Wednesday, May 19, 1999

Israel’s new leader
will be no pushover

Bullet The issue: The election of Ehud Barak promises to revive the peace process.
Bullet Our view: As a former general, Barak can be expected to make no concessions that will threaten Israel's security.

The election of Ehud Barak as Israel's prime minister raises fresh hopes for the process of negotiating a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians. The ousted Benjamin Netanyahu, elected three years ago with conservative votes, tried to maintain his balance in a political high-wire act, placating both supporters and opponents of concessions to the Palestinians. In the end his twists and turns destroyed his credibility.

Although the peace issue is overriding to the rest of the world, it was hardly mentioned in the election campaign. Israelis were focused more on economic and social matters in a campaign that featured American advisers to both major candidates and American-style sound-bite tactics. Netanyahu's character -- he had alienated many former supporters with his deviousness and abrasiveness -- evidently was a key issue leading to his downfall.

Barak evoked the memory of the assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, the former army commander who as prime minister signed the preliminary peace agreement with Yasser Arafat and paid for that act with his life in 1995. Like Rabin, Barak is a former general, in fact Israel's most decorated soldier. After a career fighting the Arabs, he is now pledged to make peace with them.

However, as a former soldier he is not likely to make peace at the price of concessions that would threaten Israel's security. He has said he will resist Palestinian demands for Jerusalem and will protect Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Barak will negotiate with the Palestinians, but with no illusions. Despite the considerable concessions already made by the Israelis -- all Arab towns in the West Bank and Gaza are now under Palestinian rule -- true peace still seems a distant goal. Trust is notably lacking on both sides.

Arafat is telling his people he wants to push Israel back to its boundaries under the 1947 United Nations partition plan, which the Arabs rejected at the time, whatever agreement is reached under the Oslo pact.

Barak's election will revive the peace process, but its ultimate success remains in doubt.

Save the hula show

Bullet The issue: Eastman Kodak has decided to cancel its sponsorship of the Kodak Hula Show after more than 60 years.
Bullet Our view: The show is too important to the tourism industry to let it die.

FOR more than 60 years, the Kodak Hula Show has been a tradition. It is now endangered by Eastman Kodak Co.'s decision to end its sponsorship.

Originally located near the Waikiki Natatorium and in recent decades at the Waikiki Shell, the show has been one of the visitor industry's most popular and certainly most enduring attractions. It would be a pity for it to be canceled.

The idea for the show is credited to Fritz Herman, a Kodak executive. Herman recognized that tourists had no opportunity to take photos of hula dancers in daylight because hula shows were usually held at night. Film speeds in the '30s weren't fast enough to permit night shooting without flashbulbs, which were usually prohibited in nightclubs.

The show is held three mornings weekly at no charge. It has been seen by untold millions over the years. The idea of course was to promote sales of Kodak film, but the benefits were shared by the entire tourism industry.

Kodak said it is working with the show's organizers to find a replacement sponsor. The show is too important to the visitor industry to let it die.

Ruling on residency

Bullet The issue: California's law giving people who lived in the state less than one year only the amount of benefits they would have received in their previous home state
Bullet Our view: The Supreme Court decision striking down the law reaffirms the principle that citizens must receive equitable treatment anywhere in the country.

IN 1969 the U.S. Supreme Court invoked the constitutional right to travel in striking down state laws that required one year of residency to qualify for welfare benefits. Now it has ruled that states cannot pay lower welfare benefits to newcomers. The decision came in a case from California but it could apply to laws in 14 other states.

The California law would have given people who had lived in the state less than a year only the amount of welfare benefits they would have received in their previous home state. The idea was to eliminate an incentive to move to another state to receive higher benefits. Lower courts had ruled that the state could not treat new and longtime residents differently.

A federal law enacted in 1996 allowed states to temporarily provide lower benefits for new residents, but the Supreme Court said Congress cannot authorize states to adopt policies that violate the Constitution.

Surely no state is happy to accept new residents who are coming because that state provides higher welfare benefits than the state they came from.

But citizens have a right to travel to any state and to be treated equitably. To discriminate between people on the basis of length of residence in alloting welfare benefits would violate that right, the court ruled.

The states cannot use differential welfare benefits to discourage unwanted arrivals. They could, of course, if they were independent. They are not. The decision underlines the principle that this is one country.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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