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Syria: No Golan Retreat, No Peace Talks


In a Damascus meeting with Fred Hoff, assistant to U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said that Israel must return the Golan Heights in its entirety and return to the June 4, 1967 borders before talks can resume. He is expected to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad later in his trip.

Sunday, Hoff met Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. Following his meeting with Hoff, Ayalon said that Israel was ready for direct negotiations with Syria without any preconditions, such as returning land.

Israeli Warships Cross Red Sea in Apparent Signal to Tehran

By and Israel Faxx News Services

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office refused to respond to a report Thursday purporting to quote an Israeli defense official stating the recent deployment of warships, the Hanit and the Eliat, across the Red Sea should be seen as serious preparation for an attack on Iran. "It is not our policy to comment on such reports," Mark Regev, Netanyahu's spokesman, told WND.

Earlier this week, two Israel Navy gunboats openly sailed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea with permission from Egypt. "This is preparation that should be taken seriously. Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran. These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats," the Times of London Thursday quoted what it said was an Israeli defense official as saying.

The warship movements follow the passage last month of an Israeli Dolphin-class submarine, believed to be nuclear-armed, through the canal, later returning the same way.

Israel's Dolphin-class submarines were designed to fire relatively short-range Harpoon missiles. But they also have a number of larger-diameter torpedo tubes from which a much longer-range weapon might be fired.

There has been considerable speculation that Israel has designed a long-range cruise missile capable of being fired from the Dolphin boats, and that this might even have the option of being equipped with a nuclear warhead.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the Times that his government explicitly allowed passage of Israeli vessels, and an Israeli admiral said the drills were "run regularly with the full cooperation of the Egyptians."

"This is preparation that should be taken seriously," an Israeli defense official said. "Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran. These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats."

According to Israeli defense officials speaking to WND, the Dolphin was carrying out test drills. The officials said the submarine passed through the canal with permission from Egypt, even though the Egyptian government denied any permission was granted.

The Times quoted an Israeli diplomat explaining the Jewish state has been bolstering its ties with certain Arab nations that are also threatened by Iran. The diplomat cited a "shared mutual distrust of Iran" between Israel and Egypt.

In a report denied by Netanyahu's office, the Times of London two weeks ago claimed Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli warplanes flying over the kingdom in any raid on Iran's nuclear sites.

The Times said Mossad director Meir Dagan had held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility. "The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia," the newspaper quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

Jerusalem, the alleged possessor of the sole nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, accuses Iran of secretly enriching weapons-grade uranium to attack Israel. Iran maintains that it has no such intentions and has asserted that its uranium enrichment is a peaceful drive to produce electricity.

Israel sent its naval vessels through the Suez Canal as regional leaders, including Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, convened for the annual meeting of the members of the Non-Aligned Movement at the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheik.

Israel makes no secret of its military posture toward Iran. Israeli President Shimon Peres said in April that military options were on the table in the event U.S. efforts at detente failed. Iran, for its part, advertises its hatred toward Israel by threatening to wipe the Jewish state off the map.

Shlomo Brom, a senior analyst with the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told the Emirati newspaper The National that while the Israeli naval activity shows it is "capable" of striking Iran, that doesn't mean the activity is a sign of aggression. If Israel really meant to strike," he said, "it wouldn't publicize it like this."

Academic and military experts have produced a torrent of reports about just how such an operation might be carried out. But it is clear that Israel may have some surprises up its sleeve, and that its commanders intend to maximize their tactical options whether an attack comes from the air or from the sea.

In Iran, newly re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his next government "would bring down the global arrogance," signaling a tougher approach by Tehran toward the West after last month's disputed election.

Ahmadinejad, in his first provincial trip after the June 12 presidential vote, said Iran's enemies had tried to interfere and foment aggression in the country, referring to mass opposition protests against the official election result.

The hard-line president, who often rails against the West, said the Islamic Republic wanted "logic and negotiations" but that Western powers had insulted the Iranian nation and should apologize.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Jewish Angle


As "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" opens to mostly stellar reviews, the title itself evokes why the book and film series have so resonated with Jewish audiences.

Like all the Potter films - based on J.K. Rowling's best-sellers - "Prince" is rife with metaphors for racism and ethnic cleansing, including characters that refer to wizards as "pure-bloods," "half-bloods" or "mudbloods" (a racist slur meaning mixed or non-magical parentage).

In the new film, flashbacks reveal how the evil Lord Voldemort grows from a troubled child into a genocidal maniac bent on annihilating non-magic folk (muggles) and those with mixed heritage.

"Voldemort and his followers, the Death Eaters, are obsessed with the preservation of blood purity," Potter producer David Heyman told the Journal last year.

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