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Blogger Threatens Knesset's Eldad: 'I Will Murder You'


Scoop blogger Rechavia Berman published a death threat against Knesset member Aryeh Eldad following Eldad's statement Monday that relinquishing territory to Syria is a crime which entails the death penalty.

Berman said Eldad was inciting to murder and wrote: "If a prime minister is murdered in Israel during your lifetime, Dr. Aryeh Eldad, I, personally, will murder you. The only question is whether I will go for poetic justice and drag you to the murder victim's grave to stick a bullet in your head, or whether I will opt for the educational mode and put a bullet in your brain in front of your children."

U.S.: Iran's Nuclear Program Could Produce Disaster

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Washington)

U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said the world cannot let down future generations by allowing Iran to develop a nuclear bomb, adding that such a development would be a disaster for the Middle East and the rest of the planet.

Marking the fifth anniversary of the Proliferation Security Initiative, Hadley told representatives that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States shattered the idea after the Cold War that global security faced no serious challenges.

The national security advisor singled out Iran, saying it must not be allowed to build a nuclear bomb. "We will not betray future generations by allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is a particular worry since it is both a potential proliferator and an active state sponsor of terror and thus a potential route of weapons of mass destruction for terrorist groups."

Hadley said the United States and its international partners would continue to pressure Iran over its uranium-enrichment program with diplomatic isolation and U.N. sanctions, adding the world cannot allow Iran to use negotiations to stall for time, hedge its bets and keep open an indigenous route to a nuclear weapon.

"If there is one thing I hope we can all agree on, it is that a nuclear-armed Iran would be disastrous for the peace of the Middle East and the world," said Hadley.

The United States and its European allies fear Iran wants to enrich uranium to build an atomic weapon. Tehran insists its efforts are entirely peaceful and are producing fuel for civilian nuclear reactors.

The United States and other major nations have offered incentives to Iran to scrap the enrichment program and Hadley said diplomatic work would continue to find a peaceful solution. "At the same time we will continue to hold open the door for a negotiated solution that offers Iran economic, political and security benefits if it will only give up its nuclear weapons ambitions." Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is reported to be seeking a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI when he visits Rome next week for a U.N. summit on global food shortages.

In a related story, the Italian daily Il Messaggero said Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI when he visits Rome next week for a U.N. summit on global food shortages. Church officials have not yet confirmed the meeting. They have said it is not clear whether Benedict will be able to meet separately with all heads of state attending the U.N. meetings, but that there could be a collective or group audience for visiting leaders.

News reports about Ahmadinejad's plans quote a diplomatic source as saying that the Iranian president wants to brief the pope about Iran's position on unspecified international disputes - presumably including Iran's controversial nuclear program.

The pontiff has called for continued diplomacy to resolve the stand-off over Iran's nuclear program. Tehran says its aims are peaceful, but the United States and other Western powers are concerned that Iran's efforts might be intended to develop nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad and the pope have never met before, although the head of the Roman Catholic Church has met previously with Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. The Vatican and Iran have maintained diplomatic ties for more than 50 years.

Israel's Defense Minister Calls on Olmert to Step Down

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

A new turn in a bribery case is threatening to topple Israel's embattled prime minister. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to step down after incriminating testimony in a corruption scandal.

Barak said the Prime Minister could not function after an American Jewish businessman said he gave Olmert envelopes stuffed with cash to support a lavish lifestyle. Prosecutors suspect that the businessman, Morris Talanksy, gave Olmert up to $500,000 over a 15-year period when he was a Cabinet minister and mayor of Jerusalem.

The Prime Minister said the money was for campaign contributions, but Talanksy testified that some of it was for a lavish lifestyle, including expensive cigars and hotels and flying first class.

Shocked by these allegations, Barak issued an ultimatum. He said if Olmert does not step down, he would pull his Labor Party out of the coalition government and force early elections. Olmert's aides said he is innocent until proven guilty, and therefore, he will not resign.

But even if he hangs on to power, many wonder how a weakened prime minister can conduct fruitful peace talks. Israel recently resumed negotiations with Syria after an eight-year break and Olmert is trying to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians by the end of the year.

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank issued a statement saying that the political crisis in Israel would have a "negative impact" on the peace process.

While visiting towns in southern Israel Wednesday evening, Olmert said, "I'll continue to function as prime minister; there are those who believe that the launching of any investigation demands a resignation, but I don't adhere to this notion and I will not step down," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during a meeting with the heads of communities and towns located near Gaza.

Orthodox Jews Burn Hundreds of New Testaments in Israel


The torching of about 200 New Testaments near Tel Aviv has shed more light on a perceived persecution of Messianic Jews.

While reports differ slightly on whether or not Deputy Mayor Uzi Aharon meant for the religious text to be burned, what is clear is that he and a group of Jewish religious students went around town collecting materials missionaries had earlier distributed to many of the new Ethiopian immigrants who now live in Israel, because the Jerusalem Post reported Aharon said the information prompted recipients to "go against Judaism."

The Associated Press reported that while it is frowned upon for Christian missionaries to share their message with Jews, it is not illegal.

Reports of the harassment of Messianic Jews, or Jews for Jesus, of whom there are about 10,000 in Israel, have been more rampant as of late.

The Jerusalem Post quoted a religious leader as saying there was a war against Messianic Jews in Israel. Other reports mention the mailbox bomb sent to a Messianic pastor's house, which his teen son intercepted, incurring serious damage. Last year a church used by Messianic Jews was set ablaze. Authorities said they think Jewish extremists were responsible.

Many Israelis are outraged by the book burning, saying it is both wrong and illegal, as there are two laws against desecrating any religious relics or texts, as CNN reported "One forbids the destruction or desecration of any religious icon or item that a group holds sacred. Another bans people from speaking publicly in a way that offends or humiliates a certain religion."

Others recall the burning of sacred Jewish texts by the Nazis and therefore deplore the act of destroying any religious items.

Obama Explains Goof on Claim His Uncle Freed Auschwitz


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama incorrectly claimed Sunday that his uncle was one of the U.S. soldiers who liberated the Auschwitz death camp at the end of World War II.

"The story in our family was that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn't leave the house for six months," Obama said. Republican party officials quickly pointed out that Soviet troops freed Auschwitz so "unless his uncle was serving in the Red Army, there's no way Obama's statement yesterday can be true."

Obama explained that he simply misnamed the name of the death camp, His spokesman Bill Burton stated, "Yesterday he mistakenly referred to Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald in telling of his personal experience of a soldier in his family who served heroically."

Updated Halakhic Pre-Nuptial Agreement Available


The Rabbinical Council of America, which is the largest Orthodox rabbinic group in the world, and the Beth Din of America have announced the publication of an updated edition of their widely used Halakhic Prenuptial Agreement.

The purpose of the agreement is to avoid, as much as possible, situations in which a spouse withholds a get - a Jewish divorce - from his or her spouse. The original agreement was issued more than a decade ago, and the RCA says it has been "responsible for a dramatic drop in the incidence of so-called 'agunot,' or 'chained women' among those who made sure to sign it prior to marriage." Some rabbis have stated that they would not officiate at a marriage whose partners have not signed the agreement.

The updated version of the prenuptial agreement, which can be downloaded at, incorporates a number of procedural improvements and enhancements to the original document. It encourages consultation with legal counsel and comes with detailed implementation instructions to the bride and groom. It also allows for a number of choices by the couple, by mutual agreement.

There are also a number of available variations, including one designed specifically for the community property marriage provisions of the State of California, as well as a so-called "reciprocal version." Another available version can be inserted into general prenuptial agreements. The agreement is valid under both United States law and Jewish law.

Rabbi Basil Herring, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America, expressed his organization's gratification that "the prenuptial agreement has been so effective in limiting the incidence of recalcitrance among couples whose marriages have failed."

"We urge every couple about to be married, no matter their love and regard for each other leading up to the wedding day, and irrespective of their background, to utilize this very important and valuable tool, to benefit not only themselves, but the entire Jewish community," Herring said.

Some rabbis oppose pre-nuptials on the grounds that they make divorce too easy, or because the monetary fine that the recalcitrant party must pay monthly renders the divorce "forced" and thus not valid.

West Side Story, Mea Shearim Style


The bride's parents objected, rabbis protested and the public took to the streets – but the young couple refused to give up. Against all odds and despite violent demonstrations outside the wedding hall, a young ultra-Orthodox woman from overseas and her Jerusalemite fiancé were recently married in the capital.

It all began when an international millionaire, a renowned haredi philanthropist, sent his 19-year-old daughter to study in an ultra-Orthodox institution for girls in Jerusalem. In Israel, the daughter got involved with a young haredi man, but according to sources familiar with the affair, the woman's father objected to the relationship from the very beginning, claiming that the young man was a "shababnik" (a yeshiva dropout).

From the moment the bride's family overseas learned of her desire to marry the young man, her relatives began sending messengers and public activists to the Holy Land in a bid to persuade her not to go ahead with her plans.

The family also appealed to the most prominent Orthodox rabbis, asking that they exert efforts in a bid to cancel the planned wedding. The rabbis even issued a manifest against the engagement, but to no avail.

According to the sources, messengers on behalf of the bride's family visited the groom's father in a bid to convince him to call off the wedding. The father, the sources said, promised he would work to cancel the engagement. Shortly afterward, however, an engagement ceremony took place, at the father's presence.

At the beginning of the week, the family discovered that the wedding would take place on a Tuesday evening. Claiming that the young man's family had exploited wealthy families in the past, the woman's family managed to convince prominent rabbis to issue another manifest against the wedding.

Leaflets slamming the marriage were hung in haredi neighborhoods, carrying the signatures of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz and Rabbi Michal Yehuda Levkovitch.

Addressing the groom's father, the rabbis wrote, "After hearing from important scholars that your son is about to marry a girl as opposed to the Torah's wishes, we demand that you prevent this marriage which will not be held according to our dedicated Jewish law.

"Who can tolerate such a marriage with such great sorrow on the part of the daughter's mother and father? It is a defamation of God to marry a person from the street considered problematic like the groom."

The announcements called out, "An act of villainy being carried out in Israel," claiming that the groom's family did not listen to the rabbi's demands to call off the wedding, and urging the haredi public to protest outside the groom's home and outside the Jerusalem wedding hall during the ceremony.

At around 5 p.m. Tuesday, announcements were sounded across Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, calling on the public to go out and protest. The groom's family, upon hearing the calls from its home, located in the heart of a haredi neighborhood, rushed to leave the house before the demonstrators' arrival.

When the protestors realized that the family was not at home, they continued towards the Beit Hakerem neighborhood, where the wedding ceremony was being held.

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