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Al-Arabiya Offices in Gaza Damaged by Blast

By VOA News

Palestinian witnesses say a large explosion damaged the Gaza offices of an Arabic satellite television network. No one was injured in the blast.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion or who was responsible for it. The blast damaged the door and interior walls of the offices of Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television.

Officials from the Hamas-led Palestinian government condemned the attack. Hamas has recently criticized Al-Arabiya for broadcasting comments by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh that the group says were taken out of context.

UK Newspaper: Livni Touted To Replace Olmert


Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is being touted to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose government is on the "brink of collapse," the London Telegraph said. The paper called Foreign Minister Livni a "loner."

Meretz leader Knesset Member Yossi Beilin already has called for the Prime Minister to step down in favor of the Foreign Minister, who is Olmert's second-in-command. Livni worked for the Mossad before becoming a lawyer and then entering politics as a Likud member. She joined the stampede to the fledgling Kadima party last year.

Experts at Herzliya Conference Warn of Global Jihad


Two Islam experts warned participants at the Herzliya Conference on Monday that global jihad is on the rise -- and should be taken seriously.

Islamic expert and historian Bernard Lewis spoke back-to-back with former CIA director James Woolsey at the conference, sounding the alarm on the global Jihad and dismissing the concept of a Palestinian state.

"In the self-perception of the Muslim world, their primary identity is to deliver Islam to the world – to not keep it selflessly to themselves but to give it to mankind," explained Lewis, adding that the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 signified the first major victory in the global Islamic push toward that goal.

"There are competing leaders to take this fight ahead," he said. "The Sunni Wahabi cause is represented by bin Laden. Another is the Shi'ite version, which began with the first Iranian revolution, and the second Iranian revolution, taking place at this moment. The whole Arab and Muslim world is experiencing the second stage of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

"I have been told by Iranian friends that Ahmadinejad is indeed crazy, but not stupid," Lewis warned. "He really believes in the end of days that he is heralding. There is a widespread belief among Shi'ites that that time has come. Mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent to Ahmadinejad, but an inducement."

James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, summarized several opinions that were expressed, lauding UN sanctions, negotiations and the state of the world. "I do not represent a majority view – but on all of these points I beg to differ," he said.

Woolsey proceeded to lament the fate of Europe, which he sees as already having been compromised in what he calls World War IV – the third having been the Cold War. "I wish we had a partnership with Europe, but I am afraid it is deteriorating," he explained. "Europe is accommodating Sharia (Islamic law) and becoming increasingly affected by the Muslim demographics in their countries."

Woolsey said he sees no distinction between the Islamic onslaught in Israel, Iraq or elsewhere. He compared the war against Islamism with that against Nazism and communism.

As a former director of the world's largest intelligence agency, Woolsey dismissed claims by Iran and its apologists that the Islamic Republic seeks nuclear capability for peaceful means.

"With its huge oil and natural gas reserves, Iran is not the least bit interested in nuclear power," he said. "And negotiation with a movement that defines itself by its goal of the destruction of Israel and the United States is like trying to persuade Hitler to give up anti-Semitism."

Woolsey displayed in-depth knowledge of the various theological movements and streams vying for the soul of the Islamic world. "The Ujutiya – end of time – movement represents a major part of Iranian politics today," he warned. "If we look at it like a chess game, the nuclear bomb is the queen."

Woolsey, like Lewis, warned that the Iranian Shi'ite sect is not the only threat posed by Islam. "In 1979, with the seizure of the great mosque in Mecca and the rise to power of a Shi'ite theocracy in Iran, a rise in Wahabi-ism took place as well. This was funded largely by the increase in the price of oil. Today, little boys are taught to want to be suicide bombers both in Pakistani madrassas and in the West Bank with Wahabi oil money."

Woolsey said that those warning against Islam's push to establish Islamic law across the globe are accused of being Islamophobic. "We are not Islamaphobes," he said, "but we are theocraphobic.

"We, Jews, Christian and others are inheritors of the rule of law," he said. "Democracy without the rule of law is a mob and capitalism without democracy is theft. Jefferson said, and it is printed on his memorial: `I have sworn on the altar of Almighty God eternal hostility toward every form of tyranny over the mind of man.' "

Asked what role he saw the media playing in the current global plight, Woolsey had harsh criticism for most journalists' inability to classify religious believers as anything but crazy.

"The media on the whole and certainly in the US is not interested in ideology and does not take it seriously. They tend to think anybody who is religiously motivated about his views is crazy – whether religious Christians, Muslims or Jews. And that is a problem, because you can be absolutely crazy about your objectives and extremely shrewd about your implementation. I think our media on the whole is very ostrich-like on this issue."

Woolsey outlined scenarios in which Iranians, who have changed their government through general strike thrice in the 20th century, could preclude an attack by replacing their regime – but said that it should not be counted upon.

"We should be prepared for the fact that if an attack is necessary, it must take place when we are as certain as we can be that they do not yet have a nuclear weapon. The problem is that North Korea's primary exports today are counterfeit American money, heroin and ballistic missile technology. I see no reason why Kim Jong won't ship off a couple kilograms of nuclear material. So we are living with the daily threat that Iran could go nuclear."

Woolsey again entered the conversation enthusiastically after a questioner addressed former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon, berating him for dismissing a two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state as jeopardizing Israel's relationship with the U.S.

"If I could just respond here," Woolsey commented, "Insofar as the U.S. government is pressuring Israel to negotiate with a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority – the United States is simply wrong."

Following applause, Woolsey went even further, suggesting that a PA state should not be on the table until the generation of youth raised on Wahabi-funded suicide-bomber ideology has been taught otherwise and the PA can be held to the same standards as an Israel with one million Arab citizens.

"If Palestinians were held to the same standards as the Israelis, then there could be not only 250,000, but 500,000 Jews living freely wherever they want in the West Bank – in Hebron and elsewhere. Once that is the case – when Palestinians are held by the same standards – then there might be some progress toward working toward permanent borders."

Following the morning session which questioned the prudence of further withdrawals and the creation of a PA state, Defense Minister Amir Peretz outlined his willingness to negotiate with Hamas and carry out further unilateral destruction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Peretz had not been present during the morning sessions and declined to take questions following his address.

Lunch was presided over by Shimon Peres, who assured participants that the "prophets of doom" have sounded alarms before and said that Israel has survived much harder times. "Israel will not fall," he declared, following several jokes. "Ahmadinejad will fall."

Brandeis Blocks Demme from Filming Carter Israel Faxx News Services

Jonathan Demme said he is willing to face arrest to film former President Jimmy Carter confronting Jewish critics at Brandeis University. Demme, who won an Oscar in 1992 for "Silence of the Lambs," is filming a documentary about Carter titled "He Comes in Peace."

Carter is to appear Tuesday at Brandeis, a Jewish-founded university in the Boston area, to answer questions about his book, "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," which alleges that Israel has set up a de facto apartheid system for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Brandeis turned down Demme's request to film the session, saying it could accommodate news crews but not a documentary team. "I plan on getting as far as I can until I'm utterly prevented from going any farther," Demme told The Associated Press.

"Brandeis is a character in our movie. Our film leads to Brandeis. We plan on accompanying him to Brandeis. I hope to not get arrested. What I need to do is get as close as I can."

Carter claims that U.S. Jews stifle honest debate about the Middle East, but he agreed to appear at Brandeis only after receiving assurances that he would not have to debate Alan Dershowitz, a critic of Carter's book.

Christian Missionaries Broadcasting on Israeli Cable


Christian missionary groups, which are prohibited from trying to convert Jews, are using cable TV to spread their message. The YES system transmits New Testament messages daily, and the HOT system makes them available on request via the Daystar Channel.

The Council for Cable Television said it would investigate the reports and stated that there are clear guidelines concerning religious programs. Jerusalem anti-missionary activist Mina Fenton charged that the programs represent a "corruption of Jewish morals."

Mass Jewish Wedding in Havana

By Reuters

Salomon Mitrani sat through his wedding ceremony. After all, at 84-years-old he finds it hard to stand. By Cuban law, he has been married to his wife, Pilar, for 55 years, and they have eight grandchildren. But, in a ceremony last week, he was finally getting married under a chuppah (canopy) according to Jewish custom.

It was no ordinary ceremony. Twenty other couples of all ages took their marriage vows in a ritual officiated by three visiting Argentine rabbis. The grooms smashed their wine glasses underfoot as a cantor sang age-old blessings in Hebrew.

It was the largest wedding that members of Cuba's depleted Jewish community can remember and a sign of a revival of Judaism in a country where there has been no resident rabbi since an exodus of Jews fleeing President Fidel Castro's communist government in the early 1960s.

"I've always felt Jewish. I went to fight for Israel's independence in 1948," said Mitrani, a painter and sculptor whose parents, Sephardic Jews, immigrated to Cuba in 1913 from Turkey.

The mass nuptials at the restored Conservative Beth Shalom synagogue, the largest of three in Havana, were preceded by 70 conversions, including whole families, dozens of young Cubans, and Mitrani's wife Pilar, 75.

"I wanted to have a Jewish family like my forefathers. The family is vital to maintain our customs and perpetuate the values of the Torah," said Alberto Behar, a computer analyst who like his wife Caridad Morales, had converted for the wedding.

Cuba has a mix of Sephardic Jews, who came mainly from Turkey and the Balkans before World War One, and Ashkenazi Jews who escaped turmoil in Eastern Europe, mostly Poland and Russia. As many as 25,000 refugees from Nazi persecution arrived in the 1930s en route to the United States. Refused entry due to U.S. immigration quotas, they landed in what became known as "Hotel Cuba."

When Castro took power in 1959, there was a flourishing and prosperous Jewish community of 15,000 in Cuba. However, within a few years, as the new government nationalized businesses and steered Cuba toward communism, 90 percent of them left for Florida, Mexico, Venezuela and Israel.

Cuba became an atheist state and the synagogues emptied. Congregations fell below the quorum for prayer ceremonies as Jews that stayed assimilated into the new status quo, stopped teaching their children Hebrew and lost their customs.

Years of isolation followed. Castro broke off diplomatic ties with Israel in 1974 following the Yom Kippur war. "They were difficult years, but Jews are used to being persistent in the face of adversity," said Simon Goldsztein, a 69-year-old groom wearing a tallit. "That has been our history."

Things changed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Cuba struggled to survive a severe economic crisis. Cuba became a secular state and allowed religious worship even by card-carrying Communist Party members.

Impoverished Cuban Jews began to receive aid from abroad, especially the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which has helped rebuild a community of 1,500 people. Community leaders say their numbers have doubled, but many young Cuban Jews have immigrated to Israel.

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