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Israeli Submarine Saves Errant Swimmer


An Israeli submarine saved a swimmer who was swept out nine kilometers away from a Haifa beach on Tuesday. Soldiers on the submarine noticed the man struggling in the water far away from land, and pulled him on board.

A naval medic gave the errant swimmer first aid at the scene, after which the navy transferred him to the beach by a separate ship. The man was sent to the Rambam hospital to receive further treatment.

Iran Sends Warships Into International Waters

By VOA News

Iranian media said that Iran has sent six warships into international waters, including the Gulf of Aden, just days after it test-fired a new ballistic missile.

Iranian news agencies and newspapers quote Iran's navy commander, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, as announcing the deployment. He said the move shows Iran's ability to deal with foreign threats.

On May 14, Iran said it sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden to protect its vessels in the region from pirate attacks. It is unclear if those two were part of the six announced by Sayyari.

In November, an Iranian-chartered vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden before being released in January. Iran delivers crude oil through the Strait of Hormuz - the waterway through which about 40 percent of the world's oil supplies are shipped. Iran has threatened to block the Strait if it is attacked over its nuclear program.

About a week ago, Tehran tested a medium-range ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel, southeastern Europe and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The solid-fuel surface-to-surface missile is a new version of the Sejil that Iran said it had successfully tested in November.

The White House said Iran's missile program is of great concern to President Barack Obama, who is trying to engage Tehran in dialogue. The United States and its allies accuse Iran of working to produce a nuclear weapon, but Iran maintains that its nuclear program is to produce electricity.

Salah: Netanyahu will Try to Rebuild the Jewish Temple

By Israel

Sheikh Raad Salah, leader of the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, believes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will try to rebuild the Jewish Temple.

Speaking at a conference organized by website Islam Online in Doha, Qatar, Salah stated his belief that Netanyahu may try to build the Jewish Temple – which the Islamic preacher called "the false temple" – during his current term after allegedly failing to do so in his first term as Prime Minister in the late 1990s.

"I ask that those with the power to make the political decision hear me," Salah exhorted his audience. "Netanyahu is about to build the false Temple, and when the Jews build the Temple they will do so upon the ruins of the Al-Aqsa [Mosque]."

The danger to Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque is "tangible and immediate," Salah said, echoing similar dramatic statements he has made over the years. "I warn, I ask for aid and I call out," he said. "We should expect deadly surprises that could hurt Jerusalem in general and Al Aqsa in particular," he said. "We live in years that will determine if Jerusalem survives and in Al Aqsa will remain standing."

Salah said that in an effort to prepare world opinion for the realization of its goals in Jerusalem, Israel sends tourists to the Al Aqsa mosque and tells them that it was built upon the ruins of the Jewish Temple.

The solution to "the threat against Jerusalem," according to Salah, is a complete mobilization of the Arab world, including the religious imams, who need to act and "recruit the masses." He asked Muslim scholars to pronounce edicts that will force "the Muslim nation and its leaders to confront their duty towards the problem of Jerusalem and Al Aqsa. A thousand politicians can talk without changing a thing. One religious sage can do what the politicians cannot carry out."

The Jewish Temple was first built by King Solomon about 3,000 years ago. It served as the spiritual center of the Hebrew nation and as a place of national pilgrimage and sacrifice. Serviced by the priestly class (Kohanim) and Levites, the Temple contained the Seven-Branched Menorah and housed the golden Holy Ark within a room known as the Holy of Holies.

The First Temple was razed by Babylonian conquerors, rebuilt by Jews by permission of a Persian emperor, defiled by Greeks and then re-consecrated by the Hasmoneans, and burnt down again by Romans.

Jewish religion commands the Jews to rebuild the Temple as part of a Divine plan for the salvation of the Jewish people and the entire world, but Netanyahu, who is not considered observant, never has associated himself with efforts by Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

Poll: Israelis Split on Preemptive Strike Against Iran


A new poll of Israeli attitudes towards Iran found that the public is evenly split on forestalling Iranian nuclear weapons development by means of an immediate Israeli preemptive strike. Of those advocating further diplomacy, 10 percent said that Israel should engage Iran directly.

Results of the survey, commissioned by the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, were published on the sidelines of the CIS's annual conference on Iran May 24-25. The polling was conducted earlier this month among 509 adult respondents representing all Israeli sectors by the Ma'agar Mochot (Brain Trust) research company.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed expressed support for an immediate Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites, while 49 percent believe that Israel should wait for the results of U.S. engagement with Iran before pursuing alternative paths to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

At the same time, a clear majority of the Israeli public (74 percent), including those advocating a wait-and-see approach, does not believe that American engagement will persuade Iran to change its course. A full 81 percent believe that Iran will, in fact, attain a nuclear bomb.

A further breakdown of the statistics shows that majority support for a preemptive attack on Iran is to be found among male, national-religious and haredi religious Israelis (61, 62 and 60 percent, respectively). A major difference exists between right-wing and left-wing Israelis regarding the appropriate Israeli policy, with 38 percent of those leaning to the left favoring attack, as opposed to 63 percent of those leaning to the right.

CIS Director Professor David Menashri commented on the poll results, observing, "The violent language used by [Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and his assertion of wiping Israel from the pages of history, in addition to Iranian advancement of its nuclear and ballistic programs, has created a real concern among Israelis. The Israeli public statements and talk of 'existential threat' used by Israeli leaders to alert the world of its concern could only add to popular anxiety. Still, I think it is important to note that half of the population surveyed still believe a diplomatic venue should be used."

Menashri noted that he was "sharply criticized" several years ago for suggesting that it would be in Israel's interest to engage Iran. The poll results, he believes, clearly indicate that "the attitude has been changed significantly."

The CIS poll also attempted to determine if Israeli concerns over Iranian nuclear weapons are sufficient impetus to make Israelis consider emigrating. Seventy percent rejected the idea of emigration even in the shadow of a nuclear-armed Iran. Survey data was insufficient to determine what percentage of the remaining 30 percent of respondents would consider emigrating even without the added threat of Iranian nuclear attack.

Gay Palestinian Requests Israeli Visa


A 30-year-old Palestinian man who has resided in Israel with his partner for the past seven years has filed a petition with the High Court of Justice asking to prevent his deportation to the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian and his partner claim deportation would put him at serious risk of being arrested and tortured at the hands of Palestinian security forces, as well as persecution by his extended family because of his sexual orientation and the fact that his partner is an Israeli.

The petition also says the Palestinian man has been suspected of collaboration with Israel in the past, which would also put him in harm's way if he is returned to his previous home.

Originally from Nablus, the man says he has been harassed in the past by Palestinian security officers who suspected he had been having an affair with his employer in the West Bank.

The couple claim they have appealed numerous times to the Interior Ministry since 2006 in order to gain the status of a common-law couple, however they have not been successful.

The petition says the ministry's decision "is extremely implausible as it has ignored the evidence regarding the imminent danger homosexuals face within the Palestinian territories because of their sexual tendencies".

Physicians: Circumcision Could Stymie Risk of AIDS

By Ha'aretz

Male circumcision may prevent at least three diseases that kill millions each year, according to an article printed in Britain's The Independent.

While it is the world's most common surgical procedure, circumcision ignites no shortage of controversy, with discussions on the practice frequently devolving into arguments over religious political, cultural, and ethnic grounds.

While some health benefits have been agreed upon in the past, for the most part doctors have not considered the procedure necessary across the board and have left the controversial issue up to the parents.

Three randomized, controlled trials held in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda between 2005 and 2007 found that male circumcision reduced the risk of contracting HIV by 50 to 60 percent, according to the Independent.

The finding has led to the development of programs offering circumcision in a handful of African countries, with the backing of the World Health Organization, says The Independent.

New evidence has reportedly found that circumcision can also reduce the chances of contracting Human Papilloma Virus (HPV - the leading cause of cervical cancer of women) by 35 percent and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV - which causes herpes) by 25 percent.

While less publicized, HPV and HSV are global health problems that affect far more people than HIV.

The Independent cites an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine which calls the findings "a call to action" for societies to take a hard look at the advice doctors give patients on circumcision. The American Academy of Pediatrics has decided to launch a taskforce to review its circumcision policy as an early step in what may be a growing approach to the report's findings, according to The Independent.

While Jewish and Muslim men undergo nearly universal circumcision as ritual, the overall rate of circumcision for American men stands at only 65 percent, a number nonetheless high when compared to the United Kingdom, which has a rate of 16 percent.

Worldwide, around 30 percent of men are circumcised, according to The Independent. "To carry out 300,000 [circumcisions] a year in the UK on the NHS [the annual number of male births] would be a huge cost - money which could be used for other things," the article quotes U.K. Royal College of Pediatrics President Professor Terence Stephenson as saying.

Stephenson said he would advise parents on the benefits of circumcision if they asked, but would also point out what he calls the drawbacks, which include "discomfort caused by the procedure, the need for antibiotics and, rarely, complications such as bleeding."

Barry Evans, a specialist in sexually transmitted infections at the U.K Health Protection Agency, admitted that while circumcision "has a real possibility of denting the AIDS epidemic in Africa," the matter is far more volatile than most health issues.

"Some people view it as tantamount to child abuse while others say that not to do it amounts to child neglect and that it should be regarded like vaccination. Very few say let's look at the evidence, weigh it up and decide if it is worthwhile," The Independent quotes Evans as saying.

"There is a clear medical benefit to circumcision and if parents are considering the procedure for religious or other reasons, these should not be downplayed," Evans added.

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