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Demjanjuk Deportation Expected Tuesday


Suspected Nazi guard John Demjanjuk is expected to be deported from the US to Germany Tuesday. The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk is wanted on a Munich arrest warrant that accuses him of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

He rejects the allegations, claiming he was held by the Germans as a Soviet prisoner of war and was never a camp guard. He has been stripped of his US citizenship for lying about his World War II activities when he applied to emigrate to the U.S.

Pope Visits Israel Amid Resentment Over Vatican's Response to Holocaust

By VOA News

One of the most difficult issues between the Vatican and Israel is the allegation by many Jews that Pope Pius XII - now up for beatification - did not do enough to prevent the Nazis from killing millions of Jews during World War II.

The Holy See said the matter is not on the agenda during this visit to Israel by Pope Benedict XVI but the Vatican's response to the Holocaust is on the minds of many during the pontiff's visit.

Rabbi Yisrael Lau, 72, now the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv recalled it was a non-Jew who saved his life at the Buchenwald concentration camp. "A Russian officer from the city of Rostov, was a prisoner of war, [by the name of] Fyodor. He adopted me. He stole potatoes to cook for me a soup every day. He made a cover of wool for my ears. He made it not for himself. A non-Jewish soldier, Fyodor, he made it for a Jewish child. He knew I'm Jewish."

But like many Jews in Israel, Lau harbors resentment against non-Jews at large, accusing European Christians, and especially the Roman Catholic Church, of sitting idly as millions were slaughtered. That resentment is reflected at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum, where recorded presentations tell more than a million people who visit the museum each year about atrocities committed by the Nazis against Jews.

One exhibit has been the subject of much controversy. It discusses some Jews' view of the Vatican's role in the Holocaust. A caption on a plaque says the Pope at the time, Pius XII, did not protest the atrocities either verbally or in writing, implying the Vatican did nothing to help Jews.

The Holy See counters the claim, saying Pius - with his own Church under threat - worked quietly but courageously to help Jews. Testimonies by some Holocaust survivors say the Pope's actions - like ordering that fleeing Jews be hidden at monasteries, convents, and properties of the Holy See - including Vatican City itself and the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo confirm Vatican aid.

A 1943 U.S. intelligence memo said "the Vatican has apparently for a long time been assisting many Jews to escape." News reports at the time say the Pope made a number of calls for the Nazis to stop their persecution of Jews.

After the war, a number of prominent Jews, including future Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and physicist Albert Einstein, expressed their gratitude to the Pope and the Holy See for their efforts to help Jews.

Historians say a 1963 fictional play called the "The Deputy," by little-known German author Rolf Hochhuth, began to change this perception by portraying Pius XII as a cold-blooded collaborator of the Axis powers.

Today, many people in Israel - including Rabbi Lau - are unaware of the evidence in favor of Pius XII. Others are also not aware of the changes the Catholic Church has made in its teachings since the Holocaust, known in Hebrew as the "Sho'ah."

Rev. David Neuhaus at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem is a Jesuit priest of Jewish heritage who also lost relatives in the Holocaust. He is a scholar on Jewish-Catholic relations.

"I think that possibly the most important step forward has been the ability of the Catholic Church to look at itself critically, to engage in a process of reevaluation and realize that after the Sho'ah, which of course was not caused by Catholics, but perhaps could not have taken place if there had not been such a widespread teaching of contempt for Jews amongst Christians. After the terrible discovery of what the Sho'ah had in fact been, there was a real awakening," he said.

The church has pronounced anti-Semitism a sin, stopped the old teaching that Jews killed Jesus, and taken other conciliatory measures.

As Rabbi Lau sees it, nothing on Earth can ever repair the damage. He is asked whether he harbors resentment toward the Christians of Poland today. "I can only one sentence add to our talk: I will never forget and I am not authorized to forgive," he said. For him, and for many others who remember the Holocaust, the memory is too fresh and the pain too great, to close the chapter.

The Pope's First Day in Israel

By & Ha'aretz

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Israel at 11 a.m. as scheduled, on a direct flight from neighboring Jordan. On hand to greet him were President Shimon Peres and most of the government; the Chief Rabbis were not there.

The pope had said his visit was a personal pilgrimage, and Voice of Israel government radio talk show host Yaron Dekel said that the pope requested that the Israeli flag and anthem not be in evidence. However, the Jordanian plane carrying the pope to Israel flew flags of both Israel and the Vatican, and the anthems of both were played upon his arrival.

Peres and the pope delivered short remarks at the airport. Peres spoke of the "ongoing dialogue in the spirit of the Prophets between Judaism and Christianity,' and emphasized the freedom of religion and access to religious sites that Israel grants.

The pope mentioned the "State of Israel" in his opening sentence, as opposed to Pope Paul VI, who refrained from doing so during his entire 11-hour visit. Benedict XVI emphasized his "pilgrimage of peace" and criticized anti-Semitism around the world. He said that the Jews had tragically suffered the consequences of destructive ideologies, and that he would go to Yad Vashem to "honor the memory of the six millions Jewish victims of the Sho'ah." His German nationality and his membership in the Hitler Youth and German Army of World War II weighed heavily in the background, though not mentioned.

Finally, the pope spoke of his wish for a "just and lasting solution" to the current conflict, expressing his hope for "both nations to live in secure and recognized boundaries" - a reference to the two-state solution that the current Israeli government opposes.

Pope Benedict paid tribute to the memory of six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The Pope visited Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. The pontiff has - early in the visit - touched on a number of sensitive issues that have strained relations recently between Israel's Jews and the Holy See.

He rekindled the eternal flame at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial's Hall of Remembrance, and laid a wreath of flowers in yellow and white - the colors of the Vatican - on the stone slab under which the ashes of Holocaust victims are buried. "They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names," said the pope.

The pontiff seeks reconciliation with Israeli Jews, many of whom are resentful over what some see as the Vatican's inaction as German Nazis slaughtered millions in their attempt to exterminate Jews and other minorities during the Second World War.

The previous pope, John Paul II, went a long way to repairing ill feelings when he visited Jerusalem in 2000 and apologized for all harm that Christians have ever committed against Jews.

Pope Benedict did not visit a section of the memorial where a plaque accuses Pius XII, who was pope at the time and is now up for beatification, of not protesting the slaughter of Jews. The Vatican has countered the charge, saying Pope Pius worked quietly but courageously to save thousands. Officials said time constraints are the reason why the Pope did not tour the museum that contains the controversial exhibit.

Shortly after arriving in Jerusalem, Pope Benedict urged a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. "I plead with all those responsible, to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own within secure and internationally recognized borders," he said.

The call puts the pope at odds with the administration of new Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who does not favor working toward Palestinian statehood.

The head of the Palestinian Sharia court, Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, fiercely denounced Israeli policy in the presence of Pope Benedict and appealed to the pope to help end what he called the "crimes of the Jewish state."

Speaking at an interfaith conference held at the Notre Dame Church in East Jerusalem, al-Tamimi accused Israel of slaughtering women, children and senior citizens. The speech was delivered in Arabic, without simultaneous translation, but after the pope was informed of the political nature of al-Tamimi's speech, he left the conference.

The Sheikh opened his impromptu speech with a story about Saladin, who upheld the rights of Christians after he conquered Jerusalem, stressing that Islam and Christianity must unite against "the Israeli occupation and bring about an independent Palestinian state."

"Israel destroyed our home, exiled our people, built settlements, ruined the Muslim holy sites, and slaughtered women, children and senior citizens in Gaza," he continued. At this point, the conference's organizers tried to persuade al-Tamimi to end his spontaneous speech, but to no avail. Al-Tamimi won a round of applause from some of the assembled clerics.

Addressing the pope at the end of his six-minute address, he said: "Your Holiness, I call on you in the name of the one God, to condemn these crimes and press the Israeli government to halt its aggression against the Palestinian people."

Al-Tamimi shook the pope's hand as he left the podium and the meeting broke up as scheduled immediately afterwards. The director general of Israel's Chief Rabbinate, Oded Wiener, said that "Sheikh Tamimi embarrassed the pope."

Pope Benedict, in his own speech to the gathering of priests, rabbis and sheikhs, praised their efforts to seek common values and mutual respect to overcome differences in religious practices

Study: Quality of Israeli Sperm Down 40 Percent in Past Decade

By Ha'

The quality of Israeli sperm has declined alarmingly in the last decade, according to recent research conducted at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus.

The cause for the decline is not known, but it's believed by some researchers to be connected to the exposure of children and pregnant women to hormones and other contaminants in food and water.

Conducted by Dr. Ronit Haimov-Kokhman, the study showed a 40-percent decline in the concentration of sperm cells among the country's sperm donors from 2004 to 2008, compared to those of donors from 1995 to 1999. Hadassah's sperm bank is now turning away two-thirds of potential donors because of low-quality sperm, as opposed to one-third in the past.

The research confirmed that in 10 years, the average concentration of sperm among donors declined from 106 million cells per cubic centimeter to 67 million per cubic centimeter. The rate of sperm motility has also declined: from 79 to 67 percent, although the profile of donors did not change over that period; they are still young, healthy and do not smoke.

According to Haimov-Kokhman, the quality of sperm has declined in most Western countries, but in Israel it has been particularly rapid. "If we keep going at this rate, a decline of 3 million cubic centimeters of sperm cells per year, we'll reach an average of 20 million in 2030. The World Heath Organization defines this as fertility impairment."

Studies showing a decline in sperm quality began to be published worldwide more than a decade ago, along with research indicating a rise in the rate of defects in the male reproductive system. In Israel, too, a study was published about a year ago, showing an increase of about 30 percent in defects in the male reproductive system. In addition, in the past decade, the number of cases of testicular cancer has doubled.

Online 'Holy Land Trivia' Game Launched


The Consulate General of Israel in New York announced the release of a Facebook application intended to allow users to discover Israel's holy and modern sites.

The application, called 'Holy Land Trivia: From Creation to Creativity,' offers a pictorial encounter with many significant places in Israel, and gives users the opportunity to share their newly-gained knowledge with their Facebook friends.

The application, designed to appeal to users of all backgrounds and especially to Christians, contains three multiple-choice quizzes about different locations of interest throughout Israel. The questions cover knowledge on holy sites in Israel, modern Israel, and a combination of the two.

After submitting an answer, users will see a picture of the location as it exists today and at the end, scores are tabulated. Users can then share their scores with their Facebook friends and compare knowledge on each of the subjects tested.

Facebook members who are interested in seeking further information will be able to find it through links within the application. The application is available at:

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