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German Jews Warned Of Imminent Terror Attacks

By IsraelNationalNews.com

German security personnel are warning the German Jewish community of an increased threat of attacks from Lebanon.

According to the Central Council of German Jews, German security officials warned that the danger applies to synagogues and Jewish schools across the country, not just in the capital city of Berlin. German police will increase their presence at Jewish institutions in response to the threat.

Approximately 200,000 Jews reside in Germany, half of whom are affiliated with a Jewish community center or synagogue.


Israel to Allow Limited Food, Fuel into Gaza

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has eased its blockade of the Gaza Strip, allowing the resumption of limited supplies of food and fuel to cross through its checkpoints into Gaza.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he would allow a limited resumption of food and fuel supplies to Gaza, but warned that Israel would not ease its pressure on the Gaza Strip to halt Palestinian terrorists from firing rockets at southern Israel.

Gaza City has been without power after the city's main power plant shut down when it ran out of fuel late Sunday. Last week Israel sealed its borders with Gaza cutting all supplies to Gaza as retaliation for continuing rocket fire against the southern Israeli town of Sderot.

U.N. officials warned that international food aid to hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents could be suspended by Thursday, because U.N. trucks would also run out of fuel. John Ging who heads U.N. operations in Gaza said the fuel cutoff is making life intolerable for Gaza's residents.

"Six hundred thousand people in Gaza City are without electricity and will be until the power plant can resume its operation. It just adds more to the misery," he said.

Israeli officials strongly defended the cutoff, saying rocket attacks against Israel dropped dramatically after the fuel cutoff resulted in the shutdown of the power plant. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ariyeh Mekel said Hamas terrorists who control Gaza can stop the attacks if they want to, adding that Hamas was responsible for the crisis.

"What we see in Gaza is a fabrication by Hamas. The fact is that 70 percent of the electricity in Gaza is provided by Israel, through electricity cables and this is not dependent at all on the supply of fuel," he said.

A Hamas spokesman dismissed the Israeli action to ease the blockade saying Palestinians would continue to attack Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who heads the rival Fatah organization also criticized the blockade, but he proposed to take over Gaza's crossing points with Israel as a way of easing the crisis. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and Israel will have nothing to do with Hamas, but Israel does deal with Fatah security forces under Abbas' control.

Fatah forces were kicked out of Gaza by Hamas last June after a violent series of clashes. Since then Gaza's 1.5 million residents have lived under an ever-tightening international blockade.


Israeli Jews: No Voice for Diaspora Jews on Status of Jerusalem

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The vast majority of Jewish Israelis believe that Diaspora Jews have no right to make decisions about Jerusalem, according to a new poll commissioned by the Shalem Center's Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies.

The issue is one that hit a raw nerve among American Jews during the Middle East talks held at Annapolis in November, where discussions focused on getting final status talks underway for Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority. The status of Jerusalem is a central issue in the negotiations.

According to the poll, an overwhelming number of Israelis oppose the idea of ceding parts of the capital to the Palestinian Authority. Only 5 percent of respondents said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has the right to divide Jerusalem between Israel and the PA.

Only 16 percent of the 500 respondents said Jews who reside outside Israel should have input into decisions regarding the future of the Holy City. Twice that number agreed that all Israeli Jews have the right to contribute their views to such a decision. Even more, 34 percent believe that all Israeli citizens, Jewish and gentile, have the right to decide Jerusalem's fate.

The findings were released Sunday at the Herzliya Conference held at the Knesset. President Shimon Peres also addressed the issue in his speech to the conference Sunday night, saying any decision on concessions to the PA must be approved by the grassroots population.

In a speech that appeared to call for a referendum on the negotiations, Peres said any decision by the government should be brought to the people. "This will allow the people to truly choose," he said. "And this is the same for the opposition. It is not enough to criticize the conducting of negotiations; one must also present an alternative.


New Israeli Satellite 'Sees' Through Clouds

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The new satellite developed in Israel and launched Monday morning in cooperation with India includes a payload with the capability to see through clouds and provide images day and night, its developers said. Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) launched the satellite in cooperation with the Antrix Corporation.

The satellite is now orbiting Earth and the first images are expected in two weeks. It is the first satellite of its kind developed in Israel, and ranks among the world's most advanced space systems, IAI stated.

The satellite, known as Tescar, was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in south-eastern India on the back of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), considered India's "workhorse" rocket. It weighs approximately 300 kilograms and is equipped with advanced synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology, giving it the ability to capture clear images of earth even in inclement weather or in the dark.

Itzhak Nissan, President and CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, celebrated the launch saying the event is yet further proof of Israel's technological prowess. "(We are) very proud of this achievement, which serves as additional proof of IAI's great technological capabilities, and of IAI's leadership in the Israeli space industry," he said.

Tescar is Israel's 11th satellite, and the eighth currently in orbit. The first seven are from the Ofek, Eros and Amos series. An additional Amos series satellite is expected to be launched from the Indian site in the coming months.


West Bank Rabbi: Don't Sell Mezuzahs to Reform Jews

By Israel Faxx News Services

Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of the West Bank town Kiryat Arba, continues to take a hard line against Reform Jews. In the past, the rabbi had issued a religious ruling stating that one should not go into a Reform synagogue, nor attend any events sponsored or held by the Reform Movement.

Following a question recently from a 12 year-old girl who was invited to a cousin's Bat Mitzvah - Rabbi Lior ruled that Orthodox Jews forbidden from attending Reform events, entering Reform synagogues – deeming them worse than Muslims.

On Monday, however, the rabbi issued an even harsher edict, mandating that sofrei stam, or Jewish scribes, should not sell Torah scrolls, tefillin or mezuzahs to Reform Jews.

Lior issued this edict on an internet forum belonging to the Beit El Yeshiva. A sofer stam wrote the rabbi and told him that that he was asked to fix a Torah scroll for, and sell mezuzahs and tefillin to, a Reform Jewish congregation.

The scribe asked the rabbi whether he could fix Torah scrolls for Reform Jews, and whether these scrolls were even considered kosher. He also asked the rabbi whether he could sell tefillin and mezuzahs to this congregation according to Jewish law.

The rabbi replied emphatically that the scribe should not get involved with the congregation at all so as not to be "privy to a transgression or sin." In his reply he takes a very harsh line against the Reform movement, which seeks to amend certain facets of Judaism to bring them in line with modern realities.

"Granted if the tefillin are used by a Jew, then this is a great mitzvah indeed," stated the rabbi, "but there is a more public issue at hand, namely adorning the Reform synagogue and giving legitimacy to this movement."

Lior thus strives not to grant any recognition to the Reform movement, even at the expense of not performing a great Mitzvah, due to his outspoken and public opposition to the movement.


Saudi Arabia to Let Women Drive

By IsraelNationalNews.com
Saudi officials quoted in various international papers said Monday that the country plans to allow women to drive by the end of 2008. Women have been forbidden to drive or to hail a taxi since the state was established in 1932.

The restrictions have made life difficult for many women, feminist activists say, particularly as the divorce rate has increased to approximately 30 percent, leaving many women without a male companion to take them out of the house.

Religious figures have opposed the move, saying it will lead to a gradual erosion of modesty laws. Women will be required to expose part of their faces in order to see while driving, they say, a violation of current laws requiring women to wear traditional robes while outside.


Dalia Rabin Backtracks in Row with Academic over Speech in Arabic

By Ha'aretz

Dalia Rabin, the daughter of the former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, apologized on Sunday for assailing an Israeli Arab college director last week, after he gave a speech in Arabic at a ceremony sponsored by the Rabin Center.

Rabin, who does not speak Arabic, attacked Yusef Shaheen Haj Yihyeh, the director of the Amal College of Science and Technology in the town of Taibeh, for refusing to address his audience in Hebrew.

Haj Yihyeh spoke at the graduation ceremony of Rabin Center's "Invitation to University" project, which aims to empower Arab and Jewish students and facilitate multiculturalism and dialogue between them.

He told Ha'aretz that he spoke in Arabic because it is his native language, and that Rabin consequently refused to shake his hand. "I'm an Arab who is proud of his language," he said. "I addressed 500 students, many of which were Arab teachers and school headmasters. What reason was there for me to speak in Hebrew?"

Haj Yihyeh maintained that his greetings were also directed at the leaders of the project, including Rabin Center officials. Before leaving the podium, he reiterated the main points of his speech in Hebrew, while sarcastically calling on Hebrew speakers to learn Arabic.

After the event Rabin asked Haj Yihyeh to apologize for speaking mostly in Arabic, and he refused. They started exchanging accusations, in front of the audience which composed mainly of the program's graduates. He told her that he wanted her to feel what Arabs often feel in Israel, and that her racist remarks stand in contrast to her father's heritage.

"The project also includes Hebrew lessons to enable students to do well in their studies, and Mr. Haj Yihyeh knows it very well. As a great believer in the project, I cannot but regret this incident," Rabin said.

For several years, "Invitation to University", the brainchild of Rabin Center, has been operating at Tel Aviv, Haifa and Bar Ilan universities. The 500 Jewish and Arab students who take part in it take a tailor-made "Introduction to Israeli Law" course, and participate in citizenship workshops, while acquiring academic skills and emphasizing inter-cultural dialogue. So far, 92 percent of Arab high school graduates who participated in the project were offered places in academic institutions. Tu B'Shvat
Israel News Faxx Services

Guy Handelman, a film student in California, made a clever 3-minute animated short in honor of Tu B'Shvat, which falls today. He connects the celebration of the holiday with how we can recycle and save trees and such.

He has posted the cartoon on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O7Uog6BqDk. Guy's email is ghcool@aol.com.

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