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Non-Kosher Supermarket Raided for Opening on Sabbath


Non-Jewish inspectors from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor raided the Kiryat Chaim branch of the non-kosher Tiv Ta'am Supermarket chain last Sabbath. The manager of the store immediately sent the workers home in order to avoid heavy fines for violating the law against employing Jewish workers on the Sabbath. Shoppers, stranded with no one to check out their groceries, left their carts and also went home. The company admitted that inspectors entered the store but claimed that no law enforcement actions were taken.

Kidnapped BBC Journalist Freed in Gaza

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Kidnapped BBC Journalist Alan Johnston has been freed by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. He was freed with the help of another terrorist group, Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Johnston spoke of his ordeal at a news conference in Gaza: "The psychological pressures and stresses are absolutely huge, and it's a huge battle to keep your mind in the right place and stay healthy in every way you can, and just the most unimaginable relief that it's finally over."

Johnston's life appeared to be in serious danger last week, when the shadowy group holding him, the Army of Islam, posted a video of him wearing an explosives belt. He said his life was threatened several times.

"The last 16 weeks of course [were] just the very worst you can imagine of my life. It was like being buried alive really, removed from the world, and occasionally terrifying," said Johnston. "We were in the hands of people who were dangerous and unpredictable."

But when Hamas took over Gaza last month in a civil war, it worked for Johnston's release. Palestinian analyst Hassan Abu Shanah said it is a sign that Hamas is in full control. "Everyone knows that Hamas is very powerful now on the ground here in Gaza. I believe that no one will work against these troops because they are taking over all the Gaza Strip."

Johnston said it is "fantastic" to be free. He said he often dreamed of waking up a free man. Now, it is a dream come true.

Egyptian Police Fire at Sudanese Refugees Trying to Enter Israel

By Reuters and Ha'aretz

Egyptian border police shot at a group of Sudanese refugees trying to illegally enter Israel, critically wounding one, a security source said on Wednesday.

An Egyptian border patrol spotted the group of about 30 Sudanese refugees at the border, south of Rafah in northern Sinai Peninsula, and ordered them to stop, opening fire when they did not comply, the source said.

One Sudanese man sustained wounds to his abdomen, and was being treated in El Arish Hospital, while three others were taken into police custody. The other 26 escaped and managed to cross into Israel, a police official said.

Two of the Sudanese refugees who were detained were Rawda Abdullah, 25, and her 24-year-old brother Ismail, from the war-torn Darfur region. The three were part of a group of 29 Sudanese refugees who paid smugglers $500 each to help them sneak into Israel, said the official.

Radwa Abdullah told interrogators that the refugees met with a broker in Cairo who promised them a safe crossing into Israel. She said they were then covered with bed sheets on mini-trucks and entered the Sinai Peninsula, where they spent a night in Bedouin tents. In the early morning, masked Bedouins led them to a border area where the barbed wire was dangling and had many holes, the official said Radwa Abdullah told investigators.

Later in the day, border guards arrested two Sudanese women, two men and two children, also from Darfur and a Somali man who said he was seeking work in Israel, the Egyptian border official said.

Egypt's eastern border is the scene of frequent attempts by Egyptians and foreigners at crossing into Israel to smuggle goods or search for work.

On Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting that the African refugees who will be deported to Egypt "will not be returned to countries where their lives are in danger." Olmert was trying to assuage concerns of human rights organizations regarding the fate of the refugees once they were deported to Egypt, from where they crossed into Israel.

Olmert and Egypt President Hosni Mubarak agreed last week that Israel would deport the African refugees back to Egypt though international border crossings.

Olmert told the Foreign Affairs committee that some 2,800 refugees and economic migrants have crossed into Israel from Egypt, and that 1,160 of them are from Sudan. He promised that Israel would absorb the refugees that have already arrived from Darfur, and will help settle them in Israel. As for the rest, he said that they would be returned to Egypt.

'Most of the persons crossing are economic migrants, and there is no reason to hold them here and to create a community that [potentially] may reach hundreds of thousands.' Olmert said.

Dual Loyalty, Baseball, and the Israeli Psyche

By Bradley Burston (Commentary-Ha'aretz)

For the immigrant, the majority culture is inevitably despotic. This is not to say that it will in all cases dismiss, ridicule, exploit and discriminate against the newcomers in its midst. On the contrary, the dominant culture may well be seductive, exhilarating, even, in rare cases, authentically welcoming. The message, however, stays the same: You're ours, now. Even if we'll never treat you as one of us, you'd better act as if you were.

This may explain a recent opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post, timed to coincide with the opening game of Israel's first professional baseball league, entitled "Baseball is too American for us Israelis."

"I did not make aliyah to promote American culture in Israel or to live in an American ghetto, but to become part of the Israeli landscape," writes Brian Freeman, who moved to the Jewish state from Cincinnati, Ohio 18 years ago.

The cultural baggage which Freeman left in Ben-Gurion airport's arrivals area included more than his childhood love of the arcane sport, which could be said to be the common religion of North American Jewry.

He also stopped observing such holidays as Thanksgiving, "or any of the other customs left behind. Frankly, I don't understand those US immigrants who do it, as if our Israeli/Jewish culture is lacking somehow."

One way to deal with this is to give up and give in. Brian Freeman has solved his problem by sparing his children the culture of his birth. "Why should I create a dual identity for them? The idea of moving here was to have an Israeli identity and not continue as if I was still living in the Old Country."

Well and good. Except that this country, this culture, this very Israeliness was built of, and immensely enriched by, the cultures of the people who left distant homes to come here. And for all that Israelis and, for that matter, North Americans, may look down on North American culture, there may well be something in it for Israelis.

Or take as an example a game for which Israelis have no patience. What on earth could baseball have to teach them? Herewith, some possibilities: You think you know your opponent. Think again; You think you know yourself. Think again; Respect patience; Respect practice; Acknowledge error; Respect opponents; Respect rules; Respect teammates; Respect activities foreign to your experience; Learn to use your hands, not just your feet; Learn to take advice; Learn to evaluate and internalize criticism; and respect self-discipline.

That is, appreciate and adopt the ability to temper personal ambition for the good of the collective. This is similar to sacrifice for the common good is not always the act of a sucker.

In the end, trying to spare your kids a dual identity may not be the wisest choice. There may be a type of cultural dual loyalty which we possess whether we like it or not. There's something to be said for embracing it.

Even that November Maimouna of ours called Thanksgiving. Even the hated strain of Americanism can have its moments, among them, this commemoration of disparate people helping each other through hard times, people of different backgrounds, outlooks, customs - people who could be enemies - celebrating the fact of being alive, and together.

There are worse things than dual loyalty to so-existing cultures. One of them is denial. Try what you like, you can take the oleh out of America, but you can't take America out of the oleh.

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