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Dollar Falls, Shekel Soars


The dollar hit a seven-year low on Thursday afternoon, with the dollar-shekel rate plummeting to 4.004. The rate later rose slightly, ending at 4.015, still the lowest rate in over six and a half years. The dollar was weak against the Euro as well, with exchange rates at 1.361 on Thursday.

The dollar continues to fall despite Bank of Israel's decision to lower interest rates on Sunday. The weak dollar hurts exporters, and has an effect on the housing market, where prices are usually set in dollars. Bank of Israel President Stanley Fischer has ignored complaints about the changing price of housing, urging the public to use shekels instead.

Iran Threatens Israel, U.S.

By Israel Faxx News Services

Iran's Deputy Interior Minister, Muhammad Bakr Zolkadr, said that Iran "will attack Israel and American interests worldwide if it [Iran] is attacked because of its nuclear program. No place will be safe for America," he vowed, "because Iran has long range missiles.

"We can shoot tens of thousands of missiles every day," he added. "We can also threaten Israel, as the US's ally, with long range missiles."

"Nowhere would be safe for America with our long-range missiles," the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Zolkadr as saying. "We can fire tens of thousands of missiles every day."

Iran's Shehab missiles are capable of reaching Israel as well as U.S. facilities and allies in the Persian Gulf. Western experts also believe Iran could order its Lebanese proxy militia Hizbullah to launch terrorist attacks abroad as part of a reprisal campaign.

Land Swap Between PA and Israel?


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert might have shelved his realignment plan, but one of the plan's initiators has different ideas.

Kadima Knesset member Otinel Schneller's realignment plan advocates a land swap between Israel and the Palestinian Authority whereby the three Arab Israeli villages in the triangle area would be transferred to Palestinian control in return for the annexation of the three largest settlement blocks of Ariel, Gush Etzion and Modi'in.

Under the new plan the Arab citizens of the three villages would be able to keep their Israeli nationality but would become part of a future Palestinian state. These citizens would require special permits to work in Israel and would not be able to relocate to other parts of the country.

The plan, which has been named Hong Kong as it was inspired by Britain's gradual transferal of Hong Kong to China, would take up 30 years to implement.

Schneller said he was opposed to revoking the citizenship of the Arab Israeli citizens whose towns will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Under his plan they will be carry on benefiting from the health and national insurance services. In addition, the government would funnel funds to boost the local economy.

Schneller said the aim of his plan is to maintain the existence of a strong Jewish majority within Israel's final borders. "I want a true demographic line. If for 20 years we give the triangle area economic incentives, the Arabs will have the motivation to become economic and national leaders of the Palestinian people," he told Ynet.

"Many Palestinian organizations have said that the Arab Israelis prefer not to be citizens of the Jewish State. I am not suggesting we do this process speedily but in slow and organized manner," he added. "As a result, Arab Israelis in these areas will have the motivation to develop. Such a process will lead to a severance of relations out of will and not out of a struggle or anger.

"Every newborn will get a special ID and then will have a Palestinian ID. It has to be clear: We will not ask them to move. We will only move the border," the Kadima MK said.

Schneller said he co-opted his plan from Britain, which allowed Hong Kong residents to keep their British nationality during the transferal of the territory to China but forbade them to move to or work in England.

"We need to tell the Palestinian Israelis that they are Palestinians, and the triangle and Wadi Ara will become prosperous, as Hong Kong became the economic center of China because it received economic incentives," he said, adding that Israel should make sure that the plan was not imposed on the Arab populace otherwise it will fail.

Some Arab leaders have welcomed the plan in private talks, Schneller said, adding that he has not discussed the plan with Olmert.

Temporary Tattoos Designed to Prevent Medical Errors


Mistaken-organ medical operations occur, on the average, once every 30,000 times - one time too many for the patient who has undergone that particular statistical improbability. To avoid this, Dr. Arik Kahane of Assuta Hospital in Tel Aviv has developed a tattoo patch that will make perfectly clear which organ is to be operated on.

Kahane, the hospital's deputy director, also heads the hospital's risk-management unit. The tattoo is about to be introduced into the 11 Assuta Medical Centers around the country.

When a leg, hand, lung, kidney or other paired organ is to be operated on, confusion often develops as to which side of the body requires the treatment. The tattoo is provided to patients several days before their operations, and with the help of medical personnel, they are to paste it onto the correct organ or side of the body.

The round sticker, made in Israel, is colored blue and reads, "Operate Here." After approximately a week, the tattoo rubs off on its own.

Is Olmert Preparing to Abandon the Golan Heights During a Short war?

By Emanuel A. Winston (Commentary)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is warning about an attack against Israel by Syria this summer. Is he speaking about his discussions through the good offices of the State Department and its former Secretary of State James Baker to arrange a brief War where Syria's President Bashar Assad will be encouraged and allowed to overrun the Golan Heights and - just in time, the U.S. and U.N. will call for a ceasefire in place?

Do you recall the efforts of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak (some call him the "poison dwarf") to abandon the Golan Heights, claiming that Syria was so powerful that their Army would kill all the Israeli soldiers and civilians on the Golan? That didn't work. Remember, it was Barak who abandoned the Security Zone in Lebanon to Hizbullah, which then became the launching site for 4000 Katyusha missiles. Now Olmert desperately needs a small war to stay in office - even if it means a few hundred or more dead soldiers and civilians as he demonstrated in Lebanon.

Would Olmert betray the nation to keep his chair and power as Prime Minister? Must I really give you the answer since you already know?

The Knesset could bring early elections but, of course, that would mean risking the loss of their seats, money and perks. But, remember that, thanks to failing in 2006, Olmert has allowed Hizbullah to re-arm with at least 20,000 missiles.

Yes indeed, look for a choreographed war this summer so Olmert at the behest of Baker, Rice and Bush can abandon the Golan as if there was no other choice. Conventional wisdom dictates that there can be no elections during a war and Olmert keeps his seat to continue his incompetent rule of the nation. Must we follow conventional wisdom?

The plans of stupid men are usually short-sighted. Hamas will unleash their missiles as did Hizbullah from Lebanon. Hizbullah will once again unleash even longer range missiles hitting targets deeper into Israel. Olmert and Peretz will be hiding in a deep hole, saying: "I didn't think this would happen! We had an `arrangement' with Bashar and the State Department. Why I even had General Ashkenazi pullback our troops from the Golan!"

Is Ehud Olmert in collusion with Syria's Bashar Al Assad and, with urging by the State Department and old James Baker, planning a "restrained" war so Syria can win back the Golan Heights they occupied from 1948 to 1967? Syria regularly fired upon farmers in the valleys below the Heights during those 19 years.

Trusting Olmert is like sleeping with a cobra. He and Amir Peretz screwed up the 2006 Summer war with Hizbullah by forcing the IDF to fight "with restraint" and got a lot of Israeli soldiers and civilians killed. The forests in Northern Israel are still burnt black as far from Israel's northern border as Safed by Hizbullah Katyusha missiles. I guess he plans a repeat performance on the Golan. Besides a "little" war will extend his days in office and power.

Should all this happen, it would be time for a Nuremberg Tribunal, able to declare that this treason was a hanging offense for treachery and betrayal of the Jewish State and her people.

Is Israel a Bikini Brand or the Holy Land?

By Yishai Fleisher (Commentary)

What does it mean to be independent? Certainly freedom from foreign rule. But in the case of Israel, independence should also mean the freedom to develop an independent self-image not based on borrowed culture.

Not everyone sees it that way. In fact, Israel's Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, is about to embark on a massive PR campaign painting Israel as a sexy modern country with beautiful beaches and a successful high-tech industry to boot. Livni believes that by embarking on this "nation branding" campaign, she can move Israel's perception away from war-torn and fanatical, to an image of the great Israeli dream -- normalcy.

No doubt Israel does have something to offer those looking for beaches, night life and technology. But as the focus of a public relations campaign, this direction is doomed for failure.

I heard a story, attributed to the Lubavicher Rebbe, which illustrates this point: After the Six-Day War, France, unhappy with Israel's grand victory over the Arabs, stopped their sales of the Mirage fighter jets to Israel. Israel, in need of fighter jets, turned to the United States with a request to buy American jets.

The US sent a delegation to Israel. The Israelis wanted to impress the American group and promptly took them to what the Israeli's thought the American's would be most interested in. They took them to Tel Aviv, the playhouses, the bars, to all the modernity that Israel could muster up at the time.

However, the delegation was nonplused. They returned to America, gave a lukewarm report to Congress, and the sale did not go through. A few months went by and again the Israelis requested the sale of fighter jets. Again a delegation was formed and was flown to Israel. This time, however, the Israelis took the delegation to the Western Wall and to the great yeshivas of Mea Shearim where the Americans saw the old study benches that were brought over from Europe.

When the Americans returned home and testified in front of Congress, they said: "We saw the Holy Land." The sale, of course, went through.

The point is so obvious, yet Israel's image makers cannot seem to grasp it. Israel's image strength is not in its limping normalcy. Nor can Israel ever compare to the US's flesh-pots, Amsterdam's night life, or the beaches of South America.

Israel's real image strength is in its unparalleled link to the Bible. Have you ever seen the ecstasy of someone who sees the Kotel for the first time? Is it a coincidence that both Jews and Gentiles cry when they arrive in Israel? Israel has emotional impact, not because of the beaches or the hi-tech, but rather because this place is the spiritual capital of the world.

How can you beat the branding effect of the most widely read book in the world? The Bible is the globe's all-time bestseller and Israel should capitalize on it. But Israel's image makers distance Israel from this kind of image. Their world view is dissonant with Jewish history and religion, and therefore they do not see, nor want to see, the public relations benefit of Israel's Biblical/spiritual PR image.

Yet it is precisely by embracing and not blunting our image as the real-life successors of the biblical past that we will create a winning PR campaign. Examples: Imagine marketing the festival of Sukkot as the mega-season for spiritual tourism. Or presenting Hebron, the great burial place of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, as a must-see for anyone seeking to connect with the roots of monotheism. The Old City of Jerusalem is a natural-habitat, authentic biblical experience, and we should market it as just that.

The biblical perspective also has hasbara advantages. In our continuing struggle with the war on terror, Israel would do well to paint its story in a biblical context. Today's Israel and yesteryear's Israel are the same -- the same nation, the same land, and the same problems. By providing such historical perspective, we can help people reframe the conflict in the Middle East.

Suddenly, Ahmadinejad's Iran is akin to Haman's Persia, and superpowers meddling in our affairs is a familiar phenomenon. Girded with biblical perspective the world will root for Israel, just as they do when they read the Bible. Another important aspect of a biblical Hasbara perspective is Tikvah, hope. The Bible is full of hope for the Jewish people and for Israel. In today's dreary climate we need to broadcast that message of positively loud and clear.

Yes, we can create a successful image of Israel abroad, but we need to start by creating the right self-image within. Israel must learn to see itself as a light unto the world, and not just as a bastion of normalcy. Israel's 'light' includes a unique blend of medicine and technology, law and spirituality. Where else in the world can you find a country that is a world leader in microchip development, in-vitro fertilization, farming innovation, Talmudic law and Kabbalah?

For the last 3000 years the Holy Land has been the pre-eminent destination for all mankind -- travelers and conquerors all sought this piece of real-estate. Today, maybe more than ever before, Israel can quench the world's thirst for authenticity, spirituality, and purpose -- but it has to rise to the occasion. Let's be truly independent and not cheapen and degrade the image of Israel by bikini-branding it. Let us market it for what it is: the most special place on the Earth -- the Holy Land.

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