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>JN Nov. 23, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 218

Chile Bans Planned Neo-Nazi Congress

By IsraelWire

The government of Chile has announced it would ban a planned neo-Nazi congress planned for April 2000. The planned meeting, organized by Chilean groups with backing from neo-Nazi groups around the world, had come under harsh criticism from the World Jewish Congress, which said it would be a "public embarrassment" to Chile. It had been scheduled for April 20, the birthday of Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler.


Egyptian Cleric Calls on Arabs and Muslims to

Acquire Nuclear Weapons to Counter Israel By IsraelWire

An Egyptian conference on the future of nuclear strategy was convened at the University of Asyut Nov. 16. Participants included: the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Dr. Muhammad Sayyed Al-Tantawi; and dozens of experts on weapons of mass destruction. The Sheikh of Al-Azhar was appointed by President Hosni Mubarak and is the highest-ranking religious official in Egypt and one of the most prominent leaders in the Muslim world.

The following excerpts on the conference were taken from the PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 18, 1999.

Tantawi called upon the Arabs and the Muslims "to acquire nuclear weapons as an answer to the Israeli threat and [to possess] nuclear readiness in order to counter the Israeli intransigence which rejects the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

"The instruction that our master Khalifa [Caliph] Abu Bakr [the first successor to the Prophet] to Khaled Ibn Al-Waleed [one of the first Muslim commanders] when he called upon him to fight the enemy was: 'If they fight you with a sword fight them with a sword; if they fight you with a spear fight them with a spear.' If Abu Bakr had lived today he would have said, 'If they fight you with an atomic bomb you must fight them with an atomic bomb...'

"Islam welcomes any force that was [designed] to serve the right and to defend the people's honor, Islam condemns any offensive, unjust force and mandates to fight it no matter what its power is. If Israel has nuclear weapons it will be the first to be defeated because it lives in a world in which there is no fear of death. We are not afraid of the Israeli nuclear weapons. What we are afraid of is the [possibility] that we will not rise up and that we will not advance."


Churches in Israel Close for Two Days

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

The most senior Roman Catholic official in the Holy Land says the Israeli government is to blame for a two-day church closure that is preventing pilgrims from visiting sacred Christian sites.

Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah held a news conference in which he strongly defended closing the churches. Sabbah said the action was necessary to make the world hear the voices of Christians in the Holy Land, who are angered by Israel's decision to allow construction of a mosque next to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The basilica marks the place where the New Testament says the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to Jesus.

Pilgrims have been barred from entering the basilica, as well as two other key shrines: the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem -- on the spot where tradition says Christ was born -- and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's walled Old City, which commemorates (the tradition of) the Christian messiah's crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

Sabbah says the churches had no choice but to shut their doors (Monday), to protest Israel's approval of the mosque in Nazareth. "I think we were obliged, compelled, to close our churches, to make our voices heard."

Sabbah says Christians do not oppose allowing Muslims to worship in Nazareth. But he says building a mosque next to the basilica can only increase tensions.

Tensions are running high in Nazareth, where the new mosque is receive its cornerstone today. The site has been a source of major friction between Christians and Muslims. Dozens of residents were injured in fighting that broke out last Easter. Israeli officials say Muslims should have the right to build a mosque next to the Nazareth basilica because the land includes the grave of Shehab el-Din, a nephew of Saladin, a Muslim hero who captured Jerusalem eight centuries ago, during the time of the Crusades.


Labor MK: "Israel Should Take in 100,000 Palestinian Refugees"

By IsraelWire

Labor Knesset member Yossi Katz has called upon the Israeli government to absorb 100,000 "Palestinian refugees" as part of a permanent peace deal between Israel and the PLO Authority.

Katz, who serves as his party's liaison with the PA, made his comments after visiting the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Party secretary-general Ra'anan Cohen is threatening to replace Katz for making the comments, which represent a marked departure from the position of Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

In the past, Barak has expressed support for the return of smaller groups of refugees to PLO Authority autonomous areas in Judea and Samaria but not in Israel proper.


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