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Hamas Makes it Clear It Never Will Recognize Israel


Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told the Hizbullah-run Al Manar television station that Hamas never will recognize Israel.

"Hamas will never show flexibility over the issue of recognizing the legitimacy of the occupation," Haniyeh said. His remarks came several days after Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal stated that the existence of Israel is a "matter fact."

Earlier this week, visiting American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a proposed Hamas-Fatah unity government would not be considered legitimate if it did not recognize Israel and renounce terror.

Google Earth Map Marks Temple Mount as Palestinian


While Jerusalem serves as Israel's capital, and the Temple Mount is located within Israeli sovereignty, the popular satellite map program Google Earth divides the city and places the Mount – Judaism's holiest site – within Palestinian territory.

Interactive Google Earth maps mark eastern sections of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as "occupied territory," set to become part of a future Palestinian state.

Google Earth officials stated it demarcates its maps according to international standards, but no Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – even the failed Camp David final-status negotiations in 2000 – ever placed the Temple Mount within Palestinian territory.

The United Nations considers eastern sections of Jerusalem, recaptured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, to be "disputed." The Israeli Knesset officially annexed the entire city of Jerusalem as its capital in 1980. "Google Earth is reinforcing lies," Rabbi Chaim Rechman, director of the international department at Israel's Temple Institute, told WND.

"The Muslims have engaged in a systemic campaign to re-write history and erase any traces of Judaism from the Temple Mount in total disregard to all actual archeological and historic evidence," he continued." Now Google Earth has given in to this campaign."

Jerusalem first was divided into eastern and western sections when Jordan invaded and occupied the city and the Temple Mount area in 1947, expelling all Jewish inhabitants. Israel originally built its capital in the western part of the city, while the eastern quarters remained under Jordanian control until Israel regained them in 1967.

Google Earth does not limit its input in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Jerusalem alone. The Gaza Strip is labeled by Google Earth as "Israeli occupied," even though the Jewish state withdrew from Gaza in August 2005., a UK-based Jewish website, pointed out an interactive Google Earth map of an Israeli community in the northern West Bank features integrated user comments implying Jews are stealing water from neighboring Palestinians.

A posting on a Google map next to the town of Kiryat Arba, near the ancient city of Hebron, states: "Note the well-tended lawns in a region deprived of water. The principal reason for the water shortage is an unfair distribution of water resources shared by Israel and the Palestinians."

The posting decries Israel's purported water-confiscation practices as "illegal" and "racist," even though dozens of major Israeli aquifers, many run by the Jewish National Fund, purify water running through Palestinian cities and return the cleaned water to the Palestinian towns.

Google Earth is also accused of showing falsified images. Visitors to Google Earth who click on an area just outside Jerusalem can view a computer-generated image claiming to depict an Israeli missile factory. Israeli defense officials told WND the "missile factory" is a fabrication.

Google Earth could not immediately be reached for comment since its corporate offices were closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

A Google spokeswoman previously told comments and pictures on satellite maps can be switched off if visitors don't want to see them. She said the company would investigate the offending postings.

Referring to Google erroneously labeling the Gaza Strip as occupied, the spokeswoman said, "Borders and place names are not always updated straightaway. Occasionally there are discrepancies. We are happy to receive feedback and will pass it on to the Google Earth team and take the necessary steps."

Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, accused Google Earth of encouraging terrorism. "When the Arab terrorists see Google Earth's falsification of geographic realities, they will be appeased and encouraged because these kinds of lying maps send the message that their disinformation campaigns and their terrorism work," Klein told WND.

Indeed, Abu Nasser, second-in-command of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, said he was "thrilled" by Google Earth's depictions. "Congratulations to Google Earth," Abu Nasser told WND.

"We congratulate Google and the American people in making this very important change in the Middle East. The Al Aqsa Mosque (located on the Temple Mount) is part of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem is part of Palestine. If such a big institution like Google corrected these historical mistakes on maps, maybe we can bring about a change in the depictions of Palestine by the American media, which is controlled by the Zionists."

According to Abu Nasser, whose terror group says it is trying to liberate the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Jewish Temple "never existed. At least not on the area Jews now call the Temple Mount.," he said. "Maybe a Temple existed somewhere, but not in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount exists only in the imaginations of the Jews and Americans."

Abu Nasser's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the declared "military wing" of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. The Brigades, together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed U.S. teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis.

Israel's State Prosecutor Orders Criminal Investigation of Prime Minister Olmert By VOA News

Israel's justice ministry said it ordered a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's role in the sale of an Israeli bank two years ago.

Media reports said police would question Olmert about allegations that he tried to help two friends buy Bank Leumi, one of Israel's largest financial institutions, which was going private. The friends were unsuccessful in their bids.

Israeli media have said police might also want to question Olmert about another case involving appointments he made to a business authority when he was industry minister in 2004.

The investigation announced Tuesday is the latest involving the prime minister. The state comptroller has already investigated Olmert's real estate dealings but has found no wrongdoing. Recently Olmert's personal secretary, Shula Zaken, was placed under house arrest as part of a corruption probe.

Israel Says Government Was Not Involved in Talks with Syria

By VOA News

Israel's prime minister said government officials were not involved in reported unofficial negotiations with Syria that produced what some hope could form the basis of a peace deal.

Commenting Tuesday on a story in Ha'aretz, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the talks were a private initiative. He said an American citizen involved in the meetings is "an eccentric." Syria has denied that negotiations took place.

The Israeli newspaper said a researcher at the U.S. Foundation for Middle East Peace, Geoffrey Aronson, was involved in the talks, which included a former director general of Israel's foreign ministry, Alon Liel. The newspaper said the Syrians were represented by Ibrahim Suleiman - also American.

The paper reported that the meetings were held between 2004 and 2006, and that they produced a document calling for an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights. Ha'aretz said the Israeli and Syrian governments were kept informed about the talks.

Spokesmen for Olmert said the government was not aware of the secret meetings until Tuesday. Ha'aretz said the talks took place when Ariel Sharon was prime minister and, afterwards, when Olmert took over. The newspaper said the talks ended in August 2006.

Israel captured the Golan Heights during the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the strategic plateau. Official peace talks between Israel and Syria broke down in 2000.

Anti-Semitism Threatens Germany's Jewish Life

By Reuters

The first rabbi to be ordained in Germany since the Holocaust is so worried about being identified as a Jew that he often wears a baseball hat over his skull cap.

"It's a fact -- it isn't smart to display I'm Jewish. This is a problem and we have to face it," German-born Daniel Alter, 47, told Reuters in an interview.

He is worried about neo-Nazi attacks and says anti-Semitism in Germany -- still tortured by memories of the Holocaust in which Nazis wiped out 6 million Jews -- puts the growth of Jewish communities here at risk.

As a Jew he feels unsafe in several German cities, not all in former communist East Germany where the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) has made electoral gains recently. Alter, whose father survived Auschwitz concentration camp, dismissed talk in the German media of a possible blossoming of Jewish life in Germany.

Jewish schools, theatres and shops have sprung up but Germany's Jewish communities will never compare to those in Britain or the United States, said Alter, who serves in the northern towns of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst. "We are building something on the ruins, on the scars left behind but it'll be something different," he said. "I don't think there is any way to bring back the Jewish life and culture we had here. Ever."

That Germany has about four times as many Jews as it did 15 years ago is due to immigrants from the former Soviet Union who account for most of the 105,000 registered Jews, he said.

The rabbi does not expect the number of Jews in Germany to increase much and says anti-Semitism is a factor. "If anti-Semitism grows, people might leave," he said.

The number of far-right offenses in Germany, many of which were anti-Semitic, jumped 20 percent in the first eight months of 2006, according to the latest available police data.

Last year activists burned Holocaust victim Anne Frank's diaries and made a teenager wear a sign saying he was a Jew. Many Jewish establishments have police guards and a German all-Jewish football team suffers weekly abuse.

The latest figures prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel this weekend to condemn the rise in right-wing violence and urge Germans to fight it.

But Alter is not interested in statistics. "I go on how I feel. I might have felt safer 20 years ago. Now the right-wingers dare to claim the streets. There is racism and anti-Jewish sentiment all over the world but I have the impression that societies in other countries deal with it differently. We would feel better if German society changed its approach."

He said society had to show it does not tolerate right-wing extremism and a ban of the NPD could send a signal. Germany already has tough laws against offenses such as Holocaust denial and using the Nazi swastika symbol.

The NPD, whose followers have praised some Nazi policies, has seats in three state parliaments and 9,000 members. The NPD said it is a democratic, law-abiding party. Some politicians are pushing again for a ban after an attempt failed in 2003 as some of the testimony came from government informants in the party. Banning parties, however, is a sensitive subject in Germany which has emphasized tolerance and freedom of speech since 1945.

Alter, born in south Germany, taught at a Jewish school before training at Germany's first rabbi college in Potsdam.

He was ordained in Dresden in September along with two others, one was Czech-born and one who returned to South Africa.

They were the first rabbis to be ordained in Germany since 1942 when the College of Jewish Studies in Berlin was destroyed by the Gestapo, the Nazi's dreaded secret police. Before September, Germany had to import its roughly 25 rabbis who served 100 congregations.

Alter's work involves pastoral care in his communities, which are overwhelmingly Russian, leading services and conducting religious ceremonies -- mainly funerals, he said, noting that how before the 1930s, Germany's 600,000 Jews identified with the country they had lived in for generations and supplied some of its greatest minds.

"Jewish cultural heritage was part of German cultural heritage and Jewish people were German patriots -- soldiers who fell in World War I didn't imagine what would happen later."

His parents cannot talk about the Holocaust and Alter's bond with Germany is complex. "Would you identify with a country where much of your family and culture had been wiped out? My dream in the long run is to live in Jerusalem."

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