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August 6, 2004

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PAGE 16 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, :e of y g photo by Brian Hendler/JTA A tree frames the security fence near the village of Abu Dis on the outskirts ofderusalem, June 20. By Loolwa Khazzoom TEL AVIV (JTA)--For months, Palestinians have blasted Israel's West Bank security barrier as an "apartheid wall" that will extinguish Palestinian na- tional goals. But an Israeli ecologist says the fence's potential impact on plant and animal life has been completely overlooked. Noa OIchovsky, campaign coordinator on the fence for Green Action, an Israeli environmental group that advocates "socio-ecological change," said the proposed border zone threatens Isra= el's ecological system. "What will tear the eco- logical system is the separa- tion fence itself," she said. "Animals won't be able to get from the places they sleep to the places they drink water. Trees and plants won't be able to reproduce themselves properly, because their seeds won't be carried by the wind more than 8 meters in one di- rection. In a few years, certain species of animals and plants in the region will be extinct." The environmental claims come as the fence has been heavily criti- cized by pro- Palestinian activ- ists around the world, who see land the Palestinians desire for a future state being lost on the Israeli side of the fence. Palestinians also fret that the barrier will close off their most effective weapon against Israel--suicide terrorism. Now some Israelis are rais- ing the specter of environmen- tal damage as well. Already, Olchovsky says, Israel has uprooted hundreds of trees and bulldozed Pal- estinian farmland to buitd the fence and a patrol road alongside it. Yehoshua Shkedi, land- scape ecologist for Israel's Nature Reserve Authority, the governmental body in charge of natural conserva- tion, says the problem with the fence is two-fold: "It will destroy everything within its range," he says, and will impact ecological corridors. "It blocks movement of ani- reals and impedes the growth of plants that are dispersed on the fur of animals," he says. An Israeli army spokesman, Capt. Ya'acov Dallal, rejected the criticism, "If an animal were to walk by, the animal wouldn't be harmed by the fence," he said. "It's a fence." And supporters note that the fence protects the t,important species--hu- man Demg~.Unth the number of Palestinian terrorist at~,~V. down precipitously in areas where the barrier already is in place, supporters say potential damage to animal and plant life really is beside the point. "While they listed the complaints of the birds and the animals, they neglected to mention that the reason the fence is being built is to save people," Dallal said. "The fence is saving lives. We have to start from that premise." In addition, he said, the fence "can also be moved if the se- curity situation changes, if there's an agreement with the Palestinians. It's not a final border, so it's not something that necessarily is permanent." But ecologist Ron Frumkin says that even if the fence comes down in a few years, "the scar on the land will stay for up to thousands of years." Dallal disagrees. "The fence is not an obtru- sive obstacle to such a degree that it causes irreparable dam- age," he said. For most of its planned 450-mile route, the barrier is a sophisticated network of wire-mesh fences built with electronic sensors, patrol roads, ditches, cameras and watchtowers. In some short spans, the barrier is a con- crete wall. Dallal said a variety of fac- tors determined the route of the fence, which runs roughly along the Green Line, the boundary between Israel and the Jordanian-controlled West Bank prior to the 1967 Six-Da] ~ar. "We're using th~ areen Line as some sort of a con- tour," he said. "We want to have as many Israelis on the one side, as manyPalestinians on the other, so that Israell can go on with their lives and Palestinians can go on with theirs. Wherever you draw a line, it's difficult." Frumkin said ecologists want to talk not about whether Israel needs the fence, but "where to put it, how to Putit, so that the damage will be minimal, both to ecology and people." Frumkin says he and his wife, Tamar Ahiron-Frumkin, sat down recently with geologists and security consultants from the Council for Peace and Se- curity, a left-leaning think tank to an "It's fence in a Frumkin good for and for the For example~ building on northern there is more rect sun, recover faster: ,comes fence along a : rather than a would cut its and thus In Jerusalem,~ from the tives for properly, wi people to government assertion. "There is be taken into said, erational social "It's also a orities among them lives." years on, By Dan Baron JERUSALEM (JTA)--Is- raeli military historians call it Operation Shoshana. Schol- ars of political intrigue know it as the Lavon Affair. But to veterans of Israel's first--and perhaps worst-- intelligence bungle, the 50-year-old episode whose unseemly details are only now being discussed openly has another name: the Raw Deal. It was 1954, and the fledg- ling Jewish state watched with worry as Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser made clear his goal of nationalizing the Suez Canal after decades of British control. Knowing that Nasser planned to turn Egypt's frequent blockade of Israeli shipping into a perma- nent policy, Israeli spy masters set about finding a way to keep British forces in charge. Within weeks, an Israeli military intelligence unit known by its code-number, 131, recruited nine young Egyptian Jews to stage terror- ist attacks that, they thought, would be blamed on local in- surgents and would discredit Nasser's rule. Seen as a potential bulwark against Soviet influence in the Middle East, Nasser enjoyed the quiet backing of the United States. But Israel wanted to prevent Washington from becoming too friendly with the Cairo junta, which was spearheading Arab hostility to the Jewish state. The Egyptian Jewish spy cell firebombed American- linked sites---libraries, post offices, cinemas--in Cairo and Alexandria, causing some consternation but no casualties. And then the plot backfired, literally. A bomb exploded in the pocket of one of the recruits, Philip Natanzon, before he could plant it in an Alexandria's movie house, setting his clothes on fire in the middle of the bustling port city. Arrested and brutally interrogated, Natanzon led Egyptian police to his accom- PROOF READER AND TYPIST Microsoft Word Flexible schedule. 8-20 hours per week. Perfect for college students. Contact Jeff Gaeser at 407-834-8787. i i i ' i I plices. Two cell leaders were hanged, afiother committed suicide before trial and six agents received lengthy prison terms. "It was as if our lives had ended, but we continued to have faith the ordeal would not last," Marcelle Ninio, who got a 15-year sentence, said in an Intelligence Corps documentary that was broad- cast in Israel last March after a 50-year military censorship order on the case expired. That faith survived--de- spite the jaiihouse beatings, even despite Israel's failure to demand that its spies be released as part of prisoner exchanges with Egypt after the 1956 Suez Campaign and the 1967 Six Day War. What was more hurtful was Israel's refusal to take responsibility for Ninio, Na- tanzon and their accomplices, who had undergone secret military training in Tel Aviv before the mission. Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon resigned over the scandal, which took on his name. The spies were denied any public reckoning or recog- nition well after they went free and resettled in Israel. Last month, their long-suf- fering silence ended. It began when Binyamin Givli, head of Israeli military intelligence during the Lavon Affair, gave his first press in- terview. Steely despite his age, Givli told Channel Two television that Lavon had initiated the mission. The retired general dismissively described the spies as "a bunch of Jewish youngsters with a smattering of ideology, a bit of motivation to do something for the State oflsrael."The family of the late Lavonwas outraged, accusing Givli of maligning the dead. But the five surviving spies-- Natanzon had passed away of natural causes---finally saw a chance to fight back. "Givli overlooks the fact that we were soldiers in active service who were dispatched by the State of Israel. We went through the offi- cers' course, were mobilized and were sent to carry out a mission in enemy territory," fumed Robert Dasa, who, like Ninio, got a 15-year sentence. "Givli was the architect, the planner and the initiator of that humiliating mission," Dasa told Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper. "He preferred for us to remain in prison rather than have our voices heard." Through back-chan- nel contacts with Cairo in the late 1960s, then-Mossad chief Meir Amit eventually secured the early release of Ninio, Dasa, Natanzon and Victor Levy. Two other spies, Meir Zafran and Meir Meyu- chas, already had served out shorter sentences. But another man had es- caped Egypt long before with- out ever seeing the inside of a prison. According to Israeli in - telligence veterans who spoke to JTA, he holds a key to the strange and sustained silence around the Lavon Affair. He was Avri Eiad, a mili- tary intelligence agent who recruited the spies and directed their bombing cam- paign. Most experts now agree that he also was the man who betrayed the Spies to Egyptian police--most likely, by tip- ping them off about when Natanzon was to arrive at the targeted cinema. Born Avraham Seidenwerg in Germany, Elad fled with his family to Palestine before Hitler's rise to power. After Israel's 1948 War of Independence, Elad's "Aryan" looks and flawless German drew the attention of Israeli military intelligence Elad was sent to Germany, where he penetrated the ranks of former SS officers, one of whom hired him to handle business deals in Egypt. Elad led an expensive life in Cairo, something his Tel Aviv superiors forgave given the natural stresses of his subterfuge. But after the Egyptian spy ring was cracked in 1954, Elad did the unthinkable---he stuck around, for two weeks, to get a good price on his car before decamping for Europe. A few years later, the Mossad learned that Eiad had been in regular contact with Osman Nuri, a former Egyptian intelligence chief then serv- ing as Cairo's ambassador to Germany. "Working back, it was obvi- ous Eiad's treachery had be- gun in Cairo, with selling out the spies to the local authori- ties," the retired intelligence operative said. But Israel lacked evidence and, just as importantly, feared that exposing Elad would harm national mo- rale. So counterintelligence investigators from the Shin Bet security service lured the renegade agent back to Tel Aviv, where he tried by a closed-door tribunal for the relatively minor crime of "unauthorized contacts" with Nuri and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. In Egypt, meanwhile, a wave of anti-Semitic repri- sals joined ist feeling to. ancient out of the numbers down from the affair Nasser's iroW "After got the joined the in Egypt, comrade told Reuters, the plot of Egypt. Elad, who wrongdoil Affair, in 1993 More five surviving and high The pass the fessional mittees syllabus year, but e of and the facts. "It is there litical or who ing imp1 public would be said. "We