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President Bush's Hava Nagila Moment; To view, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoYAspnwjzU


Military Option Against Iran Persists

By Israel Faxx News Services

Israel and the United States have not eliminated the military option against Iran, a senior Israeli official said.

Briefing journalists Thursday on President Bush's talks in Jerusalem, the official said that while both countries preferred diplomatic and economic measures, they did not "remove any option from the table." "I don't want to speak for the president, but when we say all options are on the table, this is not just words," the Israeli said, underlining his country's seriousness..

At a joint news conference Wednesday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Bush said, "Iran was a threat, Iran is a threat and Iran will be a threat if the international community does not come together and prevent that nation from the development of the know-how to build a nuclear weapon."


Bush Gets Mixed Welcome in West Bank

By VOA News & Reuters

President Bush traveled to the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem Thursday, telling Palestinians that he believes they can sign a peace deal with Israel before he leaves office early next year. There was unprecedented heavy security in the West Bank for Bush's visit and he received a mixed welcome from Palestinians.

Palestinian police were taking no chances in Ramallah. Hundreds deployed all over the city to break up any protests that might develop during Bush's visit, only the second visit by a U.S. president to the Palestinian territories.

A morning curfew kept Ramallah residents off the streets while Bush met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but by midday many began venturing out. A heavy police presence stopped protests from developing, a fact that bothered Khaldoun Barghouti, the foreign editor of the Palestinian newspaper Al Hayat al Jedidi.

"The Palestinian people are enlightened now, and they know it is their right to express their opinion by welcoming Bush or by saying he is not welcome here," he said. "It is their freedom. In Jerusalem, the Israelis demonstrated against Bush and their leaders, and nobody prevented them."

Opinions were varied in Ramallah about Bush's visit. Many people said they did not want to comment, but two men who did, while declining to give their names, had widely divergent opinions.

"I think Bush is a good president," one man said. "Yes, he is a man of peace and he is welcome to the Middle East. Slowly, step by step, he will bring peace. I think he is a good president... He is a good president and he is welcome any time."

"I do not agree, I mean George Bush is the President of war," said another man. "He destroyed Iraq. He gave Israel arms to burn Lebanon, and for eight years he gave Israel the right to kill and confiscate land and build settlements here."

In his remarks with Abbas, Bush noted that because of bad weather he traveled to Ramallah in a motorcade that passed through several checkpoints on its way from Jerusalem to Ramallah, checkpoints that the Palestinians have asked Bush to pressure Israel to remove.

As the weather cleared, Bush departed Ramallah by helicopter. Thousands of Palestinians stopped to watch as his convoy of green and white presidential helicopters flew over the city on their way to nearby Bethlehem, where Bush paid a private visit to the Church of the Nativity, the site Christians venerate as the birthplace of Jesus.

Passing through a tiny "Door of Humility", Bush entered the traditional birthplace of Jesus. The door to the church, originally built in the fourth century, was made low to stop marauders entering on horseback.

Bush was greeted by a group of bearded Greek Orthodox priests wearing black robes and held hands with two of them as he visited the church's grotto, where a 14-point star marks the spot where the faithful believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to the Christian messiah.

In a courtyard next to the centuries-old church in Manger Square, Bush voiced hope a future state would bring an end to Israeli security measures, allowing Palestinians far greater freedom.

"Some day, I hope that as a result of the formation of a Palestinian state, there won't be walls, and checkpoints. People will move freely in a democratic [Palestinian] state," Bush said. "That's the vision, greatly inspired by my belief that there is an Almighty, and a gift of that Almighty to each man, woman and child on the face of the Earth is freedom."

Bush also held unscheduled meetings Thursday morning in Jerusalem with Knesset opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon's sons.

The president met separately with Gilad and Omri Sharon, whose father, the stricken former Israeli prime minister, was a frequent guest at the White House.

Asked about his time with Bush, Netanyahu later said they discussed issues of pressing concern to Israel, chiefly the Iranian nuclear program. "Our meeting dealt mostly with the Iranian issue, but also with other matters," Netanyahu, a former prime minister, told Israel Radio. "I raised my positions and I didn't feel that we were on different sides.''

Netanyahu also stressed to Bush the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jews, presenting him with an ancient coin embossed with an image of the holy city. Israeli right-wingers are concerned that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, perhaps under U.S. pressure, could yield to Palestinian demands to divide the capital.

Bush will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance and education center on Friday. The museum will be closed to the public. He will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony and visit the Children's Memorial. Following his visit to Yad Vashem, Bush is expected to travel to the Galilee to visit Christian sites, among them the ruins of Capernaum and the Mount of the Beatitudes.

Then Bush gets ready to embark on the second half of his Middle East tour. heading to five Arab states to encourage support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and urge unity on Iran. The president's trip takes him to Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.


Three Arrested as Hundreds Hold Emergency Rally for Jerusalem

By Israel NationalNews.com& YnetNews.com

Some 200 right-wing activists gathered in central Jerusalem on Thursday evening to protest the ongoing visit of US President George W. Bush. The rally was organized by the 'SOS Israel' under the banner of praying for a unified Jerusalem. Protestors read psalms and carried signs, several of which warned that Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were "bringing another Holocaust."

One demonstrator was detained for displaying a fake gun. "The struggles for the other settlements will be ten-fold what there was in Amona. It is good to die for our country," said SOS Israel chairman Rabbi Dov Wolpe, echoing the reputed last words of legendary Zionist activist Joseph Trumpeldor.

Some protestors held posters depicting Bush, Olmert and President Shimon Peres wearing kaffiyahs (Muslim headdress), with the words "terror abettors" written on them.

"There is talk of President Bush's vision of two states for two peoples - may the all-merciful protect us," Wolpe said. "On the day after his election President Peres said we must cede the territories. If the president of the United States would have said after his inauguration that Seattle and Manhattan should be handed over, what would (the American public) call him?"

Wolpe continued to say that "only the coming of the messiah can save us, not the High Court (of Justice), which is collaborating with the Arabs."

The rally was called to protest Israeli concessions placed on the table by Israeli and American leaders in recent weeks, such as the division of Jerusalem, the uprooting of Jewish communities and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The rabbis at the event prepared an ornate English-language Bible for Bush. They noted that the gift is to remind Bush, a religious Christian, that the Torah includes God's allotment of the Land of Israel to the Jews.

One of those arrested was detained at the Zion Square protest for disturbing the public order. He was arrested during a scuffle that developed between police and some of the protesters. The arrested man was draped in an American flag, and carrying a picture of Bush and a toy gun.

Knesset member Aryeh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party). termed the Wednesday evening arrests a violation of civil freedoms. In a letter the MK sent to Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Thursday, Eldad asked the minister to investigate reports that police had violated activists' freedom of speech.

The King David Hotel, where Bush is staying, received hundreds of faxes from Land of Israel activists. The purpose of the faxes was to get several key messages to the attention of Bush. Hotel staff passed the letters on to the American delegation, as per protocol.


Berlin Investigates: Whatever Happened to Jewish Businesses?

By YnetNews.com

Both Germans and Jews across the world are "completely unaware of the significant contribution that German Jews made to Berlin commerce prior to the Holocaust," said Prof. Kristoff Kroitzmiller of Humboldt University's history department.

Humboldt, one of three leading universities in Berlin, is currently conducting a unique study attempting to document all Jewish businesses that operated in Berlin before the rise of the Nazi Party. The study attempts to discern what exactly happened to Jewish businesses after the Nazi Party assumed power.

At a later phase in the study, researchers will also attempt to determine whether these Jewish business owners, or their families, ever received compensation for their businesses — which were ultimately confiscated by the Nazis or sold for far less their worth.

"In 1933, when the Nazis assumed power, there were 52,000 businesses in Berlin," said Kroitzmiller. "A quarter of these businesses were owned by Jews, which is tremendous considering that Jews only constituted five percent of Berlin's population. Jews therefore made a hefty and significant contribution to Berlin commerce, and it is our goal to make the public aware of this little known fact."

Kroitzmiller also noted that "There was a large wealth of documented Jewish businesses in Berlin prior to 1933. So far we have managed to trace roughly 4,000 businesses that were Jewish-owned or considered by the Nazis as such. "I believe, however, the true number of Jewish businesses in the city was at least twice that," he added.

"One of the interesting topics that we would also like to examine is how these business owners dealt with the limitations imposed on them by Nazi rule, and what 'survival strategies' they employed before they were forced to sell their businesses," Kroitzmiller noted.


North Carolina School Halts Nazi Role-Play

By Israel Faxx News Services

A North Carolina middle school will halt a classroom exercise in which students role-play as Nazis and Jews.

The Hoke County Board of Education voted this week to end the eighth-grade English class exercise in conjunction with reading "The Diary of Anne Frank" after a parent complained, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

Students were divided into Jews and Nazis; the students playing Jews were not allowed to participate in class activities without permission from the students playing Nazis. The roles reversed the following week.

The classroom teacher, Hoke Middle School principal and the schools superintendent all stood behind the project. But the school board decided to end it during a closed session of its regular meeting.


'Israeli Initiative' Film Trailer Stars on YouTube

By YnetNews.com

A cinematic trailer serving as a tool for marketing Israeli Initiative's political message is starring in the list of the most popular video clips on YouTube just a few days after its release.

Headed by Knesset Member Benny Elon, the Israeli Initiative - the Right Road to Peace plan – calls for the Palestinian Authority to cease to exist and be replaced by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

To see the video, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p80w-uGH3Ss

"The Last Fanatic depicts a would-be suicide bomber who unexpectedly calls off his attack plans – which leads the viewer to question what led him and his supporters to deviate from their path," a statement released by the Initiative said.

Dozens of Palestinian extras from east Jerusalem participated in the heavily-invested production, including Tarak Kofti, who acted in the successful Israeli film "The Band's Visit".

The video clip concludes with the words "coming soon to the Middle East" and directs people to the Israeli Initiative website. According to the statement, hundreds of hits from all over the world have been registered on the Initiative's website, including from Arab states and Arab citizens in the US and Europe.

"We decided to translate the campaign into the language of the Internet generation and of the Web 2.0.," said Israeli Initiative's strategic campaign adviser, Yuval Porat.

"The use of the cinematic language of a short and rhythmic trailer and advanced marketing tools, which were used, utilize the new arena in an ideological manner, which create file-sharing websites, including YouTube, and enable exposure to millions of visitors throughout the world and in Israel," he said.


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