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Olmert: We Love to Complain


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told 50 new immigrant soldiers who he hosted in his Jerusalem sukkah that "We are people who love to complain about ourselves and the state but there is no placed more beloved than Israel. There is only one home and one nation and it is that simple. It is temping to think that in Baltimore or Los Angeles things are more certain but history teaches us that nowhere is safer than our land."

Israel Rejects Syrian Offer for Peace Talks

By VOA News

Israel has rejected a Syrian offer of peace talks. A spokeswoman for Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday Israel would not negotiate with Syria as long as Damascus welcomes terrorist organizations.

The spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, also criticized Syria for pro-Hizbullah statements made by its foreign minister Walid Moualem during the month long Israel-Hizbullah war. Israel accuses Syria of providing weapons to Hizbullah.

In an interview broadcast Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he was ready to hold talks with Israel but that an impartial arbiter should mediate between the two sides. The Syrian leader said he doubts whether the U.S. could play that role because, he said, Washington lacks the will and the vision to pursue peace in the Middle East.

Talks between Syria and Israel broke down in 2000. Syria has demanded that Israel return the entire Golan Heights. Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Peres Happy with Israel's Nuclear Policy

By Israel Faxx News Services

Shimon Peres said he sees no reason for Israel to go public with its nuclear capabilities. The Israeli vice premier, who helped found the Dimona reactor a half-century ago, said Monday that the Jewish state's policy of "strategic ambiguity" over whether it has an atomic arsenal is a success.

"Look, we have not conducted nuclear tests. We never said we have nuclear weaponry. We made do with the suspicions that were directed at us, as a deterrent power. I think that this was the right decision. I think such calculations are still relevant," he told Army Radio.

Peres confirmed before an American Jewish audience in 2003 that Israel has nuclear weapons, but the admission was not considered official because Peres was not in government at the time.

With Iran seen as trying to developing nuclear weapons, some experts have speculated that Israel could go public with its own strategic capabilities to maintain deterrence.

Synagogue Planned For Temple Mount, Hashemites to Add Minaret


Knesset member Uri Ariel (National Union) is drawing up plans to construct a synagogue on the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. And Jordan's King Hussein plans to build a fifth minaret on the site as well.

The synagogue would be build upon the Temple Mount, but in an area that is indisputably not within the areas that require immersion and other preparations, according to Jewish law.

Ariel said that the synagogue would not change the Muslim status quo on the mount, which is home to the Al-Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. "This is not a new idea. It has been brought up and considered countless times since the [1967] Six Day War [during which the Temple Mount was liberated from Jordanian occupation –Ed.]."

The plan will be submitted to the Jerusalem municipality and the Committee for Design and Construction for approval. Ariel says that every aspect of the plan would be submitted to leading Torah scholars for approval.

The National Union MK, who visited the Temple Mount himself Monday, said that such a plan was an opportunity for the Muslim world to prove it is capable of rising above the violence and intolerance that have surfaced in the past year as a result of papal remarks and political cartoon portraying Islam's founder Muhammad. Referring to Ariel's visit to the holy site, MK Talab el-Sana (Ta'al) said the "provocation" would bring nothing but "war and bloodshed."

Ariel pointed out that every ruling by Israel's Supreme Court regarding the matter of the Temple Mount has recognized the right of every Jew to pray on the Temple Mount. "This is rectification of a historic injustice, much more than the transport to Israel of [Theodore] Herzl's children's bones [as was done recently, in accordance with his wishes Ed.].

"Since the destruction of the Holy Temple, the loss of our independence and the start of our exile and oppression during the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jewish presence at the site of our temple has always been an unmistakable symbol. The Romans, Byzantines and Crusaders expelled us and prevented Jews from entering Jerusalem, because they couldn't stand to allow the Jewish nation to serve its God at this holy site. This synagogue will not interfere with believing Muslims who wish to pray at the Al-Aksa Mosque. On the contrary, this is an opportunity for the Moslem world to demonstrate and prove that it is tolerant enough."

Meanwhile, Jordan's King Abdullah II has donated a huge carpet to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and has announced a contest to design a fifth minaret for the mosque. The existing minarets have been affixed with green neon lights in recent years, dominating the Jerusalem skyline. The planned minaret would be constructed along the eastern wall of the Temple Mount and would be clearly visible towering above the Western Wall. The project requires approval by the Israeli government before it can begin.

Ya'alon: Arab Propaganda Having an Impact Even in Israel


Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon believes that Arab propaganda against Israel's right to exist has found purchase even in Israeli society itself.

"Arab propaganda strengthens claims against the legitimacy of the existence of a Jewish State," Ya'alon said, "and, very unfortunately, these claims are even seeping into Israeli society, and among the Israeli youth who find themselves in a crisis of identity and of ignorance of the history of the Jewish people."

Ya'alon made the comments as part of his address to a conference of Beit Morasha of Jerusalem at the capital's Inbal Hotel.

The former military leader said that the State of Israel is in an ongoing struggle for its very existence and, despite its strength as a regional superpower, it is struggling in the international arena for the legitimacy to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Ya'alon continued, "Beyond military and economic strength, the key to Israeli national well-being is education to values and to a Jewish Zionist identity. Therefore, I have decided to take action in this area in the context of Beit Morasha and in collaboration with [its founder] Professor Binyamin Ish-Shalom, with whom I have worked since the days of my service as the chief of staff.... The establishment of the Center for Jewish Culture at Beit Morasha will allow us to act together for the promotion of value-based education and to address matters of identity, of Jewish culture, and issues of society and the state."

Founded in 1990, Beit Morasha of Jerusalem is dedicated to enhancing the Jewish and Zionist character of the State of Israel, according to its mission statement. Beit Morasha integrates intensive study of Talmud, Jewish Law and Jewish philosophy with formal academic studies aimed at all sectors of Israeli society.

In an address to the Zionist Organization of America in May of this year, General Ya'alon said: "In Israel, we must consolidate our Jewish Zionist narrative. Without believing in our case, there is no way to convince someone else."

High Court: State Must Plan for Flooding of Dead Sea Hotels

By Ha'aretz

The High Court of Justice has ordered the state to devise a timetable for a plan that would protect hotels near the Dead Sea from being flooded by rising water levels, it was revealed Tuesday.

The court made the ruling two weeks ago in response to a petition from area hotels detailing the development of reservoir problems since the establishment of the state. According to the attorney Gideon Fisher, the most imminent danger is the threat of flooding beneath the structural foundations of the hotels.

The hotels were established in the 1950s next to the Dead Sea factories' reservoirs. The excessive mineral production at these factories has caused water levels to rise in the reservoirs at a rate of 20 centimeters (51 inches) each year. Although this problem has been apparent for years, no permanent solution has been found.

At present, there are three options: building a new lagoon with walls that will prevent flooding of the reservoirs, removing the extra salt from the bottom of the reservoirs or demolishing all hotels on the Dead Sea shore and rebuilding them in alternative locations.

Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog was appointed three weeks ago to launch a steering committee charged with presenting the most advisable solution to the government.

The Supreme Court judges wrote in their ruling, "There is no doubt that there is an urgent need to act on the hotels' petition."

Hotel owners said they hope the court's ruling would push the government to act urgently to find a solution before further damage is done.

Polish Study Confirms Nazis Made Soap from Human Bodies


Poland's Nazi German occupiers used "substances" from the bodies of concentration camp prisoners to make soap, a study carried out by Poland's National Remembrance Institute (IPN) to counter the arguments of negationists showed Friday.

"We have determined that, without the shadow of a doubt, soap was produced using substances obtained from human bodies at the anatomical institute of the Medical Academy of Danzig, led by Professor Rudolf Spanner," Paulina Szumera of the IPN told AFP. Danzig is the German name for the Polish city of Gdansk.

"We launched our investigation to still the voices denying that this ever happened," she said.

For the IPN probe, Polish scientists studied a bar of soap that was presented as evidence during the Nuremberg Nazi war crime trials after World War II, which was in the archives of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Szumera said.

Polish television station TVN24 cited IPN investigators as saying the bodies of prisoners at the Nazi concentration camp of Stutthof, in northern Poland, and at Gdansk municipal jail was used to make the soap. The bodies of patients at a psychiatric hospital in Gdansk were also used, the investigators told TVN24.

Several dozen kilograms of soap were produced by the Nazis in Gdansk and used to clean Spanner's laboratory work surfaces, the IPN said. Almond extract was added to the soap to give it a palatable scent. Soaps are usually made from fats and oils that react with lye (sodium hydroxide).

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