Mayor Maale Adomim
"We Are the Real Zionists"
By Gad Nahshon
"The Intifada will not scare us. We will go on with our development of our settlements. People are not running away from the West Bank! There is a growth of 5% in our population. We are building, we are in a process of developing. We are the true Zionists. We provide Arafat with an answer, with a Zionist message," said Benny Kashriel, the great popular mayor of Maale Adomim, the defender of Jerusalem, recently told me in Manhattan.
Kashriel is also the Chairman of YESHA, the umbrella council of 215,000 residents of the West Bank. Maale Adomim with 30,000 residents, is the biggest city in the Jewish West Bank. "It is a great town. Our size is like the size of Tel Aviv. I call Jews to come and invest in the town," said Kashriel, who came to lecture and raise money. "Our security costs are very high because of the situation. The terrorists tried to attack the town but we prevented it.
Many thanks to the Shabak and the army," explained Kashriel, who is building a new neighborhood of 3,000 apartments, schools and synagogues. He certainly asks Jews in America to contribute to the well-being of Maale Adomim. A strong Maale Adomim means a stronger Jerusalem Kashriel believes that Arik Sharon is still too much under the influence of the 'restraint' policy because he does not like to alienate Shimon Peres. "Peres never confessed to his mistakes in Oslo. Arafat was always the wrong partner.
Peres is afraid that his confession will cause people to blame him for the Intifada and its ramifications," remarked Kashriel who lectured here as a representative of those who live in the West Bank. "I call on the Palestinian mayors of the West Bank to ignore Arafat and speak directly to us. We can find a formula for living together in peace," said Kashriel. He argued that Arafat does not want peace because he does not want to recognize Israel. He also does not want to lose the support of Iraq and Libya as well as the 2.5 million refugees.
Kashriel also would like to point out that Maale Adomim was established on empty hills, empty land. No Palestinian village was there. It was government territory, not a private one.
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