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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 18, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 123

Syria Renews Call for Golan Heights

By IsraelWire

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 negotiate.

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

By IsraelWire

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 Palestinians.

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