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From the Heavens
by Judy Lash Balint
January 7, 2002

Snow descends on Israel every few years. Today, after days of major anticipation and preparation, the heavens opened and snow fell over the holy city. Since everything happens on a more dramatic scale here, snowstorms are accompanied by hours of thunder and lightning, lending a dynamic flare to the biting cold of the evening.

The Israeli media had quite a field day with the weather story,
enjoying with the rest of us, the diversion from matters political.
This morning Radio Jerusalem studio anchors called the meterological
office to inquire when the snow could be expected. The forecaster
took the on-air inquiry as a major insult, and launched into a two
minute speech about how much fun it must be for radio people to razz
weathermen when the forecasted weather doesn't materialize exactly as

On the Channel 1 TV evening news in English, the normally restrained
bureau chief Steve Edwards, was almost comical in his breathless sixty
second report from "outside the studios of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority." The normally desk-bound Edwards appeared on screen
bundled in hat and coat, toting an umbrella. He reported with relish
that "snow is now falling in the capital," as if this was the biggest
scoop of the day.

Bus service in and out of Jerusalem was suspended, but it was the
north and the Galilee that received a far more significant dumping of
the white stuff than the capital. Schools closed in Tzfat and Mt.
Hermon ski operators gleefully anticipated a real ski season once
roads to Israel's only winter sports site are re-opened.

But the snow could not shroud the real news that has consumed the
country for the past few days. The interception of a ship carrying 50
tons of arms from Iran to the Palestine Authority provided a glimpse
into the true intentions of the PA. As if any further reminder was
needed, the arms haul should have been another sobering jolt to anyone
who still believed that Yasser Arafat has seen the error of his ways.

Israeli intelligence sources said that Arafat almost certainly
approved the attempt to smuggle the arms that had cost the
Palestinians $15 million, plus another $400,000 for the ship itself.

Included among the arms seized were long-range Katyushas that
could have reached Ben-Gurion International Airport and major Israeli
cities from PA territory.

Tonight, the ship's captain, Fatah member and PA naval police colonel,
Omar Acawi, appeared on Israeli TV. Unreprentant, he shrugged as he
described his cargo, and flashed the victory sign as he was brought
into the room.

Nevertheless, our delusional foreign and defense ministers, Shimon
Peres and Binyamin Ben Eliezer, continue to refuse to acknowledge
reality. Peres told the world that the seizing of the ship is an
important turning point for the Palestinian Authority in making the
choice. "They cannot continue playing the game. They have to make a
strategic decision whether they support terrorism
or they are against it." What further evidence does Mr. Peres require
to figure out that Arafat has chosen his path? His fellow Labor Party
member, Ben Eliezer publicly stated today that "it's too early" to
declare Arafat an enemy!

Seems like our best hope for leadership is IDF Chief of Staff Shaul
Mofaz. At yesterday's news conference in Eilat, Mofaz clearly stated
that the arms smuggling "revealed a strategic reality by which the
Palestinian Authority is continuing the path of terror and is even
intensifying it. While it presents an appearance of fighting terror,
it joins Iran and the Hizballah in a network of international terror."

Mofaz asserted that Arafat's recent lowering of the flame of terror
"was taken in order to achieve a lull, so as to prepare for the next
stages of the conflict."

Telling it like it is, Mofaz went on to describe the PA as "an
Authority infected with terror from head to toe."

Predictably, far left Knesset members like Zahava Galon of Meretz,
today accused Mofaz of overstepping his role by voicing "political"

Tomorrow, the snow will probably stop falling, but it will take
infinitely longer for the rest of today's news to melt away.