What the foreign papers are saying.
Jan. 7 1998 3:30 AM

The political crisis in Israel, caused by Foreign Minister David Levy's decision to stop crying wolf and finally resign from the government, unleashed fresh press attacks on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday. In an editorial titled "No Choice But New Elections," the respected daily Ha'aretz said Levy was right to have resigned over the budget's stinginess on welfare, because "much funding has been diverted to settlements in the territories, to the ultra-Orthodox sector and to various political pressure groups."


"It is likely that the majority in the cabinet will seek to exploit Levy's resignation to delay the implementation of the next withdrawal in the West Bank, and perhaps even to cancel the prime minister's forthcoming visit to Washington on Jan. 20," Ha'aretz said. "With Levy's resignation the government has reached a political impasse and a nadir in its performance. Gesher's [Levy's political party's] pulling out of the coalition removes a cornerstone from the Netanyahu government. A general election is a must."

The Jerusalem Post said, in an aquatic metaphor, that Netanyahu seems to "have a penchant for steering for the worst part of each rapid, and that escaping each does not mean that he has survived unscathed. The damage is cumulative, and eventually the boat takes on so much water it is impossible to steer." The only way to stabilize the government, the Post's editorial concluded, is "by marking out a clear stance on the peace process that either works or results in new elections. Move forward, or go back to the people; wobbling in place is not an option."

The massacre of more than 400 civilians in Algeria by Islamic extremists was described in Le Monde of Paris as the worst such carnage ever carried out during the holy month of Ramadan. Libération, the left-leaning Paris daily, said that the Islamic terrorists 1) were much more numerous and resilient than the Algerian government would admit and 2) had "inexhaustible reserves bred by hatred, poverty, and the desire for vengeance." The Times of London, in an editorial, called on the Algerian government to stop censoring the truth about the massacres: The Algerian Armed Islamic Group "is the most murderous fanatical force the world has seen since Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge; it must be destroyed." But for this to be achieved, the government must stop trying to minimize the horror. Telling the truth, said the Times, is one of the most potent of counterterrorist techniques.

La Repubblica of Rome described Germany's call on Sunday for an immediate pan-European initiative against the Algerian terrorists as a conscious decision to override the feelings of its great ally, France, out of "fear of seeing the triumph only a few hours' flight from Frankfurt, Paris and Milan of intransigent and violent Islamic fundamentalists on a par with those of Afghanistan or of Iran before [President Mohammed] Khatami."

Reporting President Daniel arap Moi's election to a fifth five-year term in chaotic and controversial polling in Kenya, the Kenyan daily the Nation emphasized the problems he was now facing, especially "severe criticism by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund," which were withholding aid payments "citing tardiness in effecting reforms in the energy and telecommunications sectors and in tackling corruption generally." The Nation also reported that "a thorough cleaning" of the venue for Monday's presidential swearing-in ceremony had been carried out the day before by "hundreds of prisoners under tight security." In a separate article, the Nation reported on the desperate plight of Kenya's tourism industry, which had seen a 50-percent drop in hotel-room occupancy, and 150,000 jobs lost because of pre-election violence.

The death of Michael Kennedy in a skiing accident was the subject of an exceptionally heartless editorial in India's the Pioneer, which said: "A generation of Kennedys has slipped into a tedium of tabloid headlines involving an overdose of the usual ingredients of sex, drink, and drugs. In the process, the word Camelot has been reduced to a bad, smutty, phonemic [wow!] pun in the past tense."

In a column in the Times of London, William Rees-Mogg, the newspaper's conservative former editor, claimed a special understanding of the Kennedy clan because, "on my mother's side I come from a somewhat similar Irish-American family." "In their ideal form, the Irish-Americans ... are risk-hungry risk-takers [who] see every risk as a challenge, and believe that failure to meet any challenge is cowardice," he wrote. "Cowardice is unforgivable. This imposes on them a heroic view of life, though continuous heroism has the odds stacked against them." Saying that this generation of Kennedys "does not seem to have inherited the exceptional ability of the family" and pointing out that "[r]isk-taking without high intelligence is not a good way of life," Rees-Mogg concluded: "The family has been doomed by its best as well as by its worst qualities; most of all, perhaps, by the rashness of its courage. As each new blow falls, we react with pity, astonishment, horror and compassion."