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EDITIONS
 Friday, 29 November, 2002, 11:17 GMT
Press highlights Israeli vulnerability
Israeli tourists waiting to be evacuated from Kenya
Israelis will be wary when they travel abroad in future
Leading newspapers in Israel warn that Israelis are more vulnerable than ever after Thursday's attacks in Kenya and Israel.

The attacks also have ramifications for the wider world, targeting the cherished Western concepts of democracy and freedom of movement, says one editorial.

Each Israeli abroad is actually on his own

Alex Fishman
Yedi'ot Aharonot

For the liberal daily Ha'aretz, the idea of Israeli invincibility has taken a hammering with the attacks.

"The aggregation of the separate incidents show that the era of Israeli deterrent power is over... deterrence can fail... The old faith, that those who harm Israel will be lethally paid back one of these days, has faded away."

"The attacks deserved the description 'strategic' because they were meant to shape a new reality, to shock the entire Israeli system into changing course."

'On a wing and a prayer'

Ha'aretz feels that Israelis have now become like the World War Two American pilots who limped home to their bases in Britain, full of German anti-aircraft shrapnel, "on a wing and a prayer".

"It has become evident to Israelis that their protective covering, and the nerves of their leaders in the whirlpool of political survival, is as thin as the metal skin of a passenger plane."

A commentator in the centrist Yedi'ot Aharonot agrees that Israelis can no longer feel protected when outside their homeland.

"The first lesson of the events at the Paradise hotel in Kenya: Each Israeli abroad is actually on his own," says Alex Fishman.

The attack on the Israeli airliner in Mombasa also shows how vulnerable such forms of transport are despite the security, he adds, warning that al-Qaeda "and its satellites are in a process of awakening and rehabilitation".

These attacks have targeted not merely the State of Israel, but what it embodies and its enemies detest: freedom

Jerusalem Post

However, the attack on the Likud office in Beit Shean was not coordinated with the attacks in Kenya, Mr Fishman argues.

"Some Palestinians have declared a war to the finish and will massacre Israelis on every possible occasion."

The Israeli military had announced on Thursday that some 400 Palestinians had been arrested recently in the Palestinian territories. "Perhaps this is not enough," Mr Fishman adds.

Democracy under fire

For the conservative Jerusalem Post, in an editorial entitled "Two attacks on freedom", the attacks in Mombasa and Beit Shean "represent a tactical escalation and a strategic turning point in this war".

"Strategically, these attacks have targeted not merely the State of Israel, but what it embodies and its enemies detest: freedom."

"Firing missiles at a civilian aircraft is not only an attack on Israelis, it is an attack on mankind's freedom of movement. And spraying bullets at a line of voters is an attack on the Western, democratic way of life. "

The Post says a Beit Shean-type attack "is impossible to launch anywhere in the Arab world, where all leaders are self-appointed and all political leadership is authoritarian at best, totalitarian at worst".

The average Israeli has been vindicated in his pessimism

Jerusalem Post

"The more we have been attacked by suicide bombers and gunmen, the more we have realized that the enemy's cause is neither about statehood nor about honour, but about upholding dictatorship.

"The Israeli voters' massive support for Barak and his concessionism in 1999 gave way last year to a massive vote of confidence in Sharon and his scepticism. Now the average Israeli has been vindicated in his pessimism."

The Post warns that "the free world" is facing a "totalitarian threat" by "the Middle East's terror masters".

"What is around the corner is an all-out war that might involve millions of people across a politically shackled Arab world, whose chances of winning the confrontation it is slowly embracing are nil."

It urges "ordinary Arabs" to do what ordinary Germans, Italians and Japanese failed to do 60 years ago. "Confront the people who are leading them to catastrophe."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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See also:

28 Nov 02 | Middle East
23 Nov 02 | Country profiles
29 Nov 02 | Africa
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