Newsletter : 7fax0405.txt
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Skydiving Show Honors Abductees
Skydivers held a parachuting show Wednesday, as an act of identification with the three
abducted Israeli soldiers, Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.
As they dropped from the sky in free fall, the skydivers held a large banner with the
three abducted men's pictures and the slogan "Don't let apathy kill them."
The event, featuring noted Israeli singer and actress, Sarit Vino-Elad (cousin to
Israel News Faxx editor Don Canaan's son, Golan, was held at the Paradive skydiving club
at Habonim Beach near Haifa, and was attended by the abductees' relatives, who said the
holiday season made their longing for their loved ones even harder to bear.
House of Representatives Speaker Meets Syrian President
By VOA News & IsraelNationalNews.com
The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad has assured her he is willing to hold peace talks with Israel.
Pelosi met Wednesday in Damascus with Assad, and said she delivered a message from
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Assad that Israel is ready for talks. Israeli
officials clarified Wednesday that Israel is ready to hold peace talks if Syria stops
On Tuesday, President Bush criticized Pelosi for visiting Syria. Bush said Syria is
sponsoring terrorism by allowing foreign fighters into Iraq. Pelosi has said it is
important to hold a dialogue with Syria. The Democratic lawmaker from California is the
highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Syria in years.
Earlier this week, a small group of lawmakers from Bush's Republican Party also met
with Assad. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group said the United States should open a dialogue
with Syria and Iran, but Bush has refused to do so.
The U.S. withdrew its ambassador from Syria after the country was implicated in the
2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria denies any link
to the assassination.
And in related news, Arab League members are preparing teams to promote the Saudi
Arabia 2002 initiative that promises to recognize Israel in return for the immigration of
more than five million Arabs to Israel from foreign countries.
The 2002 plan also calls on Israel to surrender all the land, including the Old City of
Jerusalem and the Temple Mount site that was restored to the Jewish state after the
Six-Day War in 1967.
The Palestinian Authority delegate to the Arab League summit last week, Mohammed Sbeih,
told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency that that the teams will comprise delegates
from Egypt, Jordan and the PA. They will "explain to the Israeli public and political
parties that the Arab peace initiative, endorsed by 22 Arab countries, represents an
historical opportunity which will guarantee complete normalization of relations with
Israel in return for the latter's withdrawal from occupied Arab territories and a just
remedy to the refugee question."
IDF Enters Gaza, Large-Scale Re-Entry on the Horizon
IDF troops entered Gaza Wednesday afternoon to pursue terrorists who had been planting
a bomb near the security fence. The soldiers opened fire, killing one of the terrorists
and injuring another. A third man was apprehended. All were members of the Islamic Jihad
terror group. The terrorists detonated two bombs during the exchange, but failed to injure
any Israeli security personnel.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz commented on the continued arming of Gaza terror groups
while visiting an IDF base in the northern Gaza region Monday. "We won't allow the
continued arming to turn the Gaza Strip into a second Lebanon," he said, but added that
"nobody should bring about an escalation through his statements, though which would
bring about a crisis and a real war."
Al-Jazeera is reporting that Israel is poised to retake Gaza based on an interview with
IDF Brig. Gen. (Res.) Tzvika Fogel, formerly a senior officer in the IDF's Southern
Command. Fogel is quoted saying that the IDF has completed its preparations for a Gaza
operation and will "reoccupy" Gaza except Gaza City for up to six months.
Fogel said the operation could begin as early as April 15: "It will not be before April
15 because that's the end of Passover, and to be on the safe side it will not be after
June 15, because we want it to be finished before the winter."
"Hamas is working towards the point that they will be like Hizbullah," Fogel said. "At
that point they will start the war and it will not be good for Israel. We can't let them
start the war. We will lose a lot of respect
The last thing the West wants is for
Hamas to have its own country. It will be an Al Qaeda zone. So Israel, the Arab countries
and the free world all want us to begin a war and win it."
The IDF Spokesman declined to comment on Fogel's statements beyond stressing that Fogel
is an officer in the reserves and not party to the decision-making process.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was recently told in a briefing that Syria believes Israel
will launch in attack on Syria and Lebanon in the event of a U.S. offensive against Iran's
nuclear project. Olmert reportedly is seeking to convince the Syrians that such a plan
does not exist due to his fear that Syria will launch a pre-emptive attack on the Golan
"I can tell you that there is no such plan that we know about, and in any case, there
is no reason for the Syrians to prepare for such an eventuality," Olmert told Ha'aretz in
a pre-holiday interview. "There is always concern that when one side prepares for war, and
the other side is preparing to counter the other side's preparations, then the first side
interprets the preparations of the other side as if it is the manifestation of its fears,
and the situation goes into a spin, and control is lost."
76% of Public Would Follow Moses to Land of Israel
Seventy-six percent of the Israeli public would want Moses (pronounced 'Mosheh' in
Hebrew) to lead them to the Land of Israel and nowhere else if he were their leader today,
according to a poll by the Knesset Channel and 'Dahaf.'
Nine percent would rather be led to Europe, 5 percent chose America, 3 percent opted
for Africa, 2 percent for Australia and 1 percent for the Far East. When asked if they
preferred to live in Israel or another country, if given a choice, 83 percent said they
Murder, Elephant Style, in Ramat Gan Safari
By IsraelNationalNews.com & YnetNews.com
Yossi, the leader of the African elephant herd in Ramat Gan's Safari Park, attacked and
killed one of the oldest elephants in the park, Atari, the herd's female leader, as park
visitors looked on aghast. There was no known reason for the attack.
Yossi, 37, is 3.70 meters (about 12 feet) tall and weighs seven tons. On Monday, as
Israelis were preparing for the Pesach Seder, he began following, then forcefully
attacking, Atari, who was 46 years old and weighed five tons. After receiving several body
blows from Yossi's head, Atari collapsed and died. The entire incident was videotaped by
Yossi is now being held in seclusion, and will only be brought in contact with the
other elephants during mating season.
Around 2 p.m., toward closing time, Yossi attacked Atari, brutally slamming her against
the yard's wall. The blow caused her to fall to the ground, and left her groaning for a
few moments before dying. "She didn't stand a chance against him," said one elephant
keeper, "Yossi is a giant, very powerful elephant. Atari weighed two tons less than
Up until now, 7-ton Yossi, who is also the world's largest elephant living in
captivity, was the pride of the safari. Being the first elephant born in Ramat Gan after
its opening; Yossi was known by all the workers to be calm and easy going.
Indeed, the incident came as a shock to the safari crew, since in all of his years as
the herd's leader he never displayed any tendency to violence. The only possible
explanation for this sudden display of aggression, said the safari staff, was that Yossi
felt threatened by Atari, as she was the female herd's leader.
Atari was laid to rest at the safari's animal cemetery on Wednesday.
Fight Against Time to Preserve Auschwitz
Auschwitz is disintegrating. Over 60 years of winter snow, summer drought and millions
of visitors have taken a heavy toll on the former Nazi death camp.
Just as survivors visiting the camp dwindle each year, so time is bearing down on the
prison buildings, the rusting barbed-wire fencing and remnants of the gas chambers left
behind when the Germans fled in January 1945.
Evidence of the victims -- hair, spectacles, children's toys and other belongings -- is
also falling to pieces, eaten away by insects and mildew, its disappearance giving slow
support to those who try to deny the Holocaust ever happened.
Unless conservation is stepped up there may soon be little left of the biggest
graveyard in Europe, where up to 1.5 million men, women and children, mostly Jews, were
Now new management at the camp, covering 470 acres on two sites near Oswiecim in
southern Poland, is accelerating work and hiring more staff to slow the deterioration and
save the site as a lesson for future generations.
"If there is one place in the world that should be kept as a reminder of the
consequences of racism and intolerance, it is this one," said Piotr Cywinski, who took
over as director of Auschwitz in September. "But it gets more difficult every year." One
of the many problems facing Cywinski and his 260 staff at the site, now a museum, is that
Auschwitz was not built to last. The concentration camp known as Auschwitz was actually
two camps, and both are suffering serious problems.
Auschwitz I, a stone and brick-built Polish military base used by the Nazis to house
Polish political prisoners, was hastily enlarged with forced labor using the cheapest
possible materials after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Auschwitz II Birkenau, two miles
away, was a specially built killing factory thrown up in 1943 for the mass murder of Jews,
gypsies, homosexuals and other minorities.
Linked directly to Europe's railway network by a special siding to speed up the
murders, the Nazis used it to expedite their plans for a "Final Solution" to "the Jewish
Parts of the Birkenau site are built from the remains of demolished Polish villages and
stable blocks and these have survived. But many other buildings have already disappeared.
Most wooden huts were removed after the war for use as temporary shelters. And the
strongest of the buildings, the concrete gas chambers and crematoriums, were blown up by
the guards before their retreat. These ruins have collapsed, undermined by rising ground
water, flooding and erosion.
The area around the gas chambers is cordoned off with tape but still accessible to the
public, some of whom clamber over the rubble. Some visitors even remove relics and
The ash pits where the remains of many victims were dumped lie open to the elements and
the ground trampled by visitors around them is studded with what look like tiny white
stones. "Not stones -- bones," explains Jarek Mensfelt, a linguist and senior guide at the
museum. "Tiny fragments of human bones. It is terrible that tourists can tread on human
Various grandiose ideas -- including one for a giant dome -- have been rejected on
grounds of cost and because any major construction would destroy some of the area and
alter it. Smaller-scale enclosures to protect the buildings would be possible, but even
these would be expensive and would have to be agreed by all the groups that protect the
"Tens of millions of dollars, more, would be needed to do all the work," said Cywinski.
But money is not the main problem: the Polish government has provided large sums and there
are a number of international donors. Conservationists are like doctors: we can extend
life, but not for eternity.
Faded and frail, two metric tons of hair shorn from victims is piled up in one cell
block: once blonde plaits, black pony-tails and auburn curls, it is gradually decaying and
now looks like gray wire wool.
The museum has had more luck with its 80,000 shoes, mostly odd. Chief conservationist
Rafal Pioro and his staff of 38 invited school children to help clean and polish some of
them. But there are so many, most still have to be stored in a warehouse without
air-conditioning. Slowly, most are falling apart. "The work is endless and painstaking and
can be heart-rending. When we were working on the children's shoes, some of us were crying
all the time."
Workers at Auschwitz are struggling to slow the aging of the camp and keep it as a
lesson on the evils of anti-Semitism. They aim, in the words of a plaque near the gas
chambers, to keep Auschwitz as "a cry of despair and a warning to humanity".
Israel Gutman, a former Auschwitz prisoner and adviser to the Yad Vashem Holocaust
institute in Israel, is determined the camp will be conserved as long as possible,
whatever the cost. "There are still people who claim the Holocaust never took place," he
said. "Auschwitz must be preserved for as long as possible because it gives those people a
chance to go there, to see the real gas chambers."
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