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Rabbinic Emissary to Pray for Rain

By Israel Faxx News Services

A thousand Orthodox rabbis sent an emissary to Atlanta to pray for rain.

Rabbi Yehuda Levin performed an ancient prayer ritual Wednesday seeking divine help to end the drought in the South, the Christian Newswire reported. Levin reportedly performed the ritual in 1986, after which there was four days of rain.

"Orthodox Jews wish to show solidarity with those suffering from the drought and other natural disasters," said Levin. "We want to kick off a nationwide movement of prayer

Iran's Boast: We Have 3,000 Active Uranium-Enriching Centrifuges

By VOA News &

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iranian scientists now have 3,000 gas centrifuges working to enrich uranium. Months ago, Iran laid out that number as a benchmark that its nuclear program aimed to achieve by the end of the year.

Speaking in a nationally televised address, Ahmadinejad said Iran's nuclear fuel production program is "irreversible." He said Iran disregarded previous threats from the West over its nuclear activities, and carried on with its work. Now, he said, "We have 3,000 centrifuges."

In Washington, the State Department would not confirm the accuracy of the statement, but said it shows Iran continues to defy the international community.

Iranian officials in the past have claimed to have 3,000 centrifuges installed at its nuclear facility in Natanz, and Ahmadinejad made a similar statement in September. But in this remark, he appeared to be indicating that all 3,000 are running, which would be the benchmark the nuclear program had aimed to achieve by the end of the year.

Uranium gas is enriched in cascades of centrifuges linked together. The result can be low-grade fuel used for generating electricity, or higher-grade fuel appropriate for nuclear weapons. The United States and Europe believe Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, but Iran insists that it only wants to create peaceful nuclear energy.

U.S. nuclear proliferation experts say 3,000 centrifuges properly linked could theoretically produce enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb in about a year. But analysts in the field say there has so far been little evidence that all of Iran's centrifuges are being run together.

Sharon Squassoni is a nonproliferation specialist at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace in Washington. "But you have to keep in mind, this plant is not up and running yet, it's not fully operational," she said. "And so there I think you have to take with a grain of salt these latest remarks by President Ahmadinejad."

The Iranian leader's comments came as the International Atomic Energy Agency is preparing to issue a new report later this month on Iran's cooperation on outstanding questions over its nuclear program. The U.N. Security Council is also scheduled to discuss imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran if it is judged noncompliant.

The Security Council has asked Iran to stop all enrichment activity. But Ahmadinejad said Iran does not care about sanctions. "The Iranian nation will not retreat one iota from any of its rights, especially its nuclear rights."

The Carnegie Institute's Squassoni said it is important to consider the political context of Ahmadinejad's remarks. "To some, it might seem that this latest announcement about Iran's centrifuge capability is really counterproductive to the IAEA giving Iran a clean bill of health. It seems a very defiant action."

She said that apparent defiance may be a negotiating tactic. "Basically I think what Ahmadinejad would like people to conclude is, 'well, it's too late, so stop asking Iran to halt enrichment and get on with whatever other negotiations are necessary.' They want it to be a fait accompli. And that's why I think there have been these pronouncements, which in the past have turned out not to be true in terms of their capability. But it is clear that in the last year they've been proceeding with more success at least in installing centrifuges in the plant."

Squassoni said from a technical perspective, the number of centrifuges Iran has installed is irrelevant, and what matters is developing the ability to run them continuously. But she says the often-mentioned number of 3,000 may have some political significance in Iran's negotiations with the IAEA.

Israel's mini-cabinet convened Wednesday morning to discuss IAEA's upcoming report and how to counter it. The IAEA report is expected to conclude that diplomatic activity is still the strategy of choice to fight Iran's nuclear plans. If the IAEA so concludes, the UN Security Council is expected to wait over four months before imposing further sanctions on Iran.

The eight members of the Israeli ministerial forum are attempting to formulate a campaign to convince the UN not to accept IAEA chief Mohammed El-Baradei's approach.

Minister of Strategic Threats Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu/Israel Our Home) has said that Al-Baradei's approach "arouses many question marks regarding his intentions and whether he truly desires to deal with Iran's race for nuclear armament." Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovitch was blunter: "Instead of overseeing to ensure that Iran does not receive nuclear powers, he allows the Iranians to stall for time. Deep inside him, Al-Baradei identifies personally with the Iranians."

Lieberman says Israel has a variety of non-military options, "such as using the internet, which is widely used in Iran, to appeal directly to the Iranian public to convince their leaders to stop before it is too late."

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Foreign Ministers from the European Union this week that tougher sanctions are necessary: "The way to stop Iran is via stronger and more significant sanctions, seeing as we have not been able to stop them via diplomatic contacts."

Website Offers Services for Victims of Nazi Persecutions

By Israel Faxx News Service

The International Tracing Service has introduced its new website to the public.

The website was designed with a focus on the needs of the survivors of Nazi persecutions and their loved ones who can now use an online application form to file a tracing request. They can now also gain individual insight into the documents relating to their past that are kept in the ITS archives. In the first half-year 2007, the ITS has provided about 80,000 replies to requests of the persons concerned.

"The new website is an important tool supporting our efforts to better serve the victims of Nazi persecutions and their families", says ITS Director Reto Meister, "but it also prepares for the approaching opening of the archives by providing access regulations and the possibility for online requests for historical research".

Search for Nazi Death Camp Doctor Continues

By Reuters

For the few surviving inmates of Mauthausen concentration camp, one visitor in the autumn of 1941 left an indelible memory. Tall and athletic, Aribert Heim was the camp doctor for only two months and the 27-year-old enjoyed his time in the Austrian town.

On one occasion, he picked out a prisoner passing his office. After checking his teeth, Heim persuaded him to take part in a medical experiment with the vague promise of release.

Heim killed the man with an injection of poison to his heart, later severing his head and using the skull as a paperweight. Injections to the heart - with petrol, water or poison - were a favorite experiment of Heim's, who timed patients' deaths with a stopwatch. Sometimes, out of boredom, he carried out operations without anesthetic, removing organs from conscious victims.

Heim was arrested after World War Two but he was later released and was soon practicing as a doctor again. He moved to Baden Baden, a small town in western Germany.

But survivors of Mauthausen did not forget the camp doctor who delighted in seeing the fear of death in his patients' eyes. Police were sent to re-arrest Heim. The night before they were due to call, he disappeared.

Now German prosecutors are on Heim's trail again. They believe he is still alive because his wife and children have yet to claim money he left in a Berlin bank account.

Their search is the last gasp of the post-war hunt for Nazi war criminals. Prosecutors in Germany and the Austrian government have contributed to a reward of 310,000 Euros ($448,000) for information leading to Heim's capture. "We will pursue Heim even if our search ends up at a gravestone," said one German police investigator, who asked not to be named.

The hunt has taken them from Spain to South America. On a visit to one town in South America, investigators ran a check to find local German men aged over 90. More than 300 names came up.

Efraim Zuroff, who helped restart the pursuit of Heim, is carrying on the work of one of the world's best-known Nazi hunters, Simon Wiesenthal. Wiesenthal was instrumental in helping Israeli secret service agents bundle Holocaust planner Adolf Eichmann into a plane from Argentina, later to be hanged.

A Mauthausen inmate, Wiesenthal never forgot the strapping young doctor but he died before he could hunt Heim down. "There is a serious effort being made to find Heim but that's certainly not the case as far as others are concerned," said Zuroff, speaking by phone from Israel. "I think people are just tired. This is a subject which requires zeal. There are no political obstacles to prosecution in Germany but they do things in such a bureaucratic way."

Zuroff said many countries are opting for the "biological solution". "In a few years these people will die and with their deaths, the problem has been solved. If these countries just wait it out, then they will spare themselves enormous expense and unwanted attention and be done with the problem."

Later this year, Zuroff will make a final tour of Nazi hideouts, where hundreds of war criminals are believed to be living out their twilight years, before he retires.

Jerusalem Arabs Clamor for Israeli Citizenship


Arabs in eastern Jerusalem are flooding Interior Ministry offices to apply for citizenship out of fear of becoming residents of the Palestinian Authority and losing Israeli benefits, according to government sources. Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon has outlined a plan to divide the capital and surrender Israeli sovereignty over massive areas in Jerusalem.

Despite PA demands for a new state to include all of Israel that was restored to the Jewish state in 1967, Jerusalem's Arabs stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly payments for child support and other benefits. Only 12,000 of eastern Jerusalem's 250,000 Arabs are citizens, but 3,000 new applications were registered in the past four months. Their status is defined as permanent residents but not citizens of the state.

Olmert 10 Years Ago: Jerusalem Undivided Forever


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's theme 10 years ago when he was mayor of Jerusalem was that the capital would remain undivided forever, the Christian Science Monitor has noted. The report also commented that his right wing past and the ongoing police investigations against him have made him "a suspicious candidate for piloting the country to peace" among many observers.

"Either he's had a real conversion over time or he's a true political opportunist," said Hebrew University public opinion specialist Reuven Hazan.

African Hebrews Sink Roots Deeper Into Holy Land

By Reuters

DIMONA, Israel - Four decades after they heard what they call an angel's order to leave the United States and move to Israel, a vegan community popularly known as "the Black Hebrews" is about to get its own piece of the Holy Land.

Identifying themselves as African Hebrew Israelites, about 300 African-Americans arrived in 1969 in the sleepy desert town of Dimona, claiming to be descendants of the ancient Israelites and a right to settle in the Jewish state.

Despite observing Jewish holidays and practices, they were never recognized as Jews by Israeli authorities, but were allowed to remain. Their legal status has been resolved, and the government granted them permanent Israeli residency.

But fire services warned their homes in the small government-owned compound -- which they call the "Village of Peace" -- may be a fire hazard. So Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen and the government decided to give the community of about 3,000 Hebrews their own tract of land in the town.

On their new property, they hope not only to construct more comfortable dwellings, but also to build tourist attractions such as a wellness resort, health treatment clinics and restaurants, all reflecting the community's lifestyle.

"We are really excited. It gives us a chance to further expand on the things we have begun to do in this country and I think also to share those benefits on a more stable foundation with the wider community," said Prince Immanuel Ben-Yehuda, a white cloth-dressed spiritual leader of the community.

Members of the community, where English is the spoken language and the children wear colorful African-style robes and white head covers, believe a completely vegan diet of locally grown fruits and vegetables, along with regular exercise and holistic health treatments, are keys to longevity and health.

A medical study conducted in Dimona by U.S. university researchers in 1998 found the community was largely free of illnesses typical to African-Americans such as hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol.

"We expect to have something of a resort area where visitors will come, experience the lifestyle of the community, and as a point of rest and relaxation -- an island of tranquility -- here in Israel," Ben-Yehuda said.

The community members have also made an effort to integrate into Israeli society by following the Israeli education curriculum in their school, located just outside the compound. In addition, about 100 community members now serve in the Israeli armed forces.

The community also produces and markets its own traditional natural-fabric robes and produces its own brand of gospel-style music, which has been performed both locally and internationally. "We have really outgrown the area where we live in today," Ben-Yehuda said.

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