Plagued from the start by infighting and bad planning, Israel's jubilee is in trouble again, this time with peace activists and women's groups who say the right-wing government is keeping them out for ideological reasons.
At the center of the controversy is Doron Shmueli, the fourth successive director of the Jubilee Com-mittee appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.His critics say Shmueli is turning what is supposed to be a celebration for all of Israel's citizens into a fete of Netanyahu and his hard-line ideology.
In the jubilee's climax, a lavish stage production on April 30, a video review of Israel's history will not show the 1993 White House hand-shake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. That event was also left out of the TV jubilee promos showing other historical handshakes celebrating peace with Egypt and Jordan.
Shmueli acknowledged that keeping out the Palestinian leader who is still anathema to many on Israel's political right was no oversight.
"I personally will not allow Arafat to be in any way connected with the jubilee celebrations," the Haaretz daily has quoted Shmueli as saying.
Images of Rabin, including the last moments before his November 1995 assassination by an ultranationalist Jew, were only belatedly added to the historical review in response to a public outcry, said Shay Narkus, an attorney for the Dor Shalom peace group founded by Rabin's son, Yuval.
Ronit Arbel, a spokeswoman for the Jubilee Committee, said Rabin pictures were included from the start and that the review was a work in progress. However, others in her office said privately that Rabin clips were added later.
Shmueli also drew criticism earlier this month when he threw a jubilee bash for the 450 Jewish settlers in the Palestinian town of Hebron. The party cost $150,000 in public money.
In an encounter with Israel's largest women's group, Naamat, Shmueli brushed off complaints about a jubilee bus advertisement that showed three pre-teen boys. Naamat chief Ofra Friedman said she asked Shmueli why there were no girls in the picture. The response: The buses drive through ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious communities, and pictures of girls might be considered offensive.