Monday, October 21, 1996
Civic Leaders:Louise and Jay Stuart dankberg
Political clubs are at the zenith of their existence, so it seems. The initiatives of the past - a chance to reform a political system, or conversely, to get a patronage job in that system - are no longer of interest in a downsizing society where we have to work long hours and struggle to keep any job and and not land in unemployment. Volunteering to do the necessary political detail - petitioning, writing letters, hearing candidates, endorsing and offering recommendations to the neighborhood - is also not an entirely fun thing in the current atmosphere of cynicism about everything political.
The Tilden-Midtown Democratic Club has been able to hold on to its volunteers, generate interest and enthusiasm for supporting their candidates and promoting a good city government, ever since its founding in the 1950s Reform days. Today its District Leader, Louise Dankberg, reflects fondly on the founders of the organization (including Senator Moynihan, retired Surrogate Millard Midonick, Margot Gayle and the late belowed Beth Robertson Kosnow), who mobilized people with enthusiasms that have carried through the club agenda over a period of the five decades, a formidable accomplishment.
Louise claims no particular credit. She just does what is right. Born in Manhattan, graduate of our own Washington Irving High (valedictorian), she met Jay at CCNY, where she majored in French. After a brief teaching spell she joined the NYS Department of Labor, where she has been since 1969, in supervisory and management positions in the Employment and now in the Unemployment Insurance divisions. Louise and Jay joined the Tilden Club as a family in 1970, and she was President for two years and now District Leader for four, sharing that office with the male Leader of the GSID club, Tom Nooter. Currently she serves on the Kenmore Hotel Community Advisory Board, the Community Development Advisory Board of the CB#6, and is a co-founder of the Neighborhood Anti-Crime Coalition formed in 1994. The Tilden club has over 200 members, dues are $15 a year ($7.50 for inspectors who get paid $85 for working at the polls on election days, a 6 AM to 9 PM day; applicants are needed), and membership meets twice a month, mostly at the National Arts Club and various religious and other meeting rooms, to which the club makes contributions. And if you'd like to apply to be a District Leader, the office pays no salary and takes some 20 hours a week away from your rest and leisure time, easily.
Jay Stuart Dankberg is a Bronx native, graduate of DeWitt Clinton High, CCNY (where he met Louise) and St. John's Law School, in 1970. After a short practice with a law firm and the Legal Aid Society, he spent a year with the Conciliation and Appeals Board, enforcement arm of the Rent Stabilization Law of 1969, then 6 1/2 years as the law clerk of a Civil Court judge, during which period he volunteered as an unpaid arbitrator in Small Claims Court. He was appointed by Ed Thompson, Administrative Judge of the Civil Court, after being recommended by screening panels, and eventually became Vice President of the arbitrators' group. Louise and Jay joined Tilden in 1970 and he was President 1978-79 (he initiated the club activity of painting Union and Stuyvesant Square Park benches in alternate years). When appointed Housing Judge in 1980 (reappointed 1985), after qualifying with the independent screening panels, he resigned from the club, and from CB #6 where he chaired the Housing Committee, from Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and from all other civic groups, as required by the law. He was elected to Civil Court in 1986, after having been found most highly qualified by the screening panels of New York City Bar, Women's Bar and Trial Lawyers Bar Associations.
It is most ironic that Judge Dankberg, after a distinguished career of 16 1/2 years on the bench, has to become a novice political candidate all over again, to be reelected in the September 10 primary, because the law clerk of a Criminal Court judge, a downtown resident with no Civil Court experience in her 12 years as a lawyer, Eileen Rakower, has decided to challenge him in this District's primary. Because he had to set himself apart from the political and civic organizations and the people who elected him 10 years ago, he now has to beat on doors, buttonhole people and be sneered at by passers-by, as though he were a panhandler, to collect the minimum 1500 petition signatures in the 14th Street to 59th Street Election District. Theoretically, Jay should be a shoo-in, since he has endorsements from every elected official in the District, every Democratic club (and also some Liberal and Republican groups), lots of civic as well as gay and lesbian organizations (Rakower declares herself a lesbian), and he has worked hard to get 5000 signatures - but he is not. As former County Leader Ed Costikyan writes in the Law Journal, sitting judges are sitting ducks, referencing another challenge, that of 14-year Surrogate Judge Renee Roth by Karen Burstein, the 1994 Democratic candidate for State Attorney General.
During Costikyan's county leadership years a challenger would not get the party's support when running against a sitting judge recommended by the Democratic party's independent screening board and the bar associations. The Democratic Party's independent screening process of judicial candidates and incumbents, a method of breaking the Tammany control over the judiciary that was brought on by the Reform movement, not only helped to bring in good candidates rather than pure party designees but also protected the good incumbents who had broken all their political ties, as required by law, against well-connected challengers with recognizable names, such as Burstein. This protection of judges no longer exists, largely because the peer group screening panels of judicial candidates set up by the various county bar associations have reverted to a let's-sit-back-and- see, stay-out-of- politics attitude. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the county bar associations started their judicial candidates' review process in January of the election year, making a determination in April, before the start of the primary fights in June, and any challengers would have to think twice to run against an incumbent who had the bars' approval. As of this writing, less than a month before the primary, Judge Dankberg has not yet been heard by the bar associations!
Now that the party leaders have lost power and control and the bar associations have virtually abdicated their screening influence on candidates, media and money can buy judgeships, offices that really should be outside the popular election process. There is an argument that state and local judgeships should be by appointment, upon approval by their peers, as are the powerful lifetime federal judgeships. The latter is a position advocated by some good government groups, who feel that the judiciary loses many honorable candidates, willing to take the cut in pay out of a sense of honor and civic duty, because they are unwilling to stand on street corners and beg for votes. We'll talk of this another time.
And how do those of us registered voters who come out on Primary Day decide on the low key and low profile offices, such as judges? Well, not fairly. Statistics say that, if we do not know the candidates, we look at the names and pick attractive ones. Women often prefer female candidates, on principle, and ethnicity is a factor. And we skip pulling the lever for these offices, a lot. An uninformed and uninterested electorate weakens democracy and contributes to its many failures. Look at the corrupt school board operators chosen by a rigged 5 percent of the lethargic electorate. So, mark your calendar for Primary day, Tuesday September 10, check the papers for endorsements, think about the candidates, and come to the polls and vote, even if the weather is nice and you have many other things to do. Do not surrender your franchise to vote. If you don't use it, you lose it. Bar associations, you may be losing good judges by late endorsements!
Wally Dobelis has the Primary Day, September 10, marked on his calendar. He will vote for Judge Jay Stuart Dankberg, who is rated "Approved for Reelection" by the New York County's 1996 independent screening panel, and "Most Highly Qualified" by five bar association panels in prior years (their 1996 endorsement will probably come in September; Citizens Union has voted him "Preferred" as you read). He will also vote for Renee Roth, who has reformed the scandal-beset Surrogate's Court by fairly successfully depoliticising the appointment process. She has set up a screening panel for lawyers vying to be guardians ad litem (protectors of minors), and requires pro bono service for the poor from lawyers on lucrative cases. Let's be fair to Eileen Rakower; she may be a perfectly wonderful young lawyer, but she has a limited community service record, in the gay community. Without a Civil Court background, she is trying to unseat a Civil Court judge of known merit, highly rated by his peers. A candidate for public office should have a record of community service, for us to judge. Community trust must be earned by community service. Personal ambition is not sufficient grounds for eliminating a trusted public servant, a judge, from his job, if he does it well. The rich men's Perot and Forbes' appeals are creations of taxpayers' protest and social revolt, emotional in context and indicative of public dissatisfaction with the high level direction of this country's destiny. The humble basic jobs of rendering justice in the Civil Court must not be apportioned by emotion, else all semblance of sanity in this country is lost.
Wally Dobelis has also marked the Election Day, November 5, when our Assembly, State Senate, Congresspersons and President stand for election (City Council will be up in 1997).
Tuesday, October 15, 1996
Murder Mystery Dinner, a New Thrill
It is one of the community services of this column to regale you with new or unusual experiences that we have had, so that you know what to expect when similar ones come your way.
Some weeks ago we attended a murder mystery dinner, one of these things we read about, events that are staged on luxury liners and in big resorts. This one was upstate, a benefit for a youth center (hint, hint, fund raisers), held in the banquet hall of a local restaurant, Alfie's in Ancramdale.
It featured S. Ben Sanguedolce's Alibi Players in The Three Faces of Murder, and the playbill was totally silent of authorship, roles and actors. After a cash bar reception - we met, unexpectedly, and sat with Sheila and Joe Gosler of Friends Seminary - a private detective type announcer, looking a bit like Tracy (Dick, not Spencer) told us that the play would take place throughout the buffet dinner, that there would be a murder between main course and dessert, and to look for actors in the audience, Successful guessers identifying the culprit would be rewarded. He invited volunteers, and some 15 of us actors manque were chosen - there was no dearth of participants - and given sealed envelopes with instructions, with the admonition to mingle, tell our stories and not to embroider too much. Mine told me that I am Dr. Robert Singleman, Claudette and Peter's marriage counsellor, who stopped seeing Claudette face to face after she took off all her clothes in my office and tried to seduce me. Wimpy, but correct, that's me. The note also instructed me to put on my name tag immediately and get to work.
Instructions obeyed, all of us actors and laypersons lined up for the sumptuous buffet, (one of the real attractions, because each major local restaurant was supplying its specialty) only to be stopped in our tracks by a large self-announced psychiatrist woman wo asked for our cooperation in making an easy evening for her patient Claudette, a cutie in a backless dress, who "suffers from a multiple personality disorder" and might make a nuisance of herself with all and sundry throughout the night. This announcement elicited a protest from Phillip, Claudette's fiancee (the Peter of my instructions was history, according to what developed), then the three actors withdrew to their table and we were free to get back to collecting food, reading each other's badges and swapping our stories. It evolved, through conversations, that Claudette had a day job as a vice president at Ethan Allen, selling furniture, while doubling as a stripper in not one but two night clubs, and volunteering as a children's librarian on weekends. Wow!
The buffet dinner was eaten practically in shifts, people were walking from table to table, mingling and talking. Earnest sleuths from the audience interested in winning the promised prizes were stopping us, the badges, and quizzing us - after all, there appeared to be 17 possible murderers (an inventive person suggested that there were ringers among the volunteer actors) - while Claudette, at her table, kept going through rapid personality changes, first doing seductive things while eating her sexy ribs and lasagna dinner, then wrapping herself up and acting modest, or reverting to normal and denying all the extravagant behavior we charged her with. Philip too kept denying it all, and we doctors - there were five of us in the play - kept inventing plausible psychobabble. Very few spectators had the strength of character to stay aloof at their tables and not mingle, ask questions and offer solutions.
When everyone had eaten, the large stage shrink lady (she turned out to be an ex-Vilhelmina model) stepped up and asked us volunteers to tell or read off our stories. I was first, chronologically, and Claudette came forth to hug me and offer me experiences beyond the dreams of the couch. I was not the only one so honored, alas. Some volunteers were truly entertaining, particularly the unlikely strippers, Claudette's chubby short-skirted co-workers at the sex clubs, her furniture boss Jack Chippendale, the tattooist with whom she exchanged services, and burly Harley Davidson, her bike buddy. The idea of ringers among the volunteers became more plausible, and I kept watching two of them for concealed weapons.
Meanwhile, the Claudette - Philip interaction became more intense, as revelations came forth, and the promised murder took place, in plain sight, expected but nevertheless shocking. The alleged perpetrator was apprehended and examined by the stage detective in much detail and the audience had to fill out questionnaires identifying which personality was the murderer. Oh, well, I gave away the plot.
It was not an easy decision because of the miscues spread throughout the action by the professional actors. When the Dick Tracy lookalike PI announced the guilty party, it seemed to be a bit of surprise, but the reasoning behind the act was simple, impeccable, easily explained and grasped. Ohs and ahs resounded throughout the audience - the majority had followed the miscues. There were a few correct answers, and winners of prizes were determined by lot. A table-mate of ours, from Long Island, who looked like a schoolteacher and quizzed had me and others very seriously, won one of the better prizes, but she did not claim she knew who did it all along. When I asked, she gave me a mysterious smile, fingered the colorful square on her lapel and sailed out. But that was no Secret Service insignia button, just costume jewelry. I guess she was lucky, that's all. And she did not get the Maltese bird, only two free dinners.
As audience participation goes, a murder mystery dinner, or weekend, seems a nice and very effective way to bring people out. The Lenni- Lenape owned Double W Bed and Breakfast and dude ranch in the Poconos I described two weeks ago runs murder weekends (script written by a part-time helper, whose day job is with a local law firm), and the ranch manager and hands participate in another event, a mock railroad holdup with audience participation, to thrill the riders every Sunday between 4th of July and Labor Day on the 10-mile scenic tourist Storebridge Line, which runs from Honesdale to Hawley. Look, all the world's a stage, and all men and women merely players, as stated by Jaques in As You Like It (no, that wisdom did not come from the melancholy Dane).
Tuesday, October 08, 1996
Touring Chinatown, Little Italy and Ellis Island
This is part of a continuing series to keep you informed of the city and country pleasures you and your out-of-town guests can enjoy.
This summer we took our foreign visitor, by request, to world-famous Chinatown. Unfortunately, the after-dark scene was disappointing. A glitzy dinner at the Silver Palace on Bowery helped, and we had some funny exchanges about ginseng and its powers, a case of multi-ethnic communications in broken English, at a Mott Street souvenir shop. Politically incorrect humor transcends ethnic differences. A bit dismal, nevertheless.
But then we crossed Canal Street at Mott and got on Hester Street and there were lights, and crowds, and cheerful talk at Puglia Restaurant (I've never seen it without a crowd outside) and at Ferrara's Pasticerria on Grand. And when we turned into Mulberry, the night truly became day - there were people strolling, crowded cafe tables on the sidewalk, waiters greeting you and handing you huge menus, all the way to the Grotta Azzura (the Grotto in SOHO dialect) on corner of Broome Street, the last outpost. Along the way, in front of Umberto's Clam House were two white stretch limos, and one across the street, probably provided by the local Chamber of Commerce to heighten the drama, highlighting the Joey Gallo to John Gotti heritage (there is a crime-oriented walking tour of the area available). An exciting gastronomic multi-ethnic evening would have been in the making, but we had already eaten.
Next day, continuing the ethnic theme, our scheduled tour was Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. After consulting, we decided to skip the Statue and see Ellis, and went downtown by train, to line up at Castle Clinton for tickets, while our guest held a spot in the Ferry boat line - a time-saving measure, accepted by everyone in the line. Buskers greet the people in line with songs and patter ("welcome to the streets of New York, the only place in the world where you can buy a Rolex watch for $25") and a hiphop show. The tour lets you get off at Liberty, a two-hour stopover, three or more if you want to climb the 22-story staircase to the top. An elevator will take you to the pedestal and the exhibits there, but you have to start at the bottom on foot for the visit to the crown.
The story of the statue is that it does not celebrate immigration, as the Emma Lazarus' poem tells us. The French Republicans who put it together did it to advocate democracy, then nonexistent in France under Emperor Napoleon III, and friendship with the US. Edouard de Laboulaye inspired it, Auguste Bartholdi made it in 1877, and Joseph Pulitzer raised the funds to install it, by 1884. It was formed from a four-foot tall clay model in 300 enlarged full-size plaster sections. Then 2.5 mm thick copper sheets were hammered into matching shape (repousse process). A massive wrought-iron tower or pylon was built, to provide the skeleton for attaching the copper skin, flexible and impervious to high winds and temperature changes. The tricky construction was engineered by Gustave Eiffel, who went on to build another interesting structure, named after him, for the Paris Exposition of 1889.
Ellis Island was the gateway to America for immigrants, 1892-1954, though the flow slowed after 1924, when legal restrictions were placed on immigration from East and Southern Europe. Before Ellis, immigrant flow was encouraged and was free of regulation, though some states had limited barriers. Ellis Island has museums, showing the pitiful overcrowded towns of Italy and Poland that prompted the exit of our forebears; there is a shipping line poster showing wistful people watching the liner depart, and glowing pictures and postcards of the ships. The descriptions of the miserable quarters provided for the $35 steerage passengers are not on the posters.
Once on Ellis Island, the immigrants underwent scrutiny for tuberculosis, communicable and debilitating disease, and there were huge quarantine quarters (not restored). Incidentally, women physicians were accepted for employment at Ellis Island. The bad cases, about two percent of immigrants, were shipped back, at the shipping company expense, therefore the screening of immigrants by the shipping lines in Europe was severe.
At its peak Ellis Island processed 5,000 immigrants a day, and the facilities bulged at the seams. The annual numbers: 446,000 in 1892, 179,000 in 1898 (down due to a cholera threat from Europe), 1.1 million in 1906 (up after the revolution of 1905 in Russia), 335,000 in 1927 (restricted by immigration laws). A huge French Renaissance main building (Boring & Tilton, 1898) and 34 additional structures were built on the island. The original three-acre island, annexed by New York in 1691, was expanded to 27 1/2 acres through landfills (construction of New York City subway systems provided the dirt). The fill has now given rise to a claim by New Jersey for the man-made sections of the island, which were placed on a part of the harbor that belongs to our sister state, under a 1834 compact that gave them the waters surrounding Ellis Island. The lawsuit reached US Supreme Court in 1993, and an appointed special master is reviewing the case. New Jersey is insistent, since the island represents revenue from salaries, concessions, and a potential convention center and hotel.
After 1924 the use of Ellis Island as an immigrant processing center declined, and it housed undesirable aliens slated for deportation, as well as a military hospital and a Coast Guard training facility. It was closed and nearly abandoned in 1954; some illegal squatters moved in, and it took an act of President L.B.Johnson in 1965, which made the island a National Park, to put this major monument of our national heritage, the American Dream, under government protection. Consider - about 12 million people moved through Ellis Island, to give birth to 40 percent of our population.
Several plans were presented to National Parks Service for rehabilitation, the most modernistic from Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson, neither with much respect to history. A groundswell movement to rehabilitate the island to its peak period state started in 1974. It was picked up by Lee Iacocca, chairman of Chrysler Motors, in 1982, and he was appointed by the Department of Interior to head a centennial commission and its fundraising arm, the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation. Restoration specialists Beyer Blinder & Belle and Noter Finegold & Alexander designed the main building rehabilitation, which was completed in 1990, at a cost of $162 million.
The visitor walks in, following the path of the immigrant. The ground floor is a baggage hall, and steps lead to the overwhelming 2nd floor Reception hall, 200 ft. long and 100 ft. wide, with 56 ft. vaulted ceiling. Here the exhausted immigrant passed through a row of specialist doctors, who observed, examined and put a chalked code on his clothing if heart, lung and mental problems were suspected. The dreaded eye examiner could cause an instant reject, if trachoma was present. A final examiner asked 29 questions, the most treacherous being whether the immigrant had a job waiting. A positive answer was the wrong one, since contract labor was illegal. (Fiorello LaGuardia was a $1,200 Ellis Island interpreter, for Italian, German and Serbo-Croatian speaking immigrants, working 80-hour weeks before he entered politics.) 20 percent of arrivals were detained, only a half of them because of doctors' chalk marks, the others mostly for lack of money, if their American relatives were late in getting to the island with transportation funds. After five days the missionary and immigrant aid societies (HIAS was one of them) stepped in and guided the unfortunate arrival to his relatives.
The visitor has much to see. A one-hour guided tour takes you past the very impressive Immigrant Wall of Honor, 650 ft with over 500,000 inscriptions, principal fundraising tool of the Foundation. (I found three of my name, none in the spelling given to the 1905 arrivals. Research, research!) A touching movie -Island of Hope, Island of Tears - and oral histories performed by costumed actors (duration 1/2 hour each) bring forth the plight of the immigree. Poverty in the homeland, a 6-day journey in steerage, sleeping in tripledecker bunks squashed together (most people did not wash), soggy bread and a barrel of herrings for shipboard food (lucky the ones who packed a basket with sausages and black bread). And the Reception Hall, and the three floors of museum material - walls of passports, tickets, photographs of people hard at dirty immigrant work, and serious-faced picknicking in folk costumes, alone and with their fraternal organizations. America is a hard country. Go visit the Island on a sunny day.
Go, Yankees! Baltimore in four, Atlanta in five!
Sunday, October 06, 1996
An Israeli explains
Netanyahu is not necessarily as rabid as his most right-wing religious and Likud party-mates, and might be able to use the fulcrum of Clinton's pressure with his party-mates to at least perform some symbolic withdrawals that would show his govenment acting in good faith.
Before the elections Clinton did not act, for fear of losing Jewish support. Now he will be free to pressure Likud. US money and support in the UN and world-wide is an important psychological weapon in keeping Israel hopeful while surrounded by Hundreds of millions of Moslems. A threat of diminished support coupled with an honorable plan that would not result in a loss of face for Netanyahu and Israel would work.
The plan must involve Hebron in Samaria, a holy place for both Jews and Moslems, the burial site of Abraham (Moslem prophet Ibrahim), Sara, Isaac and Rebecca, known as the Cave of Machpelah. Hebron is also the place where in 1929 67 Jews were slaughtered by Arabs, and the sanctuary over the Cave (its Moslem name is Ibrahimiye Mosque) is where the Brooklyn immigrant Dr Baruch Goldstein shot up and killed some 30 Arabs while they were at prayer during the Ramadan (Feb) of 1994, in the mad notion that he could renew the war between Jews and Arabs and stop the peace movement. About 400 Israeli settlers live inside Hebron town, as agreed by the three-part Oslo pact and accepted by President of the Palestinian Authority Yassir Arafat as well as Prime Minister Yithzak Rabin and Foreign Minister x Peres. The crux of the present negotiations is the control of traffic in the Hebron area. The discussions are bogged down in minutia that are extremely significant to the parties. They deal with: patrolling of the roads by Israeli as well as PA cars; the armament of the PA police - handguns vs rifles; number of rifles; tires vs tractor gear for PA vehicles. The discussion deals with a stretch of the road of a distance of maybe 10 miles - from the militant Israeli 20,000 inhabitant Kiryat Arba settlement through a passage between mountains to the in-town enclave of the 400, then on to the Cave on the outskirts of Hebron, an Arab town of 140,000, located on the main Jerusalem highway. Amy patrols on the road are extremely vulnerable to snipers from the hills; the soldiers are unnecessarily exposed; the 400 settlers, half of them American (as are the Kiryat Arba inhabitants) endanger their children for a principle, amid an Arab population still chafing from the Goldstein murders. But it is a matter of principle, and it could be lightened if Netanyahu would agree to to the patrolling. This is where Clinton can come in.
In both Israeli and PA eyes rifles transform the police into an army, as do tank-like tracks on the cars. Members of the uncompromising Likud right faction want to bog down the disputes, in the expectation that they would stall. This could lead to resumption of war, and withdrawal of the aspects of independence granted to the Palestinian authority in Oslo pact phases A and B. That was the objective of the provocateurs Goldstein and xx who killed Rabin.
While seeking a compromise, both Jews and Arabs must beware of the destroyers of peace on both sides. Another Goldman and XX (who shot Rabin) might next attack the obvious high-profile target, Yassir Arafat, and cause another breakup, bringing Hamas and Hebzollah back on war status. Arafat, who is an opportunist witha long-term objective of a Palestinian State, is eager to continue talks which will give him West Bank territories targeted in the Oslo agreements, and is holding down the Arab militants. He sees that it is easier to acquire territory through negotiations than war: part C of the talks, to come after part B (Hebron) is concluded, determines the disposition of the land of the West Bank ("occupied territories"); decides on the degree of Palestinian rule of the West Bank; establishes the final relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Part A gave him the Gaza Strip, free, world's most highly populated area, with 300,000 inhabitants. Even those who mistrust and hate Arafat recognize that today he is a definite advocate of peace, not because the tiger has changed his stripes but for palpably evident selfish reasons. Even when he talks "struggle, fight, Jihad" in the camps and implores refugees to have 12 children, it is recognized as rhetoric by Israelis and shrugged off. But the enemies of peace on both sides may target him, and it is incumbent upon the israelis to close their eyes to his terrorist past and protect him from the potential provocateurs, the highly motivated destroyers of peace on both sides. This also applies to Americans and Europeans visited by Arafat. His selfish objectives are transparent; his need for Western support, in view of his loss of Soviet and Saudi contributions, is palpable; he has no alternative but to be the emissary for peace - and, as such, be exposed. There are not only the Goldsteins; the militants of Hamas and Hezbollah, with Iranian/Syrian Islamic influence, may consider him a lackey of the enemies, and terrorists/provocateurs can assume many identities.
Israel is a country of 4 million Jews, half a million Arab citizens, flanked by 1 3/4 million Palestinians under their control, and surrounded by over 100 million inimical Moslems, including millions of Palestinian refugees. It has not been at peace since its establishment in 1947. In response to attacks in 1948, 1956 and 1967 it occupied Egypt's Sinai Strip, Lebanon's Golan Heights and Jordan's West Bank (Samaria and Judea), and over the years 145,000 Israeli settlers built some 50 settlements in the West Bank territories, rightly or wrongly. That is where the trouble lies. A peaceful settlemet may be un its way, if the enemies of peace can be held back. Similarly, a peaceful settlement may be afoot in Golan Heights, barring no disturbances. President Clinton may be the most important player. Let us do the right thing. We may not be able to stop the trouble in Zaire, Burundi and Rwanda, or Cambodia, Somalia and former Yugoslavia, but in the MIddle East we can.