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Report: Police do Nothing to Stop Trade in Women

By Ha'aretz

Nearly half of all women who arrived in Israel from abroad and were sold to pimps report that police had visited the brothels where they were employed - as clients - despite knowing that the women were subjected to inhumane conditions, worked 13-hour days, and at times were beaten and imprisoned, according to a report published Sunday by three Israeli human rights organizations

Palestinian Leaders in Power Struggle

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian leaders are engaged in a power struggle over who will handle the key security portfolio following the collapse of a seven-week-old ceasefire by Palestinian armed groups. Palestinian Chairman Yasir Arafat and his prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, appear to be at odds over who should control the Palestinian security forces.

The dispute came to the fore after international mediators called for Arafat to give Abbas and his Security Minister, Mohammed Dahlan, the clear authority to crack down on armed Palestinian groups. Arafat instead proposed that the supreme command of the security forces should go to Nasser Yousef, a strong supporter of Arafat. Observers said that such a move would effectively sideline Dahlan.

Israel and the United States have been putting pressure on Abbas and Arafat to consolidate the fractured Palestinian security forces now under Dahlan's command. But some Palestinian officials say that Yousef is seen as too close to Arafat and his appointment would not result in any real reform within the Palestinian Authority.

Arafat reluctantly appointed Abbas his new Prime Minister following intense international pressure to share power and prepare the way for a new Palestinian leadership. After his appointment, Abbas selected Dahlan to take responsibility for law and order. But Palestinian officials say that Dahlan has been unable to carry out his duties because Arafat is still controlling most of the security forces.

Meanwhile, the Abbas cabinet is trying to convince Palestinian armed groups to commit them to a new truce. They had abandoned the ceasefire announced in June, following the assassination of Hamas leader Ismael Abu Shanab by Israeli forces. His killing was in retaliation for the Hamas suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem that killed 21 people.

Gaza Militants Fire New, Longer Range Rocket into Israel

By VOA News

Israeli military officials announced that Palestinian militants have fired a new longer-range rocket into Israel from the Gaza Strip. They said the projectile landed on a beach at Zikim, about five miles north of Gaza, not far from the Israeli city of Ashkelon. There were no reports or injuries or damage. The Israeli army said the rocket flew deeper in Israeli territory than any previously launched from Gaza.

The rocket was launched a day after Palestinian security officials announced they had shut down three tunnels used to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Officials said at least nine smugglers were arrested. It is not clear if the action marked the start of an effort to disarm Palestinian militant groups, as demanded by Israel and the United States.

4 Dead In Israeli Missile Strike In Gaza

By VOA News

Palestinian officials said an Israeli missile strike has killed four Palestinians in Gaza City. They said Israeli helicopter gunships targeted a car there after nightfall Sunday and that two of the dead were members of Ezzedine al-Qassam, an offshoot of the militant Hamas movement.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli army chief Moshe Yaalon said Israel considers members of Palestinian militant groups to be targets for assassination. On Thursday, an Israeli attack killed a top Hamas leader. The Israeli strikes follow the Tuesday Hamas suicide bombing that left 21 people dead in Jerusalem.

If an Alien Dropped in Tonight

By Alan M. Dershowitz (Commentary)

If a visitor from a far away galaxy were to land at an American or Canadian university and peruse some of the petitions that were circulating around the campus, he would probably come away with the conclusion that the Earth is a peaceful and fair planet with only one villainous nation determined to destroy the peace and to violate human rights. That nation would not be Iraq, Libya, Serbia, Russia or Iran. It would be Israel.

There are currently petitions circulating on most North American university campuses that would seek to have universities terminate all investments in companies that do business in or with Israel. There are also petitions asking individual faculty members to boycott scientists and scholars who happen to be Israeli Jews, regardless of their personal views on the Arab-Israeli conflict. There have been efforts, some successful, to prevent Israeli speakers from appearing on college campuses, as recently occurred at Concordia University.

The intergalactic visitor would wonder what this pariah nation, Israel, must have done to deserve this unique form of economic capital punishment. If he then went to the library and began to read books and articles about this planet, he would discover that Israel was a vibrant democracy, with freedom of speech, press and religion, that was surrounded by a group of tyrannical and undemocratic regimes, many of which are actively seeking its destruction.

He would learn that in Egypt, homosexuals are routinely imprisoned and threatened with execution; that in Jordan suspected terrorists and other opponents of the government are tortured, and that if individualized torture does not work, their relatives are called in and threatened with torture as well; that in Saudi Arabia, women who engage in sex outside of marriage are beheaded.

Our curious visitor would wonder why there are no petitions circulating with regard to these human rights violators. Is Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza -- an occupation it has offered to end in exchange for peace -- worse than the Chinese occupation of Tibet?

Are the tactics used to combat terrorism by Israel worse than those used by the Russians against Chechen terrorists? Are Arab and Muslim states more democratic than Israel? Is there any comparable institution in any Arab or Muslim state to the Israeli Supreme Court, which frequently rules in favor of Palestinian claims against the Israeli government and military? Does the absence of the death penalty in Israel alone, among Middle East nations, make it more barbaric than the countries which behead, hang and shoot political dissidents?

Is Israel's settlement policy, which 78% of Israelis want to end in exchange for peace, worse than the Chinese attempt at cultural genocide in Tibet? Is Israel's policy of full equality for openly gay soldiers and members of the Knesset somehow worse than the policy of Muslim states to persecute those who have a different sexual orientation than the majority? Is Israel's commitment to equality for women worse than the gender apartheid practiced in Saudi Arabia?

Our intergalactic traveler, after learning all of these facts, would wonder what kind of a planet he had landed on. Do we have everything backwards? Do we know the difference between right and wrong? Do our universities teach the truth? These are questions that need asking, lest we become the kind of world the visitor would have experienced had he arrived in Europe during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

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