Benny Kashriel, Mayor of Maale Adumin:
Planning for 100,000 Residents
Benny Kashriel visited America in order to achieve support here for his city, Maale Adumin. Kashriel is a successful mayor of the city, an integral part of "Greater Jerusalem," with 31,000 residents. He attended a Jewish event in New York City such as a dinner of Bnai Zion which has provided help to his city, especially by establishing a new modern library in this beautiful town, 15 minutes drive from Jerusalem.
Maale Adumin is the West Bank but the Israeli left and, of course, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon relates to this town as an integral part of Israel. Recently, Sharon paid a visit to this town, a modern town which also was awarded with environmental Israeli awards. Kashriel is a natural builder. He is a dynamo of this town and a planner. Recently, the town has developed a unique industrial part (140 economic enterprises).
Kashriel said: "The economic situation in Israel is not bad now. The economy of Maale Adumin has recently improved. We have a school for space studies, for example. The Bnai Zion"s branch of Los Angeles is going to build a unique new center for music in my town. The great supporters of Israel, such as George Schaeffer, for example, will help to raise the needed budget. Maale Adumin has always pushed the economic development. We have space, we have a future, and we plan to have 100,000 happy residents!"
Of course, the Palestinians have objected to these facts. Maale Adumin never caused any evacuation of Arabs from this area. And the settlers are good people and idealists and some are Olim from America. Maale Adumin is also the natural defender of Jerusalem.
What do you think about the political situation in Israel? "We have problems. Our policies are not stable. Many people are fighting for any agreement with the Palestinians. There are too many conflicts inside the Israeli society. I am afraid of extreme results. Some conflicts are too personal."
What do you think about Sharon"s politics? "He supports Maale Adumin as an integral part of Israel and Greater Jerusalem."
How do you explain Sharon"s problem with the May 2nd referendum inside the Likud Party? "Sharon was looking for victory but two thirds of the party members said "no" to his disengagement move in the Gaza Strip. I think that he did not understand the belief of the settlers. They are the idealists. Even moderate members decided to say "no". Also, Sharon was not well organized. The fact that President Bush supports Sharon on many issues did not help him to win the last Likud"s referendum. Most of the settlers are idealists."
What do you think of the Israeli security fence? "Maale Adumin is part of the Jerusalem security fence. I personally think that we have too much costs. Also, I think that terrorists will improvise solutions and they will be able to cross this fence. I do support Israel"s other military deterrence against terror. By the way, the "fence" now covers only a third of the targets. I support the policies of the Israeli army because we now face less terror, we see a diminishing act of terror."
Benny Kashriel also believes that Israel needs more "Hasbara" in this country. Israel, for example, needs a center of Zionism in New York City. Americans must learn about the history of 1948. Benny Kashriel tends to praise the devotion of many American Jews to Zionism and Israel and he met many of them in the Bnai Zion Organization.
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