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Let's All Sing Hatikva

By Israel Faxx News Services

An effort is under way to organize the world's largest sing-along. The tune? Israel's national anthem.

Galia Albin, an Israeli businesswoman is calling on people around the world to sing Hatikva (The Hope) on May 7 – Israel's 60th birthday – and break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people singing an anthem simultaneously. The event will commence at 3:50 p.m. EDT (10:50 p.m. Israel time). For more information go to

Memorial Day 5768 (2008) Honors Israel's Brave Soldiers


Commemoration of Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers and terrorism victims began Tuesday evening at 8 with a country-wide siren and minute of silence. Memorial ceremonies took place in towns and cities around the country.

The major ceremony took place at the Western Wall, with the participation of Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, as well as President Shimon Peres and IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi.

With flags at half-staff, a second siren is to be sounded Wednesday morning, at 11, once again bringing all public activity to a standstill. The siren will mark the beginning of memorial ceremonies at the 43 military cemeteries around the country.

The Defense Ministry reported the number of fallen in the Jews' war for the Land of Israel since 1860 as 22,437. This number includes soldiers - not civilians - who fell since 1948, as well as all Jews killed between 1860 and 1948 in the struggle for the Land. The total number is 132 higher than last year, including 31 who were murdered or fell in battle since last year's Memorial Day, as well as others who died of their wounds or were recognized as IDF war casualties this year.

The year 1860 was chosen because it was then that Jews began to move outside Jerusalem's Old City walls and build new neighborhoods there.

The names of all Israel's fallen soldiers and terrorist victims were broadcast on Israel's public television channel Tuesday evening and will continue Wednesday, one after the other, for 4-5 seconds each.

Both Memorial Day and Independence Day are commemorated two days earlier than usual this year, in accordance with a ruling by the Chief Rabbinate and Knesset to ensure that Independence Day not fall on the Sabbath.

Israel Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary Amid New-Found Security

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) & Ha'aretz

One of the most dramatic events of the 20th century was the founding of the modern state of Israel 60 years ago. On Israel's 60th birthday many Israelis say they feel more secure and confident about their future than they have in years.

Ben Yehuda Street is a relaxed place these days. Strollers take time to browse and the area is packed with tourists. A few years ago, Ben Yehuda Street and downtown Jerusalem were no place for strollers. The violence sparked by the second Palestinian revolt or Intifada killed about a thousand Israelis and some 4,000 Palestinians.

Now for many Israelis - like those who work at Cafe Joe on King George Street - the Intifada is a distant memory. The cafe's new building with large glass windows and outdoor tables could not have been built when suicide bombers struck at will.

Moshe Yeffet, the owner, and Yossi, the manager, say improved security has made them confident about the future. "God knows, but we feel comfortable and we feel good about security, but we put our faith in God," Yeffet said.

Attacked at birth by Arab armies, the Jewish state has survived against tremendous odds. The country has fought six wars against its Arab neighbors and has peace treaties with only two.

Gershon Cohen runs a small publishing house in Jerusalem. He says from the beginning, although outnumbered, Israelis had the confidence that helped them make history. "In 1948, I was 19-years-old and we were in the army in Jerusalem. The Jewish citizens were about 70,000 here, in all of Israel about a half million and we never believed we would lose the war. Now we are seven million. We have a good economy and we are enlarging. That is what I believe and continue to believe it is getting better and better," he said.

Yehezkel Dror is one of Israel's leading political scientists. He says Israel has achieved much. But the future is far from sure, "Israel's achievements are a heroic success. It is hard to find a precedent of a moving population setting up a state and a special type of state. The success of 60 years does not provide enough momentum to choose a future."

(Please go to and view the film "Israel Then & Now: 60 Years in 60 Seconds.")

But Iran could have an impact on Israel's future. Iran is developing nuclear technology and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be wiped off the map. Israeli leaders say Iran with a nuclear bomb is out of the question for the Jewish state.

Whether Israel makes peace with the Palestinians who live in Arab east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could also determine its future. Israelis go about their daily business as if threats do not exist, on land that Jews have considered their homeland for 3,000 years. Jews from around the world come here to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem - Judaism's holiest site.

Political scientist Yehezkel Dror said Jews who choose to live in Israel share a profound commitment to each other. He said this is perhaps Israel's greatest achievement, "It means today that you feel yourself part of the Jewish people and Judaism, and regard yourself as a Jew with commitments to Jews everywhere."

Security has been stepped up in recent days following an increase in intelligence warnings of terrorist plans to carry out attacks during the Independence Day holiday.

Security sources that in recent days the number of specific warnings has risen to 11, from seven two weeks ago. These warnings have led the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces to raise their levels of preparedness.

A security source said Tuesday that each year at this time the militant organizations are especially motivated to carry out an attack, but, as it does every year, the IDF imposed a full curfew on the territories, which began on Monday night. The curfew is expected to be lifted, depending on intelligence assessments, during the weekend.

The communities near the Gaza Strip border have also prepared for the possibility that militants will target them and fire Kassam rockets during the Independence Day celebrations. Readiness has also been stepped up at Magen David Adom emergency services.

Gaza PA TV Show Educates Kids to Conquer Tel Aviv


A Palestinian Authority television program produced by Hamas, the ruling regime in Gaza, encourages Arab Muslim children to strive for the conquest of Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ashdod.

The puppet characters in the program, two birds named Kuku and Fufu, refer to all the Israeli cities as "settlements" and repeatedly say that they "will return to our land." In order to "defeat the enemies of Allah," the show tells kids, Arab Muslims must unite and adhere to the Koran.

Tearfully, the Kuku character tells his companion: "We will persevere, Allah willing, and we will return to our land, Allah willing. We will return to Jaffa, Akko [Acre], Lod, Ramle and Ashdod. We will return to all these cities, Allah willing."

Fufu: "Kuku, where are you from?"

Kuku: "I am from Tel Al-Rabi'a, which they have named Tel Aviv. Allah is our support. I say that we must return to our homes, and to our lands, God willing."

Later in the show, Kuku declares that Arabs will eventually flood back into Israel from "Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, and America." They "will come to their country with their heads held high."

Clearly promoting to PA children the jihadist line espoused by Islamic fundamentalists, Kuku says, "These years have made it clear to us that we must return to our lands, Allah willing, and that we must defeat the enemies of Allah."

When Fufu asks when the Arabs will "return," Kuku replies, "We will return to our land when we unite, when we adhere to our faith and to the Koran."

Fufu: "Okay, Kuku. Put your hand in mine, so we can unite and return victoriously to our country tomorrow, Allah willing - to Haifa, Jaffa, and Akko. My hand is now in yours, Kuku. Let's unite, and return to our country tomorrow as victors."

Israel's Oldest Kibbutz Votes to Privatize

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Kibbutz Degania, founded in 1910 on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, was once an experiment in socialism. Degania was established by Zionist pioneers from Russia, who believed they were building a socialist utopia.

Degania is no longer a socialist enterprise, but is run like a big business. The kibbutz has a thriving industrial diamond business and it also grows and sells millions of dollars of agricultural products.

Recently, the 320 members of the Kibbutz met here and voted to stop putting all their wages into a collective account and start receiving individual salaries based on ability -- salaries they could spend as they wanted. The move made headlines in Israel; Degania - Israel's oldest socialist Kibbutz - had gone capitalist.

Degania members now pay for services such as electricity and water - and also a new tax to support the elderly and those less well-off. The changes would have shocked Degania's early pioneers - a mix of socialists, anarchists and communists who believed strongly in a collectivist ideology.

New Web Yeshiva Brings the Whole World Into the Study Hall


A new virtual yeshiva allows Jews worldwide to experience the intensive Torah study of a Talmudic academy from their own video-enabled personal computers.

The Web Yeshiva ( is a fully interactive Torah-study institution available online. Using video-chat and voice-over-IP web conferencing technology, students gather in a virtual classroom – seeing each other and the teachers clearly and even raising their hand with a question at the click of the mouse.

The idea behind the Web Yeshiva is not to create a database of classes for individual study – something that is available in an ever-growing volume on various Jewish web sites. The idea is instead to harness newly available technology to brings Jews from around the world together to participate in the give-and-take of a traditional Torah-study academy from the non-traditional setting of their own home, at hours of their choosing.

It was initially assumed that most of the interested students would hail from "New Mexico or New Zealand," says Web Yeshiva Director Rabbi Yedidya Rausman. "But as it turns out, we are getting many people who in fact live in very concentrated Jewish areas who simply want to participate in yeshiva-style Torah study at a set time each day. Some are at their computers all day anyway for work and are able to fit in more Torah-study time by avoiding a commute to the closest yeshiva." That said, there are students hailing from Latin America, Europe, Thailand and even New Zealand.

Rausman says the fact that the classes are based in Israel is also a factor. "People want to learn Torah from the Land of Israel, even if they are not physically here," he said.

Full-time and part-time students pay a tuition fee that includes lifetime access to archives of the classes they have attended, but the Web Yeshiva regularly offers seminars and study days open to the general public, free of charge. The next one will take place on Independence Day, which is observed this year on May 8.

Majority of Israelis Don't Believe PA Peace Will Come


A majority of Israelis do not believe peace is possible with Palestinian Authority Arabs, according to the findings of the April issue of the War and Peace Index survey conducted by Tel Aviv University.

The poll found that 70 percent of the respondents do not believe in the chances of reaching a peace deal with the PA despite renewed talks. The findings, released Tuesday, also indicated that most Israelis (83 percent) oppose transferring control of the Old City of Jerusalem to the PA.

In addition, 60 percent of the respondents oppose joint administration by Israel and the PA over the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, and 55 percent oppose transferring the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to PA sovereignty.

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