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Israelis Not Allowed To Land In Damascus


A Royal Jordanian Airlines flight, scheduled to land in Jordan with 100 Israeli passengers was rerouted to Damascus, Syria for an emergency landing due to inclement weather Thursday.

Because the plane contained Israelis, however, it was rerouted to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport, where it was delayed for 6 hours by winter storms.

Israel's New TESCAR Spy Satellite Transmits First Top Quality Images

By Ha'aretz

Footage from Israel's TESCAR satellite, launched into space two weeks ago, was transmitted for the first time.

The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) reported that the satellite, which could boost Israel's intelligence gathering capabilities regarding Iran, was working perfectly. The IAI added that satellite's first photos, including a topographical picture of the Latrun memorial monument, were received in very high quality.

Yitzhak Nitzan, head of IAI, said the satellite's capabilities were a huge technological achievement. Nitzan added that the IAI had initially began the TESCAR project with only little knowledge and large financial constraints, yet managed to achieve perfect results.

Defense establishment officials stated that the TESCAR, which was sent into orbit from India on January 21, is Israel's best satellite to date.

Court Rejects Nazi Guard Demjanjuk's Appeal

By Reuters

An appeals court Wednesday ruled against accused Nazi guard John Demjanjuk, a decision that could bring the retired Ohio auto worker only one step away from deportation to his native Ukraine.

The Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that a U.S. immigration judge had the authority to order the 87-year-old Demjanjuk deported, marking the latest turn in a 30-year legal battle. His lawyers had said before Wednesday's ruling that they would pursue their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if they lost in the appeals court.

Demjanjuk was once wrongly convicted of being the sadistic Nazi death camp guard "Ivan the Terrible" and sentenced to death in Israel. The Israeli Supreme Court later overturned the conviction, saying another man was probably "Ivan," a sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp where 870,000 people died.

But he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship again in 2002, with a judge ruling that he had worked as a guard at other death camps.

The issue before the appeals court was whether former Chief U.S. Immigration Judge Michael Creppy had the authority to rule on his deportation. During oral arguments last November Demjanjuk's lawyer, John Broadley, told the appeals panel that Creppy was not authorized to judge the case because he had held an administrative, not adjudicative, position on the immigration review board.

But in Wednesday's ruling a three-judge panel of the appeals court held that Creppy "clearly meets the statutory definition of 'immigration judge.'"

Demjanjuk was ordered deported in December 2005 following a ruling that he had been a guard at Nazi death camps in German-occupied Poland. In December 2006 Creppy had dismissed an appeal by Demjanjuk to have a deportation order overturned.

Demjanjuk's lawyers have said he could be prosecuted or face torture if he is sent back to Ukraine -- or Germany or Poland if Ukraine refused to accept him.

He was first stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1981 and extradited to Israel, where he was sentenced to death in 1988 on eyewitness testimony from Holocaust survivors that he was the Ivan of the Treblinka camp.

The Israeli Supreme Court overturned his death sentence in 1993 and freed him after records from the former Soviet Union showed another man, Ivan Marchenko, was probably the sadistic guard at Treblinka.

The United States restored Demjanjuk's citizenship in 1998 based on the wrongful accusations but the Justice Department refilled its case against him, offering as evidence a frayed German identity card that convinced a judge he had been a Nazi guard at other camps.

Demjanjuk, said to be in ill health and not following the progress of his case, lives near Cleveland. He has said he was drafted into the Soviet Army and captured by the Germans. He immigrated to the United States in 1952 and became a naturalized citizen in 1958.

Brazilian Judge Bans Holocaust Float


A Rio judge Thursday banned a float depicting Holocaust victims and an Adolf Hitler costume due to take part in this weekend's carnival parade, saying they trivialized Nazi atrocities.

The carnival "cannot be used as a tool in the cult of hate or for any form of racism ... or for the banalization of barbaric events," Judge Juliana Kalichszteim said, upholding a complaint by the city's Jewish community.

The Unidos do Viradouro samba school, one of 12 competing in the parades to take place Sunday and Monday night, had planned to enter the float and a dancer dressed as Hitler as part of its theme protesting horrifying human actions.

Its creative director, Paulo Barros, had insisted the morbid float -- which depicts skeletal figures piled on top of each other -- was a "very respectful" reminder of the Holocaust and a warning that it should "never be repeated."

But the Israelite Federation of Rio de Janeiro said it found the entry "inappropriate," and launched the legal action. "The float itself was disagreeable but legal. But taken together with someone dressed up as Hitler close to the 'bodies' of Jews, that made it illegal," a spokesman for the group told AFP.

The judge said the samba school would be fined 200,000 reals ($114,000) if it refused to comply with the order and 50,000 reals ($28,000 if the Hitler disguise was used.

The Globo television network reported that Viradouro would be modifying the float in line with the judgment, and turn it into an allegorical representation symbolizing "freedom of expression."

Barros complained to reporters after the court order that "this thing has been put about as if there was some sort of aggressive act on my part."

He added: "Unfortunately, people prefer to close their eyes to a historical fact as grave as the Holocaust and prefer to banalize the alert that I had been preparing to show in Viradouro's parade."

Exposé Links Olmert, Lieberman and Sharon to Jericho Casino


A lengthy investigative exposé in Ha'aretz targeting Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) has unearthed connections between the financier of the corruption-laden Oasis Casino in Jericho and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his predecessor Ariel Sharon.

Lieberman is currently being investigated for receiving a bribe from Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff.

Schlaff "was known during the Cold War for his ties with the East German secret police, the Stasi," Ha'aretz reported. It also noted the fact that he met with Yitzchak Rabin hours before Rabin was murdered on Nov. 4, 1995. He established the Jericho casino with the help of former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri during Binyamin Netanyahu's term as prime minister. The two were introduced by Dov Weissglas, who went on to be the architect of the 2005 Gaza Disengagement as a consultant to Sharon.

Many see the casino as one of the most corruption-laden aspects of the Oslo Accords. For years, gambling moguls lobbied for a casino in Israel and were rebuffed. Finally, with the "Gaza and Jericho First" stage of the Oslo Accords, in which the two areas were relinquished to PLO control, the Knesset no longer needed to approve the casino's establishment.

While it remained illegal to gamble in Israel, Israelis flocked to the Jericho casino to gamble there, forking over an average of a million dollars a day. Local Arabs were barred from gambling there by the nascent Palestinian Authority.

At the start of the Oslo War, after Arab terrorists used the casino to fire at IDF soldiers and a tank blew a hole in the front of it, Schlaff tried to broker a cease-fire to get the casino running again. The biggest Ha'aretz revelation was that he did so through then-mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert, who would meet with Yasir Arafat's confidant Mohammad Rashid, a partner in the casino.

Olmert, Rashid and Schlaff met at least six times, with the last meeting including Shas Chairman Eli Yishai and Atty. Dov Weissglass, Ha'aretz said.

Schlaff is now afraid to set foot in Israel, as he is being investigated for giving out millions of dollars in bribes to Lieberman and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Police have concluded that Schlaff transferred $3 million in bribes to Sharon through South African millionaire Cyril Kern to open offshore casinos on boats docked in Eilat. Austrian police confirmed that Sharon accepted the bribes.

The original Ha'aretz interest in the case was a series of articles by left-wing activist-turned-journalist Uri Blau, who was determined to expose Lieberman's corruption, even at the cost of bringing down Olmert and Sharon.

Blau reported that $650,000 was transferred from an Austrian company owned by Schlaff to a Cyprus-based company "police suspect" was controlled by Lieberman on August 14, 2001 (while he was serving as Minister of Infrastructures in the Sharon government).

Lieberman had established the company, originally named Nativ el HaMizrach ("Path to the East") in 1998. Schlaff says the money was payment for Ukrainian lumber mills bought from the company. The article says, "Police suspect the money was a bribe." It was not speculated for what the bribe was made.

Lieberman's lawyer's response: "Nativ el Hamizrach was sold by Lieberman in April 2001, and since then he has had no connection with it, and therefore he has no idea what happened to the company four months later."

The investigation against Lieberman and his daughter have been ongoing for years, but suddenly became active again once he left the government.

A Chinese Jewish Wedding -- in Jerusalem


In a joyous ceremony held at Jerusalem's Great Synagogue, a descendant of the once-flourishing Jewish community of Kaifeng, China, was married under the hupah (wedding canopy) to a recent immigrant from the United States.

Shoshana Rebecca Li, 29, made Aliyah [immigrated to Israel] two years ago from China, and recently underwent formal conversion by Israel's Chief Rabbinate. "For me, to have a proper religious Jewish wedding in Israel, it is a dream come true. I am very excited," Li said prior to the ceremony. "I was raised knowing that I am a Jew and I made Aliyah because of our tradition."

Li's husband, Ami Emmanuel, 25, arrived in Israel two years ago from Florida after studying film and directing. "No one in the world is as happy as I am," said Emmanuel. "I thought it impossible to marry a Jewish woman from China. However, it seems miracles do happen, and this is the biggest miracle of my life."

The newlywed couple plan to make their home on Kibbutz Ketura in Israel's Aravah region, north of Eilat.

More than 150 friends and relatives took part in the wedding festivities, which were organized by Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund. The Shavei Israel organization, which helped arrange Shoshana's Aliyah, assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. "This wedding symbolizes the beginning of the return of the remnants of the Jewish community of Kaifeng, China to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel," Freund said.

Jews first settled in Kaifeng, China, over 1,000 years ago when it was an important stop along the Silk Route. The community flourished, and numbered as many as 5,000 people during the Middle Ages. After the last rabbi of Kaifeng died in the first half of the 19th century, assimilation and intermarriage took their toll, eventually leading to the collapse of the community. Nonetheless, around 700 to 1,000 Jewish descendants still live today in Kaifeng, and many of them are seeking to reclaim their Jewish identity

"150 years after the Kaifeng Jewish community essentially ceased to exist," Freund said, "a wonderful young woman descended from that community is getting married to a new immigrant from the United States under a Jewish wedding canopy in Jerusalem. I cannot think of a more poignant example of kibbutz galuyot – the Ingathering of the Exiles."

Based in Jerusalem, Shavei Israel works with various groups around the world that have a historical connection with the Jewish people. These include the Bnei Menashe of northeastern India, who claim descent from a lost tribe of Israel, the Bnai Anousim ("Marranos") of Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, and the "Hidden Jews" of Poland from the time of the Holocaust. The organization also assists with the absorption of new immigrants in Israel, including providing assistance with housing, employment, and professional training. For more information, contact

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