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Iran Soccer Body Sends Israeli Team New Year`s Greeting

By Ha'aretz

The Iranian football federation sent its Israeli counterpart a new year's greeting on Thursday, Army Radio reported, in what a Tehran official described as a mistake.

Mohammad Ali Ardebili, director of foreign relations for the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, told Army Radio that he had not intended to send the missive to the Israel Football Association. "It is a greeting sent to every country in the world," Ardebili said. He quickly then inquired: "Are you talking from Israel? I can't speak with you. It's a mistake, it's a mistake."

The greeting was received in Israel by the head of the Israel Football Association's legal department, Amir Navon. "He came into my office asking me if I thought it was a mistake," said body spokesman Gil Levanoni. "So I told him that I didn't know, but that we should send in a reply."

Levanoni and Navon said they replied to the greeting with a "happy new year to all the good people of Iran," and said: "We also added a wink. We wrote them that we hoped that they would have a happy soccer year," Levanoni added."

All Israelis to Receive Gas Masks in February


Israel is to outfit its entire population with gas masks. The distribution will commence in February. No reason has been given by the Israeli government for providing its residents with gas masks.

The move has heightened expectations that Israel may launch an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities which could spark an unconventional response. It is not known however whether Iran has any chemical or biological weapons capability.

Rumors have been circulating in the Middle East that Israel is preparing for another war on Lebanon to rein in Hezbollah. That organization however is not known to harbor chemical or biological weapons.

The distribution will be managed by the Israel Defense Forces, which engaged the Israel Postal Company. In past distributions the Home Front Command has engineered the delivery, so the change to Israel Post comes as a surprise.

Israeli residents will be able to collect the new gas masks in one of two ways. The first option will be to go to a branch of the Israel Postal Company, and to receive the new gas mask for free.

The second option will be to pay 25 shekels per family and have a representative from the Israel Postal Company call to residents' homes. The representative will try the gas masks on each family member, and will provide appropriately fitting gas masks for each person who lives in the household.

Col. Yosi Sagiv, head of the Gas Mask Administration of the Home Front Command, said when a civilian receives a gas mask delivered to his house, "it is not a package that is simply delivered." The Israeli Postal Company representative will make sure the gas mask fits properly, he said.

Children up to 8 years of age will be receiving a new gas mask, dubbed the Mamtek (Hebrew for "Candy"), which is being distributed for the first time.

"We are the only country in the world that produces gas masks for children, and the children's gas mask we produce is the only one in the world that supplies prime defense for this age group," Sagiv said. "All that is left is to hope that it will not be necessary to experience first hand how well these gas masks work," he said.

69% Favor New Year's Eve Celebrations in Israel


More than two-third of the public in Israel sees no problem whatsoever in events celebrating the civil New Year, according to a joint Ynet-Yesodot survey conducted just before the ushering in of 2010. However, a majority of the Israeli public is opposed to official government funding of New Year's celebrations. Nor would they support, however, denying kosher certification from establishments that host such festivities.

The survey was conducted by Panels on 508 respondents in a representative sample of the adult Jewish population in Israel. The maximum sampling error is 4.4%±.

The first question asked of the respondents was "Do you or any of your children plan on celebrating New Year's Eve?" The results showed that 69% of the respondents answered that they view New Year's celebrations in a positive light. Of these, 48% said they do not plan on participating in the festivities even though they do not have a problem with them, while 21% plan on taking part in New Year's celebrations. On the other hand, 31% of the respondents said "No way! This is a Christian holiday, not a Jewish holiday.

Analyzing the responses according to religious affiliation shows that 91% of the religious and 89% of the haredim are opposed to such celebrations, while 54% of traditionalists and 59% of seculars do not see them as problematic. The number of those ushering in the civil New Year with parties and celebrations was highest among seculars; with more than a quarter (28%) saying they would mark the start of 2010 in some way.

Should cities and public bodies in the Jewish State of Israel help organize New Year's parties in cities with a Jewish majority? Fifty-five percent responded in the negative, and claimed that government authorities should only mark Jewish festivals, whereas 37% responded that "if a majority of the public is interested in celebrations, they should be funded." Another 8% responded "absolutely not."

Breaking down the results by religious affiliation shows that the secular public (48%) is the only group that expects the Jewish regime to fund celebrations of the Christian holiday when most of the public is interested in partaking of them. Religious (87%), haredim (82%), and traditionalists (65%) all said responded with a resounding no.

In the last section of the survey, respondents were asked if local rabbinical authorities should revoke the kosher certifications of establishments that host New Year's parties. Some 61% responded that they are vehemently opposed to such a move, saying: "They should take care of the kashrut of the food and not get involved in things unrelated to this."

On the other hand, 23% believe that "it's entirely OK because the role of the rabbinate is to ensure that the Jewish spirit is being maintained." The remaining 16% claimed that such a move would be detrimental because it would cause many businesses to forego their kosher certification.

By religious affiliation, haredim (78%) and religious (63%) said they support revoking kosher certification in such a case, while seculars (78%) and traditionalists (54%) said they are opposed to such a move.

Shoshi Becker, educational director of Yesodot Center for Torah and Democracy said, "A notable portion of the public is not opposed to celebrating the New Year, yet, on the other hand, a majority of the public would like to maintain a Jewish public atmosphere in the State of Israel. A majority perceives the state as Jewish and democratic. From here, there is no place for local authorities or public bodies to help fund New Year's parties."

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