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Kurt Waldheim Dead at 88
Israel Faxx News Service

Kurt Waldheim, the former U.N. secretary-general with a Nazi past, died in Vienna at 88. Waldheim died of heart failure Thursday with family members at his bedside.

Waldheim served as U.N. secretary-general from 1972-1982 and was elected Austrian president in 1986. His political career was overshadowed by revelations that he had served in a unit of the Nazi armed forces that committed war crimes in the Balkans in the summer of 1942. Waldheim maintained that he had not committed war crimes.

Austria's current president expressed his "deepest condolences," and officials lowered the flag flying outside his office to half-staff.


PA Government Dissolved, Abbas to Declare 'State of Emergency'

By IsraelNationalNews.com, Ha'aretz & YnetNews.com

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, announced on Thursday night that he is dissolving the government of the PA.

By dismissing the PA's legislative head, Ismail Haniyeh, and other Hamas officials, Abbas formally ended the power-sharing agreement between Hamas and Fatah. The agreement had been in effect for just a few months and was marked by intermittent violence between the two groups from the start.

A spokesman for Abbas, Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, said, "The president is determined to go back to the Palestinian public, when the situation allows that." Abbas is intending to form a new government, Abdel-Rahim explained.

Earlier in the day, the Islamist Hamas terrorist group completed its takeover of Gaza, sending the surviving local Fatah leaders fleeing across the border to Egypt and by boat into the Mediterranean Sea. In what was the Fatah-run General Security Services building in Gaza City, Hamas gunmen claimed to have found documents proving strong ties between Fatah and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

All "Fatah traitors" who refuse to surrender to will be killed, a Hamas spokesman recently made clear. Hamas gave Fatah gunmen a Friday deadline to turn over all their weapons, but Fatah terrorists have been blowing up their own weapons caches and headquarters in various parts of Gaza to prevent their falling into Hamas' hands.

The Executive Committee of the PLO recommended that Abbas ask for international protection against Hamas. During a meeting in Ramallah on Thursday, the committee authorized Abbas "to take whatever decision he judges appropriate," according to one committee member. Abbas said he plans to declare a state of emergency in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

In Judea and Samaria, Fatah gunmen arrested dozens of Hamas activists during the day Thursday. According to spokesmen of Abbas' Fatah, the sweeping arrests were for the detainees' own protection. PLO leaders wanted "to protect the Hamas activists from angry Fatah members," they said.

Senior Fatah terrorist Abu Udai, however, seemed to disagree, telling the Bethlehem-based Maan news service that "Hamas is now a legally prohibited movement... Its activities are banned, and Hamas members will be punished if they participated in any Hamas activity." On Tuesday, Abu Udai threatened to "wipe out the entire leadership and all the activists of Hamas in the West Bank."

Hamas officially declared victory in Gaza Thursday afternoon after completing its capture of the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security Service building, formerly controlled by Fatah, after a week-long civil war.

Hamas announced its intention to establish an Islamic state in Gaza and added it will turn the building into a religious center, including a Muslim seminary. The building currently contains the offices of the PA government.

Arab residents of Gaza, including Fatah terrorists, wounded in the latest round of fighting between Fatah and Hamas are often treated in hospitals in Israel. Aref Suleiman, a Fatah terrorist undergoing treatment for gunshot wounds in Ashkelon's Barzilai hospital, was interviewed recently by the British Telegraph.

Suleiman told the Telegraph that "Palestinians shoot me, and Jews treat me. It was supposed to be different." The Telegraph report pointed out that victims of Gaza terrorists, including victims of Kassam rockets, are often treated nearby.

Hamas officials reacted to Abbas' decision to dissolve the PA leadership on Thursday night, calling his announcement "self-contradictory." "Such a decree needs a mechanism in order for it to be implemented," the PA-affiliated Maan News quoted them as saying. Hamas leaders claimed that Gaza had become more secure since they took over in a series of violent clashes with Fatah.

Abbas' decision means that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has been fired, and all PA officials must report to Abbas. Abbas was in the West Bank at the time, which is still controlled by his Fatah group.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas called Abbas' decisions to dismiss him from the unity government "hasty." Speaking early Friday on Palestinian television, Haniyeh said the unity government would continue working the best it can for the Palestinian people.

In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Snow said the Gaza fighting is a "source of profound concern." Snow accused Hamas of "committing acts of terror" against the Palestinian people.

"Israel is very concerned and is monitoring the situation closely, but at this point has no intention of intervening," said a senior U.S. State Department official in Jerusalem on Thursday night.

The official also said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would not cancel his scheduled trip to Washington DC this weekend. Olmert's office said on Thursday that the IDF would not take action in Gaza but that the prime minister plans to discuss the recent alarming events in the Strip with President George W. Bush and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in his meetings with the two early next week.

"Israel intends to work with the international community to deal with the serious and troubling events in Gaza," said Olmert's office. Olmert is reported to have followed the escalating events in Gaza closely throughout the day.

"When the infighting began the prime minister warned that if Hamas overtakes Gaza it may have an impact on the entire region. Since this is, unfortunately, the way things have played out, we are preparing ourselves accordingly," said the State official.

Olmert's office said that Hamas has not taken into account the 1.5 million people living in Gaza who they will have to take care now: "Gaza relies on Israel for its humanitarian needs. All of its crossings are linked to Israel. We will examine the situation and decide what should be done with the new situation, but will not be held responsible for the fate of Gaza's residents.

"Several possible responses are being considered at the moment. Among other things we may decide on separate policies for Gaza and the West Bank. We do not want the infighting to spill into the West Bank and for Hamas to gain strength there. Likewise we will assess the situation of the Philadelphi route. The National Security Council and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are both studying the matter. Only the security cabinet will determine the course of action Israel will adopt in light of this new reality," said the official.

Olmert is planning to tell Bush next Tuesday that there is an urgent need to view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as separate entities and prevent contact between them, political sources in Jerusalem said Thursday.

According to the sources, the defense establishment is recommending a "separation policy" for the two territories, and is emphasizing the importance of "ensuring that what is happening this week in Gaza will not happen in the West Bank."

Bush and Olmert's meeting will center on Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in recent days, and they will discuss whether it is possible to move the peace process forward, and in what ways.

Olmert will also raise the topic of deploying a multi-national force along the Gaza-Egypt border in his meetings with Bush and later with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. An international force would be deployed in order to curb the smuggling of arms from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, and strengthening Hamas.

Israel, however, has not yet formulated a unified stance regarding the deployment of the force, which would be commanded by the Arab League, and the security cabinet will meet on the topic when Olmert returns from the U.S.

The second issue for the meeting between the two leaders will be the question of curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The U.S. and Israel agreed last week to reevaluate the use of sanctions on Iran at the end of the year. "At that point we will prepare for strengthening the sanctions or for something else entirely," a political source said.

According to reports in Jerusalem, the economic sanctions are causing concern for Iran's middle class and business community.

Olmert will suggest Bush broaden "external sanctions" which go beyond the UN Security Council approved sanctions currently in force, such as targeting the Iranian banking system and economy, and the prevention of American pension fund investment in companies trading with Iran.

The prime minister also supports the measure of denying Iranian passport-holders entry to western countries.

Also on Thursday, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told a weekly meeting of security officials that Israel would not allow the ongoing violence between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip to spread into attacks on southern Israel, meeting participants said. Earlier Peretz had said "we mustn't allow the fighting between the Palestinian factions deter from the preparedness and alertness of the Israel Defense Forces."


Fictitious Memory

By Ha'aretz

A few years ago, a book in a Tel Aviv used-book store caught the eye of documentary filmmaker Ari Libsker. The book, written in Hebrew, featured hard-core pornography, but what attracted his attention was its setting and the identity of its characters. The story tells of a Nazi prison camp commanded by women, and includes descriptions of their abuse of prisoners of war - some of them sexual.

That same bookstore visit sparked Libsker's interest in "stalagim," pornographic books published in Israel during the 1960s that describe sadistic relations between beautiful Nazi women, who commanded Third Reich prison camps, and their tortured prisoners. In these books, the prisoners are usually American and British, rather than Jewish. Libsker adds that in the books' narratives, the protagonist is usually a prisoner who describes the humiliation, torture and rape he experiences in the camp.

His interest in this subject led Libsker to Eli Eshed, a researcher of popular Israeli culture and pulp literature, who examined the "stalag" phenomenon. In an article Eshed published in the Ha'ayal Hakoreh online publication in 2001, he cited dozens of titles belonging to this genre, which were released in Israel between 1961 and 1964. The first publication of the series, "Stalag 13," was printed seven times and sold a total of 25,000 copies.

Not only did these books break taboos relating to pornography in Hebrew fiction - they broke taboos that had existed with regard to the literary treatment of the Holocaust, according to Eshed. "It is no accident that 'stalagim' began to appear in 1961, in the shadow of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem," Eshed writes. "The bitter and widely publicized testimony gave rise to a renewed public discourse on the Holocaust."

It was the exposure to this literary genre that led to Libsker's decision to make a documentary film to examine the phenomenon. Filming, which began a year ago, mainly focuses on interviews with people who wrote these books under pseudonyms, and their readers. "The film will expose the inventor of this genre, who was interviewed for the first time," Libsker says.

Recently, Libsker interviewed Uri Avnery, editor of the now defunct Haolam Hazeh weekly news magazine that devoted the back pages of two editions to "stalagim." Avnery also referred to the Eichmann trial as a turning point in Israel's approach to the Holocaust. He believes the "stalagim" developed as a sado-masochistic, public response to the horrors described in the trial.

"The film attempts to identify the backdrop to which this fiction was created, and the reason it became so popular," Libsker says. "It also examines how these books influenced the generation that read them - people now in their 50s and 60s - and how the books shaped their memory." He maintains that for many "stalag" readers, the boundaries between fact and fiction became blurred. "Although these are fictional books, members of that generation absorbed the 'stalagim' as part of the collective memory of the Holocaust."

Libsker says it was hard to find the books' writers and to persuade them to grant interviews for the film. Readers were also reluctant to expose their reading habits on camera.

According to Libsker, many find the subject intimidating and some interviewees demanded that he conceal their identities on film. In some scenes, he asked readers to read passages from the books aloud, as he documented their responses to the text. He says many of them remembered the books as soft pornography and were surprised by the extremely graphic details of sexual abuse (that include the amputation of genitalia, for example).

The years that passed not only softened the memory of the pornographic details in the readers' minds. According to Libsker, many switched the roles and sexes of the characters: Readers, who have matured since reading these books, often remember them as stories about Nazi men raping and torturing Jewish women, rather than the opposite.

The filming of the documentary, temporarily entitled "Stalagim," will be completed in the coming days. Barak Heiman co-produced the movie with Libsker and the film was funded by the "Yes Doco" television channel and the New Fund for Film and Television in Israel.


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