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New Historical Maps Available on Internet

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem have launched a new web site featuring 1,100 maps of Israel dating from the 15th century to the 20th century.

Several maps trace the route of the Exodus and the division of the land among the 12 Tribes of Israel. The collection of ancient maps on the site (http://www.jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/maps/pal/html) is part of a much larger collection that includes ancient maps of the world, early printed atlases and travel books.


Olmert: Nuclear Attack Not Imminent

By YnetNews.com

An Iranian nuclear attack on Israel is not an imminent threat, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Herzliya Conference Wednesday evening.

In his most detailed speech on Iran, Olmert said: "I'm going to give you a situation analysis on the Iranian threat. There is not one among us that does not feel the threat, which is not only against Israel, but also against the whole region.

"There is no near threat of a nuclear attack on Israel," Olmert said. "At the stage we are in, there is still time - though not unlimited amounts, to stop Iran from going nuclear... We are not apathetic. We can't afford to be apathetic. We are addressing the Iranian threat."

According to the British Daily Telegraph, North Korea will help Iran to develop a nuclear program. North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test last October, will provide Iran with the results. According to the report, Iran hopes to conduct a similar test by the end of 2007.

Iran and North Korea have shared weapons technology for years, and Iranian officials are often present at North Korean experiments involving missile-launching technology. Military sources worry that North Korea's relatively advanced scientific knowledge could accelerate Iran's nuclear development process.

Iranian officials continue to deny accusations that they are developing nuclear weapons, and insist that they seek nuclear power solely for purposes of providing energy. At the same time, Iran refuses to allow nuclear inspectors into the country, and recently turned away 38 international inspectors who came to investigate the country's nuclear plants.

Olmert discussed options which were being prepared "in case these diplomatic efforts don't help," adding: "The central goal, we must realize, is ahead of us. For years, we have been monitoring Iran's efforts to gain nuclear weapons, under the guise of a civil energy program.

"The Jewish nation is scarred with the Holocaust, and won't allow itself to again face a threat to its existence. In the past, the world was silent, and the outcome is known. Our role is to refrain from making this mistake again," he declared.

"When the leader of state publicly announces his intentions to wipe a country off the map, and is busy creating the weapons to do so… we must act with all force against the plot," Olmert added.

"We have nothing against Iranian people. We are not the enemy of the Iranian people, Olmert said. "Our desire for peace should not be seen as weakness but source of strength. Those who threaten our existence, (should know) we have the ability to defend ourselves. We won't endanger the lives of our nation. We have the right to fully act to defend our vital interests. We won't hesitate to act. No one should confuse our restraint with hesitancy to act.

"There is no force in the world that can destroy us, and neither will there be one. We refuse to be dragged into atmosphere of fear. We have much strength and nothing to fear, and we won't fear. We can stand against nuclear threats, and thwart them," the prime minister stated.

Olmert noted Iran's support for Palestinian terrorism, terrorism in Iraq, Hizbullah, and Hamas, the latter "showing to many the severity of the Iranian threat." He called for a united front against Tehran to include the UN and Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Discussing his recent trip to China, Olmert said "the Iranian threat was a top priority and central to all meetings. There was unequivocal agreement that Iran can't be allowed to have nuclear weapons, or the materials needed to make them."

"It's clear to everyone that a diplomatic solution to the Iranian issue is preferred," Olmert said. "It's the solution preferred by us… Whoever believes that the diplomatic solution is preferable must now start pressuring Iran…"


Katzav in Impassioned Speech: I am Being Lynched

By IsraelNationalNews.com & VOA News

President Moshe Katzav held an impassioned press conference in Beit Hanasi in Jerusalem Wednesday, defending himself against charges of sexual misconduct.

Katzav tore into Israel's media and police in the news conference, accusing them of collaborating in a lynch against him and a campaign of brainwashing.

Katzav claimed that Beit Hanasi's legal advisor has been in hospital for four months as a result of the police's questioning. He said the police threatened a Haredi woman who wished to testify in his favor, and said police told another witness who wished to testify in his favor: "Watch out for your family."

Katzav claims Attorney General Menachem Mazuz unfairly influenced the investigation against him when he said to the media at an early stage of the investigation that he believed Katzav was lying. The president accused the media and police of violating "every tenet of natural justice," and claimed the women accusing him of misconduct did it out of vengefulness and to defend themselves against charges of blackmail.

"What you see here is a volcanic outpouring. It was not part of his (prepared) speech," said Katzav's lawyer, Tzion Amir. "It is the boiling lava; it is coming straight from his heart."

"It's all coming out now, all the bad feelings," said a confidante. "I'm not surprised by it at all. On the contrary, I expected it to happen. The President kept getting bashed over and one day he just exploded."

Katsav, who is facing indictment on rape and other charges, said he would ask Israel's parliament to allow him to temporarily step down from his ceremonial post, and will immediately resign his position if formal charges of rape and abuse of power are brought against him. But pressure is mounting on Katsav to immediately resign.

Attorney General Mazuz said he has the evidence to indict Katsav and could bring further charges - such as obstruction of justice and receiving illegal gifts at a later date. The charges are based on complaints made by four women who worked for the veteran politician.

Under Israeli law Katsav is allowed one opportunity to present his case at a hearing before a formal indictment is issued. Israel's president enjoys immunity from prosecution and can only be tried in criminal court if he resigns, if he is impeached by three-quarters of Israel's Knesset or after his seven-year term ends later this year.

Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said he should resign, because Katsav could not fulfill his official duties under the present circumstances. But earlier in the day, Tzipi Livni, who is Israel's foreign and justice minister, said Katsav should be presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty, but he should not fight his case from the president's office.

Mr. Katsav is a longtime member of the right-of-center Likud Party who began his term in 2000. Left-wing members of Israel's parliament said they have the necessary 20 votes required to bring impeachment charges. Ninety votes are needed to remove him from office.

The charges are the most serious ever faced by an Israeli politician. If he is convicted in a criminal court, Katsav could face more than 20 years in prison.

In a related story, Education Minister Yuli Tamir (Labor) said she is considering ordering schools to takedown pictures of Katzav. Pictures of the President are on the walls in government and IDF offices and in schools. Teachers also have been instructed to discuss with their students the indictments against the President.


Blood Banks to Accept Donations from Ethiopian Immigrants

By Ha'aretz

The health ministry announced on Wednesday that blood donations would be accepted from anyone born in Israel, including Israeli-born Ethiopians. Until now, blood donated by Ethiopians was discarded due to concern for disease in light of the alarming incidence of AIDS and HIV in Ethiopia.

The health ministry announced its decision during a meeting between Health Minister Yaacov Ben Izri (Pensioners) and an organization advocating the rights of Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

The chairman of Magen David Adom emergency medical service, Prof. Ayelet Shenar, said Wednesday that the regulations regarding blood donations has been "revitalized" at recent MDA training sessions for blood collectors. She also mentioned changes that have been made to the form that a donor must fill out prior to making a donation. According to Shenar, from now on, donor eligibility criteria will be listed plainly on the form.

Ben Izri also pledged at the meeting to discuss other health concerns facing the Ethiopian community with Ethiopian experts and health workers as well as Ethiopian rights organizations.

"I am well aware of the distress stemming from many causes, not only the discarded blood donations," Ben Izri said at the meeting. "I have no doubt that there is room for reform in the general policy being utilized in regard to the Ethiopian community in Israel. As a minister, I am troubled by the negative and erroneous stigma with (which) Israel's Ethiopian Jews have been labeled, as a result of publications taken out of proportion and present a reality which does not reflect the truth."

Gadi Yavarkan, the chairman of the Ethiopian rights advocacy group, said in response that the health ministry's decision is an "achievement for the State of Israel, and for us, the younger generation, who want to integrate into Israeli society, and donate our blood to save a Jewish soul."

"The health minister has expressed his sorrow over the injustices suffered by immigrants to this country over the years," he added.

Last November, young Ethiopian activists staged a demonstration across from the Prime Minister's Office protesting the policy that dictated the disposal of Ethiopian blood donations. Eleven protesters and four police officers were injured during the demonstration.


Fancy Temple Era Street Found in Jerusalem

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Archaeological excavations being carried out in Ir (City of) David, near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, have uncovered what is said to be one of the most impressive finds in the site: a magnificent terraced street from the Herodian era, which served pilgrims and extended 600 meters from the Shiloah (Siloam) Pool to the Temple.

The store fronts and the splendid appearance of the remains have led researchers to conclude it was Jerusalem's main street in the Second Temple era.

Drainage canals were exposed under the street. The excavators think these are the canals mentioned by contemporary historian Josephus Flavius, who said the Romans trapped the Jews who hid under the streets. The canals contained some cooking pots and remains of food, which may have served the Jews who hid out there in their final days.


Yad Vashem Asked to Recognize First Arab Righteous Gentile

By Ha'aretz

Khaled Abd al-Wahab, a well-to-do Tunisian farmer who died in 1997, is the first Arab to be named as a candidate for a Righteous Gentile award from Yad Vashem.

The request to award him such recognition was submitted by Dr. Robert Satloff, an American Jewish expert on Arab and Islamic politics, following his research on Arabs who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem officials declined to speculate on the chances of the request being approved, but did note that it meets all the formal requirements, at the heart of which is testimony given before her death by a Jewish woman who was saved by al-Wahab.

More than 21,000 Righteous Gentiles have been recognized to date and of them, around 60 are Muslims, most of them from Bosnia and Albania, who saved Jews. But there is not a single Arab among them. According to Satloff, "more than half a million Jews lived in North Africa under Nazi occupation or their allies. They experienced the same persecution as European Jewry did, except for the Final Solution. It is not logical that throughout this entire process, not a single case has been uncovered to date of an Arab who saved a Jew."

The director of Yad Vashem's Righteous Gentile department, Mordechai Paldiel, said that the material provided by Satloff indicates thorough research. "We certainly thank him for bringing this case to our attention."

Satloff feels that in the Arab world there is today a willingness to deal seriously with the Holocaust, specifically because of the statements of the president of Iran and the Holocaust denial conference he initiated. According to Satloff, "the major phenomenon in the Arab world is the relativization of the Holocaust, with statements such as there is no difference between the Holocaust and the Nakba

(The Nabka) "The Catastrophe," used by Palestinians to describe the events surrounding Israel's establishment] - they were all crimes. The study of the Holocaust is intended first of all to prevent genocide. If the Arabs learn more about the Holocaust, their reaction to the genocide in Darfur and to massacres elsewhere will be much quicker and more effective."





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