People: Parable of the labourers on the celery farm

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The Independent Online
AT A TIME when most of the 115,000 Palestinian workers from the occupied territories have been barred since 29 March from going to work in Israel, state television broadcast a report on 20 Palestinians busily harvesting celery on a farm in southern Israel. The farmer is Ariel Sharon, the hard-line former defence minister. His workers, he said, were employed 'legally'.

Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister, had some advice: 'It is time Israeli builders got down to building and Israeli farmers began harvesting. A nation that fails to build its own homes and work its own land is failing in its duty.' That should please Israeli soldiers who have been busy picking flowers for export. But will Sharon start chopping celery?

A POPULAR Russian television presenter, Alexander Nevzorov, suspended for broadcasting an appeal to form 'battalions of people's volunteers' to defend the constitution against alleged violations by President Boris Yeltsin, is back before the cameras.

Nevzorov returned to the news programme 600 Seconds two weeks after being barred from his studio. Hundreds of Russian nationalists had staged demonstrations to protest against the removal of their leather-jacketed hero, who in recent years has turned to fierce and emotional defence of national interests and conservative causes.

THE 'salsa' star Ruben Blades brought his Caribbean- beat sound back to thousands of cheering fans in his native Panama but gave no hints about when he planned to lay down his microphone for a promised crack at politics. The Harvard-educated singer and actor, who has lived in the United States for the past 20 years, is leading in presidential opinion polls. But he's kept a low profile on visits home and critics think he is out of touch with Panamanian reality.

Observers say he has a lot of work to do if he wants to be elected president in May 1994. 'Until he comes down here for good and projects himself as a candidate and not a singer, Panamanians will have doubts about him,' said a local newspaper publisher. 'His popularity is still based more on his music than political issues.'

IF NOTHING else, it's a way of keeping presidents off the street. The new running track in the White House grounds is finally ready for the First Jogger, Bill Clinton. The track will allow the President to take his regular morning runs without tying up rush-hour traffic. Clinton still intends to make the occasional foray onto the streets, however. After all, there is no McDonald's at the White House.

(Photograph omitted)