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Anti-Semitic Attack in Berlin Subway


A 58-year-old woman and her 21-year-old daughter were attacked in a Berlin subway on Sunday night after the assailant asked them if they are Jews.

According to local police, the men, who appeared to be Arabs, assaulted the two, ripped a Star of David necklace from the daughter's neck and fled. The victims were treated in a local hospital

Powell Works on Mideast Conference Idea

By VOA News

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that a Middle East conference held at the foreign minister level could be the way to re-start talks aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Powell's suggestion appears to be an apparent attempt to work around Israel's insistence that Palestinian Leader Yasir Arafat be excluded.

Israel's conference proposal has been endorsed by Arafat, but Palestinians insist that Israel must withdraw its forces from Palestinian towns and cities before the meeting can happen.

Powell talked about the conference idea to reporters as he flew back to Israel from brief visits to Lebanon and Syria Monday. Powell urged Beirut and Damascus to rein in the Hizbullah guerrillas, warning that their attacks against Israeli forces in the Lebanon-Israel border region could trigger a wider conflict. Lebanon's Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud described Hizbullah attacks on Israeli forces in the Shebaa Farms as resistance to Israeli occupation. Powell told reporters that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said he would contact Hizbullah on the issue.

Marwan Barghouti Captured by Israel

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli forces have captured Marwan Barghouti, a close aide to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and a leader of the current uprising against the Jewish state. Barghouti was arrested in an apartment in the West Bank city of Ramallah, not far from Arafat's headquarters.

Barghouti is the head of Arafat's Fatah movement in the West Bank and has allegedly been behind scores of attacks against Israelis. He is a top militant leader and is an outspoken supporter of using violence as a tool during the current conflict, although he has not admitted to being directly responsible for planning attacks.

The Fatah chief has been mentioned as a possible successor to Arafat and has gained popularity as a leader of the "intifada," the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

Israel said Barghouti is a leading figure in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to the Fatah faction. The militia has claimed dozens of attacks against Israelis, and in recent months has begun staging suicide bombings as well. The group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing last Friday in Jerusalem that killed seven people.

The al-Aqsa Brigades announced that if Israel harms Barghouti, they will target Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, adding they know where the two senior officials live and how to strike out at them.

Barghouti was arrested as a teenager for membership in an armed Fatah squad. He served six years in prison before being deported in the late 1980s. In 1994 he was among the first exiles to return home, following interim Palestinian peace agreements with the Israelis. Barghouti was known then as a supporter of the peace process, and many Israelis have been puzzled by his transformation into one of the most radical Palestinian officials.

Israeli forces have been searching for the Fatah leader since they launched a major West Bank offensive late last month, following a series of suicide bombings that killed scores of Israelis.

Patriotism Among Israel's Islamic Community


When 17-year-old Rajada Saav from the Israeli Druze village of Abu Snan agreed to be one of the torch lighters in the official Independence Day celebration, she thought it would be an honor. To her dismay, after the news spread in her village, she was placed in isolation by her Islamic friends who she explains have spat at her and verbally abused her.

Rajada explained she is not afraid and is determined to represent her village despite the disdain of the Islamic community. Rajada, a senior in high school, explained that her Islamic friends will not deter her despite the obscene telephone calls and acts that have distanced her from former friends, adding she plans to serve in a national service program following completion of high school.

The Druze community does serve in the IDF with many of its members being the leading army trackers as well as serving in other combat units.

Israel's Population on Her 54th Birthday


According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel's population numbers 6,500,000 residents. Eighty-one percent, 5,300,000 are Jews, while 19 percent, 1,200,000, are non-Jews, mostly Arabs.

The Jewish population comprises 37 percent of the total world Jewish population as compared to 6 percent in 1948. There are about 2 million Israelis alive today in Israel from the establishment of the state in 1948. They comprise 37 percent of the state's Jewish population. In 1948, the day the state was established, the population numbered 800,000. The annual growth averages 4 percent. The population increase is attributed to the natural birth rate which accounts for about 60 percent of the total number, as well as the immigration minus the number of Israelis who have left the country to live elsewhere.

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