill" gestures,
whereby terrorists tried
and sentenced by Israel will be released.
All of these ideas are not new. The same ambassadors of
up these immoral travesties of justice to the late Yitzhak
Rabin, and to prime
ministers Shimon Peres, and Binyamin Netanyahu.
On each of those occasions, I spoke to those three prime
pointed out to them that my son Nahshon's kidnapper
"merely" aided and
abetted the three other terrorists who murdered him and
killed in the failed rescue attempt at Bir Naballa, where
he was held hostage
for six days.
For us, the nightmare of those six days, which shook the
indeed our entire people, as well as people of goodwill
I sat at the trial of the driver of that cursed car that
kidnapped my son,
listened to his attorneys and the IDF prosecutors who
asked for life
imprisonment, and was witness to his sentencing, in a fair
trial. Any reversal of the justice meted out to that
monstrous kidnapper of
my son would be a mockery of justice, a travesty of law
and order, and an
act of extreme immorality.
With all due respect to the peace process, and with the
true hope and prayer
for Barak's success in bringing true peace to our region,
I do not believe that
overturning acts that were right and just can lead to
peace. All of these
values must go hand in hand, and an act of injustice and
cannot ever further peace.
We must never sell out one value for the sake of another,
a principle which I
am certain Barak would agree with, as did his
predecessors, among them his
mentor, Yitzhak Rabin, as did US President Clinton as
well, in a private
conversation with my husband and myself at our beloved
May right and justice prevail in our land.
Esther Wachsman, an American trained educator who has lived in Israel for
the past thirty years, is the mother of seven Israeli-born
sons, one of whom, Nachshon, was kidnapped and later murdered by Arab
terrorists in October, 1994.
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Biochemical Warfare Threat to Israel?
by Yael Haran
The likelihood of a chemical terror attack in Israel's cities is such that
Minister of Defense Ehud Barak ordered the Chemical Response Unit on full
alert during these critical days of the peace process.
Lets picture the scenario.
VX gas is released along the shore-line of Tel aviv. What happens?
- The sirens are sounded. Citizens have no idea what is going on. Many
assume it is a prank. Some turn on the radio and hear that they are
requested to go to sealed rooms and put on gas-masks. Gas? But there is no
crisis with Iraq; no missiles have fallen.
Some turn to the foreign media. They hear that terrorists have released a
lethal gas in central Tel Aviv and the authorities are presently checking
the wind direction.
- Citizens in Tel Aviv, most without adequate shelter, most without
access to gas-masks, begin to flee the city. The roads become blocked and
they begin to run on foot.
Who can run faster than the wind?
Presently this is the best protection offered to us. Instructions published
by HAGA relate only to a missile attack and give no instructions what so
ever for response to Chemical, Biological or nuclear terror attack.
This must reflect a lack of coordination of security policy regarding
civilians and non-conventional weapons which is leaving Israel's citizen's
tragically vulnerable and mis-informed.
The gas masks, if we have them, are ineffective four hours after breaking
the seal. We have presently no civilian answer for a second strike on the
With limited budgets and confused priorities it seems citizens have no
choice but to demand security measures that have otherwise been sorely
For more information and press contacts: Yael Haran (04) 984-0310
The Sleeping Giant
Return to Contents
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