Newsletter : 7fax0410.txt
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PA Makes it Official: Marwan Barghouti on List
Palestinian Authority Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti officially announced
Monday that his government is demanding Israel release arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti in
exchange for kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Barghouti was convicted in a civilian court in 2004 on five counts of murder and one
count of attempted murder stemming from four separate terrorist attacks in Israel, but was
acquitted on 21 counts of murder in 33 other attacks. He is serving five consecutive life
terms for the murders.
The PA is also demanding the release of hundreds of other terrorists in return for
Shalit's freedom. There has been no concrete sign of life from Shalit and no information
about his whereabouts.
Iranian President Keeps Word on Uranium Enrichment
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Monday at the Natanz nuclear facility
that his country is now producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark Iran's "National Nuclear Day", Ahmadinejad announced, "With
great honor, I declare that as of today our dear country has joined the nuclear club of
nations and can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has installed 3,000 centrifuges and begun feeding them
with uranium hexafluoride gas," Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani announced after
The announcement was seen as a brazen slap at the United Nations Security Council,
which for the past year has become increasingly concerned as the Islamic Republic ignored
all resolutions to force it to end the uranium enrichment program.
The most recent move to pressure Iran was a unanimous vote by the Security Council on
March 24th to impose new sanctions against Iran. Foreign accounts belonging to 13
companies and 15 individuals involved in nuclear and other military projects are frozen
under the resolution, which includes visa restrictions and a ban on purchasing arms from
Iran. Additional sanctions were also threatened if Iran does not return to the negotiating
table over its nuclear development activities within 60 days.
Larijani was firm on Iran's intent to continue the program regardless of international
reactions. "We are ready for talks with the West to reach an agreement that guarantees the
opposite side in the talks a civilian focus to the Iranian nuclear program
the negotiations, we are not going to give up our rights."
The Iranian announcement was met with grim reactions by world leaders. State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack said that Iran's announcement constitutes further defiance of the
international mandate against its nuclear development activities.
McCormack said bluntly that the Security Council as well as the International Atomic
Energy Agency doesn't "believe Iran's assurances that their (nuclear development) program
is peaceful in nature." He added that Ahmadinejad and other officials in the country are
behaving in a manner that justifies the sanctions imposed against the Islamic
The European Union was quick to echo the United States. Germany, which holds the
presidency of the EU at present, issued a statement saying that Iran is "definitively
going in the wrong direction."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon advised Iran to "engage in dialogue," after hearing
the announcement. Ban told reporters in New York, "It is very important for any member
country to fully comply with Security Council resolutions. I urge the Iranian government
to do so."
The news of Iran's nuclear milestone achievement came as no surprise to those who have
monitored its nuclear development activities and Ahmadinejad's bluster over the past year.
Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006 after voluntarily suspending the Natanz
program nine months earlier, when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency
visited the complex on a regular basis.
In April 2006, President George W. Bush cited a report by the UN International Atomic
Energy Agency warning that Iran was refusing the heed the U.N. Security Council's demands
to stop uranium enrichment.
Bush said, "that the world is united and concerned about [Iran's] desire to have not
only a nuclear weapon, but the capacity to make a nuclear weapon or the knowledge to make
a nuclear weapon; all of which we're working hard to convince them not to try to
Ahmadinejad flaunted the Islamic Republic's progress in its nuclear development
programs, adamantly refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program. Various incentives
and threats offered by the international community were met with contempt, including an
ultimatum by the Security Council to end the program by August 31 or face sanctions by the
The deadline came, the deadline went; Iran continued to enrich uranium and upgrade its
facilities while the five member nations of the Security Council debated whether, when and
how to impose the sanctions it had threatened against Iran.
After the Islamic Republic ignored a second deadline, limited sanctions on the transfer
of nuclear technology and personnel to Iran were imposed in December 2006. That same
month, Larijani told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency that Iran was intent on
materializing all its nuclear research and development projects, including the
installation of 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the Islamic year, which fell on March
While Larijani was sketching out Iran's plans for future nuclear development,
Ahmadinejad was warning Western nations that the Islamic Republic was only one step away
from achieving industrial-level nuclear fuel production. "Our path to reach the nuclear
summit is in the final phase," he said. "Iran possesses the nuclear fuel cycle completely
and by God's will it will undertake necessary measures to produce nuclear fuel for all of
its nuclear power stations."
"Iran has demonstrated a capability possessed by only about 10 countries," wrote David
Albright and Corey Hinderstein in a 2003 paper for the Institute for Science and
International Security. The two writers noted that the IAEA had classified the Natanz
centrifuges "as sophisticated and the culmination of a large, expensive effort." Gas
centrifuges, they added, "could be used for the production of low enriched uranium for
civil purposes or highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, depending on the decision
of the Iranian government."
Row Erupts Over Auschwitz Exhibit
A dispute has broken out between Poland and Russia over a memorial at the Auschwitz
death camp to Russian victims of World War II and the Nazi Holocaust, rekindling old
resentments between the two countries.
An exhibition at the camp museum dedicated to Russians who died in the war with Nazi
Germany has been closed for three years and its opening has been delayed by a disagreement
over the nationalities of the victims, officials said.
Russian historians say almost half the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust were
citizens of the Soviet Union. But the Auschwitz museum disputes this, saying almost 1
million of these Jews were citizens of Poland, Romania and the Baltics, who were only in
the Soviet Union as a result of a deal in 1939 between Hitler and Stalin to annex central
Koolanoo: A MySpace-Style Jewish Space
Koolanoo has been growing under the noses of the dating-website industry, aimed at
linking Jewish people from around the world
A good-looking girl in a bikini, wearing a gold Magen David around her neck, dives into a swimming pool and, oops, loses her bikini top. This has become a standard formula in advertisements, but in this case, it has an original ending. (To view the spot, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zIbaH0I9RQ)
When she comes back up, a young man who is also wearing a Magen David chain covers her
breasts. All of the guys sitting by the pool, who were ogling her just moments before,
turn away in an "oy vey" gesture. Not quite the type of humor expected from a site created
for Jews all over the world.
There are countless Israeli and international social networks on the web, MySpace being
the most prominent one. However, Koolanoo (All of Us), launched in September, is the first
Jewish network in the world.
For those who do not understand what we are talking about, a social network allows web
surfers to open up a personal profile page and connect with friends, write a blog, paste
audio or video clips, etc.
This makes it possible for others to learn quite a bit about the member and to map
his/her relationships. This is inspired by Milgram's six-degrees-of-separation theory,
whereby any two people on earth are linked through no more than five other people.
Like any other social network, Koolanoo affords its members the option of managing
lists of friends, looking for (kosher) dates, chatting, finding social events and writing
a blog. A new feature also enables surfers to hear Psalms while they surf.
Unlike dating websites, this is all provided for free. A standard member profile page
will include the member's name, picture, marital status (most important), profession (even
more important), whether the person smokes or drinks and more specific info such as ethnic
background (Sephardic or Ashkenazi), religious affiliation and whether the member keeps
The directors of the site have future plans for development that will also enable
people to find other connections based on places of work (like in the network LinkedIN),
to post classified ads and even to broadcast live events such as a kabalat Shabbat at the
"It is no secret that we marry and also do business within our community. That is what
the Jewish people are like," Oded Kobo, who created the site together with his childhood
friend Guy Greenberg, told Ynet.
Kobo, who speaks a mixture of Hebrew and English during the interview, did not grow up
in Israel. "I've been connected to and with the internet since 1996 and couldn't find an
online place to meet Jews from all over the world."
Kobo has initiated online raffles and in the past also sold domains. When the
high-tech-bubble burst, he left the field in favor of real estate in New York and London
and importing and exporting products from the Far East. Three years ago he returned to the
internet together with Greenberg.
The Koolanoo launch was not accompanied by marketing activities and its existence
spread by word of mouth until the video clips were released. These video clips are a new
internet marketing strategy targeting mostly young public.
In another one of the Koolanoo clips, a hit-woman finds time for a date during a job. The message: you CAN mix business and pleasure. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0g7U0occyA)
Kobo is not worried about the bold advertisements insulting the target audience and
says that "Koolanoo is not a religious site....It is insane how popular these ads are.
People love them and think they are funny," he said, adding that he received the blessing
of Rabanim plural of rabbi) on the site. "They told me thank you for what you are doing
for the Jewish world."
Kobo thinks that the paid-dating-site industry is going downhill. He explains that
these sites generate tens of millions of dollars a year but they end up losing money
because their expenses per member are higher than the fee he pays.
Unlike dating sites, a social network "connects people and allows them to get to know each
other for purposes other than romantic ones. Koolanoo also has married members," stated
Thirty-five thousand members, mostly between the ages of 18-35, have registered since
the launch of the site in September. Sixty-five percent of them are men. Kobo stated that
any given moment, there are approximately 15,000 users online.
There's no way of checking that everybody who joins the community is Jewish. However,
Kobo believes that lack of anonymity on these sites will uncover impersonators rather
"On a dating site, you can never know if someone presents himself misleadingly, but in
a social network you can 'judge' a person by his friends or the people he 'hangs out
with.' If your brother is going out with a girl from Italy, and you have a Jewish friend
in Germany who has a friend who knows her, you can find out much more about her."
All the services on the site are free and there are no bothersome ads. "Koolanoo is not
my main business. I'm not in it for the money and development costs are not very high,"
said Kobo. He promised that all the service will continue to be free in the future
MySpace was sold to media conglomerate News Corp. for $580 million. It is now one of
the most popular online meeting places in the world among youngsters. Kobo says that he
does not believe Koolanoo will ever get such a hefty offer. "Anyway," he says, "Koolanoo
is not for sale."
(An additional clip can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj_Z7Wb1Qe8)
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