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Assad Overture Rebuffed
Israel Faxx News Services

Israel has rebuffed a peace-or-else ultimatum issued by Syrian President Bashar Assad. He told a German newspaper Sunday that his country sought peace with Israel but could resort to war if necessary, an apparent reference to Syria's bedrock demand that it regain all of the Golan Heights under any accord. "I don't say that Israel should be wiped off the map. We want to make peace with Israel," Assad told Der Spiegel. "But my personal opinion, my hopes for peace, could change one day. And if this hope disappears, then war may really be the only solution."

Lebanese Christian Leader: Israel War Was Catastrophe for Lebanon

By VOA News

A prominent Lebanese Christian leader said the month-long conflict between Hizbullah and Israel was a major catastrophe for Lebanon. Samir Geagea was speaking Sunday at a rally attended by tens of thousands of his supporters in the town of Harissa, north of Beirut.

Geagea rejected Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah's claim of victory in the fight against Israel. The Christian former warlord says the majority of Lebanese feel their country has suffered a catastrophe that makes their present and future uncertain.

Nasrallah proclaimed victory Friday in a mass rally in Beirut attended by hundreds of thousands of Lebanese Shia Muslims. He also vowed that Hizbullah would hold onto its weapons.

Geagea said Lebanon would not become a strong state if Hizbullah continues to receive smuggled weapons and functions as a state-within-a-state.

The Christian leader's Lebanese Forces Party is a member of the anti-Syrian coalition in Lebanon's parliament. The coalition holds a majority in parliament and supports the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

One Arab's Apology

By Emilio Karim Dabul (Commentary)

September 25, 2006 -- Well here it is, five years late, but here just the same: an apology from an Arab-American for 9/11. No, I didn't help organize the killers or contribute in any way to their terrible cause. However, I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing.

The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it.

Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large. Yes, our extremists and our culture.

Every single 9/11 hijacker was Arab and a Muslim. The apologists (including President Bush) tried to reassure us that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam, but was a twisting of a great and noble religion. With all due respect, read the Koran, Mr. President. There's enough there for someone of extreme tendencies to find their way to a global jihad.

There's also enough there for someone of a different mindset to find a path to enlightenment and peace. Still, Rushdie had it right back in 2001: This does have to do with Islam. A Christian who bombs an abortion clinic in the name of God is still a Christian, at least in his interpretation, and saying otherwise doesn't negate the fact that he has spent a goodly amount of time figuring out his version of the one true and right thing to do.

The men who killed 3,000 of our citizens on 9/11 in all likelihood died saying prayers to Allah, and that by itself is one of the most horrific things to me about that day. And, while my grandparents never waged a jihad, their attitudes toward Jews weren't that much different than Mohammed Atta's. No, they didn't support the Holocaust, but they did believe that Jews were trouble in many different ways, and those sorts of beliefs were passed on to me before I'd ever actually met a Jew.

I'm sorry for that, for ever believing that anything that my grandparents or other relatives had to say about Jews or Israel, for that matter, had any real resemblance to truth. It took me years to realize that I'd been conned into believing the generalizations and stereotypes that millions around the Arab world buy into: that Jews, America and Israel are our main problem.

One look at the average Arab regime should alert us to the fact that the problem, dear Achmed, lies not overseas or next door in Tel Aviv, but in the brutal, corrupt despots that we have bred from country to country in the Mideast, across the span of history. That history and its corresponding economic devastation is the main reason I reside on New York City's West Bank - New Jersey - not the one near Jerusalem. On my worst day, I'm happy about that fact. I'd rather be here than there, and experience the freedom and boundless opportunities that were mostly unknown to so many generations of my family in the Mideast.

For as long as I live, the image of those towers falling, as I watched in horror and disbelief from the corner of 40th and Fifth, will be for me my Pearl Harbor, for in that instant I recognized that not only was our city under attack so was our freedom. It still is. And will continue to be for years to come.

And the threat is not from within, but from Islamic fascists who desperately want to destroy the freedom and opportunities that millions the world over still seek.

Five years after that awful day, it's time for all Arab-Americans and Arabs around the world, to protest against Islamic fascism, to raise our voices - and, where necessary, our arms - against these tyrants until their plague of terror has been driven from the face of the earth forever.

Emilio Karim Dabul is a freelance writer and PR consultant living in New Jersey.

PA Raises Demands for Release of IDF Captives


While Hamas and Fatah cannot get together on a unity government, they are united in demanding increasingly more for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit was abducted by an eight-man Hamas terrorist cell in late June when he was manning a tank just outside the Gaza border. Two soldiers were killed in that attack.

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel must release Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Saadat if it wants to see Shalit again. Barghouti is serving five life sentences for the murder of Israelis, while Saadat was the mastermind of the killing of Israel's Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001.

Not to be outdone, Hamas official Mahmoud A-Zahar said that Israel must release not only female and teenaged terrorists imprisoned in Israel, but all of the long-time terrorist prisoners - including those incarcerated for the murder of Jews.

A-Zahar, a long-time mortal foe of Israel - he told BBC in 2003, "I'm telling you frankly, the attitude of Islam is not to accept a foreign state in this area" - blamed Israel for the lack of progress in the talks on the release of Shalit.

The issue of the terrorists in Israeli prisons has long been an acute one for the PA - largely because PA society views those held as prisoners, and not as terrorists. For example, a senior Hamas leader named Dr. Ahmed Bahar spoke at a recent Gaza gathering and said, "If an Israeli soldier has a mother, we have 10,000 prisoners who also have mothers." He did not mention at all the crimes for which the thousands are being held. Nor did he note that the abducted Israeli is not treated to basic necessities such as contact with his family, as opposed to the incarcerated Arabs.

A spokesman for Hamas said, "Israel will not receive a single snippet of information regarding Shalit's fate and will continue to live in uncertainty regarding his condition, until Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert executes the exchange deal [for the prisoners]."

Knesset member Effie Eitam (National Union) warned Olmert not to cave in to the demand to release Barghouti, saying it would be "moral bankruptcy." Eitam said such a move would "destabilize the framework of law and justice in Israel. Abu Mazen's demand to release a murderer of innocent people reveals the true face of the government's new partner. It proves that the voice is the voice of Abu Mazen, and the hands are those of Hamas."

Israel's two other kidnapped soldiers of this year are Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, abducted by Hizbullah into southern Lebanon on July 12, in an attack that set off the recent war in Lebanon. Their release is barely even being discussed.

Hizbullah chieftain Sheikh Nasrallah "spit in the face of the organized community of nations," according to Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev, when he addressed a mass rally in Beirut over the weekend. Nasrallah said that Hizbullah would not agree to be disarmed under the current Lebanese government, that the terrorist group is now stronger than ever, and that it has more than 20,000 rockets - more than it claimed before the war.

Israel Intended to Assassinate Nasrallah After Ceasefire


Israel planned to assassinate Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah a number of days after the ceasefire went into effect, Channel 2 News reported on Monday night.

There were many opinions heard on Monday after Nasrallah addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters in southern Beirut over the weekend. Knesset member (Yisrael Beitenu) Avigdor Lieberman stated Nasrallah should not have left the event alive. Former Mossad Director Shabtai Shavit told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) on Monday that if the situation permitted, he would have ordered the terrorist leader taken out during the victory rally over the weekend,

National Infrastructure Minister (Labor) Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister, disagreed; stating such a move over the weekend would have placed northern Israel under attack once again, in the heart of the holiday season.

Israel's Jewish Population Decreasing


According to Central Bureau of Statistics data, the population of the State of Israel at the end of 2005 was comprised of 6,990,700 people, of which 5,313,800 were Jewish (76 percent of the entire population), and 1,377,100 were Arab (19.7 percent) according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The data also showed that since 2000, the Jewish population has decreased by 1.8 percent, while the Muslim population has increased during the past five years by 1.1 to 1,140,600. The birth rate in Israel has decreased over the past two years by about 4 percent, from 2.95 in 2003, to 2.84 in 2005.

Life expectancy in Israel has risen to 78.3 years for men, and 82.38 years for woman. Likewise, there has been an increase in the gap between the life expectancy age of the Jewish population and the Muslim population.

In 2005, 21,000 people made aliyah. Of those, 9,400 were from the former Soviet Union, and account for 44 percent of new immigrants, where as 3,600 were from Ethiopia, accounting for about 17 percent of olim.

Man Arrested for Blowing Shofar at Western Wall


Shades of the 1920s: A Jewish man was hauled off to the Old City police station in the middle of prayer for sounding the shofar during Rosh HaShanah services at the area known as the Kotel HaKatan.

The incident occurred around 7:30 a.m., at the northern-most section of the accessible Western Wall - a little-known area called the Kotel HaKatan, the Small Wall. It is considered to have extra sanctity, as it stands opposite the presumed spot of the Holy of Holies of the Beit HaMikdash.

Sunday morning, a group of some 10 men and two women gathered at the site, as they have done for several years on Rosh HaShanah, for early-morning prayers. The holiday prayers feature the blowing of the shofar (ram's horn) at several different times. Towards the end of the first shofar sounding, a Border Guard policeman came in, made an unclear motion with his hand as if to ask what was going on, and then left. He said nothing.

Shortly afterwards, Eliyahu K., the 20-year-old prayer leader, blew the shofar a second time, in the midst of his silent prayer (in accordance with Sephardic custom). Policemen came in once again and began trying to pull him away. However, Eliyahu was in the midst of reciting the Amidah - a long passage during which one must stand in one place without moving - and he therefore did not move.

The policemen informed their supervisors by radio that he was praying and refused to move, and reinforcements were soon sent - no fewer than 20 policemen, according to several witnesses. They then started dragging him out, and when they stopped for a moment, he got up and resumed his prayers. They then began to drag him away again, and shortly afterwards again stopped for a moment - and again he resumed his prayers. At this point, the policemen allowed him to complete his prayers.

In the meanwhile, the other members of the prayer group came out and tried to prevent the policemen from taking Eliyahu away. At this point, the policemen started swinging their clubs violently; no one was hospitalized, but "it was a big brawl," in the words of one witness, with many people being dragged around and beaten while wearing their prayer-shawls and Sabbath suits.

Meanwhile, Eliyahu was taken to the small police station at the Western Wall plaza, and several of his friends followed him there. They wanted to go up the steps into the police station, and demanded that at least the shofar be returned, but the police again came down with their clubs.

They finally took Eliyahu by foot, accompanied by his fiancé, all the way around the Old City, past Mt. Zion and through Jaffa Gate, to the Kishle police station inside Jaffa Gate. At this point, there was no longer any violence, and Eliyahu was released around 11:30 - after being charged with attacking a policeman, disturbing a policeman in the line of duty, and disturbing the public order.

One witness related, "It's not only that they stopped him from blowing the shofar, but rather the fact that the police beat us up very harshly. I was on my way to the Wall for prayers when I saw 5-7 policemen going with Eliyahu and protecting him very closely. I walked after them, and then a few of his friends came, and then the violence started. We asked the policemen to return the shofar, and they started kicking us and punching us."

The worshipers said that the police had apparently been called by an Arab woman who said the sound of the ram's horn disturbed her children.

A Jewish resident of the Old City told Arutz-7, "How ironic. The loud Arab weddings and nightly prayers by the muazzin [over a powerful loudspeaker] at 4:30 a.m. disturb our sleep every night." Similar complaints are heard from Jews living near Arab villages in Judea and Samaria.

A member of the Jerusalem Police spokesman's office, contacted by Arutz-7 for a statement on the matter and asked whether this signified a new policy towards shofar-blowing at the Wall, said, "When we have an answer for you, I will get back to you."

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, told Arutz-7, "This is a very grave incident, and I have asked the local police commander, Yossi Priente, to check into it - both the violence and the prevention of the shofar blowing. It reminds us of the days of the British Mandate when Jews [had to make] super-human efforts to blow the shofar at the Western Wall."

He was referring to the 1ate 1920s, when the British, in an attempt to appease the Arabs, and following violence at the Wall, forbade shofar-blowing at the Wall. In one famous incident in 1929, a man named Moshe Segal blew the shofar at the conclusion of Yom Kippur - and was immediately arrested by the British. Though he had fasted for the previous 25 hours, the British detained him without food until midnight, when he was released. It was later reported that the release came about when then-Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook informed the commander that he himself would not eat until Segal was released.

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