Newsletter : 7fax0511.txt
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Bar Mitzvahs for Needy Israel Children
Israel Faxx News Service
In partnership with the Jewish community of Paris, the Gartner and Pell families will
host two bar-mitzvah ceremonies for 120 needy Israeli teenagers. The first will take place
at the Tunisian Beit HaKnesset of Akko (north of Haifa) on May 14.
The second ceremony will be held at the Kotel (Jerusalem) on May 17, at 9:30 a.m. Ten
boys and 10 girls will be celebrating their religious majority. Each boy will be given a
pair of tephillin, a tallit, a siddur, a kipah and an MP3. The girls will also receive a
siddur and an MP3.
Egypt, Jordan, Israel Discuss Arab Peace Initiative
By Challiss McDonough (VOA-Cairo) & Israel Faxx News Services
The foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Israel have met in Cairo to discuss an Arab
initiative for Middle East peace. It is the first meeting between Jerusalem and the
members of the Arab League "working group" tasked with negotiating with Israel.
It was also the first time that Jordan and Egypt have formally briefed Israel on the
recently re-launched Arab peace initiative. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called
the meeting "important" and "historic." Her Jordanian counterpart, Abdel-Ilah al-Khatib
said the Arab League is hoping to breathe new life into the Israeli-Palestinian peace
"Today's meeting was beneficial," he said. "It allowed us to express the Arab position
and discuss the Israeli position. We hope that this leads to tangible results that could
be positively reflected on the Palestinian-Israeli track and achieving comprehensive peace
in the region."
Jordan and Israel are the only two Arab states that have already made peace with Israel
and established full diplomatic relations, so meetings between them are not unusual. But
in these talks, for the first time, the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers
represented not their own governments, but the Arab League.
The Arab League has asked the two countries to work on convincing Israel to accept the
Arab peace initiative recently revived at a special summit in Saudi Arabia. The Arab
proposal offers Israel peace and normal relations with all Arab countries in exchange for
Israeli withdrawal from all lands taken during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Israel rejected the deal when it was first proposed five years ago, but has recently
shown more interest in it and said it might be a starting point for negotiations.
Livni said the Arab world has "an important role" to play in moving toward peace
between the Israelis and Palestinians. But she also said it would be a supporting role,
and the main peace negotiations would be the bilateral ones between the Israelis and the
"I would like to say clearly that it is not our policy, nor our goal to control the
Palestinian life," she said. "On the other hand we are facing terror on a daily basis and
when it comes to our ability to open passages and so on, on the other hand we have a
responsibility to the life of Israeli civilians. So, this is the equation, but I truly
believe if we will be determined enough to work it out we will find a solution."
Livni did not mention other regional issues, such as the return of Palestinian refugees
or Israel's territorial disputes with Syria and Lebanon. The Arab League representatives
said they would not be negotiating with Israel on behalf of those parties and that the
appropriate role for the Arab League was to set the stage and create the right atmosphere
to push the peace process forward.
Earlier in the day, Livni met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss a range
of issues, including security in the Gaza Strip and along the Gaza-Egypt border.
ADL to Pope: Suspend Pius Sainthood over Holocaust Inaction
A U.S.-based group that fights anti-Semitism urged Pope Benedict on Thursday to suspend
the sainthood process for Pope Pius XII, whom critics accuse of turning a blind eye to the
death of Jews during World War Two.
The Anti-Defamation League said the process should stop until secret World War Two
Vatican archives are declassified and fully examined "so that the full record of the
Pope's actions during the Holocaust may finally be known."
The Vatican's saint-making Congregation has voted in favor of a decree recognizing
Pius' "heroic virtues," a major hurdle in a long process toward sainthood that began in
"We urge Pope Benedict XVI to suspend the sainthood process for Pope Pius XII for the
sake of historical truth and the deepening friendship between the Catholic Church and the
Jewish people," said Abraham Foxman, the league's national director and a Holocaust
"While we understand that the process of sainthood is an internal matter for the
Church, the issue of what Pius XII did or did not do to help save Jews during the
Holocaust is a profound question that must be resolved first for the sake of the
Jewish-Catholic relationship," he said in a statement.
According to the Vatican Web site, it is up to the pope to decide the "liberalization"
of access to documents on the basis of an entire papacy. Documents have been "liberalized"
up until -- and including -- the papacy of Pius XI, which ended in 1939. If the documents
are "liberalized," only scholars would be granted access to the papers.
If German-born Pope Benedict approves the Congregation decree, as expected, Pius XII
would be officially given the title "venerable." The Vatican would then move toward
beatification by looking for miracles performed by the late pope.
The pontificate of Pius has been one of the trickiest problems in postwar Roman
Catholic-Jewish relations. Jewish groups have accused Pius of being indifferent to the
Holocaust and diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Israel were briefly tested last
month over a depiction of him at a state Holocaust memorial in Israel.
Before being elected pope in 1939, Pius XII was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli. He served as
the Vatican's ambassador to Germany in 1917-1929 and was Vatican secretary of state in
1930-1939. Pius died in 1958.
The Vatican maintains that Pius did not speak out against the Holocaust more forcefully
because he was afraid of worsening the fate of Catholics and Jews and worked behind the
scenes to save Jews.
Jewish groups have pressed the Vatican for years to either freeze the sainthood process
of Pius XII or shelve it altogether for fears that it would harm Catholic-Jewish
Olmert Blames IDF for Failures of Lebanon War
By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)
The testimony of Israel's embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to an official inquiry
investigating last year's Lebanon War has been released for publication. And his comments
have brought further calls for his resignation.
Olmert blamed the army for the failures of the Lebanon War when he testified before the
Winograd Commission. He said "the army disappointed itself and did not meet expectations.
The Prime Minister said the military brass told him the army was strong "and ready to
carry out any mission." He said he "could not have known this was not the case."
Last week, the inquiry commission sharply criticized Olmert's handling of the war,
describing it as a "severe failure in judgment, responsibility and caution." It accused
him of rushing into war without a battle plan or exit strategy.
But in his testimony, the Prime Minister said there was no other choice but to strike
at Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon immediately after they kidnapped two Israeli soldiers
in a cross-border raid. He said he knew the militants would respond with rocket attacks,
but he had two options: to strike decisively or do nothing.
Olmert has faced an avalanche of calls for his resignation since the commission issued
its interim report nearly two weeks ago. And now, the publication of his testimony has
brought more calls for him to step down.
Gideon Saar is chairman of the opposition Likud party. Saar told Israel Radio that
Olmert's testimony is another attempt to blame others for the failures of the war, this
time the army. Saar said the Prime Minister has not learned the lessons of the war, and
therefore, he should resign.
But Olmert's Kadima party is defending him. Parliamentarian Menachem Ben Sasson of
Kadima told the same radio program that Olmert's testimony shows the government was
functioning properly. He said that when Hizbullah captured the two soldiers, Olmert
properly appointed the army to deliver a decisive response.
The embattled Prime Minister has been holding on to power. But there are many obstacles
ahead. The Labor Party will elect a new leader at the end of this month, and some
candidates say that if elected, they will pull Labor out of the government. And if he
survives that long, Olmert will no doubt face further pressure to resign when the inquiry
commission presents its final report in July or August.
Islamic Movement Initiates Effort to Flood Temple Mount
Sheikh Raad Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, has been
working hard to ensure that thousands of Muslims will arrive in Jerusalem's Old City every
day to pray in the Al-Aksa mosque, located on the Temple Mount. Salah has been talking
with Arab clan leaders from Jerusalem and its environs in an effort to convince them to
take turns bringing their entire extended families to the mosque.
Salah also said that he plans to see to it that Jerusalem mosques are closed on Friday,
the Muslim day of rest, in order to force all those who wish to take part in group prayers
to travel to the Al-Aksa mosque. He has talked to Muslim leaders in other parts of Israel,
asking them to tell their followers to visit the Jerusalem mosque in order to demonstrate
a strong Muslim presence there. Such a presence, Salah is telling local Muslims that is
the best defense against "Israeli aggression."
Salah expressed his conviction that Jerusalem will fall into Muslim hands by "Heavenly
promise." He also said that in such a conquest, no sign of a Jewish presence will remain.
The Islamic Movement is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, as is Hamas. Group members
call Salah the leader of the "1948 branch."
Jerusalem Students Clash with Police
Two police officers and two students sustained light injuries Thursday night during
clashes in Jerusalem during protests over proposed education reforms, Israel Radio
reported. The students were taken to hospital for treatment and the police officers were
treated at the scene, the radio said. A total of 12 student protesters were also
The clashes erupted when more than 1,000 student marchers blocked streets in Jerusalem
after straying from a route agreed with the security forces. The students were marching to
the prime minister's residence, as part of protests against education reforms. The
demonstrators are demanding that the government lower tuition fees and increase the budget
allocated for higher education.
Police said that the organizers of the march had lost control over the protesters,
after students marched to Zion Square, the central plaza in the capital, and blocked
traffic on Jaffa Street, a primary artery, despite promising to remain in Independence
The students on the march wore red shirts and carried drums. They chanting "Free
education for all," and "No education, no state." A protest tent has been set up near the
prime minister's residence, and students plan to remain for a significant period of
On Friday, students are planning a "free day of education" on Rothschild Street in Tel
Aviv. Students and lecturers will speak on an array of subjects and also hold discussions,
theater workshops and street shows.
Despite the student's enthusiasm, some of the student union heads are trying to
convince the National Student Union to end the strike. The Hebrew University Student Union
sent a letter to the Chair of the National Student Union Itai Shonshein calling him to
stop the strike immediately. In the letter, the students wrote that the goals of the
strike are unrealistic.
Shonshein said in response that the union representative's opinion is not indicative of
the stance held by the majority of students who are determined to continue the strike
until there are significant achievements. He called the government's offer "pathetic" and
said that they are trying to form a divide between new students and old. He added that
these tactics are how the government broke the workers' unions in factories and succeeded
in bringing in manpower employees. "Whoever wants to lead a public struggle cannot hurt
the students of the future," Shonshein said.
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