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Once Again, Bush Refuses to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

By IsraelNationalNews.com

President Bush extended for an additional six months his waiver of a law requiring the move of the US embassy in Israel in Jerusalem from its Tel-Aviv location.

The waiver, sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on December 4 and published on Tuesday, cites "national security interests" in stalling the Jerusalem Embassy Act for six months. Both Bush and his predecessor, Clinton have routinely delayed the implementation of the 1995 law mandating the move of the US embassy to Israel's capital.


Iranian VP Calls for Israel's Destruction

By YnetNews.com

While Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad frequently refers to Israel as an enemy regime, his deputy, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei declared several months ago that Iran has no enemies and is 'a friend of the people in the United States and Israel'

The Iranian news agency quoted Mashaei as blaming the "Zionist regime" for the world's ills. Mashaei, currently in Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage, met with Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir and told him, "The corrupt and criminal Zionist regime is harming not only the Arab and Islamic world, but humanity in its entirety."

He added that "in order to save humanity from its different crises, there is no other way other than the limiting of Zionist influence on human society, because the root and origin of most of the world's current crises are related to Zionism."

Mashaei's new statement can be seen as an informal retraction of his earlier, more controversial speech. His cry to eliminate Israel is in line with the many earlier statements made by Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

Mashaei is considered a close affiliate of Ahmadinejad, and earlier this year his daughter married the president's son. Though many called to have him dismissed from the government following his previous statement regarding Israel, Mashaei appears to have reinstated his claim to office with his latest remarks.


Hawkish Candidates Top Israel's Likud Party Election List

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

With Israeli elections just two months away, the party that is slated to win is moving further to the right. The trend is expected to have serious implications for the Middle East peace process.

Israel's right-wing Likud party has chosen top hawks to lead its list of parliamentary candidates for the February 10 elections. Polls show that the Likud has the best chance to form the next Israeli government. The party is headed by opposition leader and former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Likud list could have a negative impact on Middle East peace talks because it includes outspoken supporters of Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and opponents of a Palestinian state.

Benny Begin, the son of Likud founder and the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, is number five on the list. He opposes further territorial concessions to the Palestinians. "All these far-reaching concessions would lead nowhere. We are on a dead-end street, there is no possibility whatsoever of reaching a peace agreement with our neighbors in the foreseeable future," Begin said.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are based on the formula of trading land for peace. Therefore, the Israeli center and left said the Likud list is a disaster for the peace process.

"This is an ultra-rightist and extremist list," said Zehava Galon of the left-wing Meretz party. She told Israel Radio that a Likud government would "torpedo" any chance for a peace agreement.


Israel Reopens Gaza Border for Supplies

By VOA News

Israel has reopened its border crossings with the Gaza Strip to allow trucks transporting humanitarian aid into the territory. The Israeli military Tuesday said it allowed in some 40 trucks carrying food, medical supplies and cooking gas as well as fuel for Gaza's power plant.

Also on Tuesday, Israel allowed a small boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists to sail to Gaza from Cyprus. The international activists brought in humanitarian supplies. They also transported a Palestinian man who has been separated from his family in Gaza for several years.

This is the fourth boat of activists to reach the territory despite Israel's blockade. The Israeli navy has turned away two other boats - one from Libya and another carrying Israeli Arab lawmakers.

Israel and Egypt closed their borders with Gaza for most traffic after the Hamas terrorist group took control of the territory last year. Israel had tightened its blockade of the territory and limited foreign journalists' entry since a series of cross-border rocket attacks last month.


Moshe's Nanny is 'Righteous Among the Nations'

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Israel plans to name Sandra Samuel, 44, as a person who is "Righteous among the Nations," – a Righteous Gentile – for saving the life of two-year-old Moshe Tzvi Holtzberg. It is the highest Israeli award that may be presented to a non-Jew.

Samuel will be the first citizen of India to be honored with the title. Other recipients of the honor, which is bestowed by a special commission headed by a Supreme Court Justice, include Oskar and Emilie Schindler, and Raoul Wallenberg. It has generally been awarded to people -- 22,000 to date -- who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Both of the toddler's parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, directors of the Nariman Chabad House in Mumbai, were murdered in a bloody terrorist attack that claimed the lives of four other Jews as well.

The traditional seven-day mourning period for the young couple and others who died in the massacre ended yesterday; all of the six victims were laid to rest last Tuesday, within hours after the plane bearing their remains arrived in Israel.

Only Samuel, her co-worker Zaki Hussein, little "Moishele" and an Israeli businessman survived, who escaped by climbing out the window and down the outside wall of the building just as the three-day rampage began on November 26.

The Indian woman, who is a widow with two sons, had worked for the Holtzbergs since they came to Mumbai five years ago. Although she started as a temporary worker, she decided to stay on with the family. She has said she will stay in Israel now to take care of Moshe, whom she calls "my baby," for as long as he needs her.

She spent almost 12 hours hiding between two refrigerators as the Islamist terrorists hunted down and attacked the young couple and their four guests. But when she heard little Moshe calling her name the next morning, she sprang out of her hiding place and raced to find him.

The nanny said she discovered the toddler standing next to his mother's body, his clothing soaked in blood. His father lay nearby, on his stomach. She saw another man lying in the same area, his legs bloodied as well. The nanny grabbed Moshe and flew out of the house together with Hussein.

Samuel, who speaks with Moshe in English, now cares for him in Israel at a home in northern Israel under the supervision of his great-uncle, the Chief Rabbi of Migdal HaEmek, Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman.

At present, Samuel is in the country on a three-month tourist visa arranged by Grossman. But status as a Righteous Gentile would allow her to stay in Israel for as long as she chooses – and for as long as Moshe needs her.


'Disco Rabbi' Composes Song Thanking God for Saving Little Moshe

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman of Migdal Ha'Emek, grand uncle of Moshe Holtzberg, who is also known as the Disco Rabbi, composed a catchy new niggun (melody) thanking God for saving the Holtzbergs' son and others who were present when terrorists struck Mumbai's Chabad House.

The story, along with a video of the rabbi teaching the catchy niggun (a Torah verse put to melody) for the first time, was posted in the Life in Israel blog and on YouTube (http://tinyurl.com/6hjr55)

The words to the niggun are a verse from the 18th blessing of the 'Amidah' Silent Prayer which is recited by observant Jews three times every day. It reads "HaTov Ki Lo Chalu Rachamecha VeHaMerachem Ki Lo Tamu Chasadecha, Ki Me'Olam Kivinu Lach" ("The Good, because Your mercy has not ended, and the Merciful One because your kindness is not over, for we have always hoped for You."

Before Rabbi Grossman began singing the niggun he explained the idea behind it. When one says a blessing one does not make God greater than He was, he explained. "So what is the purpose of a blessing?" he asked. The purpose of a blessing is to give thanks… The basis on which the Nation of Israel is not just to rejoice with yourself if you experienced a miracle, but also to be happy when a miracle occurs to your friend, as if it happened to you, the Rabbi explained.

Little Moshe and his Indian nanny were both staying at the Rabbi's home at the time that he spoke.

Grossman is known as the Disco Rabbi but not because of his dancing habits. Rather, he is famous for entering Migdal Ha'Emek's discotheques on Friday nights, sitting at the bar and drinking water. As a result of this activity, which shamed the local youth into finding alternative means of entertainment on Fridays, the discos eventually stopped opening their doors on the Sabbath.


India Was Silent to Mumbai Terrorists' Offer to Save Holtzbergs

By IsraelNationalNews.com

An interpreter who helped a Chabad rabbi converse with a terrorist in the Chabad House in Mumbai said demands were relayed to India, but no one helped while the Holtzbergs still were alive.

In a first-person article published in the New York Jewish Forward, P.V. Viswanath, an Indian Orthodox Jew, revealed that he was contacted by Chabad Rabbi Levi Shem Tov, whose call to his friend Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg was answered by one of the terrorists holding the rabbi, his wife and four other Jews.

"I grew up in Mumbai, India, and I had heard earlier in the day from my brother about the terrorist attacks in my hometown, but I had thought it was going to be over quickly," wrote Viswanath, a professor in New York.

"Then my nephew called. He told me that the Chabad-Lubavitch movement was looking for Indian language speakers to help them keep track of developing news after terrorists took over the Chabad house in Mumbai…. I know several Indian languages, including Hindi and Urdu.

"When [Rabbi] Shem Tov found out that I was available and could speak Urdu, he called again and put the three of us on a conference call" several hours after the terrorists attacked on Wednesday, November 26th. The terrorists identified himself as Imran.

"Right at the very beginning, we asked Imran if everybody was all right," according to Viswanath. "We asked him this several times and each time he said everybody was all right. At one point, we asked him if all the people there were conscious, because we had heard reports that some of them were unconscious. Imran told us that everybody was fine: Nobody was hurt and they had not touched anybody. 'We haven't even slapped them around,' he said.

"The bigger mission for us, on the call, was to try and find out what Imran wanted. His one demand was to speak with someone from the Indian government. 'Put us in touch with the Indian government and we will let the hostages go,'" the terrorist told the interpreter.

However, frantic calls to the government were met with bureaucracy. "When we tried to call the Indian authorities we were bounced from one office to another. As this was happening, Imran made reference to the reports that some of the other attackers in Mumbai had been captured. He said he wanted his friend who had been captured brought to him. He added, once again, 'Do this and we will let your friends go.'"

Viswanath related that the terrorist spoke in a calm voice and did not appear to be under pressure. It later was discovered that the terrorists were heavily drugged during the ordeal that lasted more than 50 hours.

After failing to get a response from Indian officials, the local police said it was ready to join the conference call, "but when he did, we lost our connection. During the final call with Imran, at 5:30 on Thursday morning, we told Imran that we would try and find somebody in the Indian police to negotiate with him. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in finding anybody else in Bombay, nor were we ever able to contact Imran again.

"During the night we had also tried to reach somebody in the State Department or the FBI to help in our ordeal. Ultimately an FBI team did show up, providing tips for dealing with a hostage, but I never had a chance to put their advice into practice."

Viswanath concluded that despite the tragic murders of the Holtzbergs and four other Jews, the interaction with Chabad energized him. "I had originally responded to Chabad with the intention of providing them with assistance, but I actually left with the feeling that Chabad had given me something," he wrote.


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