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Arab Construction Worker Sees Jewish Home as His in Future


An Arab construction worker in B'nei Brak told his Jewish employer that the building will be his in the future, according to a Palestine Times report quoted by Palestinian Media Watch.

The employer noticed that the Arab worker was preparing cement much stronger than usual. He explained, "I did so to strengthen the foundations of the building since one day these buildings may belong to us and our children."

GOP Congressman Visits Syria After Controversial Pelosi Trip

By VOA News

A Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives has held talks in Syria - one day after the Democratic leader in that chamber sparked controversy by visiting Damascus.

Congressman Darrell Issa of California met in the Syrian capital Thursday with President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. Issa is of Lebanese descent, and is a member of President Bush's Republican Party.Issa told reporters that members of Congress will continue to urge the Bush administration to hold a dialogue with Syria.

The White House sharply criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria Wednesday, saying the California Democrat was undercutting efforts to isolate Damascus. White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe said Thursday that the administration does not think it is productive or useful for members of Congress of either party to hold talks with Syria.

Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Syria in years. She said she carried a message from Israel that it is ready for peace talks with Syria, and that it is important to hold a dialogue with Damascus.

However, Israeli Cabinet minister Zeev Boim, a close associate of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, told Israel Radio that if al-Assad really wants peace with Israel he should take some actions, even minor ones, to prove his intentions. Boim said just because Assad is offering an olive branch, that does not mean he really wants peace. The Israeli politician says the Syrian leader should act on his intentions.

Boim said Israel would be willing to go so far as to give up the Golan Heights, the territory it captured from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War as part of an eventual peace settlement with Syria.

Boim's comments followed those made by Pelosi on Wednesday in Damascus. After meeting with Assad, Pelosi said the Syrian leader was willing to engage in peace negotiations with Israel, and that Israel's prime minister had told her Israel was ready for peace talks with Syria.

A statement from Olmert's office issued after her comments said peace talks with Syria would only be possible if Syria stopped its support for Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Palestinian "militant" (sic. Note change of adjective from previous description 'terrorist') group Hamas, and scaled back its ties with Iran.

Alon Liel is a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry who recently held unofficial talks with a number of Syrians about the prospect or resuming peace talks between Israel and Syria. He said the current public Israeli position on Syria means that peace talks between the two countries are unlikely at this time.

"In the Middle East nobody is going to launch a peace before he gets a response or goods from the other side," Liel said. "This is what I guess he (Olmert) told Nancy Pelosi that if Syria will behave we will talk to her. She (Pelosi) stressed the positive part of the deal, and probably almost hid the negative part."

Kabbalist Elder: Israel on Brink of War


A highly-regarded kabbalist elder from Bnei Brak has issued a warning that the next war in Israel is on the way. Rabbi Eliyahu Leon Levi, who frequents the Western Wall every Saturday night to recite Psalms and teach Torah, told his students that there is an "evil decree" of war looming on the horizon.

According to the Rabbi, Syria is liable to join Lebanon in firing missiles at the Jewish State in the pending war. The missiles will have a much greater range and carry much larger warheads than the katyusha rockets fired against Israel this past summer in the Second Lebanon War which claimed some 156 lives, he noted.

"It's not going to be 'katyushas shmatyushas' this time which have only tens of kilograms of explosives. The enemy will launch, God forbid, rockets carrying 500 and 600 kilograms of explosives," Rabbi Levi told his students.

On several occasions, Rabbi Levi first alerted Israeli military authorities of security threats and movements of massive amounts of enemy weapons that were subsequently verified by IDF intelligence. The kabbalist rabbi said just before the Passover holiday that he does not want to cause panic, but suggested that the Israeli public stock up on two weeks of water, food supplies, candles and matches in case the delivery of basic commodities is disrupted.

Rabbi Levi said that though Israel "may, God forbid, pay a heavy price initially, the Jewish People would muster strength to crush their enemies leading to a great sanctification of God's name through ultimate victory."

He emphasized that the decree can be annulled through prayer, repentance, and good deeds. "In the spiritual world, things can rapidly change. But right now, it appears that war could break out soon after or even during the Passover holiday." Rabbi Levi said that the allocation of food to the needy and the great acts of charity which preceded the Passover holiday made a great impression in the heavenly court and sweetened the judgment to a degree.

"We are on the brink of redemption, and a great war is coming." he said. "Whoever doesn't prepare himself spiritually is at great risk. A person must turn to God in prayer and cry and confess his wrongdoings, and rectify his ways. A person must recite Psalms as we do every Saturday night here at the site of our Holy Temple. The recitation of Psalms constitutes a spiritual rinsing of the mouth from idle talk, as well as from the transgression of causing others pain through our speech. Come with your children to cry and pray before God and ask forgiveness."

Rabbi Levi said that once the rockets start falling, it is too late for a person to wake up and begin to rectify his ways. "Now is the time to ask for mercy. If one doesn't do so, God have mercy on his soul - there will be problems."

Iran Publicizes Statement of Support Allegedly From Local Jews


Iranian government news agency IRNA reported on Sunday that an organization identified as the Association of Iranian Jews issued a statement expressing "its commitment to defend the national interests of Iranians with the advent of the Iranian new year (1386), which the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution declared to be year [sic] of 'national unity and Islamic solidarity.'"

Evidencing little understanding of Judaism, the statement appears to be a forgery by the Iranian regime. According to IRNA, the Association of Iranian Jews declared: "In obedience to the instructions of Jesus, in the new Iranian year, which has been declared [sic] year of national unity and Islamic solidarity, Iranian Jews voice their readiness to defend all national interests of Iranians and to observe the guidelines set by Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei) for the sake of strengthening national unity and solidarity in the fight against present-day pharaohs."

However, Judaism does not accept the authority or divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Hence, authentic believers in the Jewish faith would not issue a proclamation "in obedience to... Jesus."

While correctly stating that the Passover festival begins on the night of the 15th of the month of Nissan in the Jewish calendar, the Iranian news agency commented that "[this] annual Jewish festival celebrates the escape of Jews from the slaughter of the first-born in Egypt."

Contrary to the statement by the Iranian regime's media arm, Passover celebrates the Divine deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian slavery. The killing of the first born sons, in contrast, is recorded in the Bible as the 10th and ultimate plague sent by God upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh agreed to free his Israelite slaves.

Islamic tradition and the Koran tell a parallel story of the exodus of the children of Israel from ancient Egypt, although a great many of the details recorded therein differ from the Biblical text.

In a further twist, IRNA reported that the Jewish association attached particular significance to "the remarkable coincidence" that Passover coincides with the Iranian New Year.

Film Claims Earthquake, Not Moses, Parted the Red Sea

By Ha'aretz

A volcanic eruption on the Greek island of Santorini, rare geologic phenomena in the vicinity of the Suez Canal and archaeological findings prove the historical veracity of the Exodus from Egypt, according to the Jewish-Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, who directed and wrote the script for "The Exodus Decoded," which was released last year and broadcast recently in the United States.

Jacobovici came to public attention with an earlier documentary he made ("The Lost Tomb of Jesus") in which he claimed that Jesus and members of his family had been buried in southern Jerusalem. Just as in the case of the Jesus film, leading experts have attacked Jacobovici's theories about the Exodus. The films were said to serve Jacobovici's personal beliefs as an observant Jew.

In an interview with Ha'aretz during a visit to Israel, Jacobovici rejected this argument. "They said that I tried to prove the Bible in my film about the Exodus, and that in the film about Jesus, I tried to disprove the New Testament, but I just did my job," he said.

"The theological significance that people derive from my films is not of interest to me." At the same time, he admitted he was motivated by anger at the theories of those who "deny" there was an Exodus.

Jacobovici claimed his theory is based on a combination of findings from various scientific fields. "Archaeologists are used to speaking only among themselves, and that is true also of geologists," he said. "We spoke to everyone, and we did a journalistic investigation of everything. The archaeologists are not used to accepting criticism from people like me, and therefore I was attacked personally."

Jacobovici's main contention is that the Exodus from Egypt did not take place in 1270 BCE, as is accepted thinking, but rather 300 years earlier. Jacobovici claims that the Children of Israel were in fact the Hyksos tribes that ruled Egypt from 1640-1540 BCE. He bases his claim on wall paintings from the period that show the Hyksos as extremely similar to the biblical descriptions of Jacob and his sons, as well as on nine seals that bear the name Jacob, which were found in a dig at the site of the assumed Hyksos capital.

On the basis of the new dating of the expulsion of the Israelites from Egypt, Jacobovici claims the Exodus took place at the time of the volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini, which is considered one of the strongest volcanic eruptions of all time. Basing himself on geologists, he claims that "extreme seismic activity" caused the outburst, and that it led to the plague of darkness and others described in the biblical story and to the killing of the first born. He bases his theory on similar phenomena that occurred during a natural disaster at Lake Nyos in Cameroon in 1986, which was also caused by irregular seismic activity.

Jacobovici believes that seismic activity led to a parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptian army. Basing himself on a hieroglyphic tablet on show at the museum in Ismailiya, Jacobovici claims that the Red Sea mentioned in the biblical tale is, in fact, a sweet water lake by the name of el-Bala, which dried up in the 19th century following the building of the Suez Canal.

The most damning criticism of Jacobovici was voiced by the Austrian archaeologist Manfred Bietak, who conducted excavations at Avaris and whose findings the film uses to claim the Hyksos were the Children of Israel. In an article in the Biblical Archaeological Review, Bietak says Jacobovici took his remarks out of context through biased editing. Bietak also claims there is no archaeological evidence to support the view that the Children of Israel existed before the Iron Age that is 1200 BCE.

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