March 06, 1994|By Lisa Anderson, Tribune Staff Writer.
NEW YORK — Neither a deadly hail of bullets in the pre-dawn darkness of a February morning nor a historic handshake under a bright September sun is any match for the passions of the human heart, whether longing for reconciliation or revenge.
According to interviews with prominent Jewish and Arab Americans across a broad political spectrum, neither Dr. Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of more than three dozen Muslims in a Hebron mosque Feb. 25 nor the long-awaited signing of the Israel-PLO peace accord on the White House lawn Sept. 13 will dampen the ardor of those on both sides who fervently want the peace process to succeed-or who just as zealously pray for its defeat.
“I think Baruch Goldstein may indeed have derailed this suicidal so-called peace treaty,” said Mike Guzofsky, associate director of Kahane Chai, an extremist Jewish group dedicated to carrying on the militant nationalism of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane.
“If one incident with one Jew can cause every Arab, everywhere, to riot as a result of it and be on a rampage to kill Jews, well then, perhaps Jews will feel more justified in fighting back against Arabs,” said Guzofsky, whose organization wants Arabs removed from Israel and the occupied territories to ensure the survival and security of the Jewish state.
Kahane Chai (Hebrew for Kahane Lives) was formed in 1990 after the assassination of the founder of the Jewish Defense League. It claims about 8,000 members in North America, including about 1,000 in its Chicago chapter. Goldstein was a disciple of Kahane.
On the other side is Americans for Peace Now, a 12,000-member, grass-roots movement advocating peace between Israelis and Arabs.
“The real security for people in the Jewish state of Israel is to make peace with their Arab and Palestinian neighbors, even if territorial partitioning is necessary,” says Mark Rosenblum, founder and political director of the New York-based peace group.
Insofar as international horror at the Hebron massacre and the fanaticism it revealed has reflected poorly on Goldstein’s fellow settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Rosenblum said, the tragedy “potentially strengthens (Prime Minister Yitzhak) Rabin and the Israeli government, if they can get back to the negotiating table.”
Shaik Ubaid, a spokesman for the Islamic Circle of North America, agreed.
“It can be the turning point if the Jewish community comes out of this state of siege and undoes what they have done, which is to make monsters out of Muslims,” said Ubaid, whose New York-based national grass-roots group condemned hatred and prayed for the Hebron victims outside the United Nations last week.
But Ubaid believes this attitudinal about-face will come hard not just for militant settlers but for many Jews.
“For 40 or 50 years, the state of Israel and Zionist organizations have created monsters out of us. Now that they want to make peace, they find it difficult to convince Israelis that Muslims are not monsters after all,” he said.
A statement issued by Americans for Peace Now immediately after the massacre at Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs reflected a similar sentiment. “The murderous act of one settler is not the work of a lone madman, but an outcome of a violent ideology that views all Arabs as enemies and peace as a threat,” it said.
But according to Kahane Chai and some Palestinians, distrust not only remains between Arabs and Jews, but is justified.
“You shed a lot of the Western values that you grew up with when you go to Israel and when you see that the Middle East is not the Middle West,” said Guzofsky, who traces his militant philosophy to his first trip to Israel at the age of 18.
“When you’re confronted with the hatred, the bloodshed, the `Itbah al-Yahud’ (Arabic for `Slaughter the Jews’) and the support that every Arab has for the PLO and the annhilation of the state, you reach a conclusion that it’s either Palestine or Israel.”
“The latest attack on the people in Hebron is not a surprise to the Palestinian people,” said Ghada Talhami, an associate professor of politics at Lake Forest College and a Jerusalem-born Palestinian who advocates international protection for Palestinians, U.S. intervention and the removal of Jewish settlers from Hebron and other Palestinian population centers.
“The Israeli government itself is working from a blueprint of a greater Israel. I’m not convinced the least bit that Rabin and (Israeli Foreign Minister) Shimon Peres are willing to give the Palestinians more than Gaza and Jericho.
“All Zionists say, `This is the land of our ancestors.’ This is because they are fundamentalists.”
Although many Zionists support partition of the historical Land of Israel into a Jewish and an Arab state, Kahane Chai engages in the politics of “not one inch” of land for Palestinians. Their slogan: “Hell No, We Won’t Go from Gaza and Jericho,” the areas from which Israel is to withdraw first under its accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization.