- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 15, 2004

Israeli optimism

Terrorist attacks still continue, but the Israeli ambassador is hopeful that the future will bring peace. He even argues that the United States, Israel and their allies are winning the war on terrorism.

“I’m optimistic for the future,” Ambassador Daniel Ayalon told editors and reporters from The Washington Times in an interview at the Israeli Embassy.

“These days in which we are living, this era, will determine the future of civilization for years to come,” he said.

Mr. Ayalon called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “almost a microcosm of what is happening everywhere else.”

He noted that Palestinian terrorists specialized in hijackings in the 1970s and turned to suicide bombings in recent years. Other terrorists adopted those methods under the pretense of fighting for a radical version of Islam.

“First it was against the Jews and then against everyone else,” Mr. Ayalon said.

Mr. Ayalon cited Israel’s security wall and fence on the West Bank, which has reduced suicide bombings, and the arrests of terror suspects in the United States, Pakistan and Asia as examples of successes in disrupting international terrorist networks.

“I believe we are winning the war on terrorism,” he said.

But he acknowledged that the war may never end.

“The mission may never be accomplished because it is an ongoing war,” the ambassador said.

Although only major attacks get the attention of foreign reporters, Israel has suffered 21,000 terrorist attacks in the past 3 years, he said.

Moreover, as the attacks decrease, so does Palestinian support for what has been called the “second intifada,” a term Mr. Ayalon rejects. He said a true “intifada” is a popular uprising, but that the current unrest began as a “top down” tactic directed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Israelis continue to live their lives as normally as possible, even though “the schools are not safe, the buses are not safe” and restaurants are targeted by bombers, he said. One restaurant bombing claimed the lives of three generations of Israelis who were celebrating a birthday.

“Israelis live in defiance of terrorism,” Mr. Ayalon said.

Embassy reopens

The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka is scheduled to reopen today, after officials determined that a white powder found in a letter addressed to the ambassador last week was harmless.

“The embassy will open officially on Monday, although some people are at their desks today, and it is safe to enter,” embassy spokesman Chris Long said Friday. “The substance which was included in the letter was nontoxic.”

He added that he did not know what the powder was. The embassy closed Aug. 10 out of fears that the substance might be anthrax.

The letter was addressed to Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead.

Dialogue’s new voice

The Inter-American Dialogue has appointed a former U.S. ambassador to Brazil as the newest board member for its daily Latin America Advisor newsletter.

Donna J. Hrinak, currently a senior counselor at a Miami law firm, was ambassador to Brazil from 2002 to 2004. She also served as ambassador to Venezuela from 2000 to 2002 and to the Dominican Republic from 1994 to 1998.

“In the past decade, Ambassador Hrinak has been among the United States’ most accomplished diplomats, with extraordinary experience across a wide range of countries,” said Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue.

“With her exceptional knowledge of Latin America and her continuing close ties to the region’s leaders, she will contribute immensely to our analysis of hemispheric trends and challenges.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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