Newsletter : 0fax0718.txt
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>JN July 18, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 123
Syria Renews Call for Golan Heights
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Israel's returning of the
Golan Heights was as important as ongoing peace efforts in the
region, adding that he was committed to peace in the region.
The young leader renewed a commitment to follow in the footsteps
of the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, his father, and
immediately made reference to Israel, stating the need for a total
withdrawal from the Golan Heights by Israel in order to proceed
with the peace initiative on the Israeli/Syrian track.
Germany Will Pay Slave Laborers
By Jonathan Braude (VOA-Berlin)
Germany has formally set up a fund to compensate the victims of
Nazi slave and forced-labor programs in the Second World War.
Officials hailed it as a big step forward, but not everyone is
convinced it goes far enough.
Payments from Germany's $5 billion compensation fund for former
forced laborers should start being made before the end of the year,
according to Otto Lambsdorff, the official who negotiated the
establishment of the fund on behalf of the German government.
That was hailed as good news Monday by Germany's Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder and U.S. negotiator Stuart Eizenstat, who put
their signatures to deals that took more than 18 months to
The fund promises to compensate more than one million aging
victims, many of them living in poverty in Eastern Europe. The fund
will come half from the German government and half from German
industry. It is intended to put an end to further Holocaust
claims, either from governments or through the courts in the United
States or elsewhere.
It provides compensation for the Jewish survivors of the Nazis'
scheme to work concentration-camp inmates to death, and it provides
for East Europeans who were drafted to work as forced laborers in
often terrible conditions, to keep the economy going while German
men were away at the front.
The negotiators and the victims' lawyers also signed an agreement
intended to guarantee German industry will face no more legal
actions for the wartime use of forced labor.
The U.S. government has also agreed to submit a plea in any future
court actions stating it is in the best interest of the United
States that such cases should not be heard.
But not everyone is delighted with the outcome. Industry is still
far short of its $2.5 billion commitment. German industry
spokesman Manfred Gentz said the money would be available by the
time the payments were ready to be made, but he offered no
guarantee that the whole sum would ever be raised.
Kurt Goldstein, a former Jewish slave laborer and now vice
president of the International Auschwitz Committee, complained
publicly that 90 percent of German businesses -- including many of
those who had used slave labor during the war -- did not join the
fund. He says they should be publicly shamed.
Chase Bank Helped Funnel German Assets During WWII
The Chase Manhattan Bank helped funnel German assets from France
back to Germany after the United States went to war with Germany
during World War II.
The information was released in a recently declassified treasury
document that explained the bank's Paris branch kept records for
the German Embassy during the occupation. In addition, one of the
bank's branches in the unoccupied French Riviera transferred German
assets back to Germany in German-held areas.
Hamas Vows to Destroy Israel
By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)
The militant Islamic group Hamas has warned it will continue the
armed struggle against Israel, even if a peace deal is reached
at Camp David. The threat is viewed by some as a challenge to the
leadership of Yasir Arafat, who is leading the Palestinian
delegation at the summit.
The spiritual leader and founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin,
says his organization is committed to waging war until the Jewish
State is destroyed and replaced with an Islamic Republic.
He told reporters at a news conference in Gaza City that Hamas will
continue to fight Israel even if Arafat achieves his goal of
establishing an independent state. Yassin urged Arafat to abandon
the talks at Camp David because the summit could not bring freedom
to the Palestinian people.
The Hamas leader added that Arafat will not be able to sell any
peace agreement to his supporters that did not secure basic aims
cherished by all Palestinians. This includes making east Jerusalem
the capital of a Palestinian state and ensuring the right of
Palestinians to return to the homes they fled in 1948 when Israel
was established. Yassin says he does not expect Arafat to make concessions on these
points, because it would mean that he no longer represents the
Palestinian people. Hamas, in the past, has been responsible for
suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks that have killed
hundreds of Israelis.
In recent years, the organization's military wing has been thwarted
from carrying out more attacks largely because of the efforts of
Arafat's security forces to restrain the movement.
But Yassin says Hamas will never give up the right to use violence
as long as Israel occupies any land, which he says belongs to the
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