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Is Israel Giving Up on Immigration?


Meimad party chairman Rabbi Michael Melchior sharply criticized Israel's immigration policy Wednesday. In an assembly in Sderot, he said that Israel has given up on aliyah.

"The leadership of Israeli society has decided in effect that we don't want aliyah in Israel and we have concluded this chapter in the history of Israeli society," Melchior stated, adding that while politicians may make promises to galvanize immigration, "in the last decade, there was not one strategic discussion on the topic."

Libyan Ship to Test Israeli Sovereignty over Gaza Coast


A Libyan ship with 3,000 tons of food and medicine is headed for the Gaza coast in a widening effort to break Israeli's sovereignty over coastal waters. Israeli government spokesmen were not aware of the report, published by Afrique-Actualite, but said that a decision if and how to react "will be made when it becomes relevant."

The Olmert administration has backed down three times in the past three months and has allowed pro-Arab "Free Gaza" activists to land in Gaza in what began as a symbolic claim to Hamas control over the coastal waters. Israel stated before the withdrawal from Gaza three years ago that it would retain control over the sea and air space until the Palestinian Authority could prove it is putting a stop to terrorism.

The Libyan ship left the port of Zouara, approximately 75 miles west of Tripoli, on Tuesday. The Libyan Fund for Aid and Development in Africa donated 500 tons of oil, 750 tons of milk, 1,207 tons of rice, 500 tons of wheat flour and 100 tons of medicine. It is due to arrive in Gaza in one week, according to Lakhdouri Abdelhamid, director of the fund.

The aid marks the support of Libya for Gaza residents who Abdelhamid referred to as "victims of an unjust embargo imposed upon them by Israel."

Hamas and United Nations officials in Gaza have claimed for more than a year that a humanitarian crisis exists because of Israel's control over shipments of merchandise through Gaza crossings. However, Israel has supervised hundreds of trucks moving humanitarian shipments of food and goods into Gaza.

The Israeli defense and foreign ministries each said the other is responsible for statements concerning the attempts to challenge Israeli sovereignty. Yarden Vatikay, international spokesman for the office of the Prime Minister, stated he was not aware of the Libyan ship but said that a decision would be made at the proper time.

The Foreign Ministry allowed the Free Gaza movement to dock two boats at Gaza in late August in order to prevent them from exploiting media coverage of the Israeli Navy arresting them at sea.

However, the ministry advised against allowing two more voyages but was overruled by officials in the Defense Ministry and office of the Prime Minister. One of the reasons for the reluctance to stop the ship may have been the fear of violence. European legislators joined the last sailing earlier this month.

Free Gaza spokeswoman Greta Berlin said the pro-Arab group intends to send two more boats in December. Concerning the Libyan ship, she commented, "Our entire project was to hopefully break Israel's siege and have other boats go to Gaza. If these materialize, we will have done part of that work."

Last week, the political arm of the radical Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood said it also is organizing a ship to Gaza. "By dispatching the ships, Jordan will become the first Arab country to take such an initiative," said Muslim Brother Spokesman Zaki Bani Rsheid.

Jordanian Newspaper Bans PLO 'Peace Ad' Showing Israeli Flag


An independent Jordanian daily newspaper has banned a Palestine Liberation Organization ad promoting the Saudi peace initiative because it shows the Israeli flag, the French news agency AFP reported. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and appointed is first ambassador to the Jewish state in early 1994.

The newspaper, Al-Arab Al-Yawm, told AFP, that besides the objectionable blue and white Israeli flag with the Star of David, the advertisement "seeks to promote the idea that Israel accepts the peace initiative, although Israeli officials have rejected the initiative."

The promotional announcement, which also has appeared in Hebrew in Israeli newspapers, shows the flag of Israel alongside those of Arab and Muslim countries that have accepted the diplomatic initiative.

Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erakat denied the newspaper's claims that it asked the PLO to remove the Israeli flag from the advertisement.

The 22-member Arab League, which does not include the Persian country of Iran, has confirmed support for the Saudi Plan. It calls for a new Arab state on all the land that was restored Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, including the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The initiative also calls for the right of more than five million Arabs to immigrate to Israel based on the claim that they are descendants of several hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled during the wars in 1948 and 1967. In return, the Arab nations would "normalize" relations with Israel, but there is no definitive statement that it would recognize the Jewish state

Israeli governments previously have rejected the proposal and it was put on ice until last year, when outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it should be considered as a basis for negotiations. No government leader has accepted the clause concerning the immigration of Arabs.

Study: Attending Prayers Cuts Risk of Death


A study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that regular attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20 percent. The findings, published in Psychology and Health, were based on data drawn from participants who spanned numerous religious denominations.

The researchers evaluated the religious practices of 92,395 post-menopausal women participating in the WHI. They examined the prospective association of religious affiliation, religious service attendance, and strength and comfort derived from religion with subsequent cardiovascular events and overall rates of mortality. Although the study showed as much as a 20% decrease in the overall risk of mortality for those attending religious services, it did not show any consistent change in rates of morbidity and death specifically related to cardiovascular disease, with no explanation readily evident.

During WHI enrollment, study participants, aged 50 to 79, were recruited on a voluntary basis from a variety of sources, from all over the nation. Those attending religious services at least once per week showed a 20 percent mortality risk reduction mark compared with those not attending services at all. These findings corroborate prior studies that have shown up to a 25 percent reduction in such risk.

Zionism as Racism in US Encyclopedia


Zionism has been included in a book titled "The Encyclopedia of Race and Racism," leading to condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League. "Zionism has no place in an encyclopedia on racism," said the ADL. No other form of nationalism was included as an entry, the group pointed out.

The book's publisher apologized, but has no plans to pull the entry. The book has been promoted for use in high school classrooms.

The entry on Zionism was written by known anti-Zionist Noel Ignatiev, who has compared Israel to Nazi Germany. Ignatiev's article contains several factual errors, Jewish leaders say.

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