Newsletter : 8fax0101.txt
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2008 in Israel Begins with Removal of Guards from Buses
A government decision to stop employing the "Magen" unit to protect public
transportation will go into effect on Tuesday.
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said police would be responsible for guaranteeing
the public's safety on buses. MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) expressed concern regarding the
decision, saying he had met with representatives from the Public Security Ministry and was
not convinced that police would be able to handle the new task facing them. Buses and
other forms of public transportation are still a top target for terrorists, he said.
Four Palestinians Killed in Hamas-Fatah Gun Battles in Gaza
By VOA News
Palestinian medical officials said four people have been killed in gun battles between
Hamas and Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip. The fighting began Monday when Fatah
activists rallied in the southern town of Khan Younis to mark their party's 43rd
anniversary. The rally went ahead despite a ban by Gaza's Hamas rulers.
Medical workers said exchanges of gunfire in Khan Younis killed a Fatah supporter, two
Hamas members and a youth. Another 30 people were wounded. Gun battles also took place in
Gaza City. Throughout Gaza, Fatah supporters celebrated their anniversary by firing shots
in the air and setting off fireworks.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech that he is ready to open a "new
page" in relations between Hamas and his Fatah party. But, he repeated a call for Hamas to
relinquish control of Gaza before reconciliation talks begin.
Speaking in Ramallah, Abbas called for dialogue between rival Palestinian factions and
said military conflict should not be part of the Palestinian vocabulary. He also revived a
proposal for early elections to help resolve the internal Palestinian conflict.
Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have been high since the more-terroristic group won
parliamentary elections in January 2006, routing the incumbent Fatah administration. The
tensions erupted into deadly fighting that peaked with Hamas' takeover of Gaza in June. A
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum responded to Abbas' speech by rejecting his conditions for
Olmert Curbs West Bank Settlement Construction
By Robert Berger (VOA News-Jerusalem)
Israel is taking steps to curb settlement activity in the West Bank. But Palestinians
say it is not enough.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has sent an official letter to Cabinet ministers ordering
them not to authorize any West Bank construction without his approval. The move is aimed
at giving a boost to peace talks, which have been harmed by disputes over Israeli
Olmert has been embarrassed by several recent Housing Ministry announcements on
settlements that have brought charges from the Palestinians and the United States that
Israel is violating the "Roadmap" peace plan. The plan, which calls for a settlement
freeze, forms the basis of peace talks agreed to at the Annapolis Conference in the United
States a month ago.
Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said Israel is keeping its commitments under the Roadmap.
"It is very important that we follow through with actions on the ground, no new
settlements, no outward expansion, outward growth, of existing settlements," he said. "And
it shows our commitment to moving forward with the Palestinians."
Olmert's new instructions do not apply to one of the most contentious issues, the
construction of more than 300 new homes in the Jewish settlement of Har Homa in disputed
East Jerusalem (Israel Faxx editor: Land Israel captured in the 1967 warland that
had been seized by Jordan during Israel's 1948 War of Independence). Israeli officials
said the Roadmap does not apply to Jerusalem because it will remain the capital of the
state of Israel in any final peace agreement.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad disagreed. He said Israeli construction in East
Jerusalem is illegal and undermines the peace process. "Those actions have to stop," he
said. "They are clearly inconsistent with the overall direction that this process should
take if it is to produce an outcome that is satisfactory to all."
Despite the settlement dispute, both sides have agree to move ahead with negotiations
on the core issues of the conflict, including the status of Jerusalem, refugees and the
final borders of a Palestinian state. Talks will move into high gear next week when
President Bush visits Israel and the West Bank.
Israel Eyes Al-Qaida Threat
By Israel Faxx News Services
Israel is taking seriously a renewed threat by Osama bin Laden to attack it.
After Al-Qaida issued a recorded message this week vowing to "liberate Palestine" - a
reference to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip - Israel stepped up its scrutiny of
Palestinian terrorist groups.
"Al-Qaida has many admirers within Israel's borders, mainly in Judea and Samaria and
Gaza," Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told
Israel Radio on Monday.
"Thus the chances of active Al-Qaida cells being set up here, with strong motivation to
carry out major attacks, is something we should prepare for and thwart. Security officials
have, in recent years, identified 'Global Jihad' elements in the territories who (sic) are
predisposed to view Bin Laden as their leader and to draw their jihadist spirit from
Hanegbi noted that Bin Laden's recent message differed from previous ones by appearing
to threaten attacks on targets in Israel. "There is a chance that his operatives will view
this as an order to operate, even if up until now they did not think this was important,"
Yedioth Ahronoth reported that intelligence warnings had been received of possible
Al-Qaida attacks being planned against Israeli tourists in Turkey. Jerusalem officials had
no immediate comment.
Israelis to Bush: Bring Pollard with You
Just a week before President George W. Bush arrives in Israel, the Knesset Audit
Committee has voted unanimously to have the State Comptroller prepare a report on Israel's
handling of the Jonathan Pollard affair. Pollard has been imprisoned, without parole, in
the United States since 1985 on charges of passing classified information to Israel.
On the occasion of Bush's visit next week, hopes have been raised that the president
might use the occasion to bring Pollard with him on his airplane. Knesset member Nissan
Slomiansky (NRP) wrote a letter to Bush earlier this month, asking him to do just
Countless other letters have been written to the President on the issue, one of the
most recent of which was penned by Beit El resident Guy Sagiv. In a heart-felt but firm
correspondence dated Dec. 31, 2007, Sagiv wrote, inter alia,
"...In your great country, a Jew is imprisoned - my brother and the brother of all Jews
- is Jonathan Pollard. He has been imprisoned in the US for the past 22 years - long
enough considering that his punishment is disproportionate to other spies who worked even
for enemy nations. Jonathan simply wanted to protect America's greatest ally,
"You, Mr. President, have the opportunity to be remembered as one of the great
political leaders of this era - and this one act of releasing an imprisoned Jew would earn
you that title. The whole Jewish nation will laud you and remember you eternally as the
leader who truly led.
"You will be arriving soon in the State of Israel, in the Holy Land. As the door opens
on Air Force One, Jonathan Pollard can emerge along with you. History will remember this
glorious moment as one of your crowning achievements. You can do it; you can bring him
home, now. You have a choice either to be a messenger of God, or not to be... Please, Mr.
President, do the right thing."
Just last month, Israel marked 22 years of Pollard's incarceration in the U.S. on one
charge of passing classified information to an ally - Israel. His life sentence without
parole, in violation of a previous plea bargain agreement, is wholly disproportionate to
the average sentence - 2-4 years in prison - for this crime.
MEMRI: Hamas TV Cartoon of Hareidis Undermining Al-Aqsa
The Middle East Media Research Institute www.memri.org has posted a video clip of a cartoon aired last week on Hamas television in which anti-Semitic caricatures of hareidi-religious Jews are seen digging under the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in an effort to bring it down.
The cartoon features an Israeli army officer with stereotypical features to match those
of the hareidim. At the end of the video, the message "The Al-Aqsa mosque is in
While Muslim digging on and below the Temple Mount has resulted in the loss of valuable
archaeological material, there has been no proof of danger from any Jewish excavations in
the area. The nearest Jewish dig is outside the Western Wall of the Temple, which is a
retaining wall built in the time of King Herod, 2,000 years ago.
Call to Murder Jews is Distributed in Ukraine Churches
By Israel Faxx News Services
An unknown group is using Russian Orthodox churches in Ukraine to spread a call to
murder Jews. The group, which calls itself the "Orthodox public organization of Odessa,"
distributed anti-Semitic pamphlets last week at some Russian Orthodox churches in Odessa
calling for pogroms, the murder of Jews. The group expressed regret at the collapse of the
Berl Kapulkin, a spokesperson for Odessa's Jewish community, told reporters that,
according to preliminary information, the pamphlets were distributed by representatives of
United Fatherland and the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine, both pro-Russian
Rabbi Avraham Wolf, chief rabbi of Odessa and Southern Ukraine, called on Ukraine's
authorities to end the incitement in the Orthodox churches against Jews. Wolf said he
hopes Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko would keep his promise to combat interethnic
hatred in the country.
At its session last week, the assembly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow
Patriarchate declared activities of the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine as
Selling Falafel to Eskimos
At times it is shaped like a ball, sometimes like a flat burger. It may have a pale
brown color, or be darksome. It can have a smooth or grainy texture, and be eaten inside a
pita or Turkish bread. Make way for hummus's brother: falafel
If you compare Nadav Weiss, 30, to a salesperson selling ice to Eskimos, he will laugh.
Ice to Eskimos? That is no match for the challenge he took upon himself: selling falafel
to the residents of Fairbanks, Alaska without ever cooking it before and in a place where
most have never heard of the national Israeli food.
Yet, the risk paid off. Nadav's "Falafel Place" that is open four hours a day, sells
about 200 falafel meals, and the locals love it.
Weiss arrived in Alaska after his army service and instead of continuing on the world
tour he planned, he fell in love. Twice. First with the place, then with Terry his
Alaskan wife. When they made the ice state their home, they looked for a fulfilling job
and a challenge. They decided on falafel.
There was only one problem with Nadav and Terry's Cinderella story: the couple couldn't
cook falafel, nor could they find a pita in the entire state; so they opted for learning
to make both. After four months of trial-and-error they stumbled upon the winning recipe
and opened a stand in Fairbanks.
"At first, our stand was located in the middle of the Framer's Market in town. As the
lines grew longer and longer, we were moved to a corner where our customers wouldn't be in
the way of shoppers," Nadav said.
Although the resemblance to the original is evident, there is one big difference:
Nadav's $7 pita is stuffed with falafel, tehina, parsley and
lettuce. "Although I
tell my customers that in Israel we prefer our falafel spicy and with pickles, the
Alaskans' craving for lettuce couldn't be squashed. So I agreed," he explained.
Despite his success, Nadav remained humble: "This story is not about an Israeli who
traveled to Alaska to conquer it. I love this place but I wanted something to remind me of
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