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Presbyterian Church Departs from Divestment Israel News Faxx Report

The Presbyterian Church USA distanced itself from its 2004 decision to divest from companies that do business in Israel. Meeting at its General Assembly in Birmingham, the church voted 483-28, with one abstention, to replace the resolution of its last assembly that called for a "phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." The new policy of "corporate engagement" would restrict investments in Israel, the Gaza Strip and West Bank to peaceful pursuits and alters church policy on Israel's security barrier.

Abbas, Olmert Agree to Hold Talks

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) & Ha'aretz

The prime minister of Israel and the president of the Palestinian Authority met informally on Thursday in Jordan, and agreed to hold formal talks in the near future.

Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas met, shook hands, kissed each other on the cheek and said they want to meet again soon. It was the first time the two men had met in a year, although the two leaders hold fairly regular phone conversations.

Their meeting was informal. It came at a conference of Nobel Prize winners in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan, being hosted by Jordan's King Abdullah. After the breakfast get-together, Olmert said he would meet again with Abbas, but that he doubted that much progress could come in talks between the two sides, as long as the Palestinian government is controlled by Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Israeli officials refused to comment publicly on when a summit might take place, except to say that Israel would dedicate the coming weeks to trying to coordinate and bring about a meeting between the two men. Palestinian officials say a meeting could take place in two or three weeks. Saeb Erekat, a close Abbas aide said a meeting is long overdue and necessary.

"It is very important for these two men to meet and sit down, and that is why it is essential to prepare for the meeting," adding that because there has been so little contact between the two sides, those preparations will focus on getting the two leaders to address basic issues. "Reviving the trust between the two sides, reviving the confidence and getting back to a partnership level."

A spokesman for Hamas expressed doubt that any progress could come from a meeting between the two leaders, saying Palestinians have not come to expect much from high-level contacts between Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

The informal meeting between Abbas and Olmert took place just hours after an Israeli air strike killed two Palestinian civilians in a Gaza Strip refugee camp. It was the latest in a series of botched air-strikes targeting Palestinian terrorists that have missed their targets and struck Palestinian civilians instead. Olmert addressed the issue, saying he was sorry for the civilian deaths that have occurred over the past two weeks, and that they were against Israeli policy.

Olmert surprised conference when he broached the possibility of Israeli settlers in the West Bank remaining in their homes under Palestinian sovereignty. "Each and every one of the settlers who live in territories that stand to be evacuated will need to decide whether to live in a Jewish state, the state of Israel, or in a Palestinian state," Olmert said.

He made his remarks in response to a question from Hebrew University Professor - and Nobel laureate in economics - Yisrael (Robert) Aumann, who asked the prime minister whether he intends "to expel tens of thousands of people from their homes" by way of the convergence plan, which he described as "a crime against humanity."

Netanyahu: IDF has Operational Capability to Wipe Out All of Gaza

By Ha'aretz

Opposition leader and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the 35th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces has the operational capability to wipe out the Gaza Strip, but chose not to do so.

"The IDF has the firepower to wipe out an entire population if we wanted. We could wipe out all of Gaza but we are not doing this. If the other [Palestinian] side had this [firepower], they would do this," Netanyahu said in his speech.

The Likud leader was speaking one day after a botched Israel Air Force missile killed two Palestinian civilians in southern Gaza. Tuesday, three children were killed in an IAF strike in Gaza City that targeted members of Fatah's military wing. The Wednesday strike marked the fourth time in one month that IAF strikes in Gaza have resulted in civilian fatalities, and brings the total of Palestinian civilian deaths to 14.

"We still haven't done enough to prevent Kassam rocket fire. When I was prime minister there were no Kassams or missiles because when Katyushas were fired at the north [from Lebanon], we shut off the lights in Beirut," the Likud MK said.

He said "the difference between democratic states struggling against terrorism and the terrorists who strike out at them is the attempt [by the former] to reduce harm to innocent civilians."

Netanyahu also warned the entire State of Israel could come under Kassam rocket attacks should a withdrawal from the West Bank take place.

Mormons Returning to Israel


The Mormons are back: Mormon leaders told Israel's Consul General in Los Angeles Ehud Danoch Thursday that they are renewing their student program in Jerusalem and the pilgrimages to Israel, this after a six-year hiatus due to the intifda. There are 12 million Mormons around the world, five million of them in the United States.

The Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) leader Gordon Hinckley, dubbed "The prophet," resides in Salt Lake City, Utah; millions follow his orders with no objection. In 2000, when the intifida broke out, the Mormon Church decided to stop sending students to their Jerusalem campus extension of Brigham Young University.

The travel warning issued by the State Department totally stopped the Mormons pilgrimages and subsequently dealt a major blow to Israel's tourism industry. During the past year Danoch met with Hinckley and other senior Mormon officials in a bid to convince them that Israel is a safe place and the travel warning has no real meaning. "You are supporters of Israel and should show your support in actions, not only in words," the Israeli consul pleaded.

A few days ago Danoch received a message from the Mormon leadership that the sect plans to reopen the BYU extension in Jerusalem in September and send 45 of its students from all over the world to the capital. Some leaders of the Mormon Church will join the students in the fall, and the pilgrimages will be resumed.

The Brigham Young University extension in Jerusalem was opened in 1987 after it was agreed with the Jerusalem mayor that no missionary preaching would take place and only if all students are foreigners and not local Jews or Arabs.

Hundreds of students arrived every year since then to study using subsidized tuitions, and upon returning home they became ambassadors of good will. During their stay in Israel the Mormon students participated in archeological digs and enjoyed touring holy sites. They also took trips all over Israel, and visited Egypt and Jordan.

The Mormon's curriculum in Jerusalem is very popular among the community's students, who compete for a space at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where the beautiful campus overlooks the Temple Mount.

IAF Chief: Terrorists Work Out of Densely-Populated Areas


Palestinian terrorists operate in densely-populated urban areas to make it harder for the IDF to strike at them - but Israel will keep striking out at them, says IAF Chief Maj.Gen. Shakdi.

"The terrorists understand that our operations against them are chiefly from the air," Shakdi told Army Radio after Wednesday night's miss that killed three civilians, "and they change their way of working accordingly. They are inside the cities, in yards, crowding themselves inward. The amount of time that they are outside is very little."

Twelve Arabs not known to have been involved with terrorism were killed in Israeli air strikes of the past few days. "We make every effort to prevent striking innocents," Shakdi said, repeating what Israeli leaders have been saying over the past several days, "but in the current situation, the IDF essentially does not have an efficient alternative other than air strikes. The only other possibility, in principle, is a comprehensive ground option, which we are trying to avoid if possible."

World's Fist Hebrew-English Speaking Doll

By & Daily Jews

She goes by the name of Sarah and is the world's first Hebrew and English speaking doll.

Produced by Language Littles, the Sarah doll is able to say over 25 words and phrases and speaks first in English and then Hebrew. Of course, being raised in the USA, she does have an American accent to her voice, but that aside, Sarah is an excellent introduction to any child looking to get a basic understanding of Hebrew in a fun way.

Or indeed, if could be the other way around with a Hebrew speaking child getting some basics in English. The doll costs about $40.

It's a Bird; it's a Plane, It's Super Mensch!


Superman Returns will soon be on your neighborhood movie screen, and alongside the flattering reviews the film has earned, it has also sparked a debate about whether the superhero isn't actually a super-Jew.

One of the eager participants in this debate is Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, writer of "Up, Up and Oy Vey," which explores the concept of the Jewish superhero. According to Weinstein, also known as The Comic Book Rabbi, behind the Man of Steel's cape resides a "bumbling, nebbish Jew."

"Only a Jew would think of a name like Clark Kent," he writes. "He's a bumbling, nebbish Jewish stereotype. He's Woody Allen. Can't get the girl can't get the job - at the same time, he has this tremendous heritage he can't express."

In an article published at his website Weinstein explains that the superhero was invented due to the rise in anti-Semitism in 1930s America. When the German-American Bund marched through the hometown of two Jewish young artists, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, they responded by inventing a hero in blue tights.

"From the very beginning, the Superman mythos reflected his creators' Jewish backgrounds," Weinstein writes.

Arie Kaplan, a regular writer for Mad Magazine and the author of series of articles dubbed "How the Jews Created the Comic Book Industry," explains in his writings: "Superman is a child survivor named Kal-El (in Hebrew, `All that is God') from the planet Krypton, whose population, a race of brilliant scientists, is decimated. His parents send him to Earth in a tiny rocket ship, reminiscent of how baby Moses survived Pharaoh's decree to kill all Jewish newborn sons."

Howard Jacobson, in an article printed in the London Times, called Superman "the boy with the Kabalistic name, the boy from the shtetl." According to him, "Superman might be Jewish, but it's only so long as no one knows he's Jewish that he is capable of performing wonders. And you can't get more Jewish than that."

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