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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Holocaust Compensation Appeal

By Israel Faxx Online News Roundup

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal on a Holocaust compensation case. Monday's decision concerned the last litigant from a class action suit seeking compensation for property lost due to the Holocaust outside an agreement signed in 2000 by the Austrian and U.S. governments, Austrian businesses, the Austrian Jewish community and the Claims Conference. Payment by Austria of approximately $210 million to a Holocaust fund was stipulated on the cancellation of all such suits. Some 2,000 out of 19,000 claimants reportedly have received compensation from the fund. About half of the claimants — survivors and their heirs — live in the United States.


Israel Denies Responsibility for Gaza Beach Blast

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli military authorities said Tuesday that they were not responsible for a blast last Friday at a beach in the Gaza Strip that killed eight Palestinians, including seven members of one family.

The Israeli military inquiry says the blast was caused by an explosive buried in the sand on the beach, and not by Israeli artillery or by Israeli navy vessels firing from offshore.

Senior Israeli military officers say fragments of shrapnel taken from Palestinians wounded in the attack, who were treated at Israeli hospitals, do not match the 155-millimeter shells used by the Israeli Army. Speaking at a Tel Aviv news conference, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said as tragic as the incident was, Israel is not responsible.

He said initial suspicions by Israeli authorities that they were not responsible for the blast have been borne out by the evidence accumulated in the investigation. Israeli military authorities also said aerial photographs they have taken, and a timeline of their firing, also indicate that their shelling had stopped by the time the explosion occurred on the beach.

Palestinian officials have rejected the conclusions. Saeb Erekat, a senior official responsible for negotiations with Israelis, told VOA he believes Israeli authorities are trying to blame Palestinians for what happened, which he says could result in similar incidents happening in the future.

"First of all, the Palestinians do not have any weapons capable of such precision and such effectiveness that can massacre seven people in one shot," he said. "Secondly, I believe that the Israeli side should have pointed out who was really responsible to make sure that such incidents will not reoccur. Now they want to escape the responsibility, and these crimes may reoccur and that is dangerous and alarming."

An independent investigation conducted by the U.S. based Human Rights Watch, which sent an investigator to Gaza, has found that the injuries suffered by the Palestinians were inconsistent with a mine-blast as suggested by Israeli authorities in earlier statements. The Human Rights Watch investigator said he believes evidence points to an Israeli artillery shell as causing the deaths and injuries on the beach, but that something else could have also caused the blast.

The blast, which killed the seven members of the Ghalia family last week, led to an upsurge in violence in the area. Hamas terrorists immediately called off a 16-month ceasefire they had been observing, and resumed launching Kassam rocket attacks against targets in southern Israel. Since then there have been almost daily exchanges of rocket fire by Palestinian terrorists and retaliatory attacks by Israeli forces along the Israel-Gaza border.


Israel Missile Strike Kills 11 Palestinians, Injures 30

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip have left at least 11 Palestinians dead and more than 30 others wounded. Israel's defense minister said Israel would no longer show restraint against terrorists in Gaza.

Witnesses in Gaza City said a yellow van traveling on a busy highway in northern Gaza was struck about midday by Israeli fire.

Captain Noa Meir, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces, said the operation was targeted at Islamic Jihad terrorists who were planning on launching Katyusha rockets against targets in Israel. "This is actually the third incident in the past two months of terrorists launching the more advanced Katyusha rocket," Meir said. "This rocket has a range of 20 kilometers and has proved deadly in the past."

Meir said more than 100 small rockets, known as Kassams, have been launched against Israel since last Friday. Among those killed in the Israeli air strike was a top rocket launcher for Islamic Jihad

Khaled al Batch, an Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza vowed revenge. The Islamic Jihad commander said his group would continue to attack Israel and he condemned the deaths of civilians in Tuesday's strike.

Witnesses said a number of people who had gone to assist those hit in the first blast were struck by a second Israeli air strike. Palestinian officials said at least eight civilians; including two children were killed in the second attack. Also among those killed were three medical personnel on the scene.

Israeli officials had suspended large scale air strikes against targets in Gaza following the deaths of eight Palestinians, including seven members of one family, who were killed in an explosion on a beach in the Gaza Strip last Friday.

But speaking on Israeli radio, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said, because Palestinians had not stopped rocket attacks against Israel, air strikes are being resumed. He said restraint had not worked and now Israel would do whatever is necessary to protect its citizens.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Tuesday's attack, calling it an example of "state terror." His comments came just hours after gunmen loyal to Abbas' Fatah Party attacked the West Bank offices of the Palestinian prime minister and the building housing the Palestinian parliament. Both institutions are controlled by Hamas.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have accelerated since Abbas' decision to schedule a referendum asking Palestinians to vote on a proposal that calls for a Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel.

Support for Israel Not Universal Among American Jews

By Israel Faxx News Service

Despite the view that Zionists dominate U.S. policy toward Israel, American Jews vary markedly in their support for the Middle Eastern nation depending on age, religious practices and ethnic pride, a new University of Florida study finds.

"There is an assumption that the 'Israeli lobby' rests upon a monolithic, highly mobilized American Jewish community that makes Israel the No. 1 issue in American politics," said Kenneth D. Wald, a UF political science professor who did the research with Bryan Williams, a UF graduate student in political science. "We found enormous variability within the American Jewish community in the extent to which Israel factors into domestic political thinking."

Although Israel's fate is an overriding political consideration for a small number of Jews in this country, many others consider it a nonissue, said Wald, whose paper has been accepted for publication in the July issue of the journal Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. Most American Jews fall somewhere in between, he said.

The issue has received prominent attention recently with the March publication in the London Review of Books of a paper by two American political scientists. They claim the thrust of U.S. policy in the Middle East derives largely from the activities of the "Israeli Lobby," a loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer American foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.

Wald's study looked at the extent American Jews incorporate Israel into their political thinking and what factors influence that tendency. He used a series of telephone surveys called the "culture polls" conducted by Zogby International, a polling firm led by an Arab-American. In 1999 and 2000, 589 Jewish participants were asked to answer a series of multiple-choice questions on subjects such as how important they consider U.S. support for Israel, the importance of candidates' positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict to their voting decision and whether they had ever written a letter or made a telephone call to express their views on the Arab-Israeli conflict to a government official, newspaper or magazine.

"We found that the more people are integrated and involved in the ethnic community, based on cultural and social ties, the more likely they are to put Israel at the center of their political thinking," Wald said.

The study showed the most important factors were synagogue attendance, Jewish pride and respondents' age. Older Jews were much more likely than their younger counterparts to factor Israel into the political priorities for the United States, he said.

"Being older means that you have lived through a time when there was no state of Israel or when its survival was very much in doubt," Wald said. "Young people never knew a time when there wasn't a state of Israel and in most cases when that state didn't seem to be something of a superpower."

Younger Jews' lack of attachment to Israel presents political challenges for pro-Israel organizations in the future, especially because American Jews comprise only 2 percent of the U.S. population, Wald said. "Older Jews who lived through the time when Israel was created and its survival was at stake are slowly passing out of the population and being replaced by a younger group for whom Israel does not have the same political priority," he said.


Letter to the Editor: Fresh water will Not Help

By Ehud Finkelstein (Tel Aviv)

(In response to a letter to the editor "The Dead Sea as a Mine" (Ha'aretz June 1), Shlomo Adler writes again about the idea to let fresh water flow to the Dead Sea "to prevent ecological disaster in this region." But one cannot talk of preventing ecological disaster because this has already occurred. Its signs are: drop of tens of meters in the water level of the Dead Sea, hundreds of meters of withdrawal of the shore line, disappearance of the southern part of the sea and the phenomena of the big holes in the ground.

Now we should speak of repairing the damage that was already done. It is not reasonable to flow to the Dead Sea hundreds of millions (of) cubic meters of fresh water at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars annually if we can use sea water which is free. The fresh water flow is limited to the flow rate of water pumped from the Sea of Galilee and therefore it cannot repair the damage that was already done.

The correct solution is flow of sea water (and not fresh water) to the Dead Sea. Such flow will not be limited in quantity, thus it can correct the damage done in recent decades. The reason why it was not done until now is double: carelessness to the environmental damage and "thinking big," that is, design of the two-seas-canal as a grandiose project, either as a tourist attraction with lagunas and vacation towns along the Arava or as an electricity generating project, which requires a storage lake

BTW, I think that the idea of flowing fresh water to the sea comes from the Dead Sea Works, one of the causes of the problem, which will have to change its production process in case of seawater in the Dead Sea. They think that they have a state instead of the state having them. Also, one can show that theoretically, from the current annual flow, one can generate at most 40MW of electricity on a continuous base, or 80 MW if we double the flow rate while the total installed capacity in Israel is about 10,000 MW.


Kassam Rocket Alert Become a Cell Ringtone

By YnetNews.com

The Red Dawn alert system's tune has in recent days become a hit among youths in the rocket-stricken town of Sderot. The tune, perhaps being used in a humorous way to deal with the tense situation, has been turned into a mobile phone ringtone.

Yehuda Peretz, a Reuters photographer in the south, is the person behind the ringtone. He recorded the sound of the siren and managed to turn it into a ringtone on his mobile phone.

"I didn't think it would become this popular. Now mainly teenagers are asking me for the ringtone and I decided to give them the opportunity to download it. Many have already downloaded it to their mobile phones," he said.

Peretz said some parents are not happy with the new ringtone, as at times the sounds cause panic among residents. He said the use of the ringtone is increasing from day to day. "The more Kassams fired, the more teenagers use it. Maybe it's the opportunity to escape from the troublesome reality here," said Peretz.


Egypt: Da Vinci Code Based on Zionist Myths

By Reuters

Egyptian authorities will confiscate copies of the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code and ban the film based on the book from showing in Egypt, the culture minister told parliament on Tuesday.

To applause from members of parliament, Minister Farouk Hosni said: "We ban any book that insults any religion... we will confiscate this book."

Parliament was debating the book and film at the request of several Coptic Christian members who demanded a ban.

Georgette Sobhi, a Coptic member, held up a copy of the book and the Arabic translation and said it contained material which was seriously offensive. "It's based on Zionist myths, and it contains insults towards Christ, and it insults the Christian religion and Islam," she said.

A central part of the fictional plot is that Christ married Mary Magdalene and that their descendants are alive today.

Hussein Ibrahim, the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary bloc, said that as the Brotherhood had opposed the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, so they would oppose any insult to Jesus Christ.

News of the government's decision caused concern in other quarters, with one human rights activist calling it a very dangerous decision and a continuation of an assault on freedom of expression.

Hafez Abu Saeda, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, told Reuters: "This violates freedom of thought and belief ... This is fiction. It's art and it should be regarded as art."

He said the book had sold well in various Christian-majority countries and had not faced calls for a ban. The members of parliament should be aware that the measure would not work, given that thousands of Egyptians already own copies and that the book can be downloaded from the Internet, he added.

Shahira Fathy, the manager of Cairo's popular Diwan bookstore, said the book had been one of their top sellers since it came out in 2003. "It's a shame. A lot of people are interested in this topic," She said, adding that other books written on the subject had also been selling.

The Egyptian distributors of the film had postponed a decision on screening it in Egypt in anticipation of a ban.



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