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Olmert Big 'Bad Hit' on Google


Enter the words "miserable failure" on Google and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert comes up as a big winner, just behind President George W. Bush. When the words are written in Hebrew the Prime Minister is the winner hands down, the target of a 'Google bomb" by Internet users. Readers are greeted with Prime Minister's biography when his name comes up.

Gingrich: Israel Faces Nuclear Holocaust


The Israeli people are facing the threat of a nuclear Holocaust, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich warned the Herzliya Conference held by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, he said, the United States could lose a few million people or a number of cities to a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction. Gingrich, who addressed the conference via satellite from the United States, said he thought Israel's existence was under threat again for the first time in 40 years.

"Israel is in the greatest danger it has been in since 1967. Prior to '67, many wondered if Israel would survive. After '67, Israel seemed military dominant, despite the '73 war. I would say we are (now) back to question of survival," Gingrich said.

He added that the United States could "lose two or three cities to nuclear weapons, or more than a million to biological weapons." Gingrich added that in such a scenario, "freedom as we know it will disappear, and we will become a much grimmer, much more militarized, dictatorial society."

"Three nuclear weapons are a second Holocaust," Gingrich declared, adding: "People are greatly underestimating how dangerous the world is becoming. I'll repeat it; three nuclear weapons are a second Holocaust. Our enemies are quite explicit in their desire to destroy us. They say it publicly? We are sleepwalking through this process as though it's only a problem of communication."

The former House speaker expressed concern that the Israeli and American political establishments were not fully equipped to take stock of the current threat level. "Our enemies are fully as determined as Nazi Germany, and more determined that the Soviets. Our enemies will kill us the first chance they get. There is no rational ability to deny that fact. It's very clear that the problems are larger and more immediate than the political systems in Israel or the US are currently capable of dealing with," said Gingrich.

"We don't have right language, goals, structure, or operating speed, to defeat our enemies. My hope is that being this candid and direct, I could open a dialogue that will force people to come to grips with how serious this is, how real it is, how much we are threatened. If that fails, at least we will be intellectually prepared for the correct results once we have lost one or more cities," Gingrich added.

He also said "citizens who do not wake up every morning and think about the possible catastrophic civilian casualties are deluding themselves. If we knew that tomorrow morning we would lose Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, what we would to stop it? If we knew we would tomorrow lose Boston, San Francisco, or Atlanta, what would we do? Today, those threats are probably one, two, five years away? Although you can't be certain when our enemies will break out," he warned.

Israel's President to Be Indicted on Rape Charges

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Attorney General Meni Mazus said he plans to indict President Moshe Katsav, Israel's ceremonial head of state, on charges of rape and abuse of power.

Mazus said he has notified Katsav that he will be indicted on charges of rape and other crimes against female employees of the president's office. Israeli legal procedures allow the president one opportunity to present his case at a hearing before a formal indictment is issued.

The charges, some of the most serious ever faced by an Israeli politician, stem from complaints made by at least four women who worked for Katsav. Police said the charges are based on interviews with at least 10 women.

Shelly Yachimovich, a Labor Party member of Israel's Knesset, told Israel's Channel Eleven news that the President should step down immediately. Yachimovich said if Katsav did not immediately resign he should be impeached.

Katsav, who is a member of the right-of-center Likud Party, enjoys presidential immunity from prosecution and can only be tried in criminal court if he resigns, is impeached, or after his term ends, which will happen later this year.

He has vigorously denied the charges, saying he is innocent and is being framed for things that never happened. Family members said he is being blackmailed by a former female employee who worked in the president's office.

Katsav began his seven-year term as Israel's president in 2000, replacing Ezer Weizman who had resigned just before his term ended. Weizman was implicated, but never charged, in a case where he was alleged to have received more than $300,000 in gifts from a wealthy French businessman.

Hospitals to Test 2,000 Former Patients of Surgeon with AIDS

By Ha'aretz

Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital has called in roughly 1,000 former patients for blood tests, after final tests confirmed on Tuesday that a senior heart surgeon at the hospital has contracted AIDS.

The patients, who were all operated on by the surgeon during his six years at the hospital, will be brought in starting Wednesday morning in order to rule out the possibility that they contracted AIDS from the doctor.

The surgeon also worked at several other hospitals: Carmel Medical Center and Horev Medical Center in Haifa and Herzliya Medical Center. Some 1,000 other patients are believed to have been operated on by the surgeon at the private hospitals, and will also be called in for tests.

Ichilov Hospital has set up a special hotline at 03-6974058 for questions and coordination of blood tests. The hotline will be open until 8 P.M. The hospital refused on Tuesday to publish the name of the surgeon, in order to protect his personal privacy.

According to the Health Ministry, "The chances that the surgeon infected one of his patients are extremely low. According to international scientific literature as well as the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the chances of infection are between 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 400,000."

"Generally the risk is opposite, and most of the instances involve the patient infecting the surgeon," the ministry added.

Carter Answers Questions About New Book

By The and

Former President Jimmy Carter spoke at Brandeis University Tuesday, answering questions about his new book on Middle East politics. The book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," has angered many members of the Jewish community, who said that they feel it is biased against Israel.

Carter received a standing ovation following his remarks. Earlier in the day, a group gathered outside the university to protest the book. "The point that he is trying to make by putting apartheid on the title is to try to associate Israel with apartheid," critic Gilead Ini said. "This is not an apartheid state. If you want an apartheid state you should look at the Palestinian territories where if a Jewish person walks through they are going to get killed," critic Eric Miller said.

"I believe it has brought the issue of a lack of progress on peace for Israel and a lack of progress on the end of the Palestinian suffering to the forefront of the American conscious," Carter said, adding that. criticism has been vicious more so than any political campaign. "This is the first time that I've ever been called a liar and a bigot and an anti-Semite and a coward," Carter said.

A question-and-answer session following Carter's speech was tightly controlled, with Carter only having to answer questions prescreened by the committee that invited him, college officials said.

It was agreed that the controversial former president would only have to answer 15 questions, with no follow-ups allowed, said school official Gordon Fellman.

Brandeis has Jewish and Zionist groups on campus that had planned to grill Carter. Among those banned from the meeting is Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, who will not be allowed to enter the hall, Brandeis officials said. Carter was originally invited to Brandeis on the condition that he debate Dershowtiz, who has been a leading critic of the book. But Carter said he would only visit the campus without conditions.

Many Brandeis students — half of whom are Jewish — and faculty criticized the session. "I think the format they've chosen is outrageous," said Morton Keller, an emeritus history professor at the school. "It's like a Soviet press conference," he said, adding that he was speaking for many at Brandeis.

Birthright Israel Tours Pose Jewish Identity Questions for IDF Troops

By Ha'aretz

Almost 4,000 Israel Defense Forces soldiers took part last year in Taglit-Birthright trips to Israel for Jewish young people from abroad.

The number of soldiers, who spend five days or more with the group, has increased tenfold in recent years. The IDF says there is a huge demand from soldiers to join the tours, and units vie for the limited number of places available.

Taglit-Birthright Israel is designed for young Jews who have never been to the Jewish State to see the country at no cost and to engender a new relationship between them and Israel. How participation in the trips impacts the soldiers is not clear-cut.

Lotem and Sharon, who asked that their last names not be used, are among 12 soldiers who accompanied a group of 27 Birthright Israel participants from Canada on a program called "Taglit Extreme," a 10-day trip that, in addition to touring Jerusalem, features a dance workshop, an archaeological dig, hospitality in a Bedouin tent, camel riding, and clubbing.

The soldiers said in addition to the experiences they had, the program got them thinking about their Jewish identity. Sharon said after the visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, he thought for the first time about the importance of the existence of a Jewish state.

Lotem said she was insulted when she heard from some of the Canadian participants that said they came "just because it was free," and she therefore felt she had a role to play in explaining Israel.

"I believe the visit changed their view of Israel. From my point of view, the program led me to understand that I am serving in the IDF for the Jews who don't live here. I never thought about that before," she said.

The tour in which the two soldiers took part also featured a night trek in the desert. "It was pretty scary," Aaron Vincent-Elkaiam, 27, from Winnepeg, said. "I was sure somebody was going to get hurt, but looking back it was the most powerful thing on the tour." Vincent-Elkaiam said that before the visit, he thought Israeli soldiers were "killers and not intelligent," But he found out "they were surprisingly intelligent and with a lot of self-confidence, and they are given a lot of power and responsibility, even though they are very young."

Vincent-Elkaiam said the soldiers helped him understand the Israeli perspective of the conflict with the Palestinians.

Some of his Canadian friends were angry the Palestinian viewpoint had not been presented, he said. "I didn't feel like I was being brainwashed, but in the future I would like to hear the Palestinian side, too," he added.

Before meeting the group, the soldiers who are to join the tours take a preparatory workshop at the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv to help bridge possible gaps in mentality.

One of the Taglit counselors, Doron Ezra, said, "We ask the soldiers to avoid racist or chauvinist jokes and not to be too buddy-buddy. We also teach basic concepts of Jewish life in the U.S. For example, at least 60 percent of the soldiers don't know about Reform Judaism or that women and gays can become rabbis."

The soldiers are not required to be in uniform after the first meeting with the group and they can have almost unlimited fun, but are asked to avoid wild behavior like drinking contests with the guests. According to Ezra, "there are soldiers who come just for the fun and ignore the other participants. When we identify such soldiers, we send them back to their bases."

Maj. Gen. Elazar Stern, head of human resources in the IDF, said that from his point of view, "this is an excellent educational program we are getting for free."

Although Taglit is particularly proud of the participation of soldiers from elite units in the tours, Stern is not in favor of any preference for them, and supports the participation of non-Jewish soldiers in the trips as well.

A cursory check by the IDF department of behavioral sciences of 450 soldiers and officers who took part in the Taglit tours found that more than 90 percent were satisfied with the experience. However, the impact of their participation on the Jewish identity of the program has not been seriously studied.

Prof. Leonard Saxe of Brandeis University, who studied the effect of the encounters between the soldiers and the Jewish young people, said they are a "critical component" of the program.

He was surprised that the relationships between the soldiers and the Taglit participants from abroad were so good, considering that they come from two different worlds.

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