Friday, July 13, 2007
KING DAVIDS TOMB A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Mideast peace treaty possible this month, says expert
By Deena Douara
First Published 7/4/2007
CAIRO: A meeting between the Quartet, the Palestinian Authority, and Israeli leaders will take place in Egypt mid-July, announced EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
Toward the middle of the month, we will recuperate this initiative, he said. Political analyst from the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Emad Gad told The Daily Star Egypt that he believed the countries were very close to negotiating a peace treaty delineating a two-state solution very close to what former PM Arafat was said to have been offered at the 2000 Camp David meeting. He believes that moderate Palestinians are ready to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
While the Quartet meeting was postponed from late June due to high tensions within the Palestinian territories, Gad explains that the situation is very different now.
It is looking positive in the West Bank, he says, where Israel has returned tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and the EU has resumed relations with the territory. Abbas is also supported by the US, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
Abbas is actually stronger than before, explains Gad, as he and his Fatah party no longer need to take approval or agreement from Hamas, as was the case under their unity government.
Hamas is now controlling Gaza only.
The meeting will also represent former British PM Tony Blair’s first test as Middle East envoy for the Quartet — composed of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.Despite being generally considered pro-Israel, Abbas had welcomed Blair as the new representative, saying the Arabs were ready to deal with Blair as mideast negotiator.Blair can play a positive role in convincing the Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate, says Gad. He explains that Blair’s close ties to US President Bush put him in an advantageous position, as the US is in a position to pressure the Israelis to resume negotiations.
MEPs defy member states on EU symbols
11.07.2007 - 17:45 CET | By Mark Beunderman
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The European Parliament is considering flying the EU flag and playing the EU anthem more often in its own buildings as part of a political message to member states who have scrapped the union's symbols from the proposed new EU treaty. The parliament on Wednesday (11 July) adopted its opinion on the EU's reform treaty which was agreed by EU leaders last month and which will be subject to detailed negotiations in a so-called Inter Governmental Conference (IGC) in the coming months. In Wednesday's opinion, MEPs welcomed the fact that the reform treaty blueprint safeguards much of the substance of the original EU constitution, which was rejected in popular referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005.But the EU assembly also regrets drafting changes in the new style treaty. It has been stripped of all constitutional elements while explicitly suggesting EU's powers can be limited and handed back to member states. It also gives the UK a special opt-out from the EU's charter of fundamental rights.
MEPs are particularly irked about the disappearance from the treaty text of the EU's 12 star flag and Beethoven's Ode to Joy – which were given official status as EU symbols in the failed EU constitution.In a bid to defy member states on the symbolic issue, the parliament says in its opinion that it intends to give official character to the EU's flag and anthem in its own internal rulebooks. Some senior MEPs eye a more frequent use of the unions symbols in official ceremonies in the parliament itself.German social democrat MEP Jo Leinen, who drafted the report, told EUobserver so far the anthem is not being officially used in the parliament - at least I rarely heard it in the seven years I've been here. If we have it in the rules of procedure, we could play it when we have visits of foreign delegation or during celebrations, he added. Why not give the parliament, which has been directly elected by European citizens, an avant-garde role in doing this? That way, those who somehow hope that the flag and anthem would disappear would see themselves confronted with the opposite.
The idea has also caught the interest of parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering who told EU leaders at their June summit that he was moved to hear Beethoven's Ode to Joy being played for him when he was recently received in the Israeli parliament.
If the Israeli Knesset is willing to play the EU anthem, the European parliament should perhaps consider doing the same when welcoming foreign visitors, Mr Poettering suggested when speaking at a young journalists event in Brussels last month.Mr Poettering's spokeswoman said he had already informally raised the idea with political group leaders in the EU parliament adding that the parliament chief might formally table a proposal at a later stage.
UK opt-out dramatic
Apart from the EU symbols issue, MEPs in their report also voiced other criticism on the simplified treaty blueprint prepared by the former German EU presidency.An opt-out from the EU's right charter by would be a dramatic set-back which would cause serious damage to the EU's inner most sense of identity, the report says – without explicitly mentioning the UK, which secured the opt-out during the June summit, or Ireland and Poland which might make the same move in the IGC talks.MEPs also regret various drafting changes in the new treaty text, which give an impression of distrust vis-a-vis the union and its institutions a reference to the raft of protocols and declarations designed to safeguard member states competencies against Brussels interference.Meanwhile, the parliament is also keen to ensure that it will not lose out in the IGC negotiations itself, with the opinion paper expressing concern that member states could undermine MEPs' powers to control the European Commission in its daily work.The conference of political group leaders in the parliament is set on Thursday to appoint three representatives to take part in the IGC and defend the assembly's interests. The nominated candidates are German conservative MEP Elmar Brok, Spanish socialist Enrique Baron Crespo and UK liberal Andrew Duff.The trio will attend the IGC's ministerial meetings, while parliament chief Poettering is set to take part in meetings at heads of state and government level.
Stocks touch new highs on resource frenzy
Email Print Normal font Large font July 13, 2007 - 4:34PM
Australian stocks ended higher, propelled consolidation hopes in the resources sector sparked by one of the country's biggest resources takeovers yet.While Rio Tinto's hefty $US38.1 billion price tag for Canadian aluminium producer Alcan Inc sparked a downturn in its share price, hopes that merger and acquisition fever might spread through the sector helped boost other mining plays.At the 4.15pm close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was 26 points higher at 6389.4, while the All Ordinaries gained 25.3 points to 6425.4.But both indices touched new intraday highs, the S&P/ASX200 reaching 6436.7 and the All Ordinaries touching 6469.2.On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the September share price index contract was up 30 points at 6398 on a volume of 19,889 contracts.
CMC Markets senior dealer Josh Whiting said the market brushed off mid-week jitters to put in a strong performance.The news (of Rio's buy for Alcan) reignited talk of further consolidation in the global resources sector,Mr Whiting said.Other possible resource stock marriages suggested by analysts include a BHP Billiton takeover of US aluminum producer Alcoa, or locally an approach by Oxiana Resources for zinc miner Zinifex.The world's biggest miner BHP Billiton added 44 cents to $39.16, market predator Rio Tinto lost $2.54, or 2.45 per cent, to $101.30, and possible takeover target Alumina climbed 15 cents to $8.55.Mid-tier miner Oxiana firmed one cent to $3.91 and zinc and lead miner Zinifex was steady at $20.60.These speculations are exciting investors further in an environment where many are already bullish due to a rosy outlook for base metals,Mr Whiting said.Traders are scared of missing out on the next big takeover announcement in the materials sector.AAP
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Terror chief: Arafat died of AIDS
Confidante says Abbas told him contents of French medical report July 12, 2007
3:00 p.m. Eastern By Aaron Klein - WorldNetDaily.com
JERUSALEM – A confidential medical report released to the Palestinian Authority from the French hospital in which Yasser Arafat died revealed the Palestinian leader succumbed to AIDS, said the founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command terrorist group. Ahmed Jibril – the infamous, Damascus-based PFLP chief who at times was a close Arafat confidante – said in an interview with Hezbollah's Al-Manar television that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his team told him the French medical report listed AIDS as Arafat's cause of death. When Abu Mazen (Abbas) came to Damascus with his team, I asked them: What happened to the investigation into the death of Abu Ammar (Arafat)? The Israelis killed him. He was my colleague ever since 1965 and used to sleep at my home. He and I followed the same path. Is it conceivable that when (former Lebanese Prime Minister) Rafiq Al-Hariri was killed, all hell broke loose, even though he was just a merchant in Saudi Arabia, who later entered politics, whereas the death of Yasser Arafat, who for 40 years had been carrying his gun from one place to another, is not investigated? Is this conceivable? Continued Jibril: They (Abbas' team) were silent, and then one of them said to me: To be honest, the French gave us the medical report that stated that the cause of Abu Ammar's death was AIDS.
Jibril stressed the AIDS information doesn't originate with him but was told to him by Abbas and his team: I am not saying this, they did. Now they pretend that they miss Yasser Arafat and complain that [Hamas] entered his house in [Gaza] and so on.
Jibril's PFLP has carried out numerous anti-American and anti-Israeli terror operations. The group is suspected by some of targeting Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. Jibril is believed to have been behind a massive shipment of weapons to Arafat in 2001 that was seized by Israel and used as part of a campaign to isolate the late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader. Arafat died Nov. 11, 2004, at a military hospital in Paris. The official cause of death was not released because French law prohibits distribution of medical records to anyone other than immediate family. Arafat's widow, Suha, has refused to divulge any details of his illness. A copy of Arafat's medical report was obtained in 2005 by the PA as part of an internal investigation into Arafat's death. A book published in Israel in 2005 quoted Arafat's doctor stating the Palestinian leader died of AIDS.
In The Seventh War by Haaretz journalists Amos Harel and Avi Isacharoff, Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, Arafat's personal physician, was quoted saying he knew Arafat's French doctors found the AIDS virus in the blood. Al-Kurdi played no role in Arafat's medical care during the final weeks of the Palestinian leader's life and refused to divulge the source of the AIDS information. He claimed the virus was put into Arafat's blood in an effort to blur the traces of poisoning, which he says was the real cause of death. Many senior Palestinian officials claimed in media interviews they are convinced Arafat was poisoned by Israel. While Arafat was ill, some publicly speculated he was dying of AIDS. The homosexual site 365Gay.com, which deals regularly with issues related to HIV/AIDS, ran a piece reminding readers that for several years it had been suggested Arafat was bisexual and could have contracted the disease.
If suggestions that Arafat has AIDS are true, it is doubtful it would be made public, wrote 365Gay.com European bureau chief Malcolm Thornberry. National Review diarist David Frum suggested in a column Arafat contracted AIDS from homosexual sex with his bodyguards. Ion Pacepa, who was deputy chief of Romanian foreign intelligence under the Ceausescu regime and who defected to the West in 1978, stated in his memoirs the Romanian government bugged Arafat and had recordings of the Arab leader in orgies with his security detail. Arafat's wife, Suha, mostly lived abroad and rarely saw her husband.
In a WND interview, the National Security Agency's former analyst of Arafat's communications said the U.S. had information indicating the Palestinian leader may have been a homosexual who preyed on teenage boys. James J. Welsh, who in the early 1970s monitored communications for the NSA related to Arafat's Fatah movement, said, One of the things we looked for when we were intercepting Fatah communications were messages about Ashbal [Lion cub] members who would be called to Beirut from bases outside of Beirut. The Ashbal were often orphaned or abandoned boys who were brought into the organization, ostensibly to train for later entry into Fedayeen fighter units. Arafat always had several of these 13-15 year old boys in his entourage. We figured out that he would often recall several of these boys to Beirut just before he would leave for a trip outside Lebanon. It proved to be a good indicator of Arafat's travel plans. While Arafat did have a regular security detail, many of those thought to be security personnel – the teenage boys – were actually there for other purposes, Welsh said. Arafat's Fatah and PLO organizations based themselves in Beirut after they were expelled from Jordan in 1970. The terror groups remained in Lebanon until Israel's military operations in the area in 1982. In response to Welsh's allegations, senior Arafat aide and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told WND the reports are utter nonsense and don't merit any reaction.
King David’s Tomb: A Different Perspective
By Leibel Reznick JULY 13,07
Those who trust in the Lord shall be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever (Psalms 125:1).
Dr. Ari Zivotofsky’s well-presented article What’s the Truth about … King David’s Tomb? addresses the question of the true location of King David’s Tomb from a Biblical as well as an archaeological perspective. In the article, Dr. Zivotofsky emphatically states that the area known today as Mount Zion was not part of inhabited Jerusalem in King David’s time, and it is highly improbable that he was buried there. The Bible tells us that the City of David is Zion (1 Kings 8:1) and that David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David (1 Kings 2:10). If, as Dr. Zivotofsky claims, the present-day Mount Zion was uninhabited during the time of King David, then it is not only highly improbable, but quite clearly impossible that King David was buried there.
But what evidence is there that present-day Mount Zion was not inhabited during the reign of King David? The answer is that since no evidence of occupation during the era of King David has been discovered there, that proves it was not occupied at that time. In other words, the absence of evidence is evidence of absence! This is a very dangerous stance to take with regard to the archaeology of Jerusalem. Many archaeologists and historians claim that in the general Jerusalem area there is a dearth of artifacts and remains of buildings from the eras of Kings David and Solomon, which gives them reason to doubt there ever was such a capital city. Some take an extreme position, carrying this line of reasoning one step further: I am not the only scholar who suspects that the figure of King David is about as historical as King Arthur, asserts Philip R. Davies, professor of Biblical studies at the University of Sheffield, England.1 Those of us who follow the unfolding story of Jerusalem archaeology realize that Davies is hardly a lone voice. In the world of academia, his opinion is close to, if not representative of, the majority view. And on what basis are the views that there was no Davidic capital of Jerusalem and that Kings David and Solomon did not exist predicated? The absence of evidence is evidence of absence. As I already stated, this is a dangerous position to take.
A tel is a mound that consists of a layer of ruins built upon other layers of ruins. Jerusalem is not a tel in the traditional sense of the word; it’s a city of hills with bedrock a few feet below the surface. In some places bedrock even protrudes above the land surface. This is because when an inhabited area was destroyed, the conquerors would remove the debris all the way down to the bedrock and build anew. (Recently the esteemed British scholar and archaeologist Kenneth A. Kitchen quipped about Jerusalem, We are lucky to have anything really old at all!)2
Archaeology is the art of interpreting physical finds based on ever-evolving scientific principles. The interpretation of the archaeologist is subject to his or her prejudices, therefore scholars who doubt the veracity of the Bible will interpret the finds in a certain way. Those who believe in the accuracy of Biblical history will interpret them quite differently. Leaving the inaccuracy of archaeological evidence aside, I would like to address the issue of the location of King David’s Tomb from a Biblical and a historical perspective.
Ancient Jerusalem consisted primarily of two large hills, the Eastern Hill and the Western Hill. The northern part of the Eastern Hill is occupied by the Temple Mount and the long, southern slope stretching downward is an area referred to as the archaeological City of David.
The Western Hill consists of the Armenian and Jewish quarters of the Old City as well as the area adjacent to the south of the Armenian Quarter, commonly called Mount Zion. Historically, the City of David, Mount Zion and King David’s Tomb were all located on the Western Hill. During the course of the twentieth century, archaeologists moved the City of David and Mount Zion over to the southern slope of the Eastern Hill. (Despite the move, people still commonly refer to the Western Hill as Mount Zion.) The question is: Is King David’s Tomb located on the Western Hill, where tradition has always placed it, or is it located on the Eastern Hill as the archaeologists claim?
The Bible tells us that King Chezekiah repaired gaps in the city wall adjacent to the City of David. The newly constructed wall was moved a bit closer to the center of town, slicing through several homes. The stones removed from the demolished homes were used to build the new wall. The prophet Isaiah stated as much, You [Chezekiah] have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many … and the houses that you have broken down to fortify the wall (Isaiah 22:9-11). A section of Chezekiah’s wall was found by Professor Nahman Avigad shortly after the Six Day War of 1967. The dating of the wall can be determined by an analysis of the method with which the wall was constructed and by the pottery shards that were found inside the wall. And, indeed, the wall passes right through some ancient homes. Avigad’s discovery has been dubbed the Broad Wall, named after a wall mentioned in the book of Nechemiah. The wall is located in the Jewish Quarter on the Western Hill. According to Isaiah, Chezekiah’s wall was part of the wall of the City of David. Therefore, it follows that the City of David must have been on the Western Hill and not the Eastern Hill as archaeologists claim.
Some people erroneously believe that ill-informed Christian pilgrims during the Middle Ages mistakenly named the Western Hill Mount Zion and the City of David. Not so. According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, the Western Hill was the site of the City of David (Wars of the Jews, Book V, chap. 4). Josephus, a resident of Jerusalem and a Kohen who served in the Second Temple, was intimately familiar with the geography of Jerusalem and its environs. His writings are the primary source for the history of the late Second Temple period and have served as an invaluable tool in the field of archaeology. Josephus’ knowledge of the City of David was also based on a tradition that can be traced all the way back to the Davidic Dynasty. If he claims that the Western Hill is the site of the City of David, I am inclined to agree with him rather than take the word of a few modern-day revisionist historians.
Could it have been that the location of King David’s Tomb was forgotten during the years of the Babylonian exile? No. Nechemiah mentions that during the Post-Exilic period, the walls of the city were repaired to a place opposite the sepulcher of David (Nechemiah 3:16). Josephus refers to the sepulcher of David several times. Similarly, in writing about the early years of the Bar Kochba rebellion, the Roman historian Dio Cassius (ca., 200 CE) mentions King David’s Tomb (Roman History 69:14). Throughout the generations, Jews and non-Jews have referred to Mount Zion and to King David’s Tomb. Despite the tradition dating from Josephus’s time until 1914 placing King David’s Tomb, the City of David and Mount Zion on the Western Hill, archeologists claimed that all of these sites were really on the Eastern Hill. Were one to subscribe to the predominate archaeological view, one would have to believe the highly unlikely scenario that one morning every Jerusalemite awoke and could no longer remember where Mount Zion was located. The residents of Jerusalem then took a wild guess and assumed that it must have been on the Western Hill. Fortunately, in 1913, French archaeologist Raymond Weill came along and informed everyone they had guessed wrong and it was really on the Eastern Hill. Archaeologists may subscribe to Weill’s theory, but I don’t buy it.
One way archaeologists determine the extent of an ancient inhabited area is by studying the contour of the surrounding burial grounds. Since burials were rarely conducted within the city limits, the assumption is that the city extended to the area of the cemeteries. Numerous First Temple period gravesites have been found in Jerusalem. The overall contour begins east of the Eastern Hill and follows a southern course along the Kidron Valley, around the southern edges of the Eastern and Western Hills and northwards, west of the Western Hill.3 Had only the Eastern Hill been inhabited, then we would expect to find the contour of the burial grounds to surround the Eastern Hill only. However, the contour indicates that both hills were occupied concurrently.
(Because of editorial constraints, I do not wish to address the issue of the Tosefta quoted in Dr. Zivotofsky’s article concerning Rabbi Akiva. But suffice it to say that the reading of the same Gemara text as printed in the Yerushalmi is quite different. In addition, not only is the Kidron Valley east of the Eastern Hill, it goes southward and turns west of the Western Hill.)
One reason archaeologists are reluctant to place the Biblical Mount Zion on the Western Hill is because there is no natural water source there. The city inhabitants would have required many large cisterns in order to survive. Even if the cisterns had cut into the bedrock, they would not have been adequate because most bedrock is porous. Without waterproof plaster, the water would seep through the rock to a lower level. Many scholars believed that waterproof plaster was not invented until well into the Iron Age, long after the era of the Jebusites and King David. Without plaster, there are no cisterns. And yet, in the late 1950s, Yigael Yadin was excavating a Late Bronze Age level (corresponding to the pre-Davidic time of the Jebusites) at Hazor. He writes:
The most exciting aspect of the excavations in this area was the many bottle shaped, rock-cut cisterns. …In one cistern, the upper, more porous parts of the rock were even plastered! This one [cistern] went out of use for water storage as early as the Late Bronze period. It is one of the earliest examples of its kind known in the country and disproves the allegation that plastered cisterns were first introduced by the Israelites in the 12th and 11th centuries BCE.4
Speaking of water sources, there are two sources of water that are associated with ancient Jerusalem. One is mentioned a few times in Tanach, the Gihon (Gichon), and the other, mentioned in the Talmud, is the Shiloah (Shiloach). Archaeologists have been puzzled by these two sources since there is only one known underground stream in Jerusalem. That 1,750-foot underground stream begins its course at the eastern slope of the Eastern Hill, runs under the hill and flows into a small pool at the southern base of the hill. Archaeologists solved the two water-source problem by calling the beginning of the stream Gihon and the terminus Shiloah. However, there are a number of problems with this universally accepted solution.
1. It’s highly unusual for a small 1,750-foot-long stream to have two names, one for each end.
2. The Talmud (Sukkah 48a) relates that for the Temple Water Drawing ceremony on Sukkot, messengers were sent down to the Shiloah to draw water and bring it back up to the Temple Courtyard through one of the southern gateways, called the Water Gate. If Gihon and Shiloah are the same stream, why did the Temple messengers bypass Gihon and travel an additional 1,750 feet further south to the Shiloah?
3. The underground stream is on the eastern slope of the Eastern Hill. The Gihon was, in fact, on the western side of the City of David. As it states in Chronicles 2 (32:30), Chezekiah also blocked the upper watercourse of Gihon, and diverted it straight down to the west side of the City of David.
4. The verse above refers to the upper watercourse of the Gihon. That qualification certainly implies that there was a lower watercourse. The archaeological Gihon is a single source for the underground stream. How do the archaeologists explain the existence of an upper and lower watercourse? They can’t.
The solution to these problems is as follows. To the west of the Western Hill are two tremendously large cisterns. One is located at the western base of the Western Hill and its modern name is the Sultan’s Pool, referring to Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who had the walls of the old city constructed. The other cistern is located in Independence Park, behind the Sheraton Plaza Hotel, and is called the Mamila Pool. Before archaeologist Raymond Weill came along, the Sultan’s Pool was known as the Lower Gichon and the Mamila Pool as the Upper Gichon. In ancient times, these two cisterns were supplied with water by means of an aqueduct system, traces of which can still be seen. Thus, the author of Chronicles knew what he was writing. The City of David and Mount Zion were clearly located on the Western Hill.5 Additionally, the Shiloah was the underground stream located on the Eastern Hill. Both ends of the stream had a single name—Shiloah.
Where is King David’s Tomb located? Tradition, dating all the way back to the time of King David, says that it is on present-day Mount Zion. I have presented here a number of arguments supporting this long-held tradition. Archaeologists have recently moved Mount Zion to the Eastern Hill and have called the area City of David. Our Sages said, Kol ha’meshaneh, yado al ha’tachtonah, The burden of proof is on the one who seeks to change. This is true with regard to tradition and also with regard to moving mountains.6
Rabbi Reznick is a maggid shiur in Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Monsey, New York. He has written numerous books and magazine articles on the topic of Jewish history and archaeology. He is presently a scholar-in-residence for the David Dov Foundation of Lakewood, New Jersey, which is dedicated to the research of Biblical archaeology by Orthodox scholars.
1. Biblical Archaeology Review 20:4, (July/Aug. 1994).
2. Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI, 2003), 151.
3. Ephraim Stern, ed., The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, (New York, 1993), 713.
4. Yigael Yadin, Hazor: The Rediscovery of a Great Citadel of the Bible (New York, 1975), 123.
5. For an analysis of the derivation of the name Gihon, see my article: Moving Mount Zion Jewish Action (summer 2001): 38-43.
6. After completing this article, I found the following quote from Meir Ben Dov, a Jerusalem archaeologist of some note, concerning the location of King David’s Tomb.
A number of scholars engaged in research on Jerusalem have reverted to the mediaeval theory suggesting the upper city (Western Hill)—today’s [Mount] Zion—as the tomb’s location. These propositions can now be accepted since recent archaeological discoveries have shown that the city rose to the upper hills already during the reign of the kings of Judah. Hence, one should not reject out of hand the location of the graves (of the Davidic Monarchy) in the upper city (Western Hill) of which [Mount] Zion is an integral part (Jerusalem: Man and Stone [Tel Aviv, 1990], 237).
As an interesting aside, I read recently that Dame Kathleen Kenyon, the famed archaeologist who excavated for a number of years in Jerusalem in the 1960s, found a goodly number of early First Temple shards on present-day Mount Zion but threw them away. Since Kenyon was a minimalist, she firmly believed that Mount Zion was not inhabited during the First Temple period, and that it was only inhabited in the second century BCE. She therefore concluded that the shards did not belong on Mount Zion, and she tossed them out.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
BARROSO EU IS AN EMPIRE
Abbas wants international force in Gaza
RAMALLAH, West Bank, July 10 (UPI) -- Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that an international force should be deployed in Gaza to protect the area's residents. Hamas, which controls Gaza, has said that it would regard any international troops as occupiers, Alalam Satellite TV reported. Abbas met Tuesday with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. Prodi said that all parties involved, presumably including Hamas, would have to support the deployment of an international force. We have insisted on the necessity of deploying an international force in the Gaza Strip to guarantee the delivery of humanitarian aid and to allow citizens to enter and leave freely, Abbas said at a news conference with Prodi in Ramallah.
Abbas said that 4,000 people are waiting at the Rafah Crossing into Egypt, trying to leave Gaza and at least 11 people have died there.
IDF: Iran May Go Nuclear in 6 Months; NATO: Go It Alone
by Ezra HaLevi (JULY 11,07 INN)
According to the IDF, Iran will be able to produce nuclear weapons within six months. NATO says Israel must go it alone according to Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The IDF Military Intelligence (MI) assessment was reported Tuesday to the Knesset and included a concrete assessment determining that Iran could cross the technological threshold required to produce nuclear weapons in the next 6-12 months and possess an operational warhead by the middle of 2009. The assessment is at odds with US estimates that put the date between 2010 and 2013. Both agree, however, that military strikes could set back the technology for years.
IDF MI also is of the opinion that sanctions against Iran have not weakened the regime, because huge oil reserves still proivide all the money necessary to neutralize any pressure created by the international community. The assessment also revealed that Israel’s withdrawals – from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 – have added precedents and solidified belief throughout the Middle East that armed struggle can achieve the destruction of Israel within this generation.
Lieberman: NATO Says Go It Alone
Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu party), whose government portfolio was created specifically to deal with the Iranian threat, met with NATO’s Assistant Secretary-General Alexandro Minoto Rizo and the European Union’s representative Franco Partini earlier this week. Lieberman reported that NATO’s senior officials said Israel should not assume that the international community will stop Iran just to help Israel. Israel should prevent the threat, herself, and should not expect support of other countries, Lieberman reported as the conclusions reached at the meeting. NATO is stuck in Afghanistan and European and American troops are wallowing in the Iraqi quagmire, which is something that is going to prevent the leaders of countries in Europe and America from deciding on the use of force to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, he said. Winds of Chamberlain are blowing in Europe, Lieberman told Army Radio, referring to that leader’s conciliatory policy toward the Nazis in WWII. When I hear from a respected prime minister like [Italian Prime Minister] Romano Prodi that Israel should agree to a peaceful Iranian nuclear program, it seems like something surreal. The political situation is such that they are trying to turn this into our problem alone.
Lieberman said that although Europe or the US could not be relied upon to attack Iran on Israel’s behalf, they would support Israel’s actions. If we start military operations against Iran alone, then Europe and the US will support us, he said.
Another Lieberman in Favor of Iran Strike
US Senator Joseph Lieberman has been publicly calling for US strikes on Iran. He repeated the call last week, saying the Islamic Republic has declared war on the US and is waging a proxy war against coalition forces in Iraq. The Connecticut Senator and former Vice-Presidential candidate said intelligence reports proved Iran was behind much of the terrorism in Iraq and must be confronted directly. Although no one desires a conflict with Iran, the fact is that the Iranian government by its actions has declared war on us.
Al-Qaeda Threatens to Attack Iran
23 Tammuz 5767, July 9, '07
(IsraelNN.com) International terrorist group Al-Qaeda issued a threat to Iran recently warning that the group would attack Iranian interests if Iran did not cease its involvement in Iraq. The group issued a tape giving Iran two months to withdraw from Iraq completely. If they fail to do so, said Al-Qaeda leader Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, we will begin a cruel war against them. Iran, a Shiite Muslim country, has often been accused of supporting and training radical Shiite groups in Iraq. Al-Qaeda, which is Sunni, has accused Iran of supporting terrorist attacks against Sunni leaders and mosques.
Women in Green: Outlaw Peace Now
by Hillel Fendel (JULY 11,07 INN)
Motorists driving along the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway Tuesday morning were surprised and dismayed to see Syrian flags flying alongside Israeli flags as they made the ascent to the capital. The red, white and black Syrian flag was placed on poles between the Shaar HaGai intersection and the government complex by extreme left-wing Peace Now members. By hanging the colors of the enemy state, Peace Now wished to draw attention to its desire for government talks with Syria.Nadia Matar, co-founder of the grassroots Women in Green organization, said that Peace Now has thus shown its true face. I call upon the authorities to gather the Peace Now leadership, Matar said, put them on buses, and send them to Syria, where they belong and where they will be welcomed happily.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke with an Arabic newspaper on Monday and made a direct plea to Syrian President Bashar Assad to agree to direct, unmediated peace talks with Israel. I turn to you, Mr. Assad, and call upon you to engage in direct peace negotiations - but you prefer American mediation, Olmert said.Menachem Begin tendered a similar invitation to Anwar Sadat - who wound up receiving the entire Sinai desert in less than five years. In 1977, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin tendered a similar, though less biting, invitation to then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat - who took up the gauntlet and wound up receiving the entire Sinai desert within less than five years. Hevron activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir filed a complaint with the police against Peace Now. They similarly claimed that as Syria is an enemy state, it is illegal to unfurl the country's flag in public.
Nadia Matar said that Peace Now is actually calling not for peace talks but for a surrender to Syrian demands to immediately give up the Golan Heights. I call upon the Attorney General to view this as an act of treachery and betrayal, she said. Those who act to give up Israeli territory to the enemy is, by law, a traitor.Israel took control of the Golan Heights in the Six Day War of 1967, after the Syrians used the area for years to shell Israeli kibbutzim below. Since then, the Syrian border has always been Israel's quietest. In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan.In early 1999, the Knesset voted that no part of the Golan or Jerusalem may be transferred to a foreign power without an absolute majority of 61 Knesset Members and a popular referendum in accordance with a to-be-legislated Referendum Law. In May of this year, the Knesset voted, in a preliminary reading, to require the referendum even before such a Referendum Law is legislated. Israelis must realize that Peace Now is collaborating with the enemy, Matar said and this organization must be outlawed. It is ridiculous that the Kach movement [originally founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane - ed.], which calls for love of Israel, is outlawed, while those who collaborate with the Palestinians and inform on Jews are legal.
Peace Now is dedicated to destroying the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria [Yesha], and often seeks out Arabs who will claim that Jewish towns are built on their land. The PA news agency Ma'an recently thanked Peace Now for publishing a report alleging that 40% of Yesha communities are built on private Arab land. The Yesha Council published a factual rebuttal of the report, but this did not stop Ma'an from writing, This is now a ready-to-go case for the International Court... Now that Peace Now has given this gift to the land-owners, we must thank this organization.
Barroso says EU is an empire
11.07.2007 - 09:12 CET | By Honor Mahony
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The EU is not just any old international organisation, nor is it a superstate, but it might just be an empire, according to European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso. Veering into uncharted naming territory after being asked on Tuesday (10 July) by a journalist what kind of a structure the 27-nation bloc is, Mr Barroso said We are a very special construction unique in the history of mankind, Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empire. We have the dimension of empire, he said. He went on the clarify that instead of like super state empires of old, the EU empire is built on voluntary pooling of power and not on military conquest.
What we have is the first non-imperial empire, said the centre-right Mr Barroso, who was formally Portugal's prime minister. We have 27 countries that fully decided to work together and to pool their sovereignty. I believe it is a great construction and we should be proud of it. The commission chief said he did not see why the EU should constantly be in existential doubt about this, adding that he did not see there being a danger of British, German or French identity ever being lost.
Communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom, present at the same press conference, steered clear of empire references. Instead she paraphrased former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright's comment that one has to be either a genius or French to understand the EU. They made the comments after giving the commission's official go ahead to a new treaty outline for the bloc. This is to be negotiated over the coming months and is to result in a treaty being finalised before the end of the year. The treaty mandate was agreed at an ill-tempered EU summit last month and is already being put into question in some capitals. Poland has been particularly vocal about re-opening a key part of the agreement on EU voting rights.
But Mr Barroso reiterated previous comments that the treaty outline should not be undone.There is a principle of good faith. For me it is as important as any legal commitment, he said. It is inconceivable that an agreement that was agreed unanimously in June is reopened now.
New EU treaty to be communications prority for Brussels
11.07.2007 - 09:13 CET | By Honor Mahony and Renata Goldirova
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission is planning on making the promotion of a new treaty one of its main tasks in the coming months, after the previous more grandly name EU constitution was rejected in two founding member states. EU communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom on Tuesday (10 July) said she wants to discuss the final treaty with citizens. Communicating will be one of the main political priorities, said the commissioner who is planning on highlighting the fight against climate change and energy solidarity as reasons why citizens should like the new document. The new treaty – essentially a repackaging of most of the draft EU constitution – is set to be finalised by the end of the year with one year for ratification, and is to come into force by mid 2009. We need them on board, we cannot do without them in 2007. [This year] is not enough to have a project for the political elite, citizens have to be there, she told EUobserver.
Ms Wallstrom, the first ever commissioner responsible for communications, has been struggling to make her mark through a combination of a lack of resources and a skewed message on how much to involve the citizens. While there were several Brussels-initiated citizen discussions on the EU after the constitution was rejected by France and the Netherlands, the first half of this year saw highly secretive government discussions on the new treaty. Member states also made it clear they were going to do everything possible to secure a new look treaty document that did not have to be put to a referendum again – with both France and the Netherlands keen to avoid the unpredictable ratification path. In addition, the new treaty reprises most of the constitution - 90 percent in the words of the Irish leader Bertie Ahern - leaving the EU open to the charge that it ignored the results of the referendums.For her part, the commissioner is planning on publishing a paper at the beginning of autumn on how to structure debate with citizens.
But there are already problems with the approach. She admits that it is not clear whether there is actually a legal basis for taking communication in the direction that she would like – such as communicating priorities and making sure Brussels puts its own stamp on the message it wants to promote, something she calls political ownership of the issues.While MEPs are generally supportive of the idea, member states are reluctant to let the commission go down this path believing communication is more of a national domain and concerned that Brussels will spread propaganda.
According to officials, there is already a major discussion in the commission about whether an entirely new legal platform should be created for communications.
UN denies requesting control over Shaba Farms
by Barak Ravid July 11, 2007
The United Nations and the government denied a Haaretz report on Wednesday that said the world body had requested Israel transfer the disputed Shaba Farms area on the Lebanese border to UN peacekeepers.The UN has not asked the government of Israel to hand over the Shaba Farms to the UN, a UN official said. The UN's cartogropher continues his work and will be visiting the area shortly. The secretary-general remains engaged on the issue. Jerusalem also denied the report.
According to the Haaretz report, printed on Wednesday, the United Nations transmitted messages to Israel in recent weeks that the organization's mapping experts have determined that the Shaba Farms on Mount Dov, now controlled by Israel, is Lebanese territory. The report said that the UN, which has communicated to Israel that the disposition of the Shaba Farms should be dealt with as soon as possible, has proposed to senior government officials that Israel withdraw from the area and that it be considered international territory to be controlled by UNIFIL. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert oppose the idea, Haaretz said. The size of, and sovereignty over, the Shaba Farms has been a matter of controversy due to the way the border between Syria and Lebanon was marked during the French Mandate between the two world wars. When the UN marked the border between Israel and Lebanon after Israel's withdrawal in May 2000, the Shaba Farms were said to be part of Syrian territory, and that Israel therefore did not need to withdraw from it in the absence of an agreement with the Syrians.
Lebanon did not accept the line of demarcation, and has since claimed that the Shaba Farms are in its territory. Hezbollah took advantage of the controversy to justify attacks on Israeli forces in the area. Government officials in Jerusalem said the UN cartographer handling the matter in recent months has determined that the area is indeed Lebanese, said the report.Haaretz also wrote that the officials added that Syria and Lebanon also agree that the area is Lebanese. Therefore, the UN has said there is no reason for Israel not to relinquish control over the area. Government officials are treating the matter with kid gloves out of concern that a public statement by the UN could lead to renewed conflict in the North. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon apparently transmitted the UN's conclusions in the meeting between himself and Olmert in New York last month, part of which was private. Another message is said to have come through the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East, Michael Williams, in a meeting with Livni a few weeks ago.
France and the United States are also ratcheting up their pressure on Israel, in the belief that a withdrawal from the Shaba Farms will strengthen the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will be coming to the region next week, pressed Olmert during the Second Lebanon War to withdraw from Shaba to bolster Siniora. Olmert refused, saying the move would be viewed by Hezbollah as a victory. Israel and the UN discussed Shaba ahead of the release two weeks ago of the periodic report on the implementation of Resolution 1701. The UN wanted to include a clause stating that Shaba was Lebanese and urging a solution. This would have been a departure from 1701, which states that the fate of the farms is to be resolved in the determination of the border between Lebanon and Syria. On Livni's instructions, senior Foreign Ministry officials pressured UN officials to remove the clause.
Blair seeks a broader role in Mideast peace process
Blair is envoy for the Quartet of Middle East mediators.
By Adam Entous, Reuters | July 11, 2007
JERUSALEM -- Tony Blair is seeking a broader role as Middle East envoy that would give him more direct involvement in peacemaking, expanding the limited mandate world powers gave him last month, diplomats said yesterday. Breaking News Alerts The former British prime minister tentatively plans to visit Israel and the occupied West Bank next week for the first time as envoy for the Quartet of Middle East mediators -- the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations.
Senior Western and European diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said talks over Blair's role were still under way and that his visit could be postponed.
Blair's office declined to comment.
Blair met the Quartet envoys privately following their meeting in London yesterday. It was a positive, practical discussion, a Blair spokesman said. Blair also met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The spokesman said it was the first time they have met since Blair was appointed to his new role. Few details about Blair's plans have been made public since the Quartet appointed him on June 27, the day he stepped down after 10 years in power. But he has been holding discussions with world leaders about his role, which the Quartet defined as raising funds for the Palestinians, building their ruling institutions, and promoting their economic development.He is talking to leaders about what he wants to do. He has made clear the capacity-building mandate is not enough, said one senior Western diplomat familiar with the discussions. He doesn't see himself bound to that. He wants a political role. A senior European diplomat in Jerusalem involved in the discussions said Blair has delivered a similar message to Quartet members. As far as Blair is concerned, his mandate has not been finalized, the diplomat said. Despite some initial resistance within the EU to Blair's appointment, a senior EU diplomat said there was growing support within the bloc for giving him a freer hand politically. In its June 27 announcement, the Quartet did not spell out any political, mediating role for Blair in reviving the long-stalled peace process. Many Arab and European commentators seized on the omission as a sign that Blair would be relegated to a peripheral role, leaving any serious peacemaking to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other leaders.
It is unclear whether the Quartet would agree, either formally or informally, to an expanded role for Blair. Some European diplomats have raised questions about Blair's ability to garner broad Palestinian and Arab public support because of his support for the US-led invasion of Iraq and his close ties with President Bush. Other officials say support from Bush is Blair's strength in the job because of US influence over Israel.Globe Newspaper Company.
Pastor says 'hate crimes' bill symptom of nation's moral rot
Jim Brown OneNewsNow.com July 11, 2007
Conservative Christian activists have held a press conference on Capitol Hill to denounce a hate crimes bill in the Senate they believe threatens their religious freedom. One of those activists, a pastor from Texas, says the removal of God from public life in the U.S. has led the country into a two-fold crisis.Pastor Rusty Lee Thomas of Elijah Ministries warns a dangerous trend has corrupted American culture and seeks to criminalize and remove the freedoms of Bible-believing Christians. He joined representatives from a handful of Christian ministries who rallied at the Capitol against S.B. 1105, which would include crimes against homosexuals in federal hate crimes statutes. Thomas told the crowd that America's experiment with liberty is in jeopardy. In America, what we are seeing is homosexuality is being exalted, it is being celebrated, it is being protected, and it is being honored, he said, while Christianity is more and more being marginalized, punished, and persecuted in the United States of America.
Thomas is convinced that America is struggling from what he calls the moral rot from within and is in danger of the threat of terror from without. The Texas pastor asserts that America is denying the obvious link between the two. Yes, I dare state that there is a direct connection between the sins and crimes of abortion and the sodomite agenda and the Islamic terrorism that threatens our nation, Thomas shared. America is refusing to connect the dots, however, and we are living in a major state of denial and may I tell you, it is not good to live in this wretched state. The coalition of Christian activists traveled to Washington to petition senators to reconsider their support of S.B. 1105. A House version of the measure passed in May.
American Family News Network.
Europe, UN Let Israel Down in Lebanon
by Hillel Fendel (JULY 12,07 INN)
The UN has all but decided that the Shab'a Farms in the Mt. Hermon region between Israel, Lebanon and Syria should be assigned to Lebanon. Italy may have flubbed a chance to free the captive soldiers, and France has no demands on its Lebanese visitors. A United Nations team of map experts has all but decided that the Shab'a Farms in the Mt. Hermon region should be assigned to Lebanon and not Israel. Israel has long contended that when the original border was drawn between Lebanon and Syria after World War I, the area was placed on the Syrian side. This would render it currently under Israeli sovereignty, following Israel's capture and annexation of the Golan in 1967 and 1981, respectively. Lebanon, however, claims the area as its own - and the United Nations cartographic experts are apparently siding with the Lebanese. Israel persuaded the UN not to publicize this position, for fear that it would lead to renewed Hizbullah hostilities against Israel, but publication now appears inevitable within two months. Haaretz reports that Israel turned down a proposal to internationalize the Mt. Dov area, as it is known in Israel. Israel instead would rather officially retreat from the region within the framework of a new and improved Second Lebanon War ceasefire agreement.
Europe Lets Captives Down
Meanwhile, the two Israeli soldiers being held captive in Lebanon by Hizbullah - Eldad (ben Tova) Regev and Ehud (ben Malka) Goldwasser - are still in the news, though their release seems no closer than before. No word has been heard from them since their capture in June 2006. The captives' families were utterly frustrated to hear on Monday of a vague Italian report accusing the Italian government of missing a chance to free their sons. Le Stampa reported that the ex-chief of Italy's intelligence agency, Nicolai Polari, said the two Israelis could have been released, but that the Italian government did not act appropriately. The intelligence services were very close to a situation in which they could have freed the two, but it didn't happen, Polari said. Italian President Romano Prodi said he could not confirm the report, as he does not have the full details. I am not aware that we ever had knowledge of the whereabouts of the captives, he said. On Monday, family members of the captives asked the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to demand a sign of the captives' health from soon-to-be-visiting Lebanese Parliament members. The relatives said that this must be a pre-requisite for the visit later this month - but the French minister did not agree. Kouchner said he could not make such a condition, but promised to demand such information on the captives when the Lebanese arrive in his country. French officials do claim that the release of the Israeli captives is a high priority for them.
Vatican Expands Use of Prayer for Conversion of the Jews
by Hillel Fendel (JULY 11,07 INN)
International Jewish bodies have called upon the Vatican to clarify a new Papal edict expanding use of an old prayer that asks Divine help for Jews to overcome their blindness. Pope Benedict XVI issued a directive last week, authorizing expanded use of a prayer service known as the Tridentine Mass. The phrase perfidious Jews was removed from the liturgy in question by Pope John XXIII in 1959, such that the anti-Semitism that accompanied it for centuries is not self-evident. However, the prayer, recited on Good Friday, still includes a prayer for the conversion of the Jews, asking Divine help in removing the veil from their hearts and overcoming their blindness.How do we now sit and dialogue when the other side believes we are blind and need to be converted?
Jews have responded with great disappointment. The leadership of IJCIC (International Jewish Committee for Inter-Religious Consultations) has sent an urgent letter to the Cardinal responsible for Catholic-Jewish relations, asking for clarification regarding the decision. The letter noted the profound concern within Jewish circles that have greeted this decision, adding that it can be construed to have turned back the clock on the improvements made in Jewish-Catholic relations since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's. French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard said on Saturday that the prayer could be changed if it caused difficulties with Jews.
The head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, said the Papal decision was a body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations. He told the Catholic News Service, They understand that perfidious was offensive, but how is this any less offensive? Foxman noted that the previous pope, John Paul II, had been very courageous to bring about reconciliation and repair 2,000 years of terrible history in terms of understanding Jews, calling Jews the elder brothers of Christianity... How do we now sit and dialogue when the other side believes we are blind and need to be converted?
ONCE AGAIN THE BIBLE PROOVES TRUTH THAT THESE PEOPLE REALLY EXIST, NOT NO MYTHS. SO IF THESE PEOPLE IN THE BIBLE WERE LITERAL WE BETTER BELIEVE THE PROPHECIES WILL BE COMING TO PASS LITERALLY, BECAUSE THEY ARE TO.
Babylonian King's Eunuch Really Existed!
by Hillel Fendel (JULY 12,07 INN)
A routine research visit to the British Museum nets a landmark archaeological discovery and proof of the truth of the Bible.British newspapers report that ancient Babylonian expert Dr. Michael Jursa of Vienna discovered a small clay tablet that provides proof of the Bible's veracity. Though the tablet was unearthed near Baghdad in 1920, only last week was it deciphered for the first time, by Dr. Jursa. Upon reading the tablet, which records a donation of gold by the chief eunuch of King Nebuchadnezzar, a man named Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, Jursa suddenly realized that the name sounded familiar. He quickly consulted Jeremiah 39, where he found the man's name listed as one of Nebuchadnezzar's top ministers who took part in the destruction of the First Holy Temple 2,500 years ago. The Biblical account, however, has his named spelled slightly differently: (Samgar) Nevo Sarsekim.
Irving Finkel, assistant keeper in the British Museum's Middle East Department, was very excited: This is a fantastic discovery, he told The Telegraph, a world-class find. If Nevo-Sarsekim existed, [then] which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power.Speaking with The Times, Finkel said, A mundane commercial transaction takes its place as a primary witness to one of the turning points in Old Testament history. This is a tablet that deserves to be famous.Dr. Jursa, associate professor at the University of Vienna, said, It’s very exciting and very surprising. Finding something like this tablet, where we see a person mentioned in the Bible making an everyday payment to the temple in Babylon and quoting the exact date, is quite extraordinary.
Dr. Jursa has been visiting the museum for over 15 years to study a collection of more than 100,000 inscribed tablets. Reading and piecing together fragments is painstaking work, The Times reports, and more than half are yet to be published.
The full translation of the tablet, as provided in The Telegraph, reads: [Regarding] 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
Not Altogether Invented
On hearing of the discovery, Geza Vermes, the eminent emeritus professor of Jewish studies at the University of Oxford, said it shows that the Biblical story is not altogether invented.The reactions of Vermes and Finkel indicate that the discovery has not yet totally shaken the core faith of some who believe that the Bible is not true. The Bible is merely not altogether invented, one says, and who knows how many other Old Testament figures may have existed? However, many websites provide information regarding the truth of the Torah.
The Israeli left unmasked
July 11, 2007 1:00 a.m. Eastern - By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Much has been said here and abroad about controversial statements made in recent weeks by a yarmulke-wearing, prominent international leftist Jewish leader and senior activist of Israel's peace camp who called on Israel to cease being a Jewish state and instead model itself after Europe. But I think most people are missing the point. Avraham Burg, once an important Knesset member in Israel's leftist Labor party, recently published a book, Defeating Hitler, in which he repeatedly compared various Israeli Jewish policies with that of Nazism. To define the state of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end. A Jewish state is explosive. It's dynamite, said Burg, who once was Israel's Knesset speaker and was considered by some a hopeful for prime minister. Burg, a scion of one of Israel's founding families, also served as chairman of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, both of which are major Jewish organizations.
Burg said Israel's Law of Return, which allows all Jews seeking sanctuary in Israel to become citizens, is similar to Nazi rule, even though it was created in response to genocidal Nazi crimes. The law helped Jews escape persecution in countries such as Germany, Russia and Yemen. The Law of Return is an apologetic law. It is the mirror image of Hitler. I don't want Hitler to define my identity, Burg said. He compelled Israelis to obtain foreign passports. He said Israel should model itself after the European Union and become a multinational state, and he urged the Israeli government to allow the EU more influence in its affairs. The leftist Israeli leader said Israel should learn from the assimilation and inter-marriage of Jews in the U.S., where Jewish individuals marrying non-Jews has become a major phenomenon.
Burg criticized what he called Israelis' closed conception of religion, which he stated is orthodox, not humanist and not universal. He said other alternatives to Judaism must be offered.
Burg now is a citizen of France. He retired from Israeli politics and departed Israel in shame after it was disclosed he may have engaged in election corruption and vote tampering while trying to become chairman of the Labor party. He also was accused of illicit business practices. He is still active as a leader in Israel's peace camp, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state and Israeli evacuations of the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem. Burg has been condemned by many politicians and commentators here and abroad as a self-hating Jew who is encouraging anti-Semitism. One Knesset member called for Burg to be denied a burial plot in Israel's national cemetery reserved for the country's leaders. But what many seem to be missing is that Burg's views are not renegade. They are representative of the Israeli left. Burg's reasoning is the same as those petitioning for more EU control of Israel's affairs and for evacuations from biblical Jewish territories and holy sites. Burg comes from the school of people like Geneva Initiative leader Yossi Beilin, Labor Chairman Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and their ideological godfather and mentor, Shimon Peres, who officially becomes Israeli president later this week. So many around the world wrongly believe the conflict in Israel is about territory. They think the Israeli left mainly wants to cede land to the Palestinians while the right stands against land giveaways.
In actuality, the main Israeli political battle is between a left that wants Israel to be a secular, European-like state, and the religious right, which sees Israel as a Jewish country defined by national Zionism. It's a battle that will ultimately determine the future of Israel. Growing up in a Jewish community in the United States, I was fortunate enough not to have experienced the kind of anti-Semitism that permeates places like France and, increasingly, the UK. But European anti-Semitism pales in comparison to its venomous counterparts in Israel. That's right, Israel. It wasn't until I moved here to open WND's Jerusalem bureau in February 2005 that I fully understood what anti-Semitism is. The hatred many secular, leftist Israelis feel for the religious is so deep I cannot do it justice with words. The secular leftist media routinely demonize the religious. I've seen the way secular Jewish security forces brutally squash legal religious Jewish protests at the direction of leftist politicians. I've borne witness the past few years to the enactment of institutional anti-Semitic laws, such as deeming religious Jewish construction in strategic territory illegal while ignoring rampant illegal Arab building; or denying Jews the right to pray at or even visit Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount, during most hours of the day.
This great divide extends itself to the streets. Religious and secular cities are mostly separated. Just try talking to a secular leftist Jew in Tel Aviv about religion and God and watch his or her face wither in anger. But many Israeli leftists politicians and activists are more enterprising than the average leftist Israeli. They disguise their hatred of Judaism with specific political policies. Just like Islamic terrorists who claim their attacks are aimed at ending America's military presence in the Middle East or our support for Israel when the jihadists' real goal is worldwide domination of Islam, leftist Israeli leaders state their aim is to create a Palestinian state when their true intention is the establishment of a secular Israeli country by stabbing at the lifeline of religious Zionism with evacuations of the West Bank – the biblical heartland and center of the religious Zionists movement – and with the division of religious Jerusalem and stationing of foreign troops on Israel's borders.
Already, the religious Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip were uprooted and international forces were deployed along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Burg is not a maverick. He is a leftist politician who knows he has no chance at being re-elected, so he was able to take off his mask and expose his true beliefs and the real nature of Israel's internal war. And he didn't blurt these things out during a spontaneous interview; he detailed his views in a book he said took him three years to compose.
Some believe Burg could have become Israel's prime minister. What if he had achieved Israel's highest office before he let loose his real beliefs? Why isn't anyone asking whether Israel's current prime minister, who seeks to evacuate the Jewish West Bank and sections of Jerusalem, shares Burg's anti-Jewish views? What about Ehud Barak, who as prime minister in 2000 announced at Camp David he was ready to cede the Temple Mount and who offered PLO leader Yasser Arafat a state within rocket range of Israel's population centers? And what about all the Israeli leftist politicians who regularly petition for placing EU or U.N. troops in Gaza or the West Bank?
Sure, some Israeli leftist politicians, including Beilin and some from Olmert's party, condemned Burg, but I believe they did so because they were angry at him for exposing them. The admitted anti-Jewish Burg once held some of the most prestigious leadership positions in world Jewry. Why isn't anyone questioning whether top leaders of Jewish organizations now share his beliefs? Perhaps Burg's revelations about the left help explain why, as I reported, the leaders of the Jewish National Fund, which collects hundreds of millions of dollars in Jewish donor funds for the stated purpose of Jewish settlement, has been ceding Jewish-owned properties to Arabs in key sections of Jerusalem and other Israeli cities designated by the left for evacuation. The JNF, which proudly posts pictures of leftist leader Peres on its newspaper advertisements, has been allowing Arab squatters to live completely illegally on millions of dollars worth of Jewish-owned land purchased for Jewish settlement.
Perhaps Burg's admissions might also help explain why, as I reported, mainstream U.S. Jewish groups, including the leadership of United Jewish Communities, one of the most financially endowed Jewish organizations on the planet, neglected the plight of religious Jewish refugees evacuated from Gaza in 2005 who didn't receive most compensation promised to them by the Israeli government. The uprooted national religious Gaza Jews still live in terrible conditions in refugee camps and suffer from low employment and a host of other problems. The UJC largely ignored the Gaza Jews while instead funding initiatives with Jewish money to aid Israeli Arabs. The esteemed Jewish organization finally started helping a bit after they were exposed and angry Jewish donors demanded action to help the Jews of Gaza. So, while many are resoundingly condemning Burg for his anti-Jewish views, I thank him for unmasking the true beliefs of the Israeli left. Perhaps now the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be understood in its proper context.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
ARCADI GAYDAMAK MAKES HIS MOVE
Jerusalem, July 9, 2007...
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has dropped out of the Likud primary upon learning that he was trailing Manhigut Yehudit President Moshe Feiglin in a recent poll. This result leaves Moshe Feiglin and Benjamin Netanyahu as the sole contenders vying for the right to lead the Opposition and then to run for Prime Minister from the Likud party. According to the Jerusalem Post July 9 edition, Likud activists advised Shalom over the weekend not to run after Israel Radio broadcast a Brain Base Institute poll that predicted 78% of Likud members would vote for Netanyahu, 14% for Feiglin and just 8% for Shalom. According to Israel National News (Arutz-7), Feiglin could therefore be the true explanation for Shalom's sudden self-removal from the race. Speaking with Arutz-7 today, Mr. Feiglin agreed with this explanation. Mr. Feiglin stated that Manhigut Yehudit is satisfied with the September 3 date for the primary:
We welcome the primary as a golden opportunity to achieve the leadership position in the Likud and, no less important, to get our message of faith-based leadership into every home in Israel ... The State of Israel cannot continue to exist for much longer without belief-based leadership. Manhigut Yehudit is the largest faction inside the Likud party, and strives to Turn the State of the Jews into The Jewish State. Am Yisrael Chai.
Arcadi Gaydamak Makes His Move
by Hana Levi Julian (JULY 9,07 INN)
Gaydamak still wants to be Mayor of Jerusalem, and still plans to run for that position in the next election. Arcadi Gaydamak is ending his civilian status on Monday and will officially become a politician, with his signature on the document registering his new Social Justice Party. After a year in which he spent millions of dollars on projects to help Israeli refugees from the Second Lebanon War as well as those fleeing the onslaught of rocket attacks from Gaza terrorists in the south, Gaydamak will take his activities into a new arena. The Russian-born Israeli billionaire announced he will register the new political party under his Hebrew name, Aryeh Bar Lev and become its chairman. However, he said, he does not intend to run for a seat in the Knesset. Gaydamak still wants to be Mayor of Jerusalem, and still plans to run for that position in the next election.
He will, however, run candidates from his new party for the Knesset and positions in the government, including the Prime Minister’s seat. Gaydamak is hoping to win 20 Knesset seats with the party’s first foray into the political arena. The first official meeting of the Social Justice Party is slated to be held on Thursday in Jerusalem . Thus far, the billionaire says he can count some 1,400 supporters for the new party, which spokesman David Nerodetsky, an attorney, characterizes as a socio-economic party. The party platform states that it will work to preserve Israel ’s democratic values, promote equality between all citizens and protect human dignity and freedom. Social Justice will also support the right to vote for Israelis living abroad and push for the establishment of an enlightened welfare state, while granting direct aid to the weaker sectors, among other goals. The Social Justice charter, however, reflects a less than democratic character, with Gaydamak retaining complete control of the party. The business mogul will be the final authority to decide who will run as candidates and for which positions, as well as whether the party will join or abandon a government coalition.
Temple Awareness: A Summer of Seminars and Tours
by Hillel Fendel (JULY 10,07)
IsraelNN.com) The Holy Temple is in with tours, hikes and seminars in and around Jerusalem in the coming days and weeks. As Jews around the world commemorate the Three Weeks of Mourning for the Holy Temples beginning last Tuesday and ending on Tisha B'Av (July 24), Jews in Israel embark on a marathon of Temple-related studies and activities. A partial list: Monday, July 16 - Sessions at the Kohen-Levi Conference at HaKotel Hall in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. 11 AM - 7 PM, payment of 50 shekels at the door.
Tuesday, July 17 A Day of the Temple Seminar with the Temple Institute: Southern Wall excavations, Davidson Center presentation, Temple stairway and gates, special effects and period actors, Temple vessels exhibition, in-depth lecture, presentation, and special events, 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM, 100 shekels. via the OU Israel Center, tel 02-560-9110. Wednesday, July 18 In the Footsteps of the Kohanim and Leviyim in and around Old Jerusalem, Herodian Quarter, 2nd Temple priestly mansions, The Menorah, Cardo, Jewish Quarter, Closest gates of the Temple Mount, Kotel HaKatan (Small Wall), Bus to Mt. of Olives, spectacular Temple Mount view, Shimon HaTzaddik tomb, and View of Nov, the city of Kohanim. 10 AM - 4 PM, 60 shekels via the OU Israel Center, tel 02-560-9110. Thursday, July 19 In the Footsteps of the Kohanim and Leviyim, bus tour to Shilo, site of the Tabernacle, Eli HaKohen, and Shmuel HaNavi. Then to Modiin area, Beit Choron, where the Maccabees defeated the Greeks. Vista from Baal Chatzor, Rosh Chodesh torches, protected bus. 10 AM - 5 PM, 150 shekels. via the OU Israel Center, tel 02-560-9110.
July 9-12 Temple Institute in Jerusalem - four days of tours and lectures. Topics include: The commandment to build the Holy Temple today (Rabbi Yisrael Ariel); Daily Sacrifice, Temple Vessels and Priestly Garments; Renewal of Temple Service Today; Tour in the Davidson Center at the Southern Wall; the Red Heifer (Rabbi Chaim Richman); Festivals in the Temple; Pilgrims in Jerusalem; and more. tel: 02-6264545, 200 shekels each day, 700 shekels for entire program.
July 16-23 Between Destruction and Construction Tours in and around Jerusalem, sponsored by the Jewish Community of the City of David - 45 shekels each, seven tours for the price of six:
Tour 1 - From the Assyrian Siege to the Babylonian Destruction: City of David, Chizikiyahu's Tunnel, and other eastern Jerusalem sites
Tour 2 - Jerusalem During the Second Temple Period: Nechemiah's Wall, the graves of the Dynasty of David, the Shiloach Pool, and new discoveries
Tour 3 - Following the Pilgrims of the Middle Ages - The gravesites of Huldah, Avshalom, Zechariah, and Rav Ovadiah of Bartinura, and the Rehavam Observation Point
Tour 4 - Famous figures buried on the Mt. of Olives overlooking the Temple Mount
Tour 5 - Sifting through Temple Mount remains with an archaeologist
Tour 6 - The Jewish Quarter in 1948 - The Zion Gate, Street of the Jews, the Hurva Synagogue, Batei Machseh, and more
Tour 7 - The Battles to Liberate Jerusalem in 1967 - Lions Gate, the Western Wall, the Kidron Bridge, and more
News | 10.07.2007 | 17:00 UTC
Vatican upsets Protestant churches
The Vatican has upset other Christian faiths by claiming they are not full churches of Jesus Christ and that Roman Catholicism has primacy. Protestant leaders, including Germany's Bishop Wolfgang Huber, say the move undermines ecumenical relations between faiths. The Vatican's 16-page text, formulated by its doctrinal congregation and ratified by Pope Benedict, says erroneous interpretions have arisen since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. The document is the second reaffirmation of Catholic tradition since Saturday when the Pope restored mass in Latin alongside modern liturgy.
Jews for Jesus sues New York township over free-speech rights
Chad Groening - OneNewsNow.com - July 10, 2007
The worldwide ministry Jews for Jesus recently filed a lawsuit against the Long Island, New York, community of Oyster Bay for violating the free-speech rights of one of its evangelists.
As part of Jews for Jesus Behold Your God campaign last summer, Susan Mendelson attempted to distribute gospel tracts and talk to people about Jesus in a park in the township of Oyster Bay. But Mendelson says police repeatedly escorted her out of the park and eventually ticketed her for distributing leaflets at a public event. In April, a Nassau County judge threw out the citation, ruling it violated Mendelson's constitutional rights.
Jews of Jesus associate executive director Susan Perlman says her organization filed suit against Oyster Bay on June 22 to prevent the city from issuing more citations in the future. The local Oyster Bay township did not feel we had a right to be handing out our gospel tracts and talking to individuals in that town, she explains. We, of course, contested that; and through a series of legal decisions we are moving ahead and pretty much exercising our First Amendment rights there. Perlman acknowledges that for evangelistic ministries like Jews for Jesus, confrontation comes with the territory. One of the problems with regard to being an upfront evangelistic ministry that does direct evangelism is that we're going to come across local rules that are less than friendly, she points out; and unless we stand up to them ... unless we take them back into the courts, we're going to have our rights just trampled on.
She sees irony in having to sue to get a guaranteed, constitutional right recognized at this time of year. I mean, here we've just celebrated the independence of our nation, she notes, and we're still having to fight for some of those same liberties.
The Jews for Jesus spokeswoman says Oyster Bay has now come up with an unacceptable new ordinance, requiring a five-day waiting period in order to receive a permit to exercise their free-speech rights. She says the ministry must now evaluate how the new ordinance will affect their original suit. American Family News Network
Canada may renew funding flow to Palestinian authority during Abdullah visit
Mon Jul 9, 5:41 PM
OTTAWA (CP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper may use the opportunity of a visit by the king of Jordan to announce renewed funding to the Palestinian Authority, a government source told The Canadian Press. King Abdullah will meet with Harper while visiting Ottawa on Thursday and Friday. The meeting comes at yet another critical juncture in Middle East politics. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior government official said Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay signalled early on that Canada would maintain its humanitarian obligations in the Middle East but it would not submit to pressure to assist Hamas or terror organizations. In one of his first acts as prime minister, Harper cut off funding to the authority after Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist group, was elected to power in Gaza early in 2006. That aid was worth $35 million in 2005. President Mahmoud Abbas recently fired the Islamic militants from the government and formed a new cabinet after bloody fighting between Hamas and Abbas supporters in Gaza.
Jordan is one of the few Arab countries that officially recognizes Israel and its leader has been trying to help garner support for Abbas since he dismissed Ismail Haniya as prime minister after the Hamas takeover of Gaza. King Abdullah has been trying to rally international support for Hamas since then in conjunction with a new peace initiative in the region. The Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers will travel to Jerusalem on Thursday to represent the Arab League in talks about the Arab peace plan. The plan would trade full Arab recognition of Israel for an Israeli withdrawal from all lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war and the creation of a Palestinian state. Wretched humanitarian conditions are prevalent in the West Bank and Gaza. The Bush administration has renewed funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that helps Palestinian refugees in Gaza, to the World Food Program and to other relief agencies that ship food, medicine and other necessities into the increasingly isolated territory. Public workers in the territories have received a fraction of their salaries since Hamas won democratic elections last year. That victory prompted governments around the world, including Canada, to cut direct financing of the Palestinian government.
Abbas's Western-backed emergency government, which rules from Ramallah in the West Bank, paid full salaries last week to most of the Authority's employees for the first time in more than a year Palestinians turned their backs on Abbas and his Fatah party for its corruption and bumbling style of governing.
Monday, July 09, 2007
EU APPROACH TO ISLAM
A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 has struck southern Mexico.
The quake hit the southern state of Chiapas just after 2000 (0100GMT Friday) causing a widespread power cut and panic among residents. The United States Geological Survey says the epicentre was around 40 km (25 miles) from the state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez. Mexican television says no major damage or injuries have been reported so far, and that some buildings were evacuated. Electricity and mobile telephone services were knocked out for about 10 minutes in Tuxtla Gutierrez, as well as other areas near the border with Guatemala.
In the centre of the capital, thousands of people ran out of their homes and offices as the ground trembled, windows were broken and decorative ceilings fell, causing minor injuries. Authorities in three states ordered evacuations of buildings and businesses. Emergency services in Chiapas said they were sweeping the area to look for damage around the epicentre, close to the border with the neighbouring state of Oaxaca. Chiapas is Mexico's main coffee growing region and was badly hit by landslides and flooding following Hurricane Stan in 2005.
Brussels questions EU capitals over approach to Islam
06.07.2007 - 17:52 CET | By Renata Goldirova
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Following failed car bomb attacks at two UK airports leading to the arrest of Muslim suspects, Brussels is pooling ideas on how to tackle radical Islam and create a more tolerant European branch of the faith. EU home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini is sending out an 18 question survey seen by EUobserver asking EU capitals how they address violent radicalisation, mainly related to an abusive interpretation of Islam. Unfortunately, one of the great religions of the world Islam is being abused to foster a new totalitarian ideology that challenges our way of life, Mr Frattini told journalists earlier this week (3 July).
We have to find out what member states are doing here, to see how to learn from one another namely, to protect the vast majority of Muslims who deplore this perversion of their religion, he added. According to Brussels, the questionnaire is particularly designed to bring more clarity and transparency to mosques on EU territory including how they are financed as well as how their imams are recruited and trained. Those propagating violent extremist ideologies of some kind may try to influence education establishments, the paper notes, asking EU states what policies or practical initiatives have you adopted in order to ensure that education establishments are not vulnerable to this type of influence?. It continues by asking what policies are adopted on funding and supervision of religious schools, as well as what requirements are set by the state on the functions of a religious leader.It also asks how EU member states are trying to diminish the threat of a radical having access to any form of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear scientific knowledge. EU states are expected to reply by the end of September. The answers will then feed into a commission document, due for publication in 2008, that will present an EU-wide strategy on violent radicatization.
In addition, Mr Frattini is set to pursue and further the idea of establishing a so-called European Islam or Islam de l'Europe something floated by France's then interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy in 2006. That is quite difficult and ambitious, but the time has come to put on the table a political discussion to protect the large majority of Muslims living here peacefully who deplore and fight against radicalisation and the distortion of Islam for purposes of violence and hatred, Mr Frattini said. The concept is to have Islam fully and unambiguously respecting values and sanctity of life cherished in Europe, Mr Frattini's spokesperson said on the idea, referring to everything mentioned in the Charter of Fundamental Rights document laying out the economic, social and civic rights of EU citizens.
Meanwhile, a BBC commissioned report has unveiled that only eight percent of imams preaching in British mosques were born in the UK, while only six percent of them speak English as a first language. Fifty percent of Muslim preachers come from Pakistan, twenty percent from Bangladesh and fifteen percent from India. The study reveals a deeply conservative body of individuals maintaining traditional languages, types of qualification and still largely recruited from the place of origin, the report's author, professor Ron Geaves, was cited as saying by the BBC.In addition, the study has shown that while the imams are well-qualified in the traditional Islamic curriculum, they lack the skills to adapt to modern society. Although there are social religious and political reasons that drive a need to transform the Imamate to a 21st century British context there is as yet little sign of the mosque imams or their employers being ready to professionalise, Mr Geaves said.
Moshe Feiglin Climbs into 2nd Place in the Likud Primary
Jerusalem, July 6, 2007 …Following is a statement issued by Moshe Feiglin, President of Manhigut Yehudit, the largest faction inside the Likud party in Israel, on the results of a recent Israel Radio poll: According to the Israel Radio Channel 2 poll results released on July 5, 2007, Manhigut Yehudit President Moshe Feiglin has pulled into the second place position ahead of former Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in the Likud primary for the party Chairmanship by a score of 14% to 8%. The winner of this election gains the right to run for the office of Prime Minister of the State of Israel from the Likud party. In the last primary in 2005, the first such poll showed Mr. Feiglin with 3% of the vote and he finished with 14%. If this trend continues in the current race, Moshe Feiglin will emerge victorious over the current leader, former Prime Minister Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu. Bibi Netanyahu continues to cling to the now-disgraced logic of the Oslo Accords and Israeli retreat. He clings to the dream of strengthening the moderate PLO whose ruling body was founded by Adolf Hitler’s close associate in fomenting the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem and Yasser Arafat’s mentor, Hajj Amin al Husseini in order to have yet another terror state created in the Biblical Heartland of the Jewish People, in what is commonly known as the West Bank.
Mr. Netanyahu’s insane and reckless policies will surely continue the proven formula that shows that the more land Israel gives away, the more Jews die. Moshe Feiglin's belief-based approach is the ONLY alternative leadership being presented to the Israeli public which opposes these failed policies. His future victory will provide new hope to Jews worldwide. Manhigut Yehudit is the largest faction inside the Likud party, and strives to Turn the State of the Jews into The Jewish State. Am Yisrael Chai.
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Jewish leader: Israel should not be state for Jews, Former Knesset member urges Israelis to obtain foreign passports - July 6, 2007 - by Aaron Klein WorldNetDaily.com
TEL AVIV – A former Knesset member, international leftist Jewish leader and senior activist of Israel's peace camp, which seeks Israeli retreats from strategic territory, wants Israel to cease being a Jewish state and encourages all Israelis to obtain foreign passports. To define the state of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end. A Jewish state is explosive. It's dynamite, said Avraham Burg, an activist in the Peace Now movement and a former Knesset member from Israel's leftist Labor party. Burg, speaking to Israel's Haaretz newspaper, also served as chairman of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, both of which are major Jewish organizations. The leftist Israeli leader said Israel should learn from the assimilation and inter-marriage of Jews in the U.S., where Jewish individuals marrying non-Jews has become a major phenomenon.
Just as there was something astonishing about German Jewry, in America, too, they created the potential for something astonishing. They created a situation in which the goy (non-Jew) can be my father and my mother and my son and my partner, Burg said. The goy (in America) is not hostile but embracing. And as a result, what emerges is a Jewish experience of integration, not separation. Burg criticized what he called Israelis' closed conception of religion, which he stated is orthodox, not humanist and not universal. He said other alternatives to Judaism must be offered.
Burg went on to call for the abrogation of Israel's Law of Return, which allows all Jews seeking sanctuary in Israel to become citizens. The law helped Jews facing persecution in countries such as Germany, Russia and Yemen. Burg compared the Law of Return, which singles out Jews, to rule under Nazi Germany.
The Law of Return is an apologetic law. It is the mirror image of Hitler. I don't want Hitler to define my identity. Burg then compelled Israelis to follow in his footsteps and obtain foreign passports. Burg left Israeli politics in 2004 and now is a citizen of France. He is still active as a leader in Israel's peace camp, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state and Israeli evacuations of the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem. Israel retreated from Gaza in 2005. Since then, Hamas took over Gaza and rockets have been regularly fired from the territory into nearby Jewish population centers. The Golan Heights is strategic mountainous territory bordering Syria and Lebanon and looking down on Israeli population centers. The Heights was twice used by Damascus to launch invasions into the Jewish state. The West Bank borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Tel Aviv and Israel's international airport.
EU to cut down mission at Gaza-Egypt border
07 Jul 2007 11:21:36 GMT Source: Reuters
JERUSALEM, July 7 (Reuters) - The European Union's monitoring mission at the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt will be reduced because it is unclear when the crossing will be reopened, a mission spokeswoman said on Saturday. Some 87 EU monitors and supervisors have been overseeing the Rafah crossing with Egypt under an agreement that took effect in November 2005 to help open up Gaza after Israel withdrew from the territory nearly two years ago. The spokeswoman said the number of monitors based in Israel would be cut back because Rafah has been closed since June 9 and because of the uncertainty about the future of the crossing following Hamas's seizure of the Gaza Strip on June 14. We are not foreseeing a return to normalcy in the near future, the spokeswoman said. She added that enough of the monitors would remain on standby to reopen the crossing on short notice if the situation allows.
We are maintaining ... our full operational capabilities in case the border is reopened, she said. It is unclear how many of the European monitors will be sent home. Hamas Islamists seized control of Gaza after weeks of fierce fighting with forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the secular Fatah faction. The European Union, the United States and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organisation. Palestinian Information Minister Riyad al-Malki said he would travel to the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing on Sunday to visit thousands of Palestinians stranded there. There are many sick people who need care, he said.
Since Hamas's takeover, Gaza's main border crossings have largely been closed, including the Rafah crossing with Egypt, drawing criticism from some aid groups.
Proposals to open Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing, instead of Rafah, to allow thousands of Palestinians to reenter Gaza ran into opposition last week from Hamas.
Pope revives old Latin Mass in concession to tradition; denies rollback of Vatican II - July 7, 2007 04:39 PM EDT
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday removed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass, reviving a rite that was all but swept away by the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The decision, a victory for traditional, conservative Roman Catholics, came over the objections of liberal-minded Catholics and angered Jews because the Tridentine Mass contains a prayer for their conversion. Benedict, who stressed that he was not negating Vatican II, issued a document authorizing parish priests to celebrate the Tridentine rite if a stable group of faithful requests it. Currently, the local bishop must approve such requests an obstacle that supporters of the rite say has greatly limited its availability. What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us, too, Benedict wrote.
The document upset Jews, since the Tridentine rite contains a prayer on Good Friday of Easter Week calling for their conversion. The Anti-Defamation League called the move a body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations, the Jewish news agency JTA reported.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Benedict to publicly point out that such phrases are now entirely contrary to the teaching of the church. In reviving the rite, Benedict was reaching out to the followers of an excommunicated ultratraditionalist, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who split with the Vatican over Vatican II, particularly the introduction of the New Mass celebrated in the vernacular. The Vatican excommunicated Lefebvre in 1988 after he consecrated four bishops without Rome's consent. The bishops were excommunicated as well.
Benedict has been eager to reconcile with Lefebvre's group, the Society of St. Pius X, which has demanded freer use of the old Mass as a precondition for normalizing relations. The other precondition is the removal of the excommunication decrees. The Vatican did not address the excommunication issue Saturday and there was no indication if or when it would. The current head of the society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, welcomed Benedict's document in a statement. He said he hoped that the favorable climate established by the new dispositions of the Holy See would eventually allow other doctrinal disputes that emerged from Vatican II to be discussed, including ecumenism, religious liberty and the sharing of power with bishops. The old rite differs significantly from the New Mass. In addition to the Latin, the prayers and readings are different, and the priest faces the altar, to be seen as leading the faithful in prayer.
Benedict, a conservative theologian, has made no secret of his affinity for the Tridentine rite and has long said the faithful should have greater access to it. But more liberal Catholics have suggested that in liberalizing the use of the rite, Benedict was sending a strong message that Vatican II was not the break from the past that some view it as being. In addition to Jewish concerns, bishops in France and liberal-minded clergy and faithful elsewhere expressed concerns that allowing freer use of the Tridentine liturgy would imply a negation of Vatican II and create divisions in parishes since two different liturgies would be celebrated. Benedict said those fears were unfounded in a letter to bishops accompanying the Latin text.
He said the New Mass remained the normal form of Mass while the Tridentine version was an extraordinary one that would probably only be sought by a few Catholics.
The document doesn't impose any return to the past, it doesn't mean any weakening of the authority of the council nor the authority and responsibility of bishops, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said. However, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the head of the French bishops' conference, warned that the move will create divisions. There will be resistance from both sides, he told Le Monde. The liberal lay church group We Are Church said that the move represented a step back from Vatican II and could set an even more conservative direction for the church. It warned of a new split within many parishes, diocese and finally the entire Roman Catholic Church. It is to be feared that while it appears to only be about the old Mass, in reality it is an attempt to set the Catholic Church on a new old course, the group said.
Ricard, speaking on France-Info radio Saturday, said the move does not mean the entire church is becoming more fundamentalist. Just because you have in a family a cousin who is a bit different, whom you tolerate and accept, doesn't mean that the whole family adopts his positions or his way of life, he said. The document was welcomed by traditional Catholics who remained in good standing with Rome but simply preferred the Tridentine liturgy and have long complained that bishops had been stingy in allowing it, said Michael Dunnigan, chairman of Una Voce America, the largest lay organization in the United States dedicated to promoting wider access to the traditional Mass. The traditional Mass is a true a gem of the church's heritage, and the Holy Father has taken the most important step toward making it available to many more of the faithful, he said.
Gov't Votes to Free 250 Terrorists
by Hillel Fendel (JULY 8,07 INN)
The government, in its Sunday morning weekly session, approved the release of 250 convicted Arab terrorists from prison, as a goodwill gesture to PA chief Abu Mazen. Only terrorists without blood on their hands are to be released. Some of the terrorists being freed attempted to murder Israelis but missed their targets.Voting against the proposal were Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, the four Shas ministers (Yishai, Attias, Nahari and Yitzchak Cohen), and Tourism Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch of Yisrael Beiteinu. Yisrael Beiteinu leader Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman was not present, but voted in writing against the deal.
Shas ministers stated that if Arab terrorists are freed, Jews in prison for security-related crimes should also be released.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted at the cabinet session that releasing the 250 terrorists will not convince Hamas and Hizbullah terrorists to free their IDF hostages. He explained that the move was a good will gesture to support Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas’s new government. I have come to the conclusion that releasing the prisoners will not affect the chances of bringing Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser home, said Olmert. The families of all three captives are in France to attend a rally calling for the freedom of their loved ones, who were kidnapped in the south and north by terrorists last summer. The families will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Monday. Minister Mofaz said the decision was pointless, in that releasing 250 small-fry would not help Abu Mazen at all. He predicted that in any event, Hamas and Fatah would re-unite within several months.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) at their summit in Sharm el-Sheikh two weeks ago that he would release the terrorists. The Cabinet did not discuss the specific terrorists who are to be freed. The General Security Service (Shabak) provided Olmert with a list of terrorists that could be released, but Olmert returned the list. He said it contained mostly terrorists who are to be freed within a short time in any event, and that releasing such terrorists would not help Abu Mazen. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter agreed, saying that the release of terrorists whose jail terms end within 2-3 years would actually hurt the PA chief. Dichter also noted that “none of the gestures we made since 1994 (releasing terrorists in exchange for Israeli hostages, dead or alive) ever resulted in any PA action against terror.
My promise was given after a careful investigation and consultations, Olmert said. I have no illusions that this very gesture will change the situation in the Middle East. However, we hope to be able to use every means that can strengthen and encourage the moderate elements in the Palestinian Authority, so that we can go in the direction of creating conditions of real dialogue.This strengthening the moderates strategy has governed much of Israeli policy since the signing of the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat in 1993. Ever since then, the Fatah terrorist organization has received guns and money that were used to murder hundreds of Israelis, has refused to change its charter calling for Israel's destruction, and has lost control of Gaza to Hamas. Fatah Charter Article 15 states: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the liquidation of the Zionist presence in Palestine. Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation peoples and governments with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard. MK Effie Eitam (National Union) called upon Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu to quit the coalition following today's decision. His party colleague MK Aryeh Eldad said that the release of the 250 terrorists to the scarecrow Abu Mazen is political and ethical bankruptcy on the part of the Prime Minister.
Cal Thomas criticized, commended for telling it like it is about Islam
Chad Groening and Jody Brown - OneNewsNow.com - July 9, 2007
Recent comments about Islam by nationally syndicated columnist and commentator Cal Thomas have brought sharp criticism from a U.S.-based pro-Muslim lobbying group and praise from the head of a Minnesota-based pro-Israel ministry. In a July 2 commentary aired on radio station WTOP in Washington, DC, Thomas discussed the recent car-bomb terror plots that were thwarted in Great Britain. Eight Muslims are in custody in connection with the attacks; most of them worked for Britain's health service and come from countries in the Middle East and India. How much longer should we allow people from certain lands, with certain beliefs to come to Britain and America and build their mosques, teach hate, and plot to kill us? Thomas asked in his radio commentary. Not all Muslims from the Middle East and southeast Asia want to kill us, he conceded, but those who do blend in with those who don't. Would anyone tolerate a slow-spreading cancer because it wasn't fast-spreading? Probably not. You'd want it removed. Two days later, the same radio station carried a response to Thomas's remarks from Ibrahim Hooper with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that exists to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America through media relations, lobbying, education, and advocacy. Ibrahim Hooper, one of the founders of the group who now serves as national director for communications, spoke on behalf of CAIR.
I would imagine that [Cal Thomas's] next step is the expulsion of the Muslim-American community, said Hooper. We condemn extremism. We've condemned terrorism. We've issued dozens of condemnations on dozens of terrorism attacks. But guys like Thomas come along and want to say every Muslim should be suspect and should be treated in a certain way, the CAIR spokesman continued. That's not just and that's not the American way. Hooper also accused Thomas of spreading misinformation, referring to him as an Islamaphobe and labeled Muslims who commit terrorist acts as a tiny minority of people who are misusing the faith. More often than not, he added, the people who do these types of things are going even to listen to me. WTOP permitted Thomas to respond to CAIR's comments on July 4. The syndicated columnist took the opportunity to say that the U.S. has had its share of disinformation people,implying that Hooper and CAIR are among them. Such groups, said Thomas, argue that there's no real threat and the real threat are the people who are pointing it out, not the people who are plotting to destroy us.
He also noted that several prominent liberal Democrat leaders in the U.S. Senate have expressed their concerns about CAIR, pointing out the group's extreme rhetoric [Dick Durbin of Illinois] as well as ties to terrorism and intimate links to Hamas [New York's Charles Schumer]. The truth hurts, Thomas concluded in his follow-up remarks on WTOP. I'm not making this stuff up...we gotta connect the dots. It's a little late after things begin to explode. Jan Markell is founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, a pro-Israel ministry based in Maple Grove, Minnesota. She is praising Thomas for taking a firm stand on the issue of Muslim terrorism. I am just thankful that there are a few people out there like Cal Thomas who will tell it like it is, says Markell, because I'm still waiting for some sort of a rally by Muslims, particularly in America, who are going to start demonstrating against the violence. I don't see it happening.
And she contends the far left in America has not made the connection, even after decades of debate. I think that political correctness has America's highest leaders today, as we speak, saying once again a great religion has been hijacked.That is nonsense, says Markell. I'm with Cal Thomas. Tell it like it is or in 20 years, we don't have a country. Thomas also suggested that the United States needs to monitor Muslims more closely. Markell says she does not find it surprising that the Council on American-Islamic Relations views Thomas' aired comments as incitement against Muslims.2007 American Family News Network