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Italian Rabbis to Boycott Pope's Visit to Rome Synagogue


Italian rabbis have decided to boycott upcoming observances slated for January 17, the traditional day of Judeo-Christian reflection inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in 1990.

On that day, Pope Benedict XVI will make his first visit as pontiff to Rome's main synagogue, the Vatican announced Tuesday. According to European Jewish Press, the decision was made in protest of Benedict's decision to revive use of a prayer which calls for the conversion of Jews.

Turkish Prime Minister: My People Rejected Israeli Participation in NATO Drill

By Ha'aretz

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said that "diplomatic sensitivities" led his government to ban Israel from a joint NATO air force drill, French news agency AFP reported.

"There is military cooperation between Turkey and Israel...but currently there are diplomatic sensitivities that we have to take into consideration," AFP quoted Edrogan as telling the Dubai-based channel Al-Arabiya.

"We have taken the conscience of our people into consideration when we decided.... I had to be the voice that expresses the existence of my people and my people were rejecting Israel's participation. We discussed it with the responsible parties and said yes, these drills will take place but Israel will not take part in them."

Meanwhile, a Turkish newspaper reported Wednesday that the reason Turkey banned Israel from this week's NATO air force exercises was "yet another delay in the delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs," and not Turkish opposition to Israel's Gaza offensive, the newspaper Today's Zaman quoted a senior Turkish air force official as saying.

On Sunday, Foreign Ministry sources said that Turkish military officials had approached the Israel Defense Forces recently with a surprising demand that Israel refrain from participating in the drill, due to the IDF's activity in Gaza. The exercise was canceled after the U.S. and Italy pulled their participation.

The Turkish official told Today's Zaman that the deal struck between Israel and Turkey was supposed to involve a shipment of Israeli-made spy drones, known as Herons, to Turkey, but that the shipment did not arrive on time. "Turkey needs those vehicles in its fight against terror. What led to the recent crisis between Turkey and Israel was the delay in the delivery," the official said.

Israel Rebukes Turkey over Brutish TV Portrayal of IDF

By Ha'aretz

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday complained to Turkey over a new television drama airing there that depicts Israel Defense Forces soldiers as brutal murderers.

Lieberman instructed staff at the Foreign Ministry to protest in the face of their Turkish counterparts. He stressed that airing this type of show reflects a grave level of incitement against Israel - and with government approval.

The show, called Ayrilik, features a love story that develops between the lead characters during Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli media reports (

However, a partial episode available on YouTube depicts multiple images of the IDF brutalizing the Palestinian population by shooting children in the chest and kicking elderly people on the ground, among other things.

Lieberman said that "broadcasting this series is incitement of the most severe kind, and it is done under government sponsorship," according to the Foreign Ministry statement. "Such a drama series, which doesn't even have the slightest link to reality and which presents Israeli soldiers as murderers of innocent children, isn't worthy of being broadcast even by enemy states and certainly not in a state which has full diplomatic relations with Israel," he said.

In the clip, Israeli soldiers can be seen shooting a smiling young girl in the chest, steamrolling a tank through a crowded street and lining up a firing squad to shoot at Palestinians. The show airs on Turkish State-sponsored television channel TRT1, according to Israeli media outlets.

They also reported that the drama's Web site says it "brings to life the bleeding wound of Palestine. The show depicts all sides of the generations-long tragedy... This season focuses on the women and children and the Palestinian story, as well as the notion that the ultimate solution is love, compassion and world peace."

Al-Zahar Threatens to Prosecute Abbas


Senior Hamas member Mahmoud al-Zahar declared Wednesday that despite the impending truce between the Islamist group and Fatah, Hamas still wants to prosecute Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"A day will come when Abu Mazen will have to answer for his smear campaign against us and his actions in the (Gaza) war in a special court," he said, referencing Abbas' claims that Hamas' leadership chose to go into hiding during the Israeli offensive in Gaza, while leaving Palestinian civilians in harm's way.

"We demand Abu Mazen name those he claims hid," said al-Zahar. "I want him to say exactly where he thinks we ran to. This man must stop trying to spread his lies, especially now that the Goldstone fiasco has been exposed, now that the Israelis exposed him as the one who wanted to prolong the war in the Strip. That is why he chooses to slam us instead of apologizing."

Magen David Adom: Rival Ambulance Company 'Kidnapped' our Patient

By Ha'aretz

A 21-year-old man with a head shot wound was delayed from hospitalization on Wednesday due to a disagreement between rescue services Magen David Adom and a private ambulance company. Both emergency companies arrived at the scene in Nazareth to transport the wounded man to the hospital.

The Magen David Adom team, including a paramedic and a driver, arrived at the scene first and started treating the man. Moments after they had inserted the man with a respiration aid, a second ambulance from the private Nazareth rescue service Hatzala arrived at the scene with a company doctor.

Once the respiratory pipe was inserted the Magen David Adom paramedic decided that the wounded needed to be evacuated by helicopter to the nearby Rambam hospital in Haifa.

According to the Magen David Adom paramedic, the ambulance stopped at the side of the road to finalize the meeting point with the helicopter when the doctor from the Hatzala rescue service entered the ambulance and said that the man was only lightly wounded and didn't need to be evacuated by helicopter.

Chief Magen David Adom spokesman Yeruham Mendola said that the paramedic on the scene did not agree with the doctor who had forced his way into the ambulance, and that they had "kidnapped the wounded."

He added that the Hatzala ambulance made its way to the British hospital in Nazereth where they refused to admit the patient and said that he must be transferred to Rambam via helicopter. The ambulance then made its way with the patient to the hospital in Haifa.

Hatzala spokesman said that the ambulance did not attempt to admit the man in the British hospital in Nazareth but rather drove straight to Rambam. "It is true that the Magen David Adom ambulance arrived first at the scene but the Health Ministry's regulations state that if a doctor is present he has the authority to decide on the treatment," said Ilan Ziv, head of Hatzala services.

"The patient arrived at Rambam hospital within 24 minutes and upon arrival it turned out that the doctor was right in his appraisal of the situation," he added.

In response Magen David Adom has filed a complaint against the private rescue company. The patient was hospitalized with superficial head wounds, and is currently sedated and under observation.

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