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Kuntar Pledges to Follow in Mughniyeh's Footsteps


Child murderer Samir Kuntar led the way as he and the four Hizbullah terrorists, all freed Wednesday by Israel in exchange for the bodies of IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, paid homage Thursday at the graveside of assassinated Hizbullah second-in-command, Imad Mughniyeh. "We swear to God... to continue on your same path and not to retreat until we achieve the same stature that Allah has bestowed on you," said Kuntar. "This is our great wish. We envy you and we will achieve it, God willing." Kuntar, a Druze, carried out his 1979 attack on Nahariya three years before the Shi'ite Hizbullah terror group came into existence.

Israel Buries 2 Soldiers Returned in Hizbullah Prisoner Swap

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel was in mourning Thursday, following a controversial prisoner swap with the Islamic terrorist group Hizbullah in Lebanon in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who were captured in 2006.

Thousands of people attended the funerals of the two Israeli soldiers. Mourners included government and military officials, family and friends. Karnit Goldwasser is the wife of one of the two soldiers, whose capture sparked the Lebanon War two years ago. "My heart is crying in pain," she said. "Although I am without you, I will always be with you."

Goldwasser traveled the globe over the past two years, meeting with world leaders, in an effort to win the release of the captive soldiers.

While the prisoner swap brings closure to the families, it has sparked heated debate, because Israel released five Lebanese prisoners, including top terrorist Samir Kuntar. He was convicted of killing an Israeli in front of his four-year-old daughter in 1979 and then smashing her head with a rifle butt.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens said the deal erodes Israeli deterrence. "This deal and the circumstances under which it was made will provide encouragement and incentive to Hamas and to Hizbullah to abduct soldiers in the future, and make even more extreme demands. And that means the sum-total is negative."

But current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who spoke at the funerals, said the government made the right decision. Barak vowed that, if soldiers fall into captivity, the State of Israel will take all the necessary steps to bring them home.

Nazi Jews: A Historical Paradox

By Brian Cuban ©2008

Would it surprise anyone to learn that upwards of 150, 000 soldiers of partial Jewish descent served in the Nazi army during World War II?

I had no idea until I attended a lecture by Bryan Mark Rigg, Ph.D. discussing his books entitled "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers" and "Rescued from the Reich." What is even more startling is that Hitler was aware of this, and for a while allowed them to serve. In most cases these soldiers did not have any knowledge of the Holocaust killing machine. From their viewpoint, they were simply German patriots fighting for their country.

Many did not consider themselves Jewish. Some were unaware of their "Jewish blood." Some had been baptized as Christians. And at least 20 of these soldiers were awarded The Knights Cross. The most prominently known of these commanders of Jewish descent was Gen. Erhard Milch who had one Jewish parent. He was deputy to Herman Goring, the head of the Luftwaffe (the German air force).

When I look back at my own Jewish immigrant background, the specter of Jews fighting for the Nazis sickens my stomach. My ancestry is similar to other Jewish immigrants. Both sides of my family immigrated to the United States from czarist Russia during the early 1900s to escape the brutal exterminating pogroms of the Russian authorities.

Some Russian Jews immigrated to Poland only to be ultimately persecuted by both the Nazis and Poles. German-born Jews treated Jews from Eastern Europe as inferior calling them "Ghetto Jews.". But these eastern European Jews constituted the majority of the Jews massacred during Hitler's "Final Solution."

The common public perception is that no one of Jewish descent would have ever been allowed to serve the Nazis, and, if discovered, would be immediately deported to a forced labor or extermination/concentration camp. This was not the case because Nazi racial classifications, defining who was a Jew or not was complex. The classification dispute became controversial as the Nazis bent their own racial criteria.

Rigg documents Hitler's obsessive involvement in deciding which "Jews" would be discharged, deported or declared of "Aryan blood." Most of those of Jewish descent were ordinary Wehrmacht soldiers. But some rose to high-ranking positions of authority in Germany . And some directly or indirectly participated in the Jewish killing machine.

Germans of Jewish descent were fighting for a country whose official policy was that they were second-class citizens and, in most cases, not even human. Germans of Jewish descent were fighting for a country that was deporting their relatives to concentrations camps. Germans of Jewish descent were fighting for a country who, some say, planned to ultimately exterminate them as well when Germany won the war.

The Nazi Party classified Jewish people as full Jews, half Jews, and quarter Jews. Each classification was treated differently with regards to whether they could serve in the German military and what rights, if any, they had under German law. As previously mentioned, according to Jewish law, a person is determined to be a Jew if the person's mother is Jewish.

Many of those of partial Jewish descent (although considered Jewish by both Jewish law and Nazi racial classification) had so assimilated themselves, through intermarriage, into German-Christian society, that they did not consider themselves Jewish.

Some were practicing Christians but this changed through Hitler's racial classification system and the Nuremberg Laws, which officially designated the majority of people of full and partial Jewish descent second-class citizens or "Mischling." The word means they came from a mixed marriage and had partial Jewish ancestry.

Germans of partial Jewish ancestry who had practiced Christianity all of their lives, were suddenly classified as "Mischling" Jews under the racial laws and suddenly stripped of most rights.

The German racial classification system for Jews and the resulting disparate treatment with regard to military service in the Nazi army highlights some of the fundamental issues of Jewish Identify that exist to the present day. What does it mean to be Jewish? What qualities and beliefs make someone Jewish? If your mother is Jewish you are certainly a Jew in terms of Jewish Law.

But that may not be how you look at yourself if you were not raised in the Jewish tradition. Are we as Jews defined by our culture, our religious practices or how others view us? This was the dilemma faced by many of the Mischling in Nazi Germany. This is a historical and religious conflict faced by Jews today as mixed marriages have become more common and accepted in the United States . Jews argue among themselves over this issue. It is a conflict that transcends time.

Brian Cuban is an attorney working for Mark Cuban Companies, as well as executive director of the Mark Cuban Foundation, which currently administers The Fallen Patriot Fund. Mr. Cuban was born and raised in Pittsburgh , received an undergraduate degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a law degree from The University of Pittsburgh School of Law. His web site can be found at

Circumcision: A Painful Decision

By The Oregonian Staff

A recent Oregon court case focused attention on circumcision, an enduring religious ritual for Jews and Muslims that is otherwise declining as a medical or cultural practice in Oregon.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments from a divorced couple about circumcising their son. The father, who had converted to Judaism after the divorce, favored the circumcision of his 9-year-old son, who had expressed interest in converting. The mother argued that the boy was afraid to tell his father that he didn't want to be circumcised.

In January, a lower court ruled in favor of the father, who has custody of his son. The mother appealed. The Supreme Court decided that the boy, now 12, should have a chance to weigh in. The case is still pending.

Custody rights may be at the heart of the Oregon case, but it has sparked discussion of circumcision -- the removal of all or a portion of the foreskin of the penis. For centuries, Jews have circumcised infant boys. They cite the book of Genesis, in which God commands that Abraham, his son and their descendants be circumcised as a sign of their divine covenant.

Ordinarily, a brit milah, Hebrew for "covenant of circumcision," is held on the eighth day of a boy's life, at home in front of family and friends. A trained mohel performs the ritual. In recent years, some Jewish families have had their sons circumcised in the hospital by a specially trained Jewish physician. The family holds a naming ceremony at home on the eighth day. In Islam, circumcision is a religious rite and usually occurs by a boy's seventh birthday.

In the United States, infant circumcisions are often performed for secular reasons. Parents choose to have sons circumcised so they will look like their fathers or blend in in a locker room, or because they believe the procedure aids with cleanliness or reduces disease.

Some circumcised men argue that the procedure has lessened their sexual sensitivity. Medical studies suggest that circumcision reduces the risk of penile cancer, urinary tract infections and HIV transmission. But the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed in 2005 that there was insufficient evidence to consider the procedure a medical necessity.

In Oregon, about 26 percent of boys born in 2006 were circumcised in hospitals. The figure, based on state and national statistics, does not include infants circumcised outside of hospitals. Nationally, the figure for infant circumcision declined from 65 percent in 1980 to about 56 percent in 1997 and has been relatively stable since.

Regionally, fewer boys are circumcised in the West: In 2005, 31 percent were circumcised in hospitals there. The figures were 75 percent in the Midwest, 65 percent in the Northeast and 56 percent in the South.

Two-Thirds of Egyptian Men Harass Women

By Reuters

Nearly two-thirds of Egyptian men admitted to having sexually harassed women in the most populous Arab country, and a majority said women themselves are to blame for their maltreatment, a survey showed on Thursday.

The forms of harassment reported by Egyptian men, whose country attracts millions of foreign tourists each year, include touching or ogling women, shouting sexually explicit remarks, and exposing their genitals to women. "Sexual harassment has become an overwhelming and very real problem experienced by all women in Egyptian society, often on a daily basis," said the report by the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights.

Egyptian women and female visitors frequently complain of persistent sexual harassment on Egyptian streets, despite the socially conservative nature of this traditional Muslim society.

The behavior could have repercussions on Egypt's tourism industry, a major foreign income earner, with 98 percent of foreign women saying they had experienced harassment in the country, the survey said.

The survey of more than 2,000 Egyptian men and women and 109 foreign women said the vast majority of Egyptians believed that sexual harassment in Egypt was on the rise, citing a worsening economic situation and a lack of awareness or religious values.

It said 62 percent of Egyptian men reported perpetrating harassment, while 83 percent of Egyptian women reported having been sexually harassed. Nearly half of women said the abuse occurred daily.

Only 2.4 percent of Egyptian women reported it to the police, with most saying they did not believe anyone would help. Some feared reporting harassment would hurt their reputations. "The vast majority of women did nothing when confronted with sexual harassment," the survey said, adding that most Egyptian women believed the victim should "remain silent."

Some 53 percent of men blamed women for bringing on sexual harassment, saying they enjoyed it or were dressed in a way deemed indecent. Some women agreed. "Out of Egyptian women and men interviewed, most believe that women who wear tight clothes deserve to be harassed," the survey said. It added most agreed women should be home by 8 p.m.

The survey said most of the Egyptian women who told of being harassed said they were dressed conservatively, with the majority wearing the Islamic headscarf. The harassment took place on the streets or on public transport, as well as in tourist destinations and foreign educational institutions.

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