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ADL to Jordan: Let Jews Enter with Religious Items

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern Monday over recurrent reports of Jordanian authorities denying entry to observant Jewish tourists bringing or wearing religious items such as prayer books, prayer shawls and tefillin (phylacteries), according to Ha'aretz.

In a letter to Jordan's King Abdullah II, the ADL said, "We fully appreciate Jordan's intentions to ensure that Israeli and Jewish tourists to the Kingdom are as secure as possible. However, we continue to believe that measures can be undertaken that would respect the religious practices of Israeli and Jewish tourists, and permit them to enter Jordan with their ritual objects."


Israeli FM: Mideast Peace Not in Foreseeable Future

By VOA News

Israel's foreign minister said Monday that there is no possibility of a comprehensive settlement with Palestinians in the next few years. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a visiting delegation of U.S. Democratic lawmakers that improving security and the Palestinian economy were the most that could be achieved through negotiations.

Lieberman blamed the stalemate on what he called the Palestinian side's "uncompromising, extremist positions" concerning Jerusalem and Jewish settlements. The foreign minister said Israeli policy must be based on reality and not illusions while maintaining a dialogue with Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to liberate Palestinian land occupied by Israel and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. U.S. officials have been pushing Israel to commit to a settlement freeze to facilitate Arab concessions in the peace process.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has refused that call, saying limited settlement construction must continue to allow for "natural growth." And he has said Israel's sovereignty over all of Jerusalem is not negotiable.

Also Monday, Lieberman told a meeting of Foreign Ministry officials that one of the country's diplomats should "resign" after criticizing Israeli policy. Nadav Tamir, Israel's chief diplomat in Boston has come under criticism after warning that the dispute with the U.S. over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank is causing "strategic damage" to Israel.


Israel Bombs Gaza Tunnel in Response to Mortar Attacks

By Luis Ramirez (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli warplanes have pounded a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip to Egypt. Israel believes the tunnel was being used to smuggle explosives to the Palestinian enclave.

Israel said the pre-dawn raid on the tunnel at Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip was in response to mortar and rocket attacks from terrorists in Gaza against the Jewish State. The Israeli military said Palestinian militants fired mortars Sunday at the main border crossing between Israel and Gaza while medical patients were being transferred to Israel for treatment.

The Rafah tunnel is part of a system that Gaza residents have been using to bypass the blockade Israel and Egypt have maintained on the terrorist Hamas government that rules Gaza.

Israel's aim is to weaken Hamas, which opposes peace with the Jewish state. The group has controlled the Gaza Strip since ousting the rival Fatah faction of (moderate) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. Since then, Fatah has controlled only the West Bank.

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, members of Fatah voted at the end of the faction's first convention in 20 years. Results will determine whether the organization is able to bring in new faces or maintain its old guard, who many within the organization accuse of inaction and corruption.

Abbas' government in recent months has staged a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank. His efforts to hold the convention and establish a more united faction are meant to further undermine Hamas.

Rami Nasrallah heads the International Peace and Cooperation Center, a research organization in Jerusalem. "Abbas wants to prevent a situation like in Gaza [where] Hamas will be able to control. He really wants to show that Hamas is not an option and this option is going to fail," Nasrallah said.


Arabs of Jewish Descent in Israel

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Up to 85 percent of Arabs in greater Israel stem from Jewish ancestors, it is estimated. Some of them want to become fully Jewish, but most are scared to even talk about it.

"In our search for the lost Ten Tribes in India and Afghanistan, we seem to have forgotten to look for their descendants in our very own backyard." So says the narrator in a new film about the efforts of a former hi-tech pioneer named Tzvi MiSinai to search out the Jewish roots of Israel's Arab enemies – and to inform them of their Judaic heritage.

MiSinai has spent about 500.000 shekels, he estimates, on these efforts. They include visiting dangerous places deep inside Palestinian Authority-controlled territory, hearing the stories of Arabs who remember observing Jewish customs and distributing literature to Jews and Arabs alike.

One Arab said his father told him the secret of his family's Jewishness on his deathbed, while another one, on the backdrop of a photo of the saintly Cabalistic sage Rabbi Abuchatzeira on his wall, says their roots have been known in his family for generations. Wrapping what apparently used to be kosher tefillin on his arm, he says, "My father used to do this, and he taught us to do it whenever someone was sick or in trouble."

It is generally accepted that most Jews left the Land of Israel after the failed Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE. Yet many remained, and of these, many are still here, after having been forced to convert to Islam. "It turns out that a large part of the Arabs of the Land of Israel are actually descendants of forced converts to Islam over the years," says Rabbi Dov Stein of the nascent Sanhedrin rabbinical council. "There are some studies that say that 85 percent of the Arabs in Israel are descended from Jews; others say there are fewer."

The claims are not new. Early Zionist leaders David Ben-Gurion and Yitzchak Ben-Tzvi wrote in a book 100 years ago: "If we investigate the origins of the Felahim, there is no doubt that much Jewish blood runs in their veins." The authors implied that these Jews loved the Land so much that they were willing to give up their religion. The reference is probably to an edict in the year 1012 by Caliph el-Hakim, who ordered the non-Muslims to either convert or leave the Land of Israel. It is estimated that 90 percent of the Jews chose the former, though many continued to practice Judaism in secret. The decree was revoked 32 years later - apparently too late for about 75 percent of the converts.

Tzvi MiSinai continues to convince Arabs in Judea and Samaria that they are likely Jewish. The film shows him passing through the Gush Etzion checkpoint and distributing pamphlets both to Israeli soldiers – "so that you'll know who you're checking here" – and to the Arabs waiting there – "so that you'll know who the majority of you are." Asked by an Arab if he is from the peace movement, MiSinai answers, "Yes, yes, peace, so that we can live together as one nation."

One place where MiSinai has apparently found very strong Jewish roots is in the Bedouin tribe known as the Sawarka. There are about 3-4,000 of them throughout the Sinai and the Negev, and they "are all Jewish," says a tribal leader in perfect Hebrew. With his face camouflaged for the cameras, the Bedouin says, "They had no choice but to convert; this was centuries ago… I remember my mother and grandmother wouldn't light fire on Sabbath, and they had a special mikveh."

Others, in a Bedouin village east of Hebron, also remember burning a small piece of dough (reminiscent of the biblical command to separate a small piece of dough when baking bread), lighting candles at graves, and tearing clothes and sitting Shiva for seven days, and not three as is Muslim practice.

Even today, ritual circumcisions are carried out after the seventh day of birth. Many homes in some of the Arab villages have doorpost indentations for a Mezuzah, with a scroll placed in some of them.

In another village just south of Hebron, Muhammed Amsalem – a descendant of Spanish Jews - told Aharon Granot of Mishpacha magazine that everyone in town knows he and his clan are Jews: "Our elders tell us that our forefathers came to this land during the [15th century] Spanish Inquisition, via Morocco. They settled in Ramle. Then the Mamluks forced them to convert to Islam, and they moved to the South Hebron area."

Amsalem said they decided to reveal their Jewish roots after the 1967 Six Day War when they learned that a Jewish community had been reestablished in Hebron. "But the Jews saw we had no knowledge of their religious practices and refused to accept us… If the Jewish community would be willing to receive us today, we would join them with great enthusiasm."

In the area of the South Hebron Hills, half of the Arabs are aware of the Jewish origins. They used to talk about it openly, though no longer. One man who recently publicized a silver Chanukah menorah that had been passed down to him from his father and previous generations was hung by terrorists by his feet for six weeks, leaving him with permanent injuries.

At the Hadassah Medical School labs, Prof. Ariela Oppenheim of Hebrew University performed an international genetic study that backs up conclusions of Jewish-Arab genetic similarities. "We found that despite the dispersion of Jews around the world for 2,000 years, they essentially kept their Jewish continuity," Oppenheim said. "In addition, we found that the Jewish population is surprisingly close, genetically, to the Arabs living here in Israel." She said that the study shows that both the Arabs of Israel and the Jews are descended from the Kurds of Aram in Babylon – the birthplace of the Patriarch Abraham.

"It's clear that we're all from the same family," Oppenheim concludes. "Most unfortunately, however, there are conflicts even within families, and sometimes brothers fight as well. I wish this is what will bring the Redemption, but I'm very sad to say that I don't think so."

South of Hebron, in Yatta, there is a large formerly-Jewish presence – and some even want to return to active Judaism. It is widely known there that half the residents are of the originally-Jewish Mahamra clan – a name that means "winemaker," a trade that is forbidden according to Islam. "The people in these areas converted to Islam later in history," MiSinai says, "and therefore more customs and knowledge and artifacts have been preserved."

These include Jewish stars over the entrances to homes, while in at least one house, the family has hidden a mezuzah and tefillin in creative hiding spots. One man pulled out a small Hebrew booklet of Psalms and Tanya with which he says he continues to secretly pray.

Miro Cohen, a Jew from Tekoa, in eastern Gush Etzion, is very friendly with the Arabs in a nearby village known as Kawazbe – a name that he and they agree is merely a corruption of Kuzeiba, the original name of the famous Bar Kokhba.

"These people are the descendants of Bar Kokhba," Cohen declares. One Arab sitting with him can count his ancestors eight generations back, ending with a grandfather named Kawazbeh. Another village elder says openly that his grandfather was a Jew who converted to Islam. Some of the residents want to return to Judaism; they don't call it converting, because they are "already Jewish." On the other hand, Arabs with the name Kawazbeh have been arrested for terrorist activity against Israel.

Other areas where Arabs of Jewish descent resides are Kfar Anzah in Samaria, Samoa in southern Judea, villages in the Tel Arad area, and more. Rabbi Stein says, "We know that up to about 200 years ago, the Galilee village of Sakhnin was a Jewish town, with an active synagogue. The Turks pressured them to convert to Islam, but the people there know that they are of Jewish origins."


Dutch `Journalist': Flu Pandemics are Jewish Conspiracy

By Ha'aretz

A journalist from Holland who linked Jews to the recent outbreak of flu pandemics drew heavy criticism from a prominent Dutch Jewish organization that claimed her words were tantamount to anti-Semitic blood libels.

Holland's largest daily, De Telegraf last week printed an interview with Désirée Röver, 61, who proposed the bird flu pandemic, caused by the virus H5N1, was part of an international conspiracy to reduce the world's population.

Röver is quoted as saying the conspiracy can be traced back to a group of descendants of the Khazars, a nation from the Caucasus believed to have converted to Judaism 1,200 years ago.

De Telegraf quotes her as saying that these descendants are now "praying to another god; Lucifer, Satan, or however you want to call him" and "are called Rockefeller, Rothschild, Brezinski and Kissinger."

Ronny Naftaniel, who heads the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) - a local anti-Semitism watchdog -, said that this is the first time he has heard such claims from Rover, and added that based on her words, "she does not seem to be right in her head."

Tales of Jews spreading disease "is nothing new," he told Ha'aretz, "and stories of Jews poisoning the water wells are known from many centuries ago and her words are giving rise to that anti-Semitism."

CIDI, he added, will look into the possibility of lodging a formal complaint against Rover, though no such decision has been made as of yet. Dutch law stipulates that only people with malicious intent can be convicted of inciting hatred or anti-Semitism



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