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>JN April 20, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 68

Jewish Youth in Holocaust Memorial

By VOA News

Hundreds of Jewish youth from around the world have marched Thursday from the former Auschwitz death camp in Poland to the gas chambers at Birkenau.

The Israeli education ministry started the one mile walk over 10 years ago as part of the high school curriculum for Jewish students.

The marches are held on Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day to retrace the footsteps of some of Auschwitz's inmates to the gas chambers at Birkenau.


Syrian President Reserves Right to Retaliate

By VOA News

Syrian state radio reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told President Bush that calls for restraint in the Middle East were useless. Bush telephoned al-Assad earlier Thursday to discuss the tense situation in the region, particularly in Lebanon.

Syrian radio quoted al-Assad as saying his country reserved the right to retaliate for what he called "Israeli aggression." Earlier, the White House said the two leaders agreed on the urgent need for all parties to use restraint and keep violence from escalating further.

Tensions between Israel and Syria increased this week after Israeli planes bombed a Syrian radar station in central Lebanon, killing three soldiers. Syria has said it will not sit idle in the face of such attacks.

The Israeli raid came after an attack by Syrian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas Saturday destroyed a tank and killed one Israeli soldier in an occupied border area.


EU Condemns Israeli Attacks

By Roger Wilkison (VOA-Brussels)

The European Union has condemned Israel's recent attack on a Syrian radar installation in Lebanon Monday as excessive and disproportionate, and it says Israel's brief re-occupation of Palestinian-ruled areas of Gaza was illegal and should not be repeated.

The EU reaction to the latest violence in the Middle East came nearly two days after the United States pressured the Israelis into retreating from Gaza and points up the 15-nation bloc's inability to influence events in the region.

Only one week ago, European Union External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten said the EU was beginning to make a real difference in world affairs because it was speaking with one voice.

EU spokesman Reijo Kemppinen was asked Thursday why it had taken so long for the bloc to react to the latest Israeli attacks, especially since the EU used language remarkably similar to that of the United States.

"I wouldn't say that we are worried that it took us so long," he said. "This is the European Union, after all, and not a single state. It unfortunately takes time before the member states are able to agree on language. And the stronger the language, the more time they need."

The EU has been financially propping up the Palestinian Authority since the start of the latest Palestinian uprising last year. It is also Israel's biggest trading partner.


Holocaust Day and Story

By Arutz 7 News

Israelis from all walks of life, in their homes, cars, businesses, and on the street, stopped and stood silently for two minutes Thursday morning in honor of the 6 Million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis in the Holocaust 60 years ago.

Thursday was Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah). At Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the "Every Person Has a Name" ceremony was held, in the course of which the names of Holocaust victims were read aloud. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer read the names of Moroccan Jews who were transported to Poland and murdered there.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the central ceremony that Israel is the only place in the world where Jews have the right and privilege of defending themselves on their own. Six survivors who established their lives anew in the State of Israel lit torches at the ceremony.

One of them was 67-year-old Dina Levine Baitler, born in Vilna, Lithuania. When she was six, her father was deported to Siberia by the occupying Russian forces. The next year, in 1941, the Germans captured Vilna, and soon after took many of the Jews to an open pit and opened fire. Dina, slightly wounded by a shot in her leg, fell into a pit among the corpses.

"At night," she described to Yad Vashem's quarterly magazine, "I heard a voice of a woman asking in Yiddish if anyone else was alive. There were wounded people who called out for help. The guards "heard them, came back, and started to shoot again." Towards morning, Dina pulled herself out of the pit and headed towards the forest. She wandered through the forests and villages for the rest of the war begging for food and shelter; a woman helped her assume the false identity of a Polish orphan.

After the war, she returned to Vilna and was placed in a Jewish orphanage. She immigrated to Israel with her husband in 1960, and today has two children, 10 grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

Videos about the Holocaust and related topics were screened throughout the day at the Holocaust Studies Institute in Kibbutz Tel Yitzchak. At a memorial ceremony there, former Supreme Court Justice Moshe Beisky attacked the pope and the Western countries for their silence in the face of the monstrous events of the Holocaust, but said that we will never forget the "brave Righteous Gentiles who saved what they could."


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